Oct 152007

Is there anything more vacuous than a bunch of Republican candidates arguing about who is the real conservative?

Why, yes, there is. The news coverage of that argument is much more brainless! It makes these candidates look like a bunch of Einsteins in comparison.

Consider this ABC news article, “Thompson whacks Guiliani on Home Turf.”

Whacks? Whacks??? This isn’t slapstick. It’s criticism. it’s debate. Why does ABC demean it by calling it “whacking”? (No, don’t answer that. We know why.)

Here are the airheads at ABC News:

Thompson’s salvo, which he planned on repeating Monday evening at a meeting of New York’s Conservative Party, fit in perfectly with the latest back and forth among the GOP presidential candidates about who is authentically Republican, and who is faking it.

It’s more than traditional campaign rhetoric — they are challenging one another’s very legitimacy as Republicans. It’s a dynamic that seems natural in this race, with no clear Republican front-runner who can claim overwhelming support among the GOP’s conservative base.

Some analysis, huh? They tell us there is a fight, but avoid any mention that there is some substance to it. But when ABC news lets the candidates speak for themselves, we get to some important issues:

Giuliani campaign press secretary Maria Comella responded, “Mayor Giuliani is the only candidate who does more than just talk about the importance of Republican principles — he actually has the track record to back it up.

“It’s easy to throw around meaningless rhetoric, but quite another thing to stand up to a Democratic majority and successfully cut taxes, control spending and reform welfare.”

Good question, that. It’s one thing to talk Republican principles. But so many Republicans fold when faced with real opposition from the leftwing hate machine. I’ll bet I would if I was in their shoes, on account of I’m too easy-going. This is one reason you don’t want me to be President, even though I have a disconcerting habit of being right about things. You need somebody who has been tested under fire.

And there is more. It isn’t the Lincoln-Douglas debates by any means, but it’s a whole lot more meaningful than the ABC reporting on the topic. Maybe ABC would do well to just shut up and let the candidates speak if it can’t do any better than words like “whack” and “salvo.”

Oh, btw, I don’t think there’s any more chance I’ll vote for Giuliani than that I’d ever vote for George W. Bush. I’m just saying he made a good point.

At least that ABC article gives us some nice photos of the four top GOP candidates. It made me realize that I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of those four on TV. I have no problem with it staying that way. And since I’m not watching the baseball postseason this year, it means I probably won’t go near a television until March Madness. So I’m going to fall behind in cultural literacy again.

Oct 142007

In my previous post about the AP coverage of the Larry Craig/Sandy Berger scandals, I linked to a Fox News story that I thought was an AP story. I got this by going to google news and entering the search terms “Sandy Berger.”

Google news entry

The only story that came up on the first page that seemed to be an AP one was the third one in the list, the one that is datelined “AP Washington”. I figured FOX news had printed an AP story. But in looking at the Fox News link, there is narry a word about that article coming from the AP.

So is the AP even silenter than we had thought on the Sandy Berger scandal? If you google for “Larry Craig,” you have no trouble at all finding Associated Press articles.

Oct 142007

When comparing the lies of Bush and Clinton, leftwingers would ask how could we possibly compare lies about a mere sex scandal with lies that caused people to die.

So now we have a Republican sex scandal and Democrats are saying, “He lied, he lied! Larry Craig said he would resign, and he isn’t doing it.”

And at the same time we learn that a man who lied about national security, who was convicted for stealing and destroying documents, is serving as an unofficial advisor to one of the leading presidential candidates. If national security really is national security, it’s a matter in which millions of lives are at stake.

So now which issue are Democrats, e.g. the Associated Press, saying is the more important?

Here is the AP on the sex scandal:

Now that scandal-tinged Idaho Sen. Larry Craig has reneged on a pledge to resign this fall, his fellow Republican senators act as though they hardly know him. They want voters to forget him, too.

But they privately acknowledge that an earlier strategy to drive Craig from office has backfired, sticking them with an open-ended ethics investigation likely to keep the issue before the public for months.

And here is the AP about the national security scandal. Note that there is not a word saying this issue is likely to be kept before the public for months.

I assume we can take this to mean that the AP is telling us it is going to campaign hard for the Democrats on the Larry Craig issue, and is going to report no more than absolutely necessary on the Sandy Berger/Hillary Clinton scandal.

Oct 132007

Naomi Schaefer Riley has an article at the WSJ about how rich people have trouble giving money to universities. Well, the universities will gladly take the money, but they are not willing to use it to fund educational programs that the leftwing establishment types don’t like. Example:

The Robertson family at Princeton has not been so lucky. In 1961, Charles and Marie Robertson (an heiress to the A&P supermarket fortune), donated $35 million to the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University to prepare students for careers in government service. The Robertsons’ descendants now claim that the university has diverted the funds to projects completely unrelated to this mission. In 2002, they sued Princeton to reclaim the endowment, now estimated to be nearly $500 million. Five years later, they still haven’t gotten a refund.

Apparently there is now an organization called the Center for Excellence in Higher Education which will help donors get their funds used for reform:

Along with John M. Templeton Jr. and the John William Pope Foundation, Mr. Marcus has provided the seed money ($5 million) for the Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE). The Indianapolis-based center, launched last month, aims to help donors “use philanthropy as a lever to reform higher education,” says Frederic Fransen, its executive director. Reform includes a greater emphasis on core curricula, a free-market understanding of economics, a more balanced approach to politics, affordable tuition, tenured faculty who spend more time in the classroom, greater transparency in university governance, and an end to grade inflation.

I suppose that might be the thing for some donors. But here is a better idea for all you millionaires and billionaires who rely on me for advice: Give your money to FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. It is working to protect free speech in academia. The academy was once a bulwark of free speech, but has now become one of its biggest threats. The way things are going, there soon won’t be any universities where one would be proud to have one’s name on a new research building. But a few major donations to FIRE or other such advocacy organizations could have a powerful effect in preserving our once-great university system.

Oct 122007

The news media and google have been flogging this news item in the past 24 hours:

Will Nobel mean Gore will run for president?

Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:18am EDT

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Democrat Al Gore on Friday increases pressure on him to launch a late bid for the U.S. presidency, but advisers say he is showing no signs of interest in the 2008 race.

This isn’t journalism. It’s campaigning.

If Al Gore wants to enter the race now, fine. I don’t like the idea of candidates in either party wrapping up their nominations early, like George W. Bush did. If he has supporters who want to take advantage of the Nobel prize to push the issue, fine.

But disguising this campaign as Reuters has done? This is not reporting. This is beating the drums for a bandwagon.

There is no reason a Nobel prize puts pressure on anyone to run for president. Lots of people have won Nobel prizes without it putting pressure on them to run for anything. It might give people some publicity they can use to their advantage, but it doesn’t pressure them.

Here’s an honest lead sentence Reuters might have used: “Gore supporters are using the recent award of a Nobel prize to promote the idea of a run for the presidency.”

Or if it wanted to be a news agency instead of a partisan campaign agency, maybe it could instead do a little investigative reporting, and find out the role of these Gore groups in getting him the Nobel prize. We’ll probably find out anyway, several years from now. But Reuters could get a scoop and tell us about it now. That would be newsworthy.

Oct 112007

I hate being right so much of the time, like when I refer to Academic Intolerance, or when I say there are no more liberals (except for Nat Hentoff) because they’ve all become leftwing fascists. Or when I point out how I’ll end my days in one of Hillary’s internment camps. I hate it when she shows herself more and more to be the kind of person to prove me right. I’d rather be mistaken and be laughed at for being overly paranoid.

So it was rather spooky to read Daniel Henninger’s column in the WSJ in which he tells us that agents of federal authority are now talking about censuring a talk radio host. That was news to me. And he brings up a good question which ought to be brought before Senator Clinton and examined backwards and forwards, inside and out:

I would like to put a question to the senator: Would you defend Rush Limbaugh’s speech rights against the pressure that was brought upon him on the floor of the Senate by your colleagues Harry Reid and Ken Salazar? Colorado’s Sen. Salazar went so far last week as to say he’d support a Senate vote to “censure” Mr. Limbaugh. Rhymes with censor.

And then I thought he was pointing out how academics are now coming out of the closet with some repressive, anti-free speech moves, which is where things really got scary.

Who threw the first stone in these media-driven bloodlettings? Good question. But to my knowledge the right has no equivalent to “repressive tolerance,” the aggressive theory of scorched-earth political argument laid out in the hothouse years of the 1960s by the late left-wing political philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Just last November, in an admiring essay for the Chronicle of Higher Education, the left polemicist Stanley Fish aptly summed up Marcuse’s assertion that “liberal” notions of tolerance for political speech should be overturned.

The rationale for this notion is that standard tolerance is rigged against the left. In practice, tolerance extends only to the ideas and beliefs of the powerful, while it shuts out ideas on behalf of the weak or “marginalized”–the poor, minorities, women and the rest. Mr. Fish says liberals fail to see “the dark side of their favorite virtue.”

Prof. Fish has an alternative to traditions of tolerance, and to anyone awash in American politics today it will sound familiar: “That is to say, and Marcuse says it, anything the right does is bad and should not be tolerated; anything the left does is good and should be welcomed.” This would explain the emotional intensity and animosity in politics now: The other side no longer deserves minimal respect.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I think Mr. Henninger is mistaken in saying (or at least implying) that Stanley Fish is speaking approvingly of Marcuse’s statement. I just finished reading that Chronicles of Higher Education article (in the November 10, 2006 issue). Fish may be a leftwing polemicist, but I didn’t find that article to be polemical. It raises a lot of good points about the nature of liberal tolerance which we had better understand if we think we are going to defend it.

I wish it was somewhere online that’s generally accessible, because it ought to be widely discussed.

Oh, and just to give a sample, Fish makes a point that C.S. Lewis had made on another topic. (Or was it the same topic?) Lewis had said you can’t derive conclusions in the imperative from premises in the indicative. Fish, points out that you can’t derive conclusions about what to do to promote and defend tolerance by analyzing its nature. (The article is basically an essay about Wendy Brown’s book, “Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire.”)

On balance, I think it is the latter; she wants a better universalism than liberalism’s, but her articulations of it are without content, as they will necessarily be if she thinks to derive it from her critique of liberalism and liberal tolerance. That critique, to repeat the point made earlier, tells you what liberal tolerance is made of; it doesn’t tell you whether it is bad or good, and it certainly doesn’t tell you what should be put in its place.

I think in looking for threats to the values represented by the 1st Amendment, Mr. Henninger caught the wrong Fish. At least I hope so.

Edit: Fixed the spelling of Mr. Henninger’s name.

Oct 102007

Sen. Clinton: Sandy Berger has ‘no official role in my campaign’

So is that supposed to make it better? Is that sufficient to make the media quit asking more questions about it?

I mean, the guy is a crook. He jeopardized national security and stole government documents, getting off with a slap on the wrist.

What difference does it make if his role is “unofficial?” Back when the Clintons were obstructing justice, did it somehow make it better if it wasn’t done “officially”?

Or is Hillary just trying to flaunt her basic criminality, knowing it will serve her well if she can corrupt the news media now by making them accomplices. (It’s the same psychological technique LBJ used on his aides, making them come close and conduct business while he sat on the toilet stool taking care of bodily functions usually done in private. It broke down their self-respect and made them partakers in his ruthless behavior.)

I suspect she is telling us there will be no official crimes, but that there will be crimes. And she wants the media to know and fear her criminal nature, and to not dare speak loudly of it.

Here is a reminder from Larry Klayman, lest we forget, of the kind of behavior she is asking us to pretend to forget, but to remember well.

While Judicial Watch has asked FBI Director Louis Freeh to investigate this attempted judge-tampering by the Clinton-Gore White House — and he has promised to do so in a personal letter which I received in the last few weeks — the “hazing” of Judge Lamberth continues unabated.

In a bogus and premature “appeal” of Judge Lamberth’s finding that the president had violated Ms. Willey’s privacy rights — through a writ of mandamus procedure — the Clinton-Gore Justice Department mocked and ridiculed this fine jurist in court pleadings. Asking the appellate court to set aside Judge Lamberth’s ruling even before the end of the case — which is when appeals are supposed to be heard — the president asked the higher judicial body to do him a favor and reverse the lower court’s decision now. The motive was obviously to protect the Senate race of Hillary Clinton — who participated in the crime committed by the president.

When the “appeal” was argued in court last week, two liberal pro-Clinton judges on the three-judge panel continued the personal attack. While effectively admitting that the attempted appeal was premature, procedurally flawed, and thus frivolous, these two judges questioned, in mocking language, how any decision by Judge Lamberth could be respected. One of the appellate judges, who was appointed by Democrat President Jimmy Carter, went so far as to say, while himself incredibly laughing from the bench:

To be very candid, I think any White House, no matter who is in it, would laugh at the suggestion Judge Lamberth is your guiding light.

Yesterday, this liberal appeals court panel, which included a Clinton appointee who refused to recuse himself, predictably was forced to affirm Judge Lamberth’s decision but, again, could not resist taking more shots at him. In largely unnecessary language of their own, they stated:

We view the District Court’s discussion of the crime-fraud exception [i.e., finding that Bill Clinton had committed a crime] as unnecessary to his decision. Indeed, it was inappropriate for the District Court gratuitously to invoke sweeping pronouncements on alleged criminal activity that extended well beyond what was necessary to decide the matters at hand.

Not only was this behavior transparent — to embarrass Judge Lamberth in front of a packed courtroom of over 200 reporters and then in a written opinion — but perhaps was also done in order to put a chilling effect on Lamberth’s willingness to continue to make strong rulings against the most corrupt administration in American history. You see, judges of a feather — largely liberal Democrats in this instance — flock together, lest they forfeit their ability to curry favor in influential political circles that can advance, or destroy, their aspirations.

Oct 092007

The moonbats are up in arms over the wingnuts’ investigation into the actual circumstances of the exploitation of Graeme Frost for partisan political purposes.

But this is what happens in village society, as in “It takes a village.” That’s what it means to have a village raise a child. What s/he does is everyone’s business.

Oct 082007

David Everitt shows that no one political faction has a monopoly on the urge to stifle the opposition. He addresses the question: Is there an echo of the old McCarthy era blacklists? The sad thing is that we have so many examples like this, and so few of the “I disagree with what you say, but defend your right to say it” type.

With the kind of demagoguery found in both periods comes an eagerness to stifle the opposition, sometimes successful, sometimes not, but always managing to inject intolerance into the public square. During the 1950s, the most damage done to political adversaries, and civil liberties in general, was perpetrated by right-wing zealots when they took advantage of the furor over the Korean War and installed a media purge. Leftists couldn’t match the right’s efforts – but not for lack of trying. During World War II, they had supported the Roosevelt administration’s sedition trials and the suppression of publications considered pro-Axis. Later, as the Cold War began, the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship demanded that an anti-Soviet film, The Iron Curtain, be banned, and the Voice of Freedom Committee attacked anti-Communist radio commentators by organizing protest campaigns against their sponsors, employing techniques that presaged the methods used later by Red hunters to instigate the blacklist. A similar tendency would even be embraced by avowed free-speech champion John Henry Faulk. Just three years after striking a blow for tolerance and fair play in his historic 1962 libel trial, he adopted the tactical thinking of his old enemies by urging the John Lindsay mayoral campaign to publicize the past political affiliations of rival candidate William F. Buckley in order to “shut him up.”

In our own times, the readiness to silence the opposition continues to crop up. While the right tried to derail the careers of Danny Glover and the Dixie Chicks, the left attempted to do the same for radio psychologist Laura Schlesinger and, just recently, proposed a bill to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in an effort to undermine the influence of conservative talk radio. On the broader political scene, this habit has been accompanied by extremist rhetoric and paranoid conspiracy-mongering, also reminiscent of the blacklist period. Some on the left have characterized Dick Cheney as a Nazi, just as Secretary of State Dean Acheson was once branded the “Red Dean.” Many have recently fulminated over a Zionist, neo-conservative cabal that secretly controls the Bush administration, just as right-wingers once denounced an insidious group of Ivy League pinkos manipulating foreign policy in the early Cold War (while leftists simultaneously insisted that Truman was the puppet of Wall Street warmongers).

Oct 062007

“Heating assistance more necessary than tax cuts.”

We’ve all seen opinions that are headlined like that during the winter heating season.  But what about assistance with the high energy cost of operating golf carts and swimming pools?   Isn’t that important, too?  Isn’t something like that important enough to discard all limitations on governmental power so it can come to the rescue?

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Something New Under the Sun,”  we’re already getting this essential government service:

One of the products shown was the Sunray SX2 golf cart. Made by Cruise Car Inc. of Sarasota, Fla., the cart comes equipped with a 48-volt battery that is charged by electricity generated from a sheet of black solar cells on the roof. The cart can travel as long as three days without having to be charged again, the company says, and retails for about $7,000 — or $6,000 after federal tax credits. That’s in line with the average price of an electric golf cart.

Also on display were redesigned heating coils for swimming pools. Heliocol USA Inc., for instance, displayed plastic tubes that collect heat for pools and come battened down with high-strength alligator clamps to withstand winds from hurricanes and severe thunderstorms. For a typical backyard pool in, say, Arizona, the system runs around $6,000, or $5,000 after tax credits. Since it costs as much as $650 a month to heat pools when the weather cools in the Arizona desert, Heliocol vendors say the system can pay for itself in two years.