Monday, August 30, 2004

Hey, John! No Purple Heart for Self-Inflicted Loss of a Presidential Campaign.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Halloween and Lost Innocence

A bunch of blogs lately have been expressing dismay at a website offering for sale some Halloween costumes styled "Pimps & 'Ho's."

Okay, open sexuality and modesty throughout the ages alternate as cultural norms, sometimes on a timescale of less than a decade. It would be pretty easy to dismiss the "pimp & ho" costumes using that sort of logic. But I think it's fair to consider them in light of the professed values we've been debating as a culture for the last few generations.

So yes, it's an appalling manifestation of capitalist laizzes-faire, a challenge to parental involvement, lowering of standards, blaah blaah blaah. I would LOVE to be able to blame it on the progressives and liberals who have been telling us for decades we have no right to JUDGE different lifestyles, and who REFUSED to challenge Clinton for saying "oral sex isn't sex." (or ANY of his many misdeeds...)

But I have to ponder...

Speaking as a someone who recognized long ago what a minefield sexuality can be to traverse with a shred of dignity and grace, I have to wonder... What about the magazines in every grocery store's checkouts????? What about the commercials spewing out of the television round the clock, crudely exploiting sex to sell everything???? What about a BILLION DOLLAR sex video industry that simply makes a mockery of any enforcement of prostitution (i.e., payment for sexual acts) laws????? What about the public school administrators for whom imposing a dress code on the pheromone firestorm in progress is way down the list of priorities after metal detectors, drug tests, assaults on teachers, assaults on other students, and kids who only know their dad as "the defendant?"

What about the Parents?

When I was in highschool in the late 60's, my friends and I convinced ourselves that the ONLY reason our parents didn't want us to have sex was that they didn't want us to have FUN! Hey, the PILL had been around for years! Why WORRY? Just a few years later attitudes had shifted from restricting pregnant girls to attend programs that isolated them from the mainstream, to allowing them to attend just as any other student. (I'm not sure this is the case everywhere, but there's been a huge change.) At the same time, out-of-wedlock births vastly increased, despite a similar increase in abortions. And the last few years, parents around the country have been discovering that their 12 and 13-year-old daughters are performing oral sex on serial partners just to be considered dateworthy.

When that makes me feel like things are going to hell in a handbasket, I recall that my grandmother in Texas back in about 1913 ran off and got married at age 13, by lying to the clerk about her age. My own sweet mother was married and had given birth to her daughter by age 17.

In one sense, the huge problem we have is that our high- technology- dependent world requires far more training than used to be necessary to prepare a person for self-sufficiency. Adolescence has been extended from age 15 to the mid-twenties for most people. At the same time, improved nutrition and general health seem to be advancing children to puberty and sexual maturity at ever-younger ages.

We now have an enormous population of children who are ready for sex, but not for the responsibilities and challenges that inevitably result.

For a number of years, there was a book club that offered as a come-on a very low-priced 2-volume set of the philosophical writings of Will and Ariel Durant. I can only recall one sentence I read (it was SEARED into my memory...) that goes roughly so: "Human sexuality is like a RIVER of FIRE, that has to be constantly banked lest it overflow the landscape." I believe they were writing in the mid-1920's, and the comment was prompted by the extravagant licentiousness and recurrent chaos it seemed to loose in Roman society.

Seems to me it still applies.

It's impossible to deny that the liberal agenda has contributed heavily to the sexualization of our culture. It doesn't necessarily follow that sexualization per se is wrong. But there is definitely a fundamental conflict between the progressives' insistence that WE MUST NOT JUDGE, and the unimpeachable evidence that babies born to unwed mothers, and raised without the presence of the biological father, are profoundly disadvantaged. It is an incredible mess, and the only way out is cooperation instead of the tragic polarization that continues between the major political parties.

I do believe the Republicans will do a better job for a few years. When the Republicans have been in effective control of both houses for, say, HALF the time the Dems had'em, then I would say maybe it's time to consider giving them another chance to screw things up. I do believe ANY one party in power too long gets to thinking it owns the place.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Truth or Lies... either can serve a Liar's need

I just came across a blog (Steve Gilliard's News Blog) in which he describes a debate that occurred during Kerry's campaign versus Bill Weld for the Massachusetts senate seat he now occupies. Steve indicated that in the midst of a debate on the death penalty, which Kerry opposes but Weld endorses, Kerry turned to his opponent and said that having served in Vietnam "I know what it feels like to have a man die in your arms."

Steve G. indicated that this was a very effective ploy at silencing Weld, and winning the debate on compassion points.

It makes me wonder all the more about Kerry's combat experience, and whether that statement is true. How the heck could the truth of it be checked?

I would appreciate any comment or feedback from anyone.

It does at least seem clear that Kerry never misses an opportunity to use his service in Vietnam as a club with which to silence debate, end conversation, and challenge all present to DARE to question whether his assertions are anything less than received wisdom...

It is at least consistent with the way he leveraged his brief sojourn in Southeast Asia to get a very important few hours in the glare of the television lights telling the CERTIFIABLE GOD DAMN LIES he offered up to the Senate and the American public for reasons known only to him.

But anyhow, I've had the experience of several people dying in my arms, but it's never occurred to me to bring it up as a way of suggesting I have some deeper philosophical grasp of the issues of... well, abortion, or euthanasia, or the death penalty, or whether we should or shouldn't risk a military confrontation. And I don't think Mr. Kerry has any deeper respect for human life than do I.

Sorta reminds me of a conversation I had with a former friend. In the midst of mulling over (in a reasonably energetic way) the conflict between privacy and public safety posed by AIDS, she screamed at me that *SHE* had LOTS more gay friends than I did, so I had NO RIGHT to be making ANY judgment about how AIDS privacy issues should be handled.

Interesting. I didn't recall ever submitting a tally of all my gay friends for her inspection. And I didn't see that either way it had much bearing on the problem at issue.

Seriously, my point is that there are lots of people who simply cannot tolerate having to defend their own statements, and will use the biggest club they can wield to batter an opponent.

When that fails, they generally stomp away, screaming curses.

I know it's a sin to think thoughts like this, but I would give worlds to see it when Kerry finally blows a gasket.

Seems like his entire campaign is a slow-motion tantrum.

NO! WAIT! Remember the great old Jimmy Cagney film from the 1930's where he played a hardened, cynical gangster awaiting his date with "THE CHAIR?" Pat O'Brien played the priest that came into his death row cell and stirred his conscience, reminding him of all the street kids who admired his gangster toughness, and gangster ways, and who all wanted to grow up to be gangster killer murderer robbers just like Cagney's character.

The priest left the condemned tough guy with a final admonition to think about whether in his final moments, he could find some way to dissuade those kids from following in his footsteps, and ending up in the same fix.

In the final scene of the movie, Cagney walks the final walk to the electric chair, and after a pause, begins a cowardly display of panic that makes the reporters cringe in astonishment. The street kids are shown listening to the radio report of their former hero's craven last moments. Sobered, they turn away, abandoning the toy tommy guns and pistols, and picking up their baseball gloves.

But the priest knew that performance was the one selfless act of the man's life.

You don't think Kerry is humiliating himself day by day in any sort of similar act of contrition? Maybe? Possibly?

You never know what's REALLY going on, do you?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Catechism of the Delusional


Back in the mists of time, when the host of "Death Valley Days" was better known for that role than for his service as president of the Screen Actors Guild, or his government service at the state and federal level, my brother and I attended public school in a small farm town up the coast from L.A. Like so many of our generation, we traded scary tales around the camp fires at cub scout campouts.

As the pheromone firestorm of puberty swept us into junior high school, surfer music, and beyond ("middle school" being in those days a foreign phrase used by exchange students) we whispered tales of a different sort, filled with adolescent thrills at illicit parking and fondling, and the many dangers of such adventures.

It was in this little Southern California farming community that my brother and I listened in earnest credulity to a story from a high school friend, about spending a few frenzied hours sparking with a girl in a car. They'd been parked in some remote place, hidden among the trees, letting the radio play as they dallied. When a news bulletin told of a maniac with one hand and a hook for the other arm, who had escaped from a local psychiatric hospital, they laughed and resumed their caresses, until they were startled by the sounds of scrabbling outside their car.

The young man instantly started the car and roared away. They were both relieved that whatever it was that was lurking, they'd gotten away without incident. But when he got out to walk his date to her front door, they were horrified to find dangling from his door handle, a prosthetic hook with the bloody stump of an arm still attached.

It had to be true.

It had happened to the guy who was telling the story. He still had the '61 Comet he'd been driving that night!!

A year later, our family moved 3,000 miles from California to a tiny rural town in Northern Virginia.

We enrolled in the local county high school, and started making new friends, playing in pickup ball games, dating, hanging out with the gang at the restaurant on highway 301.

Within weeks, we had heard the same story, almost word-for-word. This time it was told by a local, who swore up and down that it had happened to his cousin, who still drove the Ford Fairlane that he'd driven the night he found the hook on his door.

My brother and I realized halfway through the tale there was nothing to be gained from challenging the speaker. Twenty years before the phrase "urban myths" came into common use, we recognized that we were seeing a demonstration of an ancient human frailty. Although we lacked the language skills to describe it that way, we knew it was powerful stuff.

There seems to be some unmatchable satisfaction that comes from repeating and embellishing a story you know is too lurid, shocking, or undocumentable for any respectable forum, especially if it enhances *YOUR* status by the telling.

This is part of the inescapable experimentation of adolescence. In the fullness of time most adolescents mature to a point they can recognize bullshit, and give it its proper weight as they balance their assessments of events and people they must deal with.

Unfortunately, there are many people who never progress beyond the stage of mental toddlers. They are doomed to spend their lives in the thrall of whatever unfiltered rumors come in earshot. These miscreants have never acquired the critical skills for assessing the validity of a simple statement, for researching sources to verify or discredit data, or for synthesizing a valid conclusion from facts organized in a logical pattern.

Bereft of an adequate intellectual toolset, they are subject forever to the tyranny of their emotions in evaluating information.

It can happen to anyone, and certainly there are people who end up finding emotional appeals drawing them to all points of the political spectrum.

My rant today, though is about the long list of nutball myths that are the identifiable traffic of a specific group of credulous and uncritical folks; almost a trademark, or signature. I call that list the Catechism of the Delusional.

In order to forestall--- maybe even fivestall--- the quizzical face my friends display when I use that phrase, I will explain.

A catechism may be roughly defined as a commonly agreed upon set of assertions that are held as received wisdom — i.e., divinely transmitted knowledge — to be accepted without debate and committed to memory by the faithful.

Delusional means actually more than being unable to distinguish between imaginings and reality. It describes the state of being immersed within a self-reinforcing fantasy, in which any new fact or arising that might contradict the premise of the fantasy, is denied by arguments that use the construction of logic, but rely upon the invented elements of the fantasy itself.

I use the phrase to refer to the absurd myths that many who style themselves democrats, liberals, and progressives exchange almost as passwords to say "I'm with YOU!"

Here's a short list:

1) John F. Kennedy was the most brilliant and effective President since... well, EVER.

2) Democrats were the first party to make civil rights for Negroes (i.e., "African-Americans" except for Teresa Heinz-Kerry, who is African-American but not Black) an important goal. Republicans— and ONLY Republicans— have always opposed this goal, and are always trying to keep minorities in their place.

3) Republicans are only interested in making lots of money, regardless of how much damage it does to minorities, the economy, the environment, and education.

4) When Republicans are in business, it is only to make as much money for themselves as possible. They don't care about anything else, and will do bad things to increase their profits. When Democrats are in business, it is usually to do or make something that makes life better for everyone, and they share their profits with charities. Republicans don't give as much to charities as Democrats, because they're selfish and expect everyone else to pay their own way in life.

5) Democratic Party is always working to improve the lives of the little people, minorities, older Americans, immigrants, undocumented aliens, and people of good will everywhere. The Democratic Party wants to help people who need help.

6) Republicans are mean-spirited and WANT to hurt minorities and old people and anyone who disagrees with them. This is why they always vote in ways that the Democratic Party opposes, as long as it doesn't cost them money.

7) The Republicans control the country, because rich conservative people around the world have always conspired with each other to undermine the efforts of elected governments. This is because the elected government wants to impose limits on the conservatives and make them stop treating workers like slaves.

8) When Democrats raise taxes, it is always to do something good for people. When Republicans raise taxes, it is always to do something bad to people. When the Republicans LOWER taxes, it is always to give money to Rich people, by taking it away from Poor people.

8) When Democrats are accused of crimes, it is because Republicans are conspiring to be able to replace that person with a Republican so they will have more power. When Republicans are accused of crimes, it is because Republicans are always doing criminal things, and can't always hide them.

9) Bill Clinton never did anything that justified impeachment, or dis-barment from practicing law, or in any way wrong. Republicans were willing to destroy the government and the country, just to get more power for themselves. Independent Prosecutor Starr was a sick paranoid witch hunter, who made up evidence when he couldn't extort witnesses.

10) Republicans stole the presidential election in 2000. George Bush is a criminal for pretending to be president, so everything he does as a criminal president is a criminal act.

11) Ronald Reagan is the biggest criminal of all (except for Richard Nixon) because he sent George Bush Senior to meet with Ayatollah Khomeini to make a deal so that Khomeini would help Reagan get elected, and Reagan would get the hostages released, and Khomeini would get weapons or something.

12) G.H.W. Bush was a criminal for making war against Iraq in 1991. The war was only about American Blood for Oil.

13) Clinton used American armed forces only for noble purposes, like preventing the slaughter of Muslims by Christian fanatics in former Yugoslavia, and trying to distribute emergency supplies in Somalia.

14) Clinton and his surrogates never accepted money from Chinese lobbyists in return for dangerous concessions and missile technology and influence in the legislative and electoral process. That's just Republican Lies.

15) When Clinton pardoned the Puerto Rican terrorists who had been convicted of murdering a New York City Policeman and some innocent bystanders, it was simply a compassionate act meant to mend fences with Puerto Rican separatists. It had nothing whatsoever to do with trying to get New York Puerto Ricans to vote for Hillary Clinton in her senate campaign that week. Only a Republican would suggest such a thing.

16) Ditto for all the felons he pardoned and freed in the last hours of his presidency. Compassion. Not bribes.

17) Any woman who accused Clinton of exposing himself to her, demanding oral sex, fondling her, or otherwise sexually harassing her against her objections, is a liar, slut, and secretly funded by the Republicans who were out to get Clinton any way they could.

18) It was only about the sex.

19) Vince Foster committed Suicide. The removal and disappearance of scores of boxes of records from his office before the police arrived was entirely innocent. Also the removal and disappearance of similar scores of boxes of records of the Clinton's involvement with Whitewater financial crimes was entirely accidental and innocent. The subsequent reappearance of one single box of carefully-sanitized documents that showed nothing of any significance, was miraculous.

20) Ron Brown was accidentally killed in an accidental plane crash in a Yugoslavia trade mission that accidentally got rid of him just days before federal indictments were due to be announced about his corrupt exchange of trade concessions in Yugoslavia for bribes, and his connection to other alleged improprieties in the Clinton Administration. The disappearance of all the X-rays from his autopsy that showed injuries consistent with gunshot wounds--- that was accidental, too.

21) Fox News is really owned and operated by the Bush Administration, which explains why it distorts all news to favor Republicans and make Democrats look stupid or criminal.

22) Al Franken and Michael Moore are geniuses. The only reason anyone criticizes them is if they're Republicans, because everything they say is TRUE! Al Franken's radio show would be a big success, except for a behind-the-scenes conservative effort to torpedo it.

23) George Bush was a coward who got his rich powerful daddy to get him into the national guard to avoid going to Vietnam, and he was AWOL from his guard duty anyway. Any records that might show up tending to show otherwise are fakes, and anyone who testifies that they can remember seeing him attend is probably lying.

24) The handful of Vietnam veterans that support Kerry are selflessly telling the exact truth. The 265 Vietnam veterans that dispute Kerry's account of events are liars who have been bought by the Bush Campaign to discredit a real war hero, who came home and courageously told the country the truth about how cowardly and brutal American soldiers were.

25) Except for John Kerry.

26) For Democrats to call for the suppression of a book by 265 Vietnam veterans is not censorship or suppression of free speech.

27) Use of 527 groups by Democrats is perfectly legitimate; the conservatives have thousands of talk radio hosts and Fox News doing their propaganda. The Swiftboat Vets' use of a 527 organization to try to legitimize their attacks on Kerry is probably criminal.

Somebody stop me.

Whew. You can probably come up with another fifty without straining.

If you're at a party, and hear someone repeat any of these listed items, you can now be clear about what sort of person you're facing, and the likelihood that any breath you invest in honest debate will be utterly wasted.

On the other hand, it is still a good and noble thing to attempt. Someone with a brain might overhear and be persuaded.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Honey, Where's the FLY SWATTER?

There's A Chomsky Clone in the Wings

University of Californiaat Berkeley publishes an online version of its magazine “UCBerkeley News,”in which it recently featured an interview article with one of the faculty, George Lakoff. I presume he holds at least one Ph.D, as the writer felt itwas important to identify him as the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the College of Letters & Science. His special areas of interestare linguistics and cognitive science. He has recently been involved in startingand participating in the Rockridge Institute, a self-styled “progressive” think-tank which is intended to help advance liberal framing of issues andagendas as a counterpoise to recent conservative successes. (The article may be viewed at this URL:

This post is now a consolidation of elements from several lettersI composed, including one sent to the Rockridge Institute, and my first publisheddraft of this. I hope that isn't intellectually dishonest. I figure if Congress routinely allows its members the right to extend and revise their remarksfor the Congressional Record, the rest of us should get a little break, too,eh?

I admit I am immediately on guard for doctrinaire idiocy when confronted with ANY alleged thought emerging from Berkeley, but I want to grit my teeth and consider what he’s saying. You should read his words, and visit the Rockridge Institute website yourselves.

If George Lakoff and I were to find ourselves seated side by side at a lunch counter or on a park bench, I expect he would be a reasonably gracious person, and we would likely have a spirited conversation. We would probably walk away each with a sense that the other fellow was someone with stimulating and challenging ideas, with whom further conversations could be expected to lead to widened perspectives and insights.

It is difficult to imagine that he goes about his daily business filled with bitter raging against a huge segment of the population of his own country, but reading some of his ideas makes that conclusion hard to avoid.

Here I include from the article the text that is presented as a direct transcription of his words: "I got tired of cursing the newspaper every morning. I got tired of seeing what was going wrong and not being able to do anything about it.
The background for Rockridge [Institute] is that conservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there."

Let me paraphrases this just in case it’s too subtle for us dimwits to grasp on a single hearing: The Democratic Party has been losing ground around the country in his view, because the REPUBLICANS have fooled us into believing them by dominating the language framing political discussion.

Okay. This is like the assertion that pharmaceutical companies fooled us into believing in headaches by dominating the language framing the aspirin discussion.

The dilemma one fetches up against instantly, like a boulder astride the pheromone trail followed by a toiling ant, is that his premise is utterly biased: i.e., that progressives and liberals have exclusive rights to TRUTH, and the evil sneaky REPUBLICANS are just cleverly using language to blind the unsuspecting and innocent public into accepting their LIES.

Examine this sentence, please, taken from the article: “The [Rockridge] institute offers its expertise and research ona nonpartisan basis to help progressives understand how best to get their messages across.”

Please note that while it asserts that the institute will be NON-partisan in its work, it will NON-partisanly assist PROGRESSIVES, not conservatives. I have to assume the writer is intelligent enough to discern the contradiction there, but blandly chooses to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Face it, this is pure propaganda. There are several other assertions he makes in the interview that, if they are accurate transcriptions of his words, suggest he is either delusional or grotesquely dishonest.

Answering the interviewers question of how conservatives have managed to accomplish this hijacking of the English language (“Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing?”) Professor Lakoff answers “Because they've put billions of dollars into it.”

He presents not a single reference to any financial data to support this assertion, or the writer of the article omitted any such source.

Then, just a bit further down, the article states, “And now, as the New York Times Magazine quoted Paul Weyrich, who started the Heritage Foundation, they have 1,500 conservative radio talkshow hosts.”

The idea that ANY number of allegedly conservative talkshow hosts are kept broadcasting through some conspiratorial control of the broadcast industry is ludicrous. The statement reveals at the least a pathetic ignorance of the most basic realities of commercial broadcasting.

Talkshow hosts, conservative or otherwise, are expected to draw in certifiable numbers of listeners; if people aren’t listening, the shows can not pay their way with advertising revenues. There is no monolithic block of 1500 conservative radio stations that have conspired to broadcast the propaganda of conservative hosts to fulfill some secret agenda. There is a much vaster network of thousands of mostly independent stations, which include among their for-profit programming, a number of controversial announcers.

They range from Howard Stern with his provocative live interviews of nude dancers, to other "shock jocks"making crude jokes about every bodily function apart from actual tooth brushing, to clergy discussing the Gospels, to re-broadcasts of 1930's classic comedies,to call-in talk shows that represent every conceivable political persuasion. Each of the shows broadcast by these commercial stations is expected to generate sufficient advertising revenues to pay its own costs and a little profit to the station. Shows that cannot demonstrate that people are voluntarily listening in sufficient numbers, are replaced with others that CAN do.

There are not enough billions of dollars in conservative coffers to persuade these small businesses to broadcast conservative talk show hosts in defiance ofthe brutal realities of the market. To suggest otherwise reveals a sadly childish grasp of the way the world works.

Later Professor Lakoff descends into mean-spirited caricature.

He glibly defines conservatives as brutal adherents of the “strict parent” approach to life, attributing to them the method of parenting “through painful discipline— physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline, ”While by contrast, liberals and progressives are purported to use the so-called “nurturant parent” approach, which “has as its highest value helping individuals who need help.”

This grotesquely self-serving and circular characterization of conservatives as BAD, and progressives as “GOOD” makes mock of any pretense at academic objectivity the good professor might claim.

The really sad thing is that this simply confirms everything I’ve come to expect ofthe half-assed pseudo-academic crap that flows untreated from the intellectual cesspool of Berkeley, where I spent a great deal of my time while living in the Bay area. (Hey! Musically, it was a great place! As a fiddler, I played with a number of Berkeley musicians, participated in a writers' group, dated several Berkeley ladies, spent time with people in the Renaissance Faire and the SCA, et cetera. I probably spent more time in Berkeley than even in Fremont, where my apartment languished. So this is NOT just speculation, but observation from extended visits.)

Anyone entering or leaving Berkeley by city streets passes large aluminum traffic signs at the frontier posted by their city council, assuring travelers that Berkeley is a Nuclear-Free Zone. More or less identical signs are posted around the University town of Davis, California, which is the source for several other members of the Rockridge Institute.

I know, I know. The Faculty of UC Berkeley are not the city council. But the municipality is utterly dominated by the University. Its population largely comprises faculty, staff, and students,current and past. Those who are not directly employed by or enrolled in the University depend on it for their businesses— restuarants, music shops, bookstores, coffeehouses, medical clinics, clothing stores, etc.
However close their association to the University, most residents share a radical-leftist dogma born circa 1965, which seems to have frozen the place into a caricature of the self-obsessed rebellious adolescence of that moment. So it's instructive to consider those views as applied to practical realities.

The cost of these signs may be reasonably estimated to be as much as several hundred dollars apiece, installed. This is the product of "progressive" government in action. This is your taxes at work.

Of course, the real point of the signs and any supportive municipal ordinances is to prohibit the transport on the public ways of nuclear fuel or weapons. Do they also refuse to allow electrons generated by nuclear power stations to flow through their city grid?

I wonder if those pathetickers include nuclear medicine--- i.e., the use of diagnostic and therapeutic radioisotopes that are products of the nuclear industry--- in their ban. Or X-ray machines. They produce ionizing radiation. What about the radio-isotopes used in criminal DNA testing, which is frequently used to exonerate persons wrongly accused or convicted of crimes?

I wonder if the homeless, un-employed, un-insured, under-educated, impoverished downtrodden or otherwise oppressed citizens of Berkeley might have thought of a better way to spend the money those stupid bastards pissed away on those useless signs.

Thanks for indulging that seeming digression... It illuminates the arrogant mindset that prizes proclamation and posturing over actual service.

Professor Lakoff thinks the reason the country is abandoning the Democrats is that Republicans use language more effectively than Democrats. As a citizen of this country, Professor Lakoff has the right to his opinions. But for him to use his academic credentials and post to spread such poisonous depictions of people who hold differing beliefs, is deeply disturbing. He uses precisely those skills in which he has been most conspicuously awarded academic authority, to twist and pervert the logic and language of intellectual exchange he expects us to honor.

It is interesting to see the lengths to which Professor Lakoff stretches his own imagination to excuse the impotenceof Liberalism. The gulf between the Democratic Party’s claims of fairness and noble compassion, and the actual depravity and expedience of the Party’s celebrated leaders are too conspicuous to escape notice by even such benighted folk as we commoners. The simple reason people like me have decamped from the democratic party over the last few decades, is disgust and dis-illusion. NOT, thank you very much, because of clever words by shadowy Republican manipulators.

Professor Lakoff would have us believe someone convinced roosters to crow at dawn by dominating the language framing the sunrise discussion.

At least Professor Lakoff does us a small service: he confirms that one needs no advanced degrees in linguistics nor cognitive science to recognize propaganda. Perhaps as he and the other learned faculty of the institute undertake to educate the rest of us, they might consider how insulting it is for them to assume that we cannot spot bullshit without their guidance.

Update, 01 October: in mid-September the editor of the Berkeleyan, a University-sponsored publication for faculty and staff, sent me a very gracious e-mail note alerting me that they would be publishing a number of excerpted comments from the slew of letters they'd received responding to Doctor Lakoff's interview. He gave me an opportunity to decline, if I wished, to be quoted.

When they published the next issue, they included a number of critical comments from conservative readers. Happily, the excerpted comments were thoughtful and civilized, not mean-spirited or crude.

Interestingly, the editors also set aside a rebuttal space for Doctor Lakoff to respond to selected comments. Maybe he didn't have a lot of lead time (I know my letter had been sent at least three weeks earlier, but that doesn't mean he had that long to consider it.) but his rebuttals seemed to be even weaker than the original lame hypotheses.

Poor guy! He must have been tuckered out from responding to neocons-on-steroids trained by the multi-billion dollar conservative think tanks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Remember Gravitas?

Do you remember the week the newsreaders added the word GRAVITAS to our lexicon?

I do, vaguely. Like the time I went camping for a few days and when I came back those annoying yellow happy faces had inexplicably commandeered every window, lapel, cash register, pay phone, and bus seat in the civilized world.

Before the election campaign of 2000 our lives were blissfully free of discussions of GRAVITAS. Then with the abruptness of a pimple erupting prom night, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and the rest were earnestly agreeing with each other that George Bush "lacked GRAVITAS."

Nickel-plated morons. I wonder who fed them that bit of Latin pomposity and told them to toss it around.

It was a snotty way of telling us peasants that we shouldn't vote for Bush because he really didn't have the appearance of dignity and seriousness expected of a head of state. Well, now there is a presidential candidate with gravitas. In spades.

Evidently, Mr. Kerry was fed gravitas instead of mother's milk as a baby.

He leaves gravitas-soaked footprints where he treads.

He has to have it scraped from his important suit when he sends it to the cleaners.

He excretes gravitas with his perspiration; leaves gravitas stains on the pillowcase.


Where was his gravitas when he was sponsoring legislation, which is supposed to be the task of a legislator?

Can you remember the single piece of legislation sponsored by Kerry to actually be passed on favorably by his fellow senators?

His own official website does not identify it. It only shows a tally sheet year by year: bills sponsored, bills passed. Total for a decade of service in the Senate, 28 sponsored, ONE passed.

I guess I'll have to do some more darn research.

Why is there no discussion of Kerry's legislative leadership and accomplishments by ANY of the Mainstream Press nor Network News Anchors? Why are we NOT being reminded hourly by the newsreaders who so conspicuously endorse Kerry, about all the wonderful legislation he sponsored, or the bills he voted FOR and AGAINST?

Oh, yeah. He voted BOTH ways on the war against Iraq... THAT we've heard about plenty.


No one is jamming their transmission. We are huddled around our receiver sets, hungry for information...


The silence of the media on Kerry's record since his four months in Vietnam speaks with devastating eloquence. They looked at his record and *HAD* to realize that it could only damage his chances for election to remind people of what he has said, and which bills he's supported and opposed.

But he sure does a good job of looking serious.

I bet when he orders a meal in a restaurant, that helps keep the wait staff on their toes.

Islamic fundamentalist America-hating terrorists, you'd better watch your ASSES! We have a candidate with GRAVITAS!

Surely, in some fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn, a conversation just like this might happen:

"Sayeed, is it your will to detonate this day some C-4 on the public way where walk many infidels which is a stink in the eye of the Almighty?"

"Afendi, most assuredly not, for by the Prophet's beard, the hated nation of our enemy has brought forth and set against us a person fairly sloppin' over with GRAVITAS!"

"Accursed be him that so hinders our blessed and compassionate plan to blow up all creation in the name of Merciful ALLAH! Would that we yet contended with only such as George, whom we deemed quite devoid of this Gravitas..."


Look, I KNOW there are a lot of folks that are much smarter than I am. In my frustration, I call the news presenters of our major broadcast networks MORONS. But I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they are a lot more clever than I am. The evidence, come to think of it, is reasonably compelling: There they are with their multi-million dollar salaries, their entourages of sycophantic lap-dogs running errands and fetching their martinis and Botox syringes, their touring cars, their chartered flights, their personal fragrance counselors, their legal counselors... here *I* am with... with...

Well, with what I’ve got.

Seriously, what I’m getting at is that the President’s critics seem universally obliged to declare him a MORON, and they really are convinced that they have the ability to reckon his IQ from the way he pronounces the word “nuclear.”

When *I* call the Network Celebrity News Presenters morons, what *I* mean is that they regularly confuse their celebrity status with some God-like power to dictate reality for the rest of us. This is why I make it my habit to use the terms “news readers” and “news presenters”--- because they seem to have become puffed up and extravagantly impressed with themselves. Joseph Kraft used the term “Imperial Press.” Fits.

When editors and reporters meet to review continuing and breaking news, and figure out how best to allocate resources among the various stories... well, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, the people who get the assignments are not scientists, or economists, or pilots, or mining engineers, or pathologists. They are usually reasonably intelligent people, with--- we hope--- some instruction in journalistic standards and methods. They’re just reporters.

Yes, some journalists achieve enduring credibility because of their specialized experience or education in some field apart from journalism. But all too often, after interviewing all the people they’ve rounded up, and scanning so much background material, lesser reporters end up convinced they understand the issues as well as or even BETTER THAN the people they’ve interviewed. You see this at every level of operation: local papers and television, monthly magazines, etc.

Many journalists see themselves as authorities on any subject that arises, morally and ethically above the rest of us, constantly watching for some menace from which to save us, particularly if it is our own blindness or bad habits. It’s a circular, self-reinforcing, delusion, as I’ll explain.

They perceive themselves as distinct from the Democratic Party, but the roles they have arrogated for themselves coincide. Both democrats and many journalists share a kind of missionary zeal for preaching to their fellows, and trying to reform them from their wickedness. The Democratic Party has effectively defined itself over many decades as the defender of “the little guy,” and the group that will fight for minority rights, and AGAINST the rapacious business interests. If you are a good person--- so the logic goes--- you must be a democrat, and if you aren’t a democrat--- it follows with elegant inevitability--- YOU MUST BE A BAD PERSON!!!

The headwhacking monotony of their charges of Republican evil become more strident and irrationally ludicrous as Kerry’s fundamental lousiness unfolds for all to see. You could almost feel compassion for them, if they hadn’t acted like such sorry rascals for so many decades.

But for too long they have been insisting that their emperor was wearing a beautiful regal robe and crown, clearly visible to the GOOD people who want good things for minorities, who don’t raise pesky questions about when life begins, who agree that only by racial quotas enforced by affirmative action can we correct the inequities of past racism, and who reject the evil racist attack on Iraq, and there NEVER WERE ANY WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION OR YELLOWCAKE THE BASTARD LIED LIED LIED AND HE ONLY DID IT FOR THE OIL AND HE’S A SCUM SUCKING COWARD WHO’S DADDY HELPED HIM ESCAPE COMBAT IN VIETNAM AND AWOL SNORT SPIT CACK GARBLE DARBLE...

(Ahem.) And, of course, only BAD, Mean-spirited Republicans think the emperor’s nekkid.

Amazing. I never realized the stories we studied in kindergarten would provide lessons to last a lifetime.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Error Correction to previous post...

One of my readers caught a dumb mistake I made in the previous post. Actually, it was my extremely well-read brother, who has an eye for detail, as demonstrated by his fiendishly rendered pen & ink wildlife drawings and oil landscapes. Anyhow, I had originally identified Dan Rather as the reporter to whom Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a surprise announcement of his willingness to visit Israel to meet with Menachem Begin and make a start on a peaceful resolution of their long conflict. It was, of course, Walter Cronkite, NOT Dan Rather. I apologize for the error, which I have corrected in an updated post.

The Ossification of the Fourth Estate

It is a well-known medical phenomenon that blood leaking into a joint, if not treated, tends to attract calcium-depositing bone cells. This in turn leads to markedly diminished functioning of the joint.

This might explain the conspicuous decline in the analytical skills of professional journalists in the last few decades. Many of those folks began their careers in the tumult of the civil rights movement, risking headthumps from police billy clubs to get out the TRUTH of political oppression of dissent. Later, there were the anti-war protests, where additional whacks were provided by highly idealistic LEFTISTS. It took some nerve to wade into the thick of things, regardless of which side was dealing out the bumps on the head.

A moment of silence, please, for all the brave American journalists assassinated, beaten, or “disappeared” by the fascists of the Right OR Left...

Hmmm. There was Alan Berg, a radio talk show host machine-gunned in Denver in 1984 by someone connected to the Aryan Nation movement. But the number of American reporters or editors killed in America (as opposed to being killed while on assignment in other countries) is essentially zero. (Check this URL:

Okay, how about a moment of silence for the brave American News Organizations that closed their offices in Baghdad rather than submit to Saddam’s extortion and chose instead to reveal the full extent of the rapes, murders, tortures, kidnapping, and brutality he had loosed on his own people BEFORE THE INVASION.

Ooops. Can’t think of any.

Well, how about a moment of respectful silence for Eason Jordan for bravely confessing in a letter to the NYTimes that CNN acquiesced to that extortion for years and years? Well, it got them a front row seat to broadcast the fireworks when we finally had a President with the simple courage to do something about Saddam H... (Remarkably, Indymedia-Atlanta has a link at this URL:
This seems to be the same article under Jeff Jacoby’s byline that appears in a number of other locations, but it’s pretty interesting reading.)


Well, even if they haven’t been risking their lives particularly since our abandonment of South Vietnam, they regularly risk dangerous blows to the head in their lunch-hour squash games with their mates. But lately, the predominant source of journalistic cranial injury is the desktops on which they bang their heads in frustration at the slow-motion trainwreck of the Kerry campaign.

In any case the net result is clear. A few years ago, journalists were unable to untangle Clinton’s definition of the word “is.” More recently they’ve had difficulty grasping the idea that an “ally” is a country that supports goals to which they have agreed, NOT one that obstructs. In the last weeks before the Republican National Convention, they are confused over whether the function of journalism is to report news or suppress it. At the current rate of regression, by election day journalists will have difficulty working out a use for their fingers beyond merely excavating their nostrils.

How in the world did they fall so far? A look back is instructive.

In the first decades of the Twentieth Century, in living memory of some who are alive today, many city newspapers were privately held--- i.e., owned and operated by the same families that had originally started them. Some cities had a number of newspapers operating in fierce contention among owners. They took every opportunity to criticize the opposition, and whenever possible, recruit each other’s most popular writers, cartoonists and readers.

Having that sort of local competition turned out to promote a healthy range of choices for the reading public. This meant alternatives in support for political candidates, editorial points of view, advocacy, entertainment, costs, and standards.

As newspaper ownership began to migrate from private holdings and consolidate into corporate hands, radio technology was maturing and spreading. In the Twenties and Thirties, some of the most progressive and idealistic journalistic enterpreneurs initiated news organizations for the new broadcast medium that were to be dedicated solely to the gathering and relaying of news. CBS, NBC, Powell Crosley’s WLW in Cincinnati, and a number of independent stations like KDKA of Philidelphia, and KQED of San Francisco, established their own independent departments for news. In addition several groups arose that were dedicated to nothing else but news--- UPI and AP, for instance.

In those first two decades, Radio was all new and special, with a romance hard to understand in these sophisticated days. Here’s a description from

“Broadcasting of this era was more than just a business or a job. It was the profession of magic.
Radio had a distinctly formal air about it. Announcers and musicians dressed in tuxedos. Female performers were elegantly attired as well, even when there was no studio audience. Announcing was formal. Broadcasting was regarded as a grand production, almost theatrical in nature. Enunciation and vocal clarity were essential, partly due to limitations of the equipment, but also because of the tradition of the theater. This formality of attitude and style would remain a part of radio well into the 1940s.”

Because many of the organizations were launched by individuals, or closely-held private groups, it was possible for many of their owners to give a simple mandate to their news teams: find out what was going on in the world, and report it back to the public. Within the limitations of their employers’ budgets, the reporters and their editors were given a great deal of independence.

Editorial policies admittedly did not venture far from those of the owners, but within limits, the listening public were served by the competition a number of alternatives and choices in interpretation and points of view. As television technology came into being, it was developed by essentially the same radio broadcast community, and offered ranges of choice similar to those of radio.

The enfeeblement of journalism now approaching crisis has its roots in the world-wide changes caused by the collapse of empires and growing commercial engagement between formerly isolated nations following World War II. A number of corporations, most particularly those involved in energy development and distribution, were increasingly pressured by market fluctuations in basic fossil fuels, to diversify. This led a worldwide surge of acquisitions, mergers, and consolidations among businesses, of which the multi-national corporations are the most conspicuous upshot. [This is a drastic oversimplification--- I’d welcome knowledgeable criticism or comment.]

Here’s the crux of the matter.

In the last four decades, the news organizations that originally were financed by the revenues of their parent organizations, were expected by the conglomerates that had acquired them to start paying their own way. There was enormous pressure to compete, not just with other newscasts, but with the full range of entertainment media.

What we got, instead of sober, reflective, judgment, was big hair, perfect teeth, and implants; cutesy human interest features carefully set off by lame banter among intellectual flyweights, and theatrical sets and logos eating up budgets that used to be sufficient to deliver feature films. We got news readers who think their celebrity equates to infallibility. In 1977 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat used an interview with Walter Cronkite to announce his willingness to meet with then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Many television viewers may have assumed that Mr. Cronkite had somehow, by his journalistic wiles or stature, coaxed this from Sadat. The event, which sent shock waves around the world, certainly enhanced Cronkite's prestige--- he was later discussed quite seriously as a possible Presidential candidate. But it's more likely that Sadat chose that forum precisely so he could later dismiss it as idle chat with a person of no real consequence, in case it were rejected by the Israelis. If he had made the overture through normal diplomatic / political channels, a rejection might have led to an internal challenge to Sadat’s leadership. But Jennings, Rather, Brokaw, and Walters believe they’re the King-makers of our culture.

(By the way, I'm not claiming any deep omniscient insight in suggesting Sadat might have been challenged if his offer was rejected. For those too young to remember, Anwar Sadat was in fact immediately castigated by fundamentalist Egyptian Muslims for making the initiative, and within a few years after the electrifying visit to Jerusalem and the Camp David Meetings with Carter and Begin, he was assassinated by fanatical Muslims who felt he had betrayed them in making peace with Israel.)

So much for the decline of broadcast journalism. It took the misbehavior of Nixon and the Watergate scandal to truly screw up print journalism.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are a lot of dedicated print journalists out there. But the sense of gleeful triumph that raced through the liberal community at seeing Nixon brought low has had consequences that will reverberate for the next century.

Not the least of those is the missionary zeal of several generations now of self-annointed crusaders who chose journalism for their college degree program after watching Redford and Hoffman in “All the President’s Men.” Combined with the Radical-Left domination of American university faculties, this has produced a tide of counter-cultural primitives steeped since toilet training with the notion that the purpose of journalism is to topple Republican/Fascist presidents. The collection and correlation of facts are only important insofar as they can be used to support the underlying agenda--- Resistance to the oppression of the Conservatives. Inconvenient facts or allegations are to be dismissed, belittled, scorned, and characterized as lacking credibility.

Damn, I’m indulging in the same sort of smearing of liberal journalists that I detest when they do it to conservatives. But there is a lot of truth in there; it is definitely a case of Asymmetric warfare. In the course of my animation career I’ve had occasion to become acquainted with a fair number of print and broadcast journalists, and I can tell you... respect and tolerance for conservatives is exceedingly rare.

I admit I may be leaving out important factors. The fact of the public’s growing dissatisfaction with traditional news media is undeniable. There are certainly dangers and pitfalls in a D-I-Y approach to newsgathering. I certainly have to grit my teeth and hold my nose when I check on sites like and But I am occasionally surprised, as I’ve mentioned in some of my other posts, to find leftward sites that acknowledge and link to articles, blogs, or information that contradicts their viewpoints.

In the middle ages, scholars, philosophers, and the just-all-around-wise regularly exchanged correspondence, and discussed new discoveries and ancient lore over great distances. I shouldn’t compare myself to those worthies, but their example is a good one, even for us lesser lights. Connecting with other bloggers, and getting involved in the comment streams with other folks who take the time to research and thoughtfully compose their posts--- certainly are mind-stretching exercises.

Often when I’m trying to organize my thoughts even for just a comment, I find myself searching the web for sources. I try to look at a range of sites--- including some I expect to disagree violently with my own preconceptions. (Hey! I always have the option of discounting their junk!)

The thing that keeps coming back to me (and I know some of my readers are darn tired of seeing me dredge this up) is that concept I’ve heard described as fundamental to information theory: The importance of data is inversely proportional to its consistency with your expectations.

Relating that to Mainstream Journalism, it’s vital to remind yourself that the world doesn’t work the way you want it to JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT IT TO. When some nagging fact can’t be hidden, discarded, argued away, or papered over, you finally have to consider you might be wrong and start trying to see things as they are.

You can’t solve a problem if you won’t acknowledge it's a problem.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Separated at Birth!

Remember folks— you read it HERE FIRST!

My patient research, which meets Tom Oliphant's highest journalistic standards [meaning I’m not questioning ANY of John Kerry’s wounds, from razor burns to hangnails... NOT EVEN those tiny little holes made by the BOTOX injections!] has established an astounding datum.
[drum roll...]

Separated at Birth:

John Kerry and Herman Munster!

Well, actually, at the risk of being really mean to the memory of a fine actor, John Kerry and Fred Gwynne.

Fred never liked to talk about it during his life. There were a lot of reasons they never were able to be close, despite many eery parallels. Although they each had early lives of privilege and wealth, Fred attended an excellent private school in AMERICA. By stark contrast John ended up in a private school in Switzerland, where they consume too-rich cheeses and every able-bodied male is expected to keep and maintain proficiency with a military assault weapon for the defense of their beloved country. The fiercely maintained political neutrality, the refusal to become involved in the vast contest between good and evil that surged all about them, the constant repetition of the William Tell Overture, the long tradition of secret bank accounts, the myriad cows with their musical bells, the proximity of the Von Trapp Family— all these things must indeed have had a profound effect on young Johnnie, eventually overthrowing what might have become a fine mind.

The briefest comparison shows what Kerry could have achieved, if only he hadn’t been tragically sidetracked.

After attending Groton preparatory school, Fred Gwynne enlisted in U.S. Navy, and spent much of World War II serving on a Sub-chaser. After his discharge, he first attended New York City’s Phoenix School of Design for a time. Then he entered HARVARD on the G.I. Bill. In spite of the distractions of serving as a staffer on the Harvard CRIMSON and as President of the Harvard Lampoon, and performing in many undergraduate theatrical productions, he handily completed the requirements for a degree in English.

Along the way Fred learned the pride that comes in actually earning a living, and took great joy in a number of enterprises--- He acted in motion pictures and TV, wrote advertising copy for J Walter Thompson, wrote and illustrated children’s books that are still available through

Although Fred Gwynne is known frequently to have used heavy theatrical makeup, he was always able to distinguish between reality and “make-believe.”

Although Fred Gwynne served on a United States Navy ship that was designed specifically to destroy submarines that contained other humans, he forebore after his discharge from accusing his shipmates of war crimes and atrocities simply to gain publicity or notoriety and thus possibly advance his career.

Even though he attended Harvard simultaneously with several members of the Incredibly Glamorous Kennedy Clan, Fred Gwynne was always able to keep track of his own identity.

He never served a single term in the Senate or the House of Representatives. Yet in the last ten years of his life, Fred Gwynne’s total of actual legislation that he sponsored and managed to get passed by the U.S. Senate, is only one less than John Kerry’s total for HIS last ten years! (A remarkable achievement!)

Fred Gwynne didn’t do girlie stuff like inject Botox into parts of him to be smooth and young looking.

Fred learned never to insult entire nations at a stroke, such as our allies in rebuilding Iraq— Australia, Italy, Japan, Poland, Bulgaria, South Korea and most of all, Great Britain— by dissing them as a “fraudulent coalition” of the “bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted.” At least not in major speeches those nations might be sitting around the radio listening to. 

Oh, yeah, and Fred also didn't immediately turn around and claim he would heal the wounds between our allies and ourselves, right after insulting the allies that put themselves in harm's way to help us.

Gee, I could go on, but it is all rather sad.

As more I research the life of Fred Gwynne, so more I realize how much better a candidate and president he would have made than John Kerry. Seriously.

God rest his soul. He was a fine actor, and is much missed.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Open Letter to Chris Matthews

[This letter was written in response to the August 19th broadcast of "Hardball with Chris Matthews" which had as guests Larry Thurlow, Michael Dobbs, Max Cleland, and Michelle Malkin, among others. The transcript is available online at the URL:]

20 August 2004

Dear Chris Matthews,

The men who served with John Kerry in Vietnam are not suggesting he intentionally shot himself, but that the trivial wound for which he sought his first purple heart commendation was likely caused by his own grenade rather than enemy fire. But of course, you know this. You are simply trying to discredit the allegations by misrepresenting them.

Your exchange with Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post was a particular waste of time. Unless Mr. Dobbs has some specific knowledge of the preparation and scrutiny of after-action reports, and the initiation, deliberations and records-keeping surrounding commendations for combat gallantry, his pronouncements on the questions at issue are pure speculation. You should be asking your questions of someone in the military who has had responsibility for dealing with the documentation processes that are being disputed, NOT with just another media person.

For my own part, I find it far more difficult to believe that 265 decorated veterans have been bought by the Bush Campaign than to believe that John Kerry, a singularly mediocre legislator whose propensity for self-promotion has been amply demonstrated, had exaggerated and finessed the documentation of his life at every stage.

Mr. Matthews, I used to look forward to your appearances and enjoy them because I had a sense that you had some objectivity. Lately I haven’t followed your show, and you seem to have changed, sadly for the worse. Your idea of “hardball” these days seems to consist of nothing more than selectively re-combining bits of their statements, throwing them back in their faces twisted out of their original meanings, then refusing to allow the guest time to respond.

Please consider that in the last four years the American public has been presented with THOUSANDS of news media allegations that George Bush was a coward seeking to avoid combat and shirking in the Texas Air National Guard. In the first place, this is an incendiary insult to the tens of thousands of veterans who honorably elected service in National Guard units, whether they eventually served in combat or not. Secondly, since I grew up in a Navy family, child of an officer serving for decades on aircraft carriers, and friend to many Navy fliers, I have seen that flying fighter jets even in peacetime, is an extremely hazardous undertaking. For someone to dismiss George Bush as a coward reveals an UTTER ignorance of the extreme rigors and dangers of fighter jet operations.

Still, despite the hounding of journalists whose ignorance of the vagaries of governmental record-keeping is as profound as their ignorance of fighter jets, I have not heard of the Bush administration calling for suppression of a single publication for pursuing this. Meanwhile, those same professional journalists have only reluctantly acknowledged questions about John Kerry’s integrity. The decades-long leftward creep of the media is precisely the repellent force that is driving so many Americans to alternative sources of reporting.

But far more significantly than all that, for John Kerry’s campaign to call for the suppression of the SwiftVets’ book is despicable. It underscores the bankruptcy of his leadership. It lays bare a bullying gutlessness more clearly than any allegations by ten thousand fellow decorated veterans could ever have accomplished.

In any case, Mr. Kerry’s focus on his four months in Vietnam seems to be cynically calculated to distract from the pathetic record of his service as a member of our national legislature.

Poor sod. It appears the American electorate are beginning to recognize the barnyard stink wafting from his campaign. Even some of my democratic friends who voted for Clinton are reconsidering their party affiliation.

But to return to “Hardball,” journalistic bias is inevitable; everyone has a point of view. But YOUR behavior--- particularly your intentional abuse of Michelle Malkin--- is beneath contempt, Mr. Matthews.

Maybe you should go back and get some remedial tutoring in journalistic integrity from your betters, starting with say, Jerry Springer.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

This is a serious post- Censorship versus Freedom of Speech

In researching the disturbing business about the EU laws allowing one of its members to extradite a citizen of another member state for allegations of “hate speech” I came across articles that do show another side to the matter. For instance, as long ago as 1998 Italy resisted Turkey’s government when it demanded extradition of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan whom Turkey claimed was nothing more than a murderer.

The “hate speech” issue here is that Ocalan continued to exhort his followers in Turkey to resist, wherever he stood still long enough to speak to a microphone. The Turkish government was using that as one of many legal strategies for extraditing him.

The European Union presidency (Austria at that time) supported Italy’s refusal to yield up the leader of Kurdish resistance. This was ostensibly on the grounds that the extradition and prosecution would expose him to a possible death sentence. The Kurdish nation had been deliberately divided among Iraq, Turkey, and Syria under the Treaty of Laussane in 1920, and the Kurds have been savagely oppressed in Iraq and Turkey since, which is why Italy and Austria resisted the Turkish demands.

The point is that individuals can make principled stands that resist the corrosive effect of ill-conceived legislation. But the potential for mischief is always present.

I accept the idea that words can do damage. Misinformation and lies can cause people to make bad decisions. Sure. The question is always, “What is the proper response of GOVERNMENT?” Because the definition of “hate speech” is subject to endless interpretation, vicious bastards (even outside of government) can use rules and laws criminalizing “hate speech” to intimidate punish and suppress dissent, which most Americans regard as an irritating but profoundly important fundamental human right.

Here we have to distinguish between GOVERNMENT actions and those of private individuals or even groups of individuals. Most dictionary definitions clearly point to the use of the power of the STATE in criminalizing expressions counter to the state’s interests as censorship. Freedom of speech, and its exercise by individuals and groups, leads inevitably to conflicts that some people want to characterize as censorship. (There is a good analysis of Censorship and Freedom of Speech at this URL:

For instance, when the Dixie Chicks were being widely criticized for using their concert performances as a platform for their personal feelings about George Bush, a lot of people cried “CENSORSHIP!!” Even good Sir Elton John used that term in expressing his concern for their treatment.

Elton John has always commanded my respect and admiration for his compositions, performances, arrangements, recordings, and the undeniable generosity and gentleness of spirit he has shown repeatedly in the many benefit concerts and efforts he has assisted.

But in his concern about what he is calling "censorship" in America, he should keep in mind that all performers have the right to use the stage and the financial clout their fans have provided for them to promote their personal views, to make political statements, to criticize the government, or anything else they wish. I'm not aware of any governmental abuse or repression or suppression of even the most vulgar, tasteless, ugly, vicious, transparently false, or blatantly biased statement by any entertainer, singer, performer, whatnot.

Well, there was Lenny Bruce, but that was a LONG time ago...

But, by the same sacred set of rights by which any entertainer may without government penalty or restriction express views that are unpopular (or popular), vicious, repugnant, or even DANGEROUS, so does each and every other citizen of the country enjoy the same right.

If I tell everyone that the Dixie Chicks are fine musicians but they can’t think their way out of an open toilet stall, it is as much my sacred right to do this, exercising my freedom of speech, as it is the sacred right of the entertainer, exercising HER freedom of speech, to offend ME.

Freedom of speech is STRONG juju. Establishing it, exercising it, explaining it, and defending it have challenged the finest minds of the past two and a half centuries. Neither the entertainer, who enjoys the benefit of a grand stage from which to broadcast his message, nor I who may have access to talk radio shows, blogs, or newspaper editorial pages, or just my mom's canasta club for an audience... NEITHER of us is CENSORING the other, merely exercising our right to speak freely.

To date I have not heard of a single incident of government goons trying to intimidate Dixie Chicks fans, or of any prosecution of the individual Dixie Chicks for sedition, or termination of their public library privileges, or any such thing.

In the current frenzy of the presidential campaigns, it is good to keep in mind some of these distinctions.

George Bush DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY OR ANY LEGAL BASIS FOR SUPPRESSING the ads put out by the Swift Boat Veterans who saying John Kerry lied and mis-represented many important details of his military service. By the same token, John Kerry has no authority to prevent ads and news organizations from publishing absurd allegations about George Bush’s attendance records for the Texas Air National Guard.

This leaves us faced with the awful job of just having to do our own damn homework.

What if the stories you accept are a bunch of lies that have been carefully crafted to reinforce what some cynical bastard thinks you already are inclined to believe?

Gee... Could that really happen?


Within seconds of my posting the previous mean-spirited and thoroughly regrettable aspersions on the fine and wonderful people of the European Union, there was a knock on my door. I was in my pyjamas, but in the same generous spirit of civic hospitality that infuses ALL my writing, I hid the bottle of gin, and staggered to the door to answer. No sooner had I unlatched the fifth and final deadbolt, than a very large fist came through and bruised itself quite badly on my cheekbone.

As my eyes began to focus again, I became aware of several very large and well-muscled gentlemen in reasonably fashionable silk Italian suits rummaging through the debris of my filing system and helping themselves to the bags of Doritos kept near my computer station for emergencies. The one nearest me, noticing my attempts to break free of the restraints, said something about “filthy American right-wing yahoo” and administered another brief series of instructive nudges with his finely-polished wing-tips.

As my eyes began to focus again, this time I considered and decided against further testing of my bindings. The visiting gentlemen seemed to have completed their scrutiny of my place, and were just exiting. Over his shoulder, the last one remarked that I might want to post an apology to the offended citizens of the European Union for my loathesome and scurrilous and unjustifiable attacks in the previous post.


In my previous post I made remarks that may have, to some residents of the European Union, seemed to verge on maybe possibly sorta being mean-spirited, disparaging, insulting, and generally implying that I think the people who spent so much time coming up with a constitution that weighs more than the famous filmmaker director Oscar Winner Michael Moore...

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

... might somehow conclude that I was kinda sorta almost possibly maybe doing something that one of your European Union extremely intelligent legislative bodies would call “hate speech.”

Let me ASSURE you that I have only the utmost respect for a political body that can somehow meld the antagonisms and ancient enmities of communities speaking scores of different languages, and thousands of dialects... A body politic that has been able to cut through the Gordian Knot of all the conflicting currencies and monetary policies and emerge triumphant with the brilliantly-styled EURO (sure hope it doesn’t look like a fewkin’ GAME TOKEN like *OUR* Sacajawea dollar coin!) An enlightened community of cousins, band of brothers, comrades, mates, friends, who only a few generations back were busy slaughtering and incinerating each other.

Hey, we’re pals, right?

Can I tear up this extradition threat now?

European Union NOW Building Fence Too

Brave New Europe, the people that have legislation on their books making it possible for one of their member states to extradite and criminally prosecute a citizen of another member state for publishing statements qualifying as “hate speech” on a website ANYWHERE, have announced plans to build an enormous fence along the borders of Hungary and Poland. The fence is intended to hinder the movement of migrants seeking entry into Brave New Europe from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, which border Poland and Hungary, recently admitted to the EU.

Um, wasn’t it the European Union that just spent several months fulminating about how terrible, racist, cruel, unjust, and mean Israel is to build a fence to keep out Palestinian fanatical homicide bombers? Didn’t the United Nations and the European Union JUST LAST MONTH manage to persuade the INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE to rule that it was illegal for Israel to build a fence??

Evidently, on reflection, they concluded that Israel’s idea was actually pretty neat.

For Europeans to keep out the riff-raff, NOT for Israel to keep out maniac murderers of children and old people and pregnant women waiting for buses or pizza.

Aren’t you glad the United States has refused to surrender its sovereignty to the International Court of Justice?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Why I am No Longer a Democrat

Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick.

No, seriously. Here’s a transcript of my testimony before a secret meeting of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Apostate former members of Major United States Political Parties, on 17 July 1988.

I remember it was a very hot, muggy day. The committee had put me up in a cheap motel in Crystal City over near the Pentagon, and sent over an un-airconditioned taxi that stank of “eau de Lobbyist” to transport me. I apologized to the taxi driver for not giving him a tip, mumbling that I was in hiding from political persecution.

He sneered. “I am from Haiti. I am not impressed.”

In any case, he had driven all the way to Maryland before bringing me back to the Capitol building. He spat on me, and sped away, hissing parenthetically as he skidded round the corner, “I voted for Lyndon LaRouche, merdaillon!”

Must have been the French name that appealed to him. The ritual scarring and tatoos made me think he might have been a former member of the Ton Tons Macoutes. That and the way he threatened me with a mace bristling with rusty spikes. Well, if you’re going to decamp from a group like the Democrats, you already know what to expect.

So, here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

Honorable representative [deleted]: So you’re telling us that once you had progressed beyond the level of house-to-house canvassing, your handlers began to pressure you to become involved in activities that you considered dangerous?

Me: Yes. Not just dangerous. Illegal. Unpatriotic. InHumane!

Different Honorable representative [deleted]: Can you give some detail?

Me: Well, I was asked to come to a meeting. When they wouldn’t tell me what it was about, I began to get really worried. I thought I was being dragged into one of those pyramid sales thingies, like Tupperware or Amway. But when I got there, it was just a bunch of other democratic canvassing volunteers like me, and a guy in Gold Lamé overalls with a kind of pitchfork.

First Honorable representative [deleted]: Pitchfork?

Me: Yeah, with three pokey things. Tines...

Honorable representative [deleted]: Sounds like a goddam TRIDENT!

Suddenly alert Fourth and Fifth Honorable representatives [deleted and deleted]: Jeez. Are we voting on those damn sub-launched ICBMs AGAIN???

At that moment, the door bursts open and JOHN KERRY sticks his head and important hair into the hearing room just long enough to shout: I VOTE **NO** TO WASTING ANOTHER PENNY ON AN OBSOLETE, OVER-PRICED, WAR-CRIME-ARGLE-BARGLE TRIDENT WEAPONS SYSTEM!!!!!!!

[Door slams shut.]

Me: Is that what it’s called? So, anyhow, first they turned the lights off and lit a bunch of candles, and then they brought out this big platter with what I thought was a roasted pig on a bed of endive and that kind of spinach stuff that tastes real nutty...

Third Honorable representative [deleted]: Pig? That won’t play with the Jewish voters...

Me: But it wasn’t a pig, sir. It was a little baby!

All present: My God!

Me: They told us we each had to take a bite of its flesh, and swear to become MINIONS OF SATAN! And THEN we would become mid-level party hacks and be entrusted with the lesser passwords of the annointed.

(To reassure those of you who may be deeply upset at this point, I’ll reveal that the baby was not roasted, just slathered in Barbecue sauce. And I didn’t take a bite.)

So, since that testimony I’ve been in the witness protection program, but there are too many Democrats running things there. Even though I change my name every few weeks, I’ve lost count of how many apartments and homeless camps and rail trestles I’ve called home for a few nights. Some day I’m going to stop this runnin’, and settle down, and hold my head up high again.

And when I do, I’m voting for GEORGE BUSH!!!!!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Demoncraticunderworld versus Al-Jazeera

This post is in two parts: If you are a fan of or, you will probably want to skip the first half and jump ahead to the bit about Al-Jazeera. *

There must somewhere be rabidly conservative websites that have the same open-running-sore, soul-corroding Amphetamine-crashing malice of I’m sure they exist, but I haven’t gone looking for them.

Even the folks at are indulging in an annular mutual-stimulation exercise. Their website lists the usual catechism of the delusional, with all the numbingly predictable claims that Bush and his cronies control Fox news, that they stole the 2000 election, Bush Lied to trick us into a needless war, etc. I looked a little deeper, and came across the explanation of their corporate name. It derives from the period when Mr. Clinton’s sexual addiction and the manifold consequences of his various misbehaviors and crimes were coming to light with the glacial inevitability of... well, a GLACIER.

Liberal Clinton supporters wished it would all just go away. They insisted that nothing their guy had done could possibly justify criticism or censure “because it was, after all, only about SEX,” and began to repeat the exasperated query, “Okay, you’ve had your fun picking on Clinton... Now can’t we just MOVE ON to the really critical issues facing our nation?!” Clearly, in their view having a president who lacks the willpower and judgment to defy the urgings of his own penis is no big deal. Even if he commits a bunch of crimes to cover up the "ONLY SEX" parts.

Well, having a DEMOCRATIC president who...

I love it. “Okay, so he had sex with an intern on taxpayer time, and made a mockery of his marriage and family, and took advantage of a young and impressionable girl! So what if courts and legislation in thousands of other similar instances have established that such behavior is at least sufficient grounds for firing, if not criminal proceedings. So what if he allowed his desire for oral sex to compete with his attention to a discussion of American military forces in a combat zone. So what if the chief law enforcement officer of the nation violated laws and lied under oath and compelled employees of the federal government to affirm his lies JUST TO PREVENT a citizen’s appeal for redress in court. So what if he stipulated that he had exposed his pecker and asked for oral sex from a woman over whose JOB he had ultimate dispositive authority? That doesn’t bother ***ME*** so can’t we just ****MOVE**** ON***?????????”

For a refreshing change, take a look at Al-Jazeera’s English-language website. These are the folks whose television broadcast reporting of the American invasion of Iraq seemed so utterly doctrinaire and perverse at the time. I recall the dual on-screen live-feed of Al-Jazeera’s interview with Saddam’s information minister telling the world that American troops were committing suicide on the walls of Baghdad, while the embedded reporter’s live feed showed the American tank column passing under the crossed swords of the Parade Ground, one mile away from that interview.

I could dredge up a lot of examples, mostly anecdotal, but I doubt anyone is going to seriously argue that Al-Jazeera was hostile to the United States attack, and that their reporting was more or less diametrically opposite of American reporting, even considering how hostile many mainstream journalists are to their own government.

But really... Take a look at the Al-Jazeera website ( and consider how bland, neutral and utterly unthreatening it is.

Maybe it’s a new editorial imperative; I hadn’t thought to look up the site before this week. Many Arab print publications routinely publish English versions for foreign consumption that either soften or completely contradict the content prepared for the “Arab Street.” I’d give worlds to know, but my study of arab language has been extremely limited.

Anyway, it makes me want to read the articles. Those I’ve read have shown a remarkable, surprising thoughtfulness.

There’s one about an arab football [i.e., “soccer”] team--- Bnei Sakhnin--- a team made up of Arab players, drawn from an Arab community within Israel. Reportedly it is the first such team ever to compete in a European Championship, and the first team of Arabs to represent Israel in international football competition. The article describes some of the hostility they’ve had to deal with from Israelis, and mentions that one Jew was arrested by Israeli police at a Jerusalem match for shouting “Death to the Arabs.”

Ponder that for a second.

Here’s an Arab website acknowledging that when an Israeli Jew shouted “Death to the Arabs” to taunt an Arab team at a soccer match in Jerusalem, he was arrested by an Israeli police officer.

There is deep irony in this.

Al-Jazeera’s website seems earnestly to want Americans (I assume that’s the primary target audience) to have a more sympathetic and open-minded attitude toward Arab culture. To encourage that, they have made their website NOT a mass of doctrinaire slogans... NOT a seething cauldron of venomous Anti-American HATRED...NOT a list of unsupported allegations of American government crimes against the Arab world...

I gotta say, it works for me.

I’ll keep coming back to check on this website, and read the articles BECAUSE THEY SEEM TO BE GOOD SOLID RESPECTABLE JOURNALISM. Even though I can assume we will be on opposite sides of many important questions, I’m willing to consider what they have to say, because they’re not clubbing me with insults and slogans from the start.

Of course, they clearly support and promote the ARAB point of view. But they also ACKNOWLEDGE ideas and information that might tend to refute the writer’s points.

It is exactly that reasonableness that engages me, and makes me feel like there may be hope of a dialog, or a meeting of minds, cooperative engagement.

Even if it’s just the APPEARANCE of reasonableness.

It beats unambiguous snarling vicious mindless contempt.

Is anyone at listening?

*And I will say a little prayer for your immortal soul, which you have already traded to SATAN for a few gratuitous orgasms or magical beans or “Get Out of Jail FREE” cards or something equally coprophagic. Really, having you around is the proof that we are living in an incredibly tolerant society; If even one per cent of the bullshit lies you claim about Republicans were true, you would have been rounded up and made into tasty little protester-patties a long time since. Who changes your didees, anyway?

Death to Spammers!

I desecrate and despise you spammers, you dung-eating spewers of sewage from your mouths; I call the VENGEANCE of Heaven down upon your loathesome keyboards, and implore the Almighty God to set needles of FLAMING PHOSPHORUS in the tips of your FINGERS with which you tap out the tattoo of mercenary avarice.

From the teeth of my mouth I spit venom in your offending eyes, which you use only to seek new chinks in the walls guarding the TEMPLE of my BLOG.

Open running sores will be the countenance of your face, when the avenging claws of my hands have raked and flayed the flesh of your cheeks.

Better that you had cast your leprous body into the LEAPING flame of the WEBER grill, than to have pressed that button marked “POST” with your blaspheming and shameless commercial message.

I don’t want your stinking VIAGRA!

NEITHER do I desire to play Texas Hold’em Online!

The Size of my urogenital member, puny or great, is not your concern!

Nor is it my will to re-finance my abode with your kind and unselfish investors.

If I had a button that would give you spam-posting bastards instant everlasting hemmorhoids, my finger would get a blister pushing it over and over and over.

Hey, look! Everyone should be allowed to make a living. But there's a limit.

We keep the drug pushers away from the elementary schools.

We don't allow testing of nuclear weapons in the vicinity of shopping malls.

And we shouldn't have to put up with ASS-HOLES clogging our conversations with their stinking unsolicited, intrusive, un-paid commercial butt-ins.

Spammers, you tread a slender branch above an abyss of blistering blackness.

Keep it up, and I’ll let loose the lawyers on your asses.

When I’m dictator, your heads will be on PIKES by the roadway, as a warning to the others.

Friday, August 13, 2004

“Psychotic Bush Policy” --- A closer look

This month the Bush administration has begun to enforce limits on foreign nationals who have overstayed their allowed time in this country. This is one of many responses prompted by the threats of international terrorism. Some of the rules are new, some long standing but previously seldom applied. Depending on whom you include, the number of persons who would be subject to these regulations may total in the millions.

Among those immediately affected is a group of some 300 refugees from the Soufriere Hills eruptions on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. After living as long as eight years under “Temporary Protected Status” they’ve been notified that their sojourn in the U.S. will end by next February.

The media and many liberals are portraying this as a xenophobic, brutal act, the sort of monstrous thing that only Republicans would stoop to. Many reports depict these refugees as victims of a racist decision to rid the U.S. of non-whites. Congressman Major Owens, D-NY, has energetically set about spreading this poisonous interpretation of events.

In a piece appearing under the by-line of Matthew Hay Brown, published by the Hartford Courant online circa 02 August 2004, this charge is made THREE TIMES by three different persons (including Owens) in an article of less than 1000 words. NYT contributor Nina Bernstein, in her longer but no less slanted article dated 09 August, gives more detail, but both Brown and Bernstein exclude several critical issues.

1) This action is NOT specifically directed at the Montserrat refugees. There are at any time many tens of thousands of foreign nationals legally present in the U.S., some on work visas, some on student or tourist visas, some as diplomats, sponsored immigrants applying for naturalization, some as refugees from persecution or natural disaster.

2) The island of Montserrat is a British overseas dependency. It’s Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II; her birthday is celebrated as the National Holiday! As British subjects, the Montserrat refugees would normally have the “right of abode” universal among British Commonwealth nationals, to freely relocate to the United Kingdom. It is not clear why the refugees living in the US chose to come here rather than evacuate to Britain. Evidently, having lived outside of British territory for so long has clouded their British status.

(Ms. Bernstein’s article indicates freedom of immigration didn’t apply to British overseas territories until 2002, but that is not consistent with the information I researched. I found information at an official site of the British government:

(3) As British subjects, their rescue and the restoration of their island is properly the responsibility of the British government, NOT of the U.S. So, returning them to British care cannot be characterized as a brutal act, unless it can be shown that the British government will do them harm.

4) In late August of 1997, the U.S. DoJ under Janet Reno made its initial offer to accept up to 1000 refugees. That offer explicitly allowed refugees already in the country as of 22 August work permits and a stay of up to one year. It was never intended as granting the refugees permanent residency, nor permanent work visas. [Paraphrase; My italics] (

While most people agree that it is vital for our country to apply much stricter control, scrutiny, and monitoring to the movements and activities of foreign nationals, the enforcement of even the rules in place prior to 9/11 inevitably imposes hardships on people who are innocent of wrongdoing, but whose status is not now and never was guaranteed to be permanent.

It’s useful to compare this episode to the U.S. interdiction of Haitian boatpeople on the High Seas, fer Pete’s sake. In 1990, the elder Bush administration and the U.N. pressed for presidential elections in Haiti, hoping to end a chaotic period of violence following the end of the two generations of dictators, “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Catholic priest, had gained wide support in America, and with a lot of our help won the presidential election held that year.

But the TonTons Macoutes who had earlier helped keep the Duvaliers in power resisted with a prolonged campaign of intimidation, beatings and murders. In 1991-1992 an exodus of Haitians estimated over 40,000 fled by whatever boats they could find. Many craft never meant for open ocean spilled their occupants into the sea. Bush ordered US naval and coast guard vessels to intercept and rescue the boats, and transport survivors to the US base at Guantanamo, Cuba. When that filled with Haitian refugees, Bush decided to refuse further Haitians, because the policy of rescue and relocation even to CUBA, was encouraging an endless stream of refugees, many of whom were drowning before being detected by the rescue flotilla.

In the U.S. presidential election, Clinton criticized Bush’s policy, but once elected, he was unable to find any alternative, and continued the interdiction on the High Seas and forced repatriation of Haitian refugees. When human-rights groups called this a violation of the Geneva Convention, Clinton argued that Convention did not apply to refugees who had never reached U.S. soil. This view was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

There was a time before I made the effort of researching the matter that I indulged in saying that Clinton’s turning away of the Haitian refugees was a clear betrayal of every decent liberal sentiment he and the Democratic Party had proclaimed.

But things are rarely as simple as some folks would like us to believe.

It’s obviously too much of a miracle to hope that the liberals trying to smear Bush in this instance could take a breath and look a little deeper into the dilemma. Instead, with numbing predictability, they are ready to spread vicious distortions and outright lies without a moment’s pause, if they think it will increase their guy’s chances. But they should have a care. Contempt for truth is a two-edged blade that often cuts its own handler.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

My Policy on COMMENTS

My Policy on COMMENTS

First, any BLOGsite is one person’s opportunity for stating personal opinions, views, thoughts, musings, et cetera. No one is required to agree with those opinions, nor is anyone holding a gun to the reader’s head and forcing them to absorb ideas they detest. All readers of a blog have at all times the right to ignore, scoff at, disregard, or ultimately, LEAVE a given blog if the blogger’s opinions offend.

The point of ALLOWING comments is to stimulate conversation and exchange of ideas; to allow the site occasionally to transcend the puny limits of the blogger’s ideas and information sources.

It is self-evident that a blogger has the right at all times to control of the materials posted to the blogsite, since the blogger ultimately may be held responsible by third parties if TRULY offensive, pornographic, nasty, libelous, seditious, frightful, or otherwise undesirable materials persist.

Comments will be allowed, but I retain the right at all times to delete comments that are gratuitously rude, outrageous, tedious, off-topic, offensive, stupid, moronic, and generally a waste of time. Persistent Trollish behavior will result in banishment. Spamming will be dealt with as a legal/criminal violation, and referred to appropriate authorities.

[If you’re still reading this far into a Policy on Comment posting on some obscure blog, you need to go forth and do something really radical with your life... get a boyfriend, girlfriend, dog, or a hamster. I’m telling you, if you keep going in this direction, you’re going to end up pushing a shopping cart full of blankets and empty wine bottles and cans of beans & weanies down some dingy alley in Tacoma, muttering to your self about the bastards that stole your tinfoil hat last night.]

I specifically retain the publishing rights to all posted comments on this site, with the obvious exception of copyrighted material posted without permission or knowledge of the copyright owner(s), in which case the poster accepts full responsibility for the violation and agrees to indemnify and hold this blog safe from harm from any action arising from the poster’s abuse of statutory or commonlaw copyright. Posters are responsible at all times for the content of their own damn posts.

What? You never realized that it’s BREAKING THE LAW to copy and paste someone else’s writing without their permission?????????

See? I’ve already given you some free education.

Alternative viewpoints and challenges are not unwelcome if they are intended to persuade rather than bludgeon the reader. Comments that are pasted-in multipage encyclopedic treatises— EVEN IF THEY AGREE WITH ME— will result in deletion. I retain at all times the right to be arbitrary and capricious in my exercise of judgment about comments and their authors. I retain the right to violate my own policy, and change the darn thing whenever I feel like it.

It’s my blog.

— The Mad Fiddler

Monday, August 09, 2004

Try Osama bin Laden In U.S. Court?

It is a sad but conspicuous index of the shallowness of many Americans that we continue to assume everyone else in the world will automatically hold sacred the concepts that we hold dear this week. Even some presidential candidates innocently maintain that the best thing to do about Osama bin Laden and his followers is to bring them back to stand trial in a United States court.

Not surprisingly, the people who say this are usually the same people who champion the sovereign rights of Iraq we smashed in our attack in 2003. If you regard the United Nations as an authority on these matters, take a few minutes to actually READ United Nations Security Council resolution 1441. Here are some helpful URLs:

Advocates for a law-enforcement response to terrorism never seem to consider that the United States DOMESTIC LAW has no jurisdiction over the activities of Osama bin Laden outside U.S. territories, nor do they consider that his planning of the attack while in Afghanistan was likely well within rules laid down by the terrorist Taliban government. So we could NEVER have expected Taliban cooperation in locating, arresting, trying, or extraditing him.

It has always been a violation of another nation's sovereignty for U.S. law enforcement officers to barge in uninvited and arrest an alleged terrorist, regardless of whatever evidence we might have. Consider the kidnapping in Argentina of Adolph Eichmann by Israeli agents in 1960 and the international uproar it occasioned. Consider how many times accused murderers have been protected from extradition to America by FRIENDLY countries simply because of their opposition to the possibility that the killers might face the death penalty for their hideous crime sprees.

Mr. William Jefferson Clinton, when he was not preoccupied with his pecker, made it U.S. policy to treat the worldwide terrorist movement as a legal/criminal issue, to be resolved by extradition of terrorists captured by occasionally cooperative foreign governments, tried in U.S. courts, under U.S. domestic laws, punishable by imprisonment in U.S. correctional facilities.

This was a miserable failure, people.

It's like the oysters clamoring for another law against chowders.

Even when the Sudanese government were willing in 1996 to surrender Osama bin Laden, the Clinton administration turned down the offer, PRECISELY because they couldn't avoid violating the delicate legalisms required by a strategy founded on the modality of law-enforcement. (For background read this article published 03 October 2001 under the byline of Washington Post Staff Writer Barton Gellman, available from their online archives:

Clinton's FAILED policy on terrorism was no more than a prolonged FLINCH. Occasionally accompanied by spasms of promiscuous and ineffectual missile lobbing, it confirmed for the terrorists that they had no reason whatsoever to refrain from their excesses.

After our government politely turned down the offer from Sudan's government to hand over Osama bin Laden, he consolidated new quarters in Afghanistan, from which his plans to bomb two United States embassies came to fruition, followed by the Cole attack, and 9/11. Complications of diplomatic niceties and legal hurdles were consistently allowed to paralyze any effective response to terrorists. Clinton placed a higher priority on posturing than on achievement of goals.

Defenders of Clinton can argue that the long dance of American acquiescence to terrorism extends back as far as the national demoralization of the VietNam war, Watergate, and the gutting of our intelligence community under the leadership of the rabid Senator Frank Church. Even the conservatives' cherished Ronald Reagan could not resist the pressure to withdraw from Beirut after the bombing of the Marine barracks 23 October 1983.

None of those excuse Clinton or his advisers; they had two decades of further lessons from which to learn. They learned nothing.

WJC might convincingly plead that he was distracted from petty annoyances like the threat of terrorism by the famously irresistible promptings of his willful willie.

What is Kerry's excuse?