Category ►►► Illiberal Liberalism
December 1, 2012
With their newly proclaimed "flexibility," lefties are feeling their beans. Here's an example:
A Democratic representative is calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would allow for some legislative restriction of freedom of speech.
"We need a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations," Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was quoted as saying by CNS News.
Yep; with the limitless mandate the Democrats claim from their overwhelming, gargantuan, staggering victory in the 2012 elections, they now feel secure enough to do what they have always wanted: To throw the First Amendment out the airlock, and appoint themselves Guardians of Morality with full authority to censor or rewrite any human speech that is --
- Incorrect (a.k.a. "a lie!")
- Dissenting (a.k.a. "racist, sexist, homophobic, religious, and imperialist!")
- Upsetting to Progressivists (a.k.a. "unAmerican!")
- Inconvenient to Democrat schemes (a.k.a. "treason!")
Flexibility! That's the word.
November 26, 2012
The Politics of Pallor
One of the more irritating bits of Conventional Wisdom to emerge from the 2012 election is the notion that the Republicans have become the party of "old white guys." I'm not talking about the demographic aspect of it; the statistics do indeed show that a huge base of support for Mitt Romney came from white males, whom he won handily over Barack Obama. No, what chaps my hide is the derisive way in which liberals and the mainstream media -- and who are we kidding here, they're one and the same -- deploy the term "old white guys," like it's a gypsy curse that requires spitting afterward.
Now I will grant you that there are things that old white guys don't do very well. For the most part, their dancing moves involve way too much overbite and getting stuck behind one in the grocery checkout line can be a less than pleasant experience. Their skills with a comb tend to be dubious at best, and that whole black-socks-with-sandals thing utterly confuses me (I think it's an AARP requirement). However, this whole business with casting old white guys -- and, by extension, middle-aged white guys like yours truly -- as the villains in modern politics is not only ugly and divisive, it's also old hat. Progressives have been using some variation of this silly theme for over a hundred years.
Part of it is the arrogance of the new: "We're the future and you're the past, so just shut up and get out of the way." In 2012, though, the Democrats are also using it to project an image of themselves as America's destiny -- one in which, apparently, older white guys don't matter. If true, that's a sad indication of where America is headed. Why? Because, quite frankly, just as the country has benefited from the increasing influence of women and minorities, it has been tremendously blessed by the contribution of -- drum roll, please -- older white guys!
To wit, the very concept of democracy and self-rule was the creation of old white guys (European white guys, no less). America's Founding Fathers, who secured for us the blessings of liberty through limited government, were old white guys. Thomas Edison, who seems to have invented half the stuff we take for granted today, was an old white guy. Henry Ford, who revolutionized manufacturing, was an old white guy (in addition to being a rather nasty character, but that's another story). Soldiers from the Greatest Generation who defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan? The surviving ones are mostly old white guys. The first man to break the sound barrier and the men who went to the moon are now old white guys. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.
I know, I know -- some lefties out there are probably saying, "Well if America hadn't been such a bigoted nation all those years, the first man on the moon might have been a woman!" And while that's a plausible argument, it's thoroughly beside the point. The scope of human potential is unlimited. It's not as if diminishing old white guys is going to elevate the prospects of other groups. Not only that, but the very concept itself is immoral. You can only build someone up by tearing someone else down? Count me out of that world view.
This nation faces some serious challenges, folks, and we need all the talent we can muster to overcome them. That includes, among everyone else, old white guys. Whadya say instead of bashing them, we listen to what they have to say? We might actually learn something.
September 27, 2012
By now everybody knows that Mona Eltahawy -- writer for the Washington Post and the New York Times, stalwart Leftist activist, and now evidently supporter of jihad -- was arrested last Tuesday for defacing a poster. The poster was displayed (after a bitter legal fight) in ten New York subway stations; it reads:
AND THE SAVAGE,
Leftists across America and in Europe have weighed in on this controversy; while most (but not all) condemn Eltahawy's vandalization of the poster, they are in unanimity that the advertisement itself constitutes "hate speech." Even New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority considered the adverts hate speech, because Pam Gellar was forced to get a court decision requiring the MTA to display them.
I confess being puzzled: How can it be hate speech to oppose holy war against innocents?
I have yet to find a person who has even the sketchiest argument why supporting the "civilized man" and supporting Israel while opposing holy war is hateful. Most simply announce that it's hate speech, relentlessly repeat that it's hate speech, and declare that only haters could possibly disagree that it's hate speech (generally accompanied by the verbal equivalent of pounding on the table). But surely there must be some intellectual, rational, logical argument behind the idea that such a poster is hateful.
Is there a good, or at least not entirely stupid argument that the ad is hate speech? Because it seems to me that the only way to read this as an attack on Moslems in general -- is first to equate radical Islamists to all Moslems. Which would, I am sure, make these purportedly pro-Moslem Progressivists actually anti-Moslem religious bigots.
Jihad -- as used in this advert, and as commonly used by people everywhere, including Moslems -- means war waged by radical Islamists in order to bring about the imposition of sharia law. Sharia law is one of the two most oppressive, anti-liberal, sexist, theocratic, triumphalist ideologies on the planet (the other being totalitarian socialism, whether national or international). Thus if so-and-so considers anti-shariaism itself, by its very nature, to be hate speech, doesn't that mean so-and-so necessarily supports sharia? After all, if you hate all systems other than sharia, what then is left?
And anyone who supports the imposition of sharia law -- which is totalitarian and the whole point of jihad -- is by definition a totalitarian. (Similarly, a person who hates all economic systems but Capitalism is by definition a capitalist.)
I've long thought the Left was in fact totalitarian: Michelle Obama telling everyone how to eat, Michael Bloomberg telling his subjects how much soda to drink, enviro-mental cases telling us what vehicles we're allowed to utilize, ad nauseum; but is the Left now openly ready to "come out" about the totalitarian tendency of Progressivism?
Perhaps it's possible that the advert really is hate speech, even if nobody on la Rive Gauche can articulate why. If so, then a new advert with the same structure but different content should likewise be hate speech. Let's consider:
AND THE CRIMINAL,
DEFEAT THE MAFIA
Is this hate speech? If not, then why not? Other than the most diehard Italian Americans who actually deny that la Cosa Nostra even exists, what civilized person could possibly object to this advert?
Or this one:
AND THE FASCIST,
Is there anything in this advertisement at which even a freedom-minded German in 1943 could take offense?
I'm often at a loss to explain the leftist mindset; but this time, I am utterly dumbfounded. Can somebody point me to a non-risible argument for the original subway-station advertisement being hate speech? Because I would hate to be forced to believe that the actual offending words are "support Israel," and the only reason to consider this advert "hate speech" is rank Jew hatred.
July 2, 2012
Conservatism 101: Big vs. Big
My father and law were having a discussion the other day over some pretty good scotch, which naturally led to the subject of politics and the private sector. It seems that whenever lefttist politicians are seeking to "do something" about whatever the scare du jour happens to be, they inevitably invoke some corporate boogeyman to create an us-versus-them dynamic perfect for whipping up outrage and hysteria.
It doesn't really matter what the industry is -- Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance -- any one of them will make a suitable scapegoat. After all, all these greeeedy corporations want to do is rip off Joe Citizen and bank their obscene profits at the expense of The PeopleTM. The implicit message is that Big Government is looking out for you, while Big Business only wants to screw you.
History, however, tells a different story.
To wit: How many people has Big Business killed over the centuries? Sure, you've got your various and sundry accidents and fits of sheer incompetence that have caused deaths (anybody remember the Ford Pinto?) -- but I'm talking about incidents when a company has actually gone out and killed somebody on purpose. Outside of a John Le Carre novel, I'd be hard pressed to think of many.
Now ask yourself how many people governments have killed. Communism alone is estimated to be responsible for over 100 million deaths. Throw in the crimes of the Nazi regime, just to name one other, and the numbers go even higher.
This is not to say that corporations are run by angels, because they're not. They are flawed institutions populated with flawed human beings -- but by and large, they exist to serve consumer needs and are responsive to the desires of their customers. Governments, on the other hand, too often exist to serve the needs of those who rule. It's why our Founding Fathers sought to limit the powers that government has, and made the liberty of the individual paramount.
So the next time some lefty tries to convince you that government can be trusted more than business, see if you can set him straight -- after you stop laughing, of course.
April 17, 2012
All right, here's the current main argument for recalling Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, as enunciated by Progressivist bloggers:
Walker's communications director, Ciara Matthews,
back in college when she worked at Hooters
If I may flesh out the argument a bit more, perhaps you will see the force of its logic:
Here are some Progressivists in full cry, making the Argument of Hypocritical Hooterism...
In a hypocritical turn, Matthews seems totally fine with selling chaste sexiness but not permitting sexuality -- she used to be a waitress at Hooters. Now, short of cooking meth or murdering enemies of the mob, doing what you have to do to work your way through college is generally admirable, and Matthews shouldn't be faulted for donning the shiny suntan nylons and orange short shorts of the Hooters uniform. As they say, if you've got it, flaunt it. But profitting from selling a plasticized form of unnatural sexiness designed to arouse men while simultaneously believing that women should be forced to face the "consequences" of actually giving into to their sexual desires is a pretty backward way of thinking. [By "consequences," Ms. Erin Gloria Ryan means that Matthews opposes abortion -- DaH.] And she should be taken to task for it. So we've posted this hilarious picture of her in her Hooters uniform to illustrate the ridiculousness of all of this -- Walker, Matthews, their wacky beliefs, and the general asshats who we've somehow elevated to positions like Governor of an entire goddamn state. Vote, people! This is what happens when you don't!
The Capital Times:
The Jezebel.com website that posted her photo questions how Matthews can square her work for an organization that clearly markets sexuality with her longtime war on Planned Parenthood and, well, all those traditional Republican values.
I can see that your ire is aroused, and you may be about ready to take matters in hand; if you lived in Wisconsin, I'm quite certain you would be starting to doubt whether Walker is fit to serve in public office after employing a woman who is attractive and was at one time willing to wear shorts and a tank top.
Let's firm-up the argument. Here, look at Ms. Matthews' chest:
Ciara Matthews' chest
Your anti-Walker position is hardening. Now look at her legs:
Ciara Matthews' legs
I can sense you getting all hot and bothered about the opportunity to vote Walker out of office. Imagine, having a communications director who looked like that. How could anyone possibly oppose recalling Governor Walker after seeing this picture?
However... I shamefacedly confess I'm missing something -- like some connection, however feeble, between antecedent and conclusion. Here, try this one on for size:
Does it make sense when applied against the Left, as some believe it does against the Right? How, exactly? And what is the logical contradiction between (a) promoting sexuality, while at the same time (b) opposing abortion?
I'm trying to imagine the target audience for this argument; who is it who will decide to vote for Walker's recall opponent -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett or erstwhile Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk -- because a senior member of Walker's staff was once a young hottie?
- Are conservatives supposed to be turned off of supporting Walker by this revelation? Conservatives don't like hot chicks? I vaguely remember many conservatives (metaphorically) slavering over Carrie Prejean, the maritally conservative Miss USA contestant; not to mention Michelle Malkin, Michelle Bachman, Ann Coulter, Megyn Kelly, and the girl in the Snorgtees. And of course, Power Line's John Hinderaker regularly posts pictures of beauty-pageant contestants on the blog. Evidently, conservative males (and conservative lesbians, perhaps) do enjoy the sight of beautiful women, conservative or otherwise.
How about conservative straight women? I've never seen even one example of the hatchet-faced, censorious, shrewish, misogynistic caricature that Progressivists falsely accuse conservative women of displaying. Have you?
If not, then I doubt the Ciara Syllogism is driving conservatives away from the polls in May.
- Nor do I notice that independents are particularly repelled by the sight of a beautiful, young femme. Should they be? Is there something in the water that independents drink that causes them to recoil from what others enjoy? Not that I've noticed.
- And goodness knows, the sight of a good-looking, scantily clad hunkette certainly should not bother a liberal! Their entire ideology appears to be nothing but an excuse for promiscuity of various kinds, particularly coital. They live for libido.
So which group of Wisconsin voters, even in the delusional minds of the red "feminists" who are pushing this argument, are supposed to be swung towards recall by a jpeg of Ciara Matthews in her Hooter days? Enquiring minds... are baffled.
I try to avoid assuming that Progressivists and modern liberals are all drooling idiots; it's too easy an answer to virtually everything they say or do. But when you have eliminated the impossible...
January 9, 2011
And the Home of the Depraved
I apologize that I have nothing really original to say about the shooting yesterday, nor about the (more significant and illuminating) breath-dropping rush by Democrats not to let a random act of mass murder go to waste. But I feel an inner need to say something, for heaven's sake.
The following is adapted from an e-mail I just sent a friend. It perfectly sums up my reaction...
Do you find it queer that less than twenty-four hours after a certified nutjob, with no coherent political philosophy -- though if anything, a while back, when he was less insane, people who knew Jared Loughner said he was a leftist -- shot and killed a conservative federal judge (who Obama will doubtless replace with an ultra-liberal), a nine year old girl, and four other people, and shot and wounded a Blue Dog Democrat member of the House... that the American Left has united to name the real culprit -- Sarah Palin?
Along with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, of course.
And is it bizarre that the same finger-pointers have unwisely admitted in an interview that they plan, as a political tactic to revitalize their flagging ideology (rather, to drag the ideology of Americanism down to their level), to blame the Tea Parties, the same way Bill Clinton successfully blamed conservatives like Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for the Oklahoma City bombing?
One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.
“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”
Another Democratic strategist said the similarity is that Tucson and Oklahoma City both “take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats.”
At least they didn't say "tea baggers."
But actually no; upon further reflection, I don't find it queer at all. I find it sadly, disgustingly, vilely typical. "Overheated rhetoric?" Oh yes, but not emanating from the right, which has been remarkably restrained in recent years; the only over-the-top, violent, pornographic political rhetoric I've see recently has come from the left, from ultraliberals and revolutionary progressives.
But for such a despicable charge to be launched by the party that eagerly embraced and applauded a movie that lovingly fantasized about the assassination of George W. Bush, that regularly sends SEIU thugs into TP rallies to beat the living hell out of any black conservatives they find there, that regularly hurls the N-word and the F-word (the three-letter one) at any blacks or gays who don't toe the Democratic Party line, and that regularly allies itself with (and excuses, even at the highest levels of the Democratic government) the Weather Underground, the New Black Panther Party, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Hu Jintao, Kim Jong-Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abdul Jamal, Ft. Hood mass murderer Nidal Malik Hassan, and radical Islamist terrorist groups around the world -- I just find that galling.
Any Democrat or liberal with any sense of humanity at all (and a conscience) should be asking himself whether he really wants to remain associated with political jackals who repeatedly demonstrate a depraved indifference to human life.
This stomach-turning exercise in Grand-Guignol political theater should drive any remaining moderates or Independents out of the Democratic caucus. But will it?
June 19, 2009
An Immodest Disposal
The state of California -- the most populous by far at 36.8 million -- is staring down the barrel of a $24 billion deficit; there is a very strong likelihood that barring any unforseen windfall, California will have to declare bankruptcy within the next few months.
Now mind, $24 billion is chickenfeed by federal standards -- even the federal standards preceding the One Who Will Spend Us Into Oblivion. However, despite pleas from all factions in the factious state government (some sincere, others perhaps not so), the feds flatly refuse to bail California out.
Now I happen to agree with this position; states should not be "bailed out" when their financial messes are entirely self-generated... which describes California to a tea party. During the boom times, the state -- well, the Democratic legislature, which has run the state more or less continuously, in despite of Republican governors, for decades -- the Democrats enacted enough new "entitlement" programs and other new and frivolous spending to fill the Yosemite Valley. Now times aren't so flushed; and my libertarian response is, "You buttered your bread, now sleep in it."
But you have to admit, refusing to bail out one of the most liberal, pro-Obama, leftist-socialist states in the United States is awfully out of character for the Barack H. Obama administration and the Congress of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%).
Great leaping horny toads, Obama has already pledged more than twice as much to bail out a single company: GM. GM employed 243,000 people in 2008, probably less now; California employs 242,939 total people as of May, 2009 -- not to mention having the largest economy, again by far, of any state: $1.812 trillion gross state product. One would think it a no-brainer for the Democrat president and Democrat Congress to offer "fiscal amnesty" to the Democratic state with the largest number of electoral votes, the largest economy, and the largest population.
So why aren't they?
I really don't think it's because the Oogo-istas running the federal government, who are throwing money at every problem the pops up and nationalizing one major industry after another, have got a sudden attack of fiscal restraint. Rather, I think there are two other major reasons for the denial:
- California has a (nominally) Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in 2010.
It will be an open contest; but if Schwarzenegger has actually solved the state's long-running fiscal crisis, Republican candidates for the legislature and the governorship will receive a major electoral boost... which they sorely need; on its own merits, the California Republican Party is possibly the most inept and dimwitted in the Union.
But if Schwarzenegger is seen to fail -- even if it's due to the Democratic legislature's refusal to enact any meaningful spending cuts -- Republicans will nevetheless get the blame; and the Democratic nominee (probably Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) will be elected by a landslide.
Simply put, the Democrats see a fantastic chance to grab the governor's mansion to go along with the state legislature, thus enjoying a limitless free pass to enact any socialist measure, no matter how unpopular, no matter how insane. Democrats may be calling for a federal bailout of California in public, but I strongly suspect they're privately sending a very different message to the Obamacle and his bestial virgins... one that says, "Hold off on any bailout until Antonio, not Arnold, demands it."
Certainly Democrats are not acting like they want to solve the crisis (at least not until 2011); with a state budget of $131 billion, they would only need to cut 18% across the board to have a balanced budget again. From 1998 to 2008, the budget grew from $73 billion (in 2008 dollars) to $131 billion, an 80% spending increase -- what a spree! Reducing the budget by $24 billion would only mean returning to 2006's budget. Yet the legislature "cannot find" even 5% in cuts!
I don't think any serious person could argue that the legislature is honestly or sincerely trying to solve the crisis. And I don't believe they will try -- until a Democrat is in place to take all the credit.
- I suspect the second main reason for no Obamic bailout of California is lingering anger and resentment over the citizen's constitutional amendment that overturned California's State Supreme Court on the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM).
Proposition 8 was passed by a strong majority; it amended the state constitution to declare marriage to be only between one man and one woman; no other form of union would be legal or recognized in the state as a "marriage." (The 18,000 same-sex couples who married during the brief interval in which it was legal are "grandfathered" in.) I suspect that a great many Democrats in Congress -- and the One Himself -- still seethe that the people of the state took back their own government from the elites... and still fear that such resistance might set an example to citizens in many other states, on many other issues. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people has never been very popular in "people's republics."
Yes, I know; President Obama says that he agrees with the voters of California that marriage should be restricted to mixed-sex couples. Color me skeptical; I find it much more likely that, like many other Democrats, he sincerely wants to revolutionize marriage, along with every other bedrock principle upon which Western Civilization is built. I believe he would not only be fine with same-sex marriage but polygamy as well -- that strokes two special-interest groups at once!
But he doesn't want his fingerprints on such a radical, drastic change in social culture. The president would much prefer others to do the dirty work (preferably federal judges, who are more reliably liberal and don't have to worry about re-election), while he stands above the fray and votes "present." He thought he had nabbed the biggest prize of them all when the California Supreme Court issued its ruling last year; the state is home to the largest population of gays, of Hollywood celebrities, and of liberals (with, of course, a gigantic overlap), and it routinely gives Democratic candidates the largest amount of campaign cash.
But then along came the traditional-marriage amendment, chopping the legs out from under the court's ruling. Injury became insult when that selfsame court -- ignoring the blatant "hints" from the Left -- actually held that Proposition 8 was valid and legitimate, and would be enforced.
And then immediately afterwards, along comes Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, cap in hand, begging for money from the federal coffers. Hah!
Sure, Schwarzenegger himself pretty much supports SSM, and he's hardly what anyone would call a conservative. Ne'ertheless, he still has that scarlet R stitched onto his 52-inch chest; and that was sufficient to evoke all the rage, hatred, and fury: You don't expect the Democratic Congress to give money to a state full of homophobes, do you? (Especially not a state whose citizens had also voted in recent years to end state subsidies to illegal aliens and to terminate all racial-preference programs statewide. Good heavens, they must be Nazis!)
So take my thoughts for what they're worth; I'm glad we weren't bailed out, no matter how disreputable the reason why not. But I'm apprehensive how this will all play out in next year's gubernatorial and legislative elections. It's hard to imagine that the liberal monopoly here could get any worse; but no matter how deep you already are, you can always dig another sub-basement.
June 16, 2009
Penultimate Word on on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany
Today, as expected, Justice Thomas J. McNamara of the New York State Supreme Court essentially said "you kids better work this out yourselves." He didn't use those exact words (pretty close though!), but that's what his ruling amounts to. (Please note that what New York calls the "Supreme Court" is what most states call Superior Court, the ordinary state-wide trial courts. What the rest of us call the State Supreme Court, New Yorkers call the Court of Appeals.)
A state judge on Tuesday refused to overturn last week’s takeover of the State Senate by the Republicans, essentially leaving it to the Legislature to decide which party is in charge....
The Senate’s operations have been at a standstill since last Monday, when Republicans joined with two renegade Democrats to seize control of the chamber.
The judge’s decision, issued by Justice Thomas J. McNamara of State Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon, effectively puts the Senate at a 31-to-31 deadlock, but it also leaves Senator Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat who crossed party lines last week, as the president of the Senate....
“A judicially imposed resolution would be an improvident intrusion into the internal workings of a co-equal branch of government,” Justice McNamara said, adding, “Go across the street and resolve this for the people of New York.”
But the most interesting part of the story hides behind the second elipsis above:
The judge denied the Democrats’ case and their motion for a stay, and the Democrats indicated that they would appeal. But by late afternoon, Democrats said they would not appeal.
Saying the Democrats have foregone the judicial-tyranny option begs the fascinating question of "why" -- why won't they pursue it to the bitter end? It can't merely be that they are persuaded by Justice McNamara's decision that they were wrong; nor even that they're convinced that right or wrong, such an approach is doomed to failure. The first is unthinkable: Democrats always believe, to paraphrase Shaw, that the customs and traditions of their tribe are laws of nature; and the second is improvident: Even if the chance of court victory is tiny, why foreclose that option? What have they got to lose?
To me, there is only one explanation for dropping the appeal: The Democrats have decided that trying to sue their way back into power is counterproductive to regaining that power. And that means (again in my reading of the political tea leaves) that New York Democrats now believe they are on the brink of regaining that power legitimately; they don't want that "reconquista" tainted by the ugliness of trying to overturn democracy via the most undemocratic branch of state government, the courts.
And there is reason for their optimism:
Republicans wrested power in the State Senate away from Democrats last Monday, but their thin majority collapsed a week later, leaving the chamber at 31 to 31 and its leadership picture more confused than ever.
The move came when Senator Hiram Monserrate, one of two Democrats who had sided with Republicans to give them a 32-to-30 majority, said he was switching his allegiance again and reaffirmed himself as a member of the Democratic caucus.
This redefection leaves but a single Democrat, Pedro Espada, jr., thwarting the caucus's return to primacy. Espada is currently President of the Senate, just one slot below Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican; if Espada returns, and then the Democrats restore the leadership of the former majority leader, Democrat Malcolm Smith, Espada can look forward to nothing but endless penance for his apostasy.
But in the meanwhile, the Democrats (as we predicted) have wisely elected a new "caucus leader," Sen. John L. Sampson of Brooklyn:
Mr. Monserrate said at the news conference that he was returning to the Democratic fold because he was satisfied that a new leader chosen by Democrats, Senator John L. Sampson of Brooklyn, would unify party members and bring about action on important legislation....
Adding to the confusion, Democrats chose Senator Sampson as the leader of their caucus, in a move that was a concession to Mr. Monserrate, who had insisted on the ouster of Malcolm A. Smith as majority leader. But because they no longer had the 32 votes needed to install Mr. Sampson as president of the Senate and majority leader, Democrats named Mr. Sampson “caucus leader” and left Mr. Smith as their titular leader.
Smith continues to try to save his face by insisting that he is the real majority leader -- and Sampson is merely his "CEO." But I think it's inevitable that the moment the Democrats recapture Espada, giving them a majority once more, they will take a quick vote and name Sampson, not Smith, the new majority leader of the state Senate.
(I wonder -- when they do this, will Malcolm Smith continue to argue that you can't change majority leaders in mid stream, that he is still the one and only champeen? Perhaps he can declare himself the People's majority leader!)
The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.
I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.
We stand by our previous prediction:
- Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
- And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.
This is sad, because I believe that even in the ultraliberal state of New York, a referrendum of the voters would find that they oppose SSM by a significant margin. But when has that ever stopped Democrats and liberals? The irreducible core of leftism is the belief that the Dear Leader knows best and must tell the rabble where to get off.
We await but the passage of a few days to write our ultimate post on this ticklish travesty of anti-democratic Democraticism.
June 12, 2009
More on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany
The follies and frolics continue in the New York State Senate. Here is the latest...
First, erstwhile Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (he still believes himself to be the once and future Majority Leader) released a statement Wednesday through his spokesman, Austin Shafran; here it is in its entirety:
“The Temporary President and Majority Leader, Senator Malcolm A. Smith, was elected to a two year term pursuant to a resolution passed by a majority of Senators in January 2009."
"The purported coup was an unlawful violation of New York State law and the Senate rules and we do not accept it. The Senate Majority is fully prepared to go back to the people’s work, but will not enter the chamber to be governed by unlawful rules." [Well! That's mighty high-minded of them; I was afraid they were simply squabbling about who had the power.]
"We plan to file an action for a temporary injunction to enjoin the Republicans from illegitimately usurping authority from the people of New York."
This is amusing on several levels, not least of which is the casual conflation of a slim Democratic majority losing its leadership position because of a vote in the State Senate -- the same way it gained that leadership position in the first place -- with "usurping authority from the people of New York" (!)
Then on Thursday, the melodrama deepened, as some wag -- likely Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, one of the two defecting Democrats -- got hold of the keys to the joint:
A defiant Mr. Espada said he would enter the chamber for a session on Thursday even if the Democrats kept the doors bolted shut. As he was being trailed by a large group of reporters down a corridor in the Capitol, Mr. Espada pulled a gold key out of his pocket, grinned and said: “I’ve got the key. I’ve got the key.”
This rise of no-confidence in Smith continues today, as the New York Daily News makes it clear that Smith will probably be ousted by his Democratic conference:
It seems all-but inevitable at this point that Smith will be asked to step aside, despite the fact that he continues to fight in court to retain his hold on the leadership. The leading candidate to replace him as head of the Democratic conference is Sen. John Sampson.
Keep in mind: Even if the Democrats dump Smith and get Monserrate back, the Senate will still be deadlocked, and the question about the legality of Monday's vote that restored Sen. Dean Skelos to the majority leader's post and made Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. temporary president of the Senate still stands.
But today, the state judge hearing the case, Thomas J. McNamara, not only warned the warring parties that they should settle this politically, not judicially, he also made clear he would sign a GOP motion to dismiss the Democrats' case... though without prejudice. This would require the Democrats to start all over again, dragging the impasse out further -- and likely further eroding Smith's tenure as Majority Leader, perhaps even causing more Democrats to jump ship to Republican Dean Skelos.
I'm not a New Yorker; nevertheless, I have some thoughts on this standoff based entirely on what I have read:
- I believe the original vote and the continued turmoil has nothing to do with Democrats rethinking the policies of Malcolm Smith, shifting in a more conservative direction; rather, it has everything to do with an insurrection against Smith himself, personally.
- Therefore, I believe the efforts to oust him from his leadership position within the Democratic Party will ultimately be successful. A new party leader will be elected.
- Once this happens, the defections of Espada and Monserrate (both of whom appear to be crass and unethical opportunists) will boil down to what deal they can cut for leadership positions and possibly the dropping of various ethics complaints against them.
Both have serious legal issues pending: Espada "has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over several years for flouting state law by not disclosing political contributions," and he is also under investigation by the state attorney general for a healthcare network he used to run; and Monserrate is currently under felony indictment for slashing his female "companion's" face with a broken bottle during an argument.
The companion, Karla Giraldo, initially cooperated with the investigation; but in December, she changed her story to match Monserrate's: that he "tripped while holding a glass of water and Giraldo was injured by the shattered glass." There is, however, other physical evidence, possibly including surveillance video, that supports her original charge that Monserrate, a former police officer, assaulted her in a jealous rage over another man.
- Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
- And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.
So it goes, so it will go; but's titillating to watch the train wreck in the meanwhile.
June 2, 2009
"Double Standard" Watch on the Rind Continues
Well, mañana has come ("Aye Caesar, but not gone!") Still haven't seen a single story quoting a single anti-war activist denouncing, condemning, or for that matter even mentioning the assassination of Pvt. William Long and the wounding of Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula.
None of the suspects listed in our previous post has stepped up to the plate and plainly said "Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad does not kill on my behalf." Nor has a single elite news agency even asked anti-war leaders the question, so far as I have seen.
The New York Times continues to have no editorial on the attack, though they quickly editorialized on the murder of Dr. Tiller (blaming it on pro-life conservatives). They finally posted an article on the shootings; but nowhere in it do they trouble to demand whether anti-war protesters and agitators support or condemn the brutal murder and attempted murder.
Andrew Sullivan has at last deigned to note the occurance of the assassination... but only in order to mock Michelle Malkin, whom he dubs a "self-parody" for imagining that it could possibly be considered terrorism -- not like that Tiller killing!
The Washington Post has printed no editorials or opinion pieces on the murder. It has published two articles on the shooting, here and here; neither even so much as raises the question of whether the extremist anti-war, anti-military rhetoric of the American and international Left played any role in persuading native-born American citizen Mr. Muhammad that being a Moslem required him to murder his own country's servicemen. Nor does either article ask any anti-war protester or leader what he or she thinks of Mr. Muhammad's tactics.
None of the usual suspects can any longer claim that they haven't had enough time to prepare such a story; each swiftly published stories, editorials, and opinion pieces savaging the entire pro-life movement (of which I am not a member, by the way) for the murder of Dr. Tiller... and especially lighting on Fox News populist demagogue Bill O'Reilly as the real killer behind the killer. These stories appeared within 24 hours of the Christian domestic terrorist attack.
But the Moslem domestic terrorist attack appears to have elicited a collective "ho hum" from the elite news media. It's quite clear which religious extremism they think is the real threat to America.
I'm too smug and self-satisfied to look at other lefty websites besides the ones I've enumerated here; but I highly encourage readers to do so: Please look through posts from June 1st forward, or search the websites for the victims' names, and post the results in the comments section. Here are the questions before the house:
- Will any anti-war organization, leader, or even individual protester go on record condemning or denouncing the killings of Long and Ezeagwula?
- And will any elite-media newspaper, TV news or talking-head show, news magazine, or internet site put the question to any of the usual chanters, protesters, rioters, and puppeteers whether their own virulent and hysterical anti-war rhetoric could have helped push Muhammad over the edge?
It seems that the intense search for the "root cause" of political violence begins and ends with violence from the deranged Right, no matter how tangentially connected to the sane Right (the tangential connection will of course be exaggerated to the point of complete identification).
Inquiring minds still want to know.
Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick...
May 26, 2009
Hatch As Hatch Can: Venom of the Gay Left
In just four more hours, give or take, the California Supreme Court will release its decision and opinion on three consolodated cases demanding the invalidation of Proposition 8, the citizens initiative that overturned a decision by that same court mandating same-sex marriage in California on bogus "equal protection" grounds. The citizens initiative is one of the greatest tools of real grass-roots democracy, not liberal "astroturf," in America's most populous and richest state. (Which is headed towards bankruptcy and possible receivership; so it goes.)
In just four hours, we shall learn whether we still live in democracy with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people -- or whether we live in a tyranny with a regime of the activists, by the activists, and for the activists. I'm betting that even this court will shy from throwing a sacred Californian right of more than a century and a half standing into the dustbin of history, simply to satisfy a whim of policy preference, in a case that was originally decided by the slim and unconvincing majority of 4 to 3.
The gay Left says that if they do not get the "invalidation" ruling they want -- if the citizens of California are allowed to retain their self-evident right to write their own constitution -- then the radicals will go ape; there will be days of rage:
Gay rights advocates have scheduled marches throughout California and in several other states for Tuesday evening. Organizers say the gatherings will be celebratory if the court rules in their favor and angry if Proposition 8 is upheld.
Activists in the San Francisco Bay area, including several clergy members, said they planned to block the street outside the courthouse and to be arrested in a mass show of civil disobedience if the justices do not invalidate the measure.
"Words are not enough right now. We believe it's time to put our bodies on the line to show that separate is not equal," said Kip Williams, an activist with One Struggle, One Fight, a group that was launched in response to Proposition 8's passage.
I say, let them. Bring it on! Let the world see just how committed the American hard Left is to "outmoded" concepts such as democracy, liberty, and honesty. Let America see the liberal fascists for what they are: unAmerican, even anti-American. Apt pupils of Oogo Chavez and other Stalinists.
In sum, if the court has the audacity (chutzpah is the better word) to flush 159 years of the right of citizens initiative, over a stunningly recent, transitory, and bitterly partisan dispute, it will be the greatest outrage in the history of California jurisprudence... even for those who voted against Proposition 8: You cannot target your invalidations to those initiatives with whose policy you disagree -- without simultaneously invalidating it for all initiatives. I don't think even Los Angeles Mayor and likely next Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Antonio Villaraigosa, would go that far (though certainly San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom -- his most likely rival for the nomination -- would).
But if, as nearly everyone predicts, even most of the justices who voted to declare unconstitutional the state's perennial definition of marriage to apply only to male-female unions, nevertheless vote to uphold Proposition 8... then let us see the violent, adolescent Left rage and blow, smashing other people's property, assaulting their opponents, the police, and randomly selected bystanders. Let them show their Jerry Brown-shirts in public.
The medicine will be bitter, but its effect curative for our state's internal organs.
February 2, 2009
Nanny's in Your Kitchen: the Spice Wars Begin
"Republican" Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City -- he was a Democrat until he decided the Democratic ticket was too crowded for his mayoral run, so he switched to have the nomination to himself -- now presides over a staggering budget deficit:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially announced Friday the city's $4 billion budget gap and unveiled a new budget filled with painful cutbacks that will impact every New Yorker.
Wall Street got sick and now New York City residents have to take their medicine, and Bloomberg's budget solution will probably be hard for most of us to swallow. New taxes, a smaller workforce, and reduced city services -- all the ingredients of Friday's "Doomsday" budget plan.
"This is a very tough time for our city and nation," Bloomberg said. "We have a $4 billion budget gap. It is serious, I think it is manageable."
Facing this Bloomsday budget plan, Mr. Mayor has thought and thought and thought and thought... and all that ratiocination has done to him what too much reading of chivalric fiction did to Alonso Quixano, about whom Cervantes wrote in the Quixote:
In short, he became so absorbed in his books that he spent his nights from sunset to sunrise, and his days from dawn to dark, poring over them; and what with little sleep and much reading his brains got so dry that he lost his wits. His fancy grew full of what he used to read about in his books, enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, wooings, loves, agonies, and all sorts of impossible nonsense; and it so possessed his mind that the whole fabric of invention and fancy he read of was true, that to him no history in the world had more reality in it.
And a few days ago, Michael, Princeps of Novus York, had a divine revelation: The specific enchantment that would serve to rescue his beloved principality from the economic fiery furnace is "sal salis deleda est!" Now we know how he'll "manage" the $4 billion deficit; sic semper tyrannis.
Clearly, the rabble are simply too ignorant to know how much salt they're eating. They cannot be trusted to make such urgent decisions, which affect the principality as a whole, all by themselves, the selfish villains.
So he has decided to do something about it: He is gearing up to order food manufacturers to "voluntarily" cut the amount of salt in the food they prepare by 50%; and if they don't voluntarily comply, the next step will be to ban any dissenters from selling their food products in New York City.
As New York is America's largest urban market, and it's too expensive to have two different versions of every product -- one for New York, the other for Everywhere Else -- the upshot will be that manufacturers will be forced to undersalt their food across the entire United States. Even the Pace Picante Sauce sold in Amarillo and Taos will have to conform to the tastes of "New York City!"
"Salt, when it's high in the diet, increases the blood pressure and high blood pressure is a major factor for heart disease and stroke," said Dr. Sonia Angell of NYC's Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program.
This is just Mayor Bloomberg's latest health initiative, following on the heels of a smoking ban, a ban on trans fats and forcing restaurants to post the calorie contents.
But many New Yorkers peppered the mayor with boos for his latest idea.
The inaptly named Dr. Sonia Angell might want to reinterview her cherubim sources; evidence that a high salt intake causes medical problems in otherwise healthy people is scant. Instead, most studies show only that people who already have problems -- cardio-vascular, exercise-induced asthma, stomach problems -- can significantly benefit from decreasing their salt intake. And in any event, do we really want a government that tells us what amount of an ordinary, even necessary mineral we are allowed to eat? "Deadly NaCl" has become the new millennium's "poisonous CO2".
Anyone who wants to reduce salt in his diet has a plethora of options available; there are health-food stores in nearly every reasonably large city, and probably hundreds in America's largest city. These stores carry many products that are low-sodium or even sodium-free. You can also simply make food from fresh, non-processed ingredients, thereby controlling how much salt your dishes contain.
With a city teetering on the edge of financial ruin, should Mr. Mayor be frittering away his energy and his budget forcing everyone to conform to an NYC "health Nazi" committee? (Adolf Hitler was a fanatic vegetarian and anti-smoking zealot, making Hitler the world's first "health Nazi.") It's hard not to suspect that Bloomberg's real objection to salt is not that it damages some people's health but that it makes food taste good, when we should be tightening our belts. (The mayor's political allies in the Center for Science in the Public Interest are even more overt, verging on brazen, in their war on flavor.)
This knee-jerk wildly inapropos response proves (if that were still needed) that Michael Bloomberg is still a liberal Democrat at core, no matter what letter he puts after his name now. A liberal is never more than two hysterias away from reverting to liberal fascism, in which every problem is a social problem -- and every social problem requires a collectivist, totalitarian solution. If some people's poor health is exacerbated by excess salt, then nobody should be allowed to eat too much salt... where "too much" is of course coterminous with "more than Mayor Bloomberg likes."
Liberals simply become impatient when one raises the liberty issue; in their hearts, no matter the rhetoric they espouse or claim to accept, right back to the days of the Progressive Party and the Fabian Society, they have always believed that liberty is overrated... that there are only two kinds of men: those who are meant to drive -- the "vanguard," or as Thomas Sowell dubbed them, the "Anointed" who have "the Vision" -- and those who are fit only to be driven (the lumpenproletariat).
The line of totalitarian succession stretches unbroken from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson to Jimmy "the Sweater" Carter -- to the Pelosi, Reid, Obama axis today, thence to all the little Obamoids orbiting the One like teeny, tiny moons. This includes Mr. Mayor of the cosmic center, New York City -- Bloomberg, rationer of prandial pleasure and arbiter of the new American asceticism... We the People sacrifice all so that They the Anointed may feast, swill, chain-smoke, and wallow in hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars (tax-free for cabinet appointees!) showered upon them because they are who they are.
Meet the new nanny; same as the old nanny. (Pass the salt, please.)
November 5, 2007
Dems On the Rampage, Dennis On a Tear
For this entire year, the Democrats have been stung by repeated legislative embarassments; they failed to:
- Force defeat in Iraq;
- Let the camel-nose of SCHIP into the tent (with the body, socialized medicine, to follow);
- Pass even one, single appropriations bill through Congress and to the president's desk;
- Follow through on their promise to make the 110th Congress "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history" by passing meaningful ethical reform with either a ban on earmarks altogether, or at least complete transparency of the earmarking process -- shining a spotlight on the earmarking roaches in the system;
- Make a decision on the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts for the middle class;
- Do anything at all about illegal immigration, and so on.
Their perennial, whiny complaint is that the Republicans in Congress keep filibustering Democrat-sponsored legislation, and that President Bush vetoes the trickle that does get through. But navigating that needle is part of the process of leadership.
Neither party has had anything like a veto-proof (or even unfilibusterable) majority in ages; neither has the luxury of completely dominating the legislative conversation and burying the other side's objections.
During the Republicans' tenure, they actually managed to pass significant pieces of legislation, from tax cuts, to allowing faith-based organizations to vie for charitable governmental spending, to beefing up the border with double fencing, to a couple of declarations of war, to easing environmental regulations, etc. The Republicans were largely successful at legislating because they found issues where even the bulk of work-a-day Democrats agreed with the GOP and disagreed with the Democratic leadership; thus conditions were ripe for Democrats to join with Republicans to provide enough votes to invoke cloture, thus preventing a filibuster.
But the Democrats of the 110th loudly announced, even before they assumed office, that they considered congressional Republicans to be mere speed bumps -- and the president an anachronistic irrelevancy. Their "negotiation" style consists of a lengthy series of take-it-or-leave-it ultimata... and evidently, the GOP's response has been not only to "leave it" but to show just how much power a unified minority party has. And of course, the president has the constitutional authority to veto legislation; it's not something dirty or underhanded, as the Democrats seem to believe.
Ergo, the Democrats find themselves at a crossroads. Two paths open before them:
- They can change their tone and begin working with the Republicans to craft bipartisan legislation, supported at least by the GOP rank and file, if not necessarily by the GOP leadership;
- Or they can retreat from the world of legislating into the comforting zone of endless investigations of the Bush administration, in order to create the illusion of progress when in fact all they're doing is loudly burning rubber at the starting line.
With all that as prologue, we come to a couple of articles. From the Associated Press...
House Democrats threatened Monday to hold President Bush's key confidants in contempt of Congress unless they comply with subpoenas for information on the Justice Department's purge of federal prosecutors last winter.
The White House shrugged off the ultimatum, saying the information is off-limits under executive privilege and that the aides in question - White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former presidential counselor Harriet Miers - are immune from prosecution.
"It won't go anywhere," predicted White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Congressional Democrats nonetheless submitted their 102-page report, and a Republican rebuttal, to the House clerk on Monday afternoon. The report accused Miers of contempt for failing to appear and testify as subpoenaed. She and Bolten were charged with failing to produce documents on whether the prosecutors were fired at the White House's behest.
The essential absurdity of this investigation is found in a couple of short, quiet sentences buried in the middle of the article:
If the report is passed, the House would forward the citation to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for prosecution....
It's not clear that contempt of Congress citations must be prosecuted.
That's quite an understatement. In fact, the courts have made it very clear that they will not force the Executive branch to prosecute itself on orders from the Legislative branch. Thus, the most at Chairman John Conyers (D-MI, 100%) can do is shake his fist and demand that President Bush prosecute his own aides for carrying out his own policies... which seems implausible on its face. So beyond congressional self-abuse, what is the point?
The plain and simple fact is that the "fired" U.S. attorneys -- who were not fired, by the way, but mostly just not reappointed to another term -- were sent packing for purely performance-based reasons: They had their own private, political agendas, which they insisted upon following rather than following the agenda of the President of the United States. As they serve at the pleasure of the president, and the president was not pleased, they were gently encouraged to find employment elsewhere.
When next a Democrat is elected president, he will have the same authority: He need not keep reappointing U.S. attorneys, or any other appointed officials, who march to the sound of a different drum. It's as simple as that.
I don't think even the Democrats believe that once the president names someone to a position, he is obliged to retain that person forever, no matter what he does. I think this is just another way for Democrats to investigate -- which requires no negotiation whatsoever -- rather than legislate, which requires actually listening to the opposition and making some effort to accomodate their views in order to gain their support... an odious, Herculean labor that the Democrats simply cannot bear to undertake. (Actually, it's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who remind me of the Stymphalian birds.)
And while we're on the subject, we also have this: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Venus, 100%) has decided to use some obscure House rule to force the entire House of Representatives to formally cast a roll-call vote on impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney...
"The momentum is building for impeachment," Kucinich said in a Nov. 2 news release. "Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President's abuse of power."
House Resolution 333 says Cheney should be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors," because he "purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests."
Kucinich insists that Vice President Cheney continues to violate the U.S. Constitution by insisting on the supremacy of the Executive Branch....
"Congress must hold the Vice President accountable," Kucinich said last week. He accused Cheney of using his office to advocate the "continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran."
Which raises an interest question that itself demands an answer: Does Dennis Kucinich actually believe that opposing an Iraq pullout and advocating we be more "belligerent" towards Iran constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors?"
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats must now grapple with the confirmation vote for Attorney General designate Michael Mukasey; with several Democrats jumping ship and supporting Mukasey, including Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) and Charles Schumer (D-NY, 100%), while the bulk of the leadership still opposes him, the ironic possibility exists that the majority in the Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%), may try to mount a filibuster!
As we close in on the end of the first session of the 110th Congress, the stunning paucity of legislation makes this not just the majority that couldn't shoot straight -- it's the majority than cannot even shoot crooked. Rather, the Democratic congressional leadership, at least so far, resembles Ralphie Parker in a Christmas Story -- daydreaming about shooting Black Bart and his gang with Ralphie's Official Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle, felling the the GOP gang left and left with unbelievable but wholly imaginary accuracy.
The Democrats had better be careful: They'll shoot their eye out!
September 24, 2007
Cindy Sheehan's Day of Out-of-Tunement Manifesto
I rarely do this, as you know: I rarely link to some piece and say simply "read this." (I'm too in love with the sound of my own fingers typing on a keyboard.)
But here's an exception. Read Cindy Sheehan's Yom Kippur "sermon," delivered at Michael Lerner's Beyt Tikkun "synogogue;" you will be -- if not exactly glad, then at least agape. (Rabbi Lerner is Hillary Clinton's mentor, author of the Politics of Meaning and other works of Socialist agit-prop masquerading as theology.)
My response (I love this) is entirely contained in the list of categories I had to attach to this post.
(Well, one more thing. It has always been my understanding that Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a day for each person to atone for what he, personally, has done wrong -- not "atone" for his enemies failing to live up to his own lofty standards, apologize for all the times America hasn't followed his lead, or wallow in self-righteous indignation that nobody listens to him. 'Nuff said; read the list of categories above.)
March 30, 2007
That Was Then, This Is Still Then. To Them. You Dig?
Just a few Spring mullings...
The more I ponder the Democrats, the more amazed am I at their anachronism. They insist upon living in the past. But unlike Civil War reenactors or the Society for Creative Anachronism, the Left also insists that the rest of us live in their past, as well.
Virtually every position they actually take -- and there aren't many -- is an attempt to relive the "good, old days" of the 1960s (actually, a fantasy 60s that's more like Tribes, Billy Jack, or Hair). In their own tepid way, they are as anxious to recreate a bygone era as are Islamic fundamentalists... which may be one reason they find it easier to understand our enemies than fellow Americans.
Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho
First and most obvious is the Democratic/liberal/New Left support for governance by protest. Back in the very late 60s and early 70s, "protest" was more than a means of political expression; it became, for the first time in American history, a lifestyle choice for a small but influential segment of the populace... a populace that has now grown old (if not up) and seized the levers of governmental power.
The 1960s saw the rise of the professional agitator in America; in this, they mimicked the professional rabble-rousers of Europe, starting in the late 19th century and through the early 20th. But as usual in America, nothing succeeds like excess: Our professional agitators became an entire "class."
Thousands of people decided to take Timothy Leary's advice to "turn on, tune in, drop out" without having the least idea what Leary was talking about: There was a chance to freeload in there somewhere, and by golly, they were going to grab it! Most of the hippies weren't particularly political; but when the Yippies took over the "movement," it became explicitly hard-left; in fact, the Youth International Party paved the way for the Symbionese Liberation Army, the ultimate expression of "action directe."
Action directe, besides being the actual name of an actual terrorist group in France, is the philosophy that rational discussion is no longer sufficient to change the direction of the country towards socialism (or more often, Stalinism). Rather, revolutionaries must take "direct action"... that is, protest, sabotage, and violence.
Political violence is like a drug that comes with a built-in higher rationale:
- It gives the user an amazing high;
- It's addictive;
- It becomes all-consuming, so that the addict must drop out of the normal world. Soon, it's the only thing that matters in the addict's life.
(Terrorism is the ultimate example of action directe, of course; but that takes more courage than is found in most American lefties... to our great good fortune.)
As anybody knows who has paid attention in the past few years, protest as a way of life, which had faded from view for decades, is back... big time. Cindy Sheehan may be the best exemplar. (Warning, harshness alert!) She appears to have filled the void left by her son Casey's heroic death in Iraq with perpetual protest against... well, virtually everything. It's hard to pin her down.
But she has abandoned her real family (including her other son) in favor of the permanent-protester acolytes, who call her "Mother Sheehan" and treat her like a visiting saint.
Sheehan is joined on the agitation circuit by virtually every major Democratic politician; they drift from protest to protest, delivering drive-by remarks on a variety of subject about which they are ignorant. At each venue, they lead the audience in some version of the "hey, hey, ho, ho" chant -- e.g., "Hey, hey, ho, ho, western civ has got to go!"
Puppets and pageantry fill the empty corners of their lives the way that family, friends, and civic activities fill the lives of real Americans. I mean literal puppets: Giant marionettes and Hindenburg-sized inflatable animals are perennials at every major protest, just like they are at every children's party.
Most of the perennial protesting politicians did at least go to university during the 60s; but curiously, many were not, in fact, hippies, Yippies, or protesters themselves (think Hillary Clinton). So it may not be nostalgia so much as a "mulligan." It's an attempt to go back in time and actually engage in the socially conscious behavior they always secretly admired, longed to join, but lacked the courage to do: They wish they could have been, if not Jerry Rubin or Abbie Hoffman, at least John Kerry or Jane Fonda.
And of course, given the age advantage of most Democratic party leaders and the fact that they have at least confabulated memories of the great protest "movement" of the 60s, they still receive the worshipful attention of the mass of today's 20-something protesters -- giving them a hit of a stronger and more addictive drug: guruhood.
For those who want a taste of action directe but aren't gutsy enough to go skinny dipping in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the natural analog is governance by judicial fiat: They take their political theater into the courtroom, shop for a sympathetic judge, and parade a circus of pathetic victims whose woes can only be cured by the direct judicial imposition of socialism, atheism, infanticide, and euthanasia.
Hey, hey, LBJ...
The 60s protests had two distinct foci: the civil-rights movement and the anti-war movement. The latter is most obviously relevant today, with the Iraq war dominating the American consciousness like the Incredible Hulk.
It's one thing to protest the plight of the poor, American support for fascist dictators, genetically engineered corn, abortion rights, grapes, or trans-fats. It is an altogether finer thing to protest a war.
For one thing, wars are big, violent, and obvious; you don't need to enunciate a complex explanation of the evils of war -- as you do when protesting the evils of carbon dioxide, which everybody exhales and green plants love.
All you need do is show pictures of dead, bloody bodies, and you're in business. Who could possibly be in favor of dead and/or mulilated kids? The only trick is to make people believe that America is responsible whenever the enemy commits an atrocity... which is not a difficult task, as most people around the world believe that the American government is God and can do anything it wants. So if it's not preventing some catastrophe, the only explanation is -- they want it to happen!
Thus, President Bush wanted Hurricane Katrina to kill those hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, because the victims were all poor, black Democrats. He wanted the tsunami to wipe out large portions of the developing world. And he certainly wanted those 650,000 (or was that 650 million?) innocent civilians to die horribly in Iraq.
The first two are hard sells, because most Americans are somewhat skeptical of the ability of the President of the United States to prevent natural disasters by signing the Kyoto Protocol. But since we did, in fact, invade Iraq -- a peaceful country led by an enlightened leader who was keeping the Islamists at bay and bringing prosperity and love to his people -- that's an easy sell to anyone who doesn't like Bush. Or Republicans. Or Southerners. Or anyone who believes in the biblical God.
But being anti-war is more than just protesting; it too is a way of political life. Being anti-war means never having to say you're guilty: It provides absolution for any other sin you may commit. This time, think of the corrupt Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, 65%) -- or the ambulance-chasing, settlement-extorting John Edwards.
You don't even need to enunciate a coherent anti-war position, one that tackles the original danger that sparked the war in the first place. All you need do is intone the appropriate mantra -- "war is not the answer," "give peace a chance," "the survivors will envy the dead," "Bush lied, people died" -- and you never have to answer the question of what would have happened had we not gone to war.
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. So obviously, we must have peace at any price... even if the price is surrender to jihad.
No justice, no peace!
The original cause that spawned the protests of the 60s was civil rights; mass ant-war protest came later. There is a huge advantage to trying to recreate the civil rights era in today's political culture, but there is also a minor drawback:
There really, truly was a nationwide culture of racism and bigotry that had to be overcome, not just in the South but everywhere: Consider the "zoot-suit riots" in Los Angeles, for only one example.
Few people today could look back with equanimity at what ordinary Americans, just a few decades ago, could say and support without feeling shame. Segregation was not invented; and we really did have whites-only public facilities, government sponsored terrorism against Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and Chinese, and concentration camps for Americans of Japanese descent (Michelle Malkin notwithstanding).
- But on the other hand, no such climate exists today. Thus, effective protesters must invent one.
That challenge means the agitator must identify all three elements: the victim, the perp, and the crime. But this can actually be a strategic advantage (when life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in people's eyes). During the actual civil-rights era, it was easy for people to ensure they were on the right side: just oppose racial discrimination (Jim Crow laws) while supporting racial discrimination (affirmative action), and you were home free!
But when the Left gets to indentify not only the actors but even the crime itself, then everyone is potentially guilty... so no one is secure.
- Yesterday, the victims were oppressed atheists, the bigots were those who believe in the Judeo-Christian God, and the crime was allowing any cross to be visible anywhere in the United States, rather than hidden decently behind closed church doors. (And sometimes not even there; I cite the College of William & Mary.)
- Today, the victims du jour are radical Moslems, the bigots are those who support the war on global jihad, and the crime is failing to respect the jihadists' religion, which requires them to throw the Jew down the well.
- In early 2001, the victims were Afghan women, the bigots were freshman President George W. Bush and his administration, and the crime was doing absolutely nothing to boot the Taliban out of Afghanistan. See how adaptable the game is?
Maybe tomorrow, the victims will be religious Christian leftists who believe in liberation theology, the bigots will be secular Americans, and the crime will be refusing to vote for socialized medicine and same-sex marriage. We shall overcome!
Where have all the flowers gone?
The Democratic Party has three core crusades, in order of increasing abstraction:
- End the Iraq war at any price: So they agitate for withdrawal, release of political prisoners such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, and reinstating the draft, Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-Harlem, 95%) favorite hobby horse: Terror of the draft spawns million-mom anti-war rallies.
- Eliminate the Jim-Crow laws that elevate Judeo-Christian culture and oppress other religions, such as Islam, Wicca, and Santeria: So they agitate for polygamy, gay marriage, and animal sacrifice.
- Suppress democracy -- legislative action -- in favor of judicial decree and action directe: So they support activist judges and nominate politicians who cater to protest groups, from CAIR, to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, to NOW, to NARAL, to International ANSWER, to NAMBLA.
Each affords the opportunity for Democrats to revel in a past that never was -- or at least never was for them; to riot and agitate and feel the joy of bluster and bravado without the actual risk of combat; to fulfill every libertine fantasy they ever dreamt while toiling away in college; to feel self-righteous and wash away the sins that bedevil them; and simply to indulge the childish desire to run off and join the carnival (complete with a Washington freak show that dims the luster of the geek, the fat lady, and the half-man, half-woman).
Nostalgic for yesterday, frightened by tomorrow, and befuddled by today, the Democrats drive pedal to the metal, while staring fixedly in the rear-view mirror. I hope the American people prefer to watch where we're going.
March 29, 2007
Still the Fever
So the fever continues to rage; the entire Left (and elements of the Right) continue to demand that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resign for... well, for some nameless offense to be filled in later.
"Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first--verdict afterwards."
Despite the scary lede in the AP story (and in the New York Times, as well), there is actually nothing new in Kyle Sampson's testimony about Gonzales' involvement in discussions about firing eight U.S. Attorneys who flagrantly ignored the administration's prosecutorial priorities:
Contrary to his public statements, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was deeply involved in the firing of eight federal prosecutors, his former top aide said Thursday, adding that the final decision on who was to be dismissed was made by Gonzales and President Bush's former counsel.
"I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate," Kyle Sampson, who quit this month as Gonzales' chief of staff, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign."
Get it? Sampson says Gonzales discussed the process, not the specifics of who would go and who would stay. The state of play is unchanged from our earlier post last Saturday, What the Meaning of "Fizz" Is. We wrote then:
Any ordinary person, when asked if he was involved in discussions about firing the attorneys, would understand the question to mean, "Did you participate in discussions about which attorneys -- if any -- to fire?" And he would honestly say "No, I did not."
Nobody but a Democrat in full cry, anxious to find something, anything, to justify more scandalmongering, would imagine that the original question would also include any ancillary discussions about the best way to break the news to the press!
And we're sticking by it... no matter how gravely Blake Dvorak over on Real Clear Politics shakes his hoary locks... more in sorrow than in anger, you understand.
We agree with Paul Mirengoff: So far, there is no "there" there, no evidence of any lying to or misleading Congress, the American people, or anybody else. Here is the sequence of events, best as I can suss it out:
- Around the time of the 2004 election and for some time afterwards, President Bush, Alberto Gonzales, and others receive complaints about some U.S. Attorneys: They've got a different set of prosecutorial priorities than does the administration; they're bad managers; they're unresponsive.
- Bush tells Gonzales to do something about it. Such appointments aren't eternal; some people should go, others should stay.
- Gonzales considers this a completely non-controversial issue (as it was and always had been), so he dumps it in the lap of his assisstant, Kyle Sampson.
- Sampson proposes firing them all, but Gonzales rejects that idea. It's positively Clintonian.
- Sampson has some discussions with Gonzales about what process to use to figure out who to sack, how to select replacements, how to go about getting the new attorneys confirmed (or whether to use the USA Patriot Act to bypass Senate confirmation), and finally how to announce the sackings.
- Sampson and others in the Justice Department hold discussions, meetings, send e-mails back and forth, talk on the phone, pore over records, all about which attorneys stay and which are asked to leave. There is at this time no evidence that Gonzales was any part of this process.
- The Justice Department group draws up a final list of people they want to replace. The list is sent to the AG.
- Gonzales signs off on the final list and gets the president's approval. He is still unaware that, notwithstanding all the other times U.S. Attorneys have been fired for similar reasons -- and notwithstanding President Bill Clinton's firing of all 93 U.S. Attorneys when he first took office in 1993 (one, Michael Chertoff, slopped over to 1994) -- this time, it will be played by the press as a horrific and unprecedented abuse of power.
- Democrats get hold of the list and gin up a fake controversy by falsely alleging that U.S. Attorneys were fired to stop prosecutions of Republicans. There is no evidence of this, but the Democratic Party's media wing promotes it as inarguable.
- Gonzales is asked whether he participated in discussions about the fired attorneys. He evidently interprets the question as asking whether he participated in the discussions about which attorneys, in particular, to fire; he says no, he left that to Sampson.
- Gonzales subsequently pours gasoline on the fire; when he is assailed in the press by nasty sound-bites from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, Gonzales apologizes, clarifies, offers to testify, and showing other signs of weakness. Democrats scent blood in the water.
Democrats threaten to subpoena top presidential advisors, including Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, for political show trials -- which would likely violate the constitutional separation of powers doctrine. Nevertheless, Sen. Pat "Leaky" Leahy (D-VT, 95%) obtains the authority to issue those subpoenas... on a party-line vote in the J-Com. But he seems to have quietly dropped the idea of issuing them.
(Was it all a bluff, just blustering to make Leahy look stronger than he really is? We'll know after a couple more weeks, I think.)
- Democrats release documents showing that Gonzales participated in some process meetings; the elite media takes the cue, running the story as if this "contradicts" Gonzales' earlier statement.
- Numerous members of Congress -- mostly Democrats but a few rancid Republicans, such as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA, 43%) -- accuse Gonzales of "lying" and "misleading" Congress when he said he wasn't involved in the attorney-firing discussions. Again, Democrats cast disagreement about the scope of the question as a federal felony, hoping to send the Attorney General of the United States to prison over political differences.
- (Not so) shockingly, several conservative commentators and bloggers ("I name no names..."), who never liked Gonzales in the first place, seize upon these accusations to join with Democrats in calling for Gonzales' ouster... hoping, evidently, to ensure he won't be named to the Supreme Court.
- Kyle Sampson voluntarily testifies before the J-Com, saying pretty much all of the above. The Democrats leap upon the table and perform the Grand Triumphal March from Aida, acting as if this proves everything they had alleged. (Academy awards are seriously being considered.)
The same conservatives noted above previously demanded and received Harriet Miers' withdrawal as Supreme Court nominee and Don Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense.
Many of them currently also demand the resignation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, Michael Chertoff as Secretary of Homeland Security and the dismantling of that department. And they have complained bitterly about Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA Director, John Negroponte as the first Director of National Intelligence, and Mike McConnell as current Director of National Security. (I'm not sure what they do during the brief moments when they're not attacking the Bush administration.)
To some, this event-line provokes a non-stop threnody of the horrific "incompetence" and "dishonesty" of Alberto Gonzales. To me, it provokes nothing but annoyance that the traditional reactions and responses of bureaucrats must always be cast as demanding humiliation, dismissal, and incarceration for everyone even remotely connected... but only when the bureaucrats in question are Republicans.
Oh dear, have I discovered another Democratic double-standard... complete with conservatives eager to accept, in order it to trash their hated neocon rivals? Never mind!
Here, feast on this delicious irony instead. From the AP article linked above:
Democrats rejected the concept of mixing politics with federal law enforcement. They accused the Bush administration of cronyism and trying to circumvent the Senate confirmation process by installing favored GOP allies in plum jobs as U.S. attorneys.
"We have a situation that's highly improper. It corrodes the public's trust in our system of Justice," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. "It's wrong."
Yeah. And Webb Hubbell was appointed Associate Attorney General in 1993 solely because of his stellar record of legal achievement... and not at all because he was Hillary Clinton's partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. And of course, those 93 U.S. Attorneys that Clinton fired (that would be all of them) were fired strictly for job-performance issues: Each and every one of them was a lousy lawyer. No politics there!
March 8, 2007
Democratic President Will Only Talk to Fellow Liberals
Presidential candidate John Edwards became the first Democrat to withdraw from a debate because it will be hosted by Fox Network -- which liberals equate with Fox News Chanel, which liberals equate with Julius Streicher and Der Stürmer:
Former Sen. John Edwards campaign announced that he will skip the Nevada Democratic Party's planned August presidential debate, the latest fallout from the party's decision to have the Fox Network host the event.
The move sparked an outcry, particularly among liberals and activist bloggers, who accused Fox of being too sympathetic to Republicans and demanded that the Democratic candidates boycott the forum.
MoveOn.org, one of the nation's leading progressive organizations, gathered more than 250,000 signatures asking the Nevada Democratic Party to drop Fox as a debate sponsor....
"We wanted to send a clear message to voters, the media and the presidential candidates that Fox is part of the right-wing smear machine, not a legitimate source of news," said MoveOn civic communications director Adam Green.
Hillary Clinton declined to state whether she also would boycott, and the Washington Post declined to permit Fox News to confuse matters by denying it was "part of the right-wing smear machine."
This brings up an interesting point: it is becoming increasingly clear that Democrats simply refuse to talk to Fox News, to come onto center-right radio shows, to campaign in Republican areas, or to communicate in any way with anyone who is not a liberal.
If a Democrat should win the 2008 election, the best guess is that he or she would continue the practice: For four or eight years, the President of the United States would refuse to allow anyone but the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, CBS, and whatever remains of Air America to attend White House press briefings.
Mr. or Ms. President will initiate a formal policy of only talking to the Left; the sub-cabinet level position of Speaker to Smearers will be created for any unfortunately necessary interaction with right-wingers, which by law will be conducted while the Speaker wears a clothespin on his nose.
Townhall meetings will be restricted to card-carrying members of the ACLU (literally carrying their cards). Markos Moulitsas Zúniga will be named chairman of the FCC; and Helen Thomas, doyenne of the White House press corps, will be named Secretary of State (hoping to restore the glory days of Madeleine Albright).
The NRA will be declared a terrorist organization, Gavin Newsom will be the new Secretary of GLBT Issues, and the Boy Sprouts will be forced to accept gay scouts and gay scoutmasters -- then will promptly be sued out of existence by the former alleging inappropriate (but fun!) contact with the latter.
And all for the want of a unified Republican Party.
So unless you want to regress back to the day when the president could call up a studio head and order him to make a hagiographic movie about Josef Stalin, perhaps you should consider ceasing to attack every conservative who gets uppity (or gets on your nerves), and instead focus your energy on the people who actually want to transform the United States of America into the United Counties of Sweden.
October 2, 2006
Bearing False Witness
Of all the kinds of lying, the most damaging and most despicable, practiced by only the most coldblooded and spiritually empty human vessels, is "bearing false witness." BFW is not a typical lie to duck accountability for something you did wrong, nor even a lie to get some undeserved reward. BFW consists of deliberately and with malice aforethought testifying falsely -- in court or elsewhere in public -- in order to "convict" an innocent of some heinous crime or moral turpitude.
It's not merely saying "I had nothing to do with raping that woman," when the speaker was the one who held her down. It's saying "I saw John Smith rape that woman," when in fact the speaker knows that Smith is completely innocent.
Or trying to mislead people into believing that various Republican members of Congress were accomplices after the fact in a case of attempted statutory homosexual rape -- when the Democratic liars know that those they accuse are in fact innocent.
New York Democrats trying to hang the albatross of disgraced former-Rep. Mark Foley around the neck of Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-N.Y., 83%) and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL, 100%) have deliberately confused two "threads" of e-mails and text messages that Foley wrote. And the elite media is playing along, equally knowingly, with this deception.
The first thread comprised e-mails that were peculiar but not sexual: for example, Foley asking one former page how he had "weathered" Hurricane Katrina; from the New York Times:
“How are you weathering the hurricane. . .are you safe. . .send me a pic of you as well."
This is what those Republicans who investigated these e-mails refer to as "over-friendly." There is nothing inherently wrong or sexual with asking how the kid did during the hurricane -- or even for asking for a picture. I can imagine a congressman having a bulletin board in the front office with innocuous pictures of all the pages who worked in his office.
But there was a darker, more sinister thread, consisting of much more explicit text messages that Foley sent to other pages; for example, one session was all about masturbation and read like two adolescents talking. Of course one was not only an adult (chronologically) but a member of Congress. Honestly, it's more juvenile than anything Bill Clinton ever did.
Well call these two threads the "over-friendly" thread and the "explicit" thread. The point is that the Republicans who were told about these e-mails either saw none of them at all, or else they only saw the "over-friendly" thread; nobody says he saw the "explicit" thread until ABC published them and they were on the internet... and no Democrat actually claims to have any evidence that any Republican knew about the "explicit" thread. This is important: they don't even pretend to have evidence that anyone actually knew that Foley was into twinks.
Yet even so, the Democrats are trying to make it appear as though Reynolds knew Foley was sending explicitly sexual correspondence to a minor -- when in fact, the Democrats are well aware that Reynolds knew only about non-sexual e-mails that were oddball but not threatening.
In so doing, they are attempting to destroy not just the career but the life of Congressman Reynolds -- trying to get him not only thrown out of the House, but also trying to get his wife to divorce him, his children to disown him, and everyone he knows to shun him... just so that his Democratic opponent might have a better shot at beating him in the November election.
I do not believe I have ever seen a more reptillian, repulsive smear job in my adult lifetime. What's next? Will they fly in the Green-Helmet Guy to plant dead children in Reynolds' home?
Note that Patterico discusses a related but distinct point on Patterico's Pontifications: that numerous well-known leftist bloggers are seizing upon the horrid false meme; combined with the news sources that are making the same error -- purposefully, in my opinion -- this looks less and less like an honest mistake; in fact, it reeks of the sociopathic tactics of Stalinists.
In a story datelined late last night (that is, very early on the morning of October 1st), AP gave this explanation of what the Republicans knew about Foley's inappropriate communications and what they did about it:
On Friday night, Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said the top House Republican had not known about the allegations.
Saturday's report includes a lengthy timeline detailing when they first learned of the worrisome e-mail in the fall of 2005, after a staffer for Alexander told Hastert's office the family wanted Foley to stop contacting their son. Alexander's staffer did not share the contents of the e-mail, saying it was not sexual but "over-friendly," the report says.
[That is, it was the first thread of e-mails, those that were non-sexual but somewhat strange.]
Hastert's aides referred the matter to the Clerk of the House, and "mindful of the sensitivity of the parent's wishes to protect their child's privacy and believing that they had promptly reported what they knew to the proper authorities," they did not discuss it with others in Hastert's office - including, apparently, their boss.
After the issue was referred to the clerk, it was passed along to the congressman who oversees the page program, Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill.
Shimkus has said he learned about the e-mail exchange in late 2005 and took immediate action to investigate.
He said Foley told him it was an innocent exchange. Shimkus said he warned Foley not to have any more contact with the teenager and to respect other pages.
As of 4:45 am October 1st, that is what the Associated Press knew. But just a few hours later, at 8:00 am, AP "shortened" the story -- by clipping out the entire explanation that made it clear GOP leaders had never seen any sexually explicit e-mails or IMs from Foley. The entire defense is reduced to this one paragraph:
The office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who earlier said he'd learned about the e-mails only last week, acknowledged that aides referred the matter to the authorities last fall. They said they were only told the messages were "over-friendly."
It would be easy to miss. (John Hinderaker at Power Line also noticed that the AP changed their story to remove exonerating facts.)
Seven hours pass; and now, at 2:50 pm, another AP version of the story introduces a whole new charge out of the blue... not merely that the Republicans knew about the "explicit" thread of IMs, but that they actively tried to cover them up:
Dems Slap GOP for Keeping E-Mails Secret
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said it was outrageous the House GOP leadership had not acted sooner. "It really makes me nervous that they might have tried to cover this up," he said.
Murtha said the House ethics committee should conclude its work on the Foley case before the November elections, so that voters can "hold people accountable." Doing so, he said, might help restore public confidence, since already "the reputation of Congress under the Republican leadership is lower than used car salesmen."
Here, one of the clumsiest of the Democratic character assassins lets slip his mask. Who cares about the teens? What's really important here is how it will affect the November vote!
But the conspiracy theory makes no political sense. It would have been fairly painless (politically) had this broken in 2005, because Foley would not even have been the Republican nominee. It makes no sense to sit on something this volatile, knowing that lots of others knew about it -- including the St. Petersburg Times -- and could release it at the worst moment... such as right now.
The separately written New York Times story (see above for link) plays along, adding its own misinformation:
Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.
House Republicans said they kept it "secret?" There are no quotations to that effect in the story; this is a term made up by the Times and falsely attributed to the Republicans themselves, to make them look like accomplices.
So the "elite" media chops a hole in the basement and falls through to an even lower level than they were before: now they're not only pretending that the GOP knew about the "explicit" thread; they've added out of whole cloth the unsourced claim that Republicans were accessories after the fact by deliberately concealing this specific knowledge they supposedly had about Foley's sexal proclivities.
Finally, Reuters joins the fun by adding a very ambiguous term that means something very different, as Reuters uses it, than the normal meaning:
The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives said his office knew a year ago about inappropriate contact between a former intern and newly resigned Rep. Mark Foley and called on Saturday for a criminal probe of the matter.
Do they mean readers to wrongly infer inappropriate physical contact? That is what "inappropricate contact" usually means. Though they're using "contact" as in correspondence, that's not how most people will read it.
Newspaper stories (and news broadcasts) do not exist in a vacuum: they feed off of each other; and the weight of them combines self-referentially, like a monkey-puzzle tree, to levitate raw allegation, rumor, or even deliberate lying into well-sourced fact. A becomes the source for B, which becomes the source for C -- which is then used as the source of A. Like a game of "telephone," a factoid circles round and round, becoming a "fact," and then a "well-known fact," merely through repetition.
It's the Snark syllogism: "What I tell you three times is true."
When this is used to destroy careers and lives by tricking readers into believing a lie, it becomes the dirtiest and most cowardly attack on the media's political opponents (Republicans) one can imagine. It's on the same moral level as Arabs fabricating evidence to make it appear that Israelis murdered 12 year old Mohammed al-Dura.
If we let them get away with this blood libel, believe me... we'll see worse. Pathological liars are emboldened, not chastened, whenever a lie works. Putting all politics aside, it's vital that we rise up and make those who bear false witness pay a terrible price, unless we want to see Pravda open branch offices in every major newsroom in the country.
Everybody who reads this post should send a letter to the editor of his hometown newspaper if it prints any story that claims, without actual evidence, that any Republican other than Mark Foley knew what Mark Foley was really doing. Tell the editor what you think of those who falsely accuse the innocent.
Then cancel your subscription. Believe me, it will be no loss.
September 9, 2006
Bill Clinton: Pull The Path to 9/11!
So now it's come to this: former President Bill Clinton has formally demanded, through his attorneys, that ABC simply shelve its 5-hour, $40 million docudrama, the Path to 9/11.
Well... maybe; I'm a little suspicious, given that the source for this claim is a blog that was linked on Drudge. None of the elite media is carrying this story, though all of them carried many other stories about the Democrat protest against the flick... and many others have demanded that it be pulled and not aired.
While I have no reason to doubt the accuracy (or veracity) of Greg Sargent, the author, I'm still skeptical about this. Sargent appears to be a sincere liberal who has posted many similar letters on his TPMCafe blog (some of which were straight from his host, Joshua Michah Marshall of Talking Points Memo) as well as other anti-Bush, anti-GOP posts; and this letter would certainly be in keeping with Clinton's personal attack on the movie yesterday.
So it's probably true and accurate; but bear in mind that this letter is not yet well sourced.
But what the heck... let's run with it anyway!
No reason is given to pull the movie other than the lawyers' claim that the movie departs from the partisan Democratic version of recent history. (Oddly, I don't recall them having any particular problem with Erin Brockovich or All the President's Men.)
The idea that a Hollywood movie, even one touted as being a "true story," must be held to rigorous historical standards is flatly comical. The Amityville Horror was promoted as a "true, factual story;" and what about Schindler's List? The real Oskar Schindler gave his Jewish workers guns, telling them that if they were discovered, it would be better to die in combat than be sent back to the death camps. Did we see that in the Steven Spielberg movie?
More recently, we have the movie Munich. Several of the Mossad agents -- who are still alive -- stepped forward to say that the movie was totally wrong in many respects... the most important of which was portraying them as tortured souls who doubted the morality of what they were doing (executing, one by one, the architects of the 1972 massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, committed by Black September -- a front group for the PLO). To a man, they said they never had any such qualms about their mission.
Where were these finicky Democrats back then? I'm straining my brain to the white meat, but I can't think of even one who stepped forward to chastise Spielberg for either of those two a-historical "historical" docudramas.
The question is never whether a movie must be a strictly factual account; that would be a "documentary." By definition, a docudrama makes some stuff up, rewrites events, and combines characters, all for dramatic purposes. The question should be, how close to reality is the movie?
And from everything I've read about the antiterrorism history of the past few decades -- which is probably considerably more than Bill Clinton or his lawyers have read -- the Path to 9/11 is about as close to reality as Hollywood is ever likely to get. Live with it.
I have to wonder: suppose, as a thought experiment, a movie were made that simply blamed everything on President Bush, instead of insisting that Bill "Party Time" Clinton shoulder his much larger fair share for eight years of malign neglect. Suppose a movie were made that falsely claimed that Clinton was a dynamo of antiterrorist fervor, a zealous GWOT warrior who went to bed every night angry at the terrorists and woke up even angrier.
Suppose this movie also portrayed Bush as a dunce, controlled by vast, shadowy puppeteers -- multinational corporations (Halliburton, the oil barons, Coors), the neocons (but only the Jewish ones), and the military industrial complex. Suppose the movie portrayed Bush as callous and uncaring, eager to send young Americans to die just to line his own pockets. Suppose it even hinted darkly that Bush was somehow complicit in, or at least had foreknowledge of the pending 9/11 attack, but let it go forward anyway because it furthered the Blofeldian schemes of this feeble-minded evil genius.
If such a version of the attacks were presented in movie form, would these Democratic voices, so solicitous today of the "historical record" and the 9/11 Commission report, be as quick to leap forward, insist upon changes, and finally demand that the movie be yanked from distribution and never shown?
Somehow, in this purely hypothetical example, I doubt it. I suspect instead that they would honor and fête the filmmaker, call him one of the most important political voices of the twenty-first century, and maybe even give him a box seat at the next Democratic National Convention.
Sitting right next to Jimmy Carter, perhaps. You think?
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