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Saturday, February 01, 2003
This is not a post about the shuttle
This is a post wondering what has happened to our national character.
I was in my car when I heard about this terrible event on the radio. As soon as the people at CBS radio were done summarizing what was known about the accident, they began speculating about when President Bush would address the nation. And of course, they were right: he would have to do so.
But why? It isn't as if he would tell us anything that we didn't already know. He didn't take some military or political action that he needed to explain. He wasn't even unveiling any heretofore unknown details about the accident.
The sole purpose of his address - which was good enough - was to "reassure the nation." We were supposed to listen to his address and feel better somehow about what had happened. Why? And why was it necessary?
Wasn't there once a time - I could swear there was - when we absorbed tragedies without such high drama? When the already rather burdensome duties of the Presidency didn't include those of national grief counselor?
When did we become such a weepy, melodramatic bunch?
I turned my radio to the sports talk station. Callers were offering their "condolences to the families of the astronauts." Huh? I rather suspect that very few of them were listening to the ongoing discussion of the Blackhawk's backup goaltender situation. This obviously wasn't said for the benefit of the "families of the astronauts." It was said for the benefit of the speakers! It apparently made them feel better to get in on the grieving, despite the fact that they weren't directly affected and weren't SPEAKING to anyone who was directly affected.
One of my favorite TV shows was Fawlty Towers. John Cleese played a delightfully obnoxious hotel owner named Basil Fawlty. I remember an episode where one hotel employee called in sick to another, who relayed the message to Fawlty. Hearing that the person was home sick and annoyed that he would be lacking his services for that day, Fawlty replied: "Let's hope it's nothing trivial!"
I'm not saying the unfortunate deaths of these seven astronauts are trivial. But it seems to me that Presidents shouldn't need to speak to us about every single thing that goes wrong somewhere. They should talk to us about things where their words matter. This event didn't pass that test. So the next time the President addresses the nation....
Let's hope he's not irrelevant.
Why Are Youth Attracted to Leftism?
John Ray, who has actually researched the matter of how age impacts political beliefs, is speculating as to why the young are attracted to leftism. He offers in his posting of February 1, four reasons: simplicity, idealism, impatience, and ambition.
It's a topic I've often pondered, and I think Ray has hit on a lot of the factors. But at least as far as American youth are concerned, I think there's something else at work.
When I think of the major institutional influences on children - that is, of the institutions that have extensive access to them before their personalities have fully developed - I think of four forces:
1) Immediate family
2) Education establishment
3) Mass media
Is it unreasonable to suppose that a child between the ages of 0 and 18 spends virtually his entire waking life under the fairly immediate influence of one of these four?
If a kid isn't at home, he's at school.
If he isn't at school, where is he? At a movie? Watching television? Listening to Howard Stern? At which point he's under the influence of the major media.
And while this may sound quaint, in many cases, if a kid isn't doing any of these things, he might be spending a lot of time at church or in church-related activities. This still happens, believe it or not.
Now when you look at these four influences, the two that have increased in prominence over the past 100 years - the education establishment and the mass media - are unequivocally leftist. But BEYOND THIS, they actively subvert the influence of the other two primary influences: family and church. A kid who spends a great deal of time watching movies or television in the United States will "learn":
- That the environment is forever under assault by evil, greedy businessmen;
- That most religious people are crazies, except for "the good ones," who don't take their religion too seriously;
- That America is a place where racism, sexism, and "homophobia" lurk in every dark corner;
- That the rich always get richer and the poor always get poorer unless the government intervenes to make things better;
- That conservatives are people like Frank Burns of MASH and Archie Bunker of All in the Family;
- That parents are unreasonable, reactionary people who don't really understand their children and their problems;
And in school? Unless the kid is lucky enough to attend a private school, he's under the care of the National Education Association, which has essentially become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic party. At school the NEA has a captive audience to which it can spew its propaganda. Do you think the NEA is just an apolitical, run-of-the-mill teachers union? Hah! Take a look at this list of resolutions from the organization's 1997 convention. When it isn't busy fighting meaningful performance evaluations of its members, the NEA lobbies on such issues as: abortion, gun control, socialized medicine, gay rights, Indian reparations, DC statehood, etc. etc.
Even worse, as Thomas Sowell documented extensively in his book Inside American Education, the NEA's minions actively encourage students not to fully trust their parents or adhere to their belief systems.
So when we look at the big picture, accounting for the totality of societal trends, what do we see?
1) The family and church are becoming less important (two working parents, declining church attendance);
2) The mass media and education establishment are becoming more important;
3) The media and education establishment are overwhelmingly leftist;
4) The media and education encourage the notion that parental and church authority is illegitimate;
5) Churches themselves have become much more liberal as a whole over the past several decades.
Now, you take children who are the product of this set of influences and send them away to University where they are exposed to an even MORE militantly leftist university establishment having virtually no counterpoint? You have the makings of good little leftists who rarely, if ever, engage in any critical examination of the belief system they have quite uncritically adopted.
Who is there to ask them to do so?
Friday, January 31, 2003
100% Money-Back Guarantee
That you will laugh hard at this AP photo and caption. (Found via Daimnation!)
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Could someone out there please reveal some Truth to me?
I'm looking for any reason - political, economic, military, whatever - why the U.S. should continue to station tens of thousands of troops in Germany? Who's going to attack them? Austria? Poland?
I'm sure there must be SOME valid reason to keep them there, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is. The German people obviously don't want them, and to the extent that their presence helps prop up the German economy, that's all the more reason to bring them home.
This is a serious inquiry. If any can give me some insight, I'd appreciate it.
Axis of Anti-Weasels
There are sane, mature leaders in Europe. God bless 'em. Here's "a joint declaration signed by the leaders of eight European states in support of the United States in its efforts to disarm Iraq."
Here are the first several paragraphs:
"The real bond between the United States and Europe is the values we share: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the Rule of Law.
These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the USA.
Today they are under greater threat than ever.
The attacks of 11 September showed just how far terrorists - the enemies of our common values - are prepared to go to destroy them.
Those outrages were an attack on all of us.
In standing firm in defence of these principles, the governments and people of the United States and Europe have amply demonstrated the strength of their convictions.
Today more than ever, the transatlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom.
We in Europe have a relationship with the United States which has stood the test of time.
Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and far-sightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and Communism.
Thanks, too, to the continued co-operation between Europe and the United States we have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our continent.
The transatlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to threaten world security."
It should be noted that Australia has had troops on the way for some time now. And that great nation managed to do the right thing without writing any letters. In fairness, though, the Aussies don't share a continental government with a bunch of sanctimonious, whiny, angst-ridden, socialist worms.
Line of the week - Fred Barnes on the Fox News Channel: "The only reason we'd need the French in a war against Iraq would be to show them how to surrender."
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
I made my first appearance today on Carnival of the Vanities. It's on Ipse Dixit this week.
Speaking of vanity. Do make sure to check out the Palace of Reason when you have a chance. My columns, along with the writings of several others are featured there. I especially recommend Francis Porretto's stuff.
Former Clinton advisor Dick Morris has written a scathing condemnation of the Clintons' efforts to exonerate themselves from blame for the various global security messes they left the Bush administration. Check this out:
"By mid-August of 1998, newspaper reports indicated that the U.S. intelligence agencies had detected a “huge secret underground complex in North Korea” that they suspected was “the centerpiece of an effort to revive the country’s … nuclear weapons program. The United States asked to inspect the underground caverns. North Korea demanded a cash payment of $300 million to permit the inspectors to go there and the matter was dropped.
Now, intelligence sources estimate that North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons and has had them since the mid-’90s. So why didn’t Clinton demand that North Korea disarm? Why didn’t he insist on access to the caverns? Why did he keep funding, fuel and food flowing while Pyongyang broke its word?
At the time, Clinton assured Congress that North Korea wasn’t violating the deal because the Yongbyon plant had not been reactivated, whatever was happening in the caverns. In fact, the administration insisted that the 1994 deal wasn’t an agreement at all, but an “agreed framework that does not bind any party to specific actions or hold parties in noncompliance if given objectives are not met. Failure of the [so-called] agreed framework, consequently, is very much in the mind of the beholder.” Presumably the two atomic bombs North Korea is thought to have are in our minds as well.
When the Senate voted, 80-11, in late 1998 “to condition funding [of the ’94 deal] on a presidential certification that North Korea has halted all nuclear activities,” Clinton continued to wink at North Korean noncompliance.
And now, Bill and Hillary are attacking Bush for the twin legacies they left him: inadequate air security and a broken deal with North Korea.
It’s a good thing those two are sociopaths. Otherwise their consciences might bother them when they say things like that."
Axis of Weasles
Here's a funny piece on Scrappleface with Donald Rumsfeld "apologizing" for calling Germany and France the "Axis of Weasles."
(2003-01-22) -- U.S. Secretary Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized today for referring to France and Germany as an "Axis of Weasels."
"I'm sorry about that Axis of Weasels remark," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "I didn't mean to dredge up the history France and Germany share of pathetic compliance with ruthless dictators."
The Defense Secretary said he was "way out of bounds" with the comments.
"I should have known better than to remind people that these two nations--which live in freedom thanks only to the righteous might of America, Britain and their allies......"
Check the link above for the rest.
But that's not all. Check out this headline on last Friday's New York Post!
Quick take on Bush's speech. Politically very shrewd. They showed Dashle as Bush was talking about various initiatives like the African AIDS thing, and he looked like he swallowed something that didn't taste good.
My FAVORITE moment, though, was the camera settling on John Edwards for 10 seconds or so as Bush was talking about malpractice reform. I'd like to find out who made THAT editorial decision - and buy him a drink or something.
I thought it took him 15 minutes or so to get into a groove. I was a bit surprised by stuff like the AIDS initiative and the mentoring-kids-of-prisoners program. And while I'm philosophically opposed to such nonsense, I have to acknowledge it was politically masterful to stuff the first half of the speech with this fairly low-dollar, low-impact stuff.
The last 15 minutes were great and well delivered. Anyone who could sit through the recitation of Hussein's history and still blather about "needing proof" is already convinced that he won't be convinced.
Hooray for Oregon!
Despite an orchestrated campaign warning of gloom and doom, Oregon voted down an income tax increase. This despite a heavy campaign by labor unions and almost no organized campaign on the other side.
"SALEM, Ore. - Oregon voters rejected a proposed income tax hike Tuesday that lawmakers said would spare the state more than $310 million in cuts to schools, public safety and social services programs...
Polls had shown voters closely divided over Measure 28, but with 61 percent of the votes tallied, the measure was failing by a decisive margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. Measure 28 called for raising income tax bills for most residents by 5 percent over three years.
The cuts would include 129 state troopers, assistance for thousands of low-income seniors and the disabled, community mental health treatment and $95 million in school funding.
Oregon voters have rejected more than a dozen income, gasoline and sales tax proposals in the past three decades...
The campaign for Measure 28 was led mainly by labor unions using telephone calls, e-mails, fliers and meetings. Anti-tax groups campaigned little, saying they had difficulty raising money in the midst of recession."
Monday, January 27, 2003
Surprise, surprise. The major networks virtually ignored massive pro-life rallies of tens of thousands of people. And when they DIDN'T ignore them, they distorted the actual story and provided no real coverage of their issue. This is in contrast, of course, to the fawning coverage that was recently given to the anti-war nuts. The Media Research Center has a very nice analysis here.
Wherever you stand on abortion, this sort of double-standard is just more evidence of the profound leftist tilt of the major media in the U.S.. And I just don't buy the frequently heard explanation that, while they're biased, they don't really REALIZE they're biased. That dog might have hunted twenty years ago. By now, though, the case has been made convincingly and loudly enough in best selling books by Bernard Goldberg and Ann Coulter, among others, as well as by the incredible ongoing work of the Media Research Center, that ignorance can no longer be an excuse. These people do this consciously and with the express purpose of advancing their political ideology.
Listen to this soundbite from Al Gore fundraiser Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News:
Now the actual truth of the matter was that there were tens of thousands of pro-life protestors and a couple of dozen pro-choice protestors. Contrast this to the anti-war demonstrations. There were counter-demonstrators at those, too. But did the networks frame the debate in terms of "protestors on both sides of the issue?"
And yet they wonder why Fox News and talk radio have become so popular? The answer is simple: those are the only media outlets where people who aren't leftists can hear THEIR issues discussed without being dismissed, ridiculed, or distorted.
Those places. And the internet.
Speaking of bias - I really HATE to plug a lefty site, but this guy is so wacky that you've just GOT to give him a look. His site is called "GOPbias," and it's devoted to the laughable proposition that the national media is run by a pro-Republican cabal. He's such a nut that I added him to the blogroll in his own special little category.
And I think he also has his own special little room waiting for him some day where all the knives are plastic and all the walls are well padded.
Sunday, January 26, 2003
Super Bowl XXXVII is now in the books. And we all know what that means.....
Just 13 days, 40 minutes and 30 seconds until pitchers and catchers report.
Ann Coulter weighs in on the University of Michigan Law School case and, in typical fashion, cuts through all the nonsense quite nicely:
"Like everyone else in the universe, I too have strong opinions about how universities should run their admissions systems. But there is no Ann's Opinion Clause in the Constitution. There is, however, an Equal Protection Clause.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits states from discriminating on the basis of race. It says: Nor shall any state 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' That amendment grew out of the Republicans' first big dust-up with the Democrats over race -- the Civil War. Then, as now, Democrats demanded the right to discriminate on the basis of race. The 14th Amendment sternly informed Democrats that they would have to stop. Democrats dropped slavery but desperately clung to state-sanctioned race discrimination for another hundred years....
So now we have idiots like Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., saying race discrimination is no different than colleges admitting legacies. One difference is -- as Terry Eastland famously said -- we didn't fight a civil war to stop colleges from giving a preference to the children of alumni. But Biden says colleges shouldn't stop obsessing with race 'unless we're going to eliminate it all, all incentives, like, for example, in the case in Michigan everybody is talking about now. You know you get four points if you're a legacy ...' Sure, that's just like getting 20 points for being black.
Biden thinks if he gets applause from a student audience, he must have made a legal argument. He seems to imagine he is actually learning law from watching Court TV. His next irrelevant point was: 'Give me a break. I mean how many people would get into Harvard, Yale and the rest of these places if their father had not gone?' There's an answer to that! This columnist did the math! On the basis of their SAT scores, 82 percent of legacies admitted to Harvard would have been admitted to Harvard even if they were not legacies. Only 45 percent of blacks admitted to Harvard would have been admitted to Harvard if they were not black.
But I've been tricked into arguing a nonissue by Biden's imbecility. If colleges wanted to admit only legacies, or only tuba players, or only people who got astonishingly low SAT scores -- to ensure some of their graduates would be U.S. senators one day -- the Constitution wouldn't stop them...."
The UK and the US seem as if they're locked in a life-or-death battle for the Political Correctness Championship of the World. Score one point for the UK.
Primary schools in the UK have banned the use of red ink to correct students' papers on the grounds that "the red pen has negative connotations and can be seen as a negative approach to improving pupils' work."
Found via Tounge Tied.
You'll be able to tell people that you knew all about Wi-Fi before it became a big deal. Because you're smart enough to read this blog.
Dell has just announced that it will ship all future Latitude Ultra notebook computers with Wi-Fi (802.11b) capability standard. The article also indicates that Dell expects to eventually equip all notebooks with Wi-Fi standard.
Lots of cities are getting in on the act - which will probably screw things up more than anything. Long Beach, California in the U.S. is looking at a public system. And the Netherlands is talking about a "people's system." Uggh.
Here are some more articles on various aspects of Wi-Fi:
2003 to be year of "gonzo growth" for Wi-Fi in Europe
Wi-Fi could save telecom industry
Wireless networking technology gains strength
Adelaide, Australia rolls out one of world's largest Wi-Fi systems