Saturday, July 30, 2005
"Me, Myself, and I's" Phony Concern for "We"
Surprise; Bush Nominates a Conservative
It was front page news when Bush nominated John Roberts to fill the coming vacancy on the Supreme Court. In one newspaper here in Japan the headline read; “Bush picks conservative for top court.” The headline may have been something the AP wire service (and not the local paper) had decided upon for the particular article. It seemed strait forward and to the point. Aside from noting the statement of the obvious (Bush probably wasn’t going to appoint a leftist – duh), I had to wonder if the headlines during the Clinton presidency read, “Clinton picks liberal for top court” (such wording certainly doesn’t ring a bell). I’ll admit, I’m not going to do the homework to see if that indeed is what was written back then, somewhere, but I’m going to guess it wasn’t. In both cases (the actual headline for Bush and the possible one written for Clinton) such statements sound ridiculous. To me, it would be like saying, “Bush picks Republican for Vice President.”
…The point being; in most “mainstream” news outlets it’s become quite common to label conservatives specifically and refer to “liberals” (often outright leftists) as some amorphous “designee,” “commentator,” or “critic.” This concept is really pushed to its limits when some conservatives are referred to as “far right wing” or “extreme right wing” while those equally extreme on the left are merely referred to as, "progressives," "populists,” or – my favorite – "advocates." I noted similar phony semantic acrobatics once before in regard to dictionary descriptions of dictators vs. “leaders.”
This bizarre lack of even-handedness can be seen often when think tanks or lobbying groups are mentioned in news articles. The American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, or CATO institute are often referred to (accurately) as right wing or “conservative,” but the Brookings Institute, NAACP, National Organization for Women, Greenpeace, and National Education Association et.al. are typically referred to with banal non-committal labels like, “spokesmen for the black community,” “a women’s rights organization,” “an environmental advocacy group” or “professional teachers’ organization.” All of the aforementioned groups are distinctly “liberal” if not notably leftist on most issues. Furthermore, each one of these organizations has conservative counterparts dealing with issues of government policy, race issues, women’s issues, the environment, and education etc. The difference is, such groups are typically noted in many media sources as “right wing conservatives” while the media-pampered groups are –- in the eyes of news editors -- not left wing liberals, but run-of-the-mill average folks dedicated to bettering their communities.
The comedy show of media labeling bias reached a high point when, during anti Iraq-war protests, the group "international A.N.S.W.E.R." organized what was often described and depicted as "a broad cross section of American society." The implication being that a mere "protest group" had organized average moms, pops, and kids from middle America when in fact, the group and most of its active followers, where part of a Stalinist organization that has proclaimed its support for the North Korean dictatorship and the Tiananmen Square "anti-counter-revolutionary" actions of the Chinese communist party in 1989.
When the media depicts different views, of course there’s nothing wrong with noting a person or group’s alignment on the political spectrum, but it would go miles in eliminating accusations of bias if some consistency was applied to such labels (or lack of labels). Many in the media have been able to pull their labeling charade off with all sincerity because they actually believe that anyone who holds the same views as they do is simply moderate, reasonable, and without particular bias or agenda. What they see as mainstream – and good – floats about in some non-political realm while this sanitized concoction is seen to be opposed by the perceived evil, or at least wrong-headed, philosophies of "ultra-extreme right wing" conservatives.
Now, during the Bush administration, the Supreme Court nomination process itself has become a forum for the left's quirky methods of interpreting circumstances and processes. Many Democrats and media pundits have implied that it is now the President's proper role to pick someone that reflects the Democrat's worldview (what they call a "uniter"). But, a Democrat isn’t president, so like all prior presidents, Bush gets to pick who he wants – too bad for those who don’t like the ideological nature of his choice, in this case the "ideology" of seeing that laws are to be constitutional and not merely reflective of opinions and trendy "values." A strict constructionist interpretation of the constitution is likely to default to what could be called "conservative" on many issues, but the act of determining the constitutionality of a given law is what the Supreme Court is supposed to do. It's clearly not supposed to "make new laws," we already have two branches of government for that -- the Supreme court is supposed to balance the other two branches, not join them in an assault on the constitution. Strict adherence to the stated intent in the constitution is a standard one finds more commonly on the right, while the left's factions -- as usual -- trust more in the "rule of men" to accelerate the growth of the states authority over the individual. (Pay particular note to amendments nine and ten which have already been breached a thousand times over by leftist judges with social planning agendas). If federal court judges were considering new laws according to what is clearly written in the constitution it wouldn't even matter if such judges were personally "left-wing" or "right-wing." Their personal value system would be irrelevant to the overriding authority of the constitution itself. In most cases, very little "interpretation" is even required at all as the limited role of the federal government is very well defined.
The latest spin in deceptive escapade, is to brand the new Bush nominee as an "activist" judge, a definition previously understood as descriptive of one who seeks to impose their personal views above the clear legal standards written in the constitution (typically, an action taken by leftist oriented judges). Again, it can't be stressed enough what the clear and obvious intention of amendments nine and ten are regarding the role (and lack of a role) of the federal government in the day to day affairs of America's citizens.
To add insult to injury, we now have a media that can't even be consistent between administrations when labeling Supreme Court nominees -- or anyone else for that matter.
…By the way, Clinton picked a woman to be a Supreme Court justice,
…Bush "picked a conservative." (as reported by the media clones of our time)
…One president picked a gender; the other apparently picked a political stance – go figure.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Fears of Offending the Offender
The Two Front War
The last great martial cataclysm to engulf the world, World War II, was an engagement with a two pronged enemy; a sect of radical socialism marked by nationalistic fervor (Nazism and Fascism) and an imperialist, militarist force in Asia (Japan).
Today’s war with the forces of international Jihad have become a sort of two front conflict as well; what David Horowitz calls an, “Unholy Alliance” between Islamic Jihad and some of the West's older enemies (often from within our very borders).
The threats from, and military engagement with, Jihad-International has been augmented by a supporting cast from an old ideological force; radical socialism. While most from the socialist-lite crowd have acknowledged their sympathy with radical Islam’s assault on the free world, the more extreme followers have been willing to actively voice support for the Islamist cause, anything to finally defeat the concept of “bourgeoisie” open society -- the free market and its achievements.
The kindred alliance of Islamic Jihad and anti-capitalist authoritarian philosophy are currently directing their attacks against the same free and open systems of government that the Nazis and Imperial Japanese militarists directed themselves against.
While radical socialists typically paint themselves as enemies of fascism, the current bond they seem to now share with it is not new. It's important to remember that, before Hitler’s surprise attack on Russia, the communist leadership there was actually in paradoxical cooperation with Hitler, at least in their self-serving desire for further expansion. Multiple sects of authoritarianism have a sort of odd love/hate relationship with each other, but there is one thing they will always agree on; a common hatred for free, capitalist society. Even Hitler, who often bitterly denounced “Bolshevism,” would at other times express his admiration for the communists’ strategies as well as their common hatred for capitalism.
Like Germany under the Nazis, some of today’s radical socialist states have now developed an intriguing survival strategy by having adopted a sort of capitalism of convenience – reluctant acceptance of market activity to pay the bills on their march to maintain the planned society. While capitalism affords them greater strength, their basic template hasn’t changed – coercive authority in the hands of a single socialist party, complete with punitive powers directed against the less obedient.
While the average socialist control freak from journalism, academia, or entertainment doesn’t have a nation state at their disposal, they certainly can and do rally in support of countries that have adopted the anti-freedom model. Strangely, radical Islamic Jihad hasn’t put most socialists in the quandary one would expect of someone seeking to reconcile two clearly opposing worldviews. From the very beginning, their allegiance and sympathy has been with anyone who will oppose the U.S. and like societies. Often, while clearly expressing their allegiance with the "oppressed" of Islamo-fascist Jihad, they will dare feign a phony position that is "above taking sides" -- but they have taken a side (!), and its not with democratic pluralism and open society.
If a socialist of any stripe were to remain consistent with the causes they claim to support -- equality, justice, and their contrived definitions of freedom, one would think that Islamic Jihad would be their worst nightmare and foe (which it would eventually become if it were to win, just as Russia’s Nazi cooperating partner became it’s worst nightmare). The Jacobins’ hatred is still, as it always has been, against dynamic, diverse, and prosperous liberal society. To engage a radical leftist (or even most of socialism’s milder strains) on the issue of Islamic terrorism, one will consistently find outright sympathy for the Jihadists’ cause with justifications and invective directed against the nations that seek to protect their citizens from random attack or mass destruction. None of this should be particularly puzzling really, after all, the left consists of the same people who defended the Soviet police state and its like during the Cold War -- apologists for Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and today, Castro and Kim Jong Il. It really should be little surprise that the worldview of a ruthless theocratic ideology should have goals in common with the left’s beloved "revolution" to impose socialism.
The left’s stance in our war with Islamic Fascism is not one of mere "criticism." The attempts to sway public opinion into appeasement through their mouthpieces in news venues and education is, in itself, an outright act of betrayal. By now, any terrorist in Iraq and elsewhere surely recognizes the considerable support to their cause that comes from the West's bitter spokespersons of collectivist thought.
Criticisms of his "simplistic" appraisal aside, Bush was right; those who are not with the cause of free society are our enemies. This is really not a difficult conclusion to reach and it's arrived at easily by those who care more for their family, friends, and neighbors than an intellectual construct for planned society.
The war against Islamic Jihad will begin to be won when more people recognize the subversive nature of its other front; the home front’s fifth column – the anti-individual, anti-freedom forces of radical socialism.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Scaled Down Weekly Postings, and Appreciation to an Increasing Readership
I’ve experienced considerably increased “traffic” at this site over the last couple of months, which I thoroughly appreciate. A lot of it has come from some far corners of the world (actually, I live in a “far corner” of the world – geo-"centrism" aside). In my fervor and tendency to generalize (which I believe to be one valid way of approaching given topics), it may mistakenly be inferred that I don’t like the citizens of some countries or locales. Rest assured, this is not the case. While some countries have a general tendency toward political views I despise, I recognize that there are many citizens (individuals!) in these countries who do not share the statist/collectivist worldview (in its many guises). Indeed, France, Sweden, and even China have large visible or discreet groups of citizens in their populations who recognize the folly of socialism and statist authority over the individual.
Out of selfish desire for time (remember, we libertarian / conservatives are “selfish”) I’ll be scaling back the number of posts I put up here and at my Promethean Visions site each week. I’ll now post my wayward views and ideals every five days or so, occasionally more often if something noteworthy comes to mind and can be posted quickly.
The next post here will be up by Monday July 25th.
Thanks again for considering my take on things – whether you agree, disagree, or could care less…
Romantic Idealism; Dreams and Delusions in Leftist Philosophy vs. “Linear Thinking”
Among the many issues the left takes up, one often finds a philosophical stance where romantic idealism is poised against something many of them have called “linear thinking.” To many with leftist sympathies, “linear” thought represents the entire world of ideas and lifestyles they despise; science, technology, capitalism, patriarchy, logic, individualism, and of course, “the West” in general. In this fanciful take on things, virtually anything that is not the aforementioned is noble, caring, “natural”…and good. Of course, those who know the rudiments of Western philosophy will recognize such sentiment as Rousseau’s Romantic rebellion against the values of The Age of Reason.
While the romantic’s ideals make for some splendid art and sensitive reverie, their sentiments fail to really demonstrate why humankind should shun the advances of science, technology, and other products of the “linear” worldview.
I don't know what world some glooms-dayers are living in, but I’m rather glad to be living in an era and philosophical template where common citizens are afforded long life spans and leisure indulgence in music, art, and lifestyles choices gleaned from around the globe. Some may praise the imaginary greatness of “natural” societies wrought with disease, conformity, and early death, but "linear thought" and its blessings suits me just fine.
I’m really not so concerned that there are many who share romantic notions. My concern is that, all too often, they want the magic kingdoms in their heads to be imposed on those of us who don’t share their vision – often with considerable loss of life and stifling of decent living standards. For those who choose the path back to the cave, the option is open to them but, to them, this is a “we” thing, and some would like to see the rest of us in that cave with them.
Some romantic idealists will occasionally accept the convenience or benefit of contemporary technology and lifestyle but will then cry the oft repeated mantra that we are somehow alienated by modernity. Of course, “we” isn't me, and may not be you, and one person's "alienation" may be another’s blissful adventure through life (with the products of linear thinking adding considerably to the adventure).
While the same disenchanted and alienated intellectuals bemoan their miserable existence, the rest of us simple folks can continue to enjoy our modern indulgences and pursue our life’s course under our own direction. Sometimes they will of course bow to half of modernity’s advances and selectively choose the conceptual devils which they feel should be rejected (i.e. they can occasionally give approval to medical advances yet decry automobiles) but, the truth is, modernity is a package deal. The suburban subdivision may not have the same charm as the open plains or jungle but in the end, a family has a better chance of survival in those linear constructs. If you’re raising a family, I’d go with the two car garage, but that’s just me.
The romantic idealist typically perceives the developed world’s "linear" (scientific, practical, and logical?) perspective as a misguided path to destruction when contrasted with the idealized lives of those in non-developing countries which, to some, seem to embody an organic New-Age style wisdom and purity (anti-perfection?). I beg to differ. Many of the simple tribal folks of nature-land are often very conformist, not so flexible, and downright oppressive in holding individuals to a collective template of failure and destitution.
Romantic idealists can of course continue to espouse the virtues of leaving their "linear" world of cell phones and high-tech music systems for the blessing and enchantments of disease laden caves and jungles. Aside from occasional -- expensive -- back-packing trips, I don’t see most from the anti-modernity crowd actually moving to live in their admired enclaves of natural purity. Most romantics find it more logical (linear?) to stay put in the lands of technology and food at your fingertips.
A world of witch doctors and rain dances may impress some alienated suburbanites and intellectuals, but living standards and crop yields are ultimately better served by a more advanced – and “linear” – template. How exactly did all that food in the neighborhood grocery store get there, from a commune of hunter-gatherers, or mere faith in natures – automatic -- bounty?
Centuries from now, the advances made in the last few centuries will not be seen as acts of “the West” vs. non-West, or linear vs. non-linear. They’ll simply be seen as the common heritage of humanity – which is what they essentially are. We can thank many cultures from around the globe for their contributions to present advances and we can thank the West in particular for bringing disparate ideas together through the scientific/rational worldview that will ultimately free all of humanity from forty year life spans of toil in the local cave or jungle.
There are no doubt many who fancy a world without science and "linear thought," where they could romp blissfully with the butterflies – actually, in such a world, most of them would be dead already.
The aforementioned idealists' stance of anti-reasoning was articulated in a brief essay last year (Sustainable Development, a Contradiction in Terms) by the Guardian’s George Monbiot (I'm sorry to say that I can't find a link to the essay, from August of last year, on the web). In the essay, Monbiot referenced the new euphemism for restraining the developed world's wealth and power -- "sustainable development." Monbiot began his polemic as a rant against the recent –- rare -- voice given to critics of environmental hysteria. Contrary to his caricature, few, if any, have claimed that there are no environmental problems or that we should do nothing to address such problems.
Like many who address environmental issues (the left in general has realized they can get a lot of mileage from this issue), Monbiot moved quickly from such controversies, to the usual obsession of socialist intellectuals, the evil institutions of the free market and unregulated society. He reminded us that “we” bourgeoisie materialists are isolated, depressed, and alienated because of our freedom and wealth. I can’t speak for “we,” but I’m pretty psyched about my petty bourgeoisie existence. As a lowly plebian, my financial status is probably less than the average “progressive” academic’s (or socialist journalist’s), but I have access to a renaissance of music, art, literature, information, and travel – not to mention an occasional beer and coffee. I don’t think it was a ministry of fun and leisure that put me in this historically unusual position either. While I may not have gleaned the noble spiritual depth of the “happier” people Monbiot describes in poorer parts of the world, I don’t think I’m quite the selfish and greedy wretch that he sees amongst those of us who have benefited from a liberal economic system.
Monbiot went on to echo recent excitement over the "income gap," but failed to notice that the poorest countries tend to be the least free economically or socially. It seems that an entire world of millionaires would be offensive to those who’d notice an “income gap” created by a few billionaires. The left's concern is not that there are poor people but that there are rich ones. Their hope is not to lift people from poverty but to pull people down from wealth – an equal and well-controlled distribution of poverty (yet, a society where bureaucrats and party boot-lickers will always manage to be more equal than others).
If we could all be so “selfless and compassionate” as the average authoritarian leftist or their romantic idealist comrades.
Being a “selfish materialist,” I prefer the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith to the visible fist of socialist planning, control and coercion. I also wish that those who see the life of a savage as noble would relinquish their own wealth and possessions and show some consistency between what they really believe vs. their phony espoused philosophy of romantic idealism.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Useful Idiots' Ultimate Hero
Frontpagemag.com has an excellent in depth essay posted regarding Fidel Castro. There is considerable, interesting information to be found regarding the ruthless communist thug's rise to power along with tidbits regarding the other "great revolutionary hero" of the clueless authoritarian sympathizer caste (which, of course, includes several prominent members of Hollywood).
Some interesting quotes from the essay:
"...Promptly upon entering Havana on January 8, 1959 Fidel Castro abolished Habeas Corpus and appointed Che Guevara his main executioner. 'To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary,' The Argentine Ernesto 'Che' Guevara declared. 'These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the paredon (the execution wall)'..."
"...Khrushchev documents in his memoirs how Castro pleaded with him to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the U.S. in October of 1962. The telegram making the plea sits in the Kennedy Library today. Some think Khrushchev's fear of Castro's officers somehow getting hold of the Nuclear buttons was a bigger factor in his decision to remove the Missiles than the "blockade" (in fact, 55 ships breached it) imposed by the Kennedy administration around Cuba at the time."
"The prudence of Khrushchev’s decision was revealed the following month by Castro's second - in - command, Che Guevara. 'If the missiles had remained,' he told The London Daily Worker in November 1962 'We would have used them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York. We must never establish peaceful co-existence. In this struggle to the death between 2 systems we must gain the ultimate victory. We must walk the path of liberation even if it costs millions of atomic victims'...[This quote is very similar to one made by China's Mao Zedong -- both examples of that noted left-wing pacifism, no doubt]"
"...In November 17th 1962, the FBI uncovered a terrorist plot that targeted Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal and Statue of Liberty , along with department stores Macy's, Gimbels and Bloomindales. The plotters had 12 detonators and 500 kilos of TNT. The explosions were planned for November 27th 1962, the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year. The chief plotter was Roberto Santiesteban, chief aide to Cuba's U.N. ambassador, Carlos Lechuga. Under him were Elsa and Jose Gomez, also employed by Cuba's diplomatic mission at the U.N. The rest of the plotters belonged to The Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Had those detonators gone off, 9-11's death toll would have almost certainly taken seconds. In 2003 alone, the U.S. was forced to expel 14 Cuban 'diplomats.' All worked at the United Nations."
"On March 19, 1976 the Los Angles Times ran the headline "Cuban Link to Death Plot Probed." Both Republican candidates of the day, President Ford and Ronald Reagan, were to be assassinated during the Republican National Convention in San Francisco. The Emiliano Zapata Unit, a Bay Area radical- terrorist group, would make the hits. When arrested, one of the would-be assassins named Gregg Daniel Adornetto, revealed the Cuban connection. The Zapata Unit's Cuban intelligence officer was named Andres Gomez. Adornetto had met him years earlier when he'd traveled to Cuba for training and funding as a member of the Weather Underground..."
"...'War against the United States is my true destiny.' Fidel Castro had confided to a friend in 1958 while still a rebel in the hills 'When this war's over I'll start that much bigger war.' (Please note: Castro said this before any of the alleged 'bullying' by the U.S. that leftists claim as the reason he turned to Communism and the Soviet Union.)"
"...After defecting in 1964, Castro's own sister brought the unmistakable message to Congress. 'Fidel's feeling of hatred for this country cannot even be imagined by you Americans,’ she testified to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. 'His intention--his OBSESSION--is to destroy the U.S.!'...[consider that Castro, like most angry "revolutionaries," was not a "poor peasant" in the slightest, even today, recruiting to the cause of Jihad in the west is from middle class, college educated youth. The "frustrated poor" argument is utter B.S. -- middle and upper-middle class spoiled brats is a more accurate phrase to describe most "revolutionaries"]"
Do keep in mind as you read this, that the events described are basically the same template currently being followed by the current Marxist demagogue in Venezuela -- Hugo Chavez. All a Jacobin need do is state their sympathies with radical leftwing political ideals and the course of events will be quite predictable; a society enslaved, mass executions, censorship, "reeducation," and totalitarian rule -- cheered on by useful idiots in American Universities and media.
Big Brother International
The United Nations is like any political agency. Like any bureaucracy -- and unlike a capitalist enterprise – a political agency doesn't have to give the customer what they want, often quite the opposite, they force you to take what you don’t want (especially if you don’t want the groundwork laid to world government).
To express concern regarding the UN’s ultimate motives used to be the stuff of far right wing “paranoid types” like the John Birch Society. When such fringe group attention was directed toward the UN there was probably little real cause for such concern. Now the UN is a little more influential and certainly has a wide following of support, or at least tolerance, around the world. Phrases like “international law” and “illegal wars” can now be uttered to the point that many really believe there are such things. Of course, they’re all just self-fulfilling (generated) semantic prophecies. They’ve been spoken and echoed enough by the international media that they’re slowly becoming valid verbal catalysts to the new order some would like to create – and impose.
There are those who have seen conspiracy in all of this, but a conspiracy is hardly required to implement an ideology and political program. Like the situation with much of the international media, there are simply a lot of like-minded people (essentially socialist in view) who think that an emerging international “big brother” would be a good thing.
The initial purpose of the UN was certainly noble, practical, and maybe even, “needed.” After two world wars, nations certainly benefited from a forum to discuss disputes and avoid open conflict. The UN as a mere forum for discourse was to be a short lived idea, however. Like all political institutions, the UN has continually sought greater power and authority. Should we really be surprised that this has happened?
Like its baby sister, the EU, the UN is clearly socialist in its sympathies, on its better days merely sounding like any Euro-socialist or left wing Democrat in America. At its worst, it openly sides (always feigning neutrality) with dictators and tyrants. Accordingly, it is distinctly anti-free market and hostile to the values of individualism.
Ironically, after a banner year of exposed corruption, the UN is now promoting, “…the most comprehensive …reform since it’s founding in 1945.”
The UN panel that has come up with this new “blueprint” for the 21st century was hardly circumspect in its thinly veiled attacks on the U.S. By now it should be obvious to any observer that that the UN would like to see America stripped of its success, wealth, and influence. The domestic left in the U.S. – always in traitor mode – will of course be more than happy to assist.
The natural order of political institutions is to aggrandize power. The American government itself does this with considerable detriment to freedom within its own borders.
At this point in the UN’s growth process, the U.S. should do everything in its power to resist and thwart the UN’s socialist power grab. Of course, we would certainly be given all hell for doing so. The international brigade of the idealistic, masochistic, and clueless would be out in force no doubt, but the alternative would come too close to the plot of a distopian sci-fi film.
I can’t press this point enough. I’ve said it before in a thousand different ways: The left likes government authority. The left trusts government authority. The left wants government authority…and they don’t want you or me standing in their way. They want the local school board to have more power. They want Washington to have more power, and they want the UN to have more power. The more centralized and all encompassing, the better (for their twisted vision).
Socialism savors the authority of the state and hardly cares which state as long as all citizens are eventually subjugated to the authority of bureaucrats and “planners.”
There’s no conspiracy. They’re doing it all right before our eyes. They’ve got the backing of the usual crowd of intellectuals, media talking heads, and common citizens who want someone else’s money – and soul.
The UN is double-plus-unfree…*
*A reference to Orwell’s, 1984, (as I’m sure you know)
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Roving Journalists and “Socksgate” Reminder
There are plenty of sites on the web and plenty of media "commentators" who are taking a stand on Karl Rove and his alleged criminal act involving a CIA “covert agent.”
No one's got the full scoop on this yet so neither side is really in a position to attack or defend Rove.
The Democrats and left in general are of course in overdrive to bring down Bush's supreme strategist. There’s every reason for them to despise Rove; he's conservative, smart, and has lots of power.
What got me a bit frazzled in all of this is the media’s aggressive stance on the issue along with their usual phony "objectivity" posturing. The press corps was downright rude in their bloodlust for Rove’s head in a recent press conference with White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Sometimes these characters sound more like Democrat politicians than non-aligned journalists merely seeking information. This is the same media clique that tucked a serious scandal out of attention last year making it a virtual non-issue.
To refresh your memory; former president Bill Clinton's national security advisor, Sandy Berger admitted guilt (plea-bargained) in having deliberately removed government documents from the national archives relating to the 9/11 investigation regarding responses to millennial celebration terrorist threats -- under supreme good guy, Bill Clinton.
If you recall, Berger admitted not only stealing these documents from the archives but actually cutting them up and discarding them. A national security adviser to a former president obviously couldn't plead ignorance in his suspicious actions regarding the handling of sensitive material (“I thought it was okay to steal documents related to an investigation and cut them up with a scissors and throw them out”…?).
Throughout the entire affair up to his admission of guilt, the mainstream media kept “Socksgate” a non-story. When it was reported in small back-page articles, attempts were made to make the Republican response to the issue the real scandal (how dare they point out Berger's actions!). Berger never explained just why he did what he did, and the media generally seemed to not care. This of course won't be the case with Rove. Even if he is found innocent of any wrongdoing, front page articles will ally with Democratic Party hounds and continue demanding "answers," while a new myth is created of unsubstantiated guilt. Even public school textbooks will note the non-"scandal" as part of the "Bush legacy"
The MSM can claim objectivity all they want. Consistency isn't their forte, if there’s a head to roll, they want it to be conservative and they will do all they can to make it so.
Loyalty Requires No Oath -- Only a Capacity for Common Decency
Almost everyone hopes and trusts that their partner is "loyal." The same can be said for a variety of social constructs; family members, co-workers, sports team members and, dare I say, fellow citizens?
Genuine loyalty is not something arrived at through compulsion. No one can make another person loyal. Loyalty doesn't mean blind agreement. It doesn't mean subservience; it doesn't even necessarily imply humility. Genuine loyalty demands no relinquishing of free thought or autonomy. It does require a sense of common decency.
One naturally likes knowing that others are "on your side." People don't expect their wives, husbands, or children to rally to the causes of those who would harm them, or to make such forces’ cause easier to carry out. When dealing with larger institutions, like a nation state, loyalty has often been caricatured as blind obedience, nationalistic fervor, or collusion with evil schemes, hardly accurate portrayals of loyalty's essence in a free society.
There are some in the U.S. today whose loyalty can reasonably be called into question (although those very people will be the most outspoken in their denial of such accusations). In academia, journalism, and scattered amongst the general population, there are now some who act as spouses that would turn their gaze away from any act of terror against their own families. Ironically, quite often the same philosophies that so often demand group "solidarity" (and collective obedience), are mysteriously repelled by the simple concept of loyalty. The battle between fascism and communism vs. open/free society in prior eras was pretty clear-cut; not a lot of gray area to the honest and sincere among us. So it is today as we confront the plans and actions of radical Islam, yet this doesn't spare us the indignity of those who see loyalty as a right-wing plot, "anti-intellectual," or a "naive adherence to absolutes."
Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore, a host of Hollywood's spoiled brat's, and some self-absorbed intellectuals from our universities (to name a few examples) are clearly not loyal by any definition.
There are some -- I've met them –- who would send their own mothers to their deaths to maintain their ego's grasp on the "impartial view" that sides with an enemy. Some think that merely saying that, “no one is [their] enemy,” that it is miraculously so (too bad their enemies wouldn’t agree). Such types are not new; they existed throughout the Cold War when they sided with the Soviet police state. Today they still exhibit a fondness and sympathy for virtually any totalitarian scheme so long as it opposes their own nation and its free people.
Loyalty doesn't mean liking George Bush or his policies. It doesn't mean blind obedience to government. It simply means siding, at least in spirit, with your neighbors, family, friends, and country when others are so clearly set on harming them. It's what we'd expect of a spouse or fellow family member. It's not unreasonable to expect it, to some degree, from fellow citizens.
It's one thing to take a side in a disagreement, quite another to favor and defend the values of authoritarian ideology or -- through stealth, distortion, or omission -- to depict evil as simply another view with a valid point.
The clear desire among some citizens and organizations to see America and the Iraqis lose in Iraq, to be threatened by terror, and weakened by those with dubious agendas, is shameful and pathetic. To hope for, and expect, loyalty from fellow citizens in the matter is not the cause of jingoism, or "witch hunts," it's the trust that others will merely possess a spirit of pure intention and a sober mind in dangerous times.
In a free society, Loyalty is okay. Loyalty is good (that's right, I don't think loyalty to Hitler, Stalin, et.al. is the same moral stance). In our own society, loyalty's opposite has produced nothing good or just for anyone. Its opposite is no more than an abode of scoundrels -- to quote Yeats, "…the worst are full of passionate intensity." Fortunately for us, in this time, the best have passions too, and loyalty is among them.
We see daily, stealth expressions of anti-loyalty in such demands that America set a specific date for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Would you tell a crime syndicate the date that half of your police force will be on holiday? Such an issue hardly beckons debate between honest citizens who are on the same side yet, like Vietnam and the larger Cold War, there are some who truly seem to want the -- in this case, Islamo-fascist -- enemy to win! Losing in a war is not like losing points in some game. Losing the global war against Islamo-fascism would result in an unthinkably terrible alteration to our own lives and those of future generations.
Are you a non-Muslim who favors open free society and free choice in your individual dealings? Guess what? Al Qaeda wants you dead, and they're not open to negotiation on the issue. Try siding with that idea, if it ever sinks in.
The fact that we are in one of histories troubled times does not mean we can demand or enforce loyalty from others…but, we can hope that they would at least stand with the interests and safety of fellow citizens out of respect and common decency.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Be Nice, “Understand” Them, “Establish Dialog,” and They’ll Leave You Alone
On tonight’s bilingual news in Japan, a segment on terror risks here featured one of those “expert” clowns that are often brought in to guide us regarding subjects we may lack knowledge in. Of course sometimes they do offer some information of value. To tell the truth, I’m usually more impressed when the “expert” is a geologist discussing the nature of earthquakes.
The genius they had on tonight recommends confronting the threat of terror by doing more to “understand Islam” and “…establishing dialog” (Did you know that the Muslim
holy book is called the Koran? Now don’t you feel safer?).
“Understanding Islam” won’t advance one’s safety a bit when dealing with some of it’s more aberrant and violent sects. I wonder if this guy would have advised an understanding of German literature to quell the advance of Nazism in Europe. Regarding “dialog,” I think Bin-Laden and company have made it very clear what it is they “want” and it’s not a friendly chat.
Beyond the immediate “demand” that America and the elected Iraqi government turn Iraq over to terrorist thugs, the international “Jihad” wants nothing less than a world where women are shrouded in Burkas and everyone lives under constant fear of punishment for such crimes as listening to music. The oppressive theocracy these people are seeking is non-negotiable. Islamo-fascists have never sought “dialog.”
It’s nice to see that there are some Japanese intellectuals with the same pathetic level of cluelessness we find in many American universities. Remember, this is the same clique of fools that think Fidel Castro has been fairly "winning elections" for over forty years, "because his people love him."
What is it going to take for the appeasement crowd to get a clue?
The Box People of Niigata Station
In the city up the road from where I live there’s a small group of homeless people living in cardboard boxes in a hallway leading into the train station. Adhering to Japanese standards of civility, their dwellings are rather neat and unobtrusive. None of them panhandles, as you would find in places like Boulder Colorado where I lived before coming to Japan (those “homeless people” were both annoying and obtrusive). Although Niigata’s homeless people might be used as poster children for the socialist worldview, their essential nature doesn’t appear very different from the other people who populate the planet. Some are clearly neater than others. Some box-homes have little “garages” with cardboard shelves and collections of shoes and umbrellas – some don’t.
Japan’s economy has been rather stagnant for some time now. For most Japanese, this hasn’t altered their middle class lifestyle in the slightest. I’m not so sure that devoting all of one’s political energy to destroying a relatively free system would much improve the box people’s circumstance, and I’m not sure that dragging others down to their economic level is sound policy either – the North Korean model.
A British expat (a scholarly socialist) once rhetorically asked me why people are homeless… “Is it because they’re lazy!?” Of course, this is the answer he wanted to hear because it would confirm for him that all people who believe in freedom and the free market are cruel, selfish, and uninformed. Realistically, there are a variety of reasons a person may become homeless. … “Should they be shipped off to concentration camps?” Another classic Leftist rhetorical “question.”
Most of us over the age of 30 have probably experienced a period in our lives where we would have been homeless if not for the sympathy or good grace of family and friends. Divorce, drugs, alcoholism, inept economic planning and even – sometimes – “laziness” can all lead to homelessness (that’s the short list of possibilities). In eras past, last recourse could be found in the goodness of private volunteer organizations (i.e. churches). Now, the state “steps in” (on?) and, with stolen funds, accomplishes the same or less for those considered to be down and out.
In a socialist’s eyes, one either supports more confiscation of funds for “social programs” (or outright handouts), or one wants to “ship people to concentration camps” – the “free market is Fascism” argument. Such predictable statements clearly overlook the fact that both Nazi’s and Fascists were (and are) essentially collectivist in their philosophies. There are plenty of quotations by both Hitler, and Mussolini that indicate their hatred of capitalism. (Yes I know, private property was permitted to some degree under their socialist governments).
The left’s take on homelessness is something like, “It’s a crime that ‘the system’ [capitalism] has made these people live this way.” Of course, a free market has caused no such thing, anymore than freedom causes some to be store clerks and others to be doctors.
The left always frames the homeless issue as two simple choices; one must either support the “intervention” of government agencies or acknowledge one’s role as evil incarnate for opposing further expansion of the socialist vision.
It is certainly reasonable to show pity to those less blessed, even more commendable to actually devote one’s own time or money to such people, but simply using homelessness as another excuse for enacting socialist control is pathetic.
Over the last couple of years I’ve watched the few box/homes of Niigata station evolve from simple small boxes, to variations in size, status, and quality. A kind of low-key evolution of a social fractal – a neighborhood of “inequality” even amongst the “homeless.” I suppose one could accuse the guy with the bigger box and larger umbrella collection of being “greedy, selfish,” or “materialistic.” Actually, I think he just prefers, and has been able to obtain, a larger living space and fancier umbrellas.
If we just stole some more money from, “The rich” or passed some more regulations to rein in personal striving, maybe we could end the simple lifestyle of the box people – but, probably not.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Waking From the Fog
Another tragic day for innocent citizens, and tragic as well for the continuing confrontation between good and evil (no, that’s not a “simplistic” appraisal).
It will certainly come as no surprise when, in the next few days, the minions of Hate the West enterprises begin their rants on how peaceful London would now be if they had only left Saddam Hussein in power.
In some quarters, every horrid extremist act will be blamed on our actions in Iraq -- somehow missing out on the fact that Muslim extremist-terrorism had been a growing threat long before Iraq or 9/11. It's important to remember that, in the Muslim fanatic's eyes, the World Trade Center was "meant to come down" in 1993. The West's "crime" then was to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait but our worst “crime” is still, as it was to both Fascists, and Communists; our contagious free and open societies.
Those who so despise the West (many from the West itself) will have ever increasing difficulty convincing common citizens that Islamo-Fascism is somehow acting in just reprisal for our own perceived evil nature.
My condolences to the good people of London.
The Anti-authoritarian Personality, and Dictators Large and Small
I once heard a socialist express his hatred for free markets because corporations were -- to him -– like thousands of “little dictators.” This is a response we can expect from left-land when we decry the horrors of real dictatorship; mega-states and cult figures dedicated to monolithic all-consuming power and oppression. We note Castro's one man rule over everything on his island prison and the left retorts the horror that trendy coffee shops are expanding in capitalist societies.
It is, indeed, true that large corporations have power and are, in a sense, authority figures, but do they really pose the same threat as a single person, group or ideology that seeks control of all industry, labor, information, cultural expression, and ideals?
The socialist worldview inevitable shares with libertarians distaste for authority -- on the surface. The apparent difference lies in the left’s actually favoring authority when it is invested in the state and directed to their cherished purposes. The right favors business as a default condition of its favoring the individual freedoms that promote prosperity and private commerce in general.
A significant difference between government authority and “power in the hands of business” is that government, by its nature seeks to become monolithic in its interests and goals – business does not. A free society has other power centers besides those of business, though one would never know this from a socialist’s rant (i.e. the National Education Association is hardly a business and can not be called “weak” and ineffectual by any definition). The interests of a dental clinic are hardly the same as those of a toy store. The interests of an aircraft manufacturer are hardly the same as those of pet food suppliers. They of course can all be expected to favor a political / economic order that allows for their freedom to exist, succeed, and excel, but this hardly constitutes a conspiratorial plot for monolithic authority, or a shared scheme to “oppress.” The average soap company doesn’t dream of a day when their insurgents will seize control of state capitals to create a new world where their company will rule over all aspects of society.
Government’s goals are; to govern, everything from children’s education to who is permitted to cut hair and under what conditions. The private sector’s goals are to be as free as possible to pursue infinitely diverse and contending interests and, yes, those in the private sector also usually “want money” (as if the government doesn’t?). Regarding the capitalists themselves, while most of them certainly favor the system that allows for their own existence and opportunity, it’s clear that there are more than a few who actually don’t favor a free-market. While this is certainly counterintuitive, it has occurred none the less throughout the history of capitalist society (e.g. Marx’s side-kick, Friedrich Engels, was quite the capitalist, and used portions of his profits to advance the cause of socialism as well as provide financial upkeep for his less than hard-working friend, Karl).
There may indeed be thousands of “little dictators” out there in the corporate business world (varieties of authority figures exist as well in daily life in general under any system) seeking to sell more dog food or convince you to buy a newer and better television, but lets consider this in a realistic light.
Common sense should allow for an ability to distinguish the difference between “threats posed” by a million and one authorities and, often conflicting, special interests, vs. a single dominating spirit with an obedient bureaucracy and punitive legal apparatus at its disposal (e.g. the state). At the core of this basic conflict lies one’s degree of tolerance for (or allegiance to) authority in forms either concentrated or dispersed.
It is one thing to oppose authority and “little dictators” and quite another to oppose the authority and all-consuming power of the state. Among authority figures large and small, I’ll tolerate the small ones and recognize the reality that there will always be degrees of power and authority present in others. A philosophy that believes it can end the reign of all the “little dictators” that inhabit daily life is one to be most careful of. The mere desire to sell stuff and “make a buck” is a “dictatorial” condition most of us can live with…and, we may even buy a new and better TV as part of our condition as “oppressee” in such benign circumstances.
Anyone can be “anti-authority” or repelled by the presence of “little dictators,” just as anyone can fear the power and authority of an omnipotent state. It seems that not everyone can equally perceive the more potent or dangerous threat.
Friday, July 08, 2005
A Fox In The Left's Henhouse
(The following essay was origionally posted at this site last year and yes, I do this to "buy time" as well as to repeat commentary on issues that remain noteworthy)
“Fair and balanced” isn’t fair?…
So, what’s the problem with FOX News? I remember an Irish expat here in Japan -- a leftist of course -- deriding my intelligence because I “get all [my] information from Fox News.” At the time, I hadn’t even seen Fox News. Since then I’ve taken to looking at their web site and…what’s the problem?
For decades, the big three networks, along with PBS and CNN have shown a one track NY Times style of non-objectivity.
To claim that the “mainstream” television networks are objective is a laughable concept. In addition to plenty of anecdotal analysis, there is now considerable factual appraisal that demonstrates a left-wing tilt to most “news” from this cabal of elites. There have been books (i.e. Bernard Goldberg’s, “Bias,” and “Arrogance”) and private watch-dog organizations (i.e. Accuracy In Media, and, The Media Research Center) that have pointed out what is obvious to many of us, that the pseudo-intellectuals of journalism have an agenda which colors their presentation of events.
CBS, before the election, “objectively” (with forged documents) told us that George Bush was overly favored in the National Guard (wow, big news!). FOX News tells us the details of Iraq’s Oil for Food scandal and the incidental fact that an American soldier shooting a wounded Iraqi, came after several incidents of other “wounded” terrorists shooting American troops. Perhaps some times, “the peoples right to know” is best attained when information is coming from different sources with different sympathies and biases.
Still, the media elites and their sympathizers insist that they are objective centrists. In all honesty, I think FOX is biased to the right and the previously mentioned entrenched media institutions are biased, to the left. So, again, what’s the problem? People can choose which channel to watch…which actually is the problem to some. FOX’s viewing audience continues to rise. The left and their mouthpieces don’t like it when people consult another perspective. When one watches FOX, you get the impression that they actually like America. The entrenched opposition’s “objective” appraisal always seems to default to the anti-U.S. stance. When seeking to understand the war we’re presently fighting – a conflict that goes far beyond Iraq – it probably would be a good idea to get a variety of viewpoints. Does this occur on ABC – CBS – MSNBC – PBS, or the British compulsory funded state media?
I say, let the “objective” Left continue their anti-Bush, anti- U.S., anti-Free Market, “News,” and let FOX tell us the things these other clowns have hidden from us for decades.
“Diversity” implies difference. I’m glad there are now different news source to keep the other one’s on their toes.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Tax Dollars Put To Good Use -- For "The Revolution"
I usually don't cite Ann Coulter. Even though I agree with many (perhaps most) of her views, I realize that her delivery is perhaps too aggressive for one trying to make a reasoned point. She's not a moderate and I wouldn't call her a libertarian -- particularly regarding her views on religion. None the less, she often gets to the point and peppers her argument with facts and insights that can't be just brushed aside.
I have to include this link to her most recent rant because it gives examples of some of the left's most pathetic exercises in nonsense. I've read of some of these "expenditures" before, but to see them together with other examples of how Washington disperses confiscated funds (tax money) can certainly get one worked up over just how much the lefties have permeated the fabric of government (and the utter absurdity of those things they support and promote).
Keep in mind when reading the examples of the NEA's (National Endowment for the Arts) assistance to sex excess and religion bashing, that the Jacobin class, although thoroughly supportive of cultural degradation in the name of freedom of speech, becomes hyper-moral and restrictive when they finally achieve power (this has been the case throughout their history).
The usual freedoms to use extorted funds (taxes) for the purpose of undermining free society and promoting "the revolution" -- pathetic, as usual.
Good vs. Evil; and the Inability to Recognize Either
“...Evil Empire...” “...Axis of Evil...”
When phrases such as these by former President Ronald Reagan and current president George Bush were publicly stated, the response from certain quarters was predictable. “How could they say such things, particularly in view of our own record of genocide and imperial aggression?”
Just as some of us can tell the difference between a scorpion and a grass-hopper, so also can we discern the very real differences between open democratic society and evil tyrannies. This should be a simple common sense observation, but apparently it’s not. Ironically, it is often our “most educated” (academics, intellectuals, journalists, and “artists”) who are typically unable to note the extreme and observable distinctions between a middle-class pop culture and a mega-state tyranny (i.e. Cuba, or the Former Soviet Union).
Even the most die-hard atheist in the West can not hear the word “evil” without understanding its meaning as a term soaked in millennia of theistic guidelines for living. Evil to a Westerner, does not simply mean “really bad.” Leftists would no doubt prefer that no such word existed as they can only see it’s limited application to the forces that challenge their own self-perception as vanguards of the good. They’ll permit the word’s use in describing the millions killed by Hitler (good call!) or thousands killed by a banana republic military dictator, but when more kindred spirits (e.g. communists) have killed millions, then evil becomes a relative term. It’s difficult for the left to use the “E” word in references to a socialist dictator. To some, describing dictatorships as evil is going a bit too far, particularly if assumptions regarding noble motives are naïve enough (and if one considers an "egalitarian" society of imposed conformity "noble"). Even a Nazi style socialist -- the Baath party of Iraq was socialist -- Saddam Hussein, has been cut considerable slack by the left when compared to their ultimate demon, the current President from Texas.
Of course, one can argue that there are degrees of good and evil. There are few if any individuals or nations that could be called, completely, one or the other. America and individual citizens have certainly done evil things. On the flip side, Hitler liked dogs and Ho Chi Minh did photo-ops with playing children.
When one criticizes the horrors of extreme evil as a method of governance, one can be sure the denizens of the left will want to focus instead (in a sort of polemic retaliation) on the weaknesses or failings of free society and the evil some individuals or institutions may commit within such a political and economic framework. To them an imposed famine on millions is morally the equivalent of a 5% unemployment rate or state subsidy cutbacks. The state directed coercion of millions and torture of philosophical opposition is the equivalent, to them, of renegade service personnel humiliating terrorist prisoners. To the left, good and evil are on a sliding scale that always slides in favor of good in more collectivist systems or ideals. What are a few million deaths when you’re opposing the true evils of a free market and "inequality?"
Back to reality: The Soviet Union was an evil empire – it was an Empire and it was evil. Most on the left have difficulty acknowledging this, particularly in view of their absurd perception of America as the true evil “empire” of the world. To confront them on this issue is futile, which is why we are fortunate that those with common sense outnumber demagogues of political idealism.
At the risk of sounding like a “McCarthyite” I’m going to state emphatically that communism itself is evil. Fascism – which is nothing but another sect of socialist thought (socialism plus nationalism, overt militarism, and a little private property to generate cash) – is clearly evil. Freedom is not evil, whether applied to the exchange of goods and services (capitalism) or having free choices in reading material. Evil people acting within free society do not magically make freedom itself evil.
Recognizing that there are forces for good or evil in the world is not a difficult or particularly complex judgment call, and recognizing which is which is not particularly hard either. Odd that many with degrees in literature, linguistics, or political science (for example) are troubled by such clear notions. Odder still that, in those few cases where they will make a distinction, a society of diverse and adaptable individuals is seen in a more negative light, while collectivist monoliths are often viewed with great sympathy if not adoration.
Some of us can look at grass-hoppers and scorpions or democracy and dictatorships and know which one is poisonous …or evil. Others seem lost in mind-games, in honor of "planned" society...and unplanned thought.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
The dust hasn’t begun to settled on the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the nature of eminent domain -- government seizure of private property (with "just" compensation).
This landmark ruling will certainly put the "progressives" in a quandary. The decision increases the chances that a local government will kick a poor, middle-class, or rich individual or family off their private property, while providing token compensation (determined by that same government -- of course).
Eminent domain used to legally sanction the seizure of private property in the cause of public use (Bridges, highways, schools, etc.). Certainly no one liked leaving the family home or farm for this "greater good," but most, reluctantly, “cooperated” -- they had no choice, and the motives seemed reasonable. After the recent ruling, they still have no choice, but now their loss can be for no better reason than the government's desire to favor a higher revenue producing mall, store, or condo-complex.
The ruling is of course complex and does afford a local government’s choice to maintain the status quo, but many local governments will no doubt be lured by the prize of increased tax revenue.
Additional fallout from this latest abridgment of individual rights is insightfully pointed out by Neal Boortz (the entire appraisal is well worth reading and an equally insightful update can be read here as well). The mere possibilities inherent in this decision greatly increases the risk any party must now take when purchasing real estate and it will also automatically –-unnaturally -- reduce values of real estate (when one now considers the dramatically increased possibility that owned land can potentially be "purchased" on command by local governments at bureaucrat determined rates).
Now where does this put the left? Libertarians -- definitely "pro-business" (assuming consensual contract between free parties) -- are firmly in support of private property rights and I don't need to tell you, we don't care a whole lot for government in general, let alone schemes for enhancing its revenue (e.g. taxes). This ruling is one of the worst-case scenarios for those of us who favor liberty and the Constitution and are opposed to the authority of the state over individual lives and their property. It's probably too early to gauge where the socialists really stand on this, and where they do will tell us still more regarding their philosophy on "things in general." They’re clearly no friend of Wal-Mart, real estate developers, or any business enterprise (well, okay, maybe the corner hardware store will pass if they don't get too big or "rich" from their effort). On the other hand, the very concept of private property and individual ownership (vs. "public" anything) is anathema to the left. I can't help but assume that more than a few “progressives” are secretly thrilled by the state's new authority to seize private property for "public good" (higher tax revenue), but the paradox is, this will occur at great benefit to institutions like Wal-Mart and the local land developer. What’s a Jacobin to do to remain consistent?
This is an opportunity for those on the left to now show their true colors. Are they for "the people" (individuals, their choices, and property), or for the authority of the state over all? I’m going to guess that many will give Wal-Mart and the like a pass on this one, considering the alternative is acknowledging the primacy of the individual and private property. To tell the truth, if they oppose the ruling, they’ll get a little more respect from me; if they support it, it will be further confirmation that their collectivist authoritarian philosophy is headed to new lows.