Saturday, April 03, 2004

FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Two American GIs Killed in Iraq: "Two American military personnel were killed in separate attacks in Iraq Friday, military officials said, as a homicide bomber detonated explosives outside a town hall, killing two people but causing no injuries to U.S. troops." (emphasis added)

OK, I need to get this off my chest: I'm a partisan. There's no question that I'm a Republican, and a bit of a hawkish one at that. I'm pro-Israel, pro-War in Iraq, etc. BUT, I am sick and tired of Fox News using the phrase "homicide bomber." Enough already. It was kind of cute when it started and we could all snicker and say "ok, they want to emphasize that they don't approve of the method." Grammatically, this is a stupid choice.

The word "suicide" in the phrase "suicide bomber" is not used to emphasize that a suicide occured at the expense of the homicides that occured. In a sentence that states clearly two soldiers were killed by a bomber, it's obvious that murders happened. The point of "suicide" is to specify that it wasn't a roadside bomb, but an individual who also blew him(her)self up in the attack. How can we convince Fox of this fact? Please feel free to make suggestions.

CNN.com - Disney character accused of fondling - Apr 2, 2004: "Chartrand is accused of fondling the breasts of a woman and her 13-year-old daughter as he stood between them posing for a picture at Walt Disney World's Toontown February 21, according to an affidavit."

Weird. And creepy. Rolled into one.
Of course, we all knew the Disney people were perverts...

Ichiblog
Matto had a great post in response to this TNR post. Worth reading both.

UPDATE: seditious libel also has some brief commentary, more in support of the TNR article.

My Thoughts Since Akhil Amar apparently stole some of my thoughts for his lecture, I'll steal some of his now, from his book The Bill of Rights (buy it on Amazon.com):

"The establishment clause did more than prohibit Congress from establishing a national church. Its mandate that Congress shall make no law 'respecting an establishment of religion' also prohibited the national legislature from interfering with, or trying to disestablish, churches established by state and local governments. In 1789, at least six states had government-supported churches--Congregationalism held sway in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut under local-rule establishment schemes, while Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia each featured a more general form of establishment in its state constitution...Interestingly, the federal establishment clause as finally worded most closely tracked the proposal from the ratifying convention of one of the staunchest establishment states, New Hampshire, that "Congress shall make no laws touching religion"; this proposal, if adopted, would obviously have immunized New Hampshire from any attempted federal disestablishment."
Now, you may not agree with Professor Amar's research on this topic, but it seems to me that the Framers had no intention of eliminating God or religion from public life, and even the workings of the government. They wanted to leave it up to the states, and make sure that the federal government had no say in either including or excluding religion from anything. So, maybe "Under God" shouldn't have ever been inserted, and "In God We Trust" shouldn't have been place on the money. But, to the people who want to exclude prayer from schools at the federal level, or want everyone to restrain from Under God in public schools, I say, deal with it in the states as the framers intended. (hat tip to Robby for calling my attention to this passage today -- who says Jeopardy kids aren't smart?)

Friday, April 02, 2004

CNN.com - Bomb found on Spanish rail line - Apr 2, 2004: "A bomb found under high-speed rail tracks in Spain appears to be made of the same explosives used in last month's deadly Madrid train attacks, Interior Minister Angel Acebes said."

Interesting. You mean the terrorists haven't called off their attacks because they got what they wanted? Appeasement doesn't work? Who would have thought that to be the case?

Seriously, though, this belies the claim that doing what the terrorist want will ever get them to stop. Appeasement just encourages more threats. You may recall my If You Give a Mouse a Cookie post. It's true: he's going to want a glass of milk.

And not only has Spain's capitulation threatened themselves, but the rest of the world as well. These are the words of a 'muslim extremist' today in London (via Andrew Sullivan) from ThisisLondon: "'There is nothing that me and you or the British services or the Government can do about stopping an attack in this country. There is nothing Tony Blair, this liar, can do to stop al Qaeda. There is nothing that MI5 or MI6 can do to stop al Qaeda from bombing London. That is the reality and the only person to blame is Tony Blair himself. They warned him in Madrid - pull your troops out and we will not bomb you. They did not listen. They gave them bloodshed in Madrid. They warned them in New York - stop the terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. They did not listen. They gave them bloodshed in New York. Now Tony Blair has been warned.'"

Thanks to Spain, we're all at a greater risk, particularly right before an election. Oh good.

From Today's Political Diary:"It turns out that the book was originally set for an April publication but was moved up to March 29, so as not to interfere with Bob Woodward's new tome on the Iraq war. Then on March 10, Mr. Clarke told Martha Levin of Free Press that he would speak at the 9/11 commission's hearings on March 24. "When we knew that he was testifying, we knew we had to move the pub date up [again], because the testimony is televised and we would have lost 60 Minutes if we hadn't moved it up," Ms. Levin told the Observer.

The book was published on March 22, the day before Mr. Clarke's committee appearance. So much for his claims that he didn't play a role in moving the publication up to coincide with his melodramatic testimony. "


Just a dude trying to sell a book.

UPDATE: Also, a self-aggrandizing dude trying to sell a book: "The attention being paid to Condoleezza Rice's upcoming testimony borders on insane, or at least demonstrates how politicized the panel has become despite protestations to the contrary. Aside from a lucky shot, any decision made in the White House that would have prevented 9/11 would have had to come two, three, four years before Mr. Bush arrived. Indeed, the essence of the argument between her and Richard Clarke concerns how fast the administration was moving on an al Qaeda policy that couldn't possibly have made any difference to 9/11.

No member of the panel can be so naïve as to believe that a government in office less than eight months isn't mostly on autopilot, following tracks laid down by its predecessor. The Washington Post purports to find significance in the fact that Ms. Rice was scheduled to give a speech about missile defense until the terrorist attacks intervened. Mr. Clarke purports to find significance in the fact that the administration had a bee in its bonnet about Iraq. But why stop there? It was preoccupied with tax cuts, Social Security reform, Medicare reform and every other issue it had presented to voters. That's what new administrations do.

Last night's PBS Frontline special on the Rwanda genocide does shed a new light on Mr. Clarke's bureaucratic career. He was a State Department official in charge of peacekeeping at the time and engaged in a shouting match over the phone with then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright when she resisted withdrawing UN troops in the early days of the genocide. In contrast to his ubiquity on TV today apologizing for 9/11, Mr. Clarke declined to make himself available to PBS to discuss Rwanda. "

WSJ.com - Very Awkward Facts (sorry, subscription only)
To those who point out that Mr. Clarke is a registered Republican as if that lends him some sort of credibility in criticizing the President, here is a woman described as "an adviser on Iraq to the 1992 Clinton campaign," who says: "Mr. Clarke is a man famously intolerant of those who disagree with him. When he cannot win the argument, he cheats. And that is what he has done again in the pages of his book. In order to explain why he opposed the war with Iraq, Mr. Clarke mischaracterizes the arguments of those of us who favored it." She also refers to him as "Clinton counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke," not "Bush aide" as the rest of the press seems particularly fond of. Her case against his assertions is also withering.


This is worth reading. If you don't have a subscription, use the email me link at the top of this page, and I'll be happy to get you a copy.

UPDATE [4/4/2004]: The article is now available free to the general public, here.

Op-Ed Columnist: Smear Without Fear: "And administration officials shouldn't be able to spread stories without making themselves accountable. If an administration official is willing to say something on the record, that's a story, because he pays a price if his claims are false. But if unnamed 'administration officials' spread rumors about administration critics, reporters have an obligation to check the facts before giving those rumors national exposure. And there's no excuse for disseminating unchecked rumors because they come from 'the White House,' then denying the White House connection when the rumors prove false. That's simply giving the administration a license to smear with impunity. "

Or, Mr. Krugman, maybe an over-zealous reporter made a claim, decided to attribute it to the White House, realized the error, and corrected it. Ever consider that? Wolf Blitzer is hardly the type to cover for the White House. Same goes for Daryn Kagan. You don't get to accuse the White House in the fact that a third party attributes something to them and then retracts it. I know you like to accuse the President of being a fascist, but he really doesn't control the national media.

Kerry, Candidate and Catholic, Creates Uneasiness for Church

There aren't any specific quotes in this article that I found all that important, but I think this is an interesting issue over all. Many people have raised Kerry's similarities to the first JFK (not the least of whom have been in Kerry's employ), and particularly concerning the fact that he is Catholic. In reality, while Kerry was raised Catholic, and maintains that image for publicity's sake, he violates some of the key teachings of The Church, quite publicly. With JFK, the question was "do we want a Catholic?" With Kerry, it's more accurately "do we want a Catholic who isn't actually Catholic?"

yaledailynews.com - A high-profile assassination could lead to peace: "Unfortunately, Arafat has thus far proven incapable of making peace, and I believe that my hopes for the region will not be realized in the near future."

Bull. Arafat is entirely capable of peace. He won the Nobel Peace Prize because he gained major concessions from Israel, which could have led to a long-lasting peace. Instead, he decided to cancel the talks and declare a renewed intifada against Israel. He is capable. He chooses to continue the battle because he does not want peace, but the destruction of the Jewish state.

CNN.com - Kerry camp challenges Bush to debates - Apr 1, 2004: "Bush campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin told CNN Thursday, 'The Bush-Cheney campaign looks for a vigorous debate at the appropriate time. But John Kerry should finish the debate with himself first -- being on both sides of each issue.'"

This is a great sound byte, and the Bush team should keep repeating it as often as possible.
BUT, the longer Bush waits to accept Kerry's debate challenges, the more it will seem like he's got something to fear. They can drag this out at least a little while longer, but not too much.

I, for one, want to see some debates. When Kerry is forced to give his positions, what will happen? Or will he manage to dance around them without ever answering anything? I think it'll be interesting as well to see if W has gotten any better in front of the cameras.

LILEKS (James) The Bleat

Lileks does a photoblog today, including several pictures of an old service station. He mentions the "ding-ding" that you used to hear at gas stations when you drove over the snake. I had almost forgotten that noise from my younger days, but it brought back a fond memory. I'm proud to say in response to his "You can hear the sound you made when you drove over the rubber snake: dingding. If you don't, you're under 20." that I'm over 20 and proud of it.

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: "This is not an argument against dissent and disagreement. It is an argument that George Bush's declaration of war on terror, including Iraq, is more right than it is wrong. The more we step down from that war, the closer we and our bureaucracies will return to the vulnerabilities that led to September 11."

I wish I were this articulate, as it would have helped an argument I was making earlier today. Read the whole thing.

Day By Day by Chris Muir, cartoon for: 4/2/2004

Another great one from Mr. Muir. If you don't check Day By Day daily, you should start.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Dell 'learns its lesson' after Indian call centre chaos - silicon.com: "Dell admits it has 'learnt its lesson' after being forced to drop its Indian call centre last year after customer complaints about the quality of service.
The call centre operation for the OptiPlex desktops and Latitude laptops was moved back to the US and, in an exclusive interview with silicon.com, Dell CIO Randy Mott said the Bangalore centre was unable to deal satisfactorily with the volume of calls generated by the rapid growth of those product lines. "


I must take at least partial credit for Dell having "learnt its lesson" on this issue. I dealt with Dell's Indian call center repeatedly because of my work at Metaserver, and it was attrocious. The people were smart, and helpful, but their accents were too heavy to have an easy flow of conversation. Since they've moved back to the states, you are more likely to get a Texan woman. She also has an accent, but it makes the conversation pleasant and efficient. The lesson? Outsourcing isn't always the solution.

Political Wire: Wolfowitz Heading To Iraq?: "However, Cole makes an important observation: 'You also wonder whether Wolfowitz could be a successful ambassador, given the way he has sidelined and badmouthed the State Department. Wouldn't the foreign service officers find ways to sabotage him?' "

We had a discussion about an issue similar to this last August on diet coke for breakfast. I think we had some good comments. Check it out.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "The convoys carried food. They carried it to Fallujah."

This is all that needs to be said. I know I flew off the handle a bit yesterday in reaction to the horiffic news out of Fallujah, and I apologize to anyone I disturbed. What happened yesterday simply reminded me too much of the way I felt two and a half years ago. Frustrated, hurt, angry, violated, confused, the list goes on. It's a visceral thing, not a logical one. I'll never understand evil.

UPDATE: Matt Robinson of Sometime Blues commented that I sounded a lot like Bartlett in the West Wing. It wasn't intentional, though that is often on my mind when I think about things like what happened yesterday. For those of you who may not know the quote he was referring to, here it is:

Bartlet: Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation. He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words Civis Romanis: I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens. Where was Morris' protection, or anyone else on that plane? Where is the retribution for the families and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Americans shall walk this earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of mankind comes crashing down on your house?! In otherwords, Leo, what the hell are we doing here?
Leo: We are behaving the way a superpower ought to behave.
Bartlet: Well our behavior has produced some pretty crappy results. In fact, I'm not a hundred percent sure it hasn't induced them.
Leo: What are you talking about?
Bartlet: I'm talking about two hundred and eighty-six American marines in Beirut, I'm talking about Somalia, I'm talking about Nairobi.
Leo: And you think ratcheting up the body count is going to act as a deterrent?
Bartlet: You're damn right.
Leo then comes back and smacks him down pretty soundly for wanting to conquer the world. Still, I think this logic makes sense. We can make it clear that if you mess with the US, you will suffer inordinate amounts of pain. And we don't need to conquer the world to do it.

LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "I know this paints me as a buffoon of the tenth magnitude, but I don't care what France thinks, and I wonder why some are so eager to seek their approval. France is the only nation that behaves as high-handedly as China and somehow has the moral reputation of Tibet."

Everyone seems to be blogging on Lileks today, so I thought I'd join the trend. GO READ LILEKS!

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

CNN.com - Four U.S. civilians killed in Iraq - Mar 31, 2004: "Cheering residents in Fallujah pulled charred bodies from burning vehicles and hung them from a Euphrates River bridge.
Crowds gathered around the vehicles and dragged at least one of the bodies through the streets, witnesses said.
Residents pulled another body from one of the cars and beat it with sticks.
Also in the Fallujah region, five American soldiers died in a roadside bombing near Habbaniya, the U.S. military said."


My first thoughts on hearing this news were that we have reason now to wipe Fallujah off the face of the Earth. I know that's not a tenable position, but I am outraged and saddened by these actions. I want the culprits found, and I want them killed. But I don't want them tortured, or mutilated. I want one double-tap to the back of the head, and I want to pull the trigger. Let it ring forth from the highest towers in all the world that if you attack an American civilian, you will suffer the greatest of consequences.

The Volokh Conspiracy: "'In an analysis of American box-office receipts for 250 movies released last year, the Christian Film & Television Commission (CFTVC) found that films that stressed 'strong moral content' made an average $92,546,413 -- six times the revenue of those that focused on 'immoral, negative content.'
Those movies brought in an average $14,626,234.
On a broader scope, the study also found that from 2000 to 2003, movies with 'no nudity' brought in an average $137.8 million across the nation.
Films that depicted 'full male and/or female nudity' in those same years brought in an average of $43 million, however.'"


Volokh makes some of his own comments on this. I'd like to point out the obvious flaw in this analysis: the average revenue doesn't tell us anything. If there are only 3 movies that focus on 'strong moral content,' then obviously there'll be a higher demand for that lower supply. When one of those three movies comes out, it will be a big deal and draw large crowds. I'd be more interested to see the gross revenues of strongly moral movies versus those with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I guarantee you that they're higher on an order of magnitude.

Day By Day by Chris Muir, cartoon for: 3/31/2004

Today's Day-By-Day is great. I highly recommend it.

Freelance Bush Ad (via InstaPundit)

This is spectacular. I hope the Bush campaign buys the rights and puts this on TV. I tell you, it would have to be effective.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

CNN.com - U.S. will defend Muslim girl wearing head scarf in school - Mar 30, 2004: "'No student should be forced to choose between following her faith and enjoying the benefits of a public education,' Acosta said in a statement accompanying the government's court filing.
With the move, the U.S. government takes a position directly opposite that taken by the government of France, which earlier this year banned Muslim head scarves in public schools. "


God Bless America.

UPDATE: I've decided to expand on that sentiment a bit, and explain just why I love this country so much.

Our way of life is under attack. Freedom and democracy are in a death struggle with Islamic fundamentalism. Al Quaida and groups like it want to destroy our society. In response, we have been criticized around the world, and in our own country by the Left, for engaging in a crusade against Islam as a whole. It's moments like this that make me proud to point out the idiocy of that accusation. We are fighting terrorism, and those who hate the spread of freedom around the world. We are doing so with our military, with our diplomacy, and with actions like this one: defending everyone's right to believe in whatever they like, to whatever degree they like. I am ashamed of the school officials who suspended this girl, and thoroughly proud of the government officials who decided to intervene on her behalf. We live in a great society, built on individual rights. These are battles we cannot afford to lose, and I will spend my life fighting them and those that follow. I've quoted it on this page before, and I think it is again appropriate to repeat the words of Ronald Reagan, spoken before I was born (actually, about the time I was conceived) in January, 1983: "Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."

UPDATE: My brother mimics me on diet coke for breakfast: "Oh my god that Ashcroft and his precious Patriot Act are at it again... oh wait... maybe the Justice department isn't completely racist.

By the way, this is just one more way that we're better than France. Our national government DEFENDS little muslim girls who want to wear their traditional outfits to school. The French make them outlaws. But remember, if you outlaw headscarves, only outlaws will have headscarves... um... maybe that doesn't have the same ring to it that equivalent gun rights slogan has... oh well."

The Volokh Conspiracy: "But some gun-control advocates question the wisdom of teaching students about firearm safety at a time when many schools have taken a zero-tolerance approach to guns.

'It would become a bit of a challenge if you mix the two. Our view is that guns have no place on a public school campus,' said Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center near Los Angeles. . . ."


This logic is just stupid. To my knowledge, most schools have a zero-tolerance policy for sex on school grounds as well, but there's sex-ed in school. Same for drugs. Just because you don't allow something on the grounds doesn't mean you can't educate the students about safety in its use.

Yahoo! News - Heinz Seeks to Disavow Kerry Connection
More proof that boycotts work.

OpinionJournal - What's up with oil: A guide to why prices are so high: "New York's Charles Schumer and Barbara Boxer of California are attacking the decision to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and demanding that the White House release some oil. Just how releasing only 0.15% to 0.2% of the world's oil market will push down gasoline prices by 25 cents a gallon, the Senators don't reveal."

Kerry proposed a comprehensive energy policy the other day, including a 50 cent increase in gasoline taxes. You can calculate how much this will cost you here.

These facts, along with Bush's very effective recent TV ads, are probably behind the recent polling data which puts Bush back ahead of Kerry for the first time in over a month. Oh, and, we might like to remember that I pointed out Kerry would go ahead of Bush when he sewed up the nomination, fall back before the convention, surge ahead again at the convention and possibly when he names a running mate, and fall back through the rest of the summer. Let's see what happens.

UPDATE: CNN just said that in the 12 states where Bush has been running ads, he was down by 12 percentage points one month ago. Now he's up by 6 points. In the 38 states where ads are not running, Bush was up by 1% a month ago, now he is still up by 1 point. An 18 point shift in states with ads, and no change where there are no ads. It seems that the Bush campaign has a handle on television.

www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish: "Yes, it is possible to be dismayed, betrayed and depressed by this administration's political catering to bigotry. But it is just as possible to be grateful that it had the balls to liberate two countries from unspeakable horror and to have had the clarity to name the real evil in our day for what it is. And to fight it."

Money quote by Andrew Sullivan. We must remember to keep everything in perspective. Bush's opposition to Gay Marriage may be wrong, but when faced with the evil of terrorism and mass murder, he stood up where others would not have, including, by his own admission, Senator Kerry. If you are concerned about your freedoms, your right to live free from tyranny, vote Bush in November. If you want someone who will pay lip service to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without every actually standing up to do what's necessary in their defense (shut up, I know he served in Vietnam -- good for him), vote Kerry.

Apparently (*warning* shameless self-plug ahead) Akhil Amar, Constitutional Law scholar and professor at Yale Law School, lectured today on why he believes that in the next ten years we may see a successful amendment to the Constitution prohibiting gay marriage. My friend, Robby, was in the class, and said Amar used very similar points to what I said, mostly here, a month and a half ago. Amar believes that the country is not ready for gay marriage, and that attempts to force it through are likely to result in a backlash that could be strong enough to pass an amendment. Students objected to this, saying mostly "but we should be ready for it." Robby's thought was "we're all too ideological to realize that Brian is right." He has also concluded that I'll be successful because of my understanding of these issues outside of a classroom environment.

I'm flattered by Robby's comments, and his association of me with Professor Amar. I hope he's right about the successful thing.

End self-aggrandizing post.

CNN.com - Rice to testify in public, under oath - Mar 30, 2004

I have mixed reaction to this announcement. On the one hand, I'm angry as usual at the White House for taking an increasingly negative public reaction, and then giving in anyway. If they'd just let her testify to start with, none of the bad press would ever have happened.

On the other side, I agree with the fact that no precedent should be set of White House staff testifying. Rock and a hard place, I guess.

UPDATE: As is often the case, my brother says it better on diet coke for breakfast: "Don't stand on principal if you're willing to toss aside that principal. I don't really care whether she testifies or not. I don't think that there is much that she can say beyond a 'he said, she said' fight with Clarke, and I believe that the real reason that they don't have the Nat Sec Advisor testify (ever) is that it would take too much time. Cabinet level Secretaries spend something like 50% of their time on the Hill. If Condi had to do that, it would cripple her ability to coordinate all of the different National Security departments and agencies. But they never explained it that way. All they say is 'It's never been done before, so we stand on our principal' or 'It's a matter of Executive Privilege'. The problem is that Americans are used to 'Executive Privilege' being used ever since Nixon to cover-up scandals. It doesn't make a good argument. But they stick to it ANYWAY, pressure mounts, and then she has to back down off of what I thought were pretty emphatic refusals on 60 Minutes to testify, tuck her tail between her legs, and sheepishly stroll up the Hill. Way to go guys, you just lost ANOTHER media battle in the court of public opinion."

CNN.com - Poll: Bush's position against Kerry strengthens - Mar 29, 2004: "Part of the reason for the shift is that a more equal number of Democrats and Republicans now say they are likely to vote this year. In earlier polls taken in the heat of the primary season, Democrats had expressed more enthusiasm about voting than Republicans, which buoyed Kerry's numbers among likely voters."

Bush's numbers are going up, effectively, because Democrats are starting to admit they're not actually going to vote, they're just angry. Let's hope Rove gets that Religious Right to vote like he keeps promising.

LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "Later we got out some books to do "thinking lessons," as she likes to call it. I got the books at the drug store. Simple stuff -- predict the next symbol in the sequence, match objects, determine the order in which certain pictures should go, match the yellowcake assertion with the correct intelligence agency, etc. "

I love Lileks

Monday, March 29, 2004

It seems that my theme for the week (continuing from last week) and possibly over this entire election cycle is quickly becoming liberal bias, particularly in the media. (Who knows, maybe there's a book, or at least a senior thesis in this.) In this post, I want to speak a little to that bias as a whole, based largely on my observations of it in academia

The overwhelming majority of my professors at Yale are liberals. Some are unabashedly so, and wear their bias as a badge of honor. There are also those entirely oblivious of their own views. I'll set these groups aside, as they create an obvious change in their classroom environments.

The interesting ones are those who recognize their personal beliefs and try to avoid them in teaching. The reason I find it interesting is that they never seem to succeed. On the whole, the aim is honorable, but impossible--bias always leaks out. There are obvious examples, such as when a professor places himself in a hypothetical and always plays the Democrat. But again, I want to ignore these cases and focus on those that have more clear repercussions for politics and the media.

I'm talking here about the way a professor approaches a lecture, based on the way he approaches his study. Presumably, professors have spent significantly more time researching and analyzing his area of expertise than any of their students. Because of this, I am amazed by how often a professor will admit to a student of opposing ideology "wow, I never thought of looking at it from that perspective." Perhaps even more surprising is how often he will follow that up with some reason to dismiss the new idea.

Similarly, a professor will often start a discussion with a statement like "admittedly, process A has the intuitive benefit of X, so let's move on to analysis of the more questionable result, Y." I'll sit there, my brain screaming "wait, X is neither intuitive nor necessarily a benefit!" Usually I'll see one or two faces around the room displaying the same objection, but usually we aren't given the chance to actually object.

My conclusion from this is the same that I've drawn time and again about the media: these professors are not trying to spin their classes intentionally, but when you look at information from a given perspective, you're going to have limited set of possible conclusions. Don't get me wrong--everyone behaves this way; it's human nature for both liberals and conservatives.

So what's the problem? The total liberal domination of the media and academia. As individuals, each professor, each reporter is doing his best to be objective and help his students/readers to gain a broad understanding of the pertinent information, and to allow them to draw their own, intelligent conclusions. As a whole, however, when the information set is controlled by people of a common mindset, only specific points of view will be emphasized--alternate views will be mentioned, but mostly in passing, not gaining fair and full representation. In the current environment, this means that students and media followers will rarely see the conservative perspective at full strength, and a liberal bias will inevitably result.

Please use the forum to comment on this; I'd like as much input as possible.

yaledailynews.com - Kerry adapts policies, Bush resists changes:
"Imagine that there was just a snowstorm up in Vermont, that the ski conditions are spectacular, that you have no plans or commitments for the weekend, and that your friends are all clamoring for a ski trip. Under these circumstances, you might very well decide to hop in the car and start driving north to ski country. But what if it recently rained, the ski slopes are full of bare patches, and you have a major paper due the Monday after your potential trip? Would you still go skiing that weekend? Probably not...At the current political moment, it's clear which presidential candidate would go skiing regardless of the changed circumstances, and which candidate would evaluate the new facts and change his mind."

Here's the problem, Nick: if you're a leader, you lead. You decide what the climate is, and you make a choice. To my way of thinking, Bush would hear a forecast of a big storm, try to drive in before it hit, and be sitting pretty if it turned out to be true, with a great day of skiing ahead of him. If it rained, and the slopes weren't quite as good, maybe he'd go antiquing instead.

Kerry, by way of contrast, would drive to the Massachusetts border, turn around and drive halfway back, change his mind and drive up to Vermont. Then he'd see the rain, drive back through the night, call a press conference and say "I was never in Vermont, and I never intended to go. After all, I have a paper due on Monday."

The Question We Should Be Asking (washingtonpost.com): "I suppose I should be more interested in what is (or was last week) the question of the day: Did our government have reason to know that something like Sept. 11 would happen and, if so, who failed to take appropriate preventive action?

But I can't get past the previous question: Why are we in Iraq?"


I must admit, I've never read a column by Mr. Raspberry before. Maybe I should state doing so more often, as he seems to have cleared up a point I've been very confused about for almost a week now: why is Clarke such a big deal?

It seems to me that the biggest thing he can add to the 9/11 commission is what everyone else can add: "we didn't see it coming, we probably should have, but we likely wouldn't have been able to prevent it all the same." But, strangely, Clarke is more enduring. Why? Because of his book, the topic of which is mainly concerned with why we shouldn't be in Iraq. It seems that President Bush has finally succeeded in tying the War in Iraq to the War on Terror, if only in the minds of liberals. Everytime one hears mention of the latter, he immediately goes into attack-mode regarding the latter.

I don't want this to be a long post, so I'll end with this: if the biggest complaint the Left has about W's prosecution of the War on Terror is that, when it wasn't quite necessary, we deposed a murderous dictator who wanted with all his heart to pose a threat to the United States, then they're seriously running out of steam.

OpinionJournal - John Fund on the Trail: "Reporters spent days hounding White House spokesmen for records on the subject. In the end, it became clear that Mr. Bush chose to serve stateside during the war, was lax in attending guard duty during his last year, and had to feverishly make it up before he was honorably discharged. It's clear President Bush doesn't want to talk about his service, but reporters pressed for answers anyway.
It's time they do the same for Mr. Kerry, who has laid down his actions in the Vietnam era as a marker for his character and, according to the Boston Globe, has refused to release his military records. Instead, Jack Kelly, a respected military columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, believes many journalists are 'more interested in defeating President Bush than in providing readers with potentially important information which reflects poorly on Sen. John Kerry.'"


I agree with Mr. Fund, as I often do. I disagree with his reasoning, however. In this case, it isn't so much because of the liberal media's bias against President Bush and in favor of Mr. Kerry. The fact of the matter is, most modern-day reporters are liberals who, in their youth, opposed the war in Vietnam, or, at the very least have come to the belief that it was wrong even if they didn't think so then. To their thinking, Kerry's involvement in VVAW was proper, even if specific actions were improper, so they will never bother to hammer down what he did or didn't do in that context. This is a pure and simple misleading of the American public, and the reason Fox News has become so popular, along with Rush Limbaugh and others. (For more on that, see David Skinner's piece from the Weekly Standard.) It's not because they offer truth, and they certainly go too far in the extreme, but at the very least they offer information not present in the general media discourse.

Why haven't we heard the following before?

"In April 1971, Mr. Kerry captivated television audiences with his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His testimony went far beyond the now-uncontroversial position that Vietnam was a mistake. Mr. Kerry took a benign view of the Viet Cong and urged immediate withdrawal.

He told the senators that American servicemen had committed atrocities, including the razing of villages "in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." These were not isolated incidents, Mr. Kerry claimed, but happened "on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." He said that 200,000 Vietnamese a year were "murdered by the United States of America."

A Kerry spokesman now distances the candidate from the word "murdered," saying he "never suggested or believed and absolutely rejects the idea that the word applied to service of the American soldiers in Vietnam." But as the New Hampshire Sunday News put it, if he wasn't saying U.S. soldiers murdered 200,000 people a year, then who in the world could he have meant? The USO?

Mr. Kerry now says he was relying on the "highly documented and highly disturbing" stories he heard at a Detroit conference funded by Jane Fonda. The Naval Investigative Service later found that some of the most grisly testimony there was given by false witnesses."


And isn't that purgery? He was, no doubt, testifying before congress on authority, as an expert, and I believe he was supposed to have based his testimony on his experiences as a veteran. If he was basing his knowledge on things said at a conference stateside, then he was misleading Congress in that context.

Let's hope that now that Mr. Fund has placed this information in the WSJ, we'll get a little more dialogue from the Kerry campaign, and a little less covering up.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Ex-Bush Aide Calls for Testimony on Terrorism to Be Opened: "Richard A. Clarke, the former White House terrorism chief, said on the NBC News program 'Meet the Press' that he favored the declassification of his testimony two years ago at a Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks, along with such other materials as memos and e-mail messages.
Republicans in Congress had been pressing for the declassification of Mr. Clarke's testimony to examine whether the claims in his book and in more recent, public testimony are in sync."


This should get interesting...

CNN.com - French lawyer says he will defend Saddam - Mar 28, 2004: "A French attorney who has represented other notorious figures said Sunday that he will defend ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in any future trial."

Leave it to a Frenchman...

CNN.com - Daughters of Minnesota AG arrested - Mar 28, 2004: "After police twice told the women to leave, Elizabeth Hatch ran toward the squad car and struck an officer in the face, knocking off the officer's glasses... She continued to scuffle as the officers tried to take her into custody.
As officers tried to put Elizabeth Hatch into the squad car, her sister struck an officer in the face... When Anne Hatch was put into the squad car she kicked out the rear passenger-side window..."


And we thought the Bush girls were bad...

Kerry Under Pressure for A Blueprint (washingtonpost.com): "Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992 as a New Democrat, and eight years later, George W. Bush ran as a compassionate conservative. But even after presumptively winning the Democratic nomination, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) has yet to put a distinctive stamp on his candidacy, his party or the shape of a Kerry presidency. "

I could also say: "Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) has yet to put a distinctive stamp on his candidacy, his party, or the shape of a Kerry Senate seat." This is his key: equivocation. Somehow, he's survived 2 decades in politics without taking a position. Maybe this will be the election where he's finally pinned down. Somehow I doubt it.

CNN.com - Documents on FBI's surveillance of Kerry stolen - Mar 27, 2004: "'I hadn't gotten a chance to review them all. I am sure there were some things about John Kerry that weren't known,' Nicosia said. 'These files would also cast a bad light on the ... Republican Party. This surveillance happened under the Nixon White House and Nixon FBI.'"

And no one will think twice of holding current Republicans accountable for what happened 30 years ago. Of course, if we try to hold anything against Kerry for what he said back then, we'll get a big "That was then, this is now."

CNN.com - U.S. congratulations anger China - Mar 27, 2004: "China has expressed displeasure at congratulations sent by the United States to Taiwan's leader, saying the 'incorrect act' undermined Washington's commitment to the one-China policy."

OK, China, if you're not happy with our behavior under the one-China policy, here's an idea: we'll switch to a two-China policy. Now back off.
(disclaimer: this will be the White House's response only in my dreams)

CNN.com - U.N. to suspend Gaza operations - Mar 27, 2004: "The United Nations will suspend several operations in Gaza beginning Monday to protest what it call Israel's obstruction of their work."

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I'm not a huge supporter of the Palestinian cause, or, at the very least I'm a huge detractor of their methods. HOWEVER: This sounds a bit silly. The UN is effectively punishing Palestine for Israel's behavior. What sense does that make?

Senate Leader Assails Clarke, Asks to See Past Testimony: "The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, today accused a former counterterrorism official of exploiting Sept. 11, 2001, and said he wanted to compare the official's recent public testimony critical of the Bush administration with secret testimony he gave two years ago while working for President Bush."

I've been thinking about this for the past few days, and want to make a few comments. While it seems, on the surface, like a good idea, this could seriously backfire. In simplistic terms, Frist wants to use Clarke's previous testimony to impeach Clarke's current assertions, a sort of self-Fisking, as Glenn Reynolds has taken to calling it. It sounds nice.

The problem is, Clarke has an easy out. 'From within the adminstration, I did not think it appropriate to use my position to publicly criticize my boss,' or 'I was forced into silence,' or 'upon reflection, we made some inappropriate choices that at the time I did not see.' Any of these would work in the court of public opinion, and betray the good work that Frist is trying to do. Watch this, I predict another PR fiasco (now becoming quite common) for the Bush White House.