Logomachon






Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words

 

   
  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.

   
   
   
 

2004-03-05
 

That's the way you do it

That's the way you do it


You've heard of the "controversy" about the new Bush/Cheney TV ads. "WTC survivors" are all over the press with complaints about the use of a couple of fleeting images of the post-collapse rescue efforts at the WTC. Well, see John Hawkin's item--no, make that scoop--at Right Wing News: 9/11 Family Members With Axes To Grind.

From the early reports you would think the families were all horrified by the Bush ads. It turns out that this is another instance of the malcontent-with-a fax-machine phenomenon. Five of the outraged have gone public with gripes against George Bush in the past couple of years, two work for a union that endorsed Kerry, and one of those two campaigned for Kerry. That's the way you dig behind the processed news, and I wish I had done it.

I have only two things to add to Hawkin's fine job. First, this is a typical PR tactic of the Left. The more trivial the complaint, and the more you make the offense one of taste and emotion while still implying that some moral stricture has been breached, the harder it is to make a defense, especially if you believe that facts and logic matter and humility is a virtue. One has to deconstruct the charges to show how silly they are, and that is tough in a TV sound-bite. I say silly advisedly. One of the outraged complained in Salon that Bush is "an action hero" who "when this country was under attack . . . was drinking milk and eating cookies with second graders". What did I say about facts and logic?

Second, Bush really came into his own with his leadership in response to Islamic terrorism, specifically when he grabbed a megaphone to express solidarity with the rescue workers a few days after the bombings. It really is fiendishly clever to try to claim exclusive use of that story and to hobble Bush's legitimate attempts to remind us of the strengths his record.

The report on tonight's ATC on NPR included opposing statements, some analysis of the denial-of-use ploy, and an inkling--nothing more--of the outrageds' less than pristine motives.

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2004-03-04
 

If Bush had been drinking on election night

On Wednesday, I heard JFKy's campaign manager say that they hadn't gotten to count all of Florida's votes in 2000. If you believe that, then maybe you'll believe this.

If Bush had been drinking on election night



In the hotel suite's parlor, Vice President Al Gore paced back and forth behind the sofa. "SON OF BITCH", he muttered monotonously. "SON OF A BITCH, SON OF A BITCH". He stopped and looked over the heads of his family and staff at a cluster of television sets. George Bush's lead in Florida had topped 50,000, and the networks and the New York Times had given Florida and the election to Bush. "Bush is tearing up the pea patch", boomed Dan Rather. "Smelling salts for all Democrats, please."

Gore felt in the pockets of his rumpled, relaxed-fit Dockers. They felt tighter than hot Spandex on a sandy beach. Damn. That Rather blather was starting to get to him.
"TIPPER", he said. "GIVE ME A CIGARETTE."
"But Al", she cried, "haven't you had enough? Look at your sweater." Gore brushed ashes from the soft, muted brown and green knit of his knubbly sweater. "What would Naomi say? And what about the Kyoto treaty?"
"TIPPER", he honked emphatically, "I DO NOT WANT TO FIGHT YOU FOR A LITTLE TOBACCO".

"Mr. Vice President!" Bill Daley interrupted softly but firmly. "I think you ought to call Governor Bush."
"DO YOU THINK SO, BILL?" Gore countered. "MAYBE THE NETWORKS WILL CHANGE THEIR MINDS AGAIN."
"I don't think they could be that wrong twice in one night", replied Daley.
"I SUPPOSE SO", said Gore. "YOU SET UP THE CALL WHILE I CHANGE."

The Vice President was standing in his shirttails, tying a soft red tie under the collar of a fresh white shirt when Daley walked in and handed him a cell phone. "They're ringing the governor's room now."
After a few rings, a man answered, "Y'ellow."
"THIS IS VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE", Gore began. "I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO GOVERNOR BUSH ..." The voice had not stopped. "Yellow", it sang. "Yellow roshe of Texshash, that Ah am go'n' ta see..."
"I WOULD LIKE TO. . . GOVERNOR BUSH? IS THAT YOU? THIS IS AL GORE."
"Yes, shir, Mr. Vishe President. I know why you're callin'. You couldn' wait."
"WELL", began the Vice President. He could feel his adenoids starting to control his timbre. "IT DID NOT SEEM TO ME THAT ANY DELAY WAS INDICATED. THE VOTERS HAVE SPOKEN."
"The votersh? The. Vo. Tersh. HELL!" said Bush. "Y' mean yor' lily-livered cheatin' liberal friends at the networks, you lyin', running-iron, dry hole heifer humper. Declaring you the winner in Florida before the polls closed. An' you can't even wait f' me to call you. You have no more hair on yor' ash than a bonfire in a coonskin cap. If it weren't for the memory of Davy Crockett, I'd have the Texash Air National Guard fly a training mission right up the Chattanooga Choo-choo."

"GOVERNOR, GOVERNOR, PLEASE" persisted Gore. "THERE IS NO NEED TO GET SNIPPY ABOUT IT."
"Shnippy...bippy...damn shkippy", chanted Bush slowly. "I'll bet you ushed to remin' th' teacher to give homework. We had a kid like you at An'over. A prissy little, tight-assed, pissant, goody-goody. We put a firecracker down his pet frog's throat. He looked like Tom Brokaw with frog omelet all over his face..."
Gore flinched under the impact of a flood of painful emotion: partly horrified sympathy for the many species of Ranidae mysteriously threatened by computer simulations of global warming, but mostly the memory of the fate of his beloved Skippy so long ago at Saint Alban's. His pain turned to indignation and anger as he heard the Texas Governor continuing.

"...Ah won' say anything yet. Jeb says the Florida votes are there. It's not over till the fat lady sings."
"LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, YOU... YOU ...LAME-BRAINED N-N-NOTHING", bellowed Gore. "YOUR YOUNGER BROTHER IS NOT THE CONTROLLING LEGAL AUTHORITY IN THIS MATTER. I WILL FIGHT...."
"He's the freakin' governor, you asshole", Bush interrupted. "And his daddy di'n't have to twist his arm to get him there."

The line went dead. Daley came in from the extension where he had been listening. "Wow", he said. "Bush was tighter than the lug nuts on a '57 Chevy." Gore nodded, but as he finished dressing, he couldn't help remarking how under stress Bush's voice had moved smoothly and comfortably down the spectrum from Andover toward his West Texas drawl. His native Foghorn Leghorn accent kept irrupting rudely through the brittle veneer of tight Eastern phonemes.

As Gore left the room to drive to War Memorial Plaza, Dan Rather was eerily declaring "If a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a hand gun".

At the plaza, campaign field director Michael Whouley met the motorcade. "It's turning around. It's turning around", he almost jabbered. "Florida is hotter than a three-alarm fire in downtown Hell. You can't concede. You're just tearing up the pea patch."
"BUT I HAVE ALREADY CALLED BUSH TO EXTEND MY CONGRATULATIONS", said Gore.
"You'll have to call him back and retract", said Daley.

A Bush aide answered this time and called the governor to the telephone. The Vice President heard an off-mike "Jes' a mo'". As he waited, he heard voices away from the hand set.
"'Al-and-Tipper' again, Laurie? How about some DWL-Deep 'W' Love?" There was a brief feminine chuckle, like Tipper used to make when Karenna brought home a bag of Tootsie Rolls at Halloween. Then a moment of rustling, then a brief silence broken first by a woman's umh, umh, umh, then by a baritone sing-song-mmm-mm, mmm-mm, mmm.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Vice President. Wha', wha', whew, what can I do for you?"
"GOVERNOR, SINCE I SPOKE TO YOU AN HOUR AGO, THERE HAS BEEN AN ALTERATION IN THE SITUATION", began Gore. "I BELIEVE THE CHANGE MAKES MY PREVIOUS STATEMENT INOPERATIVE. IT IS THEREFORE IMPERATIVE THAT I RETRACT IT."
"You mean t' tell me, Mr. Vishe President, you're conceding your demand f' my retraction?"
"NO, NO. I NEVER SAID THAT. WHAT I AM SAYING IS..."
"Well, are you flip-flopping, or denying, or not?"
Gore took a deep breath. "WHAT I AM SAYING IS, INASMUCH AS I AM RETRACTING..."
"You're flip-flopping and not flip-flopping. Is thish the same medication you ushed for the second debate?"
"I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT I AM NOT GOING TO CONCEDE THE ELECTION TO YOU."
"I'm not a lawyer, Mr. Vice President, but I don't think the Constitution requires me to be President to have your permission", said Bush. "Now, I may be hollerin' down a rain barrel, but I don't know whether to wind the watch or bark at the moon. Let's just leave it that we have different philosophies."

Gore listened to the hum of a broken connection.
"Al", said Daley, "Al, it's looking better all the time. People are complaining about the ballots in Florida, and we can say voting irregularities hurt us. Don't bet the trailer money yet, but I think you're sitting in the catbird seat."

Gore looked at him.
Skippy, he thought.
Maybe if Skippy had had a handgun.

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2004-03-03
 

"...you, sir, are no war hero"

"...you, sir, are no war hero"



Jay Bryant at Townhall.com reprints a letter from one of John Kerry's constituants, Glenn Lackey, a retired Army colonel and veteran of Vietnam (1968-69), Somalia, and the Gulf War. Lackey points out that Kerry spoke as an authority on conditions all over Vietnam after four months on a narrow section of river. Then he summarizes Kerry's slander:
I have children, and my children have children. They will, perhaps, stumble upon your words, much as one might stumble upon a pile of dog droppings. I do not relish the thought of having to explain that your "experiences" are either a bald-faced lie, or you belong to that less-than-1% of Viet Nam veterans who committed war crimes/atrocities.

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JFKy as Treebeard

JFKy as Treebeard



Insults Unpunished is sponsoring a PhotoShop contest on John Kerry's resemblance to Treebeard (sort of unfair to Treebeard; he didn't come back from destroying Saruman's fortress to denounce his fellow Ents for war crimes).
For a sample entry, see Fotoslop.
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2004-03-02
 

In California, the state separates the Church from, uh, itself

In California, the state separates the Church from, uh, itself



2. Marxism and Islam claim their sacred text is a complete blueprint that conflates the public and private orders, and both create totalitarian states in order to realize the perfect society on earth. --WW IV: Seven ontological similarities between Islam and Marxism

California Supreme Court has ruled 6-1 that Catholic Charities must offer its employees prescription contraception as part of their health insurance plan. This decision highlights just about everything that is wrong with this society, except maybe broadcast/cable TV and rap music.

The key point of the ruling is that Catholic Charities is "not a religious employer", which would make it exempt from state requirements for employer insurance plans. Instead, as AP reported , CC is secular

because it offers such secular services as counseling, low-income housing and immigration services to people of all faiths, without directly preaching Catholic values. . . .
In fact, Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote that a "significant majority" of the people served by the charity are not Catholic. The court also noted that the charity employs workers of differing religions.

The ACLU "applauded the ruling and called it 'a great victory for California women and reproductive freedom'". The ACLU's version of the First Amendment separates church and state in only one direction. The state must be religion-free even to the point of hostility to religion, but it can intrude on church affairs to define the social scope of the church's mission. When a church creates an agency to put its teachings into practice without explicit "God talk", then it's being insufficiently religious. If it does preach and proselytize (crucifixes on the wall) then it cannot act with the state in pursuit of a common goal.

You would think that if the welfare-statists really had helping people foremost in mind, they would welcome strong and resourceful partners, and even leave the field to them when possible. But no. The welfare-statists are not motivated by charity. They are ideologues, Marxist at root, and their first interest is to subdue any competing source of righteousness and moral guidance.

The statists consider all social welfare--which is to say all provision of benefits that they can manipulate to bring us under their control--to be exclusively a state prerogative. They resist bitterly and lethally any intrusion into that sphere by independent, private agents. This decision demonstrates that behind the soft, sentimental face of the welfare state is the socialist longing for the police state: the police powers collect the taxes and the police keep any free competition under control.

The case also demonstrates that socialism is a substitute religion, and a particularly nasty, totalist kind of religion, that makes no allowance for free will. Like Islam, socialists claim their sacred texts are a complete blueprint for living. They make no distinction between the public and private orders, and they both create totalitarian states in the process of affirming their own righteousness. No wonder liberals are always going on about how rigid and authoritarian and oppressive the Church is. They always clear their consciences by projecting their guilt upon their opponents.

As my sister, the recovering lawyer, says, a complicating factor "with Catholic Charities is that they take Caesar's coin big time". CC might not survive cutting the juncture with government funding; certainly it would not be Catholic Charities as we know it.

But there is another systemic imbecility evident here, namely, employer health insurance (which is really not insurance but prepaid medical services). Catholic Charities could cut this Gordian knot with advantages all around. It could take the money it spends on premiums and give its employees a raise&emdash;a big raise. Then it could offer medical savings accounts and sponsor group catastrophic insurance with a large deductible option.

This course would give employees control of their health care dollars and remove one of the hooks the statists like to plant in private sector institutions.

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2004-03-01
 

The Sophistical Serpent

The Sophistical Serpent



I doubt that politics in our present age in the US is uniquely nasty. The Greeks had a word for sophistry because they had sophists, and before that the people who composed Genesis 3:1-5 made the Serpent a sophist, who changes the issue from what did God command to what was God's motivation.

But to heck with taking the long view. It isn't just that activists and zealots will say anything to gain the moral high ground. Ordinary leftists don't seem to live in the same world I do.

The 26 Feb WSJ (p. A11) printed two letters that accused the Journal and its writers of inconsistency and thick-headedness, if not outright dishonesty. These letters show why our political discourse seems so rancorous and ineffectual.

First, Mike Dalen, the noted Public Censor of Birmingham, lets the Journal know that he is keeping track of their self-serving field switching:
In response to Daniel Henninger's Feb. 20 Wonder Land: "Why Do Democrats Call George Bush a Liar?":
I don't recall a similar editorial when The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Republicans were dismantling and demolishing President Clinton. Why now and not then?

What Bill Clinton did was never very much in doubt, nor that he was lying about it. The whole thing ballooned because he persisted in his lies. Leave aside all the money scandals. He could have declined to contest Paula Jones' sexual harassment complaint and settled out of court for $80,000 instead of ten times as much. If he had, he would never have had to perjure himself regarding Monica.

Henninger's op-ed column is on to something else. He scolds the Democrats for endangering the Republic by insisting that Bush lied even as headlines show that he has been right about Iraq. But Dalen is not to be stopped. By cleverly comparing apples to oranges, he shows that the Journal has been inconsistent.

A few inches away on the same page, Mr. Howard Dupuis indulges his avocation as a part-time journalism professor by calling the Journal's editors to order on the fundamentals of their craft:
In reaction to your Feb. 20 editorial "The Novak Exception": You've missed the point: Plenty of journalists know many things-the identities of CIA agents, for example-that they don't print. In the extreme, no reporter would write a story about troop movements during a war. This is basic, obvious stuff to most folk, not some conservative-vs.-liberal deal. Bob Novak's guilt lies in violating that fundamental Journalism 101 teaching.

Serious stuff, except that, as the editorial pointed out, Novak had checked with the CIA and had been told that naming Valerie Plame as a CIA employee was not a problem. Mr. Dupuis must have missed that point.

In both these letters, we see leftists using the same rhetorical tactic. Henninger and the editorial make factual statements that need to be addressed and disproved. But our perspicacious pairing disdains the humdrum marshalling of evidence to challenge those statements: Clinton lied, Iraq was trying to build WMD, and Novak's revelation was scarcely a breach of security. Instead, they charge that the Journal is inconsistent and that Novak violated journalistic ethics, charges that would make sense only if they had established a different version of the facts.

It would be easy to lay this rush to judgment to distracting tactics, or perhaps just to inadvertent circular reasoning. The truth may be sadder. Look at Dalen's reference to "dismantling and demolishing President Clinton". Hunh? It is as though they don't just brush aside facts, but are in a world where the facts are different.
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2004-02-29
 

Kerry for President

Kerry for President



A couple of good anti-John Kerry for President items on the Web:
Freeper is sponsoring www.wintersoldier.com and Useful Fools has a link to this Kerry campaign ad parody (turn your sound on).

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