Saturday, April 30, 2005

Inconvenient History

These people need to be reminded from time to time, who was president when Saddam was at his most genocidal, and who went to Iraq to play kissyface with the Hitler of the moment.

Update: It occurs to me that these guys, who made the Saddam Hitler comparison would be more convincing "Students for War" if they were studying at this school of hard knocks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lathered Hicks

For the height of delusional drivel, what better source is there than Rush Limbaugh. Here he is today on the Nuclear Option:

RUSH: This morning on the Senate floor, a bunch of Democrats stood up, basically to praise Dingy Harry for failing to get the Republicans to not drop the nuclear bomb. Now, I know that sounds odd, but as you listen to this, it sounds to me exactly like what they're doing. We have the mom in tennis shoes, Patty Murray from Washington, we have Dingy Harry himself, and we have the most partisan man in Washington, Senator Patrick Leahy, also one of the biggest hypocrites in Washington. You hear this and you'll see what I mean. They're lining up to praise Dingy Harry for failing to not get the Republicans to drop the nuclear bomb.

What nonsense. While Reid has not convinced Frist to drop the nuclear threat, Frist has not succeeded in breaking the filibuster. Who exactly is "failing"?

I have come to the perhaps not very original conclusion that Frist doesn't actually want the nuclear option to succeed.

If he actually wanted it to work, then his participation in Justice Sunday was a bad idea. The senators who might be won over by that appear to be on board. Now he needs the senate's remaining Republican moderates, liberals and media darlings.

By dragging the issue out Frist hopes to keep the red state hicks in a lather, while yet again failing to make substantive progress on their pet issues.


Michelle Malkin notes the failure of both parties to address the immigration question. Best part:
I have said often that the only thing saving the Republicans on the
immigration issue is the Democrats' stupidity. No more. Hillary may only be
playing dress-up on border security, but that's far more than most of the
cowering GOP elite in Washington is willing to do. And she's not alone among
Democrats who are beginning to exploit the White House's vulnerability.

The failure of both parties on this issue shows the essential childishness of American politics. Immigration, legal or otherwise hardly came up in last fall's presidential campaign. The media and the candidates had far more important issues to focus on -- such as John Kerry's whereabouts in 1968 and George Bush's whereabouts in 1972. Three years after 9/11, one would think that Americans would be more concerned about border security.

Gagging on Frontpage

Justin Raimondo discovers for about the millionth time that the only way to read David Horowitz's Frontpage is with your fingers closed tightly over your nose.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More on Filibusters

According to Sam Rosenfeld writing at the American Prospect's website, Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist has overplayed his hand in his threat to resort to the nuclear option of abolishing the use of the filibuster for judicial candidates. I don't know if it is true, but it sounds plausible. I can think of no other reason for Frist to continue delaying a vote if he otherwise wants it.

EconRadical at is calling on Frist to resign over the matter, refering to him as a "rudderless clown" and stating that "he's been set up and [Democratic leader] Reid has outplayed him at every turn, but the responsibility for the coming fiasco rests largely with Senator Frist."

I am a little surprised at the extent to which the Right has become wedded to the nuclear option. The American Conservative Union announced that it will consider a vote on the issue in its ratings of Senators. Hugh Hewitt, a leading proponent of the move has written a smarmy and insulting speech that he would like to see a recently elected senator deliver:

Senators, the issue of judges matters more than you can imagine. More than it has probably ever mattered in the 217 years of our country's political history. So much does it matter, Senators Snowe and Chafee--and I say this as a friend--that if we refuse or lose this battle, I think you will lose your seats . . .

I want to early on in my remarks to thank Senator Voinovich. Senator, you may not have intended to do so, but with your comments in the Foreign Relations Committee last week, you opened the door. After you said you needed time to think about the Bolton nomination, well, every network couldn't rush an expert out quick enough to praise you for your integrity. Over at CNN I thought Bill Schneider was going to canonize you. Senator Chafee also was on a lot of broadcasts saluting your willingness to rethink your position. Others made the same point that it takes courage to change your mind in D.C.

I thought then, and I emphasize now, senators can change their mind on big issues, especially when it is because you have thought long and hard on the subject. I am hoping Senators Chafee and McCain, who have announced their intention to vote with the Democrats on the issue of the filibuster, that they use the opportunity that Senator Voinovich has given them to rethink their position and rejoin the caucus. I think it is much more important than saving Senator Chafee's seat, though I am fairly certain he will lose it if we lose this vote. It is more important than Senator Snowe's seat, though I think we will lose that one as well if we lose this vote. . .

I say that now and if we lose the majority and the presidency in the future, I will say it then. It is the principled thing to do, and it does nothing to dilute our institution's deliberate approach to legislation or blue slips or the committee's power. . .

Hewitt is inflating the importance of judical nominations so that they are virtually the only thing that matters. He should look back at the year 1937 if doesn't think that the courts have ever been more important than they are now. I assume many veteran senators are concerned about the institution in which they serve and the precedent that they would be setting. The Los Angeles Times called for abolishing all filibusters in an April 26th editorial:

. . . The filibuster debate is a stark reminder of the unprincipled and results-oriented nature of politics, as senators readily switch sides for tactical advantage. Politicians' lack of consistency on fundamental matters — the debate over the proper balance of power between Washington and the states would be another case in point — is far more corrosive to the health of American democracy and the rule of law than any number of Bush- appointed judges could ever be. For one thing, it validates public wariness about politicians professing deep convictions.

Liberal interest groups determined to keep Bush nominees off the bench are in such a frenzy that they would have you believe that the Senate filibuster lies at the heart of all American freedoms, its lineage traceable to the Constitution, if not the Magna Carta. The filibuster, a parliamentary tactic allowing 41 senators to block a vote by extending debate on a measure indefinitely, is indeed venerable — it can be traced back two centuries. But it is merely the product of the Senate's own rule-making, altered over time . . .

I don't agree with their position, but they are on far firmer ground that those calling for carving out a filibuster exemption. If Frist succeeds, the Democrats will have a precedent for future exceptions or abolition when they win the Senate.

A Serving of Crow For a Big Mouth

Watch out, Tex! Neil Boortz has the goods on you, and your liberal ilk. Many naive souls are under the impression that the U.S. military found no dreaded "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. Boortz points out that those people were wrong:

Actually, WMD has been found in Iraq. Several chemical agents classified as weapons of mass destruction have been located, including mustard gas and sarin, enough to kill tens of thousands of people. Naturally, this was dismissed by the Bush-bashing media is insufficient. Apparently weapons of mass destructions means something different to them.

Saddam Hussein knew we were coming....and either hid or destroyed the WMD. He had weapons of mass destruction, he used them and he was capable of producing more. But that won't be how this report is covered. Nor will you hear that regime change in Iraq was the stated policy of the Clinton administration for 8 years.

Not surprisingly, Boortz didn't link to any articles about WMD finds in Iraq. So I'll link to one (from Fox News, so it must be true). The WMD's found in the Fox News story sound consiberably less menacing that Boortz's interpratation:

. . . Two people were treated for "minor exposure" after the sarin incident but no serious injuries were reported. Soldiers transporting the shell for inspection suffered symptoms consistent with low-level chemical exposure, which is what led to the discovery, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search), the chief military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy.". . .

Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group (search) — a U.S. organization searching for weapons of mass destruction — and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective."

They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 projectiles for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year. . .

Kimmitt said the shell belonged to a class of ordnance that Saddam's government said was destroyed before the 1991 Gulf war (search). Experts believe both the sarin and mustard gas weapons date back to that time.

So there have been findings of "WMD" in Iraq. Specifically, aged and ineffective sarin and mustard gas was found. That would bolster the case for war if the administration had said that we must invade Iraq right away because there are a few rusting mustard gas shells somewhere in the desert. What the administration said, as I pointed out here, was that the country faced "clear evidence of peril" and we couldn't wait for the "smoking gun" which might in fact, be a "mushroom cloud."

No evidence of any genuine threat has been found in Iraq. Which is why people like Neal Boortz, who dined on the administration's "WMD" baloney are looking for any excuse to not eat crow.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sue Ellen, Fearless!

60s generation Baby Boomers were obnoxious and self-absorbed about being young. Is it any surprise that some of them are equally obnoxious and self-absorbed about growing old(note the snotty "Not Your Mother's Midlife" heading)?

Aging is tough, and a pair of boomer women, Nancy Alspaugh and Marilyn Kentz, have a way to help their sisters cope that is as American as apple pie -- gaseous, self-help-style claptrap under the name "Fearless Aging"; combined with a coffee table book:
With their books, seminars, speaking engagements and stage play, Alspaugh and Kentz hope to raise awareness regarding being a middle-aged woman in this twenty-first century; to give them some hope and inspiration and the sense that they are not alone. The Fearless Aging Movement validates this unequaled generation and encourages them to take on the rest of their lives with a renewed sense of power.

But I'm open minded fellow and if if your idea of empowerment is a book that features pictures of 50 something celebrities, such as Linda Gray (best known as the tippling Sue Ellen Ewing of Dallas fame, triumphally hoisting sword aloft, I say knock yourself out.

Stating the Obvious

David Boaz does what is occasionally neccessary and restates the obvious. In the struggle over judicial nominations:

Republicans who once extolled the virtues of divided power and the Senate's role in slowing down the rush to judgment now demand an end to delays in approving President Bush's judicial nominees. President Bush says the Democrats' "obstructionist tactics are unprecedented, unfair, and unfaithful to the Senate's constitutional responsibility to vote on judicial nominees." Democrats who now wax eloquent about a "rubber stamp of dictatorship" replacing "the rights to dissent, to unlimited debate and to freedom of speech" in the Senate not too long ago sought to eliminate the filibuster altogether.

I would vote against ending the filibuster but I don't think it is the end of the world. I would feel better about the Republicans if they would openly admit that they are killing the filibuster period (which I believe will be the result) instead of pretending that it will only apply to judicial nominees; and drop all of this special pleading on behalf of "people of faith."

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Neo Curve

Perhaps in his spare time Steve Sailer could plot a bell curve of neoconservative columnists. I have a suspicion that Clifford May would show up on the left end. His latest column fails the test of elementary reasoning ability:

Buchanan says, Americans have brought terrorism on themselves through interventionist policies. "What happened on 9/11 was a result of interventionism," he argues. "Interventionism is the cause of terror."

That's an astonishing conclusion. The atrocities of 9/11 were orchestrated by Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian. How, before 9/11, did Washington intervene in Egypt's affairs -- except to give Egypt billions of dollars, re-supply its military, and turn a blind eye to President Hosni Mubarak's repression of dissidents?

Atta followed orders from Osama bin Laden, a Saudi. For more than fifty years, American "interventionism" in Saudi Arabia consisted of paying the kingdom astronomical sums in oil revenue, granting Saudis unprecedented privileges (for example, empowering Wahhabis to vet Muslim chaplains for our military and our prisons) and, in 1990, sending American soldiers, at the request of the Saudis, to protect them from being invaded by Saddam Hussein.

Or maybe Buchanan was thinking about our intervention in Somalia -- the only goal of which was to feed starving people. Or our intervention in Afghanistan to support guerrillas fighting the Soviet invader. We also intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo -- to save Muslims from further devastation at the hands of their Christian neighbors.

Clearly, it is not "interventionism" that has spawned anti-American terrorism. What is it then? Listen to our enemies. They've told us -- over and over.

I don't know what May is talking about. It is not as if Buchanan, who is much more comfortable using the English language than May is, has not made him self clear. This three year old column explains his position fairly well:

America's leaders should start telling the truth: Evil though they may be, Islamic killers are over here because we are over there. They are not trying to kill us because they dislike our domestic politics, but because they detest our foreign policy.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. They did not fly into those twin towers to protest universal suffrage or to advance self-determination for the Palestinian people. As Osama bin Laden said, they want us to stop propping up the Saudi regime they hate, and to get off the sacred Saudi soil on which sit the holiest shrines of Islam. They want our troops out of Saudi Arabia -- and if we don't get out, they are coming over here to kill us any way they can.

Isn't that clear? May seems to think that because the U.S. government has propped up regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that fanatical Islamists can't possibly object. However, as Buchanan notes above; U.S. support of the Saudi regime, along with U.S. bases in their country have been terror motivators.

A subtext of May's column is that because our intentions have been good, bad consequences can't follow ("maybe Buchanan was thinking about our intervention in Somalia – the only goal of which was to feed starving people"). This leads me to the conclusion that he didn't even pass Conservatism 101 where he would have learned an aphorism about good intentions and the road to Hell.

May and his colleagues on the Right have been steadily unlearning many of the basics in the last few years. They have embraced Bushian big government and radical notions about transplanting democracy as if it were a tomato plant. It would be a joy to watch them learning at the School of Hard Knocks if the price was not being paid by American soldiers and Marines, and countless innocent Iraqis.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Poisonous Legacy

David Brooks exposes the poisonous political legacy of Roe v. Wade in the New York Times:

When Blackmun wrote the Roe decision, it took the abortion issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that's always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn't have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate.

Instead, Blackmun and his concurring colleagues invented a right to abortion, and imposed a solution more extreme than the policies of just about any other comparable nation.

Religious conservatives became alienated from their own government, feeling that their democratic rights had been usurped by robed elitists. Liberals lost touch with working-class Americans because they never had to have a conversation about values with those voters; they could just rely on the courts to impose their views. The parties polarized as they each became dominated by absolutist activists.

The decision's legacy will manifest itself again if the Republicans in the Senate abolish the filibuster for judicial nominees. Fanatical partisans such as Hugh Hewitt should consider the consequences of doing so:
Over the past four years Democrats have resorted to the filibuster again and again to prevent votes on judicial nominees they oppose. Up until now, minorities have generally not used the filibuster to defeat nominees that have majority support. They have allowed nominees to have an up or down vote. But this tradition has been washed away.

In response, Republicans now threaten to change the Senate rules and end the filibuster on judicial nominees. That they have a right to do this is certain. That doing this would destroy the culture of the Senate and damage the cause of limited government is also certain.

The Senate operates by precedent, trust and unanimous consent. Changing the rules by raw majority power would rip the fabric of Senate life. Once the filibuster was barred from judicial nomination fights, it would be barred entirely. Every time the majority felt passionately about an issue, it would rewrite the rules to make its legislation easier to pass. Before long, the Senate would be just like the House. The culture of deliberation would be voided. Minority rights would be unprotected.

Those who believe in smaller government would suffer most. Minority rights have been used frequently to stop expansions of federal power, but if those minority rights were weakened, the federal role would grow and grow - especially when Democrats regained the majority.

Majority parties have often contemplated changing the filibuster rules, but they have always turned back because the costs are so high. But, fired by passions over abortion, Republican leaders have subordinated every other consideration to the need to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Democrats, meanwhile, threaten to shut down the Senate.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Censorious Ninny

Michelle Malkin contiues her devolution into a censorius ninny. She whines about Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin's joke:
According to Copley News Service and the State Journal-Register, Sen. Durbin threw in a story about the late federal judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz of Chicago, whose collection of Lincoln books is included in the new library's holdings.
Judge Marovitz used to say that his mother believed that President Lincoln was Jewish, Durbin said. After all, his first name was Abraham, and then, to confirm it, she learned that John Wilkes Booth shot him in the temple.
This is funny?
A prominent Democrat joking about a Republican president's assassination.

Malkin seems to think Durbin is engaged in violent rhetoric on the level of wearing a "Kill Bush" tee shirt.

Editorial Note

Trust me, editors never pound on any doors to hand out paper and pen. As a general rule, they have plenty of people pounding on their doors.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Surrender the Rosary Beads, Judge Pryor!

Repubican lap dog, Hugh Hewitt is on his high horse over Democratic filibusters of Republican judges, which he says is due to anti-Christian bigotry. He makes the ludicrous claim, for example, that Judge William Pryor "is being held up because he is a devout Catholic."

Maybe I haven't paid close enough attention, but I haven't noticed Sen. Hillary Clinton demanding that Judge Pryor denounce the doctrine of Immaculate Conception. Nor have I seen Sen. Robert Byrd mock Transubstantiation while demanding that Judge Pryor admit that Roman Catholic Communion is only symbolic.

These issues, and matters such as the Rosary have not come up because Judge Pryor's religious faith is not at issue. The underlying issue is of course, Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision striking down state abortion laws. For what it is worth, I think it is (one of many) an outrageous usurpations of power by the Court without any basis in the U.S. Constitution.

They are planning to abolish filibusters with regard to judicial nominations if they can get the votes to do so. I am a lot less disturbed by this prospect after giving the matter some thought. The Constitution simply says that, "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings . . ." In addition this article makes an excellent point:

The Senate rules that create the filibuster also do not allow the Senate to change the filibuster rules unless 67 senators agree. However, these rules should not bind the Senate any more than a statute that says that it cannot be repealed until 67 percent of the Senate votes to repeal the statute. An earlier Senate cannot bind a present Senate on this issue.

Still, it is a radical step, and I think I would vote against it if I were a senator. I would have more sympathy for the Republican position on the issue if they weren't indulging in the sort of victimology that they denounce when it is used by liberals and Democrats. The honest argument for the so-called "nuclear option" is that the Republicans have the power to do it. In the end, that is the only thing that matters.

UPDATE: Richard Cohen assesses the performance of Senator of Faith, Bill Frist:

The invocation of the phrase "people of" is no different when preceding "faith" than it is when preceding "color." It's a bold signal of mushy thinking, a corralling of people who have nothing in common other than a perceived -- and often fictionalized -- enemy. "People of faith" mischaracterizes what the political debate is all about. What Senate Democrats lack is not faith but 50 votes. Frist knows this, of course, but his mad pursuit of the presidency requires him to prove to the Christian right, the core of the Republican Party, that its cause comes before his principles.

He did this with Terri Schiavo, going so far as to use his medical bona fides (he's a heart surgeon) to view a neurologist's videotape of the poor woman and pronounce her somewhat alert. Now he is lending his name and his fast-diminishing prestige to this reprehensible effort to enlist faith on the side of a single political issue. This sort of stuff will not, as he hopes, make him the next president of the United States. Instead, it shows what raw ambition has made him: a person of pander.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

On Top Of The World . . .

I assume that John 'Hindrocket' Hindraker, of Power Line, has greater reasoning skills than he exhibits in this post. He is upset that Howard Dean is not getting in trouble for saying "we're going to use Terri Schiavo later on." Hindraker says:
Why is it it that when a minor Republican staffer wrote that the Schiavo case was a "great political issue," it was a scandal that was reported in every newspaper in America, whereas, when the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee says, 'We're going to use Terri Schiavo' in the 2006 and 2008 elections, the response is a yawn? I'm sure there must be a reason why Dean's comment is different, but offhand I can't think what it is.
Hindraker can't figure out what the difference is because he excised the portion of the quote from the Los Angeles Times article (registration) that explained it. The Times wrote , "'We're going to use Terri Schiavo later on, Dean said of the brain-damaged Floridian who died last month after her feeding tube was removed amid a swarm of political controversy. Dean, who has called congressional intervention in the Schiavo case 'political grandstanding,' singled out House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) for his leading role in the matter." (emphasis added)

The italicized portion of the article makes clear to me that Dean intends to make hay over the Republican's, and specifically, Tom DeLay's political use of Schiavo case; which is very different from the Republican attempt to directly intervene in the case for political benefit (I assume that there was at least some genuine principle involved).

John Hindraker, who really wanted to believe that a memo hyping the political benefits of intervention for the Republicans was actually a Democrat dirty trick, should be careful. He and his colleagues were made "Blog of the Year" last year for their role in exposing the Dan Rather/fake memo business. It seems to have gone to their head -- their reasoning is often careless, and they make a lot of baseless charges. I wrote in a recent issue of the American Conservative that, "there was no blogosphere to speak of in 2000; it was a huge story by 2004. Dan Rather succumbed to the arrogance of power and never saw his downfall coming. There is no reason to assume that the same fate can’t befall a few big-name bloggers by 2008." The guys at Power Line are ripe for such a downfall.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Grave & Gathering, but not Imminent . . .

Jay Nordlinger chides Richard Cohen in his "Impromptus" column today:
The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen is an honest writer, basically. He wears his hates on his sleeve. In his 4/7 column, he wrote, ". . . I knew that the most alarming case against Saddam Hussein — that he was an imminent threat to the United States — was a lie."

Please note that word "imminent" — and recall what President Bush said in his State of the Union address, before he went to war against Saddam: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations will come too late."

Concluding his column, Cohen said, "The fact will remain that this war was fought for a lie."

This is a cherished belief that liberals — and many conservatives, and others — will hold on to till the day they die. But the truth is that they can speak confidently about WMD because the U.S. invaded. And it’s odd that they never blame Saddam Hussein for failing to comply with the U.N., or the United Nations for failing to make him comply — or even to care whether he did. Indeed, the U.N. abetted him.

Note Nordlinger's exacting level of specificity. What the president said in his 2003 State of the Union speech is the only thing that matters. But here is one of the many places that you can find a collection of statements from Bush Administration representatives discussing the grave nature of the threat from Iraq. Also, don't forget his 2002 Cincinnati Speech. Here are a couple of tidbits:
While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States.

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

The attacks of September the 11th showed our country that vast oceans no longer protect us from danger. Before that tragic date, we had only hints of al Qaeda's plans and designs. Today in Iraq, we see a threat whose outlines are far more clearly defined, and whose consequences could be far more deadly. Saddam Hussein's actions have put us on notice, and there is no refuge from our responsibilities.

Nordlinger may actually believe that because the President didn't utter the phrase, "Iraq is an imminent threat," that he and his administration were not trying to create the impression that the country had to go to war in Iraq right away, but reasonably intilligent native English speakers can be forgiven for drawing that conclusion from the administration's verbal case for war.

Also note what Nordlinger says about the U.N. and Saddam: "it's odd that [liberals] never blame Saddam Hussein for failing to comply with the U.N., or the United Nations for failing to make him comply -- or even to care whether he did. Indeed, the U.N. abetted him." Did Hans Blix , of a U.N inspection team, fall down the memory hole? As I remember, he was their searching for non-existent WMDs when he had to leave before the U.S. invasion. How was the U.N. abbeting Saddam?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Neocon's Best Friend is His Mother

Matt Barganier very rudely implied that Steven Schwartz is a psycho. I think he owes an apology . . . to Norman Bates.


Steve Sailer on the Republican plan to eliminate the inheritance tax:
Eliminating the inheritance tax on the richest of the rich is nuts . . . This really shouldn't be controversial. I can't think of a logical reason why we will have a progressive income tax but not an inheritance tax on the extremely rich . . . The Democrats should pick a round number like $10 million for couples for the minimum taxable estate, something that the average person would agree is plenty-with-a-capital-P, and stick to it. Heck, set it at $50 million, but there needs to be something, both to narrow the deficit and to keep wealth from piling up generation after generation into a hereditary super-aristocracy.

He's right. He might have added that when they pick a number, it should be indexed to inflation.
What is particularly appalling is that the Republicans favor this sort of thing(and all of their other tax cuts) in the face of their massive expansion of government (except, of course, in guarding our southern border). It can't be said too often -- the Republicans are the party of fiscal dishonesty. They run up big deficits when they get into power, and let others figure out how to clean up the mess later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Dumber & Dumber

I don't know what is worse--the ladies at Code Pink who think we should say "yes" to the UN(via a childish public hissy fit); or Hindpocket at Power Line, who thinks that saying "no" to John Bolton must mean saying "no" to America. Regular readers know that I spend about 95% of my time bad mouthing the right. That is because they control the government and drive the political/media agenda, not because I have any soft spot for the political left.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kirk v. Kirk

Almost every issue of The American Conservative catalogs the decline of the Right. The April 25 issues has two articles back to back which nicely illustrate the descent from Russell Kirk to Captain Kirk. The first is by William Lind of the Free Congress Foundation. Lind contrasts the older patriotism with the nationalism now gripping the Right:
From Burke to Kirk, this has been the essence of conservative patriotism, or as it used to be called, a love of our country: specific attachment to our own places . . . The local is real, and the first conservative principle is the Reality Principle. To a conservative patriot Wal-Mart is a far greater threat than some tin-pot dictator in a Third World country. . . Nationalism, in contrast looks outward, identifying not with anything tangible but with the abstract that is the state.

Marcus Epstein, in contrast, went to the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, described by Marshall Wittman as a "Star Trek convention for conservatives." Epstein, an apparent masochist, has attended three of these gatherings. He relates that, while manning the "conservatives for peace" table, the "most common response from attendees was to call the people manning the table leftists, unpatriotic, or communists." He then commits the dual sins of knowing a bit of history and defending the French:

Another [t-shirt] had a Frenchman waving a white flag and the words, "We Salute You." When the vendor asked me if I would like to buy the shirt, I told him that I didn't think the French were cowardly. He snapped back that they quickly negotiated peace in World War II and would not let us use their airfields during our latest war. I expained to him that 1.3 million French died in World War I, more than all American war deaths in history . . .

The infantilization of the American Right is disturbing -- there exists no significant force in American politics standing against what the late Sam Francis described as "Anarcho-Tyranny" at home and abroad -- but it is also entertaining.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Never Discuss the Family Business With Him

Gianni Russo is best known for playing the faithless Carlo Rizzi in Maro Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather is still around more than thirty years after he was garroted from the back seat by Peter Clemenza. The New York Times reports that the 62 year old sometime actor and former delivery boy for Frank Costello is planning a new career as a Sinatra style crooner. "The reluctant killer . . . has a publicist and a new dream: to be a big-name crooner, the kind who makes women swoon."

That would seem to disprove F. Scott Fitzgerald's belief that there are "no second acts in American life." It is not as if he plans to rely exclusively on his vocal talents though. The Times reports that, "Mr. Russo's singing act leans heavily on his 'Godfather' past, with cheeky references to Marlon Brando punctuated by the recorded sound of machine-gun fire."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Conservatives & Corporations

Jason, at Libertas is exercised over the release of The Corporation, a documentery about corporations. More specifically, he is upset about this interview with the film's creators and reproduces this quote:
The corporation is a legal construct that allows people to concentrate capital, do business, and be irresponsible for the actions the corporation takes in their name. It's an irresponsibility machine. It's a license to amplify the worst aspects of human nature, to exploit, to harm -- even kill -- in the name of shareholders. One image that comes to mind is hundreds of Magritte's businessmen with bowler hats on, but instead of blank faces or apples for heads, they each have a gaping great white shark's open mouth full of crooked teeth, and they all have body parts sticking out and blood dripping down their nice white shirts.

Their rhetoric about shark's teeth is over the top, but the description of a corporation as an "irresponsibility machine" is apt. The documentary interviews most of the usual left wing suspects such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Howard Zinn. It should have also included an interview with someone like Wendell Berry, who published an essay in Another Turn of the Crank a few years back that stated:

They are not interested in the good health-economic or natural or human-of any place on this earth. And if you should undertake to appeal or complain to one of these great corporations on behalf of your community, you would discover something most remarkable: you would find that these organizations are organized expressly for the evasion of responsibility. They are structures in which, as my brother says, "the buck never stops." The buck is processed up the hierarchy until finally it is passed to "the shareholders," who characteristically are too widely dispersed, too poorly informed, and too unconcerned to be responsible for anything. The ideal of the modern corporation is to be (in terms of its own advantage) anywhere and (in terms of local accountability) nowhere.

It never ceases to amaze me the way conservatives are so fond of such unconservative institutions such as corporations and the military. It wasn't always the case. People like Russell Kirk and the Southern Agrarians could be strongly critical of corporations and Industrialism. A small Catholic publisher, IHS Press, is substantially devoted to republishing the anti-capitalist and anti-corporate tracts of conservative heroes G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Matters of Conscience

"Conscience clauses" that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions they find morally objectionable (usually birth-control related) are becoming a hot topic in the culture war that grips the country. My first instinct is to be sympathetic to the pharmacists who wish to be able to refuse certain prescriptions as Crispin Sartwell argues in the Los Angeles Times (registration):

What you should ask yourself in this case is not whether you think people should have access to birth control, but whether you should be required to do things that violate your deepest convictions. Should a soldier be required to torture prisoners, for example? Should he refuse to do so if ordered? Should a liberal corporate peon be required to contribute to the Republican Party?

On further reflection, I find such arguments unpersuasive because the assume that dispensing prescription drugs is just another job. It is a tightly regulated profession with stringent entry requirements. Also, it is silly to compare it to being required to torture, which is both illegal and universially considered reprehensible.

When I see a blogger argue that being able to refuse to dispense drugs is a matter of "freedom" I have my doubts. John Brown argues that "a private business should have the right to decide what it wishes to sell and what it doesn't." I agree, but if he thinks they are simply private businesses, he should open a pharmacy and see if any other pharmacies have moral qualms about shutting him down. He also ignores the probability that "conscience clauses" will be used by druggists against their private employers who wish them to fill all prescriptions.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Action Shot

Being a blogger means never having to hold your self to the standards you demand of the big media, or so it seems for some. I noted last year how several bloggers were boasting about their various takedowns of the dreaded MSM, especially over this photo from the Associated Press which "proved" that that organiziation was guilty of working with terrorists because, I think it was Hindpocket at Power Line who said, "the photographer was obviously within a few yards of the scene of the murder, which raises obvious questions, such as 1) what was the photographer doing there; did he have advance knowledge of the crime, or was he even accompanying the terrorists? and 2) why did the photographer apparently have no fear of the terrorists, or conversely, why were the terrorists evidently unconcerned about being photographed in the commission of a murder?" Also, an anonymous source told Salon that the photographer might have been tipped that something was going to happen on that street. High Pockets treats that as an admission of guilt by the Associated Press.

Ryan at Dead Parrot Society suggests that the guys at Power Line, and others who made these accusations don't know what they are talking about:

Do these writers really believe their characterizations of how the stringer got his shots? I can't imagine they do, not in a day where a telephoto lens and a professional crop bring you right into a photo's face.
Here, compare these two versions of the same picture, both carried on Yahoo's feed of news photos.
In all likelihood, even the photo on the left was cropped in from full frame; very few news photos aren't cropped at least somewhat to tighten in on the important part of the image. But you can see how easy it is to take a photo from distance and bring the viewer right in close.

His arguement makes sense, I am impressed that he uses facts and logic, instead of simply hurling empty accusations.

Now Hindpocket's partner, Elephant Guy has his snout in a snit because the picture won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography. He calls it a pulitzer for "felony murder."

One of the things I learned when I started my blog is that it is harder than it looks. That is, if you care about what you are saying. I would never think of making the kind of serious accusations that the Powerliners and numerous others have made on the flimsy "evidence" that they produce.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Moral Values

For perhaps billions--including many non-Catholics-- the death of Pope John Paul II is a tragic loss. For others, it is simply another wedge issue.


Belatedly, I take up the challenge from Jesse Walker, to throw away a few minutes or so of my life.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
I would pick the as yet unwritten, Harry Potter Book Seven. That way I would be one of the most important and powerful people around.
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
That's a little weird. Maybe Marie "Slim" Browning from To Have and Have Not, because she was played by Lauren Bacall in the Movie.
The last book you bought is:
I'm not really sure.
The last book you read is
Put Out More Flags By Evelyn Waugh.
What are you currently reading?
Several Things.
Five books you would take to a deserted island.
1 Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Selfhelp Book by Walker Percy. Percy covers all the critical issues: Wednesday afternoons, the Last Phil Donahue Show and "Why it is that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos--novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes--you are beyond doubt the strangest."
2 I'll Take My Stand by Twelve Southerners.
3 Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette by Bill Kauffman. My review may explain why I would need an occasional Kauffman fix while on the Island.
4 The Marble City by Jack Neely, Knoxville's answer to Bill Kauffman.
5 The Simpsons A complete Guide to Our Favorite family. I assume I wouldn't have TV on this Island. This would be a good substitute.
Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
I don't know. My first choice would be Jesse, but he already did it and didn't take it very seriously the first time.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Vote with Your Wheels

John Tierney has an article in the New York Times detailing the political affiliations of various car buyers, most of which is predictable. ". . . buyers of American cars tend to be Republican -- except, for some reason, those who buy Pontiacs, who tend to be Democrats. Foreign-brand compact cars are usually bought by Democrats -- but not Mini Coopers, which are bought by almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans."

While skimming over a later paragraph I came across came across this quote: "In truth, a lot of fans would be sore about ending the all-American monopoly. Nascar has become a covert ethnic-pride celebration for red-state whites of Northern European descent." This sounds like Steve Sailer, I thought, and looked up at the previous paragraph and saw that it is.

Well Said

The Wandering Hillbilly clearly states what needed to be said:
Ifn ye lack to read the cunservative side of thangs, then i recommend ye check out clark stooksburys blog name of clarkstooksbury, witch the bes thang bout it is how ye caint perdick whut he is a'gone say bout mos innythang. verr thoughtful n not the kind to repeat spin points, far as i kin see, witch that means he bleeves in the cunservative values that wuz importunt to my daddy n his generayshun. ye kin git a lil idee bout how this by readin one of his posts lack "Freedom" of Speech or sum of his longer ritin such as Red Team, Blue Team. ye mite notice rite away how this feller is a real riter that has published thangs in places lack the american conservative.