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Thursday, December 12, 2002

Out With the Old Teapot Tempest; In With the New

The one good thing that might come out of the phony media-generated frenzy about Trent Lott is that it might push the phony media-generated frenzy about Augusta National off the front pages of the newspapers for a while. Ann Coulter is even more brilliant than usual in this column about the Augusta flap.

Some samples:

"The alleged outrage over Augusta is not a naturally occurring phenomenon that is simply being reported on by the media. It's a synthetic scandal cooked up in The New York Times' PC laboratory. One of the best female golfers in the world, Nancy Lopez of the World Golf Hall of Fame, has said she has no problem with Augusta's policy. But scribblers at the Times have flogged Augusta so relentlessly, it almost seems as if normal people are up in arms over a golf club's "no girls" policy....

"But it is really more than the public should have to bear to watch the last bulwark of legal discrimination in America fume about the membership policies of a private club. The media won't hire half of America: Republicans....

"Fittingly, so far the only member to resign from Augusta to protest the exclusion of women is Thomas Wyman, the former chairman of CBS News – specializing in intolerance for half a century. Wyman was never disturbed by the blatant discrimination at CBS. He proudly presided over a club where membership ran the gamut from Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather. Indeed, CBS was so discriminatory and hateful toward Republicans there's even a book about it: "Bias" by former CBS star-reporter Bernard Goldberg.

"While privileged enforcers of the ideological Jim Crow system like Wyman received million-dollar bonuses, talented young journalists were excluded from Wyman's elite club. Aspiring newsmen who happened to be Republicans had to find work elsewhere or get used to fourth-floor walk-ups and peanut butter for dinner. Dreams were dashed and careers ended. Hearing Wyman complain about discrimination is like listening to Bob Guccione complain about the bawdy language on prime-time TV.

"If he hadn't resigned in a snit, Wyman probably could have taught Augusta a few tricks of the trade from the most discriminatory industry in the nation. Frankly, Augusta has been going about this in entirely the wrong way.

Point One: Simply deny that Augusta excludes women. Try something like: 'Augusta is not exclusive. It's humanitarian.' This is how CBS's Walter Cronkite explained the employment of only liberals in the mainstream media: It's not 'liberal, it's humanitarian.'..."


Oh, and while I'm thinking of it, I've found another interesting quote from former Klansman and U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D), West Virginia, of whom no one is asking for apologies. The same Robert Byrd who in 2001 talked about "white niggers" on a Fox News TV interview, wrote a letter to Senator Theodore Bilbo in 1945 (at age 27) in which he vowed that he would "never submit to fight beneath that banner (the American flag) with a Negro by my side," and went on to add:

"Rather I should die a thousand times, and see old Glory in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours be degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

I wonder if Walter Cronkite considers Byrd a humanitarian.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

This Week in Hypocrisy

Item 1

Prominent members of the party of former Klansman Senator Robert Byrd - the man who recently said: "There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time.” - are insisting that Trent Lott resign his leadership post for his recent comments praising retiring Senator Strom Thurmond.

Some in their ranks are rumored to believe that mere resignation isn't sufficient, and are said to be pressing for lynching.

Item 2

Prominent members of the party of Tim Russert (host of NBC’s Meet the Press and former aide to Mario Cuomo), George Stephanopoulos (host of ABC’s This Week and former aide to Bill Clinton), Dan Rather (host of the CBS Evening News and Al Gore fundraiser), and Chris Matthews (host of MSNBC’s Hardball and aide to Tip O‘Neill and Jimmy Carter) have launched a campaign to alert the public to persistent pro-GOP media bias.

If it weren’t for the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Newsweek and Time, their accusations might never have seen the light of day.

Item 3

Prominent members of the Party of Borking, Anita Hill, James Carville, Paul Begala, Donna Brazile, and Jesse Jackson have accused the Republicans of having a “hate machine” that spews anti-Democrat venom over the airwaves and on the internet.

When pressed to provide details, one operative said off the record: “You know who it is. The white boys, hymies and extra-chromosome crowd.”

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Monday, December 09, 2002

David Horowitz's Crocodile Smears

David Horowitz has joined the indignance parade over Trent Lott's comments at the Strom Thurmond retirement party. The usually sensible Horowitz proves that even the best of us can succumb to political correctness. That would be excusable if he didn't express a desire to resort to the sort of Stalinist tactics he so regularly decries.

"Trent Lott Needs to Apologize Profusely and Quick, Or Step Down" Horowitz demands, lending aid and comfort to the enemy.

Maybe Lott should appease Horowitz and the PC crowd (can you imagine a more ironic alliance?) and apologize. But I'm somehow reminded of the words of Florence King:

"'Why are you always apologizing?' is the signature line of the wife-beater."

And if you don't think that one fits, there's always this from Winston Churchill:

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

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Sunday, December 08, 2002

Breaking Story.....Slate Offended by Conservative Republican!

Trent Lott has offended Slate. Imagine that.

Slate, of course, is a member in good standing of SOPOL (The "Society Of Perpetually Offended Leftists"), so this isn't really a big surprise. What IS annoying, if maybe not surprising, is Bill Kristol joining in the bleating and braying.

According to the Washington Post:

"William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, said 'Oh, God,' when he learned of Lott's comments. 'It's ludicrous. He should remember it's the party of Lincoln,' referring to Lott's role as Republican leader of the Senate, which the GOP will control when the new Congress convenes next month."

Keep in mind that Kristol thinks John McCain would make a swell president and that a nationalized health care system would be just groovy. With "conservatives" like these.....

Lott's crime against humanity, in case you are unaware, is that he said nice things about Strom Thurmond on the occasion of his 100th birthday. It was this bit, apparently, that has the SOPOL crowd up in arms:

"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Yeah, yeah, Strom was a segregationist in 1948. But what did Lott really say that was so offensive? Well, if you're LOOKING to take offense you could read Lott's words to say the country would have been better off if it had stayed segregated. IF you choose to single out segregationism as what Lott was talking about when he referred to following Strom's lead, rather than just a more conservative policy direction.

Of course, fair-minded people looking to see if this is a valid interpretation would then seek out other instances of Lott's advocating segregation. They would also put the statement in the context of the occasion: a celebration of Thurmond's career, birthday and impending retirement. I mean, if Thurmond's presence as a senator is the real item of offense, why don't the SOPOL folks write editorials vilifying the good citizens of the sovereign state of South Carolina (a little Civil War humor there) for electing him. Eight times.

No, its much easier to pick a sentence or two out of the hundreds uttered at a party and shift directly into righteous indignation mode. Truth be damned. Context be damned. Intellectual honestly be damned.

And since Slate is the enemy, I don't really care what they do.

But I hope there's a special place in purgatory for collaborationists like Kristol.

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The View From The Mountaintop

"Extremism in defence of liberty is no vice; moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue."

This Barry Goldwater quote remains my favorite sentence ever spoken by a politician. So it was with interest that I took in a short article by Lindsay Perigo on the SOLO ("Sense Of Life Objectivists") site entitled "The Virtue of Extremism."

Here's a sample:

"'Extremism' is never defined, merely equated with mad, bad people - the Taliban, the IRA, the Ku Klux Klan.... Everyone scrambles to occupy the 'middle ground,' to be seen to be 'moderate' - heedless of the contradiction that they are being extreme in their moderation.

Oddly, though, this seems to be so almost exclusively in the realm of political ideas. As I've had occasion to observe previously:

'In the matter of one's health, it wouldn't occur to anyone to say, 'I desire to be healthy. I wish to avoid disease. But this is a simplistic, extremist way of approaching the question which overlooks the universal need to compromise & settle for something in between. I ought to temper my desire for excellent health by making sure I get sick some of the time.' One doesn't say, 'I like my butter to be moderately rancid, my eggs to be moderately rotten, my meat to be moderately putrefied, my vegetables to be moderately decomposed, with the degree of rancidness, etc., to be determined by consensus' - in order to avoid charges of 'extremism.' One doesn't say, 'I would really prefer my shoes to be fully comfortable, but that's a crackpot position which I shall avoid by seeking out shoes that are moderately ill-fitting.'...."

Perigo is right, of course. As are objectivists about most matters of philosophy, as far as I'm concerned. I'm more or less a Randite myself, and this article is a good illustration of the sort of thinking that attracts me to the philosophy.

But then there's the sort of thinking exemplified in this article by Craig Ceely, also of SOLO, about the results of this November's elections. In this piece, Ceely looks down from his mountaintop and proclaims there to be no important differences between the GOP and the Democrats. Ayn Rand may have despised libertarians, but on THIS subject her most ardent devotees and LP-style Libertarians are soulmates.

The drug war, predictably (and quite correctly), is Ceely's major bugaboo. But, absurdly, he goes on to mention the antitrust litigation against Microsoft and the continued existence of the Department of Education in support of the proposition that there ain't a dimes worth of difference between the parties. Such reasoning bespeaks either naivete or a profound misunderstanding of basic political reality.

The Department of Education, it is true, is without constitutional sanction. It was created by the efforts of Jimmy Carter. Reagan talked about eliminating it, but found it politically impossible to do so. Similarly, the shameful prosecution of Microsoft was entirely the undertaking of the Clinton Justice Department. Both cases, I would argue, are actually illustrative of the principle that it matters A GREAT DEAL which party is in power. A Republican president would have been rather unlikely to create the DOE; and a Republican administration would almost certainly not have initiated the Microsoft debacle.

Ceely says this about the DOE:

"But the Education Department is important to conservatives, you see, because they believe in standards, in quality education. They believe, they will tell you, that it is important that every child in America be able to read well.

This is just nonsense. The Education Department isn't important to any conservatives I know. Most would like to see it abolished tomorrow. The conservatives holding elected office, though, have learned that whenever they bring up the department's elimination, they are immediately demagogued as "anti-education." So they save their ammunition for battles they can win.

This is the type of tactical decision that infuriates (L)ibertarians and objectivists. From their mountaintop perch, they can't justify ANY political calculus - even that resulting in a net enhancement of individual liberty. The perfect is forever the enemy of the good. Every issue should be fought to the death. Damn the reelection - full speed ahead!

Which is why it's probably for the best that they keep fighting the good fight on-line, in op-ed pieces, and at their gatherings of the like-minded.

And leave the politics to those whose view isn't obscured by the clouds between themselves and the ground.

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