domingo, 30 de enero de 2005

The Real Story On The Iraq Elections

Robert Fisk writes 'What a bloody charade' about the Iraq elections:

“The American Bradley armoured vehicles on the streets, the United States foot patrols, the old Russian personnel carriers that Saddam Hussein bought on the cheap from the Soviet Union - now dressed up in the dull camouflage paint of the new Iraqi army - the hooded and masked policemen: they do not look like the prelude to an experiment in democracy. They are all waiting for the rivers of blood of which insurgents have warned. But there will be democracy in Iraq.
…Many Iraqis do not know the names of the candidates, let alone their policies. But there will be democracy in Iraq.…The media boys and girls will be expected to play along with this. "Transition of power", says the hourly logo on CNN's live coverage of the election, though the poll is for a parliament to write a constitution, and the men who will form a majority within it will have no power. …They have no control over their own oil, no authority over the streets of Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country, no workable army or loyal police force.

…The "real" story is outside Baghdad, in the tens of thousands of square kilometres outside the government's control and beyond the sight of independent journalists, especially in the four Sunni Muslim provinces which are at the heart of Iraq's insurrection. …Right up to the election hour, US jets were continuing to bomb "terrorist targets", the latest in the city of Ramadi, which - although US President George Bush and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair do not say so - is now in the hands of the insurgents as surely as Fallujah was before the Americans destroyed it.
…There are no "embedded" reporters on the giant American air base at Qatar or aboard the US carriers in the Gulf from which these ever increasing and ever more lethal sorties are being flown. They go unrecorded, unreported, part of the "fantasy" war which is all too real to the victims but hidden from us journalists.
…The reality is that much of Iraq [how much?-ed] has become a free-fire zone (for reference, see under "Vietnam") and the Americans are conducting this secret war as efficiently and as ruthlessly as they conducted their earlier bombing campaign against Iraq between 1991 and 2003, an air raid a day, or two raids, or three. Then they were attacking Hussein's "military targets" in Iraq. Now they are attacking "foreign terrorist targets" or "anti-Iraqi forces": I especially like this one, since the foreigners involved in this violence happen in reality to be Americans who are mostly attacking Iraqis.”
…we'll go on saying "democracy" and "freedom" over and over again, the insurgency will continue and grow more violent, and the Iraqis will go on dying. But there will be democracy in Iraq."

Democrats Take A Major Step Left - Or Not

Something is certainly afoot. Ted Kennedy’s shocking speech followed by John Kerry’s appearance on “Meet The Press” stating that he lost the Presidency by the number of people needed to fill Ohio Stadium shows a new offensive of the Left is underway. Orrin C. Judd writes in Tech Central Station:

“…the New Democrat philosophy of Bill Clinton is dead. Consider two very different stories separated by two presidential terms -- first, from 1996, The end of Social Security as we know it? …November/December 1996, Mother Jones:
"…You might think Kerrey, a prominent Democrat, would want a re-elected President Clinton to go to the mat to protect Social Security, the crown jewel of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. But in fact, Kerrey is the chief sponsor of legislation that would begin to 'privatize' Social Security, and he wants Clinton's support. Asked whether he's worried about progressive Democrats mobilizing to defend Social Security, Kerrey bristles, "I'll kick the [stuffing] out of any liberal who tries that."
…a growing number of heretical Democrats like Kerrey is drawing up plans to dismantle the Social Security safety net in favor of a private system of individual retirement accounts. […] "Bet on this: No matter who wins the presidential election, Social Security will be on the table in 1997. By 1999, Social Security as we know it may no longer exist."

Obviously we made it past 1999 without Social Security being transformed -- despite Bill Clinton himself calling for the creation of a new form of private retirement accounts and the investment of a portion of the Social Security trust funds in the stock markets in his 1999 State of the Union -- [Hey, I had forgotten that-ed] but what ever happened to that "growing number of heretical Democrats?"

Our second story, from earlier this month, suggests the heretics have been meekly brought back to the orthodox New Deal fold, Social Security Battle Likely January 5, 2005, LA Times:
"The Democratic Leadership Council, the party's leading centrist organization, and Third Way, a new group working with moderate Senate Democrats, expect to issue statements soon opposing Bush's push to divert part of the Social Security payroll tax into accounts that individuals could invest in the stock market, officials of the groups say.
"The opposition is significant because both groups have aggressively argued that Democrats should not flatly resist changes to Social Security. Also, in the past some of the leading officials associated with the Democratic Leadership Council have backed the type of private investment accounts Bush is promoting."

And so the restructuring that once seemed all but certain is now cast into doubt, in no small measure because what was the Democratic center has been assimilated by the Party's traditional Left. As recently as two years ago, New Demoacrats (sic) declared that:
"We believe in reforming democracy and government to strip away top-down bureaucracy and give citizens and communities the power to solve their own problems. We must be willing to reform old programs in order to preserve our oldest values."

But today they have become just another force for reaction, defenders of those same "old programs" and the very "top-down" status quo they once professed to believe in reforming.…This is a stunning reversal to anyone observing it from outside the Party.
…that this is the moment the New Democrats would choose to fold up their tent and meekly join with Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi beggars the imagination.
The Party looks to be swimming against the tide of history and runs the risk of being swept away. George Bush just became the first Republican to win the presidency with majorities in the House and Senate since Calvin Coolidge and the first re-elected president of either party to gain seats in both chambers since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. ...whatever remains of the New Democrats are still trying to convince themselves this is an aberration, but the evidence suggests that, as Ronald Reagan used to say: "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

Any hopes I have had about being able to vote for a Democrat any time soon are dwindling.
UPDATE: Kaus thinks this may be an overreaction.
Mickey Kaus writes in Slate
“What Was Teddy Thinking? ”Explaining the Dems' bizarre behavior.
“…why would he put himself in the position where a successful election could make him look at least temporarily like a fool (as, apparently, it has)? And why would John Kerry go on Meet the Press even after the election's success was obvious and offer only the most grudging, complaint-drenched words of praise.
…Fred Barnes offers an explanation for this seemingly bizarre behavior. ... Here's an alternative theory: Money. It used to be that at this stage, opposition party leaders would be making conciliatory noises in an attempt to please voters, and conservative or centrist noises in an attempt to please business lobbyists and PACs. But maybe the amount of money that can be raised over the Internet from Democratic true believers is now more important than PAC money. … And if you want to draw a Dean-like share of this Web loot, you have to be ruthless in bashing Bush. Not all the consequences of Internet politics are benign. ... P.S.: Note that this theory explains Barbara Boxer's behavior too.

UPDATE:jim geraghty writes in the Kerry Spot:
“In some circles, anti-Bush sentiment is so overpowering and maddening that Bush critics are willing to say, “Well, Osama bin Laden has a point.” (More thoughts on this here..) When your perspective is this far out there, of course you’re going to support the most ruthless and relentless Bush critic.
Kennedy, Kerry, Boxer… they’re all trying to appeal to the Osama-applauding Bill Maher audience.”

jueves, 27 de enero de 2005

What Is Really With The Demonstrators?

"Activism's Onanist Fantasy Ideology

“If you see activism as the default mode of politics…you shouldn't be surprised when it leads to anti-intellectualism, tolerance of extremists, retreat into fantasy, and a self-defeating kind of partisanship designed to make people feel better about themselves rather than produce meaningful change.
…lefty blogger Marc Cooper…begins by noting an essay by Doug Henwood, Liza Featherstone and Christian Parenti, in Lip Magazine:
"WE CAN'T GET BOGGED DOWN IN ANALYSIS," one activist told us at an antiwar rally in New York a while back, spitting out that last word like a hairball. He could have relaxed his vigilance. This event deftly avoided such bogs, loudly opposing the US bombing in Afghanistan without offering any credible ideas about it (we're not counting the notion that the entire escapade was driven by Unocal and Lockheed Martin). But the moment called for doing something more than brandishing the exact same signs — Stop the Bombing and No War for Oil — that activists poked skyward during the first Gulf War. This latest war called for some thinking, and few were doing much of that."

So what is the ideology of the activist left (and by that we mean the global justice, peace, media democracy, community organizing, financial populist and green movements)? Is the activistthe (sic) activist left just an inchoate "post-ideological" mass of do-gooders, pragmatists and puppeteers? No. The young troublemakers of today do have an ideology and it is as deeply felt and intellectually totalizing as any of the great belief systems of yore. The cadres who populate those endless meetings, who bang the drum, who lead the "trainings" and paint the puppets, do indeed have a creed. They are activistists.”

Bravo Romeo Delta chimes in:
"…Hence the coinage of the term "idiotarianism" to denote the merging of useless ideologies and overheated political crusades into one uber-force of global reaction. ...The Right is not immune to this kind of "activism as ritual worship," and various cultural-religious tendencies make the evangelical movement particularly vulnerable to this syndrome down the road. At the moment, however, the most virulent case is clearly on the left of the spectrum, and the steady erosion of its political influence in the United States during the same period is no coincidence."

Back to Katzman:
"Thus, it seems that my generation is an extraordinary mixture of greatness and narcissism, and that strange amalgam has affected almost everything we do. We don't seem content to simply have a fine new idea, we must have the new paradigm that will herald one of the greatest transformations in the history of the world. We don;t (sic) really want to just recycle bottles and paper; we need to see ourrselves (sic) dramatically saving the planet and saving Gaia and resurrecting the Goddess that previous generations had brutally repressed but we will finally liberate.... We need to see ourselves as the vanguard of something unprecedented in all history: the extraordinarywonder (sic) of being us."

I think Katzman is on to something here. Not world-shaking, but a real contribution to our understanding of what is going on in the world. Read the whole thing.

California Tax And Spend Liberal Speaks

MARC COOPER writes in the LA Weekly:

“Arnold's recent hard turn to the economic right and his proposals to slap sacrifices only on the bottom half of the population are hardly a laughing matter. Yes, the draconian cuts in social-welfare and education programs proposed in his new budget will eventually be softened by the Democratic Legislature.
...But the problem isn't so much with what the governor is proposing. It's more what he's not proposing. In a word: taxes. In a phrase: taxes on the wealthy."

California, home of Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, is a good example of why America dodged a bullet when they did not elect John Kerry. California is so blue that Bush did not even bother campaigning there. The situation there speaks for itself. Yet, even to this day, the tax and spend liberals still believe that the way out of the mess they have created is to tax and spend even more! The Legislature will "soften" the cuts? Is this man mad?

One of my favorite movies is "Twelve O'Clock High". It is the story of daylight precision bombing in WWII. In one key scene the bomber wing has just returned from a disastrous flight where one third of the planes were shot down by flak. The reason for this disaster was that the navigator made an error that put them over the target late and by then the flak gunners had zeroed in on the range. Firing the navigator is clearly required. The flight leader refuses to do it because the navigator "feels bad" about his error and he is of German ancestry and is trying to live that down. The flight leader cannot make the decision. The flight leader is brave enough and a good man. It's just that he knows the navigator is a good person if not a good navigator. His heart overrules his head. The general, aware of the cost in men's lives being paid for continuing with this navigator, correctly relieves the flight leader of command.

The liberals who ran California almost into the ground cannot make the tough decisions to save their state. The Governator sees what needs to be done and, unlike Gray Davis, has the guts to do it.
Want to know the biggest joke in Marc's article? Marc says of the Governator:
[he should] "...boldly rip off his Ayn Randian disguise and come out as a tax-raising Superman for California."
Why does Marc say he doesn't raise taxes?
"Feigheit, of course, is the answer. Cowardice. ...Can Arnold show real guts only when paid $20 million onscreen? Will he turn out to be the biggest girlie-man in town?"

Marc, and those like him, who are pandered to by the Legislature, are California's problem. And they have the whole cowardice thing ass-backwards.

miércoles, 26 de enero de 2005

Echo Chamber Challenged Liberal

I got a rare comment from a liberal today. It was on a post about an article in the NYT on gender differences. In summary, the author said (modified in the same way that liberals modify quotations from the right in their posts in the liberal echo chamber):

"I know you wacko liberals believe that there is no difference between men and women except those created by biased white men, but we scientists (unlike you) have to make sense and the only way we can do that is to recognize the obvious differences created by Mother Nature as well as some not-so-obvious differences that we are able to observe, replicate and record just like the scientific method says we should."
Said wacko liberals, of course, must respond to such a report by getting out their paint gun and spraying every publication of this heresy with their echo chamber-approved response. My modest post referring to the heresy was so honored, Here is the first line:
"So much for the liberal NYT."

This comment made me think: "So much for my claim that all liberals believe everything printed in the NYT." Apparently they make an exception when the NYT prints something that is true. As rare as that is, I believe that I am justified in sticking with my claim (about liberals and the Times). If the NYT starts printing more truth, and they might, [don't hold your breath-ed] it being 3 long years before another presidential election, I may have to modify it. The next comment is one that appears to be left over from posting it on a series of right wing blogs and merely repeated here as a filler:
"Incidentally, Charles Murray also wrote your favorite book, "The Bell Curve," which is often cited by the right-wing élite in their efforts to "prove" that affirmative action is futile because blacks are too stupid to deserve to succeed."

I have not read this book, but I have heard it referred to on posts about racial discrimination. I don't remember what it was cited for, but I'll bet my day's pay that it wasn't for what Anonymous says it was. In the liberal echo chamber it is permissible to "alter" the facts when referring to right wing posts. Thus any post from any publication that disagrees with the liberal agenda can be translated into "what-we-liberals-know-that-right-winger-REALLY-meant" language and thereafter quoted as if the right winger had actually said those translated words. I doubt that any elite right winger said that AA was "futile", that blacks are "stupid" or that they do not "deserve to succeed." I do believe that Anonymous has a Word document containing the following template that can be copied and pasted into any comment and then tailored to fit - left wing blog or right:
"Charles-Murray-wrote-"The Bell Curve,"-which-is-often-cited-by-the-right-wing-élite-in-their-efforts-to-"prove"-that-affirmative-action-is-futile-because-blacks-are-too-stupid-to-deserve-to-succeed."

What can I say about the next line:
"And you claim to be such a heroically independent thinker."

Sigh. 'deed I do.
When I saw the next line I at first thought it was the signature! Then I, of course, realized that it meant me. Or my post. Or all my posts? That is the trouble with paint gun comments to our posts. One never knows just which of our shots hit the commenter's hot button.
So, another air-headed, template-using liberal commenter that is ill equipped to grapple mind-to-mind and therefore resorts to the paint gun. It is so much more satisfying to have a responsive comment to respond to. Thanks (sincerely) for the comment.