Thursday, December 23, 2004

Warm fuzzies and responsible handling of power

Take a look at this piece I picked up on RCP.

George Washington was a remarkable man for many reasons, chief among which was the fact that he turned down the lure of power for himself, realizing that leadership was not about him, but about the people he served, and their ability to make choices for themselves. And the last line is the killer...there are things more important tham politics.

Wishing all my bretheren, left right and somewhere in the middle a very, very merry Christmas!

Another opportunity to dislike America

I posted just a moment ago about the Mosul blast. And predictably, the lefties are using it to form the epitaph on Bush's second term before it has even begun.

Of course Richard Stevenson at the NYT jumps on the Bush bashing bandwagon and implies, without using the words, that this is another Vietnam. And then he adds, "polls have shown for months that majorities or near-majorities of Americans think that invading Iraq was a mistake or not worth the cost in lives, money and prestige abroad." Which polls? The ones I saw indicated a two to one support for the war and a desire to see the thing through. A little bit in the way of facts, please, not just an assertion. Hugh Hewitt does a nice job dispatching this garbage, noting that the twaddle preached in publications like the NYT often comes from the journalism schools where young writers come out with a fairly anti-American attitude.

Just for the record, hating America does not make one more objective or moderate. It makes you a tilted journalist whose reporting will be predictably to the left, not one who packs articles full of facts designed to be interpreted by the reader.

Of course, Fox News, which asks hard questions of all sides and makes no bones about its pro-American stance is accused of being the voice of the Bush Administration. Fair enough, as there may really be something to that. Because it seems that the liberals who scramble in front of the cameras or write copy behind the scenes nowadays are eager to excuse violence against Americans as a legitimate means of protesting some disagreement with the eternally flawed American foreign (or even domestic) policy, or disagreements with our very existence. If conservatives are the pro-American voice, the liberals, and more specifically the Democrats are increasingly becoming the party that is in America but not of it.

They love the power of the nation, but not the people who place their lives in danger to exercise it. They love the money that flows into the government, but not the enterprise that permits it. They love the freedoms the Constitution provides, but don't like it when the rest of us avail ourselves of those same freedoms. They love the idea of governing, but not the people whose lives their work affects.

It's ok to disagree with the conservatives. But it's not ok to hate America or what makes it great. And excusing attacks on American civilians, condemning its defense of itself, and belittling the values of the common man is not the work of a patriot.

What the Mosul blast means

This morning we're getting word that the evidence shows that this was the work of a human bomb. My first question is pretty obvious...how the hell does a suicide bomber get into a secured area? A valid question, and indeed, a central one.

The media is jumping on this as a tragedy for Bush's second term, and Don Rumsfeld.

But forget that. This is evidence of just how nasty this war really is. We are not fighting armies, but rather a sneaky band of devils who are eager to kill whomever they have to in order to reduce Iraq and then the world to a medieval feudal Wahab-Islamist state.

This killer snuck in and attacked people who were having dinner, not the soldiers at the gates with rifles at the ready. This is not a symmetrical situation where we blast the enemy on the battlefield. This is asymmetrical warfare where we actually have to de-louse cities and kill people where they hide. This is a war against cowardly people who want to subjugate a population.

Neither Bush nor Rumsfeld nor the commanders on the ground can offer assurances that our soldiers are 100% safe. And the media and others in the whining classes have convinced themselves that in this era, we can isolate ourselves from danger while on the front lines. But again, this is war. People die, both good and bad. It is sick, sad, and scary, but this is the price of a free world.

The bad guys will continue to work desperate acts like this because they really know that they are in a corner. These pockets of resistance as they are called are international terrorists who are trying to break our will. Just like it happened 35 years ago. But we can't let it be done.

Mosul reminds us that the war on terror is necessarily a mess. The bad guys can slip through. and as the President has said before, we have to be perfect hundreds of times every day. They have to get lucky but once. The Islamists have no hope of taking on our military head on. They would be decimated in moments. But it's not easy picking the troublemakers out of the crowd of innocents. Sure, there are parallels to Vietnam. But the main difference is that we removed the government that they hated and are establishing a popularly elected government that may love us or hate us. It's about the Iraqis, not U.S. interests. And what is good for the Iraqis is good for the world.

The war on terror is hard, grueling work being done by, yes, the military we have. The military we inherited from Bill Clinton. This won't be over in 2005. It won't be over in 2006. And probably not even in 2007. Amazing things do not often happen overnight, nor are they FedExed to your doorstep. To be done right this will take time. And other little murderers will slip through.

It's all they have--because they're losing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

ACLU - Dogma, not science matters

WorldNetDaily has a pretty decent piece on the ACLU attacking a Pennsylvania school's plan to teach other theories besides evolution.

The problem with this is that, as few know, evolution is not science, but philosophy. It is not even a theory. It remains a hypothesis, as it has not been exposed to the scientific method. And the same with the creationist/intelligent design paradigm. But the problem is that the ACLU, which is uninterested in the civil liberties of anyone but the far left and which files lawsuits to enforce a fiercely secularized society, ignores that fact. And it shows by what is in this other WND article where an Atlanta school placed a disclaimer on a school book explaining that evolution isn't all there is to the debate on the origins of life. So, the ACLU attorney contends that the Atlanta school board is, "doing more than accommodating religion. They are promoting religious dogma to all students." What did the label say? You might want to get the kids out of the room...here goes:

"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

And I thought it was a good thing to have an open mind. But that's the whole thing...the left, and their legal arm, the aforementioned ACLU, do not want students to approach evolution with an open mind, but rather to swallow it whole. And this is a manifestation of one of the central tenets of liberalism--strict orthodoxy. So when children are told to think for themselves about the origins of life on earth, these people cast it as an ex cathedra edict from the Vatican being taught in public schools. The left cannot bear criticism because on some level, they know that their beliefs, economic, social, and religious are tried and failed.

Whatever one thinks of the idea that we were created by an intelligent being, it is actually a heck of a lot more believable than the notion that inanimate chemicals intelligently and perfectly formed to create us. And given a fossil record that reveals no transitional species ("missing links") it seems that evolution requires a heck of a lot more faith to believe than an intelligent design or creationist point of view. And that would be faith of the "blind" variety.

Evolution seemed a fine proposal, but it was one with a preexisting agenda. Darwin wanted to explain the beginnings of life in the absence of God. But the evidence does not support it. Check the writings and research of the late Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University. Gould was a staunch evolutionist but admitted that the evidence did not support the hypothesis, and often proposed alternate ideas to explain the development of organized life when others failed.

But the secular left has latched on to evolution because it matches their world view of a God-absent universe. And whether they call it that or not, that's a religious belief. And they're cramming it down our throats. So the school, by doing its job in encouraging children to fairly look at these unproven ideas, failing to favor one over the other, but explaining that both are to be equally and critically examined has run afoul of the thought police of the left.

How narrow-minded. How dogmatic. How typical.

More Washington Governor Talk

Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics.com, as usual, nails it on the head. A kindred spirit.

The scary thing about this is that all of the conservatives who opined about the Dem's post election tactics were right, insofar as it was presumed that they would suddenly drop their efforts to discern the will of the voters the first time any count put their candidate ahead. Because at that point, the voters have spoken, right?

But my own snide commentary aside, this isn't all that funny. The Dems have played around like this numerous times over the years, but I can't recall a single time that they pulled ahead (please post here to correct me if I'm wrong). We only presumed that they would do this. And it seems that they are really just that unscrupulous, and their concern for voter intent was simply a mantra to keep public opinion from collapsing on them.

And these people want to be in charge of you. Comfortable with that?

Democrats pull the steal in Washington

I'm one of those obnoxious types who loves a good "I told you so." So, here you go! The Democrats, after pulling numerous votes out of their respective and collective posteriors, meaning that absentee ballots which were previously uncounted had materialized without any chain of custody being established for them, some with questionable signatures, and some with absolutely no vote for governor (meaning that the "will of the voter" needed to be discerned, by Democrats of course), have mounted an eight vote lead for Democrat Attorney General Christine Gregoire. So that's it, say the Dems. They won, so the recounts can finally stop. The people have spoken.

I was going to go into a speech about how the Dems would have then claimed it was a hard fought election, they won by the narrowest of margins (which would be illegitimate if a Republican won by the same margin, of course), and it's time to put the whole matter to rest. Whew! But Richard Baehr does an even better job of it, and gives some history on Democrat election-stealing to boot. This is not a new tactic. They have been quick to stuff ballot boxes and equally quick to run to court to twist the standards for vote counting in order to have their hands on power. It's a shame that the voters are simply details in their efforts to "win".

I think the most important aspect of this is the pure arrogance that they have displayed to the State of Washington and the nation. The message is that the will of the people and the system, imperfect but good, matters not when the Democrats are on the ballot. Their addition to government power in their hands has taken an impossible turn to transparent election mischief. The cloak of legality they try to place on it fools only the likes of Terry McAullife and the other regulars who are too stupid to think beyond the party's talking points. And in this age, it's growing old.

Boss Dailey could steal an election in Chicago in 1960 without too much media attention. That wouldn't happen today. With cable news, specifically Fox, and the blogosphere, shenanigans are no longer hidden, they're exposed as they happen.

And as folks see this, the point that Baehr makes becomes all the more important, namely that even Democrat voters in Washington aren't too enamored of post election vote gaming. If the Dems keep it up, and they will, this is the kind of thing that will turn close elections into sure things for the Republicans. Nobody likes to support a dirty trickster.

But a prediction is in order. The Republicans MUST challenge this. The Democrats have done a truly immoral thing, and failing to attack it just encourages more, and erodes our legal system. And when the Republicans do, the charges of disenfranchisement, bad faith litigation, trying to steal the election--the very thing the Democrats did--will issue from their mouths.

It's a double standard they hold. It's the duty of those of us who vote to make clear that it won't be tolerated. Nor will stealing elections.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What talk of unity?

It appears that the pro-Putin Viktor Yanukovych is making a call for unity. He also called for the apparent loser to accept defeat. How big of him. Let's hope he starts taking his own advice.

Frankly, I hate this kind of stuff. Yanukovych really has no place calling for the very thing he has tirelessly worked against in this election. Note in the debate that he says that Viktor Yuschenko will only be leader of part of Ukraine (i.e., the non ethnic Russian part). Note well that Yuschenko was almost killed by deliberate dioxin poisoning. That kind of thing will divide people. Of course, Yanukovych was cool to Yuschenko's offer to tour the country with him after the election to promote unity. But it sounded good in a debate. Hmmm...dividing an electorate based on ethnicity in order to inflame emotions. Sound familiar?

I issued this post just after the election because John Kerry did the same thing. After a year of screeching rhetoric, accusations of the worst kind of behavior, and efforts to pit group against group, and credible allegations of election mischief by and on behalf of the Democrats, Kerry has the gall to call for unity, implicitly laying the burden of doing it on the shoulders of Bush. Which is much like Michael Jackson complaining that kids avoid him nowadays.

Make no mistake, both the current ruling government in Ukraine and the Democrats are birds of a feather. They use similar tacics and have the same attitude of entitlement to power. And the same disdain for the people they propose to serve.

So Yanukovych can spare us the laments about division. The one who caused it can't complain about it.

Extending the iron grip of freedom

Check out this post in the Post which pretty well sums up the U.S. "meddling" in Ukraine election. I said previously here and here that Russia's involvement in the Ukraine election was reprehensible, as well as the U.S. media's coverage of it. They were more interested (CBS most notably) in finding fault with the U.S. for meddling in the election.

And why not? After all, such efforts injected an unwanted modicum of fairness and transparency into the election when the existing government had every right to inject fraud, hinder the legitimate prevention of free speech, and prevent a perfectly fairly stolen election from staying stolen.

The effect this will have on Ukraine is no doubt clear. Entrenched pro-authoritarian elites will be increasingly powerless against the cruel will of the average citizen and his and her misbegotten vote. Votes will actually be cast and counted on a one for one basis. People will be disenfranchised when voters who have already voted at least once, will be turned away from the polls because of a cynical one-man-one-vote rule. Where is Jesse Jackson in all this!?! And worst of all, intimidation of Yuschenko supporters by Yanukovych/Kuchma jackboots will actually be seen as election tampering. What has the world come to?

As the Democrats have properly noted in the United States, preventing such tactics makes it much harder for them to win elections. Just like a fair election will put Yuschenko on top. How completely bourgeois.

Monday, December 20, 2004

It's time for them to go

The oft repeated campaign refrain from 1992 and then 2000 can just as well be applied to Kofi Annan and his cronies today.

Take a look at this post in WSJ today. It's by Kenneth Cain, no friend to Republican Administrations or Bush foreign policy, but rather, someone who witnessed the consequences of Annan's leadership. Cain is a rank and file UN lover who worked in Rawanda and Yugoslavia, places where the UN could have easily prevented genocide, but willingly failed to do so. The case he makes against Kofi Annan is breathtaking.

In Rawanda, 800,000 Tutsis died, and in a very short period of time. But they didn't have to. Cain states as follows:
Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the U.N.'s force commander in Rwanda, sent Mr. Annan a
series of desperate faxes including one warning that Hutu militias "could kill
up to 1,000" Tutsis "in 20 minutes" and others pleading for authority to protect
vulnerable civilians. But at the crucial moment, Mr. Annan ordered his general
to stand down and to vigorously protect, not genocide victims, assembled in their numbers waiting to die, but the U.N.'s image of "impartiality."

How's that again? I think he meant "fecklessness." By any standard, this was a time to light up the Hutus. Yes, there would be blood spilled, people killed, a mess made--but in this case, only a band of killers would have met their end. This decision speaks volumes about Annan's inability to lead anything but a university sociology discussion group. Since when are innocent and defenseless men, women and children ever a group that do not deserve favor over murderers?

And the same for Srebrenica in Yugoslavia. Men and boys were carted off by Serbian militas for extermination. They were taken from a so-called UN Safe Zone. I suppose safe for whom is the question.

While such a high-minded attitude towards discharging fire on hostile forces attacking unarmed civilians may make good sense among the UN foreign policy elite, the rest of us tend to take a dim view of just standing by.

It's one thing to fail to take sides in a legitimate dispute between opposing groups. It is quite another to stand by and watch murder of thousands of innocents in order to make some academic point. And this series of accounts illustrates more than anything that Kofi Annan is a very evil man.

It is hard for Annan to argue that he was not complicit in these genocides, if only becuase he prevented the so called peace keepers from doing their duty. Evil often takes the form of one failing to act when they could. Check Psalm 1...standing in the way of evil...not participating, but not opposing...it's a moral choice, not one of objectivity.

Because evil rarely ever needs help. It just needs a lack of opposition. And Kofi Annan deserves some thanks from the bad guys. His reputation of objectivity is secure with them.

Which raises another important question. Why are UN peace keepers armed if there is no situation where they would discharge their arms?

If anything, this illustrates why Americans need not be deployed among this worthless band. Because as Americans, we'd have let the bad guys have it. And a bunch of little Rawandan children would still be alive. A bunch of women would still have their men in Yugoslavia. But Kofi had a bigger point to make. Good for him.

It's time for him to go.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Christmas letter writing clinic

This is the time of year when people get much more jolly, when folks reunite in person or spirit after a year (or years) of not having seen one another, and thus, it's a time of catching up.

And so out come the Christmas Cards, and the little inserts that some attach with pictures of the kids and the dogs, and of course, the Christmas letter that catches us all up on the activities of the past year. Now I find Christmas letters to be an absolutely wonderful way of sharing the goings on of the family, and I encourage people to do them. But there are ways to do them right and ways to do them wrong. And the crop I've run into over the past few years has had both good and otherwise. So in the spirit of holiday goodness, I'm offering some pointers in the art of tasteful Christmas letter writing. And while it's late in the season, and most of you have already written your happy little notes, maybe some of you procrastinators could use some help.

Keep the Christmas letter happy. I know that there are years when other-than-happy things take place. Trust me, been there. But a Christmas letter that says just how awful your boss is, how obnoxious the neighbors are, how hideous the kids have become, how the divorce is going, what sentence the judge gave your brother, or the latest outrage committed by your overbearing mother are things that seem just a tad out of place in a Christmas letter. And if you insist on writing about a year best forgotten, keep it upbeat and include the things you've learned form misfortune. Otherwise, nobody will think the less of you for failing to write a letter.

For example, upon purchasing our home, our sellers were kind enough to conceal various "unpleasantries". Within 5 days of our move in, the antique washer and dryer went up. We had to spend to get 2 new ones. Then our wonderful range either burned food to a crisp or undercooked it (and there was a gas line behind it that went unused!! I changed that). Then we discovered why last winter was so miserably cold. That winter wasn't any colder than any other winter of course, but three inches of insulation does nothing to hold in the heat. We quadrupled it by tossing in a half ton of cellulose (the name for shredded newspaper and phone books when it has a practical use). Or the new front door I installed. It looked so good that we needed to rip out the floor in the front hall...which looked so good that all of the woodwork needed to be sanded and restained. Which looked so good that we needed to...you get the idea. Funny and cute. Buy Home Depot stock.

Medical issues arise, and very often find themselves as the headline of a Christmas letter. Heart problems, strokes, neurological disorders, those bad knees, the uncle's bypass procedure and new low-carb lifestyle, or the hip operation that made Grandpa feel good as new are all appropriate topics for a Christmas letter if kept to a point.

But not all medical issues have such a place. So in that case, avoid discussing detailed diagnoses and symptomology. Because information, especially lots and lots of it, has a way of getting a little grisly. If this bit of advice is not clear enough, here's a decent rule of thumb: if you find yourself leaning towards using such terms as phlegm, feces, urine, vomit, discharge, odor, mucus, cellulite, or serosanguinous ooze, you may very well be crossing into territory best avoided.

And as a rule you are always safe avoiding any discussion of any urological, gynecological, colorectal or dermatological conditions that have developed or which were treated in the past year (or ever for that matter). Remember, if it can't be discussed over Italian food, it's probably also improper in the Christmas letter. And just in case you were wondering, simply mentioning any of those problems by the medical discipline is just as bad as going into the details, given that they leave way too much to the imagination.

Of course, for those more loose-lipped in the family, please remember that when the fateful decision was made to let you be the one to pen the Christmas letter, you became as much a threat to your family as to yourself. So to make the point succinctly, you still have to live with the family about whom you write in the letter. And chief among the victims of poor judgment in holiday letter writing are your hapless children whose reputations can be doomed by the unfortunate commentary with which you may choose to regale friends and relatives. It's safe to say that your son doesn't want the fact that he got held back a year being common knowledge as much as he wants it known about his MVP award in baseball. It's cute to talk about potty training of the little ones, and even the little funny accidents, but in the same token, perhaps not as cute to talk about the fact that your twelve year old son's bed wetting problem has not yet abated. And tread carefully in discussions about the development of the young girls in your family. It's cute to say how big your seven year old daughter is, soccer player and all--not how buxom she's become since she turned fifteen. And your spouse's personal quirks or the number of times a plunger sees action in the house on a monthly basis are all are things best omitted.

And then there are relationships. There are few things better than announcing a milestone anniversary, a wedding, an engagement, and the birth of a baby. And then there are few things that will raise eyebrows more than discussions about unrequited and unhealthy relationships. If you broke up with the dirtbag/wench this year, just state the fact. And it's really not a good idea to discuss the circumstances of the breakup. We'll trust your judgment that his penchance for crack or her affinity for public flatulence were legitimate dealbreakers.

And if you're still together, we're going to assume all is well, which is why you're always safe if you omit any discussions of any developments or regressions in your physical relationship. Yes, I've seen this in letters and I still don't know how I'm supposed to react to such information beyond unrestrained laughter. Now, it's not just that everyone receiving the letter will lose respect for you, save for the illiterate, (which is likely not a concern of yours anyway, given the fact you wrote and sent it in the first place) but in this day and age, such letters will invariably make their way to spam lists and copy machines for many thousands more to get a laugh at your expense. And that's not very Christmasy.

So, feel free to hit the paper or the word processor. Amuse us with the joys of the past year. Share with us the challenges, but for the love of all things good and holy, please spare us a letter that gets you funny looks the next time we all meet!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Throw the (R) bums out!

I never thought I'd be expressing what the title of this post says. But I'm getting more and more upset at Republicans behaving as Democrats. John Podhoretz offers a fairly cold dose of painful reality in this article.

Tom DeLay needs to purchase some cardboard boxes. I honestly think that a wrong is being done to him in Texas by an overzealous prosecutor. That being said, DeLay exposed his brazen ambition and his casual ethics by quashing a House ethics rule prohibiting indicted members from holding leadership posts. It was a very high-minded rule, and it showed that the Republicans had a commitment to the highest ethical behavior. But the first time that the rule was triggered, DeLay moves to quash it, leaving it as only so many meaningless words. It's shameful. And it's time for Tom DeLay to go.

I am a Republican for many of the reasons Arnold Schwartzenegger listed in his convention speech. Smaller government, responsible spending, taxing as much as needed--not as much as possible, a strong national defense, and because I believe that the Republicans tend to hold moral principles much better than the Democrats. But I've seen precious little of it since 2000.

Note to Republican members of Congress: Your position of power is not about you. It's about us. Take care of us by keeping us safe, letting us keep our own money, and holding ethical standards above what is tolerated at a pool hall.

Because if you don't, the Democrats will fairly quickly turn their rhetorical act around, and you all will be out on your ears. And remember this: Nancy Pelosi, the far-left House Minority Leader, the person who claimed that the Republicans "altared" [sic] the 2004 election, holds a VERY safe seat.

Clean out the leaders and let's start over. Because a little too much power for a little too long is dangerous. For all of us.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Waning confidence in Walla Walla

In this Seattle Times article, the reporter, in an effort to get it as wrong as possible, asserts that the bungling in King County by election personnel has reduced the confidence of the people in elections. Maybe.

But how about this...a party in a close election uses politically sympathetic courts and judges to squeeze out a few more votes here and there from otherwise questionable ballots in an effort to eliminate as much of the apparent winner's lead as possible to place themselves in a winning position. And they do it pretty much any time they're not the victor in an election.

So which will more effectively erode public confidence in elections, honestly dopey election workers within the system whose negligence spoils ballots, or a spoiledsport party that seeks to short circuit the will of the people so that their votes are cancelled out by adding otherwise spoiled ballots?

There's nothing more discouraging to rank and file voters than the knowledge that one of the parties will reliably go to court every time they lose to somehow invalidate an election and thus, the common man's vote.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Cleaning House

Anyone who fondly remembers the 1994 elections will remember that the Republicans spent two years working up to them. A case was made to the American people, and persuasively so, that the Democrats had been in power too long and that they had abused that power, as evidenced by various ethical scandals within the House of Representatives. The check kiting scandal, the House post office scandal, the personal campaign issues of Dan Rostenkowski, the leadership weaknesses of Tom Foley, the failure to deal properly with ethical failures, and the overreaching of the Clintons on the Health Care plan. It was a shellacking at both the federal and state levels.

And the reason it was so, was because the Republicans promised to clean up the act in the House and Senate. And they did a decent job of it. The Clinton impeachment, whatever one thought of it, showed that the Republicans remained true to their values. During that time, Newt Gingrich was accused of ethical shortcomings and of having an affair. The charges were just that (charges), but they carried enough weight that Newt resigned his post and his House seat. His Speaker replacement, Bob Livingston, couldn't bear the guilt of past indiscretions about which almost nobody knew. Plenty of folks knew after he made a public confession a day or so later. He followed Newt, resigning post and seat. And Bob Packwood. Decent Senator, dirty old man. He left the Senate (under threat of removal, of course), and went about his life after evidence-heavy allegations that he was a womanizer and harasser.

But now, Abigail Adams' words about absolute power corrupting absolutely are coming back to knock on the door of the current House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay. DeLay has been indicted back in Texas on what appear to be politically motivated, trumped-up charges by a malicious prosecutor who may have picked the wrong battle. So, in response, DeLay arranged for the abrogation of a House rule which requires leadership members to be stripped of their roles upon an indictment. It was a good rule. But just when it first was going to see use, the majority leader squashes it. Smell a little funny to you?

Jonathan Last posted this article on Galley Slaves today which I had missed on the topic.

But the greater point in the matter is that regardless of the merit of the charges, or the motivation of some Democrat prosecutor, the honorable thing to do would have been to lay aside the leadership office and wait for the smoke to clear. But excepting a very reasonable rule designed to police the party just because it has become "inconvenient" is unacceptable. And it's is the very kind of thing that made the Democrats the minority party 10 years ago. Political arrogance.

The Republican majority is not about one man. It's about a set of ideals. The moment--the instant--that we weaken them for one person is the moment we start accepting even more deviant behavior. We will have lost our mandate and on a cold night in November at some point in the future, we'll be looking to rent moving trucks before January.

Note to my Republican brethren: It can and will happen to you too if you don't take personal discipline seriously. So it comes down to whether Republicans would rather have a tarnished Majority Leader DeLay or a Speaker Pelosi? To quote Bill Murray/Bob Wiley from "What About Bob?", "It makes my lips numb!"

Amid the idiocy, someone got it right

The Washington Governor's saga drags on. Check this from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The article gives a decent grasp of the latest effort by the Washington State Democrats to undo an election. It seems that as long as the Dems are behind, new unsecured ballots are going to materialize. Watch this magical stream of "just enough" votes to dry up once they get ahead.

But the reason I post this is for two rather poignant quotes. The first, a quote by King County Councilman Larry Phillips whose vote may have been mishandled by a clerk, which may affect its validity:

"Am I madder than hell that my vote didn't count? Yes, but I'm not going to throw the whole system out."
And then this by the Secretary of State in Washington:

"If the court had ruled for the Democratic Party, it would have established a terrible precedent. Because in the future, the candidates behind would request re-examination over and over again of any ballots that were rejected."
Ok, so if I get this straight, the system works, despite isolated imperfections, and if we allow ballots of questionable merit to be transformed into valid votes by the challenger, it will encourage future losers to litigate elections until the entire process is devoid of the protections established by law.

Simple wisdom.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

How to effectively lodge a customer complaint

Ask my wife and she will tell you that I hate it when things, especially technological things, don't work. And a broken DVD player would have me plenty sore. But these people (however innocently) take the cake in getting the attention of customer service. Read the whole thing. It's perfect!

MSM, missing scoop, blaming America.

My previous post about the Yushchenko poisoning and other Russo-centered mayhem ignored one important point. I first saw the article I posted on the editorial page in the print version of the newspaper. No, friends, I didn't buy it...that rag can be found floating just about anywhere in Baltimore.

For a newspaper that believes in editorializing on page A1, it seems that the editorial page is being used today to report rather fascinating factual matters. By why bury such a potentially explosive story?

So I checked a very little bit...here is MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and Fox. Only ABC and Fox got the story. There is some hint of it in the other reports, if you know what the references are, but not much. CNN accused the Bush Administration of having a hand in the Ukraine election, but you MUST read CBS's report which is from another planet. Its title makes you think they're clued in to the issue--"Ukraine's Cold War Deja Vu". During the Cold War, Russia kept a tight hand on its republics and it's doing the same again. Nope. The article is all about the United States meddling in this election! Can't make this stuff up. Quoting Yanukovych as a credible source, CBS blames America for Ukraine's problems. But that's not the kicker. In an effort to signal that they have completely missed the boat, CBS adds this:
However, Russia is questioning the conclusion of Austrian doctors that Yushchenko was poisoned. "Dioxin is not a poison with an immediate effect," the BBC reports Russian health official Yuri Ostapenko as saying in an interview with Moscow Echo radio. "Toxicity builds up over years, dozens of years, and it is impossible to receive a dose one day that would poison you the next."
Put it this way--if the Transylvanians were a pro-U.S., pro-Bush, pro-Israel population, and they were dropping dead left and right on the countryside due to a lack of blood, CBS would check with Count Dracula, a respected public official who would downplay accusations that these victims had their blood sucked out, because blood can't be so neatly sucked out of two tiny holes in one's neck in such a short period of time.

In all seriousness, though, this is potentially a huge story. The MSM is more interested in making snide remarks about the Bush administration than about exposing a potentially dangerous and ambitious effort on Russia's part to bring a country striving towards freedom back under its "stewardship". If it succeeds, and Putin reestablishes a mini Soviet alliance, we have problems.

But political pettiness is getting in the way of calling this problem what it is. If the MSM can't take the news seriously, then shut them off. Turn to those who will. Your choices can send a very loud message to advertisers...and then to newsrooms.

Why we can't support bad guys

Remember the good old days during the cold war when we tolerated dictators in 3rd world countries, usually because they didn't side with the Soviets?

Those days are gone. If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that totalitarianism breeds dangerous ambition and terror. See Saddam Hussein, the Mullahs of Iran, Muhmar Quadafi, the House of Saud, the Kim family of North Korea, and the list goes on.

But this article from the Baltimore Sun, not generally known for great journalism, breaks some new ground. If what it implies is true, that the old guard Russians and their allies in Belarus and Ukraine are bumping off pro-western pro democratic candidates and pesky investigative journalists, then the U.S. position towards Russia and its leader needs to shift just a bit.

Now it's no secret that Putin has been silencing criticism and working a "managed democracy" within his own borders, and that he's a big fan of authoritarian rule. But supporting thug communist leaders in Belarus and Ukraine, and either direct involvement or clandestine support of election tinkering and political assassinations in order to redevelop pro-Russian spheres of influence in those nations is intolerable.

The President has been very open and personable with Vladimir Putin. And it's time again that he have a very frank discussion about what international expectations are for a quasi-democratic Russia. This is the behavior we'd expect of a former KGB chief, but not of a world leader trying to bring his country from communism into the productive world of free nations.

Because totalitarianism can't be tolerated in these "little countries" anymore. Freedom is afoot, and anything short of it risks global security.

Let the games begin

The partisans have not even finished counting the alleged spoiled ballots/"undervotes" in Ohio (see previous posts), and the Democrats in the Senate are already beginning to stir the conspiracy pot. Sen. Byron Dorgan, who was featured in Fahrenheit 9/11 has decided to hold oversight hearings. Yes folks, this is an effort to make lots of partisan noise to little end.

I think this is just the beginning of Democrat efforts to pick off Bush, and I think that there will begin a very serious (if failed) effort to impeach Bush as revenge for Clinton's impeachment and out of pure political spite. Mark my words, these people will not be satisfied to just needle the president. But then again, their lack of majority power will leave them emptyhanded.

I think however, that Dorgan may be inviting unwanted attention to his state. He won reelection handily this year. But his good buddy, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) is up to bat in 2006. How much do you want to bet that Bush will take a very serious interest in knocking him off? Bush tried it in 2002 against Tim Johnson (D-SD) and it almost worked. He's not dumping a functional strategy.

The lesson to Democrat Senators in red states sent by Tom Daschle's recent purchase of numerous cardboard boxes is that you can't oppose the Bush administration while in Washington but then talk conservative at home. Note to Sen. Conrad...you may want to talk to your fellow Senator from ND. He may inadvertently get you canned.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Defense Secretary McCain

Read and enjoy. John McCain really makes himself a very difficult person with whom to work. He states that he has no confidence in Rumsfeld, but still isn't calling for his resignation. But he would likely love the job.

It makes you understand more and more clearly why Bush did not choose this loose cannon to be his Vice President four years ago.

And it makes you pray that he doesn't replace Rumsfeld with this guy. McCain would love the job, but he's way too much of a troublemaker to be trustworthy.

That's why the press loves him. Watch their love evaporate if he gets the ticket in 2008.

The end of Jesse Jackson

The Right Reverend Jesse Jackson, fully equipped with his tin foil hat, has come out foaming at the mouth. Check this link for the full story to the extent that you can tolerate it.

So this is what it has come to. The man who literally washed his hands in MLK's blood at the site of the assassination, who was once the heart of the civil rights movement, has been reduced to crying foul about every election where a Republican wins, claiming that the win resulted from disenfranchisement of blacks.

I don't care for Jesse Jackson, but to watch this guy decline into a living, breathing, stamp of failure on any cause he adopts is quite sad. He fought the good fight in the 60s and 70s, but nowadays, nobody really wants to hear the words "disenfranchisement", "racism", etc. anytime the left is disappointed.

Those words used to mean something. But now they leave different impressions in people's minds - obstruction, shakedown, scare tactics. And people don't like that. The racist label was once a powerful one used to dismantle injustice. Now it's one that just makes people mad. And that's a shame, because racism really does still exist, but when you've cried wolf so often, people stop listening. And that's a sad legacy to leave the civil rights movement.

Not quite done yet in Ohio

And we thought the Democrats would let the election be...

First, our friend Tom Bevan over at RealClearPolitics.com reports on an effort to tinker with the Ohio vote tally because of alleged racial disenfrancisement. The usual discredited suspects blew the usual volume of wind, and nobody thought much of it. Now, The Kerry campain is showing us what it had in mind, presumably, with the remaining $16 million left in the bank. Drudge reports that Kerry is requesting access to ballots, and dictating terms of a recount of about 92,000 ballots on which no vote for president was recorded. But the margin of victory was 118,775 per the certified results in Ohio. So where this gets him, in this election is unclear.

Knowing our Democrat friends, of course, a "no vote" must mean a pro-Democrat vote. But I think something a little stinkier is afoot. Why they heck are they wasting the time and money to have a recount that won't bring them anything?

A few reasons, potentially:

1. Who knows what they can find in these ballots? Can this get them a little closer to a questionable victory in Ohio? Unlikely, but it's worth a shot. That's what they tried in Florida and are currently trying in the State of Washington. They have nothing to lose.

2. Used to be that recounts and ballot inspections were considered part of an election contest. No more. The Dems want this post-election tactic to be a mainstay and a source of potential mischief that people will presume is normal.

3. They want to make vote counting as "political" a matter as possible, so that archaic methods of tabulation like, say, addition become passe and "intent of the voter"/"every vote counted" becomes the standard. Again, a great opportunity for election mischief.

4. They have little respect for the electoral system when they don't control it. They seem to be instilling the idea that the entire system has to be perfect (in red states only, of course) in order for an election to be legitimate. But that's the funny thing when people are the ones managing the process. They're imperfect. So will the results be, but they're close enough. Repeating to the masses that imperfections equal illegitimacy will reduce confidence in the republican form of government.

5. Lastly, a little sour grapes with ego drizzled on top. If Kerry can get a little closer to his opponent, maybe he/the party can argue that the election was a whole lot closer than it was. A little de-legitimacy to strengthen the republic.

But guess what folks...

It doesn't matter. The electoral college voted today. The votes are done.

Save the Rinos

All of the MoveOn.Org vs. Terry McAuliffe talk has obscured a very important issue among Republicans, specifically conservative Republicans and their less than conservative brethren. The RINO (Republican in Name Only) population is potentially under attack from the conservative base. And this isn't really a great thing at all.

To illustrate what may fall from this, let's take two undeniable conservatives and line up their positions on abortion and how to treat party members who are pro-choice: Hugh Hewitt and Steve Peroutka. While I know Peroutka is not a Republican, but rather a spoiler from the Constitution Party (his brother Michael was the party's nominee for president), he wields some influence among Republicans, especially among the pro-life crowd.

I'll start by saying that I have immense respect for both men, if for no other reason than they are men of deep spiritual and moral integrity who are pillars of their community. These men are very, very good men.

Hugh never hides his position. Check out his book If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat. It's worth every penny. He makes the point that if we can avoid any more squeakers like Florida 2000 (or even Washington Governor 2004), the Democrats can't pull a cheat as they have in years past (If you want cheat details, I'm happy to oblige, but the book does an even better job of it). But among the things we need to do to maintain a majority is to welcome, or at least fail to alienate moderate to liberal Republicans. Jim Jeffords, a man for whom Liberty Files cares not, provides a great example of what happens when a RINO gets his knickers in a knot over how the conservatives are treating him. Jeffords could have gone either way, and he went Republican. Then he got tired of the Republicans getting tired of his squishiness. It was costly for Bush.

Now if we just look at the Senate, we will find a treasure trove of squishy Republicans--Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, Chuck Hagel, John McCain, and even Norm Coleman. Losing those folks means losing a majority.

To be clear, Chafee, Collins, Snowe and Specter are worthless in my opinion. They stand for zilch, other than apparently being loved by the Democratic Senate caucus. Hagel is a bit of a blowhard who isn't happy no matter what he gets. McCain is, well, McCain. Coleman is the best of the lot (and I apologize to him for even including him here but he is a "moderate" as opposed to a Santorum conservative, and also to illustrate that his loss would be fatal) and a guy with real gravitas (as seen by his assault on Kofi Annan's ethical issues). And we need them all. Alienate them, say, on the abortion issue, and we have a Senate Minority.

The real issue came up with the perpetually feckless Specter who was moving into the Judiciary chair after the election. Specter is pro-choice, which pleased few, but then dropped the gauntlet by claiming that he was going to obstruct pro-life judicial nominees. If he could have said anything more stupid I don't know what it would be. And so the right went predictably nuts.

As I said before, Hugh Hewitt believes that without the modero-liberals in the party, we will head towards problems. His post-election piece in the Weekly Standard provides an excellent perspective on why we keep these people in. His initial comments on his show were that the Dems would run Even Bayh and Barak Obama, but he switched it to Mark Warner. Either one would be a nightmare scenario for Republicans in the general election, but remember, nobody makes the ticket without winning the primaries. Given the fact that Howard Dean is trying to be the new chair of the party, Warner and Bayh, two VERY electable gentlemen have not a shot at this point, and that's a shame.

It's hard to beat Hugh's argument that Bush would have lost the election but for pro-choice voters. And it's even harder to beat the argument that if we offload these folks, our own version of Michael Moore (remember Pat Buchanan?) will rise from the mire to embarrass us. They keep us honest and they keep us sane even though they drive us up the wall. They are necessary, not just "necessary evils".

Peroutka is on the other side of the argument. He believes that the "pro-aborts" as he calls them need to be stripped of authority and expurgated from a party that claims to be pro-life. After the Specter comments, he recommended removing the senior Senator from Pennsylvania from the Senate Judiciary Committee chair, despite his seniority, and turning it over to a more politically reliable Senator on the abortion issue. To his credit, Peroutka believes that if you compromise, you get nothing in the end. He believes that conservatives and pro-lifers in particular, should run as conservatives, avoid apologies, and don't for a second step back from convictions. And he really has a point. It worked for Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan and it has worked for Bush 43. A strong unidirectional approach often does end up gaining followers simply because of the pure momentum headed toward a real goal. And I like that point of view for it's sheer boldness, as such strongheaded efforts have made this nation great.

If I could see such an approach eclipsing abortion from the politically defended unrestricted alternate birth control approach that it is today into a true needs-based medical procedure used to emergently protect the life of the mother, I might just be tempted to get on board with Peroutka.

But I somehow doubt that a thing that may eliminate a working Republican coalition will do that.

Peroutka is a single-issue advocate, and he certainly realizes that the process is not about a single issue.

But warding off all of the Chafees, Snowes, Collins, Hagels, Specters, and even the more useful McCains, and the truly operational moderates like Coleman would put the Dems in control, and not just in the Senate.

We need these people. No, we don't swallow their liberal traits whole just to tolerate them, and as Hugh suggests, their viewpoints need to be subject to the same scrutiny as those of anyone else, but at the end of the day, treating these people with respect, despite difference, is what will marginalize the left.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A final de-bunking

This story is written with a bit of an edge to debunk the false image that the Rumsfeld ssuffered a "smackdown". Rumsfeld dealt with that one programmed soldier, but then took related questions from other soldiers and didn't blunt them. And nobody got in trouble for it.

Note also the mention at the end of the article of the lethality of this war (combined with Afghanistan) is unbelievably low. The numbers show that of soldiers who take injuries, there is a 90% survival rate, compared with Vietnam, (which the media would love this to become), at a 24% wounded/death rate.

War isn't great and it isn't perfect, but this is a heck of a lot better than any other war we've been in. Please let the fighting people do their job the right way, and spare us the histrionics from those of you who know zilch about fighting a war.

A good ending to the Rumsfeld surprise

It appears that Lee Pitts' editor has his own feelings about Pitts' self-proclaimed heroism. Check out this piece where the editor notes that the reporter is there to report news, not make it. A novel concept. The most salient point of it is this quote:

He said Pitts' story on the incident, which ran Thursday, should have included an explanation of how the embed, barred from questioning Rumsfeld himself during an appearance in Kuwait Wednesday, convinced a Tennessee national guardsman to pose the question.
Just be upfront about it. Granted, the forum was for soldiers to air their issues, not to have a reporter stir the pot for them, but a little transparency would have inoculated most of the criticism, but then again, it would have exposed the reporter as an operator not one who recites facts.

So that leaves me with a question or two. What if Bush pushed through a package to add armor to such vehicles within a month? Would this be praised as a victory for our soldiers, or would it be yet another budget-busting defense spending waste? Would John Kerry vote for it this time? And if Bush took the time to work the problem within the budget, would he be delaying things, leaving our soldiers unnecessarily exposed?

The point I made in the earlier post, which may not have been as clear as I would have liked given the late hour I posted it is that we're not going into an election here, but you wouldn't know it when nefarious stuff like this pops up. This was an attempt to convey an inaccurate depiction of a problem with the war. The only possible objective is to turn public opinion against the re-elected administration and the war. The MSM needs to cool it. This is not Vietnam, it's not a quagmire, our troops are not civilian-killing barbarians, nor are they target practice for "rebels" who are really foreign Al Qaida combatants determined to re-enslave the Iraqi people under a Talibanish rule. Certain contingencies cannot be foreseen in war, but when discovered, we respond. It's not perfect, it was never promised to be so, but we're doing well "with the army we have", per Rumsfeld.

The lack of armor IS a real issue which must be addressed immediately.

But gamesmanship like this seems pretty clearly to be an effort, not to knock off a politician, but rather to tar and feather him and to turn public opinion against the war. It's gotten old, and our ire now turns to the reporters, not to the leaders. Stop favoring our enemies, and stop overblowing problems so we can just win this damn war and get people home.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Movin' on from the looney bin

To anyone who is not a Democrat, this story is great news. MoveOn.org is claiming ownership of the party. Now, this is much like a fight over an old pair of underwear at a garage sale, but it's significant for a couple of reasons.

This is Clinton v. Dean. Quasi-centrist Democrat wing v. nut Democrat wing. The struggle for the party's soul begins again (and one might argue that something needs to actually have a soul before a struggle for it can develop, but I digress). But more importantly, this indicates that the party just can't bring itself to even approach the center which would make it more competitive nationally.

The problem is that even though MoveOn was quite effective in the primaries and is a credible force, their brand of ideas lost. Because in the marketplace, that junk still doesn't sell. So go fight over the dirty old briefs. You deserve it and you're the only ones who really want it anyway.

Rumsfeld questions were plants

Check out the new report from Drudge. It appears that those two soldiers weren't doing as much trash-heap scrounging as being spoon fed questions by a talented reporter. Of course, the reporter files this story which downplays the seriousness of the problem which he urged the soldiers to play up.

So it seems that my gripe with the matter is this: the people who whined didn't do the digging and scrounging they claimed to do, and the reporter's insinuations through them (as he wanted to ask those questions) represented the problem as something much more horrid than it really was.

Yes, our boys deserve the best firepower and machines that money can buy. No, our procurement and supply chain is not perfect, or even great, but it is what it is, and we're not trying to skimp on our troops.

The thing that sticks out though is that Bush didn't ask for this military. Clinton did. And for as underfunded as they were (remember the budget surplus?...this is how we got it) they have done great in Afghanistan and Iraq. He inherited what he did. If you want to yell at someone for failing to provide for our defense, send your rants to Chappaqua, NY.

Even more interesting is the fact that the reporter is reverting to tactics that were often deployed before the election to "Vietnamize" the war. Cute. And wrong. Given the fairly even story he published, it seems that the reporter only did this to embarass the SecDef whom he can't stand. Spare us the spin.

The reality/fantasy blur

Check out this post from Galley Slaves. If you ever loved Star Wars, you need to root for this guy. It seems that if there is a Mrs. Degirolamo, she is a VERY loving woman.

For my part, My parents just unloaded a shipment from their attic of all of my Star Wars figures, ships, bases, and things I can no longer identify, on my 4 year old son.

A VERY happy little guy he is. Of course, being so young, and a jingoist like his father, he believes that the Millennium Falcon is actually the "American Falcon".

It will be a bittersweet day when the little guy gets the name right.

Also, in order to encourage appropriate commercial behavior, you GenX fathers have a duty to check out this site. Playskool is in on the act. The more we buy the more encouraged Playskool will be to make more. It's Christmas... And note to Jar-Jar Binks haters: I haven't yet found a Playskool figure of him yet.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Has the White House Lost Its Collective Mind?

Drudge reports that several names have been offered for the new Director of National Intelligence (DNI) position which we got courtesy of the 9/11 Commission. Without going into it in detail, neither the 9/11 Commission nor its report are anything for which Liberty Files has any serious regard. As with any commission of this type, we get recommendations for more government, another cabinet position, and bunches of other junk that really don't fix the problem but really look good on paper. More on that later.

For now, several names have been offered for this new post, and here they are:

DCI Porter Goss
Gov Tom Kean
General Michael Hayden
John Lehman
Sen. Joe Lieberman
Rep Pete Hoekstra
Rep Jane Harman

And so I ask...has the Bush Administration lost its mind? Some of these people are great, so my title to this post is a little hyperbolic, but a few of these names make you wonder.

Porter Goss would be great, but removing him from CIA means that the CIA remains as is. There will be no incentive to change the rather addled culture at Langley. If CIA isn't fixed, we're in danger. Goss is needed there.

Tom Kean is useless. His background is not in intelligence, but rather in education. He was Governor of New Jersey, a state with one of the most entrenched and corrupt political systems around. He left Jim Florio a growing mess, which Florio made worse. Leaving us with Christie Whitman who did little and Jim McGreevy...who did much, by his own admission. As chair of the 9/11 Commission, he failed to rein in the commission members or even himself from daily talk show appearances to prattle on about the commission's work. It was a show. It was unprofessional. It was about the Commission members rather than their work. As a result, we got a report which was designed to insult as few people as possible to enhance its own influence, as opposed to a product that, while unpleasant, could be a real tool for change (again, more on what I would have suggested later). We don't need another 9/11 Commission member running the show.

Gen Michael Hayden...sign him up. This is the guy who needs to be in the job. This Air Force General is the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), and has an entire career history in intelligence gathering and analysis. He knows the military's need for intelligence and won't skimp on their concerns. He could do it blind. Consider nobody else.

John Lehman is a bright guy. Former Navy Secretary under Reagan from 1981-1987. This is the guy that formulated the "forward strategy" to build up a 600 ship Navy, and choke off the Soviets in the Arctic Ocean by denying them passage through the North Sea or past Greenland, Iceland, or Scotland. It was a highly controversial (meaning, effective) plan. His only problem is the 9/11 Commission membership. Nobody's perfect though. Still a decent choice.

Joe Lieberman is loved by Liberty Files, but he's not all he's cracked up to be. Good guy whose wife can be probably assured is trustworthy. He is an accomplished Senator, with Armed Service Committee credentials. And despite trimming his moral sails behind Al Gore in 2000, he parted company with the former Vice President from UC Berkeley on soldiers' absentee votes, and generally wouldn't put up with the outrageous stuff. When it came down to it, Joe really did choose decency over politics. But that's it. Great guy, belongs in the Senate as a career politician, not a career intelligence guy. Bad choice for an intelligence chief.

Peter Hoekstra is a good guy. He has his own intelligence credentials, but they aren't too much different than those of Lieberman. He is a businessman though, and can really make a difference in that regard, if he actually manages the intelligence machine properly. Neat choice, but not in a time of war.

And when you see a name like Jane Harman, you wonder if a forgotten stash from the Clinton Administration hidden in the air ducts came unwrapped. She's a noisy mainstream California liberal Congresswoman. She's on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, but so is Rep. Anna Eshoo...who, you ask, is that? Gesundheit! Bush likes cabinet secretaries who are loyal. Not a chance here. Unless, of course, Bush means this position to be a feckless office with no actual function. If that's the case, I wholeheartedly recommend her.

In any case, the Administration need not look for a pretty face or a politically correct appointment. It needs an operator if this office is to have any real meaning. They've named some stars...and some not so stellar. Given that they've chosen to live with the 9/11 Commission national security scheme, it may want to choose to have someone who will go to work and improve our intelligence gathering and distribution. To do anything different would make intelligent people wonder if the President wanted the security bill as little more than a political act. And that would be a shame.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Tidings of Comfort, Joy, and Hurt Feelings

Tis the season for all the hustle and bustle and business. Yes, you guessed it, the time for all of the ACLU attorneys to be rushing to courthouses to protect the sensibilities of the irreligious by ensuring that nativity scenes and Christmas trees remain in closets until all appeals are exhausted. Now, before you stop reading and take an anti-emetic to avoid losing your lunch at some reason-for-the-season lecture, just give me a second...

I am a Christian and I celebrate Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Jesus, celebrating the birth of my savior, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yep, good old-fashioned unvarnished, unmixed, bible-believing, politically incorrect defining Christianity. About as unwashed as it gets. My behavior does not always (and if you ask some, "ever") reflect that, given that I can be a cynic, a little rude when people are behaving in what I determine to be a stupid way (and that happens often, especially in D.C. traffic), and a little bit of a hothead. But despite my personal shortcomings, I am joyed by the season and what it represents. But the season is becoming more of a time where irreligists (my term for those who try to squelch expressions of faith, wherever expressed) twist the joy into an opportunity to focus the world on their alleged emotional and political fragility and the debilitating impact faith celebrations have on it.

I heard this morning on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" of children, in a religious setting who were sending care packages to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, fearing to send Christmas wishes in order to avoid the potential of offending a soldier who may disagree with the holiday for some reason. Of course, ANY wishes for the holidays would be welcomed by any soldier. And I would be honored if someone spread to me good wishes from their own faith rather than trying to "clean up" a holiday greeting. But the problem is that we have sunk to the level where people of faith have been cowed into hiding their joy for fear of "offending" an oversensitive irreligist by the mere mention of a sincerely held belief in something greater than Barbara Streisand.

What a truly vexing time of year this must be for such folk. The lights both gaudy and tasteful, the singing, the happiness and well-wishes, the children playing, the efforts at interpersonal reconciliation, the taking of stock in blessing, the giving of gifts of goodwill, the candy, pies, festive drink, and yes, of course, the church attendance. It's easy to see how such savagery can affect the conscience of some.

But seriously, the insinuation that people restrict expressions of their faith on the off chance that someone with different opinions may be offended, is patently obscene.

People have had it with the "separation of church and state" mantra, and would rather exclude smarmy hypersensitive spoilers than teach their children that their faith is an object of shame. Because while we don't like to needlessly offend our fellow man, we also don't like to bossed around by an oppositionist minority who aren't happy until the rest of us are quiet. And the time has come for those of us of faith to make clear that our good will won't be used as a weapon against us.

We need to think differently about faith. It's what got people across the ocean and to this land. I would argue that it's why we have been blessed as we have been, from a quasi-feudal society in the early 1700s to the economic, military and political superpower in the early 21st century. It's what holds families and marriages together despite the things we all know take place in families and marriages, because the power isn't in the practice, but in the One we worship.

Excluding faith from our public life is the exclusion of a gigantic part of American history. No, we can't just teach the children that America was about Columbus enslaving the Indians, whites enslaving blacks, the civil war over slavery, the KKK, women being denied the right to vote, segregation, the New Deal, the Great Society, Vietnam, Roe v. Wade, the decade of greed, gay rights, the Clinton impeachment, the stolen election of 2000, the tyrrany of Bush, and dooming the Afghans and Iraqis to live under a regime not selected and supported by the U.N.

But this whole matter of separation of church and state, as professed by the ACLU and Barry Linn types, is a farce, as their own actions advance a creed into the public sector. Because irreligion IS religion. It is a system of values which does not value religious expression, but more often seeks to silence it. As such, it is an exclusivist religion. In other words, the state has adoped an official religion, by acting in such a way to endorse a particular faith--irreligion-- over others and prohibiting the free exercise of any of those others. But really, this is simply a favoritism of a few unhappy people with lots of money to hire opportunistic attorneys. And its time that we come out of our shells and just enjoy the holidays for the true blessing they are.

Because who are they to cram their religion down our throats?

Pass the wassail & let's make merry this holiday whether the grumps like it or not!!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Kofi break II

Take a look at this absolutely bizarre article by Kofi Annan in the LA Times.

If this does not prove that the U.N. is nothing more than a university with a frightening degree of influence in the world, I don't know what does.

The beauty of the article, however, is its contradictions. Absorb this quote:



Is state sovereignty an absolute principle, or does the international community
have a responsibility to prevent or resolve conflicts within states especially
when they involve genocide or comparable atrocities?


If I read this correctly, intervention in the internal affairs of a state engaged in genocide is potentially acceptable. And I need remind nobody that that was one of several justifications for the American intervention in Iraq which Kofi has called "illegal". But what are the "comparable atrocities" that would justify intervention? The very fact that sovereignty is not an absolute in Annan's little mind should frighten anyone. The U.N. was meant to be a brokerage of disputes, not a greater sovereign. And enjoy this morsel:



The report reaffirms the right of states to defend themselves, including
preemptively when an attack is imminent, and says that in "nightmare scenarios"
for instance, those combining terrorists and weapons of mass destruction the
U.N. Security Council may have to act earlier, more proactively and more
decisively than in the past. And it offers guidelines to help the Security
Council decide when to authorize the use of force both in dealing with
external threats and in exercising its responsibility to protect people from
mass atrocities committed within the borders of a sovereign state.

This is comforting. States retain the right to defend themselves. The less than funny part is that this IS a real concession, given the unmitigated deference and indirect support (see Oil-For-Food) that the U.N. has previously accorded terrorist groups and malignant dictators, and the criticism that the war in Iraq has drawn.

But more to the point, would the criteria he lays out here, given the intelligence we had in late 2002, have militated in favor of a Security Council endorsement of military action in Iraq notwithstanding what was later found (or not found)?

But here's the big issue...how does any of this jibe with anything we have seen the United Nations do over the past 3 years? They won't abide the U.S. entering Iraq, but somehow attacking a nation which every other civilized nation reasonably believed possessed WMDs, based on verified past use of same, present efforts to obtain same, and apparent efforts to hide same, and support for and cooperation with international terror organizations is permissible when faces with an "imminent threat"? Forgetting the imminent part, isn't this what we did? And national sovereignty is secondary to human rights? Why then is the United Nations not applauding the improvement in position for the Iraqi people since April 2003? They are free to worship and speak as they please, which never happened in the 30 years before, when Saddam set up his own desert killing fields. But somehow that doesn't matter.

Don't bother pondering. Annan's article is pure twaddle. The U.N. is not changing anytime soon, and all of these academic exercises will come to zilch. It will remain a place where totalitarianism finds its voice against the world's free nations, and where the U.S.'s influence is curbed (while it's money is accepted) at every turn.

The retirement of Mfume

A couple of very interesting articles here and here relating to the retirement of Kweisi Mfume.

Liberty Files is no fan of Mfume. The linked articles indicate the hard work done by Mfume to rehabilitate the organization from the smoking crater it was 9 years ago. But to be clear, the articles state that Mfume raised the organization from laughingstock status to something better. I would disagree. The NAACP is more interested in demagoging anything done by the Bush Administration than seeing low income blacks better educated, better connected to economic growth opportunities, and independent of government assistance. When the President in an election year snubs their summons to appear at their convention, while doubling his take of the black vote from four years before despite dedicated hammering from the organization, it's hard to argue that the organization is anything but joke.

But the real matter with which I take issue is the notion that blacks need another group of self-appointed "leaders". So far, the likes of Mfume, Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the like have succeeded in making themselves very popular and wealthy at the expense of the people they purport to "advance." I can't recall the last time one of Jesse Jackson's corporate shakedowns had cash flowing to a school voucher program or to a job training program. If you know of any, though, please let me know.

Unless a new leader brings and remains committed to a very heavy and different message like Bill Cosby, that people are real moral agents responsible for their own choices and status, and are responsible for raising their own children and squashing the brigandage that runs rampant in their communities, the laughingstock label will continue to stick.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A farewell to Tom

Whatever we thought of him, whatever our differences, Tom Brokaw is one heck of a journalist. He was biased, but he was also great, and he leaves NBC as a paragon of journalistic integrity. His shoes will be tough ones to fill. He goes off to do even better things...spending time with the family.

We wish him well. Thanks Tom.

Kofi Break

Sen. Norm Coleman lays out an chilling list of facts and allegations against the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in this article.

A couple of issues need addressing here. First, it is doubtful that Kofi will resign. The guy has shown that he has little in the way of moral scruples, so it's hard to see him giving up the career of his dreams despite a gigantic ethical drama which he could have prevented and may have known about as it unfolded.

Second, the U.N isn't going to push the guy out because he represents all they love. He is feckless, a leftist, is anti-U.S., hates military action for any reason, and believes that the way to peace with international bullies is to give them whatever they want and call it a win for "peace in our day" per Neville Chamberlain.

Third, Annan may as well have appointed Janet Reno or Jamie Gorelick (whose last name I deliberately mispronounce as the two words that form it) to investigate this scandal, as the investigation is a sham. Paul Volcker, the current investigator, will do a great job on this because that's who he is. But he carries no stick to enforce compliance, and his ultimate authority, Annan, who will decide what if any portions of the investigation report are made public, is the very character who may have been complicit in the scandal in the first place. It brings to mind Clinton-era self-investigation and burial of scandals.

Lastly, there is the race issue. I think that, once again, the MSM, among others will refuse to call this truly worthless man to task solely because he is of African descent. It's frustrating but remarkably predictable. He'll retire rich, having made the world a less secure place because of his work, and he will likely escape consequences because of political correctness.

But there is the one great corrective measure which remains in the hands of the United States...the checkbook. We cover about 25% of the U.N.'s bills. When a quarter of the bills don't get paid, the U.N may actually do something to begin correcting some of these internal problems.

More to the point, though, any act to defund the U.N. needs to be more than a threat. The checks actually need to stop showing up and the accounts need to remain dry until real and verifiable reform takes place. We can no longer fund an organization that rewards our enemies and punishes us. And if the results of the various Oil-for-Food investigations are any guide, we cannot permit our money going to the very people we are trying to root out of Iraq.

As far as new leadership, many names have been offered. Bill Clinton, in an effort to have yet another adoring mass of people swooning at his feet and the pleasant warmth of camera lights on him, has indicated that he'd love the job. But, again, we're looking at competence, not talk. Vaclav Havel, one who knows just how fun totalitarianism is might make a good choice, or even Lech Walesa. Both can be a bit persnickety, but these men are operators, not appeasers, and they would be significantly more realistic than any of the diplo-drones who have occupied the Secretary General's office over the past two decades.