Saturday, July 03, 2004

And I thought he was just parroting the GOP to get votes

From the Gray (decrepit, putrified, decaying... scanky) Lady:

Senator Kerry is adopting a traditionally Republican refrain to give his campaign grounding and context in broad moral terms.

Where is he pitching his "values-based" campaign...? A conference of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

Breaking News - Madonna has Gay Fans!

Here's what Mr. Sullivan had to say:

I'm in awe. She's 45 years old. The two hours of astonishingly athletic choreography, dazzling video effects, and crowd-pleasing music would have taxed an 18 year-old. She truly is one of the great performers of our time. Yes, she had some fatuous anti-war and Kabbalist moments. But I'll forgive her anything.

Please Andrew... not Barbara next.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Property Rights...? You don't need no stinkin' PROPERTY RIGHTS!!!

Jeff from Tusk and Talon has a piece on the restrictive new law in Kings County Washington that prohibits development on private, residential property.

Closer to home, I have a good friend who wanted to build on his hobby farm in Madison County. The authorities there told him that he could not build anything on his property that was not an “outbuilding” or a “primary residence”. Vacation cabins are verboten.

The rationale that they gave my friend was that the county could not afford public services on the weekends for Des Moines people staying in their vacation cabins. Huh…?

One wonders what the real reason is. Halting “urban sprawl” – rots of ruck.

Just got a nod from Tim Blair on my College Reunion piece.

Very cool.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

European Anti-Americanism... a rich pedigree

Brilliant, simply brilliant essay by Bruce Bawer at the Hudson Review. Check this out:

To be sure, Western European intellectuals often claim, as Norwegian author Jens Bjørneboe did in a 1966 essay, “We Who Loved America,” that they once were pro-American but, owing to some social change in America or some U.S. government action, have altered their position. The current claim is that Europeans loved America until the Iraq War; before that, it was a truism that they loved America until Vietnam. But Bromark and Herbjørnsrud state flatly that “It wasn’t the Vietnam War that made European intellectuals, authors and academics anti-American. The truth is that they had been anti-American all along.” As early as 1881, the Norwegian author Bjørnsterne Bjørnson argued that Europe’s America-bashing had to stop; even earlier, in 1869, James Russell Lowell complained that Europeans invariably saw America “in caricature.”19 Indeed, nineteenth-century European aristocrats despised America as a symbol of progress, innovation, and (above all) equality, ridiculing it as a mongrel land of simple-minded Indians and blacks; later, avaricious Jews were added to the list. These stereotypes soon spread to Americans generally, resulting in today’s European-establishment view of Americans as materialistic morons.

It's long. It's dense and deserves two readings. Well... start with one.

Calm down everyone... nothing to see here

I had a rare moment of agreement with the Des Moines Register Editorial Board this morning. I read the first editorials “Internet I - It's uncensorable” and was amazed to find that the piece included this:

The Internet, thus, is the ultimate free market in information without supervision of editors, corporate sponsors or the government. If you believe, as did the American founders, that truth will ultimately emerge from the marketplace of ideas, this is a good thing.

Wow! Bravo! Huzzah!

Then (cue deflated, muted trumpet sound)… Wah, waah, waaaaah… we get this:

Just because you can watch a beheading on the Internet doesn't mean you should.

Thus begins “Internet II – No Need to Look”.

Oh God no. Don’t LOOK!!! You might get scared… or psychologically screwed up… Worst of all, you may just get ANGRY. Really, really, f%^king angry… And we don’t want that now, do we?

It’s like those nasty pictures from 9/11. People jumping to their deaths from those symbols of globalization and rampant capitalism. All those images do is provoke negative energy. And this is a time for healing. This is a time for coming together. This is a time for rolling over and applying the KY so that we can take it up the ol’ Hershey Highway again.

Among the reasons not to seek out the awful videos:

Watching gives the terrorist/murderers what they want. They wouldn't have posted video of their executions on the Web if they didn't want to exploit their shock value.

Well… actually, they expect us to watch and get weak at the knees, turn tail and run. What if… now stay with me here… what if these obscenities actually fortified us and filled us with deadly determination? What if, we are not quite the decadent milquetoasts the Islamo-Fascists (and the DMREB apparently) take us to be?

It invades the privacy of the victims, whose dying agonies should not be the object of morbid curiosity. .

Not to be insensitive, but the victims are, well… dead. And, the horrifying manner of their sacrifice and death CAN serve a purpose. But then we’re back to the inconvenient fact that the DMREB does not want this to upset the American people to the point of action.

It is likely to be regretted by the viewer, who may be haunted by the images long afterward.

Absolutely, if you do not feel that you can handle the intensity of the images, do not view the videos. But, good Christ, we SHOULD be haunted by those images. We should still be haunted by the images of passenger planes taking down the World Trade Center.

You know, it’s amazing to me that the DMREB and their fellow travelers are perfectly fine with us "being haunted" by the images from Abu Gharib. Oh… but those are images that foster national self doubt… Never mind.

Thanks to the Internet, everyone in the world has the opportunity to view recent executions in the Middle East posted by the killers. In pre-Internet days, very few people would have seen such images. Editors almost certainly would have chosen not to publish or broadcast them, even if film had been available. .

We know you wouldn’t have. And that’s what really scares you media elites isn’t it? It’s the fact that you and the other anointed commissars of information and culture don’t have the control you used to. It must be a scary time for you. Bummer… "And the times, they are a changin'...".

In the Internet age, everyone becomes his or her own editor, free to view anything any sick mind anywhere in the world chooses to post on a Web site. Like any freedom, it should be exercised responsibly, especially when it affects children.

The children! The CHILDREN!!!

One doesn't need to see video of the beheadings to comprehend their horror or to grasp the nature of those who perpetrate them.

Oh yeah…? Television coverage of Viet Nam anyone…? I’m thinking in particular about the film clip of the young Viet Cong prisoner shot in the head by the Saigon police chief during the Tet Offensive. I saw that on broadcast television when I was 11.

But that was prime time televised horror to curtail American imperialism. And that, of course is a good and rightous thing.
Fundies and Libbies (Liberals... not Libertarians)

State 29 takes my Liberal/Fundamentalist Christian deal and runs with it. As a bonus, he uses Michael Moore as a foil. What's not to like?

Check it out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Going Wobbly

Go read this. H/T Instapundit. Here's a sample:

There are an awful lot of people who have fallen back into that 9/10 mindset. I can't really blame them. I'd rather be there myself. I'm well aware that I'm lucky to have experienced the bit of history that I did, that we lived in an amazing time there for a little while between the end of the Cold War and September 11, 2001, when the threat of large-scale nuclear disaster had lifted and a body could feel 100% safe from the terrors of war simply by the grace of being on American soil. That's the feeling I want to have again, dammit. That's a feeling I want my daughter to someday know.

The problem at the moment seems to be that it is such an attractive feeling that folks are going right on ahead with it now, at a time when it is unfounded and therefore dangerous. Unfortunately, this danger is multiplied many-fold by the fact that the natural allies of those who do not believe that there is a continuing threat are those who believe that there is, but that it can only be mitigated through self-flagellation--by changing who we are as a people--which is the very thing that we are fighting to prevent. The first attitude is regrettable. The second is not only dangerous, but nauseating in its failure to recognize its own irony: it would, if successful, eliminate its own right to exist. If you walk down that path far enough, you find a Dark Age.

I don't, as I've said, believe that we'll get to that point, but the natural alliance between those who see no danger and those who misidentify it is something I find worrisome. It has seemed lately that what used to be a mere fringe on the left has become more of a decorative border, and soon I fear that it it will become most of the garment. A year ago, the friend I mentioned above thought that same-sex marriage would be a very good thing, and that the War was also a very good thing, that such things went hand in hand as freedom and freedom secured. Eight months ago, she decided that same-sex marriage was more important than the War, and changed her party affiliation. Now she is convinced that George W. Bush is a greater threat to freedom than the folks who are intent on killing us.

Well, if we get complacent now, there's a good chance that there's going to be hell to pay. Now, scoot... go read the whole thing
Okay... let's assume that Bush did lie

I'm not sure that it's going to do much good in persuading my liberal college chums, but there has been some good discussion regarding the "Bush lied..." uh... "argument".

Keith Burgess-Jackson has a logical deconstruction of it in Tech Central Station called Liberal Disingenuousness About the War in Iraq A taste:

The point of these theoretical reflections is this: Even if President Bush lied about Iraqi involvement in the attacks of 9-11 and about the existence, in Iraq, of weapons of mass destruction, all the argumentative work remains to be done! Only absolutist deontologists, [people who believe that lying is ALWAYS wrong] of whom I suspect there are few, say that the fact that President Bush lied disposes of the question whether the war was justified. Everyone else must examine the consequences of the war vis-à-vis the consequences of alternative courses of action-and that has nothing to do with President Bush.

But, hey... "Bush lied, people died." rhymes... I guess it's a Jesse Jackson/liberal thing. "If it rhymes, the idea climbs!"

Fouad Ajami hits the topic from a different angle in an article primarily about how the Iraqis are going to have to step up and take the reigns.

If Mr. Bush and Tony Blair had dispatched a big military force in search of weapons of mass destruction only to end up with a humanitarian war that delivered Iraq from a long nightmare of despotism, the Iraqis will have turned out to be the prime beneficiaries of this campaign. They should not quarrel with their good fortune. In the course of a more normal history, Iraqis would have sacked their own despotism, overturned, on their own, the dictator's monuments and statues, written their own story of rebellion against tyranny. They didn't, and no doubt a measure of their rage, over the last year or so, was the proud attempt of a prickly people to escape that unflattering fact of their history.

Mr. Ajami is right, regardless of the reasons (and Bushitler's veracity...) the Iraqi people are in a better position to develop freedom at home and join the community of nations than ever before.

We've served our own national security interests and given the people of Iraq an opportunity for liberty and pursuit of happiness. We will need to be a challenging combination of supportive and aloof to help them pull this off.

Monday, June 28, 2004

College Reunion

Last weekend my wife Brenda and I attended my 25th college reunion. I graduated from a small, liberal arts college in Wisconsin. Think Grinnell or Coe...

I was shocked... SHOCKED to discover that I was the only pro-Bush, libertarian leaning type at the shindig. Bush-bashing was deregeur. Many were atwitter over "Fahrenheit 9/11". A couple of not-so-veiled anti-Reagan comments slipped out.

The experience was surreal enough... it's just plain bizarre enough to return to a place you spent a very intense 4 years at -- with people you were tight with after 25 years. To find that they are truly the subculture that you'd expect only to find at Berkley... I guess it wasn't unexpected, but it was powerful.

Unjust war... international law... unilateral aggression... no WMDs... Afghanistan was bad enough, but Iraq... blahdee, blahdee, blah...

These are good people. These are smart people. On many levels, these are very thoughtful people. And, it seems to me that they are very much like a group of folks that most of them despise.

They are very much like fundamentalist Christians.

They, like most fundies, have the best of intentions. And they believe that they know what's best... for themselves and... for you and me. Human behavior must be modified. And not just to keep people from stepping on each other's toes. No, people must be compelled to be altruistic. If not in voluntary deeds, then by the compulsory, governmental collection plate.

It could be argued that my college alumni friends and the fundies come from the same Northeastern puritanical roots... but that's a topic for another piece.

My point is that many of my college friends have a heapin' helpin' of unexamined beliefs and assumptions. They feel very strongly about them. I think... at least I hope... if the conversation got down to first cases... that they would think some of those assumptions down to the root.

I suspect (and again hope) that they would not like some of what they would find.

Update: Welcome Tim Blair readers!!! Thanks for the link Mr. Blair.
And there you have it.

James Lileks had an encounter with door-to-door Kerry supporters. The conversation turns to Kerry repealing Bush's tax cuts. Mr. Lileks explains that his tax cut built the new front steps to the house the young Kerry supporter is standing on. It allowed some masons to get a job. He has new steps. Everyone wins... or so you would think. Her response speaks volumes:

"Well, it's a philosophical difference," she sniffed. She had pegged me as a form of life last seen clilcking the leash off a dog at Abu Ghraib. "I think the money should have gone straight to those people instead of trickling down" Those last two words were said with an edge.

"But then I wouldn't have hired them," I said. "I wouldn't have new steps. And they wouldn't have done anything to get the money."

"Well, what did you do?", she snapped.

"What do you mean?"

"Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?"

"They didn't give it to me. They just took less of my money."

That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:

"Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money."

And there it is... the young Kerry volunteer was so young and naive that the truth just slipped out.

Out of the mouths of babes.