||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.
I'll be away from blogging for a couple of days, while I am at the Right to Life March in Washington, D.C.
"Endless Party": The internal contradictions of liberalism
After one of the most ideological campaigns in memory, the Democrat current wisdom is somehow congealing into “the party had no message”. William Voegeli analyzes the party’s electoral problems in the Claremont Review of Books and concludes that the Democrats’ stumbling block is the empty core of liberalism (hat tip to Powerline).
That emptiness has long been a target of conservatives. Curiously, liberalism’s emptiness is indicated by its inability to specify goals. Bill Buckley once made a complaint to the effect that liberals talk about the “Great Society” but can’t tell you how you’ll know when you’ve got there. The result is what Voegeli calls “The Endless Party”. Voegeli shows how since the New Deal the liberal program has had no goal other than “progress” and the expansion of government in its pursuit:
. . . most people would consider securing "abundance and liberty for all," ending poverty and achieving racial justice, a pretty good day's work. For LBJ it was, astoundingly, "just the beginning."There was a further problem. Even New Deal liberals recognized that Americans might at some point consider they had done “a pretty good day’s work” and get too comfortable with all the progress they had made. But liberals are stopped from prescribing a cure for this “spiritual unemployment” by their conviction—following John Stuart Mill—that there is no prescription for the good life. The best they could do was say “that we should
all live however we want, constrained only by the need to choose a “lifestyle” that does not interfere with anyone else's living the way he wants to live“But they have never been content to leave it at that”, Voegeli points out with relish.
The social critic inside every liberal cannot resist berating other people's unsatisfactory lifestyles . . . . Fifty years ago this scorn was directed at suburban split-levels. Today the target is evangelical churches. Meanwhile, the social worker inside every liberal cannot resist treating these unfortunate lifestyle choices as problems to be solved.Liberals’ relativism combined with their constant carping about non-liberals’ failure to measure up to a shifting standard of perfection reveals the emptiness at liberalism’s core, as it balloons with no limit on either direction or range. As a political philosophy, it is a prescription for tyranny.
If the Democrats think the “big question” is “What do the Democrats stand for?”, Voegeli says, then there is a “better and bigger question still: What do the Democrats stand against?”
Voegeli leaves it at that. I think the answer is that not having an answer is an unalienable part of liberalism. As Voegeli describes, liberals have no concept of the Good other than constant “progress” that leads to ever more “progress”. This scrawny ethic is typified by Bill Clinton’s frequent inanity “that character is ‘a journey, not a destination’", never mind that
to leave home without a destination, convinced that the very idea of a destination is arbitrary and false, is to embark on a "journey" that will be no different from just wandering around.Yet liberals, like all of us, want to feel justified, and consequently they prove their virtue by living the only good life they know: being committed to “progressive” causes. Unprogressive things, preeminently Republicans, as they imagine Republicans to be, are about the only things liberals can be against. Liberals' virtue lies in their liberalism; to put limits on that would make them little better than Republicans.
Hence liberals’ repeated assertions that the Republican political ascendancy means not just a slowing of movement “forward”, but the ineluctable onset of the mean-spirited dystopia described recently by Garrison Keillor:
In the new privatized low-tax minimal-services society the Republicans are striving to lay on us, public transportation will offer no pleasure whatsoever. The bus will be for losers and dopes . . . full of angry and sullen people who have lost hope that their kids can rise in the world and have a better life, which is the hope that makes it possible for me to turn to you and say something about the weather ]. . .
Now,that’s something any Democrat can be against.
In Republican America, you will not enjoy public life, period. The public library . . . will become a waiting room for desperate and broken people, the alkies, the whacked-out, the unemployables . . . the public schools will become holding tanks for children whose parents were too unresourceful to find good schools for them . . . politics will be so ugly and rancid that decent people will avoid expressing an opinion for fear of being screeched at and hectored and spat on. [Homegrown Democrat more…]
Is this really a problem?
The comments to my post on sex-linked aptitude for math and academic achievement have some more information.
Most complaints about unfair representation contain the unspoken premises that any two demographic segments should match on some arbitrary characteristic and not matching is a problem needing a remedy.
Unfortunately, Laura Bush seems to have fallen into this easy but questionable assumption. In the 16 January issue of Parade magazine ("We Need To Pay More Attention To Boys", available on line on 23 January), she announces that one of her second term priorities is to help troubled boys. One indication that there is trouble in River City is that boys now go to college at a lower rate than girls.
So what ]. This doesn’t rate a J’accuse Ass (and if it did, Mrs. Bush would get a couple of passes any way, because . . . well, just because), but it really is questionable. Two minutes ago the crisis of the day was that fewer women than men went to college. Isn’t anyone around here capable of declaring victory]
Is this a problem? Can’t there be any smart reasons that guys might be less inclined to go to college than girls? H’mmm.
The difference in rates of getting college degrees is recent and fairly impressive:
- Girls have greater verbal aptitudes and college emphasizes those. So does high school, so guys have less success in school and develop less interest in pursuing those kinds of activities in college.
- The gender gap favoring women showed up first among blacks (1980 vs. 1994 for the general population); the disincentives probably fall more heavily on black males
- While overall, education correlates to higher life-time earnings, guys have opportunities to make a good living, doing things they are good at (e.g., in the skilled construction and service trades). Girls are far less likely to be interested in jobs involving using tools, smelly and noisy things (don’t get me going on babies), and muscling stuff around. That’s a bonus for the guys; it’s a much more congenial environment when there are not a lot of nattering, whiney women around.
- And the greater earnings data don’t support the conclusion that college is the cause. People get paid more for doing more valuable tasks. The correlation with education may simply be the result of credentialism. Employers can get people with degrees to do certain jobs, so they use the degree as a screening factor, as a proxy or substitute for thing they really want to know but which are hard to measure.
- College standards have dropped in the past two generations. Women get degrees and associate degrees so they can be admin assistants rather than secretaries.
That a degree is really necessary for a lot of jobs where it is the norm needs to be proven. Especially when college freshmen and sophomores are often covering material that high school seniors covered a couple of generations ago.
About 42 percent of women in [the 25-34] age cohort have a college degree . . . compared with less than 36 percent of men. According to the Census Bureau report, this gender gap in higher education did not exist 10 years ago.However, concluding that it is a problem and that the problem is that too few boys go to college is premature.
"Blue state", schmoo state--they're still Reds
Varifrank says “My absolute favorite thing about today’s political world is how the right has stolen the color red from the left.” He shows a purveyor of “count me blue” bracelets (she also sells “count me red” bracelets.
I’m going to demur on a couple of counts.
First, I’m not sure that this country needs any more of this in your face, I-can’t-let- the-election-go attitude. People took down their yard signs on 3 November. Most took off their partisan lapel pins, except for some pro-Kerry dorks who still have them on their shoulder bag straps. Bumper stickers fade and are not lamented. I’m all for divisiveness when it serves a purpose or is the result of some productive effort. I don’t want to move-on if the issue hasn’t been settled.
But this issue has been settled. Time to continue the fight on the new ground. The only good thing about declaring yourself “blue” is that you can’t dismiss anyone who expresses a non-liberal opinion as “ideological”.
Second, as for Varifrank's glee, the right did not steal red from the left. It was the other way around. In 2000, the networks suddenly began coding their electoral maps red for Republicans and blue for Democrats. (Yet another manifestation of Logomachon's Law: If you want to know what the Democrats are up to, look at what they are accusing you of doing.)
Maybe the explanation got lost in the hanging chad kerfuffle, but I doubt it. For one thing, there are too many explanations. The thing is overdetermined.
Maybe the MSM, with reflexive ant-McCarthyism, couldn’t bear to call the Democrats “red”. Sounds good to me, especially after reading this gout of question-begging squid smog.
If you want to, you can believe the NYT editor who said it was because "Both Republican and red start with the letter R". If you want to.
I prefer to think liberalism, having become in 1992 the political creed that cannot speak its own name, had in 2000 reached the point that it can no longer show its true colors.
Third, I want blue back.
Why can't these broads think straight?
|J'accuse Ass is an irregular department. It recognizes a public accusation, complaint, insinuation, alarm, or whining notable for its arrogance, irrelevance, spite, stridency, obtuseness, or mendacity.
Harvard Chief Sends Roses to Fainting Female Prof
That’s not Scrappleface making up the quotation. She actually said that.
by Scott Ott
(2005-01-18) -- Harvard University President Lawrence Summers today sent a dozen roses to MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins after she nearly fainted last week during Mr. Summers' remarks about potential biological differences between the sexes which might explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers.
Ms. Hopkins told The New York Times, "When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe."
What gets Logomachon’s goat is a later remark by Hopkins. Summers said that the reasons for the preponderance of men at the top levels of math, science, and engineering in academia needed to be studied. He mentioned factors, other than discrimination, that might keep some women scientists from the top ranks at the top-ranked schools, including that “top positions on university math and engineering faculties require extraordinary commitments of time and energy, with many professors working 80-hour weeks”, like lawyers, bankers, and business executives. Whereupon Dr. Hopkins had to withdraw to regain her composure.
Later, the fair professor revealed that her episode of the vapors was caused by bad logic.
I didn't disagree, but didn't like the way he presented that point because I like to work 80 hours a week, and I know a lot of women who work that hard.This is like objecting to the statement that “men are bigger and stronger than women”, because we can all make up from among our acquaintance half-a-dozen male-female pairs in which the woman could kick the guy’s butt. Contrary individual examples are utterly irrelevant to general statements about a class, especially when the statement concerns the distribution of a characteristic? Such statistical statements contain all the exceptions in them already.
Hopkins must know this. She’s a geneticist, so she must be familiar with population distributions.
The sophistry of Hopkins' remark goes beyond a mere whiney fallacy. Hopkins offered herself as a counter-example (and the NYT let her). But she isn’t.
Summers coupled his remark about high work loads with the observation that “few married women with children are willing to accept such sacrifices”. This idea is so uncontroversial that it has its own name and the feminists have demanded remedial measures: the Mommy Track. The mommy way has not been the Hopkins way. In what must have been a busy year, in 1973 she got her Ph.D. in biology from Harvard, joined the faculty at MIT, and divorced her husband. She never remarried, and her 80-hour weeks failed to win her the professional distinction she thought she deserved, despite switching her area of research. She finally made her mark by becoming an activist in the workplace discrimination/pay equity community.
My headline, by the way, is facetious. Dr. Hopkins was the only person to be flustered by the mention of a sex-linked genetic component to achievement math and science. The NYT article quotes several women scientists who challenged Summers on the basis of evidence or understood perfectly the kind of statistical comparison he was making and that he was calling for more research.
Bishops Sue for "First Amendment" Rights
(Howling Ether News Service, Washington, D.C.) The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has filed suit in Federal District Court to force the government to abide by the First Amendment’s “freedom of religion” clause.
The bishops' lawyer, Eustachian Hazmat, described the action as “an attempt to have the third most ignored clause in the Bill of Rights given the recognition it deserves”. Hazmat charged that government at all levels, especially the courts, was ignoring the “plain intent of the proscription that ‘Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion”.
In their suit, the bishops say the Constitution requires the courts to dismiss out of hand suits to "remove prayer or references to God or religion" from "government building, documents, proclamations, and ceremonies". Suits like those of atheist Michael Newdow to change the Pledge of Allegiance and to block the inclusion of prayer and the Bible in Presidential inauguration ceremonies, said Hazmat, “ask the courts to act in a way that is prima facie unconstitutional”.
(The “religion clause” of the First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”.)
“Secular activists like atheists and the ACLU claim they are keeping government from establishing religion”, continued Hazmat, “but that is irrelevant to the First Amendment.
“The ‘establishment’ phrase that the secularists depend on is moot, since there hasn’t been an establishment of religion in the United States in 150 years”, he claimed. “That means that there is no basis for rulings that citizens must refrain from any religious expression in the conduct of their civic life, or any activity touched by the state. Such suits are just attempts to turn the people’s government into a vast wet blanket smothering religion in America.
“That sounds like a ‘hostile environment’ to me”, Hazmat asserted.
“What’s next?”, he asked rhetorically. “Banning rosaries and St. Christopher medals from rear view mirrors because the driver is licensed and the vehicle is registered by the state? At the very least, I should think you would have to remove them during the annual state inspection.”
The Anti-Christian Litigation Unit and the People against the American Way announced that they would file petitions to have the suit thrown out.
“This is desperate attempt to turn back the clock”, said Maurice Borkmeister of the ACLU. “We aren’t going to just sit this one out. Not after 50 years fighting the forces of mediaeval religious repression to ensure that seekers and skeptics can go anywhere they want with no risk of being reminded that some people still believe in God.”
Borkmeister scoffed at Hazmat’s reading of “free expression”.
“Look”, he said. “We have dozens of rulings on ‘free expression’ in arts and sex cases—and art and sex aren’t even mentioned in the Constitution. It’s a settled matter! ‘Free expression’ means you can coat yourself with Ovaltine and dance naked at the Super Bowl halftime show. It means that guys can wear nun costumes and commit gay acts during Communion at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.”
“But”, he added, “it doesn’t mean the Founders meant to allow religious symbols or religious expression on public property, unless they are covered with excrement. And even if they did, our developing understanding of the living Constitution has developed beyond that.”
Borkmeister added “Only a fanatical religious ideologue would suggest anything different.”
Borkmeister rejected the idea that there is any freedom of speech issue. “They’re completely different, speech and religion. I mean, we all know what speech is. I’m speaking now. It doesn’t have anything to do with prayers or other mumbo-jumbo and rigid, empty rituals.
“Speech and religion are even dealt with in separate parts of the Amendment”, he said.
“Religion is a profoundly personal and private experience”, Borkmeister went on, “and it should be kept personal, behind closed doors, the way we used to deal with sex, which is a profoundly personal experience on whose expression—public or private—the government cannot place any restrictions”.
Borkmeister was asked a hypothetical question: If a public school administration should ban a painting from a student art show on “establishment” grounds if it portrayed the Prophet Muhammad eating a pork chop with a Christmas tree stuck in his anus. Borkmeister dismissed the question as “hypothetical”. He went on the characterize it as “the sort of divisive, insensitive exaggeration that right-wingers always use to frighten people.
“The next thing you know”, he continued, “the town council wants to engrave Ann Coulter’s post-9/11 column in letters of flaming gold on the walls of the National Guard armory.”
(Coulter, a controversial right-wing syndicated columnist, wrote of the mostly Islamic background of the 9/11 hijackers: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity!”)
Howling Ether News Service—When you can’t find it anywhere else, it’s in the Howling Ether.
Turn Blue Day
Someone new to me (via The Anchoress) has a great idea for a counter-inaugural demonstration. Jim at The Sundries Shack proposes Hold Your Breath and Turn Blue Day!
Here’s how it works. On the day of the inauguration, find the nearest person to you who voted for the President. Once you get their attention, start holding your breath until you turn blue and pass out.
See, that’ll reinforce your “blue” image while showing them that you possess the sort of political maturity it takes to stage a protest that gets results!
And when the paramedics get there to check on you, you can tell them just how horrible things are for them since Bush isn’t giving them any Homeland Security money. They’ll appreciate that.
Have you noticed that conservatives argue for this or demonstrate against that, but liberals style their actions a “counter” whatever—-culture, convention, demonstration, inaugural. It’s as though it is not enough to oppose conservatives’ ideas and activities; they have to nullify conservatives. Conservatives and their works can’t be allowed even to exist.
Maybe that's a clue to why arguing with blue-staters is so often an exercise in frustration. They just don’t understand the idea of a counter argument.
The Lingonberries of UN assessment coördination
It’s everywhere. Yesterday the clerk at Ekerd’s asked me if I’d like to contribute to tsunami relief (via UNICEF). This morning at Mass there was a special collection for the Catholic Bishops Relief Fund (in addition to the regular annual collection next week). You’ll be glad to know that this huge, world-wide out-pouring of assistance is well in hand by the “UN Relief Council's coordinating leadership subcommittee. . . . Highlights include:
And thank God the UN Relief Committee of the Whole has not forgotten to issue “advisory warnings to illegally parked U.S. and Australian aircraft carriers, hospital ships, and helicopters”.
- Under the leadership aegis of UNSNoRF Undersecretary Ralfke Bjarnerubbel, the executive steering committee has voted on a draft resolution to create coordination protocols between interagency observers.
- UNKGooBR and UNsNOT task force staff have organized response evaluation schemas for situational aid coordination, and assessed hotel minibar inventories.
There’s more, lots more in this special interim evaluation by ?mläut ?ïldëqvist, at Iowahawk.
And be sure to catch the preceding post about the latest exiting adventure from the Inspector Rather Files.
Humorless scolds on the march
The humorless scolds are on the march, braying as they come.
| J'accuse Ass is an irregular department. It recognizes a public accusation, complaint, insinuation, alarm, or whining notable for its arrogance, irrelevance, spite, stridency, obtuseness, or mendacity.
Affordable-housing consultants and other true believers of all ages and “an encyclopedia of causes are expected to descend on Washington, lining the parade route, marching in streets, rallying in parks, staging acts of civil disobedience, and even partying at counter-inaugural balls.”
So, too, the chattering classes, in their own way. Objections echo over the cost of Bush's second inaugural reports the AP. It’s always something. Their prune juice glass has a sliding scale on it, so no matter how much purgative is poured in, it is always too full or too empty.
Actually, the echo is mostly from the media megaphone wielded by an AP reporter digging in the news room slop box so he can meet a fast-approaching quota deadline. He manages to cite all of three objections. One is from the deliciously named Congressman Weiner, a New York City Democrat, who suggests that “inaugural parties should be scaled back, citing as a precedent Franklin D. Roosevelt's fourth inauguration during World War II”.
Along with Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, Weinie seems to be the Dems’ point man in their continuing campaign to deny the legitimacy of George Bush’s Presidency. If they can’t keep George from a second term, they can at least keep the Republicans from feeling good about it.
"President Roosevelt held his 1945 inaugural at the White House, making a short speech and serving guests cold chicken salad and plain pound cake", they wrote in a joint letter. And "during World War I, President Wilson did not have any parties at his 1917 inaugural, saying that such festivities would be undignified."
Well, in 1945, the country was on a full war footing and nearly 200,000 Americans had just been killed at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and in the Pacific. Anyway, by 1945 Roosevelt inaugurals were so been-there-done-that we would have been relieved to limit the party to popcorn (unbuttered) and soda pop, even without a war. As for Wilson, what can I say, except that Dubya is a Texan trail-biker and not some costive, Puritanical, Ivy-League academic in a semi-coma* whose wife is running the country.
Second, in the the Inquirer’s short list, is an unspecified bunch of D.C. area Congressmen. They don’t get much ink, because they aren’t really proposing that the inaugural festivities be scaled down. They just think the District isn’t getting enough Federal funds out of it. When did they ever think otherwise?
Third—or second, really—is Mark Cuban, the well-known avatar of Mother Teresa, who owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. "As a country, we face huge deficits," he wrote on his Web log . ". . . declining economy . . . service people dying. . . responsibilities to help . . . devastation of the tsunamis." Cuban apparently sees himself as a Savonarola for our time. He wants Bush to set an example: "Start by canceling your inauguration parties and festivities." That was back when the initial US aid commitment to the Indian Ocean nations was $35 million vs. an estimated private expense for the inauguration of $40 million. He’s gone on and on about it in subsequent posts.
But just on your Web log, Mark? If you were serious, you’d be schlepping a sandwich board back and forth in Lafayette Park, with Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas on one side and “Repent” on the other.
Cuban and others don’t seem to realize that the human spirit needs the nourishment of celebration as well as the sack cloth and ashes of discipline and chastisement. As Bush commented at a press conference last week, "the inauguration is a great festival of democracy”. Cuban is smart about money, but he’s a sucker on the spiritual side for liberal pious bilge. He’s a “political independent” who voted for Bush, but he’s gone to his dark side and downed a few beakers of the liberal, guilt-trip Kool-Aid.
The carping about the inauguration is the standard liberal sermon: non sequiturs, getting things out of proportion, ignoring facts in favor of pious shibboleths, and treating moral issues as matters of etiquette and matters of taste as moral affronts. And underneath it all thumps and groans the low, grim burden: If things aren’t perfect, then all must be gloom, destruction, and despair in this eternal vale of tears. O Woe! O tempora! O mores!, etc., etc., etc. I prefer Thomas Tallis for inducing the emotions of religious exaltation, but that’s just me.
The Anchoress makes this point elegantly, not to mention giving Cuban some salutary chastisement, serving up some bubble-busting with a scolding garni.
Really? You're still flogging the "declining economy" horse? We have men at war, so there should be no celebrations, anywhere? We are helping people rebuild their lives after a horrific tsunami, and so we should not have anything joyful of our own? . . . etc.Oh, yeah!
Corrections: The article "Objections echo over the cost of Bush's second inaugural" was published in the Phila. Inquirer, but it was taken from the AP wire.
*An alert reader has pointed out something that I chose to ignore, namely that Wilson had a stroke much later in his second term...so far as anyone knows.
Speaking Truth to Euro-weenies
No Oil for Pacifists passes this along. I can't resist quoting it, too. Enjoy hearing someone wise up one of those smug, benighted, enlightened know-it-alls who can’t see over the top of his prejudices.
At the end of a meeting, one of Varifrank's Euro-weenie business associates opines "See, this is why George Bush is so dumb . . . There’s a disaster in the world and he sends an Aircraft Carrier . . . ."
He and the other Euro-weenies laughed out loud. Frank wasn't laughing, and neither was his Hindi friend sitting next to him, who has lost family in the disaster.
“I'm afraid I was ‘unprofessional’”, Frank reports. “I let it loose:”
H’mmm, let's see, what would be the ideal ship to send to a disaster, now what kind of ship would we want?
There’s more. Read it.
Something with its own inexhaustible power supply?
Something that can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day from sea water?
Something with its own airfield? So that after producing the fresh water, it could help distribute it?
Something with 4 hospitals and lots of open space for emergency supplies?
Something with a global communications facility to make the coordination of disaster relief in the region easier?
Well "Franz", us peasants in America call that kind of ship an "Aircraft Carrier". We have 12 of them. How many do you have? Oh that's right, NONE. Lucky for you and the rest of the world, we are the kind of people who share.
SECOND THOUGHT: The Society for Creative Anachronism used to have a branch based on a US carrier, the Kennedy, I think. The "Shire of Curragh Mor [Big Ship]" billed itself as the "only mediaeval shire with a nuclear first-strike capability".
The bind of the bien pensant MSM
Stanley Kurtz at NRO’s Corner has a couple of notes on the shape of media to come. It may surprise you that he sees the MSM being trapped in a vicious spiral toward greater liberal bias, because of the internal contradictions of capitalism.
According to a Business Week cover story, Kurtz writes, the New York Times
is in a financial downturn. There are a variety of factors at play, but the move away from MSM and toward Internet-based news sources is clearly playing a role. That shift is not entirely driven by ideological issues, but disaffection with the paper’s liberal bias is helping to push erstwhile subscribers toward alternative outlets on the Web. . . .
In other words, as Peggy Noonan puts it, “The MSM rose because it had a monopoly. And it fell because it lost that monopoly”.
The Times is now geared toward a national readership among the scattered and largely liberal educated elite. That means the paper lacks the critical mass in any one location–even New York City–to allow for targeted local advertising. The Times gained a lot of subscribers when it went national, but it also lost a huge number of subscribers in New York City. Net readership is still up, but the hit in NYC was a big one, and clearly cut into ad revenues
This raise the question of why the MSM can't just broaden their appeal by moderating their biases to achieve a more balanced or fairer presentation. It seems that the liberal audience demands the bias (I would say as a daily affirmation of their virtuousness).
In a later post, Kurtz discusses how the dynamics of competing for an audience will affect the paper’s ideological positioning—and that of the MSM in general.
As the public turns to alternative and more conservative outlets, the mainstream media’s audience grows more liberal. . . . the readership of the Times is now much more liberal than it used to be. That puts even more pressure on NYT to keep its news coverage tilting left. In time, the paper may even proudly tout its liberal slant.
Besides the loss of local readers to the less rigorously liberal NY Sun and Post, the pressures are apparent on the Times’ op-ed page. Safire and Frum are as "conservative" as the paper's readers can tolerate, one at a time; they raised a stink when it was reported that the NYT was looking for a second "conservative" columnist. Over on the tube, liberals hate Fox News not because it doesn't give them their MDR of liberal shibboleths, but because it treats conservatives as part of the family.
The more fully media bias is exposed, the more readers desert MSM, and the more liberal the remaining MSM audience becomes. This is why CBS has not done more to admit its political leanings, or to show regret for its treatment of the bloggers. Those kind of admissions would imply a determination to change. But CBS doesn’t want to change–and can’t change–if it’s going to hold on to its own increasingly liberal audience.
Like the Democrat party, the MSM is finding that the audience ideological spectrum is not a smooth curve; it is discontinuous, and that dicontinuity is a trammel that trips anyone trying to stake out a range of the political spectrum. Both the MSM and the party depend on the self-regarding, bien pensant liberal base for their cachet, and they are finding that it is not very tolerant. Too little acknowledgement of conservative viewpoints and concerns, and the conservatives look elsewhere. But give more than token space to conservative ideas, and the liberals stalk out in a huff, muttering about stakes and garlic.
What your Democrat neighbors really think of you
Over at Loose Canon
on Beliefnet, Charlotte Hayes posted a long consideration of whether the US should ever use torture (“A Tortured Debate: Gonzales on the Spit”, 6Jan05). The vent tube (aka the comment sidebar) started throbbing, and an Australian with the handle of Fromoz recalled how he had loved things American since he was a child longing to visit the places mentioned in Beach Boys songs.
“But not now”, he mourns. Most Americans “support lies as an excuse for war” and support invading another country and murdering innocents en masse. How “could any right-minded person” trust such people or feel safe “where most people approve of torture?” He recalls that when he was a Yankee Doodle-loving kid,
the USA was the saviour of the World, but now it seems to be a country dominated by religious fanatics who like to terrorise people by so flippantly torturing anyone they don't like.
This is overwrought bosh, and any red-blooded American patriot would be outraged at the antipodean wanker, if he could just get the giggling under control.
And then there is the reaction of the blue-staters. Heretic_for_Christ (it may or may not be relevant that his Beliefnet member statement of belief is that “religion builds walls . . whereas spirituality [reveals] that the light of God shines forth from anyone who is willing to let it.”) was so grieved “to acknowledge the truth in what you have said” that he was having trouble keeping his little light shining.
I am trying hard to separate the pride I have always felt in America as a powerful symbol of freedom and justice, and the shame I feel at the actions that Bush and his gang of thugs have set into motion over the past few years.
Actually, America is an ongoing practical
application of particular
principles of freedom and justice. That America isn't real to him; his emotional attachment is to an abstraction, which can be bright and perfect. What is real to him about America are the shameful real world actions of the Bush administration. There you have in distilled form why American liberals cannot be patriots. They can't love their country, because there is no country there--or no lovable coountry--to be loved.
Eastcoastlady (Belief: “Respect for others and belief without sanctimony and dogma.”) wasn’t even trying to separate the pride and the shame. She just wanted to distance herself from what she only reluctantly has to admit was the majority of her countrymen.
PLEASE, please don't generalize about how "most of us" feel about torture or about the administration.
It's patently obvious that your assertions are false. Only slightly above 50% of the nation endorsed Bush, and I'm hoping that those who did support him did not support every aspect of his platform.
"Most of us" don't support much of what you said about us US citizens, unless you want to pick nits about 51% being "most of the country". Mathematically I guess you could make the argument that most of the U.S. supported Bush, but it's not an unqualified endorsement.
Fromoz characterized Americans as religious fanatic torturers. Heretic and Eastcoastlady object to being lumped with the generalization, but the characterization
doesn't faze them a bit. This is of a piece with what Heather MacDonald wrote
: 'The "torture narrative" is gospel truth among elite opinion-makers, yet it is false in every detail', only it obviously isn't gospel just among the elite opinion makers
. This is what many, many people in a blue-state of mind without hesitation think about any fellow citizen who disagrees with them. Fromoz doesn’t hate America; he just has a hateful concept of Americans, and so do Heretic_for_Christ and Eastcoastlady.
John Kerry was merely ahead of his time
in 1971, and was obviously the perfect front man
for his followers in 2004.
Torture is bad? Torture is Twinkies!
One night as we were proofing page paste-ups of our college paper, another SEA vet and I were chatting about napalm. A rather wussy undergrad on the other side of the table said primly “Ya know, guys, that’s not the most pleasant topic of conversation”. To which we replied, “Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”
Same for torture.
Another story. There were a couple of engineering students, also Vietnam vets, whom I took a lot of classes with, especially computer science. This was back when we would punch holes in the cards with rocks, hand in the deck, check to see how many hours it would take for the job to run, then walk up the hill for coffee at the student center. So we had time to chat and tell war stories.
One of the guys had learned Cambodian at Army language school and was assigned as an interrogator to a unit operating along the border, where a lot of the VC were ethnic Cambodian. He told us that although coercion was against the rules, if the CO told him to get information from a captive, say, about booby traps on the trails ahead, he “got out his water bucket”.
I think he was right. Let me be clear that we are not talking about prisoners of war covered by international conventions. This is about unlawful combatants, in Vietnam and in the war on terror. The argument against mistreatment of such prisoners is the general moral one that they are no longer combatants. They can’t hurt you. But that isn’t true. They have information--immediate, tactical information--that can mean the death of your soldiers. By not providing that information, the prisoner is still fighting, almost as much as he would be if he set off a grenade hidden in his shirt. I think some mental and physical coercion is appropriate to get that information.
How about behind the lines, say with the terrorists at Guantánamo Bay? The liberal Hive has been buzzing with two truisms that are not true: “stress” techniques don’t work and US interrogators engage in torture. If you believe that, then you just don’t know what you are talking about, and you won’t until you read Heather Mac Donald's article.
No Oil for Pacifists has a good work up with good comments and links. But here is how the great All-American torture machine that liberals are certain their countrymen are running really works:
So what were these cruel and degrading practices? For one, providing a detainee an incentive for cooperation—such as a cigarette or, especially favored in Cuba, a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich or a Twinkie unless specifically approved by the secretary of defense. In other words, if an interrogator had learned that Usama bin Ladin’s accountant loved Cadbury chocolate, and intended to enter the interrogation booth armed with a Dairy Milk Wafer to extract the name of a Saudi financier, he needed to “specifically determine that military necessity requires” the use of the Dairy Milk Wafer and send an alert to Secretary Rumsfeld that chocolate was to be deployed against an al-Qaida operative.
Iowahawk was kind enough to mention Logomachon and add me to his blog roll:
For a dose of straight thinking from a Catholic perspective, you are also encouraged to pay a visit to Logomachon.
I’m a little puzzled by the “Catholic perspective”, since I don’t try to emphasize it—and certainly don’t usually claim to speak for anyone but myself. On the other hand, I do think that a Catholic perspective is the basis for straight thinking . . . . maybe it shows.
Check out Iowahawk. He does a lot of good satire, like this instant classic of environmentalists blaming the Boxing Day Tsunami on angry sea gods.
And while you are at it—well, actually, before, or after . . . whenever—check out No Oil for Pacifists: Great name, lively commentary, great name, good satire, great name. It’s going into my list of e-mail epigraphs.
We are at war with Islam
Michelle Malkin goes ballistic over lefty misrepresentations of her position on internment of Japanese in 1942 and Muslims in America today. The links will keep me reading all morning.
She builds her post around attacks on Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes and left-wing charges that that he “has fond visions of rounding up Muslim Americans and putting them in concentration camps”. Pipes actually just advocates treating the US Muslim community are a threat and a critical intelligence target in WWIV.
I agree with Pipes and Malkin that the Japanese internment was appropriate and that the US Muslim community’s Islamic identity overrides loyalty to America. Here is an example.
In 2004, The Chicago Tribune published a 12-part series, "Struggle for the Soul of Islam." On 4 January 2004, NPR's Tony Cox interviewed the Tribune’s managing editor Jim O'Shea and staff writer Noreen Ahmed-Ullah about the series. They made a number of interesting points about Islamic “moderates”:
( NPR News with Tony Cox has links to the broadcast and to the Tribune’s “Struggle for the Soul of Islam” series.)
- King Hussein of Jordan told a CIA contact that calling the NGO mujihadin “murderers” or “terrorists” could backfire because “there is a little bit of me in them and a little bit of them in me”. This from the man whose father killed thousands of “Palestinians” and drove the rest (more than a million) out of his country.
- There are radical Muslims in the US who strongly support the jihadists. They are a minority but dominate the community.
- ”Moderate” Muslims in the United States decline to speak out, not only because of fear of violent reprisals from radicals, but because they would be ostracized by the Islamic community .
- When NPR’s Cox asked what to do about the way the Bush administration’s policies were driving moderates toward radical positions, the reporters confounded the liberal shibboleth by saying that in fact the reverse is happening. Muslims who had a romantic sympathy with the jihad pose are disassociating themselves from the terrorist reality. That is what they call “moving toward the moderate position”.
This is why we have to understand that we are at war with Islam—World War IV. Islam, in America and throughout the world, is a pond in which NGO mujihadin can swim in comfortable obscurity. Its political, social, and economic pathologies—not to mention its explicit scriptures--breed mujihadin, and its crowds cheer their atrocities. It is absurd to send troops to the other side of the world in a forward defense of the United States, and refuse to look for enemy soldiers within enemy populations right at home.
Staples: We don't got that!
Office supply mart Staples advertises "Yeah . . . we got that!", but John Moore at Useful Fools knows something that they don't get (see "Staples to Learn about Blogs - The Hard Way".
According to The Washington Post, Staples has cravenly given in to a radical left movement to silence dissenting opinion. In doing so, they have also shown a dangerous lack of understanding of the blogosphere and the internet age.What Sinclair Action.org, a cabal of MoveOn.org, Campaign for America's Future, and others, wants is to get Sinclair to balance a conservative commentary feature with a progressive program. To that end they are organizing an advertising boycott of Sinclair.
John is starting his own boycott: "Do you advertise in the New York Times?" he asks in a letter to Staples.
Their editorials are almost universally liberal (and often very offensive). Furthermore, their news coverage itself is frequently slanted, always to the left. Are your advertising principles anti-controversial, anti-conservative, or are you just cowards? Given what I have seen, I must conclude both of the latter.
John includes the statement of purpose of the anti-Sinclair cabal and a link to sample clips of the commentary the noble progressive free-thought/free-speech types find so intolerable. Prepare to be shocked. Sinclair called liberals' attitudes before and after the election "arrogant", and one piece called for the repeal of the fascist McCain-Feingold campaign restrictions!
You have lost a customer in myself, my family, and my company. I suspect that as word gets out, many others will likewise decide to spend their money at stores less willing to cave in to campaigns orchestrated to suppress dissent.
Logomachon has to note the use of one of liberals' favorite rhetorical ploys: invalidly applying arguments from one level of abstraction to another (a form of the fallacy of composition). While an active intellectual marketplace is certainly important to any polity, it doesn't have to be replicated in toto in every individual media outlet. People who watch a Sinclair station often do so because they like the conservative tone. If they want to hear something else, alternatives are just a click or two away. Liberals think you should be required to listen to them, and they are prepared force Sinclair to make that happen. Seems judgmental and arrogant to me.
Logomachon urges you to join John Moore in putting Staples high on the embargo list, next to France.
|J'accuse Ass is an irregular department. It recognizes a public accusation, complaint, insinuation, alarm, or whining notable for its arrogance, irrelevance, spite, stridency, obtuseness, or mendacity.
President Bush announced yesterday a tenfold increase in emergency aid to stricken areas of Asia, bringing the federal government's commitment to $350 million, and he said the United States would probably add more resources as the scope of what he called an "epic disaster" became clearer.
See UPDATE on private donations at the bottom of post.
The action came after mounting criticism that Bush, who stayed at his ranch all week and spoke publicly about the disaster once, had reacted too slowly.--Phila. Inquirer 1 Jan 05
At my Jesuit high school, we learned Ignatius Loyola’s prayer
for generosity, which includes the line to give and not to count the cost
. But some people are so eager to find fault with other’s generosity that they forget to count anything.
They are the ones baying (“Outraged
”) about President Bush’s response to the tsunamis around the Indian Ocean
: he didn’t express his sympathy soon enough; the US didn’t offer enough aid; the US is “stingy” compared with other countries (if you use comparisons that exclude more than half of what the US spends).
This is the carping politics of the empty gesture
. Even less attractive is the assumption of wickedness, or at least moral sloth, on the part of others, in contrast to one’s own fervor.
When the first estimates of a mind-numbing 20,000 dead, soon increased to 40,00, came in, the administration made an initial commitment of $15 million. As later reports revealed even greater devastation, the commitments increased, open-endedly, to $35 million by Wednesday, and to $350 million by Saturday.
A “visibly annoyed” Colin Powell made clear (see the NYT/Inquirer
story above) that the disaster area is remote and isolated, Back-of-the-Beyond-by-the-Sea. Powell said “what we have to do
is make a needs assessment and not just grasp at numbers or think we're in some kind of an auction house where every day somebody has to top someone else. . .
It's not just a matter of money; it's a matter of being able to distribute supplies.
As another article puts it, “Aid pours in, but delivering it is difficult
But the carpers of the self-styled reality-based community cannot grant good will
to their chosen whipping boys. Bush didn’t promise aid for a disaster that killed 150,000 when the toll was 20,000, so he doesn’t care. The carpers want to claim credit for badgering him into increasing the US estimate of aid,
Do they suppose that a facile sound bite of womanly blubbering by the President would have saved a life, would have gotten so much as a clean sock to a disaster area one second sooner? As for the money, do they suppose that $350 million promised on Monday rather than Friday would have increased “pressure” on the relief “pipeline” so aid would have arrived sooner?
The word for this kind of criticism is Pharisaical
. And it has a nasty, post-modern twist. The Pharisees were a privileged Jewish sect who were notorious for burdening the common people with strict interpretations of the letter of the Law without regard to the Law’s spirit. The post-modern Pharisees set exalted standards for others, also, but they make up the rules as they go along, so the bar is always raised above whatever has been done.
Like some international guardians of The Pose of the High-Toned, when post-modern Pharisees measure generosity, they ignore private contributions. Fortunately, private giving still counts
for the relief of the victims.
Captain's Quarters is sponsoring a blogsphere World Relief Day
. He has set up a link to a dedicated page at World Vision
. The target date is 12 January, but donations are already rolling in.