Friday, August 02, 2002

VDH Has a Point in this column, especially when he says:
Rather than creating new programs to teach others about America, I would prefer that our government instruct Americans about the exceptional history of America, reinaugurate civic education in the schools, explain that racism, sexism, and prejudice are endemic in the human species — but under the American system of government can be identified, discussed, and then ameliorated. If we could instill in our citizens a tragic rather than therapeutic sense of the world, they would understand that utopia is not possible on this earth, but that the Constitution and institutions of the United States are man's best hope for eradicating the evil and ignorance that plague us all. If we could do all that, then Americans might project a sense of self-confidence in their history and values that would admonish others that we are proud of rather than ashamed of being different — and that we care far more about the principles for which we fight than the applause of the day from the fickle, insecure, and mixed-up.

So yes, we must remind the Arabs that we saved Muslims from Afghanistan and Kosovo to Somalia and Kuwait. Yes, we must reiterate that we are at odds with dictatorial Mr. Arafat and Mr. Hussein, not with the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples, that we want democracies for them, not their land or money. And yes, we should explain to the world why U.N. resolutions do not represent collective wisdom, but often the reinforced biases and private agendas of dozens of autocratic, theocratic, and tribal regimes who vote only in New York, never at home. And if we are more imaginative still we can point out that the American fleet keeps the peace cheaply for others in the Pacific and Mediterranean, that American companies and universities provide the world with life-saving medicine, medical treatments, and critical technology. And so on.
I think we can do a bit of both (bring back USIA!), but it's especially important that the institutions that teach the growing generations provide them with a true sense of this country, its culture, and why it is exceptional, not in its vices but in its virtues.
The Economy is closer to being in the crapper than I (among others) was aware of. This does make continued pro-growth policies an imperitive. I think it's also obvious that we're going into the dreaded "double dip" - I believed that would happen, it's just happening sooner than I figured it would (by about a quarter and a half, it looks like).
The economic outlook for Europe is, if anything, even worse and South America is slidding back into crisis. It's a good thing that trade negotiating authority passed through Congress, too, as agreements may be needed to help revitalize world trade.
No Economic Plan of Their Own (and failed to pass a budget in the Senate as well). Mort Kondracke lambastes Democrats, who he sympathizes with and agrees with when it comes to what they imply would be their economic policy, for failing to lay it out and put one forth. He also nails them for disembling about the past and distorting the record when it comes to deficit reduction and the economy of the '90s.
Torch, In No Way, and Gilded Age Tom engage in what amounts to a cover-up in the ethics case. Again, this isn't widely decried on the front page of the New York Pravda, like their incessant ravings about how Cheney's business decisions at Halburton should be criminalized. Different strokings for different folks, I suppose.
Wonder how long it will take before the Pravda does a puff-piece for Torricelli. I guess that depends on whether he's behind in the polls in late October.
Union Corruption and Financial Mismanagement Yesterday the Instapundit had extensive quotes from a Fox News report on the subject. We also have this Washington Times column in the same vein.
These aren't likely to get as widely hyped, however, nor are Democrat Senators going to demand a emergency bill to be rapidly passed through Congress to put an end to these practices. Different donor lists, I suppose.
For War against Iraq, the Economist editorializes. Me, I'm not sure we're going anytime soon. A brigade of the 82nd Airborne just deployed to Afganistan, and it would seem to me that under any of the limited, fast (sooner rather than later) plans, both the 101st and 82nd would be highly involved, since they are among the most rapidly deployable units we have.
So it's looking like no sooner than next year. The additional time will no doubt be used for kvetching and hand-wringing.
Covert Anti-Terror Measures Increased, pronounces this Washington Times article. Of course, the first thing one does when initiating covert operations is to anounce it in the newspapers.
Civil Liberties and the War: Terry Eastland has a column on the topic in the Washington Times, making use of some preliminary studies of the situation by Jack Goldsmith and Cass Sunstein.
If the conclusion is right (that there is a ratchet effect in favor of civil liberties and we get more, not less, sensitive - the "war abroad, repression at home" formula to the contrary notwithstanding - to their limitation in the name of security), then that's certainly a good thing. A people on guard to protect their liberty are less likely to lose it, especially on a long-term basis. They also credit the Bush administration for being more careful and attempting fewer limitations than previous wartime Presidencies. This is all the more credible, in my opinion, comming from someone (Sunstein; and for all I know, Goldsmith as well) not known to harbor much hidden affection for Bush. Indeed, one of their main worries seems to be that we're so sensitive, as a nation, on this issue now that we may reject policies that are essential to preserving not only the country but ultimately it's liberal institutions (the very liberty we're concerned about).
I just wish that we were all this vigilant when it came to the narrowing and limitation of liberty done for social, cultural, or economic reasons (whether it be in the name of the environment, vastly curtailing what we can do with our land, beyond what is needed for environmental protection, or limitations of choice in the economy, or campus censorship campaigns). We apparently have internalized an attitude that increasingly accepts encroachments upon liberty for some reasons, while remaining vigilant protectors of it in other respects.
I May Have Been Wrong in my earlier prediction that Jordan wouldn't support Iraq this time around. Andrew Sullivan points to this Torygraph article on King Abdullah's bonds with Saddam Hussein.

Andrew is right that the source for this has an ax to grind. Still, it helps explain some of Abdullah's recent behavior.
Cynthia McKinney's Sept 11th Donor List is pretty telling. Check it out at Indepundit.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Another Accountancy Scandal makes the front page as a result of a brave whistle-blower, who is herself being demonized by the higher-ups playing a blame game. This time it's the European Union's funds that are poorly accounted for, leaving it open to potential fraud and abuse.
"European Opinion": We often get and notice the articles where someone presuming to (or being presented as) representing the opinion of European elites spouts off about how wrong America is and how we should take the more sophisticated advice of the EU, especially on the War on Terror, and then get all in a uproar over it. Heck, I engage in that a lot, myself.
But we should also take note of articles like this one as well, also written by a "European" (a British individual, in this case). I think we all know that there is a range of opinion over there as their is over here, and just as the "Voice of the EU" has its supporters in America, America has its supporters over there.
My Kind of Santa: Saint Nicholas with bears the sword with reason.
Knights of Malta: The Movie. This could be fun. Lets hope they do a good job. Don't need another "D&D" or something that makes a hash out of things and presents "Hollywood History" (the noble Turk and all that, the usual stock villians, etc).
Old Left, New Left, Postmodern Left, Cultural Marxist Left, Counterculture Left, Academic and Literary Left, Multiculturalist Left, whatever not much has changed since the old "Popular Front" days, when it comes to tactics, outlooks, and the like. Well, except at least some on the Old Left clove to Western Civilization more than the current batch, and wouldn't identify every hostile movement as a form of "lumpen proletarians" the way those around now seem to be acting (even if the phrase "lumpen proletariat" has gone out of vogue, replaced by other rhetorical forms).
James Woolsey's WSJ column on the potential for revolution in Iran is a must-read. If you don't get the Journal and aren't paying the fee to read it online, you can read it here. Remember, if you don't get de Journal, you don't get de news.
Biden is still what he is, but I agree with his direction here and am glad he and Senator Lugar are taking their Constitutional responsibilities seriously and holding hearings on Iraq. If we should go - and I believe we should (Iraq is a threat to us, and if you see someone building a canon in his house, as Walter Williams says, pointing it at yours, you don't have to wait until they fire to take action to prevent them), then the case can be made in the Senate.
Demogogue Dashle: I've always considered Mort Kondracke a smart and insightful guy, but yesterday on Special Report he said that Tom Dashle is a "straight shooter" (in the middle of, admittedly, criticising Dashle over comments the Senator made regarding the Torch's ethics violations).

Tom Dashle is one of the most demogogic and hypocritical blowhards in the Senate today. And that's saying a lot. Last year we had him hand-wringing over the country's fiscal woes, and on corporate welfare and politicians using their influence on behalf of corporations (come to think of it, he's done that this year as well), while, through Linda (his wife, the corporate lobbyist), enriching himself and corporations (like the airlines and Boeing) in budgetary givaways. Now he's sneaking in special exemptions for South Dakota from environmental regulations he imposes on every other state. This is a "straight shooter"?

Gads, one could do an entire "Dashlewatch" website pointing out the hypocracies, distortions, half-truths, and outright lies that fill his daily press briefings. This is only the tip of a very large iceberg, when it comes to Gilded Age Tom Dashle.

I wonder what the media reaction would be if Trent Lott's wife was a corporate lobbyist, inserting things into emergency appropriations to financially benifit her clients and theirby enrich their household by trading on his influence on the Hill.
Sensible Immigrants are effectively subverting the Census' racial classification system. Whether someone marks "decline to answer" or whatever they choose ("white", in this case, apparently) doesn't matter to me; the question has been transmogrified into use for something that is, to my mind, very un-American. The use in a racial classification and spoils system.

People effectively engaging in nullification of this and rendering it useless is a good thing that can only help in the long run.
Zimbabwe is Starving, but Mughabe's government is turning away U.S. corn because it is gengeneered. This seems more like an excuse, to me; after all, the famine in Zimbabwe is partially politically created; other African nations suffering from food shortages are taking the grain. Mughabe knows that his constituency - such as he has one - in the world consists of certain folks who will rationalize anything done by his ilk, and who are largely fanatical opponents of GM food themselves. Thus this plays to the last few people willing to defend (or at least downplay) his despotism - they can say it's all America's fault for sending gengeneered food in the first place (something they'd no doubt be happy to do). Meanwhile, Mughabe can starve his political opponents into submission.

What I'd like to ask those who may be inclined to see this as acceptable is: lets ask the people of Zimbabwe. Lable all the corn. Let those who want to refuse it, refuse it, and those who are willing to eat it, take it. Democracy and personal choice.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

A Theme Song for America's "Evil" Businessmen comes from The Simpsons, of course:
He'll sting you with his dreams of power and wealth.
Beware of Scorpio!
His twisted twin obsessions are his plot to rule the world
And his employees' health.
He'll welcome you into his lair,
Like the nobleman welcomes his guest.
With free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest!
But beware of his generous pensions,
Plus three weeks paid vacation each year,
And on Fridays the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!
He loves German beer
Economic Growth Slowed dramatically in the 2nd quarter, down from it's rapid pace in the 1st quarter. Last year's recession was actually a recession, it turns out. Economic growth was only slightly over 1% on an annualized basis in the quarter just past (see also). Still, that's growth and a far cry from claims that the economy has tanked or is being destroyed by Bush and whatnot.
I've long thoght that we're likely to "double-dip", but the economy isn't bad now. Meanwhile, Democrats are inviting Bush to repeat the mistakes of Herbert Hoover. Good thing is he isn't that stupid. But their osteperousness is one (though just one) of the reasons why we're likely to slide further. They are driven in part by the fact that the current Democrat leadership is economically philistine, and in part because even those who know better see their best oportunity to gain control of the government in renewed and redoubled economic troubles. Thus, while most sane economists realize that it's best to cut taxes in the face of a downturn, they want to curb and repeal tax cuts, and while the economic theory that has long informed Democrat policy admonishes that over-concern over deficits is counter-productive in the face of economic slowdowns, they invoke concerns over the deficit in their criticisms of Bush (but, then, he's not the driving force behind all that new spending, either, is he? Though he can rightly be admonished for his willingness to sign almost all of it. But that isn't the critique the Democrat politicos are making).
Daniel Pipes reminds us that even though some of its practitioners (or those who claim to be its practitioners) are, Islam itself is not evil. As such.
Jim Jeffords is at best mentally confused.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Left Dictator Robert Mugabe ruins Zimbabwe while the UN fiddles over Israel. Where's the promised "peer review" by Aftican nations, at least?
Speaker Gephardt? The idea has even the Economist appalled.
Traficant Out but Kanjorski (D - Pen) gets a free ride because of an "undeclared truce" between Republicans and Democrats.
GOPstrategists and party officials had been contemplating for months filing ethics charges against Kanjorski, who has steered more than $9 million in federal contracts to companies owned in part or controlled by his four nephews and daughter.

Two of the companies involved in the controversy, Cornerstone Technologies and Pennsylvania Micronics, were also at one time tenants in a building co-owned by Kanjorski. Several individuals familiar with the situation have publicly stated in news reports that Kanjorski was essentially in control of the two firms.
Telling. I guess Traficant's main crime is that he became a liability to everyone on both sides of the isle (except Gary Condit).

Update: Traficant gets eight years. Kanjorski will probably go back to the other "big house", and get re-elected.
Lou Rukeyser Stikes Back. Good for him, is all I can say. PBS brings back a tired old relic, a pretend thinking man's pretend thinking man like Bill Moyers, but has no room for Rukeyser?
Well, come to think of it, CNBC also started airing an hour long program by a old relic pretend thinking man, too. So few parades for them. But at least they gave Rukeyser his props.
Progressive Jewish Patriots feeling conflicted. Oh-oh. If this keeps up, they might become a new wave of that most dispicable sort of person, the nefarious Neo-Con Devil.
Being a bit facetious here, but over the past week or so I've exposed myself, again, to the writings of those who consider Neo-Cons some sort of devil, worse even than their former comrades who remained on the Left. Satire is one way of dealing with that.
So We're Told the Economy is in the Tubes, right? Well, productivity is soaring at an explosive, almost unbelievable rate. This is actually fairly common in recessions (dead wood is the first to get fired, often), but we're out of the recession and have posted decent growth rates the first half of this year.
The Reason Why Joe Liberman has delayed the hearings, anounced with great fanfair last spring (or was it winter? My how time passes) is because it was obvious even then that if such hearings were actually held, it would turn out that prominent Democrats, to at least as great a degree if not more, were involved in influence peddling on behalf of Enron. Democrats like Robert Rubin. If that happened, the ability to get partisan advantage on this issue would have been spoiled for the Democrats.
So the Senate Democrats decided to let their willing accomplices in the media carry the water on this issue. In such a venue, the Republicans don't have the power to subpoena witnesses, like they would in an official Senate hearing. So the whole thing can get largely buried, only heard on Conservative media (various talk radio programs) and interested blogs; venues that the vast majority of people that the Dems are out to influence for the upcomming elections (their own partisans are in the bag, right-wingers aren't available to them, but the mushy middle that pays little attention to politics - comparitively little - and forms a large plurality of the swing vote - can be manipulated by stories that elide over information on this in the interest of pinning all the blame on Republicans and portraying Democrats as the solution, rather than a significant part of the cause, of the problems that began during the Clinton administration, under the watch of Robert Rubin among others, and have been exposed under the Bush administration). It's gotten so bad and so obvious that venues like Fox News' Special Report can take specific notice of the fact that they're one of the very few TV news shows that have even discussed the Rubin-Enron connection. And even there, the pannel (especially Mara Liasson and Mort Kondracke) spent much of their time praising Rubin and saying he should be asked not about what he did, but what his solution would be for the market's woes. Woes he contributed to causing; but he's still "deified" (to use a word the pannelists used) in the big press.
Politically Motivated Audits by the Clinton Administration have long been suspected (because of an obvious pattern where organizations and individuals that were "Clinton-haters" got audited, while friends and allies got a pass. Just another way in which Slick Willie resembled Tricky Dick), may have been proven. Link via Instapundit, natch.
Declaration of European Independence had to be made by an American, because, as Glenn Reynolds points out, Europe, like a teenager still living at home, loves to mooch off dad in a state of dependency while loudly asserting its independence and kvetching about how dumb and heavy handed dad is.
Still, the Buchannan wing of the Right would love the same situation Reynolds mentions as his "ideal situation" - we stay home and let someone else do it. I think I heard that as the motto of a political campaign once ("Can't someone else do it?"). Some guy was running for Garbage Commisioner. Had a catchy campaign theme song, at least.
Only difference is I think Glenn was being a bit facetious, while the Buchannanites think that's America's God-given right, and they consider it a betrayal of Divine Will to not have that situation. Not too different from the EUnuchs on that score, at least.
Personally, my opinion of the EU ("Europe" as opposed to, say, "Germany" or "Italy" or "England") is more influenced by a British friend than by either Glenn or Victor Hanson - folks like those just re-enforce an opinion of the EU project I have based on information I've gotten from Europeans themselves (both those who defend the project and those who are appalled by it, such as the aforementioned friend).

Monday, July 29, 2002

Learned My Lesson Well: Kevin Cherry reviews Bruce Springsteen's latest album.

Anyhow, learned my lesson well - I'm not going to delve too deep into this one. Not that my reactions are anything but positive this time, in any case. (Well, ok; one. I can't help myself. To review the reviewer, who says that the combination of downbeat lyrics with upbeat rhythms is a "mistake", it is probably deliberate and is done for a reason in every case. The reviewer may not aesthetically like it or think it works, but it's not necessarily an error or mistake to attempt such a juxtapositioning).
George McGovern, former Social Democrat and Peace Party candidate for President, has had it up to his kiester with airport security (link requires running through the maze and clicking the button to get a pellet).

Oh, I guess he was nominated by the Democrat party, too, after they became a subsidiary of the New Left.
Saddam Out and then peace, says an LA Times editorial.
So in Other Words, No Change the Guardian has a screed warning of internal conflicts between various members of the extended Saud family, and that it's possible that pro-al-Queda and pro-Radical Islamists are trying to take charge.
Given all we know about the House of Saud's activities already, the only thing that might happen is that this gang might be more forthright about their support of said activities than the current disingenuous bunch. Seems more like they're squabbling over the details of how to impliment a policy of support for these movements the essentials of which both parties in the dispute share. It's also probably more than a little bit about internal Saud family politics and who gets to be in the "in group" than anything, and these things are the pretexts for the dispute.
from a certain perspective, as Glenn Reynolds points out, it'd be better to have those who insisted upon being honest about their hostility in charge of things instead of those who pretend to be friends of the West but sponsor, support, fund, and provide the ideological and religious underpinnings (and fund the spread of those beliefs) for the radical islamist movement in charge.
McVeiy - Atta - Moussaoui connections explored in LA Weekly.
Probably Back to Bloggin my ass off tommorrow.
While I'm Fishin', if you're looking for a good rant, Norwegian Blogger has a fine one.
Nothing to Declare: It's looking like it'll be a slow blog day here at Ranting Screeds, unless I get inspired or something happens. I really don't want something to happen that would cause me to blog, because such somethings are usually bad. (What a lame post this is turning out to be, eh? You came all this way - some of you perhaps reading this from Finland, others perhaps Norway, etc - using the best technology modern civilization can provide to read this crap? Well, ok; what about all those times when you've waded through a mountain of fecal matter, of which the author didn't even have the courtesy to say "you know, this is a waste of your time", because he - or she - thinks she's saying something profound, when they're just filling up valuable server space that could otherwise be used to store porn or something else more valuable? These are the kinds of things one should ponder when they're reading some guy opining to the effect that Israel should obviously have known of some way to fight a war where the leaders of the militant wing of the other side like to hang out in densely populated civil areas - surrounded by people who know doubt are not as oblivious to the fact that their neighbor is such a man as either they or the opiner want you to believe - without any errors of judgement or mistakes - when you know that, heck, people, being people, can't even put on air shows without the occasional unintentional disaster that caused more deaths, and this among people who don't use "you go past the house of the leader of Hamas' military wing and turn left" when they're giving local directions in their neighborhood. After pondering that realization momentarily, you suddenly think "hey, I wonder why none - or virtually none - of these guys express nearly as much outrage or ger half as exorsised when tens or hundreds more non-combatants are killed by, say, the government of Sudan as part of a deliberate and concious policy - or even know the name of Sudan's ruler the way they know Sharon is a butcher, or mention at all the people killed in Kashmir, or Myanmar. Or the millions being starved as a result of the concious policies of the government of North Korea, or China's execution of people in Tibet, or - well the list is endless). You realize that these people either can't see the distinction between mistake, accident, and the vagaries of warfare on the one hand and deliberate, concious strategy on the other. Either that or they willfully conflate the two, for one ideological reason or another. In any case, it comes to you that you're reading the thoughts (such as they are), opinions, and words of a cretin.
So you read it here, first: some posts are lame, and sometimes a blogger shouldn't post if he hasn't got anything intelligent and thoughtful to say.