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.



Humorless scolds on the march

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.
The humorless scolds are on the march, braying as they come.

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?

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.
There’s more. Read it.

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. . . .
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
In other words, as Peggy Noonan puts it, “The MSM rose because it had a monopoly. And it fell because it lost that monopoly”.

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.
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.
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.

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.


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