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Saturday, February 15, 2003
Does this sensitivity stuff cut both ways?
Here's an interesting one, found via Tounge Tied.
According to this article "Irate Confederacy-heritage groups" are raising one hell of a stink about plans by the National Park Service to put a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Richmond, Virginia.
"'There are no Lincoln statues in the South that I know of, and for good reason,' said Brandon "Brag" Bowling, Virginia commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
"He said the Confederate states never forgave Lincoln for the harshness of the Union Army's bloody march through the South, which left Virginia's Shenandoah Valley devastated and Atlanta and Columbia, S.C., in cinders. The statue, he said, 'is a not-so-subtle reminder of who won the war, and who our heroes should be.'"
Hmmm. It'll be interesting to see how the PC crowd handles this one. They're the ones always emphasizing the need for sensitivity, after all. Let's see how sensitive they are to "Confederacy-heritage goups."
The Mysteries of Google
I began noticing about a week ago that I was getting a lot (for me) of hits on the search query "Ariana Huffington." This has continued.
What I find REALLY amusing, though, is that if you google the term "Ariana Huffington biography," mine is the first site that comes up....after only "Ariana Online!" Chuckle, chuckle.
This is astounding. Little Green Footballs shows us a photo of an antiwar demonstrator holding a sign that reads: "Peace in our Time."
Wrong AND ignorant.
I say this with some trepidation inasmuchas I find most of the man's politics rather disagreeable.....but Tony Blair is proving himself to be a man of courage and conviction as far as Iraq goes. Here are several paragraphs from his article in this Sunday's Observer:
"I continue to want to solve the issue of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction through the UN. Dr Blix reported to the UN yesterday and there will be more time given to inspections. But let no one forget two things. To anyone familiar with Saddam's tactics of deception and evasion, there is a weary sense of déjà vu. As ever, at the last minute, concessions are made. And, as ever, it is the long finger that is directing them. The concessions are suspect; unfortunately, the weapons are real.
The time needed is not the time it takes the inspectors to discover the weapons. They are not a detective agency. We played that game for years in the 1990s. The time is the time necessary to make a judgment: is Saddam prepared to co-operate fully or not? If he is, the inspectors can take as much time as they want. If he is not, if this is a repeat of the 1990s - and I believe it is - then let us be under no doubt what is at stake.
By going down the UN route, we gave the UN an extraordinary opportunity and a heavy responsibility. The opportunity is to show that we can meet the menace to our world today together, collectively and as a united international commu nity. What a mighty achievement that would be. The responsibility, however, is indeed to deal with it.
Remember: the UN inspectors would not be within 1,000 miles of Baghdad without the threat of force. Saddam would not be making a single concession without the knowledge that forces were gathering against him. I hope, even now, Iraq can be disarmed peacefully, with or without Saddam. But if we show weakness now, if we allow the plea for more time to become just an excuse for prevarication until the moment for action passes, it will not only be Saddam who is repeating history. The menace will grow, the authority of the UN will be lost and the conflict when it comes will be more bloody....
Al-Qaeda attacked the US, not the other way round. Were the people of Bali in the forefront of the anti-terror campaign? Did Indonesia 'make itself a target'? The terrorists won't be nice to us if we're nice to them. When Saddam drew us into the Gulf war, he was not provoked. He invaded Kuwait....
Yes, there are consequences of war. If we remove Saddam by force, people will die, and some will be innocent. And we must live with the consequences of our actions, even the unintended ones.
But there are also consequences of 'stop the war'. There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will remain in being.
I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process. But I ask the marchers to understand this.
I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership and the cost of conviction.
If there are 500,000 on the [Stop the War] march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for. If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started...."
Pretty courageous stuff.
The “I Word”
That would be “Infantile.”
I’m not sure exactly how this nonsense got started, but it seems like it might have been with the O.J trial. Like primitives who fear that uttering the name of a malevolent deity will bring down its wrath, we’ve become a nation so cowered by the prospect of racial discord that we shy away from using the word “nigger,” even when quoting a person verbatim!
I just today heard some radio babblers going on about so-and-so using “The N Word.” But we hear this sort of talk all the time, don’t we?
“The customer got abusive and called the sales clerk The N Word....”
“He was rumored to use The N Word when describing black people...”
“Senator Byrd was heard to use The N Word when he served as an Army officer....”
Can we please just grow up?
Yes, the word “nigger” is offensive. And no, I would never use it myself to refer to blacks - or anyone else for that matter. But for crying out loud, IT’S ONLY A WORD! By using this infantile phrase “N Word,”, we’re treating our entire society as we would a 5 year old who lacks the cognitive ability to discern between quoting someone and using a particular term approvingly.
“Now Johnny, we don’t use that N word.” That’s fine - for a 5 year old. It’s probably asking a bit much for a child of that age to understand that the accurate historical recording of an objectionable utterance is not ethically or morally equivalent to making the initial utterance and meaning it.
Such a child is, indeed, comparable to our hypothesized savage for whom such abstractions are beyond his processing capacity. But this is simply no way for educated adults to communicate. And where will it stop? At 26 magic words? There must be at least one objectionable word for every letter of the alphabet - shall we euphemize them all away?
This is a profoundly maladaptive mutation of well intentioned sensitivity. It is true enough by my moral reckoning that one should avoid hurling derision at one's fellows - including racial epithets. But mature, intelligent people should also be able to accurately discuss the facts of an event without fear that uttering the wrong word will bring down the wrath of The God of Racial Disharmony - whomsoever that might be.
My guess is Jesse Jackson.
Enter Stage Right brings to our attention this hilarious front page, right off the New York Post's web site!
We just escaped a big snow.
Spring training is in full swing.
38 days, 4 hours and 6 minutes until the first pitch is thrown out.
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Francis Porretto of the Palace of Reason has some interesting reflections on the decline of the nuclear family, including stay-at-home moms. He goes beyond the standard lament about the need for two incomes - though that certainly is a factor. Here's part of his essay:
"The burdens associated with child-rearing have grown very large -- not because children are inherently harder to raise than they were in previous eras, but because of the erosion of several support structures that once cushioned the process. The government-run schools now actively encourage children toward voracity and unruliness. Churches were once a source of much assistance, mainly by providing moral and social instruction, an appreciative, mutual-sustenance community for mothers and a wholesome society for their children; in today's air of politicized religion, these things are now the exception. Grandparents are generally no longer available to help with routine necessities; the three-generation household has all but vanished. Finally, the general atmosphere of expectation laid upon parents has grown much more censorious toward discipline while becoming more demanding about material comforts their children are expected to have. All of this discourages active parenting, and encourages "delegating" as much of the child-rearing task as a mother possibly can."
--John Ray brings to our attention not one, but TWO new anti-French blogs.
--The Neolibertarian News Portal advises us that "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage." It then goes on to offer a very funny version of "The Complete Military History of France." Here's are just a few samples:
- Gallic Wars - Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian.
- Hundred Years War - Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman."
-Italian Wars - Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.
- American Revolution - In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."
- French Revolution - Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.
- War on Terrorism - France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.
--French Businesses are starting - just STARTING - to feel the effects of spontaneous, unorganized boycotts by U.S. consumers.
--A U.S. congressman is going to introduce a resolution calling for Americans to boycott the Paris Air Show in June.
--Congressman Peter King, long known as a moderate, if not liberal, Republican has called for the U.S. to create alternative alliances with friendly European countries, and referred to France as a "second-rate country." (I actually heard him call France a "third-rate country" on the Neil Cavuto show on Fox News.) Not content that he had sufficiently trashed the Frenchies, King added: "`France is posturing itself as a moral guardian, when they would have lost World War I, and they set a world record in World War II for the quickest surrender by a world power.''
I particularly enjoyed the concluding sentence in the AP article referenced above:
"A spokeswoman at the French embassy in Washington did not immediately return a call seeking comment."
I, for one, am waiting with baited breath to hear what they have to say.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Democrats Reach a New Low
The impending filibuster of Miguel Estrada goes beyond standard Democrat sophistry and partisanship and ventures into the realm of the dangerous and sleazy. Just to summarize:
-Estrada graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review.
-Estrada has argued 15 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning 10 of them
-From 1992 to 1997, Estrada served as Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States.
-Estrada served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York.
-Estrada tried 10 cases as a prosecutor and argued 7 cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
-Estrada received a UNANIMOUS "well qualfied" rating from the American Bar Association. Democrats have in the past called the ABA rating a "gold standard."
-Only ONE nominee in U.S. history with a unanimous "well qualified" rating has been rejected - Bush nominee Priscilla Owen.
The leftists pulling the strings of the senate Democrats simply cannot be allowed to get away with this. Estrada is by all accounts a man of impeccable intellect and character. He argued numerous cases on behalf of the Clinton Justice Department, surely advocating positions with which he personally disagreed. Yet he did his job, earning nothing but praise from those who worked with him in the Clinton administration.
The Democrats aren't even PRETENDING to have valid grounds upon which to stop Estrada's nomination. The best they can come up with is that he didn't "fully answer" all the questions put to him during his confirmation hearings - a standard which, if applied throughout history would have quashed virtually every judicial nomination ever put before the senate. Judges must be circumspect in questions about legal issues lest they appear already to have decided matters that come before them.
It is important to pick your fights, and if the GOP doesn't make a stand here and pull out all the stops to get Estrada nominated, it will be making a terrible mistake. If the Democrats can win a case where they are so clearly in the wrong, they will be emboldened to block Bush at every turn.
The real reson the Democrats oppose Estrada, of course, is that as a conservative hispanic, he is a terrible threat to their hegemony over the minority vote. Estrada represents the living embodiment of conservative principles: he is a self-made immigrant who came to the U.S. at age 17 with virtually no knowledge of the English language and became a renowned jurist. His success will put the lie to two cherished shibboleths of the left: that all "real minorities" are liberals, and that minorities can't succeed in our society without extensive help from the government in the form of affirmative action and welfare handouts.
This is a pivotal moment for the Bush administration. This is a battle Bush must win.
Just when I think I can't be more disgusted with the state of the American University, I read this.
"Imagine a university-sponsored conference called 'Radical Anti-Abortionists: A Dialogue between Activists and Academics.' Its purpose, according to one participant, is to explore 'practical, political, and spiritual aspects of radical anti-abortionists.' A faculty sponsor enthuses that the conference 'will bring together for the first time, in a national setting, activists and academics to discuss the ethics and politics of anti-abortion activists.' Responding to complaints from local abortion clinics and doctors who fear vandalism or violence from some of the attendees, the university responded that its role is 'to provide a place where ideas can be freely exchanged and dialogues can occur.'
"Such a conference, of course, would never take place at a state university campus, and any attempt even to propose such a meeting would set off mass hysteria among faculty, administrators, and the local liberal media. Yet something similar will take place at Fresno State in February, when known advocates and practitioners of arson, vandalism, and worse will congregate for a confab called 'Revolutionary Environmentalism: A Dialogue Between Activists and Academics,' which has generated the statements adapted in the paragraph above.
"These 'activists' include members of radical environmental groups such as the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, organizations responsible over the past six years for $43 million in damage to labs, ski resorts, car lots, research centers, offices, and other venues deemed to be guilty of assaulting animals and nature."
There's plenty more, but you get the drift. The same species of academic fascists that shout down and attempt to silence right wing speakers invite terrorists of the type described above. And of course the frauds will cry "academic freedom" when anyone dares to point our their hypocrisy.
But of course Political Correctness is a myth. Right?
Canrnival of the Vanities is up! It's at Dissecting Leftism this week. My Democratic Presidential Debate is included.
I have seen the future
And it is the whiney, hypersensitive visages of Amanda and Mark Sousa of Lombardy, Canada.
These insufferable twits were postively horrified (their word) when their precious 7 year old daughter Chloe brought home A SPELLING TEST that contained the word "gun." So they complained to the school authorities in an effort to get the offensive word removed.
Here's some of the thinking of Ms. Sousa as quoted in this article on Canada.com (found via Best of the Web):
"I realize people hunt in this area, but I still don't think that warrants the teaching of this word to my daughter or any other child...."
"The word gun is synonymous with death. I'm racking my brain trying to figure out why a seven-year-old would need to learn this word....'
"For a split second I considered whether or not I should raise this issue, but I knew I had to stand up for what I believe in. This was not right...."
"I don't think this is an issue of political correctness. It's an issue of protecting your child from violence. Guns are violent. End of story."
And lest we forget that this is a case of tag-team imbecility, Mr. Sousa offers his thoughts as well:
"It wasn't a water gun or a toy gun, it was a pistol."
"I was horrified that not only were we ignored, but now my daughter is carrying around a picture of a gun."
So how did the Lombardy, Canada school district respond to the Sousas' complaints?
THEY BANNED THE GODDAMNED WORD!
One set of paranoid loons gets a word banned from a spelling test administered to 1st graders throughout an entire school.
These kids might not learn how to spell properly. But they'll probably be very well schooled in fractions.
Especially about least common denominators.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Good Guys 1; Peoria, Arizona Village Idiots 0
The heros of the Institute for Justice have won another one.
"Until today, the City of Peoria, Ariz., had threatened local businessman Jason Simpson with up to $2,500 in fines and six months in jail for violating the City’s sign code if he did not remove his display of American flags from his car dealership lot. But in papers filed with Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Pendleton Gaines, Steve Kemp, counsel for the City of Peoria, admitted that the ordinance was unconstitutional and stated that the ordinance would be changed and that neither Simpson nor any other resident of the City would be prosecuted under Peoria’s sign ordinance...."
The rest of the article can be found here.
George Jonas has a splendid piece on National Post entitled "Academic fortresses of repression." The article discusses recent instances in Canada where speakers representing politically incorrect views were either cancelled (Benjamin Netanyahu) or nearly cancelled (Daniel Pipes) due to the intimidation of leftists.
What really caught my eye, though, was how the article so directly touched on the very subject recently broached by John Ray on his blog Dissecting Leftism: namely, the natural inclination of youth for leftism. Here's Jonas on the subject:
"Since York University president Lorna Marsden is made of sterner stuff than her counterpart at Concordia, Dr. Pipes' speech was re-scheduled in a gymnasium on university property. Still, it dismayed many people to see left-wing rowdies and partisans of political correctness turning a university, a traditional seat of inquiry and debate, into something resembling Kafka's Castle.
I've fewer illusions about universities. It seems to me they've always been fertile grounds for intolerance. The twin evils of the 20th century, Nazism and communism, incubated at universities. Young people are tailor-made for proto-Fascism: They're energetic, self-righteous, idealistic, naive and impressionable. They're afflicted by that "little learning" which, as the poet Alexander Pope pointed out, "is a dangerous thing." Many are also educated beyond their intellectual means, which is even more dangerous. Society's relentless promotion of academic degrees has created a glut of simpletons pursuing PhDs -- hardly good news for the liberal arts or for liberal democracy.
If many students are receptive to extremism, some faculty are even more so. Ambition, pedantry, hauteur -- common intellectual vices, along with resentment of, and contempt for, contrary views -- all serve to turn institutions of inquiry into fortresses of repression. Embittered academics with no power but unbounded arrogance often become gurus for academic hooligans or apologists for Nazi-type systems. Martin Heidegger, rector of the university of Freiburg, is an oft-cited example, but there have been countless others, from Nazi professors and student organizations in Germany's Weimar republic to Marxist professors and student activists throughout America and Europe during the turbulent 1960s and '70s. In fact, the foul breath of political correctness that permeates academic institutions today is a miasma arising from this totalitarian swamp...."
The One Essential Fact You Should Know About George W. Bush
Even his supporters still haven’t grasped what I believe is the single most important aspect required to understand the presidency of George W. Bush. Take this very good, very pro-Bush column by Matt Welch, for example, on Canada's National Post (rapidly becoming one of my favorite destinations on the web) about W’s "rope-a-dope" strategy on Iraq. Here’s how Welch describes the model Bush has employed with such success thus far:
"First, a top official (usually Bush, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or a well-placed 'source') makes some crazy-sounding cowboy threat -- to use conventional nuclear weapons, to unleash a furious invasion on the first full moon after Jan. 27, and so on. British newspapers, German politicians and Northern Californians dutifully recoil in horror.
Soon, a prevailing counter- proposal emerges, often midwifed by Tony Blair, to talk Washington down from the ledge.
Reports resurface of a Cabinet divided between Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, and leaks play down expectations of significant policy change. At the last possible moment, Bush's team coalesces behind a single idea, agreeing on a 'compromise' which suddenly gives his critics exactly what they were demanding in the first place, often in the form of a yes-or-no vote. And the ground under everyone's feet shifts decisively yet again....
As Jonah Goldberg of the UN-hating National Review put it, ‘Somehow, Bush managed, once again, to do exactly what his critics wanted him to and defeat them entirely in the process.’
This tactic has come to be known, by critics and admirers alike, as the ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy, in honour of the novel way boxer Muhammad Ali defeated heavyweight champion George Foreman in Zaire 28 years ago. Faced with a much more powerful opponent, Ali taunted him before the fight (‘You have heard of me before you were young. You've been following me since you were a little boy. Now, you must meet me, your master!‘ according to Norman Mailer's The Fight), surprised everyone by aggressively attacking Foreman in the first round, then spent the rest of the night leaning defensively against the ropes, deflecting and absorbing punishment, and successfully counter-punching with precision and surprise when the big man wore himself out....
Last February, if UN resolutions were being discussed in public at all, odds were high that the debate was over the number of child deaths attributable to economic sanctions, not the exploits of Hans Blix and Co. Colin Powell was muddling through a process of developing more targeted "smart sanctions," aimed to ease some of the economic chokehold in deference to the French and Russians, who had long ago lost interest in enforcing the program. Weapons inspectors had been absent since 1998, and almost no one was talking about bringing them back.
Now, fast-forward a year. Instead of throwing up obstacles to economic sanctions, the French and Russians have become overnight converts to the idea of intrusive weapons inspections. Saddam Hussein himself, clearly spooked by the idea of being pulverized, has invited the inspectors back in, allowed one-on-one interviews with Iraqi scientists, and may soon cave on U2 surveillance flights.
With each new U.S. "compromise" comes an audible tightening of the noose, and a frantic new round of Arab diplomacy to persuade Saddam to walk away before the Stealth Bombers take off. Rarely before has bluster yielded so many results."
Everything Welch says is true. He goes on in the piece to compare Bush to a poker player. Both the boxing and the poker analogies are fair enough, but the true model for the Bush presidency is much less oblique.
Our President is a salesman. A very, very good salesman.
Now in many quarters this is a negative term, but I mean by it only praise. I do not see Bush as a used car salesman. I see him as the guy who sells jets for Boeing or large computer systems for IBM. He is a master negotiator who gives concession after concession only to wind up somehow, to the amazement of all concerned, with exactly the deal he wanted in the first place.
Think back to Bush’s strategy on his first tax cut. He campaigned on a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut. His opponents started at zero, but were up to half a billion by election day. When he took office, Bush raised his demand to 1.6 trillion. His opponents came back with an offer right around a trillion. Bush ultimately “compromised” back to 1.3 trillion.
This is important for context. Bush treats every issue - once he has decided what he wants to achieve - as an account executive would treat a huge sales opportunity with a major customer. He then proceeds to use every gambit in the book, and some I’m sure I’ve never heard of. One that he uses with great effect is to add a very controversial demand to every negotiation in order to have something to bargain away. He begins, of course, with the position that it is a key requirement, but I believe that he in fact intends to negotiate it away from the outset - in return for countless concessions on other matters.
Now I don’t always like what he bargains away. In the case of his education program, it was vouchers. But in return for its abandonment Bush was able to shape the bill to something very much to his liking.
I think he’s doing the same thing with the renomination of Judge Pickering. He knows he will likely go down to defeat, but the Democrats will have to use up considerable time opposing him. And by making them take public positions in opposition, he sets them up for the charge that they simply oppose for the sake of opposing when they do it three, four, twenty times.
He knows how to wheel and deal, does our president. He also knows, like any good salesman, that in the final analysis that quintessentially American saying contains more wisdom than most ever imagine:
They don’t ask ‘how?' Just: ‘how many?’
Monday, February 10, 2003
The NEA's Worst Nightmare
Here's one of the most uplifting articles I've read in a while. Black families are homeschooling in steadily increasing numbers.
This kind of story has to cause a lot of dismay in the ranks of the left. Despite decades of incessant propagandizing by "black leadership," polls continue to show that blacks have a high level of support for school vouchers. Now this.
What could be more subversive of the education establishment than for hundreds of thousands of families to opt out of the system entirely? Particularly black families, who are disproportionately subjected to the worst of the government monopoly system
Expect increasing attacks on homeschoolers over the next few years. The education establishment, along with labor unions, provide the vast majority of the organizational muscle for the Democrats, and this is a threat that they won't let go unanswered. Among the things you can doubtless expect to see over the next few years are "studies" purporting to allege all sorts of ills resulting from homeschooling.
You heard it here first.
I like Australian Prime Minister John Howard a lot. His government has been a consistent, principled supporter of the effort against Iraq. And unlike many heads of state he didn't see this as an opportunity to extract unrelated concessions or simply revel in the role of being wooed.
I strongly suspect, however, that he's playing a big practical joke on U.S. officials. He's presently in the U.S. to meet with...well with just about everybody who matters. Bush, Powell, Cheney, and Rumsfeld among others. I didn't see former Vermont Governor Howard Dean mentioned; nevertheless, it's a pretty impressive list.
But he was quoted as saying this about Iraq's latest "change of heart:"
"It's got to be a fair dinkum change of heart.
"We all know what that is. We all know that, given everything that's happened, in order to turn this thing around, Iraq has to give totally genuine, transparent, fair dinkum, open cooperation."
Now I strongly suspect that the term "fair dinkum" is either:
A) Something he just made up to see if journalists would actually write it down; or
B) Some kind of Australian curse he was slipping in just for fun
Rumsfeld Talks Turkey
Speaking to about a dozen European news agencies, Don Rumsfeld was his customary endearing (to my American ear) self in a recent interview. He was especially blunt when discussing the situation in Turkey.
In case you haven't heard, the Axis of Weasel (France and Germany) plus Belgium are talking about blocking the transfer of weaponry to Turkey that it might need for its defense in the event of a war with Iraq. Here are some quotes from Rumsfeld:
"NATO will survive, but if the partners announce what they are intending to do, they will be judged by their own people and they'll be judged by other NATO countries."
"(M)y guess is that Turkey will survive. It will work with other countries in NATO. It would be such a surprising and breathtaking event that I suspect it would reverberate for a while."
"I think it’s a shame because Turkey is an important country. Not to help would tell more about those countries than it would about Europe.”
Rumsfeld had best tread lightly. If he keeps this up, Gerhard Schroeder will drop him from his Christmas card list.