Tuesday, October 31, 2006

D-Student Kerry Reveals the Reason Why You Should REALLY Go to College

Back during the Vietnam era, when Wonker was in college, it was clear to many of us that the real reason for attending college was to hold on to your student draft deferment, the better to avoid getting shipped off to the Vietnam War. Grades, for D-student Kerry ("dumber than Bush") and others like him were clearly a secondary concern. And the politically-minded Kerry was clever enough to get himself a plum, short assignment in 'Nam, not much more challenging than the one the Dems excoriated Bush for obtaining.

Meanwhile, as Kerry put on his brief show in 'Nam, his favorite party people, the Democrats, were working hard, even then, to lose the bloody Vietnam War, one of many proxy wars against the Communists, by their usual tactic of cutting and running. The press loves to bleat on about how we "lost" Vietnam. I've always said we fought it to a draw, but that the Democrats, not our brave soldiers, "lost" it in the halls of Congress as part of a prized legacy that also involved deposing a sitting president. Clearly, Khomenei and his fellow Islamofascists were watching even then; and don't imagine that the 100+ GI's coming home this month in body bags from Iraq owe their untimely and unnecessary deaths precisely because of this.

John Kerry, in a pre-election gift to Republican candidates everywhere, shows why neither he nor his recidivist party—which also cut and ran from Somalia a bit over 10 years ago—can ever again be taken seriously. Some 30 years after a Democratic majority in Congress engineered the Vietnam "defeat" that even today inspires the Islamofascists, they're at it again, which gives hope and comfort to the enemy. Just as it did to Ho Chi Minh. This is treasonous. But no one seems to care. Being a Democrat is never having to say you're sorry.

(Hat tip to Instapundit, who has more at the end of his post.

UPDATE: The American Legion weighs in:

"INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The National Commander of The American Legion called on Sen. John Kerry to apologize for suggesting that American troops in Iraq are uneducated. As a constituent of Senator Kerry's I am disappointed. As leader of The American Legion, I am outraged," said National Commander Paul A. Morin. "A generation ago, Sen. Kerry slandered his comrades in Vietnam by saying that they were rapists and murderers. It wasn't true then and his warped view of today's heroes isn't true now."

Liberal Bias in MSM? Why Don't You Ask 'Em?

Here are a few astonishingly candid excerpts from a Hugh Hewitt interview with ABC News' Political Director Martin Halperin. Aside from the usual MSM dodge of not admitting he is a liberal (read "leftist" in HazZzMat), his responses to Hugh's direct queries is ample evidence that the MSM has now become nothing more than a mouthpiece for Democratic talking points. Here we go. HH is Hugh Hewitt, and MH is Martin Halperin.

Talking about "hundreds" of media people working in, on, or about election issues this year at ABC, Hugh and Mark invite us into the "Who Knew?" department:

HH: Of those hundreds, what percentage do you think fairly, honestly, are liberal, and would vote Democratic if they voted?

MH: The same as in almost every old media organization I know, which is well over 70%.

HH: Isn’t it…Thomas Edsall, in an interview that I know you read, because you wrote me about it, he said 95…

MH: I think 95’s well overstated…

HH: He said 15-25:1 in the Washington Post, liberal to conservative. Do you think that’s fair?

MH: Absolutely.…it’s an endemic problem. And again, it’s the reason why for forty years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake.

Referencing a famous "prize" that Wonker, in his journalistic disguise, will never win. (NB, italicized excerpt was italicized by moi.):

HH: Does the Pulitzer matter to anyone anymore?

MH: Probably not to real people, but within journalism, there’s some prestige associated with it.


HH: Are there any main, big name journalists working today who’ve won a Pulitzer or not, or come in close, who are conservatives, Mark Halperin?

MH: I think…well, you know, in the new environment, Hugh, where you and Fred Barnes, and other leading conservative voices…

HH: No, I’m talking about the networks, CNN, ABC, the old media, plus the New York Times.

MH: There are some. There aren’t a lot, but there are some.

HH: Who? Names.

MH: I’d rather not name them, because they’re privately conservative, and I’m trying to get away from a world in which…I’ll say it again, because I don’t want anyone who tuned in late to misunderstand. The old media is filled with liberals. There are a few conservatives, but they’re just as entitled to their privacy as I am, but there are some.

HH: And these liberals…you know, Terry Moran on this program said…Terry Moran on this program from ABC, your colleague…

MH: Right.

HH: …said that the media hates the military, has a deep suspicion of it. Do you agree with that?

MH: I totally agree. It’s one of the huge biases, along with gays, guns, abortion, and many other things.

There you have it. A "conservative" from time to time might have won a Pulitzer, but only if he or she somehow successfully remained in the closet. We have stated in this space and elsewhere, many times, that, as in academia, the system is effectively gamed by a Stalinist strategy of completely closing off publicity avenues, friendships, and important social events to anyone who might even hint at a conservative view. Fully aware that they cannot compete with conservatives in the arena of ideas, the hard left has completely walled off most opportunities for recognition and advancement that rely on conservative viewpoints, unless those viewpoints are closeted so completely that the closeting verges on dishonesty.

Again, as we have said many times before, this party discipline has transformed not only the professoriat but the media and the publishing industry as well into a sort of giant high school clique or college frat party where only the "cool" are admitted. And to be "cool" in this environment, you have to be very, very left, even if you happen to be richer than anybody else.

Now that Hugh has gone this far, he decides to put a bit of icing on the cake. The money question:

HH: I think my giant unified field theory here is that liberal media has destroyed the necessity of the left having to debate, having to reach a message across, because you guys have always papered over the weakness of their arguments. And so, in essence, by creating an echo chamber, and by allowing them to get away with saying silly things, you’ve destroyed the incentive to be smart and facile.

MH: I agree.

There you have it. We've been screaming about this sort of thing, Luther and I, since we started this blog about a year ago. It's nice to see an MSMer candidly agree. On one hand, this demonstrates a candor I find surprising on the part of the MSM, which is stalwart in maintaining its "objectivity," a claim that has become laughable of late. On the other hand, Halperin's ready agreement with Hewitt's observation also demonstrates a breathtaking lack of concern as to just how duplicitous, and damaging, this kind of mass behavior has become in the context not only of education and politics, but in the context as well of the Global War on Terror and the battle of our open culture against the totalitarians who lie at the heart of today's dangerous Islamofascism, which has arguably replaced the Communists of old.

Yet old Commies, like the aging boomers who now run the MSM, just don't care. They're rich and famous, it's their party, and the Islamofascists are just fine. Because they hate Bush and Amerikkka. Just like the sneering MSM hates you and me.

More: Maryland's Black Democrats Turn to Michael Steele, Part II

As Luther pointed out earlier, citing the Washington Times, there's further evidence that the Democrats have condescended to black voters one-too-many times, check this out from today's Washington Post; which, of course, carefully placed this in the B-Section, showing their own bias on this arguably national issue:

A coalition of black Democratic political leaders from Prince George's County led by former county executive Wayne K. Curry endorsed Republican Michael S. Steele's bid for the U.S. Senate yesterday.

The support from Curry, five County Council members and others barely a week before Election Day reflects their continued disappointment that the Democratic Party has no African American candidates at the top of the ticket and a sense that the county is being ignored, officials said.

"They show us a pie, but we never get a slice," said Major F. Riddick Jr., a former aide to then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening and a former county executive candidate. "We are here today to say we've waited and we've waited and we're waiting no longer."

(Note: links to Post stories often require free registration.)

Yep. This could be the shot heard 'round the world, or at least the U.S. Wonker personally has been amazed that black voters have waited so long to proclaim the obvious. White Democrats have treated black voters like sharecroppers, worthy of courting once every couple of years, but not important enough to carry the Democratic torch in a statewide or national election. (And let's not forget, it was the Republicans who supported Civil Rights legislation in the 1950s, even as the Democrats, under Lyndon Johnson, made sure it would never pass.)

This story grows more interesting by the hour.

Election Prediction: Democratic Sweep in Doubt

Check out this little news item in today's Baltimore Sun:
Democrats plan to field a 500-person volunteer "legal protection team" on Election Day - composed mostly of attorneys - to guard against what they fear are GOP "voter intimidation" strategies in Democratic-leaning districts, party officials say.
Hmmm. This is a state that, in spite of its current Republican Governor (the first since Spiro Agnew in the late 1960s!), boasts a powerful and corrupt Democratic machine that runs everything, including the polls, much like New York's Tweed Machine dominated and controlled that city in the 19th century. If both Republican Governor Ehrlich, running for re-election, and Republican Lieutenant Governor Steele, running for U.S. Senate, are as far behind as the (biased) polls say they are, what's the big deal about hiring lawyers? Isn't this election supposed to be a Democratic cake walk? (The Washington Post has told us so for the last 6 months.) And indeed, what does this also say for the accuracy of the polls and the media across the U.S., all of which are uniformly biased in favor of the Democrats?

Across the country, the Repubs have been on the defensive, under 24/7 attack by an MSM infuriated that they were not able to turn the tide for their Democrat cronies in '00, '02, and '04. Simply due to trends dating back over 100 years, the Dems were due for a good run in '06, the second and final term of a president, during which the out-of-power party traditionally picks up seats. They tend to do that in non-presidential years as well, like '02. Yet in that year, both houses of Congress remained in the firm control of the party of Chimpy BushMcHitler. This should be the year where they exact their revenge on the Republicans who first ousted them from their rightful seats in 1994.

But maybe not.

There is an increasing likelihood that the Dems, ever-arrogant and condescending, along with their media minions, have once again overplayed their collective (pun intended) hand. The above story indicates this might be so. Granted, in Maryland, Governor Ehrlich is on the ropes, simply because the state has become so reliably knee-jerk Democrat over the past 3 decades. This in turn is due to the demographics of a state that are dominated as always by liberal-left Baltimore, whose ineffective Dem mayor, Martin O'Malley, is running against Ehrlich and piling up good numbers from his home base.

But it's Steele that has the Dems really worried. A win by this unusually attractive Republican candidate could seriously derail any chance the Dems have to take over the U.S. Senate. Should Steele win by a close margin, however, the Sun makes it clear that an armada of legal eagles will be on hand to help Amerikkka's Marxist party Steal from Steele an election that may now be going his way.

The very fact that the media mavens in the Sun are publicizing this legal phalanx now indicates that they're trying to help friendly Dems to socialize the meme of election fraud just in case Steele squeaks by. Having pre-positioned this story the week before the election, it will be easy to pitch it next week to the public just as this was done by the 'Rats in the 2000 presidential election battleground state of Florida.

This potential problem is further clouded by a backstory that has not really received national prominence. To win the Maryland Democratic primary earlier this year, the Democrats' current Senate candidate, Ben Cardin, along with the Democratic machine, combined to defeat, by a narrow margin, a nationally-known fellow Democrat, former U.S. Representative and NAACP head Kweisi Mfume. Mfume's near success was fueld by increasingly affluent black voters from Prince Georges County who, finally, may be tiring of white Democrats talking down to them. There is now a real threat that they will turn to Steele.

This astonishing potential development may bring out in public, finally, something we at HazZzMat have known for a long time: on many, many issues, black voters, particularly middle-class black voters—the kind who predominate in Prince George's County—are very, very conservative. They are sick of having been taken for granted by the Dems for decades, yet are terrified that they will be ostracized if they actually come out as Republicans and conservatives. With Mfume rebuffed by the Democratic establishment, and with black Republican Steele running neck-and-neck with establishment Democrat Cardin, middle-class Maryland blacks now may have the political and social cover they need to make the switch. Do not underestimate the shock and awe that will happen in the Democratic political establishment if they do this.

Have no doubt: If Michael Steele wins this election, it will be like a thunderclap throughout the land. If blacks have the courage to vote for the Republican Steele in the left-liberal state of Maryland, it will be a signal that black Americans have decided the Dems have taken them for granted just one too-many times. Democratic spin-meisters will claim this is no national trend, pointing to what appears now a likely defeat for Ohio's black Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ken Blackwell, whose run for office has been clouded by party scandals in that state, not his own record.

Stay tuned, and check out this story as well. And this, and this.

Malkin Nails Kerry

If you ever wondered what John Kerry really thinks about the military--and those who serve--look no further than yesterday's campaign appearance in California. Appearing on the stump for gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, Kerry revealed his obvious contempt for those serving in the armed forces: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq...." ,Fool on the Stump, Spook86, Formerspook, 10/31/2006

Check out the link in Spook86's story if you want to see and hear Senator Kerry's latest example of supporting American troops. The chatterers who remark snidely about the "swiftboating" of Kerry will probably not look. If they did, this little video detail would burn their political theories.


Hubble Telescope To Be Saved!

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on Tuesday approved sending a space shuttle to repair the 16-year-old Hubble Space Telescope, reversing his predecessor's contentious decision to nix the mission....NASA Says Hubble Repair Mission a Go, Mike Schneider, AP in The Miami Herald, 10/31/2006

Time out from politics for a post: We all know about Hubble. The space telescope has brought more astronomical knowledge to earth than all of the astromomers in history. And it still works quite well. Way to go, NASA Administrator Griffin!


Pennysylvania: Cash & Carry Campaign

HARRISBURG - For most politicians, the worst part about the job is the money they have to raise to remain in office...Not Gov. Rendell. He loves it...Almost three decades into his political career - and a week away from ending what he claims will be his last campaign - he has mastered the game of getting people to write large, often eye-popping, checks...In his two campaigns for governor, he has raised more than $70 million - $30 million of that for this year's governor's race, in which he faced no primary opponent and in which he is trouncing his opponent, Republican Lynn Swann, in the polls....Rendell asks and the cash rolls in, Angela Couloumbis, Mario F. Cattabiani and Dylan Purcell, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/31/2006

It's too bad that this election, Gov. Rendell's swan song, is a sad song for Lynn Swann. The greatest receiver in Steeler history has hardly caught a pass from donors, including the RNC. It's just another example of the con of campaign finance reform. There hasn't been any. Its only function, especially McCain-Feingold, is to muzzle new voices.


New York Artist Promotes Patriotism!

Paint an American flag in each of the 50 states...This may sound like a simple project, but for New York City artist Scott LoBaido it has turned into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The canvas LoBaido chose to use was not small; he decided to paint the flags on rooftops in what LoBaido dubs the "Flags Across America Tour."..."My dream is to promote patriotism in the grandest way where so many will see," LoBaido said in a message on his Web site....New York Artist Picks Dodge City As Part of Flags Across America Tour, Rick Druse, Dodge City Daily Globe, 10/31/2006

Whoa! You won't find this story in the New York press, except perhaps in the NY Post or The NY Sun. A New York artist promoting patriotism? What next? Will a dog come out in favor of cats? Kudos to Scott LoBaido! As you can see from his Web site, he's more than just a flag waving artist.


In Hopes GOP Free Spenders Are Paying Attention

For the first time since the early 1990s, the outcome of a statewide election appears in doubt with just 10 days to go...An Idaho Statesman/Today's 6 poll says races for governor, 1st Congressional District and school superintendent are essentially tied...
Now, the state with the nation's highest proportion of GOP legislators has a nail-biter election that will turn on last-minute advertising, debates and organization....With 10 Days Left Before Election Day, Many Voters Are Still Undecided..., Dan Popkey, Idaho Independent, 10/31/2006

Statewide elections in Idaho may not seem like a big deal, but when they include US Representatives the RNC had better pay attention. The old Contract-with-America pledge to rein in government and spending, a clarion call for a dramatic change in Washington, D.C., has been heavily negated by the current Congress, led by the GOP. People notice; voters can tell the difference between rhetoric and results.


Ohio Confusion

Some voters are so frustrated with Ohio's voter-identification rules that they've stuffed their entire wallets into their absentee ballot envelopes...Others have dropped in their driver's licenses, hoping the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections will give them back once the state figures out the rules....ID Rulings Confuse Officials and Voters, Mark Rollenhagen & Joan Mazzolini, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/31/2006

I'll bet they're confused, so confused that they'd like to abandon identification altogether, a popular point of view among Democrats, who'd like to have their constituents vote under as many names as possible. Look for a lot of litigation after this year's elections in Ohio.


Congressional Race Changes in Colorado

Republican Doug Lamborn has opened a lead in the surprisingly contested race for Colorado's 5th Congressional District, signaling a possible backlash to projections of a big year for Democrats....Republican Rally in 5th, George Merritt & Karen Crummy, Denver Post, 10/310/2006

For the generalists in MSM, who clone each other's opinions with remarkable fidelity, they really believe that the devil is in the details. So, to maintain their faith, they ignore what other people see. This would not work well in a laboratory. In real analysis, the details make the difference between a theoretical supposition and a likely fact.


Voters Can Read, Think, and Judge

Flip on the television and see the endless broadcast of campaign ads. Open the mailbox and find a stack of campaign literature. Or listen to the answering machine loaded with automated messages from the candidates. Some voters say they simply tune it all out...
"It doesn't influence me at all," said Cofi Jackson, 23, of Rochester. "The TV commercials are just one guy bashing the other guy."...Karen Alfieri, 49, of Greece said she prefers learning about candidates' positions on issues, rather than relying on how one paints the other. She went to a candidates forum Sunday night at her church, for example....Candidates besiege voters, Joseph Spector, Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY, 10/31/2006

As candidates don their Halloween masks for the last ditch efforts on TV, few apparently have noticed the truth of Joseph Spector's story. The writer doesn't know anyone who pays attention to campaign ads. One recalls Ronald Reagan's remarkable appearances in 1980, when he would appear on a local television channel in a prepared and lengthy presentation of his stance on a given issue, whether national defense or taxes. Campaign pros thought him a fool, at least until they applied for a job in his new administration.


Democrats Bolt For Steele

Former Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry and five fellow black Democrats on the county council excoriated their party yesterday and endorsed Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican, for U.S. Senate.
"The [Democratic] Party acts as though when they want our opinion, they'll give it to us. It's not going to be like that anymore," said Mr. Curry....Black Democrats Support Steele, S.A. Miller and Jon Ward, The Washington Times, 10/31/2006

It couldn't happen to a nicer fellow. One week to go, voters. Time to take off the cheerleader hat and put on the thinking cap.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Chavez: Fidel's Boy Wonder

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will build 20 military bases in Bolivia, which will be situated on the borders with five other nations: Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Those installations will be under the control of Venezuelan and Cuban personnel, in complicity with Bolivian soldiers. Most certainly, the Cubans will carry Venezuelan passports and identification papers. It isn't easy to tell them apart...The plan reprises an old dream and early strategic concept created by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara: to turn Bolivia, a country in the heart of Latin America, into the subversive bastion of South America....Madmen Bent on Destruction, Carlos Alberto Montaner, The Miami Herald

Just when we thought democracy was gaining a foothold throughout Latin America, the usual caudillo returns, usually arm in arm with the doddering Fidel Castro, proclaiming themselves the next Bolivar. Is anybody else paying attention?


Sunday, October 29, 2006

DoD Strikes Back!

From the About Friggin' Time Dept.:

Our heroes and friends in the U.S. Military—ALWAYS gentlemen and women, always respectful of our political institutions including the civilian direction of our armed forces, and always willing to take a hit to defend us and our democracy, even it if includes openly treasonous people—have finally been pushed too far by the Lies of the Left. They are now starting to print correctives of their own, and their current target of opportunity (what a surprise) is the New York Times, the left's lie-machine par-excellence.

Make this site, the aptly named "For the Record," a regular link. We will add it to our friends list shortly. Will a DoD website be "biased"? Most certainly. Biased in favor of the objective TRUTH, something the left-wing hit-squads in the MSM regard as purely subjective and dictated by whatever members of the CPUSA are left. (Pun may be intended.)

"Astroturfing": A New Political Phenomenon

Nope, we're not talking football today. We're talking about another sneaky political tactic primarily employeed by the left-wing "Netroots." Check out this definition from Wikipedia and see if you recognize anything:
In politics and advertising, the term astroturfing describes formal public relations (PR) campaigns which seek to create the impression of being a spontaneous, grassroots behavior. Hence the reference to the "AstroTurf" (artificial grass) is a metaphor to indicate "fake grassroots" support.

The goal of such campaign is to disguise the agenda of a political client as an independent public reaction to some political entity —a politician, political group, product, service, event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt ("outreach," "awareness," etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by anything from an individual pushing their own personal agenda through to highly organised professional groups with financial backing from large corporations.

...The term, said to have been used first in this context by former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen (Democrat-Texas), is wordplay based on "grassroots democracy" efforts, which are truly spontaneous undertakings largely sustained by private persons (not politicians, governments, corporations, or public relations firms). "AstroTurf" refers to the bright green artificial grass used in some sports stadiums, so "astroturfing" refers to artificial grassroots efforts.
Fast forward now to this piece from the New York Sun, now, thankfully available online without subscription:
Yesterday, a company that does public relations for the liberal activist political action committee MoveOn.org, Fenton Communications, organized a conference call for reporters and three active-duty soldiers to unveil the soldiers' anti-war group Appeal for Redress.

According to its Web site, Appeal for Redress is seeking signatures of active-duty soldiers for a petition that reads in part, "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq."
The Sun reports that the group now has 213 members, hardly even remotely representative of the military. But does this smell a little like something the left orchestrated to help out our effort in Vietnam a few years back? Thought you might remember. The Sun, being the Sun, next asked for comments from retired military on Fenton Communications' latest astroturfing event. And one brass hat patriot spoke right up:
"I think it is shameful because the timing is so close to the election. They ought to be ashamed of themselves," a retired Air Force lieutenant general, Thomas McInerney, told The New York Sun yesterday by phone from Israel. "The soldiers should be ashamed of themselves for being duped into this. It is to be expected from a MoveOn.org-type group. They have no standards."

A retired Army major general, Robert Scales, told the Sun he supports the right of enlisted soldiers to petition Congress about the Iraq war. But he said, "It is a little suspicious that something like this would appear 12 days before an election."
Umm, yeah. But then, nothing surprises us these days. The left is just as organized in its pursuit of disinformation and bogus information as it was during Vietnam, again happily organizing treason and sedition to undermine our war efforts. (And political efforts: For a belated Republican riposte to the political liars of the left, see Luther's excellent post concerning Gov. Allen's counter-attack [finally] on his despicable opponent here. Truth hurts, doesn't it, Mr. Webb?)

Even Bin Laden understands that our military will never be defeated on the ground. But everyone has learned how they CAN be defeated, right Jane Fonda? And they're only happy to do so with the full cooperation of the Hate America Left and its interlocking front groups like Daily Kos and Fenton Communications that increasingly run the Democratic Party.

The use of distorting or altered language, disinformation, and bogus "fake but accurate" stories to influence the outcome of wars and elections is currently the favored tool of a despicable Gramscian left that seeks the utter destruction of our culture and our way of life. These people and others like them constitute the grassroots support of today's Democratic Party. Remember that if you're an undecided voter heading into the polls next week. Yep, the Repubs didn't particularly distinguish themselves in the current Congress. But remember, they were opposed on every front by left-wing front groups supporting political hacks with no ideas and no love of this country. Think long and hard before you pull the "D" lever and vote to slice your own throat.

Hat tips to the Mudville Gazette and Instapundit for putting us on to this very HazZzMat kind of story, exposing once again the ceaseless evil of the left and their full participation as Al Qaeda's willing stooges in this year's Congressional elections.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cardin Gets Geography Lesson from Man of Steele

More evidence that Mike Steele could be the spoiler in this year's Senatorial contests. Check out this video, which shows his Democratic opponent's utter ignorance of DC Metro transportation issues. The largest number of Marylanders live in the DC suburbs, NOT Baltimore. Add this to the sparsely-populated but very pro-Republican voters in this generally lockstep Democrat state; couple it with Cardin's dropping out of an NAACP-sponsored debate with Steele; and you get the makings of a major upset.

Maryland's Man of Steele Strikes Again

The polls all place him behind the supposed Democratic shoo-in, Ben Cardin, but Maryland's Republican Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele uncorks yet another brilliant spot to counter the Dems' lies about his position on stem-cell research. It contains a poignant zinger you won't want to miss. Maryland's black voters, already affronted by Cardin's skipping out on an NAACP-sponsored debate with Steele, need to think long and hard about whether they want to throw away their unappreciated votes to the Dems once again. There is clearly a superior candidate here and it's not Cardin.

For a summary of the clip and the ad itself, use the link above. (Hat tip to PowerLine.)

Virginia Senate Campaign: One Good Turn Deserves Another

Sen. George Allen, R-VA, unleashed a press release late Thursday that exposed his rival's fiction writing, which includes graphic underage sex scenes....Allen's Revenge, Matt Drudge, 10/27/2006

Republicans are slow on the draw on this kind of thing, but you can't say that Jim Webb didn't deserve this. After hiring gunslingers all over the state to proclaim various slanders against Senator Allen, the phrase "live by the gun, die by the gun" comes to mind. Read it all and enjoy (or weep, depending on your political affilication). Kudos to Drudge for this bombshell.


Flags and Gated Communities

"I've got flags everywhere," boasts the 37-year-old truck driver...Including one on a 20-foot pole a few steps from the front door of his home in a Coweta County subdivision...And that's the problem...The flagpole violates the subdivision's policy on exterior structures — and must come down..."It's kind of a cut-and-dry case," said Stephen A. Winter, an attorney for the Avery Park Community Association. "The association said, 'No, we don't allow flagpoles.'"....Patriotic of illegal? Flag's both, Kevin Dufy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Already you can hear the outraged shouting on FOX. But, is the dispute here really about offended patriotism? Or is it really about how private organizations have pushed public life away from an increasingly huge segment of American real estate? Many won't remember the concept of "downtown." Downtown from the founding of the Republic until the 1970s was not very different from the Roman Forum or the Greek Agora. Downtown was both the marketplace, where you'd find everything from hardware to hair salons, and a public arena where people could meet on the street, in a store, in a park, and discuss private and public business. Downtowns were noisy, disorganized, and often dirty. In part as a tax avoidance scheme, and in part as a system of social control, "a fresh place away from dirty downtown," malls were developed. In them, at least for their first twenty years, most of the public realm was barred, from displays of national and local emblems to protests to leafletting to gatherings for any purpose but shopping. The gated community was another response, not only to noisy downtowns, but to the perceived threat of integration, the more plausible threat of crime, and an unsubtle effort to suppress any reference to public (read political) life. The visible values in both malls and gated communities were anti-political; the organizing force behind them, however, was decidedly political, an effort to create the illusion of the absence of conflicting interests, an esthetic more typical of dictatorships in the old Latin America than of an open, free society. The story itself is suggestive of how far more than a mere flag Roy Johnson's violations of this esthetic are.

Their decorating motif is Old Glory and Harley-Davidson: framed Harley puzzles, Harley replicas from the Franklin Mint, a Harley clock....(Patriotic or illegal, continued...)

How gauche! Trailer trash deluxe!

The almost new Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic parked in his garage carries a full-size flag..."I've got flags everywhere," boasts the 37-year-old truck driver...(Patriotic or illegal, continued...)

And a truck driver too...But this isn't about depicting a working class saint, because there's more. You see, Roy isn't violating a condominium contract provision; he's violating a local ordinance passed by elected officials. Further, he's no victim. He's willing to bear the expense to take this law to court, even to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Roy Johnson, in other words, is acting as if political debate mattered more than a community's idea of propriety, he and his attorney presuming that no locality has the right to abridge freedom of expression. In short, Roy Johnson is an old-fashioned, downtown American. That, more than any large flag, is likely what's put this Atlanta suburb on such a state of alert. One can almost hear the chorus: we moved here to get away from this kind thing.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Democracy: Uncomfortable Truths

The reality is that even after all possible compromises have been offered to the refuseniks, civil society is faced with a small but absolutely hostile minority that will be content with nothing but total victory...What can civil society do?...Civil society cannot use the instruments of government to stamp out its mortal enemy—for that would be to invalidate and destroy the very principles and legitimacy of that government, and set in place a precedent by which normal political squabbles could in future be settled by genocide or the Gulag. It would be to do what Saddam did to the Kurds, what Turkey did to the Armenians, what the Soviets and Maoists and Khmer Rouge did to their bourgeoisie...There are, from the point of view of Iraq's nascent civil society, some thousands of people who, in the Texas phrase, need killing. Who is going to do it?...In the absence of government intervention, the answer is: ordinary people. Basically the killers are posses of self-organized vigilantes, who know their local area, who know who the bombers are, and who the bombers' relatives are....Baghdad Vigilantes and the Dark Side of Civil Society, Frederick Turner, TCSDaily.com, 10/25/2006

Frederick Turner, epic poet, philosopher, and cultural commentator, is onto something here. We know what it is, but we'd rather not. Nice narrative that American progressivism is, it has included a number of rebellions immediately after the republic was formalized under the Constitution, a stupendous civil war, and many, many bitter fights over justice, many outside the law. Don't ask about France, especially southern France, after World War II. Only one movie I've ever heard of was made about it, a bitter, black story about retribution against collaborators in the early 1950s. Another poet turned to this shadowy area of civil society. Deep into his American phase, Auden wrote a brilliant and troubling sequence called Horae Canonica, Immolatus Vicerit (sacrificed, he will be victorious) which includes "Vespers," a poem which embraces a sort of Left/Right, Purist/Centrist debate, about which Auden and his contemporaries knew a great deal. They had only recently participated in, or witnessed, the largest war in human history, one fought between legions of savagely efficient purists and clumsy but ultimately victorious democrats. It ends thusly:

So with a passing glance we take the other's posture; already, our steps recede,
heading, incorrigible each, towards his kind of meal and evening.
Was it (as it must look to any god of cross-roads) simply a fortuitous intersection of life-paths, loyal to different fibs
or also a rendezvous between accomplices who, in spite of themselves, cannot resist meeting
to remind the other (do both, at bottom, desire truth?) of that half of their secret which he would most like to forget
forcing us both, for a fraction of a second, to remember our victim (but for him I could forget the blood, but for me he could forget the innocence)
on whose immolation (call him Abel, Remus, whom you will, it is one Sin
Offering) arcadias, utopias, our dear old bag of a democracy, are alike founded:
For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular
wall will safely stand....(W.H. Auden, Horae Canonica, Vespers, 1954)


Dodge City: Preparing for Terror Not Just a Blue State Problem

What would you do if a bomb went off at your high school? Dodge City High School found out the answer to that question when it conducted its community-wide crisis exercise Tuesday afternoon...In cooperation with the Dodge City Police Department, the Dodge City and Ford County Fire Departments, the Ford County sheriff, Ford County EMS and Western Plains Medical Complex, school officials simulated what would happen should a bomb go off on school property....Preparing For the Worst, Dodge City Daily Globe, 10/25/2006

This seems certain to arouse laughter in New York and the District of Columbia, but why? The worst terror attack on the United States before 9/11 was in Oklahoma City. Who would have believed that before 1995? More people died in that office building in downtown Oklahoma City that at the Pentagon on 9/11. Was it because the terrorists there weren't Arabs that MSM thinks it silly to worry about, and give money to prevent, terror attacks in the heartland? Actually, not a few people think that there was a connection between McVeigh and the Middle East, at least as a patsy, but this is not the place to argue a point that's played out for a decade elsewhere. The point is that bombings are still the weapon of choice of terrorists, whether individual psychopaths, or al Qaeda. The better choice is to prepare, not carry on as if only certain people were important enough to be targets.


Housing in Florida, Trend or Local Balloon?

Sales for condos dropped 46 percent in Broward and 40 percent in Miami-Dade compared to September last year. They also went down from a month earlier, by 12 percent in Miami-Dade and 8 percent in Broward...For houses, sales were down 12 percent for Miami-Dade and 24 percent for Broward from a year ago. But the picture was brighter when compared to August: Sales were up 10 percent in Miami-Dade and 5 percent in Broward....No end in sight to housing slowdown, Matthew Haggman, Miami Herald, 10/25/2006

If you have family or friends in Florida, you know that any living space within sight of the Gulf, the Caribbean, or the Atlantic was rising so fast in price that investors were buying them by the handful. Developers were putting up thousands of condo apartments on spec. Prices on St. Pete Beach rose 50% in 18 months. Why don't people pay attention? Somebody's already guessed. People love to gamble, whether the game is on a track, on a video screen, or in a real estate agent's office. More issues are involved here, of course, not the least of them the relentless use of eminent domain by local and county governments to take "poor" properties so that developers could make them "rich" properties. But, as an old craps shooter used to tell me, it's when you're on a hot streak that it's time to get out of the game. In Florida, those who have left the housing market, which in a marvelous perversity has become a means to take poor people's property in order to impoverish rich investors, may now comfortably invest in something besides empty condos. Though this looks like a local balloon popping, it could be a sign of something far worse (or better, if you've already paid off your house, or sold it).


Going to the People, or Dodging Responsibility?

Don’t be led astray by the loaded language in the meaningless advisory vote that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot..."Should the state of Idaho keep the property tax relief adopted in August 2006, reducing property taxes by approximately $260 million and protecting funding for public schools by keeping the sales tax at 6 percent?"...Vote no and send a message to lawmakers that decisions about the way we tax Idahoans and fund education should be made with care, and during the regular session....'No' Vote Will Send Message to Capitol, Editoria, Idaho Statesman, 10/25/2006

Initiatives like this are problematic. The voter initiative in California is one paradigm of what can go wrong: many are simply overturned by the courts, judicial action far less likely to happen if a legislature were to pass the same bill. The advisory vote in Idaho is another, far worse, version of this. A kind of official opinion poll, it permits a legislator to completely sever himself or herself from responsible action. Like the plebiscites so popular under Mussolini, it gives the appearance of popular approval without the bother of legislative debate and compromise. It isn't all bad of course. At least the sample isn't 47 clusters from the Upper West Side of Manhattan; it does represent the voters who show up at the polls. But republican government is about elected officials operating responsibly according to their judgment and experience, not as sock puppets to fulfill the whims of daily opinion or the dictates of a tyrant.


Government-Supervised Gambling, Still An Issue

“It’s so destructive; the longer we have this, the more people (there are) who know someone who has been affected by video lottery,” said Dan Brendtro, a Sioux Falls area attorney who is leading the fight on behalf of Forward South Dakota. His group gathered enough signatures to put Initiative No. 7 on the Nov. 7 ballot...But Larry Mann of Vote No on 7 says gambling opponents far overstate the social cost of video lottery and that the video-lottery industry is weary of going through repeated elections.....Video lottery to face fourth vote, Dan Daly, Rapid City Journal, 10/26/06

The arguments surrounding votes on this issue, which lingers despite decades of government-supervised gambling in many states, have not gone away. On the one side, those of serious moral convictions argue that gambling loots the poor by offering an unreasonable hope for gain. On the other side, a position that has not varied in the change from gangster-supervised to government-supervised gambling, proponents claim that what people do with their money isn't anybody's business, and that people who gamble will do so regardless of the law. This has had some ironic consequences. As mentioned in a recent post, the Offtrack Betting Corporation in New York, created to generate income for New York State schools, has been a perpetual money loser. Why? It's not hard to figure out. OTB became a source of patronage jobs, and the beneficiaries ate up the profits. Picking up the tab for your friends was always frowned upon by the old gangster management of local bookies. If you expected to be protected, never mind made, you were supposed to be an earner. As to the argument, as familiar from gangsters as from the government, that people would bet on whatever they thought worth playing regardless of the law, it's undeniable. And as to the argument that gambling soaks the poor and makes a few people rich, that's also undeniable. As always, the issue pits moral convictions against cynicism. Most likely the latter will win again in South Dakota. But it's good that the issue is still being debated; we need to be reminded daily that there are still substantial numbers of people who prefer idealism over cynicism, who still think of future consequences, not just immediate satisfaction.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Maryland's Michael Steele: Political Video of the Year

In this age of vicious, Democrat-led attack politics, here is perhaps the nicest political video ever, courtesy of Maryland Republican Senatorial candidate Michael Steele.

This guy deserves to win, though the odds may be against him. He's undeservedly an underdog in this massively blue state. To learn more about him, link here.

Mitt Romney Teaches Civics to MSM

This delightful snippet from PowerLine:
There was a revealing exchange the other day when a reporter from the Boston Globe asked Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney a rambling question about removing some tolls from the Mass. Turnpike. Eventually, Romney interrupted by joking, "Do you have a point of view on this?" The reporter responded, "I represent the people, governor." To which Romney said, "No, I represent the people, you represent the media."
Absolutely perfect.

Check out the video here at PowerLine or here for more commentary and ripostes from RedState.

Harassment a la Foley In South Dakota?

Gov. Mike Rounds agreed Tuesday to call the South Dakota Senate into a special session to look into allegations that a senator acted inappropriately earlier this year with a high school student who served as a legislative page...Senate leaders had asked the governor to call the special session, which will start Nov. 27...Rounds said he received a letter signed by Senate leaders from both political parties, and he decided to honor their request and call the Senate into a special session...The father of the former page has accused Sen. Dan Sutton, D-Flandreau, of misconduct during the past legislative session....Governor Calls Special Session, Chet Brokaw, Rapid City Journal, 10/25/2006

Things must be changing. Sexual harassment in a state known for Mt. Rushmore and the Corn Palace seems about as likely as sexual harassment in the Oval Office or in the United States Congress. Whoops! Out of date again...I must have been out of the country for the past eight years. But seriously, is there something about elective office that makes chasing after teenagers attractive to middle aged men? A better solution to those strange changes of middle age is to buy that Corvette you've been looking at for the past forty years. It will teach you just as much about how much things (and your driving skills) have changed since 1965 and you won't get arrested (or canonized, if you're a Democrat) except for speeding.


Qualifications for Office

The race for [Nevada] state treasurer is one of those down-ballot contests that traditionally receive little attention from the press, let alone voters...But this year, voters have two major reasons to reflect on the low-profile but consequential constitutional office that's responsible for overseeing the state's money: the candidates themselves...Mark DeStefano...is a Las Vegas business consultant who has declared bankruptcy, sued the U.S. government for discrimination, was kicked off the ballot on a residency issue in a run for university system regent and booted from a Nevada charity after he hired away a key employee...Kate Marshall, the Democrat, is a Reno lawyer who has spent much of her career working in the antitrust division of the Justice Department, but has virtually no experience in finance or investment....'Uninteresting' Job Draws Interesting Candidates, Michael Mishak, Las Vegas Sun, 10/25/2006

Ah, come on! In New York, a combination like this, a bankrupt and an antitrust lawyer, would probably yield an unbeatable fusion ticket for governor and lieutenant governor. But seriously, qualifications are a sticky issue in democracies. Becoming an elected official isn't like becoming a doctor or a history professor. If it were, we'd have nothing but malpractice suits and Marxist rhetoric. And, as noted in the story below, qualifications in the United States too often mean access to money, friendly relationships with the national committee of either party, and a willingness to tow the line with those interests deemed valuable by the party chair, whether at the county, state or national level. Maybe Nevada is onto something new.



Miami's Oppenheimer On Historical Hysteria

Last week's bizarre scenes of violence in Argentina during the reburial of former populist President Gen. Juan Domingo Perón, who died more than three decades ago, raise an interesting question: Is Latin America too fixated with its past and not focused enough on its future?...It's not an academic question. Wherever you look in the region, you see passionate -- sometimes violent -- national debates over historical issues. It's something that is not seen, at least with the same virulence, in much of the rest of the Western world....Latin American Too Obsessed With Past, Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald, 10/25/2006

It's not so strange, Andres. Semi-religious devotion to the avatars of bad ideas, which the Peróns represented for Argentina, is a rite widely observed on the Left. If it were not so, most on the Left would be satisfied to be academic antiquarians, scholars in the study of dead worlds, going to lunch with classicists and historians. But, though Leftists rarely engage in the kind of shooting rallies seen in support of the ghost of Juan Perón, they are as fiercely opposed to both historical precedent and challenges to their ideas. As such, they are just as blind to the future as worshippers of Peronism in Buenos Aires.


Campaign Finance Reform?

The most lavishly-funded campaign for local public office on the Nov. 7 ballot is being waged by St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley...What he doesn't have is an opponent with a legitimate shot at beating him...Republican Joe Passanise...has raised less than $15,000 for his campaign...A community college teacher and a former county highway engineer, Mr. Passanise entered the race on his own, without the support of the county Republican Committee...Mr. Dooley...has built on the Democratic political machine...He tapped the same source of campaign contributions, mostly developers and law firms...and has carpet-bombed Mr. Passanise with nearly $1.2 million in spending....For County Offices, St. Louis County, 10/24/2006, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If you want an example of the fraud of campaign finance reform, this is a pretty good example. A non-incumbent, independent-thinking politician, rather like John Spencer running against Senator Clinton, has no chance before the campaign ads start to run. And look at the list of this incumbent's contributors: "law firms, developers...", the kind of folks, in other words, for whom a county executive can do a lot of favors...The incumbent is outspending his "opponent" over 500 to 1. In New York State, Senator Clinton's committee to re-elect has raised $40 million, more than ten times what former Mayor John Spencer has been able to dig out from under those rocks not owned by friends of the RNC. The more one looks, the more it seems that campaign finance reform, whether McCain-Feingold, or any other legislation, is chiefly aimed at obstructing non-incumbent, independent thinking office-seekers from a chance at victory, to make holding an elective office as permanent a career as being an agency bureaucrat in the District of Columbia. In such an environment, elections can get perilously close to meaningless, as in St. Louis County. This is not intended as a comment on either candidate, but on the system that restricts the one while rewarding the other, in each case without regard for their qualifications or for the voters.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Luther Rules

Wonk is up to the old eyeballs today, so light to nonexistent blogging is the result. But may I direct you just below to a series of brilliant posts by colleague Luther? The dude is on fire today!!

Big Army At It Again

In a counterinsurgency, the media battlespace is critical. When it comes to mustering public opinion, rallying support, and forcing opponents to shift tactics and timetables to better suit the home team, our terrorist enemies are destroying us. Al Qaeda's media arm is called al Sahab: the cloud. It feels more like a hurricane. While our enemies have "journalists" crawling all over battlefields to chronicle their successes and our failures, we have an "embed" media system that is so ineptly managed that earlier this fall there were only 9 reporters embedded with 150,000 American troops in Iraq....Censoring Iraq, Michael Yon, National Review Online, 10/30/2006

Robert Kaplan in Imperial Grunts, On the Ground with the American Military, Vintage, 2006, recorded an interesting conversation in Afghanistan. A Special Forces commander complained at length about how successful his operation had been in his area of command until "Big Army" showed up. The meaning of Big Army hasn't changed much. Whether in the recollections of raconteur Jean Shepherd or in the memories of almost every veteran, Big Army means "hurry up and wait," a bureaucratic tangle whose battlegrounds don't range from Normandy to Iraq, but from Repple-Depple to the current malaise in the Pentagon. What Kaplan described was an organization more devoted to paperwork and theoretical formations than to action in country. Apparently, according to Yon's disturbing article, this has not changed for the better. If no one is reporting your successes, the rest of the world may often assume that you haven't had any.


Evolution Passing Harvard By?

The enquirer would next come to the important point, whether man tends to increase at so rapid a rate, as to lead to occasional severe struggles for existence; and consequently to beneficial variations, whether in body or mind, being preserved, and injurious ones eliminated. Do the races or species of men, whichever term may be applied, encroach on and replace one another, so that some finally become extinct?" -- Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species

Darwin has never been much loved for that kind of remark, often borrowed by racists and other adherents to political pathologies, but, of late, such thoughts have gotten a lot more resonance.

What, basically, persuades people not to have babies even when they have the political, social and economic stability to do so? Among the eras and nations where this phenomenon occurs or occurred one basic characteristic stands out: the loss of a transcendent future. What I mean by "transcendent" is some ideal or love or hope or faith that rises above the interests of the self, the practicalities of expected income, the security of predictable outcomes, and the lifetime of the individual. What I mean by "future" is that it is an ideal, love, hope, or faith that extends beyond the present and is not satisfied with an instantaneous and eternal reward in the now….Culture & The Demographic Crisis, Frederick Turner, TCS Daily, 8/7/2006

One has only to look at Italy, where the native-born population is declining and has been for so long that, in the future, Italians will look a lot more like Moroccans and Algerians than Romans. Italy, after many years of being the poor slob of Europe, is now a hugely successful economy, with a standard of living as good as any in Europe. But, the fruits of these labors aren't going to the children of Italians, but to those of immigrants they've brought in to do the work. I'll bet that's really surprising. What is the posture of what proposes to be our intellectual future?

With no more GapKids, my trips to Harvard Square will be less frequent. Instead, I’ll have to throw all the kids in my big, gas-guzzling, liberal-infuriating Suburban and drive out of Cambridge to where people still have kids and still want them…By and large they are high-immigrant areas and poorer areas…Children are still the wealth of the poor in Massachusetts…Harvard students are more interested in sex — or in feeling sexy — than in kids. Feeling sexy, however, often leads to sex, and sex often leads to kids. Ahem. Or at least to pregnancies. Which is why blue America sweepingly (and coercively) supports choice. They want the sex, but not the kids. The kids are much too costly. To the pocketbook, yes, but most of all to a particular lifestyle more interested in today’s consumption than tomorrow’s production…. Feeling Sexy At Harvard, and The Gap is here to serve, C.R. Hardy, National Review Online, 10/24/2006

Sounds like Italy has come to Harvard. Perhaps in the future they'll describe Cambridge as the tarpit for intellectual dinosaurs.


Leadership in Democracies

The conventional wisdom is that we would be better off if politically powerful leaders were less mediocre. Instead, my view is that we would be better off if mediocre political leaders were less powerful....The Leadership Myth, Arnold Kling, TCSDaily.com, 10/24/2006

Generations miss this time and again. Boomers missed this in the late 1960's when, pursuing the charismatic excellence of Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy, they found themselves with Richard Nixon after Senator Kennedy was assassinated and Senator McCarthy vanished to another planet. Nixon, to the rage of liberals ever since, was pretty effective. He ended a war that the Democrats had started; he aligned the U.S. with China, to the chagrin of the USSR; and, almost unnoted then and ever since, he instigated the Department of Justice to do what it had failed to do under Lyndon Johnson, integrate American public schools. But, Nixon, rarely if ever described as anything but a mediocrity by commentators of the time, also did what Kling warns is still the primary issue in democracy: he overstepped; he attempted to take powers which were not his to wield. Though it is historic fact that both of his immediate predecessors had done the same thing, Nixon was the first Chief Executive to pay the price. He was forced out of office. Setting the various mythologies about this event aside, which include some so grandiose as to suggest Nixon was the Devil, and some so bizarre (though interesting) as to suggest that the Watergate process was a kind of public burning (see Robert Coover), the wary regard reserved for Nixon should be reserved for all politicians. Why? With very few exceptions in the entire history of the Republic, most politicians have been mediocrities. Sadly, a great portion of those politicians have had one area of excellence: their will to power. Democracy is not just about choosing one person over another for an office; democracy is also about making sure that will to power doesn't get out of hand, that politicians don't take a brief electoral mandate as an excuse to overturn the Constitution and the precedents established from it. And, in those rare instances where we pick a real star, a Lincoln or an FDR, we have to be even more vigilant because, as sure as death and taxes, a politician who thinks his or her personal charisma is sufficient to permit violation of the law will go right ahead and do it. Read Kling's fine essay in full.

Another thought for the election....


Not So Sunny In Western NY, Senator Clinton

As a discussion and debate topic, the upstate economy finally is getting its due. Statewide and local candidates and residents are talking about it — and occasionally going overboard, as seen and heard in a speech from a local businessman last week....Upstate's decline seems more stark as nation forges ahead, Editorial, Democrat & Chronicle, 10/23/2006

If you don't live in New York State, you haven't seen the sunny advertisements for Senator Clinton, which talk sweetly about the jobs and the money she's "created." If you live in western New York, or travel there often, as the writer does, the beautiful New York changes her ad campaign depicts are pure fantasy. It's not surprising she wouldn't want to talk about this much, though she did in 2000 when she first ran for the Senate. Tax policies in New York, as noted below, have worked powerfully against any hopes of redeveloping both small and medium cities. People can't afford the property taxes and don't want to move there. For companies who might find the truly beautiful landscapes, not to mention the easy availability of tens of thousands of college graduates from the area each year, the tax problem in New York State is even worse. The most likely corporate campaign for the past thirty years has been to move elsewhere. Even Kodak, a stalwart in Rochester for a century, has outsourced almost everything it sells, especially since the dramatic decline of sales for cameras that use film. Kodak, which financed a huge portion of the arts scene in Rochester, including its symphony, has been withdrawing corporate grants that had been assumed as normal procedure for fifty years. If the attitude among Albany legislators, not to mention two very liberal, tax & spend liberals as U.S. Senators, is that sharing wealth is more important than making it, decline is what happens to any area. This won't help John Spencer, tax-cutting, budget-cutting, and very successful former mayor of Yonkers, who's running a futile campaign against Senator Clinton, not only in the estimate of voters but in that of the RNC. Spencer has become the unacknowledged Republican presence in the election. What a pity. But this won't change as long as New York State voters give credibility to a press and to a political elite that won't acknowledge a simple fact: the larger a government's share of economic activity is, the less wealth will be generated. A thought for the coming election....


Democratic Debate in Grand Island

"Though I will be bashed for my opinion, calling Bush a tyrant is an overstatement. No I don't agree with everything he's said or done, but that alone does not make someone a tyrant...If he truly was a tyrant, with absolute power, he could arrest anyone for making critical comments about him. (Freedom of speech) Haven't seen any mass arrests lately. The media still is able to criticize him as much as they choose. (Freedom of the press)." The Capt_Morgan29 in Independent Forum, Grand Island Independent, 10/24/2006

What's sorrowful about this terrific post by Capt_Morgan29 is that the looney responses below it are more typical of the editorial stances of major press outlets than his. Setting opinions inside observed reality counts for little in MSM. Opinions about fantasy rule the nest more often than not.


New Orleans and Absentee Voting

The convenience of absentee voting may please the average citizen, but some elections experts find its growing popularity worrisome...There's little evidence that absentee voting increases turnout, and it opens the door for voter coercion and fraud, they say. "There is virtually universal agreement that absentee ballot fraud is the biggest problem," a recent U.S. Election Assistance Commission report on vote fraud concludes....Absentee voting fosters trickery, trend's foes say, Chuck McCutcheon, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, 10/24/2006

We know about Chicago and dead voter precincts (see the Presidential election of 1960), located somewhere offshore at the bottom of Lake Michigan. We know about Mexicans voting in California (see the elections of 2000, 2002, and 2004). We know about 102% of voters voting in Philadelphia (see the elections of 2000 and 2004). But let's think twice about absentee voting in New Orleans. Exactly how else are two thirds of New Orleans residents supposed to vote? They have nowhere to live in the city. Two thirds of the Crescent City's voters, without absentee ballots, would have no voice in the future of the city. But wait! They didn't have any voice in the city's present before Katrina either, else they would never have been chased away by a flood that the Army Corps, chief contractor for the levees, promised would never happen.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Religious Wars, 21st Century Version: Not Exactly What You Might Think

If you ever want to get a lefty riled, just tell him that his or her watered-down version of Marxism is nothing more than a secular religion. You'll be lucky if you don't get assaulted on the spot, so touchy is the left about this issue.

Which leads to an interesting point taken up in today's Belmont Club. After discussing Afghan President Karzai's increasing difficulty with the Taliban, who keep popping up like the endless brooms in Disney's version of "The Sorceror's Apprentice," moves into territory we've tried to explore before in HazZzMat: the current religious wars, which have gotten far more serious, and ironic, than ever, since one of the warring religions—guess which one—won't fess up to its own supremicist intentions. Quoting from the UK Times, Belmont's Wretchard explores this interesting turn of events:
Recently the UK Times described the growing realization that terrorism was already in the UK; already a component of the landscape in part due to the collision between the "sacred space" of Islam and the secular space of post-modern Europe. The solution advocated by some to the problem is to make the secularism mandatory. Religion was to be banned from public life altogether and tolerated only if it consented to be a harmless superstition, remembered on occasions like Halloween or Friday the 13th.
Cute. We've seen this tried, particularly in France to some extent, but suppressing ALL religions in public is really a "cave," an attempt to sweep away the underlying cultural problem by fiat. Furthermore, just who is suppressing what? Wretchard quotes directly from the UK Times piece:
The only equitable answer, say the secularists, is to turn the way of France and America and cleanse public life of all contact with faith and superstition. ... Professor Richard Dawkins, champion of Darwinism, has been spurred by the rise of religious fundamentalists to write The God Delusion, an “attack on God in all his forms”. Dawkins wants to take religion not just out of the state but society — and his book has become a bestseller. “If this book works as I intend,” he writes in his preface, “religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” ...
Hmm. Just like a professor. Listen to your academic "betters" and all will be well. Except that if we follow the good professor's simplistic dictate, we'll have succeeded, Muslims included, in bowing to Dawkins' secular (and no doubt Marxist) religion of atheism, right? Which would suit the prof just fine.
Karen Armstrong, quoted in the 5th page of the UK Times article, notes this explicitly: "There have been five major missionary movements in the world — Christianity, Marxism, Islam, Buddhism and secularism. Secularism can be as lethal as any religion. Our society is very secular but, in the Middle East, where modernism is new, secularism is seen as lethal and invasive." Sayyid Qutb [an Islamist who, after visiting the U.S. in the 1940s, concluded that Islam would have to battle the West in order to survive.--W] would probably agree. Al-Qaeda's ideology was precisely a Muslim response to the perceived menace of secularism during its heyday in the late 1940s. Proposals by European "intellectuals" to banish Christianity and Islam would probably founder on the objection that the priests of one sect — namely Marxism and secularism — should not have the right to outlaw the votaries of other rites. In other words, any solution to remove "belief" from public life is itself be founded on a normative belief. But embracing this contradiction is easier than to accept the alternative proposition that politics and society have historically been not only about systems of belief but about the dominance of one system of belief over another. That all wars are ultimately wars of religion. Viewed in this way, the debate over banishing "religion" in Britain is really the old one of avoidance versus confrontation in another guise. We twist and turn in an effort to avoid the War, but attempts to define the War out of existence may ultimately be unsuccessful.
This of course, now comes round to one of HazZzMat's central premises: Infected by a subversive Gramscianism, the left in the West is using cultural and judicial institutions to manipulate Western traditions out of existence in a sort of bloodless coup, using as its most important tool, the manipulation of language itself to define the opposition out of existence. This, of course, has ranged in our times from relatively benign manifestations, like the improper use of the "unisex" pronoun "their" to capitulate to gender agitation while destroying grammar in the process; to more Byzantine strictures like banning the use of the "N" word by white people while permitting it for blacks.

Wretcherd here charts the trajectory of leftists who are taking language manipulation to a much higher level as a way to finesse the Global War on Terror out of existence by redefining terms. It's about what one might expect of the snarky so-called intellectuals who so thoroughly dominate Western academia. Comfortable in their armchair superiority, they are long on theory and very short on practical application of theory. From this position, the lazy left now proposes to outlaw all religions. In addition, as a special bonus instead of a second set of ginzu knives, the Dawkins proposal get rids of Christianity—ever annoying to atheists—by tarring it with the Islamofascist brush. By banishing all organized religion from the public sphere, these armchair faux working-class heroes of the West will thus win the War on Terror (which they don't recognize) and wipe out the bedrock Western culture, all the while basking in the glory of being the New Redeemers. They envision winning the conflict against the Islamofascists by defining them, and all other religions, out of existence and making their own the Religion of the State, which of course will wither away. You may think this is a stretch. But tortured logic like this is so is much of what the Marxists do to undermine our culture, which is why no one follows the bouncing ball until it's too late. It's just too complicated and exhausting to try to understand the dialectic.

Wretchard sums it up quite well, although we are going to help him a bit with a pronoun reference that may not be clear on first reading:
After Sayyid Qutb was scandalized by Harry Truman's America he was later brutalized by Gamal Abdel Nasser's prisons. It may have been the low cut dresses of American women that first planted the seed which was to grow into al-Qaeda's ideology but it was the blood shed by Marxist torturers that watered it. Qutb and later Osama bin Laden saw Marxism and secularism as agencies of the Devil; but to destroy them it was first necessary to destroy the world's system administrator: the USA. One of the real ironies of the War on Terror is that the most hated targets of al-Qaeda, the culturally liberal — the gays, feminists, entertainers, civil libertarians, artists and novelists — are [the United States'] most vocal critics. It is only slowly dawning on al-Qaeda's pet hates [ —the culturally liberal— ] that the Global Jihad is exactly about them and their whole belief system. Salman Rushdie knows it; Sayyid Qutb knew it. Some parts of Europe are beginning to know it; most will never admit it even to the second the blade is drawn across their throats. But the second greatest irony that the surviving non-Muslim believers in Europe — the Christians, Buddhists and Jews — have not only had to bear the intellectual brunt of defending liberalism up to now, but are now being asked to give up the public profession of their own faith in order to preserve it.
As Wretchard accurately notes, this is perhaps the greatest intellectual irony of our time. As I have often told Hate Amerikkka First liberals (i.e., leftists), who foolishly engage me in battle on this issue: Don't bitch at me. If the Islamofascists ever get hold of us, the first throats to be slit will be yours. I am at least a monotheist. You don't believe in God at all. In the hierarchy of Islamofascist hatred, you, the true infidels, are at the top of the hit list. So don't blame me or Chimpy BushMcHitler. We already told you. But you never listen.

Autumn Election Urban Legends I: The Women's Vote

Although Wonker is not about to lay odds on who's going to control Congress after the November elections—the Repubs have tended to damage themselves far more effectively than the Dems' scurrilous, saved-up, and often phony scandal-mongering—he is beginning to get the picture that reports of the GOP's certain demise may be greatly exaggerated. From Democratic crowing a week or two ago that the election was in the bag for the loony left, we moved last week to a virtual coronation of San Francisco's own Queen Botox (aka Nancy Pelosi) as Majority Leader and High Priestess of All Things Redistributionist in the House. (Talk about giving Dems a "lift!")

However, the latest meme, which we've seen in a number of places now, indicates that things may be sobering for the Dems, who, by rerunning the same speculative journalism that failed them in the 2002 mid-terms and in 2004, may indeed be living in the Land That Time Forgot. Our friends at PowerLine have certainly had that thought:

I love reading, as elections draw near, about how the "women's vote" is going to be crucial in this or that close race. Since they will represent about half of all voters, I reckon that how women vote will be pretty important in close races. About as important as how men vote.

Funny someone should have to note the obvious. The "women's issues" meme is yet another way that the MSM, schooled in a kind of passive Gramscian desire to subvert everything in American life into some flavor of class struggle propaganda, should roll out yet again this old saw, which has never really worked for them in the past.

Statistics have demonstrated repeatedly over the years that married women's votes tend to mirror the votes of their husbands. (Or if you're a feminist, we're fine with this observation the other way around, too.) Single women are less predictable, but have generally slid to the Dems. But there's never exactly been a chasm here separating the two genders. Another old saw the press trots out again and again rather than reporting actual news (other than the latest Iraq body counts from Al-Reuters) or admitting that the gleefully anticipated Democratic landslide may not occur.

More evidence that the press has become not only predictable but despicably lazy as well.

One the Republicans Missed

1st District Rep. Butch Otter, a Republican who says he’s running for governor, in part, because he’s frustrated by the divisiveness on Capitol Hill. "We haven’t gotten that much done," he said last week...Idaho voters can’t replace 435 members of Congress. However, 1st District voters can elect a successor to Otter with the temperament, the intellect and the maturity to focus on complicated issues from Iraq and Iran to immigration to the deficit...Democrat Larry Grant would be that kind of congressman....Grant Has Focus, Intellect for Congress, The Idaho Statesman, October 23, 2006

Grant's positions, carefully annotated in this Idaho Stateman editorial, sound almost exactly like the positions of the Bush White House. Somebody at RNC ought to have paid attention.


Collision of Culture and Politics

Sister Rosa Gonzales says she can count on receptive audiences when she knocks on doors in Latino neighborhoods to urge a "yes" vote on Proposition 85, the parental notification initiative on abortion....Latino votes seen as key to Prop. 85, Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 10/23/2006

As the Democrats woo Latino voters, and encourage non-citizens from Mexico to vote, one wonders if the Democrat National Committee noted how many of these potential voters were Roman Catholic. The old saw about getting what you wish for comes to mind.


They Know About The Socialist Folly in Miami

It seems that Ecuadoreans will elect Rafael Correa as their next president when they go to the polls on Oct. 15. He is young, charismatic and intelligent; an economist with a degree from a U.S. university who communicates well with the public...What's likely to happen, however, is that, despite his notable personal features, Correa will fail noisily and drag the country down with him...Like many of his compatriots, his intentions are right, but his therapy is irremediably wrong. It's true that a good portion of Ecuador's population lives in wretched conditions, and Correa does not err when he says that the institutions are rotten, corruption is rampant and many in the ruling class have gained or maintain their wealth thanks to their toadyish links to power...old and endemic ills are not solved by rejecting a free-trade agreement with the United States, exacerbating ethnic conflicts, picking a fight with the World Bank and the IMF, placing Ecuador in Hugo Chávez's insane orbit and spouting nonsense such as the search for ``alimentary sovereignty.''....Ecuador marching rapidly toward the cliff, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami Herald, , 10/23/2006

Every so often, it seems, we need to be reminded of what American interests really are. Montaner is not deluded into thinking we should be greatly concerned about the ongoing soap opera highlighted by current campaign ads about the foibles of various US Representatives and US Senators. The American hemisphere is under threat again. The 15-year party since the fall of the USSR should not put us at our ease about the ambitions of thugs either north or south of the border. But you have to go outside of New York, Washington, and Los Angeles to see this, apparently.


New York's Tax Folly

Jeffrey Confarotta, a 35-year-old computer software salesman, fits the profile of someone New York officials say the state needs to attract, or at least retain, if the upstate economy is going to thrive...The Fairport native...left New York to live in Massachusetts nine years ago. But family is tugging him back to the Rochester area...But he's not coming home. The reason: property taxes...His present [Massachusetts] house is worth about $525,000. Taxes are about $4,400 a year...He could buy a similar house in a Rochester suburb for $300,000 to $350,000. But the taxes in, say, Canandaigua would be about $9,100....even more in Webster — closer to $12,000, he figured. "We're staying put," he said.Property Tax on Voters' Minds, Jay Gallagher, Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY, 10/23/2006

It's amazing how hard it is for politicians to get it. For the better part of the last four years, New York State's government has made sweetheart deals with labor unions, dramatically increased spending for education, and made little or zero progress in dealing with Medicaid costs that, per patient, are more than twice that in California. The assumption under each increase has been that "rich" people would pick up the tab, i.e., those people who could afford New York State's already fabulously expensive housing. They seem unable to respond to the fact that the largest export from New York is middle income couples with children. They look at midtown office rental prices of $100+/foot and have apparently determined that this proves New York's economy is healthy, neglecting to acknowledge that the number of corporate headquarters in New York has declined sharply, and that manufacturing has entirely disappeared. Like their compatriots in France, New York politicians seem to believe that distribution of wealth is all that matters. But, if even well-paid software salespeople can't afford New York's taxes, what future is there for middle class families in New York State? Don't ask the current "leadership" in Albany. Evidently, families with children are a Red state issue, not something that should concern New York.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Miami Opinion on Chavez

Has Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez reached his peak? Will his political star begin to fade following his latest setbacks at the United Nations and his failure to get his protégés elected in Peru's and Ecuador's first-round elections?...Chavez's UN Fiasco raises issue: Has he peaked?, Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald, 10/20/2006

It's curious that you have to go to Miami to get a thought on this subject from a columnist. Chavez's political condition of course is of greater interest to people who fled (or whose parents and grandparents fled) from Cuba. Oppenheimer doesn't gloss the issue, however.

As long as the United States continues importing Venezuelan oil at its current pace -- $31.6 billion a year in 2005, and a projected $37 billion in 2006, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures -- Chávez will be down, but not out. Ironically, his megalomaniac dreams will be kept alive by the United States....(Chavez...,Oppeneheimer continued)

A columnist to pay attention to, Andres Oppenheimer!


What We Thought America Was About

Whether it’s math, science or swimming, Kenai Central senior Taylor Moore isn’t afraid of the laborious work it takes to find the right answer and get to the next level....Getting Better, one step at a time, Jeff Helminiak, Peninsula Clarion.

Maybe US Representative Nancy Pelosi and the Victims Rights Brigade haven't gotten to Alaska yet. Taylor Moore would likely be at the barricades.

“In math and science, you can get to a higher level, and there is an answer for everything.” Moore has translated this same thinking into swimming. Unlike in math and science, Moore does not have natural abilities that have allowed her to rocket to the top of her class in the pool...“She’s had some great teachers along the way that have encouraged her to push herself,” Lee Moore said of his daughter. “She could have sat back and not gotten much better if she hadn’t been challenged."...(Getting Better, continued....)

In the universe beyond US Representative Pelosi's imagination, it's still true: practice makes perfect. If you want to succeed, you have to try.


Taxpayer Bill of Rights/TABOR Fight In Maine

The coalition that has crafted an alternative to the proposed TABOR spending cap says the group's diversity will translate into enough political power to win the plan's passage in the Legislature. The coalition includes the state's municipalities, hospitals, teachers union and big businesses..."This is astonishing," said Sen. Peter Mills, R-Cornville, who helped draft the plan. "I have never seen anything like it, in terms of people coming together around a common core of principles."....TABOR Foes: Group has clout to get plan passed, Tom Bell, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, 10/20/2006

A coalition against a taxpayer bill of rights that would limit spending includes municipalities, hospitals, teachers union, and big business. Gee, there's a surprise. One gathers (and hopes) than Senator Mills has a sense of irony when discussing their "common core of principles".


Fighting Big Government in Nebraska

Colorado's TABOR and Nebraska's Initiative 423, which faces voters at the ballot box Nov. 7, both are aimed at restricting government spending..."What we learned in Colorado is, you can have economic growth or government growth, but you can't have both," John Andrews (President of Nebraska Senate) said Thursday at Grand Island's College Park....Pro-423 representatives tout initiative during tour, Tracy Overstreet, Grand Island Independent

It's never easy. Such a proposition in New York would probably put District 37 and the AFT on picket lines from Times Square to the Stock Exchange. Best of luck, Nebraskans!


Creeping Socialism in Dodge City

Roundup President R.C. Trotter asked the board Thursday to consider recommending a $72,303 contribution from the "Why Not Dodge" sales tax fund to help the organization eliminate the deficit. The board did not act on his request but will consider it next month along with funding requests from other eligible tourist attractions....Roundup asks CFAB for financial assistance, Dodge City Globe, 10/20/2006

You just can't get away from somebody begging for taxes to cover an unprofitable business's losses, not even in Dodge. Bat Masterson probably didn't ask for a tax rebate on his Colt. And tax funding is bad business all around. Under the administration of a government, a fine business can go bad faster than Wyatt Earp could draw. Why, not long ago, in New York, the head of the OTB Corporation, a legal bookie with offices in a thousand communities, announced that she could not foresee a day when betting on horses would make money for the state. In Brooklyn, the writer engaged in conversation with a former bookie, who could not believe that anyone other than a chimpanzee could lose money on gambling on horse racing. Very suggestive about the types of people elected, as well as the people they appoint to run government programs -- someone said that in Dodge City, but it's not possible to say who. In Dodge, people still carry, and opinions are measured in lives, not endorsements from Senator Clinton.


I Guess New Orleans Can Afford This Now

A wide-ranging plan to improve the availability and quality of health care services in the New Orleans area and reduce the region's longtime reliance on the Charity Hospital System was presented to Gov. Kathleen Blanco Thursday, a day before a federally mandated deadline....Blanco unveils health care plan, Jan Moller, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 10/20/2006

In 2000's census, New Orleans had a population just under half a million. Today, according to Reuters, its population is less than 220,000. That's great timing for Governor Blanco's medical plan. With 60% of the population of New Orleans vanished to other states, New Orleans can spend the same amount of money as proposed, but save $6 out of $10 it would have spent. Then, the Governor can give that money as a donation to the New Orleans Levee Board. The latter institution gained great modern fame last fall when its principal area of responsibilities, the levees that are supposed to protect the city from hurricane storm surges, collapsed, killing a thousand people, and ruining the Crescent City for sixty percent of its population. (The casino funded by the Levee Board, however, is now back in operation.) Given Governor Blanco's sterling record of non-involvement in the Katrina disaster, she seems like the perfect person to give the Levee Board additional largesse. I'd just love to hear the Governor sing "let the good times roll." Trouble is, given her record during Katrina, she'd probably blame the President of the United States if she sang off-key.


Pelosi: Extremism in Pursuit of Ideology is No Vice

Busy day today, so light blogging here. (Although I highly recommend Luther's most recent posts on McCain-Feingold hypocrisy (just WHO is messing with our freedoms, ACLU?) and baseball in the heartland.

Meanwhile, for nasty political fun, may I recommend to you this link, which pretty accurately states Botox Queen Nancy Pelosi's political position (although not as she would state it). It also lists the approximate range of her net worth as "between $14,746,108 and $55,085,000." Which might make the Wicked Witch of the West "the the richest Speaker in American history" if the Dems, along with their media and Mahdi Army allies, could actually succeed in taking over the House.

After you read this post, just remember: Dirty Republicans support the "tax cuts for the rich," not pious Democrats like Pelosi who, like their "working class" allies, make barely enough to pay the rent in "Bush's Amerikkka." Please.

In Case McCain-Feingold Doesn't Shut You Up

The timing of a crackdown on city code violations in Edwardsville has some residents crying foul. The day after the Oct. 9 City Council meeting, when several residents got up to speak against a rezoning proposal for an apartment complex at 1300 S. 94th, at least seven of the 40 signers of the petition against the apartment complex received code infraction letters from the city's codes enforcement department or Edwardsville police officers....Codes crackdown raises hackles as well as eyebrows, Jesse Truesdale, Bonner Springs Chieftan, 10/19/2006

The inventive cowardice of McCain-Feingold's suppression of political speech is nothing new of course. As this article in the Bonner Springs Chieftan makes clear, you're not any safer from having a politician tape your mouth in Kansas than you are in New York or Los Angeles. Ever vigilant is not a cliche; it's a watch phrase for citizens of a republic.


Heartland World Series

The first long drive to left field wound up in the webbing of Endy Chavez's glove as he crashed against the wall. The second one sailed clear over his head. And that's what sent Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series....Cardinals Win NL Pennant, Mike Fitzpatrick , AP 10/20/2006

As good a manager as Willie Randolph is, and he even fooled as smart a baseball writer as Tim Marchman of The NY Sun, you can only manage with mirrors for a while. Finally, if all you've got to offer is one experienced starting pitcher in Tom Glavine, a batting practice pitcher in Steve Trachsel, eight middle relievers of varying quality, and an occasionally erratic closer in Bill Wagner, you're not going to the World Series. The amazing thing is that the Metropolitans got past Los Angeles and nearly won the 7th game against the Cardinals, a tribute as much to the risk-taking of their manager as to their team. There are lots of good things, certainly the Mets' rebuilding, long overdue, but as well a heartland Series. Because of the seemingly perpetual presence of New York (or former New York) teams in the Fall classic, though they've become scarce in the last few years, baseball may seem to many as the province of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Of course it's not, nor is the life of the American nation limited to NY; Washington, DC; and Los Angeles. It still comes as a shock to those accustomed to regarding aircraft as mobile living rooms between their houses in Malibu and their apartments on Sutton Place that flyover people actually contribute the vast proportion of economic, cultural, spiritual and, of late, political energy to the Republic. As Detroit whomps St. Louis in five games next week, that's something to remember in the runup to the election.