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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Social Security Reform

The National Center for Policy Analysis has an excellent article on just how other countires have dealt with the issue of "privatizing" or "reforming" social security-type retirement income systems. The Chilean example is instructive:

The Chilean individual account system started more than 20 years ago and many workers have retired under the reformed system. Two-thirds of them have purchased an annuity at retirement.

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company that provides the purchaser with a monthly income. The prices of lifetime annuities reflect the predicted life expectancy at retirement for individuals born in a particular year.

These annuities are offered by insurance companies that compete for retirees’ business. Because of the highly competitive annuities market, retirees get the same rate of return they would get on government bonds, plus longevity and inflation insurance. The insurance companies cover their costs by investing in higher-yielding financial instruments such as corporate bonds or mortgage-backed securities. The annuity industry in Chile has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years.
Annuities are popular in large part because regulations encourage workers to annuitize. For example:

  • Chile requires workers to purchase an annuity or take their money out of the system in very gradual installments. Lump-sum withdrawals are not permitted unless very stringent conditions are met.
  • Insurers offer annuities that are required to adjust for inflation, protecting workers against a rise in the price level.

  • The government guarantees three-fourths of an annuity’s value in case the insurance company becomes insolvent; however, insurance companies are heavily regulated to make sure that doesn’t happen.
  • A worker can withdraw money from his account before the normal retirement age of 65 only if his account balance is adequate to purchase a pension that replaces at least 70 percent of his preretirement wage and 150 percent of the minimum guaranteed pension.
  • After adjusting for inflation, accounts in Chile earned an average annual rate of return of more than 10 percent from 1982 to 2002.

Because of these high returns — and the favorable terms of annuities — many workers are able to purchase an annuity or start gradually withdrawing their personal account funds in their 50s. If they continue working after retirement, they are exempt from the pension payroll tax. This reduction in payroll taxes has led to a dramatic rise in the labor supply of older workers — which is good for the economy.

Read the Adobe Acrobat version; the plain text version has some errors.

Tipping Points?

Is it an accident that there are new signs of freedom in the Middle East? Here's the Ace of Spades. And Captain's Quarters.

And from FrontPage:

No words can do justice to the march of freedom underway in the Middle East and what it took to lead us there. Liberals will not want to hear this, but they know it’s true: What has happened in formerly Saddam’s Iraq and the Taliban’s Afghanistan—which, hopefully, could propel a flowering of freedom in a region more resistant than any other—is a tribute primarily to the efforts of one man: George W. Bush. For students of international relations, the elections in Iraq, capping those in Afghanistan in October, serve as a case study of how individuals, as opposed to larger global-systemic forces, can change events—can alter history.

Bush Fails, Egyptian President Imposes Democracy

From Scrappleface. Ha!

Update on Ward Churchill

Ward "The people who died in the World Trade Center are little Eichmanns" Churchill has his detractors and his defenders.

Go to Belmont Club for an analysis of Churchill's views (links are provided to his speeches). A second post indicates that UC may be trying to buy off Churchill.

From Little Green Footballs:

Hey! Sounds like a great deal. Libel 9/11 victims, lie about your ancestry, forge artwork, teach anarchists how to commit terrorism, assault reporters—and end up with 10 million bucks and a quick easy retirement! Who knew the halls of academe could be so lucrative?

Mark Steyn on the EU

But either way the notion that it's a superpower in the making is preposterous. Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up.

Read the whole thing HERE

Monday, February 21, 2005

Iraq, Oil and Canada

There is a common meme on the Left that the Iraq war was all about Bush stealing oil for his buddies in Texas. At least I think that is the reason they keep saying "It's all about oil!" If I'm wrong, somebody please correct me.

HERE is a very interesting exploration by New Sisyphus of the connection between the head of the Canadian government and oil interests, and why it was VERY profitable for the Canadians to oppose our invasionof Iraq.

Who is Maurice Hinchey?

Well, he is a Democrat, and a congressman from upstate New York. He also believes that Karl Rove created and planted the forged papers that Dan Rather used to crucify himself with the fake "Bush got favored treatment" story in the TANG.

Go to LittleGreenFootballs to hear the audio and read the transcript.

The Leftist blogosphere has been full of this kind of tinfoilhattiness for days, but for a member of congress to start spouting this stuff is incredible. And here's the point: there is literally no one in the Democratic party who will try to rescue its reputation for being serious. No one on that side of the aisle will say "he doesn't represent us." With increasing rapidity, this party is being revealed as the residence of moonbats. Just when you think that the left can't get any battier, they surprise you.

It is not good for this country that a major party is led by Howard "Yeaaaaaah" Dean, Teddy "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy, and that hosts such dim bulbs as McKinney, Waters, Sanchez, Rangel, Deutsch, Hastings, Nadler, Weiner, Lee, Stark, Lofgren and Waxman.

Partisan Republicans may get a huge amount of enjoyment out of this. But those who are serious about the future of the republic cannot rest easy in the knowledge that these people run a major party. Other countries have succommed to loons and nuts when times got bad. Are there no grownups on the Left?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Kos: The CBS Memos Faked by the White House and spread by Gannon/Guckert.

Thanks to Charles Johnson at LittleGreenFootballs we now know who faked the CBS memos that got Dan Rather into trouble. It was Karl Rove!

A Kos Kid is connecting the dots and abusing the punctuation, in one of the best Daily Kos posts ever: Gannon scoop shows White House Forged TANG/CBS memos?!?! (Hat tip: Tim Blair.)

Kos has to be a leading candidate to help Dean run the DNC.

This has to be the funniest comment on the LGF thread:

Cabinet Meeting:

Rove; Ok, here's the plan..we fake tang documents to make it look like George got special treatment in the guard, release them to some dumbass Dem to give to CBS News, but we make them obvious forgeries...

cabinet..blank stares

..and then..and then they run with it, Rathers a dumbass, and then we call Charles over at LGF to run with the will blow up in there faces and then George gets reelected!


GWB..Anybody know what the fuck he's talking about? Lets get some lunch

Rove: Wait! I didn't tell you about the supercript TH!

The Liberal Dilemma.

Belmont Club discusses the Martin Peretz article on the state of Liberalism. some excerpts:

Martin Peretz in Not Much Left says what many have been saying for a while: that Liberalism is out of ideas. The curious thing about his intelligent and literate essay is that he never manages to explain why this condition has taken place.

I think it was John Kenneth Galbraith, speaking in the early 1960s, the high point of post-New Deal liberalism, who pronounced conservatism dead. Conservatism, he said, was "bookless," ... At this point in history, it is liberalism upon which such judgments are rendered. And understandably so. It is
liberalism that is now bookless and dying. ... Liberalism now needs to be liberated from many of its own illusions and delusions. Let's hope we still have the strength.

Liberalism has lost its books because it has burned them. The campaign to dismiss Harvard President Larry Summers for remarking that women may have less aptitude than men for mathematics and sciences is a case in point. The
Boston Globe reports:

Late yesterday, one of Harvard's most famous faculty members, law professor Alan Dershowitz, issued a statement backing Summers's presidency, in which he said the storm of opposition "sounds like the trial of Galileo. In my 41 years at Harvard, I have never experienced a president more open to debate, disagreement, and dialogue than Larry Summers," wrote Dershowitz, adding that "professors who are afraid to challenge him are guilty of cowardice."

Dershowitz noted that he disagreed with Summers's comments last month that innate differences might help explain why more men than women are top achievers in science and math, but
he defended the university president's right to raise the proposition. "This is truly a time of crisis for Harvard," he wrote. "The crisis is over whether a politically correct straightjacket will be placed over the thinking of everybody
in this institution by one segment of the faculty."


Bad New for the Media = Good News for the People.

The Baltimore Sun reports "News is bad all around for journalists."
as Instapundit would say: "Heh."

Media Blows it! Dog Bites Man!

Did you hear about "Baby 81?"

According to the MSM (including the NY Times) a baby found after the tsunami in Sri Lanka was claimed by nine different couples. Well, guess what, the "Prestige Press" that has drummed Gannon/Guckert out of its hallowed ranks reported a story and got none - not ONE - of its facts right.

Read the whole story in LankaBusinessOnline. Here is an excerpt:

For the New York Times, it was the case of Sri Lanka's "most celebrated tsunami orphan." Networks broadcast how "nine" women fought over the baby who survived the island's worst natural disaster.

The unprecedented media attention brought more misery and heartache to a young Tamil couple who survived the December 26 tsunamis, but ended up in jail trying to get back their only son Abilash amid an avalanche of mis-reporting.

The infant dubbed "Baby 81" could have been reunited much earlier if not for the media madness, according to the judge, the police and social service officials involved in the case.

Sri Lankan courts preferred to call him "Tsunami Baby" because the "Baby 81" tag itself was in doubt.

Even the much respected New York newspaper was caught up in the flood of mis-reporting, mis-interpreting and mis-translating. The paper said his "awful burden" was not in being unwanted, but in being wanted too much.

"So far, nine couples have claimed him as their own son," the New York Times said in a story headlined: "For Tsunami Orphan, No Name but Many Parents."

But, baby 81's real burden was having too many journalists of the type of Jason Blair, the New York Times reporter who made up sensational stories and eventually was forced out of his job in 2003.

If there is a Pulitzer award for embellishing, exaggerating, and outright lying and misleading in print, the coverage of "Baby 81" would merit top billing.

District judge, M.P. Moahaidein, on Wednesday (Feb 16) made it clear that there never, repeat never, were nine couples claiming the child as their own and only Junita and Murugpillai Jeyarajah had said they were the parents.

So how did the "Baby 81" make international headlines.
It had all the ingredients of a fascinating story. A "miracle" survivor. Nine parents fighting over him. Mothers threatening suicide. DNA tests. Court drama.

All based on one "fact" -- that nine mothers were claiming the baby. How would this report make it to print without a single quote from any of the other couples claiming the child.

The New York Times said national newspapers had carried "almost daily narratives" about the baby's fate. Wrong. The national press jumped on the band wagon much later.

"The hospital has been so mobbed that for a while, the staff hid the baby in the operating theatre every night for his own protection," the Times said. Wrong again.

Click on the link above for the whole story.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Have They No Shame?

Power Line analyzes the Gannon/Guckert story. In comparison to the haters on the Left, Joe McCarthy was a saint.

The American left has been guilty of many contemptible actions over the past twenty years, but few are so deeply offensive as its treatment of Jim Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon (His real name is Guckert, but he adopted Gannon as a pen name). Gannon is, apparently, a homosexual with a rather sordid past, including stints working as a gay escort. He is now trying to make a career for himself as a reporter; until a week or two ago, he worked for the online Talon News Service. He was able to get one-day-at-a-time passes to attend White House press briefings, where he committed the unpardonable sin of asking questions that had a pro-Bush administration twist. (Sort of like Helen Thomas, only in reverse, and nowhere near as one-sided.)
The presence of a Bush-friendly journalist in the White House press corps was taken by the left as a deep affront. A study conducted a few years ago found that the White House press corps is 90% Democratic; apparently the left won’t be satisfied until the figure is 100%. So liberals began “investigating” Gannon. They found that he was a homosexual and started posting photos of him on their web sites, along with vicious personal attacks. Gannon, stunned by the virulence of the left’s attack on him, quit his job at Talon. Subsequently, a low-life named John Aravosis who is a gay activist and has a web site, found nude photos of Gannon and posted them online.
Ever since this “story” broke, we have been inundated by emails from leftists demanding to know why we aren’t covering it. Actually, we have done a
single post on the controversy, which explained why we don’t think there is any story there. The claims against Gannon are:
1) He isn’t a “real” journalist. News for the left: you don’t have to take a test. He was working as a reporter until you drove him out of the business.
2) He was a Bush administration plant. There is, of course, no evidence for this whatsoever. And don’t you think that if the administration decided to “plant” a journalist to ask friendly questions, they could come up with someone with a bit more distinguished pedigree? The real issue here is that Democrats believe that Democratic press secretaries should be asked friendly questions, and Republican press secretaries should be asked unfriendly questions.
3) He had something–God knows what–to do with the Valerie Plame story. Again, no one has ventured a coherent explanation of this theory, let alone bothered to hint at what the evidence for it might be. Given that Ms. Plame was last seen posing for Vanity Fair in a “spy” outfit, I don’t think we’re on the trail of an espionage breakthrough here. And wasn’t it supposed to be Karl Rove who tipped off Bob Novak?

Read the rest HERE.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Gannons on the Left of Them.

There has been a flurry of controversy on the Left about a correspondent named Gannon who asked openly partisan questions of Bush. For those who are interested in this issue, there is a good article on this subject ... with some context. From NR Online:

Montopoli cannot be serious. If anyone who asked softball questions at the White House "had to go," the White House briefing room would have almost emptied out in the Clinton years. The problem for Montopoli and other liberals is they seem to think that the need for an adversarial press emerged in 2001, when President Bush was first inaugurated. If we travel back to the Clinton era, it's not hard to discover a whole chorus of White House reporters who, to use Montopoli's words, squandered their access to Clinton with helpful softball questions, who put his agenda ahead of the public good and made a partisan spectacle of themselves in front of a large number of Americans who wanted the press to act as a watchdog of President Clinton.

Review the press conference transcript from March 19, 1999 — President Clinton's first solo press conference in almost a year (blame the Lewinsky scandal) and his first meeting with the press since the impeachment process crumbled in the Senate, and since Juanita Broaddrick charged on the February 24 edition of NBC's Dateline that Clinton had raped her in 1978.

After some questions about Kosovo and Chinese espionage came what liberals might call Gannon #1, Wolf Blitzer of CNN: "Mr. President, there's been a lot of people in New York state who've spoken with your wife, who seem to be pretty much convinced she wants to run for the Senate seat next year. A, how do you feel about that? Do you think she would be a good senator? And as part of a broader question involving what has happened over the past year, how are the two of you doing in trying to strengthen your relationship, given everything you and she have been through over this past year?" Clinton replied: "Well, on the second question, I think we're — we're working hard. We love each other very much, and we're working on it. On the first question, I don't have any doubt that she would be a magnificent senator." That might be a question people would like to hear answered, but it definitely placed the Clintons' agenda ahead of the public's agenda.

After that came Gannon #2, batty Sarah McClendon, once the classic poster girl for the loose credentialing process at the White House. Reporters laughed when Clinton went beyond the front row to pick her as she yelled to get his attention. Standing to show her snappy navy-blue beret, McClendon asked: "Sir, will you tell us why you think the people have been so mean to you? Is it a conspiracy? Is it a plan to treat you worse than they treated Abe Lincoln?" That allowed Clinton to make jokes. I don't remember the Columbia Journalism Review huffing that she "had to go" and her hard pass should be revoked.

Then Endless CBS Saga.

CBS Executives who were blamed for the Dan Rather fiasco refuse to leave, via the New York Observer:

Five weeks later, the crisis is not yet behind Mr. Moonves. And far from resolving the problem of the network’s credibility, the independent report commissioned by CBS appears instead to be leading to a confrontation, with defenders of both the ousted CBS staffers involved in the debacle and top CBS management asserting two different truths from the same document.

Mr. Howard and two other ousted CBS staffers—his top deputy, Mary Murphy, and CBS News senior vice president Betsy West—haven’t resigned. And sources close to Mr. Howard said that before any resignation comes, the 23-year CBS News veteran is demanding that the network retract Mr. Moonves’ remarks, correct its official story line and ultimately clear his name.

Cox & Forkum vs. the MSM

Cute cartoon:

Cox & Forkum.

The Empire Strikes Back ... Stupidly.

Captain's Quarters receives an e-mail:

I just received a hilarious e-mail from Danny Schechter at Democracy in Action, which wants to alert me to the vast conspiracy by Fox News to discredit CNN by attacking Eason Jordan. This mass e-mail has so many holes and fallacies in its arguments that it's hard to know where to begin -- but I'll just start at the top:

Dear Media for Democracy Member,

Er, no. Not that I mind seeing what they produce, but I'm not a member, nor have I subscribed to any of their services.

CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit late last week amid a furor over remarks he allegedly made about American soldiers intentionally killing journalists in Iraq.

Allegedly? Even Jordan admitted making the remarks; he just claimed that people in attendance misinterpreted them. Eight different witnesses verified Rony Arbovitz, including Rep. Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, hardly members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

Jordan delivered the remarks while sitting on an off-the-record panel of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

It was so off the record, in fact, that the WEF quoted its participants in its own summary posted on the WEF website.

While no actual tape of his comments has yet to be released,
an attendee disseminated news of the event into the blogosphere and ignited a firestorm, which included charges that CNN itself -- not just Jordan in his personal capacity -- had "slimed our troops."

Not exactly. What we demanded was that the tape be released and that if Jordan had indeed made unsubstantiated allegations of atrocities against the US military, then CNN either needed to produce evidence of such or dismiss Jordan. If CNN failed to act, we argued, that was tantamount to supporting an act of slander, and CNN's credibility would suffer greatly as a result. Everyone I've read on the subject who accused Jordan specifically of "sliming the troops" leveled that accusation only at Jordan himself.

Etc., Etc. Etc. Read the whole thing.

Biters Bit?

AceOf Spades makes a good point:

How many government officials and business executives have lost their jobs due to the media reporting (occasionally selectively) on their malfeasance

Quite a few, I think. And yet the media never shed tears about this; it's quite necessary, they assure us. They are the watchdogs, and sometimes watchdogs need to take a bite. And sometimes those bites costs people their jobs and even ruin careers.

I think that's more or less true, although I also think that "investigative journalists" tend to sweeten their stories for maximum impact-- making for a more dramatic story, with more clear malfeasance, than a straight reporting of the facts might show.

But now several journalists have lost their jobs due to their malfeasances being investigated and critiqued and publicized by bloggers and other alternative media sources.

And now we have David Gergen blubbering like a heartbroken eighth-grader about how tremendously unfair this is. Others suggest it might even be a danger to democracy itself.

Biters Bit?

AceOf Spades makes a good point:

How many government officials and business executives have lost their jobs due to the media reporting (occasionally selectively) on their malfeasance?

Quite a few, I think. And yet the media never shed tears about this; it's quite necessary, they assure us. They are the watchdogs, and sometimes watchdogs need to take a bite. And sometimes those bites costs people their jobs and even ruin careers.

I think that's more or less true, although I also think that "investigative journalists" tend to sweeten their stories for maximum impact-- making for a more dramatic story, with more clear malfeasance, than a straight reporting of the facts might show.

But now several journalists have lost their jobs due to their malfeasances being investigated and critiqued and publicized by bloggers and other alternative media sources.

And now we have David Gergen blubbering like a heartbroken eighth-grader about how tremendously unfair this is. Others suggest it might even be a danger to democracy itself.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Media Standards ... an Oxymoron?

From NationalReviewOnline:

Does the Media Live Up To Its Standards?

What we need from the Davos conference organizers is simple - the tape of what Jordan said. It would be good to get the entire event, but really, what is at issue here is what Jordan said, and how much he backtracked. If the Davos organizers refuse to release it, and CNN refuses to call for its release, and the BBC refuses to call for its release, and every other news agency refuses to call for its release...

...then remember this, the next time the media gets up on a high horse about the public's right to know. Remember this the next time Dick Cheney has a meeting with energy executives. Remember this the next time reporters complain about Bush not holding enough press conferences, and not doing enough interviews. Remember this the next time they talk about the importance of a free press, and an informed citizenry.

Because it's all conditional. None of this applies when the situation includes a media executive says something in a big forum that he later realizes he doesn't want the public to hear. Then all of a sudden, none of this matters, because it's bad form for other news agencies to look into the story if he wants it to go away. "Bad manners, old chap. We journalists have to stick together."

Also, remember the top excuse of Dan Rather and the CBS memos? Those infamous, all-powerful "competitive forces." Mary Mapes, Dan Rather and company just had to do the sloppy, unfair, and shoddy work that they did, because they were just so worried about being beaten by another news agency. And yet in this case... it seems like no news agency is rushing to be first on this. Everybody's taking their time. Nobody wants to be the first to demand Davos release the tape. For days, it seemed like nobody wanted to be the first to write about this, or put it in their news section.

Just where the heck are these powerful, intense, unavoidable, healthy "competitive instincts" now?

The People Who Bring You CNN.

From Captain's Quarters:

Eason Jordan is not the only CNN Honcho to Who's Nuts.

So Chris Cramer, president of CNN International and a former hostage of terrorists himself, appears to have gotten a lifetime case of Stockholm Syndrome from the experience.

He considers British commandos to be terrorists -- actually, worse than terrorists, because they freed people from the clutches of murderous thugs. Had Cramer not faked a heart attack, of course, he would have owed his life to the SAS, but apparently his sympathies lie with the gunmen who caused him all of his PTSD.

Now the man who considers these British commandos to be worse than terrorists says much the same thing about the American military -- and CNN put him in charge of its international news coverage, including everything we and the world see coming from such places as Iraq and Afghanistan. No wonder Eason Jordan hired him to run CNNi.

With his twisted sense of judgment and his sympathetic ear for conspiracy theories, he seems a perfect fit for the CNN chief who likes to make up wild accusations overseas about the American and Israeli military.

These are the people who have given us the news for the past several years on CNN. Now you understand the origins of the bias that you see in their "version" of the news. CNN has a lot of housecleaning to do, and firing Jordan won't be enough to restore their credibility. Chris Cramer has to go.

Berlin Wall's Revenge

Here's the start of an article about the people who were NOT overjoyed by the fall of the Berlin Wall:

By Nelson Ascher

Maybe we, or at least many of us, were too busy commemorating the fall of the Berlin wall in late 1989. Thus, we overlooked all those people who weren’t exactly happy with the outcome of the Cold War. Well, perhaps “overlooking” is not the appropriate term.

I, for instance, had an acquaintance (deceased since then), a hardliner Trotskyite who should have felt partly vindicated by the failure of the system erected by his hero’s archenemy, Stalin. But he didn’t look vindicated at all.

It wasn’t easy for him, in that climate of euphoria, to give full vent to his disappointment, but still he managed to mutter a few words about the “wrong” turn events were beginning to take in Eastern Europe, and he was not talking about the looming shadows of the Balkan wars (which were clearly visible by then).

No: he complained that those societies, instead of using their newly conquered freedom to correct their course and head full-speed towards the socialist utopia, were rather turning to Western style “alienated” consumerism.

Read the whole thing.

Race Against Time - Steyn Alert

The incomparable Mark Steyn points out the elephant in the room.

... the "war on terror" is more accurately a race against time - to unwreck the Middle East before its toxins wreck South Asia, West Africa, and eventually Europe. The doom-mongers can mock Bush all they want. But they're spending so much time doing so, they've left themselves woefully uninformed on some of the fascinating subtleties of Iraqi and Afghan politics that his Administration turns out to have been rather canny about.

Will the naysayers continue forcing their ever more strained dribble of urine over the Bush landscape? Well, the Parisian journalist Frederic Royer has just launched a new weekly tabloid called L'Anti-Americain. The first issue includes a parodic diary by George W Bush with the entry: "Ask the CIA: Where's China?" Hilarious! Bush is so dumb he can't even find the real 21st-century superpower on a map!

As it happens, it was the Canadian prime minister, a renowned sophisticate and indeed a fluent franco-phone, who last year declared in public that China was the most important nation in the southern hemisphere.

Kennedy ... is ... Small

From Strategy Page:

Ted Kennedy's Politics is Blind and Bitterly Small.

The week before the Jan. 30 Iraqi election, Sen. Ted Kennedy branded Iraq a hopeless quagmire. "Bush's Vietnam," Kennedy bellowed. "Quagmire." "Vietnam." "Bush." Indeed, the Massachusetts senator's dire sermon invoked his fundamentalist faith's demons old and demons au courant. Sen. Barbara Boxer joined the snake dance, adding her own poisonous sanctimony.

The Iraqi people, braving car bombs and waving ink-stained fingers, demonstrated that Ted is more than a bit "tetched," to use the colloquial term. Iraqis weren't going to miss the chance to damn Saddam's legacy of theft, murder, thuggery and war.

Beltway political experts explain Kennedy's action as a tactical political gamble. See, Bay, ole Ted was simply staking out political territory. If the Iraqi elections failed --as the conventional media wisdom said they would -- he was positioned to "take the moral high ground" from the Bush administration. "Moral high ground," accompanied by appropriate friendly media magnification, would translate into the political power to dominate the Bush administration.

It's tactical, Bay, tactical.

No, it's sad. It's blind. It's also bitterly small. That's why I pity Mr. Kennedy

Moral Clarity in a Time of War

From First Things:

Moral Clarity in a time of War

International terrorism of the sort we have seen since the late 1960s, and of which we had a direct national experience on September 11, 2001, is a deliberate assault, through the murder of innocents, on the very possibility of order in world affairs. That is why the terror networks must be dismantled or destroyed. The peace of order is also under grave threat when vicious, aggressive regimes acquire weapons of mass destruction-weapons that we must assume, on the basis of their treatment of their own citizens, these regimes will not hesitate to use against others. That is why there is a moral obligation to ensure that this lethal combination of irrational and aggressive regimes, weapons of mass destruction, and credible delivery systems does not go unchallenged. That is why there is a moral obligation to rid the world of this threat to the peace and security of all. Peace, rightly understood, demands it.

One of the more distasteful forms of post-September 11 commentary can be found in suggestions that there were "root causes" to terrorism-root causes that not only explained the resort to mass violence against innocents, but made the use of such violence humanly plausible, if not morally justifiable. The corollary to this was the suggestion that the United States had somehow brought the attacks on itself, by reasons of its dominant economic and cultural position in the world, its Middle East policy, or some combination thereof. The moral-political implication was that such a misguided government lacked the moral authority to respond to terrorism through the use of armed force.


The root causes school blithely ignores the extant literature on the phenomenon of contemporary terrorism, which is emphatically not a case of the wretched of the earth rising up to throw off their chains. But it is the moral-political implication the root causes school draws that I want to address. Here, Lutheran scholar David Yeago has been a wise guide. Writing in the ecumenical journal Pro Ecclesia, Yeago clarified an essential point: The authority of the government to protect the law-abiding and impose penalties on evildoers is not a reward for the government's virtue or good conduct. . . . The protection of citizens and the execution of penalty on peace-breakers is the commission which constitutes government, not a contingent right which it must somehow earn. In the mystery of God's providence, many or indeed most of the institutional bearers of governmental authority are unworthy of it, often flagrantly so, themselves stained with crime. But this does not make it any less the vocation of government to protect the innocent and punish evildoers. A government which refused to safeguard citizens and exercise judgment on wrong out of a sense of the guilt of past crime would only add the further crime of dereliction of duty to its catalog of offenses.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Media Spike Their Own Scandals

From Ace of Spades HQ we get another in a series of questions about why the media are not all over the claim by Eason Jordan's accusation that the US Military is deliberately killing reporters. He supplies some answers:

This search -- for "Dobson Spongebob," for Dobson's largely deliberately misquoted remarks about Spongebob Squarepants being gay -- turns up a fair number of MSM articles. CNN, The New York Times, MSNBC, BBC News -- all weigh in on how horrible it was for Dobson to not claim that Spongebob Squarepants was gay (although of course the party line is that's precisely what he said).

On the other hand, this search --
"Eason Jordan Davos target journalists" -- turns up nothing but blog references, at least for the first five pages. (I assume an MSM source would at least make it to the first five pages.)

Why the interest in the first story and the glaring disinterest in the second?

The simple truth is obvious. The media is an near-oligopoly of interlocked corporations, the same as auto manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, or cigarette makers. They claim their first priority is reporting the truth to the American people-- but then, car makers claim their first priority is delivering the best-made, most-affordable cars to the American people, too.

In fact, the first priorities of anyone in a corporate culture are 1) protect and advance your own career; 2) curry favor with those who can help with priority 1; 3) protect and advance the corporation generally, as that will advance priorities 1 and 2; and 4) protect and advance the industry generally, as you never know when you'll wind up working for another corporation within the industry, and doing so advances priorities 1, 2, and 3.

Just as in Rathergate, the media was far behind the curve in reporting on the egregiously-bad hoaxes perpertrated by CBSNews; the Boston Globe wen so far as to deliberately mischaracterize an expert's remarks (as were correctly reported by Bill from InDC). The media had a corporate and industry interest in avoiding the story, and, once avoiding it became impossible, defending it (and themselves, generally) from external critique and attack.

And so it goes. We are now on Day 7 after Eason Jordan "reported" that the American military had targeted and murdered 12 journalists in Iraq, and the MSM has not seen fit to report this story at all.

Bill Moyers smears....

Powerline takes Bill Moyers to task for his most recent smear of red staters in general and Christians in particular:

On January 30, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published as an op-ed the text of a speech by liberal commentator Bill Moyers. Moyers delivered the speech upon the occasion of his receiving an environmental award from a group at Harvard Medical School. Like pretty much everything Moyers writes, the article was an attack on the Bush administration. Specifically, he alleged that the Bush administration's policies, as they relate to the environment, are "based on theology" and therefore "delusional." Moyers' theme was that the Bush administration, and Republicans in general, don't care about the environment because they are crackpot Christians who believe that the world is about to come to an end. That being the case, why worry about future generations?

The "evidence" for this is based the "Left Behind" series of books, and two fraudulent quotation, one from James Watt and the other from Zell Miller.

Read the whole thing and don't forget that it was Moyers, as Lyndon Johnson's communications director who created the infamous "daisy ad" accusing Barry Goldwater of planning to blow up the world.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

NY Judge Bans Heterosexual Marriage

If you have never read Scrappleface before, click on the link.

"...heterosexual marriage finds justification in little more than religious myth, antiquated tradition and a few unconstitutional state and local laws."

More on Churchill - and Fascism

Belmont Club revisits the Churchill controversy (the professor who called the people who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11, “little Eichmans.”)

Austin Bay links to an opinion piece written by Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado, describing his fellow faculty member Ward Churchill as "a pathetic buffoon" peddling a fascist ideology. The most interesting part of Professor Campos' article lies in his description of fascism, all the elements of which, he argues, are present in Churchill's work.

As a political inclination and an aesthetic style, fascism is marked by, among other things, the following characteristics:

The worship of violence as a purifying social force.

A hyper-nationalistic ideology, that casts history into a drama featuring an inevitably violent struggle between Good and Evil, and that obsesses on questions of racial and ethnic identity.

The dehumanization and scapegoating of opponents ... demands that the evil in our midst be eradicated "by any means necessary," up to and including the mass extermination of entire nations and peoples.

The treatment of moral responsibility as a fundamentally collective matter.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

CNN Head Claims US Killing Reporters

You heard it right. Eason Jordan [chief news executive of CNN] asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.

Click HERE for the full story.

The Ace of Spades comments, as does PowerLine. More HERE, HERE, and HERE.

This is big and will grow bigger. The MSM will not be able to keep this one "in the bottle." Either Jordan comes up with proof of his accusations, or the entire CNN organization has just committed journalistic suicide.