Monday, January 24, 2005


Sen. Boxer takes victim role after hearing for Rice

Sen. Boxer takes victim role after hearing for Rice - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - January 24, 2005: "'When you really don't know what to say about a specific, you just attack the person who is asking the questions,' Mrs. Boxer told CNN. "

For Boxer to say that Condi was attacking her is strategy and a poor one. If she believed in what she was saying, she should merely have left it at that instead of commenting in this way. (She shows weakness of conviction by continuing to comment.)Rice had just as much reason to be offended as Boxer did to ask the questions. I think we all just wish it had not been a set of questions designed to curry favor with her constituency in front of cameras. If someone says another is a liar, it is perfectly natural for the person to say that they are not, and that it should not have been said. Seems simple to me.


Dumb Argument

DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2005�: "'Bush's Republican Party is full of ill-conceived, dangerous ideas about the future of Social Security. But no idea seems more dangerous or patently unfair than linking Social Security benefits to a person's race and gender,' blasted one well-placed Dem."

This is another really stupid battle. He was merely saying that all factors are open for discussion. He was also trying to say that if certain races were prone to early death, etc, that the payouts should be fair, and that those races should not be paying for the longer lives of other Americans. Democrats have a habit of trying to make mountains out of political molehills, but this is really silly, because they are complaining about how the committee will discuss solutions. Wait until we see the solutions, and find fault in that. God forbid they try to be overly fair.


Are We Really The Only Ones on the Planet Who Deserve Freedom?

Freedom Is Not a Doctrine ( "Promoting Democracy Is the Wrong Priority for Foreign Policy"

I am always pleased when I can save time by reading the headline, and see just how dumb the article will be. Here we have, Promoting Democracy is the Wrong Priority for Foreign Policy. Does Richard Haass have an internal dialogue or an editor? Clearly neither worked when he put the title together, because the premise is so silly as to be jest. While I think there are grounds to debate about Bush's foreign policy, I also think that the broader desire for freedom and democracy fits well into our collective values and into the clear desire of the peoples we will be helping. In no small way, people like Haass provide fodder for intellectual amusement when they promote such idiocy in very public places. To think that Americans and Western Europeans are the only living souls that seek and deserve freedom and democracy is to show inappropriate hubris. For the party that has been the human rights party, they seem to have put the human rights picket signs down when this President has shown that compassion often has a toll, but also a huge payoff for everyone. Iraqis and Afghans will be the ones to tell us that. Haass clearly did not do his homework.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Making Our Own Secrets Public

MSNBC - Report: U.S. conducting secret missions in Iran: "The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.
The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.
Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible."

Who needs enemies when we have our own press to tell our secrets? My head spins with this kind of idiocy. I am not sure that it is any surprise to Iran that we are there, but to tell who we are in cahoots with, and what we are trying to do seems counter-productive if you want America to have the edge in the war on terror. Even Anti-Bush journalists should have more sense than to put our secret security operations in jeopardy.


Catering to Redneck Thought in the Worst Way

Not Always Diplomatic in Her First Major Post: "But critics say Rice was harsh, even ruthless, during her administration, the one time in her gilded career she has overseen a large institution. Improbably, the youngest provost in Stanford history and the first black and woman to hold the post helped prompt a Labor Department probe into the treatment of women and minorities."

It is always interesting to read a hit piece by liberal leaning media, because their standards of equal opportunity and investigation matter little when they disagree politically. With this article, they seem to be catering to the lowest common denominator in our redneck world. Here, they intimate that she was hired only because she was black and a woman, but did not give special treatment to other minorities if they did not produce. They intimate a harsh style, where they would be less likely to if they were referring to a man. By suggesting that she never really deserved the job to begin with, they are able to call into question every decision that she made, but it is all a bit silly. She was a special advisor to the first Bush Administration, a Soviet scholar, and more than a bit deserving of high posts at this institution. Her harsh style is to be lauded in a university where tenure allows for bad behavior and off-the-wall curriculum. I agree that we should delve into anyone's background who is put up for high posts in the Administration, but a piece like this does nothing but get the rednecks to remember that she is a woman and black. Shame on the LA Times.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Sour Kraut' Asks the Right Questions

Rather Biased ( "Did Mapes and Rather devote a fraction of the resources they gave this story to a real scandal, such as the oil-for-food scandal at the United Nations, or contrary partisan political charges, such as those brought by the Swift boat vets against John Kerry? On the United Nations, no interest. On Kerry, what CBS did do was ad hominem investigative stories on the Swift boat veterans themselves, rather than an examination of the charges. Do you perceive a direction to these inclinations? "

The left's obsession with this being an apoliotical incident should be questioned, and Krauty is right on with it here. Why not the biggest scandal of all time? Why not the charges of the Swifty's? Very clearly not those things because it was idealogical quicksand amongst their friends and colleagues.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Lowry Talks to Los Angeles

The War Against Rumsfeld: "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has managed both to be targeted by the Bush administration's usual Democratic critics and to lose the support of some Republican senators and conservative pundits. They contend that the Iraq war has been prosecuted incompetently, with Rumsfeld bearing the major responsibility.
The attacks, of course, depend upon a fiction that a perfectly run, low-casualty war is always possible, as long as we have proper military leadership. If only that were so. Instead, waging war is unavoidably difficult, unpredictable and deadly. To think otherwise is certain to weaken public support for the use of force and therefore only undermines our ability to apply it when necessary. "

The clairvoyance that Lowry so eloquently talks about is something I have had difficulty digesting as well. Wanting a clean war is, in effect, wanting no war. I should say that none of us want war, but rather feel compelled to support any war against those that want us dead. To see it in other ways seems to say that we need to wait until they have killed more of us to justify to the rest of the world that it is necessary. A gathering threat, it seems, should be the same as an armed threat or an enemy who has already struck.


In the beginning . . . Adam walked with dinosaurs

Telegraph | News | In the beginning . . . Adam walked with dinosaurs: "The new multi-million-dollar Museum of Creation, which will open this spring in Kentucky, will, however, be aimed not at film buffs, but at the growing ranks of fundamentalist Christians in the United States."

As someone who grew up in Northern Kentucky, where this thing is going to be, according to this article, and spent four years just across the river in Clifton, a part of Cincinnati that houses the University of Cincinnati, where I attended, I feel I can comment some. First, the area is far more diverse than this would lead anyone to believe. Yes, there are a lot of church-goers, but there are also lots of foreigners, as the metro area is larger than a millioln people. In fact, I think that Fresno, CA is less diverse and more like the Bible belt than the Greater Cincinnati area. In Cincinnati, they are able to claim other world renown Museums, most notably the Cincinnati Art Museum which was one of my favorite places to go when I skipped school. I would say that they have en totale approximately 3-5 really fine museums there. After having lived near and attended the University of Cincinnati, as well as attending high school in Northern Kentucky, I can say with assurance that creationism is not taught in schools. In fact, in college, I took a World Civilization course that taught World Civ through the untruths in the Bible. Chapter by chapter, book by book, the professor explained its myth. My science teachers in high school were also well-educated, and I don't really remember ever hearing about creationism other than to explain what it was, not tout its application to science.The City also has Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University, a couple of Technical Schools, and other large Universities in surrounding cities. It can't be all bible belt with that many professors in the area. Additionally, the area brags Procter and Gamble and other scientifically-oriented businesses, very successful ones at that. While I often paint it as the last stop for hicks, it is much more culturally and intellectually diverse than that. I agree that these things are ignorant, but if freedom of speech works the way I think it will, this museum will have a very difficult time staying in the black. With my favorite museums just across the river and the newly opened Underground Railroad Museum in Downtown Cincinnati, this is likely not to fair so well. Obviously they have the right to speech and expression just like everyone else, but I worry, alongside other observers, about the message it sends. Maybe a whole bunch of other people will too.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Let the Investigation Begin

Yahoo! News - White House paid commentator to promote law: "Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same."

It is one thing to have journalists in for dinner at the White House to espouse the glories of their policies, but quite another to pay for support. We would certainly have our hackles up if this were a Lefty administration, so we should probably support an inquiry.


Response to Sowell - Think Rushmore: "Whatever the short-term solution to the problems created by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a longer-term solution must put a stop to the practice of publicly savaging nominees to the courts. Vote against them if you don't like them, but do not make this a snake pit that high-quality people, who have many other options, will avoid."

Unfortunately, I think we are already in a place where good people avoid public life. My Dad and I talk about it all of the time. Most really good people I know have a healthy collection of skeletons locked away. Only the most boring and childhood dreamers of political power seem to fair well in this environment. This is much due to a very powerful opposition by the religious right against those whose life stories do not match what is being preached. Many good people take part in lust, ply themselves with wine, and have even dabbled in drugs as youths, yet this so often, in various forms, disallows them from positions where they could likely do a great deal of good.


Jobs Number in Perspective

The New York Times > Business > Number of Jobs Rose Last Month Below Wall Street Predictions: "he economy added 157,000 payroll jobs in December, the Labor Department said this morning, slightly fewer than economists had been predicting, but an improvement over the economy's performance the month before.The overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.4 percent. "

Interestingly, for those readers who don't care as much about these numbers:
-5.7% has been considered the average full employment over the last twenty years
-San Francisco is now bragging a 4.1% unemployment rate.

While we are still not where we want to be, this should give us reason to feel much better about the economy and our personal little dreams of wealth.


How China's Human Rights Abuses Don't Catch Our Eye - U.S. & World - China to Outlaw Gender Selective Abortions: "Currently, there are family planning laws that ban selective abortion, but Xinhua said criminalizing the act would make it more of a deterrent. The report did not specify how offenders would be punished."

What this piece fails to mention is that offenders means women, and that forced sterilizations and government supported forced abortions are commonplace according to women who are able to get out of the country. I think if the whole story were able to be told, Americans, men and women alike, would be disturbed at the human rights abusues going on in that country day after day. Unfortunately, they have been successful in generating goods for the US as well as a young upper middle class to purchase US goods which tends to make the US government turn a blind eye to these matters.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Translating Sperling

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor:Gener Sperling: No Pain, No Savings: "Before President Bush can ask Democrats to go along with any tax or benefit changes that affect average Americans, he needs to ask this most fortunate group to help bear the burden of reform."

Bearing the burden can also mean providing a disincentive to the rich. See, for capitalists of all stripes, the rich are the leaders of the charge. They invent, build and succeed, thus allowing the rest of us to either work for them or teaching us how to do it on our own. Without the incentive to get there through tax incentives and the like, many would be complacent in mid-success (middle income). One only has to look at the sluggish growth rates in Europe, where taxes are prohibitive, to see that incentives to promote growth here in the US work.
I believe that Gene is a very smart man, but much of it is for the camera. He lives under the illusion that by being a martyr (using term loosely) for the poor and middle class, that he saves his place in economic history, and he very well may succeed. That, however, does not make what he is saying any more palatable, as it just ignores what has made this country as wealthy and generous as we are. Our country has traditionally looked up to success as an ideal, encouraging our young people to strive for that ideal. Foreigners flood our borders also in hopes of achieving great things. To disincent those that wish to be business leaders would be much like saying that their dreams are self-centered and misguided.
It seems wiser to me to follow Adam Smith by allowing that people work only in their self-interest, but by doing so often end up working in the interest of all.

Monday, January 03, 2005


We Would Be Wise to Listen To Art - Destination U.S.A.: "Take a look around. Germany hasn't had a growth spurt since the 1960s when Ludwig Erhard was Bundeskanzler. France still has a mandated maximum workweek of 35 hours, a maximum income tax rate of 58%, a 1.8% annual wealth tax and government spending as a share of GDP greater than 50%. Finland, for goodness sakes, fines speeders a percentage of the speeder's income. Sweden, Denmark and Germany also fine speeders a percentage of their income, only with caps. Japan has had a stock market down by over 70% from its high in 1989 and both company and government unfunded liabilities in Japan are out of sight. Canada's economic policies are kooky and investments in Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, Southeast Asia and Africa are about as safe as running drunk blindfolded across the 'I-5' freeway at rush hour."

Art Laffer gives a good reality check on just how sane the US economy is, and just how anti-growth others still are.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Georgia O'Keeffe

Just went to see the exhibit of her work in Fresno. First, what so often happens at these types of viewings is that I find myself more interested in the writing about the artist and the others gathered to see it than the art itself. Today was no exception. The people there were of all ages, socio-economic levels and cultural backgrounds. It always thrills me to see people who don't look the part walking and reading and pondering with the rest of us. The well-dressed and the sweat pants'ed alike took it in.
Aside from her brazen use of color, which I love, I was taken aback by her story. Here was but another woman with an innate talent that lost it, not by death, but rather by loss of sight. The one thing that made her who she was got taken away, as if to teach her a lesson about what it was to be normal. Her life was anything but, as a Wisconsin farm girl turned society woman (which I would venture she could've done without). In photographs of her, you get the sense that she was solitary even when surrounded by friends, guarded in her personal relationships. I would also imagine that her marriage to Alfred Stieglitz (pardon the possible misspelling) was probably not all she had dreamed.
She had another interesting departure from other women of her time. She did not take his name. I don't get the impression from the small bits of her tale today that she was by any means famous by the time they married, but rather maybe that she just had a quite certain sense of herself and identity by that time. I am not intimating a self-centeredness, but rather a grounded core identity.
Whatever the reasons for her choices, her work was nothing short of amazing. In fact, even the cards by each piece could not find more than a couple overused terms to describe the work. A thesaurus might or might not have helped.


Il speaking Ill of the US...Again

N. Korea challenges U.S. approach - (United Press International): "Pyongyang warned the danger of nuclear war on the Korean peninsula is growing in a New Year's editorial published in North Korea's three major newspapers.
'The danger of a nuclear war is growing on the Korean peninsula as the days go by, owing to the U.S. moves to stifle the (North Korea),' the editorial said.
'All Koreans should stage a powerful struggle for peace against war in order to drive the U.S. troops out of South Korea, remove the very source of a nuclear war and defend the peace and security on the Korean peninsula.' "

It is hard for me to believe that any government, in this day and age, could speak publicly this irresponsibly. The US wants nothing more than peace between the US and North Korea. We also want to be able to pull our troops from South Korea, but this does nothing to aid the desire. This merely proves our distrust and propels us further to what seems now to be an inevitable showdown. We certainly hope that the showdown is between the poor people of North Korea and its government, but I would support the US in freeing those people the way we have for Afghanistan and Iraq.


In Pursuit of My Intellectual Joneses

I have kept myself entertained and drenched in sweat this fine Sunday indulging in what has to be my favorite pasttime: listening to Hitchens. His website (though I doubt he is the one who gathers it), posted here on my blog, offers a panoply of written, audio, and video of him at his best. Frankly, I don't yet know him at his worst, as it has yet to be revealed to me. Listen to him on Smiley or Krasny (Krasny is the only one who, to date, I have ever seen able to correct Hitchens appropriately), and you will hear him say things that no other thinker of my time would have the nerve or even know to say. Anyone who can take on, with such verve, Mother Teresa, Kissinger, and Ghandi, must have both balls of steel and experience the rest of us should covet. On John Stewart's show, Hitchens speaks off-handedly almost of having Khomeini's grandson over for dinner. (Doesn't seem almost wasteful to live a life where you could live it without stories like this? Do you think him and his wife ever, even secretly, revel in the good fortune of having the kind of access his intellect has afforded them?) One could only hope that as I build my way up to the place I long to be that I will have that kind of access as well. Or maybe, in my next life, I truly will be a fly, a fly on the wall, listening to intellectuals in less-rehearsed moments talk through their beliefs with friends over cocktails. Access to the un-taped moments of thought is what seems so fascinating. That is what really captured me about his time on Krasny's San Francisco show is that Krasny was actually capable of making him think on air, which is quite rare for a man who has had time to hone his beliefs to a point of merely repeating ideas he has held for many years. Here, he was truly charged with thinking aloud.
I have mentioned before my lust of intellect, and it is never more pronounced than when I listen to him. I have been blessed to meet and be in the company of bright people over the last few years, but none of them have made me feel this inferior, yet capable. It occurs to me often as he speaks that, while I will never have the memory or even thinking power that he has, I could read enough to converse. I think too of those days when my parents would take me to look at big beautiful mansions and how I never thought I would be so lucky as to live in one. This too, feels like a brief drive by a mansion of a mind, as for only a peek, not a tour, much less a home.
I awkwardly feel the need to wax poetic after hearing him, much the way we speak the dialect of characters in our favorite book for a couple of days after finishing it. The longing to be like him just doesn't fade that fast.
It also occurred to me today that to have a child that didn't have the capacity to have that kind of intellect would make me feel empty, as if I had lost somehow. That may explain some of my fear of rearing children, that I wouldn't be able to rear the kind of child I would want (and that I would dream them big, lofty dreams under which no child should live). My parents were particularly smart in this regard, to only dream for me health, happiness, and success in my own right. They did not try to force these things but merely steer me in that direction. Given my hard-headedness, this was really their only choice, but a very wise one.


Hitchens on Sontag...Perfect As Ususal

Susan Sontag - Remembering an intellectual heroine. By Christopher Hitchens: "A man is not on his oath, said Samuel Johnson, when he gives a funeral oration. One ought to try and contest the underlying assumption here, which condescendingly excuses those who write nil nisi bonum of the dead. Could Susan Sontag be irritating, or hectoring, or righteous? She most certainly could. She said and did her own share of foolish things during the 1960s, later retracting her notorious remark about the white 'race' being a 'cancer' by saying that it slandered cancer patients. In what I thought was an astonishing lapse, she attempted to diagnose the assault of Sept. 11, 2001, as the one thing it most obviously was not: 'a consequence of specific [sic] American alliances and actions.' Even the word 'general' would have been worse in that sentence, but she had to know better. She said that she didn't read reviews of her work, when she obviously did. It could sometimes be very difficult to tell her anything or to have her admit that there was something she didn't know or hadn't read. "

These are the parts of obits so often forgotten and so truly important. The shady side of our character is what makes us real. When I was young, a boy I went to high school with died. In his eulogy, the minister who clearly did not know Johnny bellowed that this was a boy who would never do such things as smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Uhh, he was a country boy, and he was into those and more. Sadly, for the integrity of the moment, all of us kids got a hearty laugh. It has stayed with me since, however, that to tell the tale of a person without sharing their failings to is fail to tell the tale.

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