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Friday January 23, 2004

Jonah Goldberg comments on the widening gap between Bush and conservatives:

For some it started with his plan to offer amnesty-lite to illegal immigrants. For others, it's his fence-sitting on gay marriage. For others, like me, it was his signing of the campaign finance reform bill even though he thought it was unconstitutional. Or maybe it was his support for steel tariffs. Or the farm bill. I forget.

Don't forget the prescription drug benefit, or the no-tax-dollar-left-behind education program.

Conservative opposition to such overspending is more complex than the media and the left think. Some just don't like red ink. Others think big government erodes freedom and traditional arrangements. Others believe it slowly inoculates the citizenry to greater levels of social engineering.

Yes, yes and yes. Don't forget increasing the dependency class.

I read and excellent letter on the website yesterday. The gist was that while Bush may have his base sewn up (where else can they go), his pandering forays to the left are unlikely to garner more votes. This is true primarily because, no matter what the issue, the Democrats are even further left. On the prescription drug benefit, the Democrats complain that the current bill is not enough. On immigration policy, many Democrats want total and complete amnesty. On spending, in nearly every case the Democrats say Bush policies don't spend enough. So on balance, if you're in favor of these things, you're unlikely to vote Republican when you can go Democratic and get the whole enchilada.

But perhaps the administration has heard the grumblings from the faithful:

Under mounting pressure from conservatives angered by surging federal spending, White House officials said yesterday that President Bush's 2005 budget will hold the growth of spending outside of defense and homeland security below 1 percent.

A Russian scientist has calculated the force necessary to cause a parting of the Red Sea.

The senior researcher at St. Petersburg's Institute of Oceanology spent six months studying the tides, winds and reefs common to the Red Sea, then developed a series of differential equations to chart out the parting of the waters, as detailed in Exodus 14.

"And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided," the King James Version of the Bible states.

Mr. Volzinger determined that if a strong wind blew at 30 meters per second over a shallow reef, then yes, it could have blown that reef dry. He also calculated it would have taken the fleeing Jews about four hours to make their crossing.

Interesting. But, check out the glaring contradiction in the first two grafs:

A Russian scientist has announced that one of the Old Testament's most monumental events — Moses' parting of the Red Sea — was due to stormy weather and a shallow reef rather than divine intervention.

"I am convinced that God rules the Earth through the laws of physics," Naum Volzinger told the Moscow Times on Wednesday.

It's sorta sad when a professional, paid journalist can't even correctly interpret a direct quote. Perhaps that's why they're not held in particularly high esteem.

Check out this story about a man whose life was completely destroyed by illegal aliens.

Gosh, I always hate it when this happens:

Four wild elephants drunk on rice beer have been electrocuted in the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya, wildlife officials report.

A herd of about 20 to 25 elephants went on the rampage in a remote area in the West Garo Hills district earlier this week after getting high on the beer.

As panicky villagers fled for cover, leaving behind their freshly brewed beverage, the elephants drank to their heart's content.

The inebriated elephants then struck an electric pole and brought it down.

Thursday January 22, 2004


You wonder how many votes he scared off with that testosterone festival: the taunting message, the self-righteous geographic litany of support? The Philippines. Thailand. Italy. Spain. Poland. Denmark. Bulgaria. Ukraine. Romania. The Netherlands. Norway. El Salvador.

Can you believe President Bush is still pushing the cockamamie claim that we went to war in Iraq with a real coalition rather than a gaggle of poodles and lackeys?

Self-righteous: adj, confident of one's own righteousness, esp. when smugly moralistic, and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.

So who is self-righteous? President Bush, when he says, "we must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices", or Maureen Dowd when she calls these countries, "a gaggle of poodles and lackeys"?

UPDATE: Check out what a real soldier has to say about MoDo--and check out his blog:

I wonder how many of these soldiers she's had the privilege of looking in the eye? I've met and worked with soldiers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand (Hey, Maureen, how come you don't bother mentioning these in your list? Can it be you're stacking the deck?), Poland, the Ukraine, Romania, Azerbaijan, and Denmark.

I've also met Fijians. Those guys ride around in swivel chairs with machine gun mounts on the backs of pickup trucks guarding Iraqi Currency Exchange convoys. Their role is absolutely vital, their job dangerous as hell, and they are as tough as two-dollar steaks.

Further, Maureen, believe me--the ANZACS are not poodles, nor lackeys. Nor do they represent a government who is.

Tony Blair is nobody's lackey.

Read the whole, disjointed, incoherent, flunk-out-of-comp-class mess.

Read the discourse by Richard Baehr in The American Thinker to find out why the Left Hates Israel. But first note Baehr's distinction between leftists and liberals:

... I distinguish between leftists and liberals by one key test: how they feel about the country in which they live. If you tend to regard America as a primarily flawed, evil, unjust, racist country (or at least when Republicans are running it), and most importantly, believe that the US is the primary threat to world peace internationally, then you are a leftist, and not a liberal. Of course, many leftists are perfectly happy to be living here, amidst all their complaints about the country, and regrettably all too few Hollywood artists carried through with their threat to leave the country after the 2000 election.

..But liberals, as distinguished from leftists, do not think America is a bad country. Most liberals think America is an improvable country, if only we made the tax system more progressive, spent more money on social services, and worked more through multilateral organizations abroad. Liberals tend to support overseas military missions when our effort supports a human rights concern, and much less so if the military engagement is claimed to be in support of a strategic objective. Liberals, by and large, supported American military involvement in the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti, and now Liberia, while opposing the two wars with Iraq.

Todays USA Today attempts to put a negative spin on one aspect of the Army's mission: recruiting. From everything I've heard, even during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the U.S. military has met its recruiting goals, but you'd never guess that by reading the editorial news story. Even the title, Army's new battle: Signing up soldiers, gives a hint of what is to follow. Here are a few quotes:

Staff Sgt. Katrese Clayton stands in front of the New York City College of Technology, her smile as gleaming as her medals. But for every person who stops to chat with the Army recruiter, at least two pretend not to hear her say hello.

I read that as a 33% response rate. I'd dare say that that's better response than most Salvation Army Santas get. Note the negative connotations in these next quotes.

Nothing keeps Clayton and other recruiters from scouting for would-be soldiers... for the pressure to replenish the ranks of the U.S. Army never ends.

... recruiters scour the country by passing out flyers, visiting campuses and walking neighborhood streets to persuade young men and women to join ...

Recruiters spend seven weeks at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., to learn how to sell the Army. They tout its training, the chance for travel and its generous financial package for college.

... recruiters have become more aggressive in courting those who are college age.

I wouldn't think that one potential recruit missing an appointment would be news, but what do I know--I'm just a blogger, not a professional J-school type.

But getting people to show up is a challenge. Two days before Christmas, one man scheduled to talk to Clayton never arrived. Another prospect, who had gotten help from a recruiter to apply for a Social Security card, was dodging calls. And until recruits go off to basic training, they are free to change their minds.

Seems like Charisse Jones is a "news" reporter with an agenda.

Some people just go around looking for ways in which they are offended. Thank God there is still some justice in this country.

Southwest Airlines is not liable for a flight attendant who upset two black passengers by using a version of a rhyme with a racist history, a jury determined Wednesday.

The two passengers, sisters Louise Sawyer and Grace Fuller, were heading home from a Las Vegas vacation nearly three years ago when flight attendant Jennifer Cundiff, trying to get passengers to sit down, said over the intercom, "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go."

The sisters say the rhyme was directed at them and was a reference to a racist version that dates to before the civil rights era: "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; catch a n----- by his toe."

Joseph Farah brings up an excellent point on the double standard among the Muslim population of France denouncing the banning of the hijab

What I find so amazing about this story is the shameless way the Muslims point with horror at this religious abuse in France while ignoring how their own societies deny even the most basic rights to other religions.

In Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam, no religious expression outside of that practiced by Sunni Muslims is permitted. There is not a single church in the country. There is not a single synagogue. Prayer by Christians and Jews is not even permitted in the privacy of their own homes.

Throughout the Islamic world, those practicing other faiths are persecuted severely – even killed for their beliefs. In Taliban Afghanistan, age-old Buddhist statues were destroyed as pagan idols. In the Palestinian Authority, the public schools teach children to kill Jews.

Yet, the Islamic world has the audacity to speak of religious freedom being restricted in France because of headscarves?

Wednesday January 21, 2004

SOTU: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

First, the Good. I applaud the President for his foreign policy. I especially liked his listing of the individual countries in our "International Coalition". President Bush clearly understands the dangers that we face and that we must act to protect our interests and not wait for "permission from the U.N." Bravo, and slapdown to Wesley Clark.

Next, the Bad:

Tonight, the president outlined 31 new or expanded initiatives, up from 20 initiatives he proposed in last year's address to a joint session of Congress, and significantly fewer than the 104 initiatives proposed by President Clinton in his 2000 State of the Union address. Bush made his 31 proposals in 55 minutes—10 minutes less than last year.

Check out the whole list of increased expenditures initiatives from the CATO Institute:

The Ugly was the Democratic Response. Not the Pelosi response (foreign policy). Not the Daschle response (domestic policy). The Spanish-language response was offered by Bill Richardson:

Richardson also used the issue as an opening to attack the Republican party in general, saying "The Republican Party has collectively ruined much for us." Now, he said, Bush's plan "is even being strongly opposed by conservative members of his own party."

Then Richardson addressed the upcoming election. "We are prepared to elect the next President of the United States, and with our growing numbers we can decide the election," he said. "In this election, the Hispanic vote will be critical because of our large numbers in states like Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York."

Richardson urged Hispanics to register to vote and then said, "The Democratic Party has always been with us, and we should not forget who really are our true friends and allies." And that was the end of Richardson's brief speech.

Such a baldly political appeal would have violated the decorum of the nationally televised addresses delivered by the president and his Democratic rivals. But in the Spanish-language speech, unseen by most Americans and ignored by the media, Richardson was able to turn a response to the State of the Union address into a frankly political commercial.

Ben Johnson, writing for, is distressed that Sean Penn showed no contrition, nor did he apologize for his pre-war statements during he recent return to Baghdad:

Sean Penn's account of his recent trip to postwar Iraq – written in two articles published in the San Francisco Chronicle – reveals the deep changes that have taken place in liberated Iraq, and the shallow man who observed them. A more generous soul might have considered apologizing for the unkind words directed at President Bush and his counselors who are responsible for the freedoms that Penn now acknowledges are burgeoning in Iraq, yet Penn cannot bring himself to praise the Americans who brought this about, acknowledge his role in opposing Operation Iraqi Liberation, or, indeed, rise above the pettiest concerns over his own comfort.

I haven't read the second part of the story, but it is linked to here. From what I read in part one, it seemed like Penn was giving an honest assessment of both the good and the bad in post-war Iraq. As I commented on January 14th, it wasn't nearly as negative as I'd expected. At any rate, what good does it do anyone for Sean Penn to apologize. Just as his opposition before the war made no difference, equally, his acceptance, or even agreement after the fact matters not one whit. It doesn't change anything, except for those who actually care what Sean Penn thinks.. To go in and do an honest assessment is good enough for me. If he's had a personal epiphany, so be it.

UPDATE: Perhaps Penn did have an epiphany:

And however prone I am to trust Ahmed, I become equally mindful of how real the danger of misplaced trust is in this area of the world. I will have to be wary of Ahmed. This is the most remorseful moment of my trip: sacrificing instinctual trust or courage for intellectual commonsense and guardedness. Perhaps the Bush administration has gotten to me, too?

UPDATE: Then again, maybe not:

I get the Air France flight from Amman to Paris and am abruptly reminded of my own notoriety as the pilot invites me to experience takeoff from the cockpit. If I'm on my way home to take more crap from the radical right talking heads on TV, I am damn well gonna strap into a jump seat directly behind a French pilot.

Jonah Goldberg says Howard Dean has jumped the shark.

Meanwhile, on Mars:

"Both the engineers and the scientists are kind of itching to do some simple trenching activities," Squyres told .

Spirit rolls along on six wheels. Each wheel hub has a motor. In order to dig a hole on Mars, five wheel motors will be shut down leaving one wheel to spin in place.

Like an automobile stuck in snow, this action churns up the soil and leaves a hole in the ground about half a foot deep. Rover science instruments will then take a close up look at what was once hidden from view.

But the real scientific bonanza awaits Spirit's trek to a nearby crater. Once there, Gusev Crater's interior should be visible, both by looking down crater walls, as well as inspecting material ejected during the crater's formation.

America is great because America is good (I think I just made that up). How great is America? This is how we treat our enemies:

Various sources contend that famine killed between half a million and 3 million North Koreans during the 1990s.

Nonetheless, Washington has been the biggest single supplier of food aid to North Korea in recent years.

After an urgent appeal for US$171 million by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) last month, the US administration announced that it will add some 60,000 tonnes of food aid to the 40,000 tonnes it contributed earlier in 2003 to help the isolated Hermit Kingdom survive the harsh winter months.

We're sending food aid to probably the most reprehensible, criminal, evil dictatorship on the planet. Why? We recognize that while the government is bad, the people are not.

Tuesday January 20, 2004

Methinks Mark Alexander may be having a Howard Dean Moment:

Demo-gogues hate religious zealots, too -- a "zealot" being defined as anyone who acknowledges the existence of a Supreme Being -- as well as "rich" folks, rural folks, suburban folks, conservative black folks, gun-owning folks, private and home-schooling folks who undermine the NEA's propaganda machines, SUV-driving folks, and pretty much any folks that have anything to do with free enterprise -- especially those affiliated with small companies.

Most of all, though, Demo-gogues hate haters -- a "hater" being defined as anyone who dares challenge their Left-constituency agenda -- especially those hateful heterosexual white males and traditional family folks who'd rather celebrate Christmas than "diversity." The Demo-gogues hate young abstinent folks and little unborn folks, too, as well as anything that threatens their eco-theological idolatry. ANWAR oil exploration and nuclear-energy development are hateful things indeed, as is the very notion that global warming may be the result of natural geologic and atmospheric cycles rather than the burning of fossil fuels. (We at The Federalist are actually quite pleased with the consistency of our thermonuclear furnace -- given that it heats our planet from a distance of 93,000,000 miles.)

Then again, he does make some good points:

On the Republican side of the campaign, there's a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses under the Bush banner. On the one hand, his great strength is national security and defense -- especially progress in the war on terror and the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, his great weakness has been runaway domestic spending -- this in spite of the GOP's platform rhetoric advocating limited government. The other strengths and weaknesses of the Bush juggernaut depend on whether you're a moderate or a conservative.

The absence of a Republican challenger in the primaries allows President Bush to make his appeal to the center. This is a luxury he didn't have when running against John McCain in 2000, but these moderate swing voters are essential to his re-election prospects. Mr. Bush's M.O. for appealing to centrist voters is plain to see: Adopt the pet issues historically held dear by Democrats (who never really advanced the issues, but held them for political fodder), and give them a Republican spin. These would include Medicare prescription-drug coverage for seniors, mammoth funding increases for public education (while abandoning his insistence on private educational vouchers), and vast expansions of deficit spending.

I'm not sure that this, from the National Taxpayers Union, is an issue that President Bush could credibly run on:

"All the Presidential challengers have to varying degrees disparaged the current size of federal deficits," said study author and NTUF Policy Analyst Drew Johnson. "Yet, our examination of the candidates' spending promises reveals an inconvenient fact: the deficit potholes they're complaining about on the road to the White House would only deepen under their own policies."

Here's an excellent (and lengthy) article outlining the reasons for not using Special Forces to combat terrorism. Too long to paraphrase--just read it.

The Honorable Ron Paul opines on the "Healthy Marriages" proposal by the Bush administration:

The idea is not new, as politicians have talked about using government to advance marriage for decades. But federal promotion of marriage, even if well-intentioned, is a form of social engineering that should worry anyone concerned with preserving a free society. The federal government has no authority to promote or discourage any particular social arrangements; instead the Founders recognized that people should live their lives largely free of federal interference. This is not to say that the Founders intended or imagined a libertine America. On the contrary, they envisioned an America with vibrant religious, family, social, and civic institutions that would shape a moral nation. They understood that strong private institutions, so important in a free and just society, could not coexist with a strong, centralized government.

... Government is not morality, government is force- and forcing taxpayers to fund another silly program will not strengthen the institution of marriage. If Mr. Bush really wants to promote marriage, he should work to dismantle the soul-destroying welfare system that rewards out-of-wedlock births. He should work to end the judicial assault on religious liberty. He should urge Congress to cut spending and taxes, so that more money can flow into churches and private charities. The president certainly is correct that marriage is important, and the need for stable, two-parent families is apparent. We should all be quite skeptical, however, of claims that government programs can fix the deep-rooted cultural problems responsible for the decline of the American family.

Bush proposes spending $1.5 billion over five years on this program. Programs like this just infuriate me. Too bad the Federal Government isn't spending more time on its enumerated powers like, say, enforcing our borders. Bush is an excellent foreign policy president, but his domestic agenda is alienating much of his base. I've heard some pundits explain that disgruntled conservatives will have no place else to go and will vote for Bush--it's not likely that they would vote for the Democrat. Of course, that discounts the notion of a strong Libertarian candidate which would be an appealing, if dangerous, turn of events.

Well, Iowa's done. Kerry (ketchup boy) wins. Edwards takes second. Howard Dean comes unglued (complete with scary Simon Bar Sinister laugh). Dick Gephardt goes back to doing whatever the heck he does (it's clearly not representing his constituents as he's missed something like 95% of his votes). I've not watched this dance very closely because frankly, any group that actually takes the Rev Al seriously doesn't deserve my attention.

Don't let anyone tell you differently. This is a direct result of our War on Terror, generally and our War in Iraq, specifically:

Teams from the United Nations, the United States and Britain are secretly setting up bases in Libya for the purpose of scrapping Tripoli's weapons of mass destruction, diplomats said Tuesday.

The diplomats said on condition of anonymity that U.S. and British weapons experts - including specialists on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons - began arriving this past weekend. They also said members of a separate team from the International Atomic Energy Agency - the U.N. nuclear watchdog - were gathering in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Monday January 19, 2004

George Jonas argues (convincingly, I'd say) that biometric screening at airports and other ports of entry will be largely ineffective in the age of the disposable terrorist:

Civil libertarians object to Governor Ridge's brave new biometrics because they invade people's privacy. For travellers to be photographed and fingerprinted as if they were convicts bound for Devil's Island is irksome and demeaning, but that's the minor problem. The major problem is that travellers are subjected to such indignity for almost no security benefit.

Biometrics target identity -- but when militant groups advanced (or regressed) from reusable terrorists to disposable terrorists, identity became moot. Today the acute threat no longer comes from "known" terrorists. Recruits are groomed for a single terrorist act, during which they self-destruct. Before being deployed, disposable terrorists have usually done nothing. They're "innocent" voyagers whose fingerprints and faces appear in no database. And after being deployed, they're just a bloody mist gradually dispersing in the air.

Suzanne Fields, writing in, wishes Al Franken well as he launches into talk radio against the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et. al. I think most of her column laments the copious use of invective, especially in the rants from the left, but I found this passage extremely curious:

We must wish Al Franken well. Heaven knows the left needs all the help it can get in its search for a place on the radio dial, but Al is going unarmed into a battle of wits and humor against Rush Limbaugh.

"We're trying to give people an alternative," he told The Washington Post. "We want to provide a change in the political landscape and a beacon of hope for ordinary Americans who work hard and play by the rules." That sounds like an appeal to the dittoheads, and they've already got Rush.

Conservatives have been winning the culture war because the soldiers of the left are firing mostly blanks. Comedian Dennis Miller, who's getting a new talk show on CNBC, tells why he slid to the right. "Well, can you blame me?" he asks the New York Times. "One of the biggest malfeasances of the left right now is the mislabeling of (Bush as) Hitler." (emphasis added)

Conservatives are winning the culture war??? The homosexual agenda is everywhere, while the Boy Scouts are castigated. There are movements everywhere to take God out of the public square, out of the Pledge and out of Christmas. Assisted suicide makes inroads each year and we are still aborting thousands of innocents, while we pay billions to save snail darters and Keiko the Killer Whale. Conservatives are losing the culture war, but they are winning the radio war. Mostly because there hasn't been a war. The liberals have not yet begun to fight.

I wonder what else the Syrians might have besides Iraqi money:

Syria's Central Bank and the Medina Bank in Lebanon are holding at least $2 billion in cash, as well as gold bullion and platinum, that was smuggled out of Iraq, according to a letter written on the stationery of the Syrian army's intelligence department.

The letter says $1.3 billion was deposited in the Syrian Central Bank in an official "presidency" account, while another $700 million was placed in the Medina Bank. The document does not state the value of the gold and platinum, although it says these are also in the Syrian Central Bank.