The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bush the visionary

You won't see this in the New York Times, but the Bush Administration's foreign policy aims seem to be working out pretty well. History will remember what our current MSM doesn't have the vision nor the cajones to acknowledge.
DiscerningTexan, 2/27/2005 08:33:00 PM | Permalink | |

We're Winning...

...despite the journalistic conspiracy to suggest otherwise. A welcome perspective on the real war in Iraq.
DiscerningTexan, 2/27/2005 10:59:00 AM | Permalink | |

The coming European implosion

Mark Steyn advises not to buy in to the EU Constitutional hype.

UPDATE: Austin Bay has a slightly different take. Needless to say, in either case our old buddies Jacques and his good Baader-Meinhoff friend Gerard had a mouthful of crow to serve up to President Bush.
DiscerningTexan, 2/27/2005 10:53:00 AM | Permalink | |
Saturday, February 26, 2005

PC out of control in Sweden

You think the Ward Churchill or Lawrence Summers affairs are outrageous? Check this out about the Luddites running things in Sweden...
DiscerningTexan, 2/26/2005 05:19:00 PM | Permalink | |

The shame of Rawanda...and Darfur

Kudos to James Glassman for telling it straight in his latest Tech Central Station column.
DiscerningTexan, 2/26/2005 05:14:00 PM | Permalink | |

No sympathy from the Islamist devils

Jonathan Rauch makes an excellent case that the war on terror really started when Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses. Very thought provoking...
DiscerningTexan, 2/26/2005 05:02:00 PM | Permalink | |

Confessions of an ex-liberal

Cinnimon Stillwell, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, speaks eloquently of her post-9/11 awakening to the hypocrisy of the left and her recognition of the truth and honesty of the right. And, while I am sure there are millions of Cinnimon Stillwells out there, very few could speak so eloquently of their own "end of innocence":

As one of a handful of Bay Area conservative columnists, I'm no stranger to pushing buttons. Indeed, I welcome feedback from readers, whether positive or negative. I find the interplay stimulating, but I am often bemused by the stereotypical assumptions made by my critics on the left. It's not enough to simply disagree with my views; I have to be twisted into a conservative caricature that apparently makes opponents feel superior. They seem not to have considered that it's possible to put forward different approaches to various societal problems and not be the devil incarnate.

But in some ways I understand where this perspective comes from, because I once shared it. I was raised in liberal Marin County, and my first name (which garners more comments than anything else) is a direct product of the hippie generation. Growing up, I bought into the prevailing liberal wisdom of my surroundings because I didn't know anything else. I wrote off all Republicans as ignorant, intolerant yahoos. It didn't matter that I knew none personally; it was simply de rigueur to look down on such people. The fact that I was being a bigot never occurred to me, because I was certain that I inhabited the moral high ground.

Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world. Its democratic form of government and capitalist economic system was nothing more than a machine in which citizens were forced to be cogs. I put aside the nagging question of why so many people all over the world risk their lives to come to the United States. Freedom of speech, religious freedom, women's rights, gay rights (yes, even without same-sex marriage), social and economic mobility, relative racial harmony and democracy itself were all taken for granted in my narrow, insulated world view.

So, what happened to change all that? In a nutshell, 9/11. The terrorist attacks on this country were not only an act of war but also a crime against humanity. It seemed glaringly obvious to me at the time, and it still does today. But the reaction of my former comrades on the left bespoke a different perspective. The day after the attacks, I dragged myself into work, still in a state of shock, and the first thing I heard was one of my co-workers bellowing triumphantly, "Bush got his war!" There was little sympathy for the victims of this horrific attack, only an irrational hatred for their own country.

As I spent months grieving the losses, others around me wrapped themselves in the comfortable shell of cynicism and acted as if nothing had changed. I soon began to recognize in them an inability to view America or its people as victims, born of years of indoctrination in which we were always presented as the bad guys.

Never mind that every country in the world acts in its own self-interest, forms alliances with unsavory countries -- some of which change later -- and are forced to act militarily at times. America was singled out as the sole guilty party on the globe. I, on the other hand, for the first time in my life, had come to truly appreciate my country and all that it encompassed, as well as the bravery and sacrifices of those who fight to protect it.

Thoroughly disgusted by the behavior of those on the left, I began to look elsewhere for support. To my astonishment, I found that the only voices that seemed to me to be intellectually and morally honest were on the right. Suddenly, I was listening to conservative talk-show hosts on the radio and reading conservative columnists, and they were making sense. When I actually met conservatives, I discovered that they did not at all embody the stereotypes with which I'd been inculcated as a liberal.

Although my initial agreement with voices on the right centered on the war on terrorism, I began to find myself in concurrence with other aspects of conservative political philosophy as well. Smaller government, traditional societal structures, respect and reverence for life, the importance of family, personal responsibility, national unity over identity politics and the benefits of living in a meritocracy all became important to me. In truth, it turns out I was already conservative on many of these subjects but had never been willing to admit as much.

In my search for like-minded individuals, I also gravitated toward the religiously observant. This was somewhat revolutionary, considering my former liberal discomfort with religious folk, but I found myself in agreement on a number of issues. When it came to support for Israel, Orthodox Jews and Christian Zionists were natural allies. As the left rained down vicious attacks on Israel, commentators on the right (with the exception of Pat Buchanan and his ilk) became staunch supporters of the nation. The fact that I'm not a particularly religious person myself had little bearing on this political relationship, for it's entirely possible to be secular and not be antireligious. Unlike the secular fundamentalists who make it their mission in life to destroy all vestiges of America's Judeo-Christian heritage, I have come to value this legacy.

So I became what's now commonly known as a "9/11 Republican." Living in a time of war, disenchanted with the left and disappointed with the obstructionism and lack of vision of the Democratic Party, I threw in my hat with the only party that seemed to be offering solutions, rather than simply tearing away at our country. I went from voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 to proudly casting my ballot for George W. Bush in 2004. This doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with Bush on every issue, but there is enough common ground to support his party overall. In the wake of this political transformation, I discovered that I was not alone. It turned out that there are other 9/11 Republicans out there, both in the Bay Area and beyond, and they have been coming out of the woodwork.

Like many a political convert, I took it on myself to openly oppose the politics of those with which I once shared world views. Beyond writing, I put myself on the front lines of this ideological battle by taking part in counterprotests at the antiwar rallies leading up to the war in Iraq. This turned out to be a further wake-up call, because it was there that I encountered more intolerance than ever before in my life. Holding pro-Iraq-liberation signs and American flags, I was spat on, called names, intimidated, threatened, attacked, cursed and, on a good day, simply argued with. It was clear that any deviation from the prevailing leftist groupthink of the Bay Area was considered a threat to be eliminated as quickly as possible.

It was at such protests that I also had my first real brushes with anti-Semitism. The anti-Israel sentiment on the left -- inexorably linked to anti-Americanism -- ran high at these events and boiled over into Jew hatred on more than one occasion. The pro-Palestinian sympathies of the left had led to a bizarre commingling of pacifism, Communism and Arab nationalism. So it was not uncommon to see kaffiyeh-clad college students chanting Hamas slogans, graying hippies wearing "Intifada" T-shirts, Che Guevera backpacks, and signs equating Zionism with Nazism, all against a backdrop of peace, patchouli and tie-dye.

Being unapologetically pro-Israel, I was called every name in the book, from "Zionist pig" to "Zionist scum," and was once told that those with European origins such as myself couldn't really be Jewish. In the end, the blatant anti-Semitism on the left, even among Jews, only strengthened my political transformation. I was, in effect, radicalized by the radicals.

But more than anything, it was the left's hypocrisy when it came to the war on terrorism that made me turn rightward after 9/11. I remember, back in my liberal days, being fiercely opposed to the Taliban and its brutal treatment of women. Even then, I felt that Afghanistan should immediately be liberated, as Malcolm X once said in another context, by any means necessary. But when it came time, it turned out that the left was mostly opposed to such liberation, whether of the Afghan people or of the Iraqis (especially if America and a Republican president were at the helm).

Indeed, liberals had become strangely conservative in their fierce attachment to the status quo. In contrast, the much-maligned neoconservatives (among whose ranks I count myself) and Bush had become the "radicals," bringing freedom and democracy to the despotic Middle East. Is it any wonder that in such a topsy-turvy world, I found myself in agreement with those I'd formerly denounced?

The war on terrorism is nothing more than the great struggle of our time, and, like the earlier ones against fascism and totalitarianism, we ignore it at our peril. Whether or not one accepts that we are engaged in a war, our enemies have declared it so. It took the horrors of 9/11 to awaken me to this reality, but for others, such lessons remain unlearned. For me, it was self-evident that in Islamic terrorism, America had found a nihilistic threat that sought to wipe out not only Western civilization but also civilization itself.

The Islamists have been clear all along about their plans to form an Islamic caliphate and inhabit the entire world with burqas, stonings, amputations, honor killings and a lack of religious and political freedom. Whether or not to oppose such a movement should have been a no-brainer, especially for self-proclaimed "progressives." Instead, they have extended their misguided sympathies to tyrants and terrorists.

In the end, history will be the judge, and each of us will have to think about what legacy we wish to leave to future generations. If there's one thing I've learned since 9/11, it's that it's never too late to alter one's place in the great scheme of things.

Amen, Cinnimon. And welcome.

DiscerningTexan, 2/26/2005 04:24:00 PM | Permalink | |
Friday, February 25, 2005
Ann Coulter rocks. The libs hate her so much because she is so deadly and SO dead on.
DiscerningTexan, 2/25/2005 07:41:00 PM | Permalink | |

Inspired from the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine?
DiscerningTexan, 2/25/2005 07:32:00 PM | Permalink | |

Let's stop kidding ourselves--we need more troops!

Douglas Hanson, writing for the American Thinker, makes an excellent case for increasing the size of the US military. Follow his advice and write your congressman and senators and urge them to take this very important step. Our future as a country may depend on it.
DiscerningTexan, 2/25/2005 05:51:00 PM | Permalink | |

Ward Churchill, Art Plagurist...

Does this man have ANY redeeming qualities?
DiscerningTexan, 2/25/2005 05:22:00 PM | Permalink | |

It's all about Networking

Michael Barone, writing in the National Journal, offers us a scholarly post-mortem on the 2004 elections, including the two camps' strategy differences (and similarities...), a sweeping historical perspective, and commentary on trends and what can be inferred about future American elections. Long, but well worth the read for political junkies such as myself.
DiscerningTexan, 2/25/2005 05:12:00 PM | Permalink | |

All the lame excuses the left can muster...

Victor Davis Hanson has answers for those who continue to infer that the problems of the world are "all America's fault". Hanson concludes that the hard left has become nothing more that Merchants of Despair:

Much of the recent domestic critique of American efforts in the Middle East has long roots in our own past — and little to do with the historic developments on the ground in Iraq

1. "It's America's fault."
Some on the hard left sought to cite our support for Israel or general "American imperialism" in the Middle East as culpable for bin Laden's wrath on September 11. Past American efforts to save Muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Kuwait, and Afghanistan counted for little. Even less thanks were earned by billions of dollars given to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. The Islamofascist vision of a Dark Age world run by unelected imams — where women were in seclusion, homosexuals were killed, Jews were terrorized, Christians were routed, and freedom was squelched — registered little, even though such visions were by definition at war with all that Western liberalism stands for.

This flawed idea that autocrats supposedly hate democracy more for what it does rather than for what it represents is not new. On the eve of World War II isolationists on the right insisted that America had treated Germany unfairly after World War I and wrongly sided with British imperialism in its efforts to rub in their past defeat. "International Jewry" was blamed for poisoning the good will between the two otherwise friendly countries by demanding punitive measures from a victimized Germany. Likewise, poor Japan was supposedly unfairly cut off from American ore and petroleum, and hemmed in by provocative Anglo Americans.

By the late 1940s things had changed, and now it was the turn of the old Left, which blamed "fascists" for ruining the hallowed American-Soviet wartime alliance by "isolating" and "surrounding" the Russians with hostile bases and allies. The same was supposedly true of China: We were lectured ad nauseam by idealists and "China hands" that Mao "really" wanted to cultivate American friendship, but was spurned by our right-wing ideologues — as if there were nothing of the absolutism and innate thuggery in him that would soon account for 50 million or more murdered and starved.

Ditto the animosity from dictators like Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro. The Left assured us instead that both were actually neo-Jeffersonians whose olive branches were crushed by Cold Warriors, and who then — but only then — went on to plan their own gulags in Vietnam and Cuba.

2. "Americans are weak."
Before we went into Afghanistan, we were hectored that the country's fierce people, colonial history, rugged terrain, hostile neighbors, foreign religion, and shattered infrastructure made victory unlikely. We also forget now how the Left warned us of terrible casualties and millions of refugees before the Iraq war, and then went dormant until the insurgents emerged. At that point it resurfaced to assure that Iraq was lost and precipitate withdrawal our only hope, only to grow quiet again after the recent Iraqi election — a cycle that followed about the same 20-month timetable of military victory to voting in Afghanistan.

Now a new geopolitical litany has arisen: The reserves are "shattered"; North Korea, Syria, and Iran are untouchable while we are "bogged down" in the Sunni Triangle; a schedule for withdrawal from Iraq needs to be spelled out; there is no real American-trained Iraqi army; the entire Arab world hates us; blah, blah, blah...

In 1917, "a million men over there" was considered preposterous for a Potemkin American Expeditionary Force; by late 1918 it was chasing Germany out of Belgium. Charles Lindbergh returned from an obsequious visitation with Goering to warn us that the Luftwaffe was unstoppable. Four years later it was in shambles as four-engine American bombers reduced the Third Reich to ashes.

Japanese Zeroes, supposed proof of comparative American backwardness in 1941-2, were the easy targets of "Turkey Shoots" by 1944 as American fighters blew them out of the skies. Sputnik "proved" how far we were behind the socialist workhorse in Russia, even as we easily went to the moon first a little over a decade later. The history of the American military and economy in the 20th century is one of being habitually underestimated, even as the United States defeated Prussian imperialism, German Nazism, Italian fascism, Japanese militarism, and Stalinist Communism.

Nor in our more recent peacetime were we buried by stagflation, Jimmy Carter's "malaise," Japan, Inc., and all the other supposed bogeymen that were prophesized to overwhelm the institutional strength of the American state, its free-enterprise system, and the highly innovative and individualistic nature of the American people.

3. "They are supermen."
When suicide murderers dominated the news of the Intifada, followed by the car bombers and beheaders of the Sunni Triangle, many in the West despaired that there was no thwarting such fanatics. Perhaps they simply believed more in their cause than we did in ours. How can you stop someone who kills to die rather than merely dying to kill?

That Ariel Sharon in two years defeated the Intifada by decapitating the Hamas leadership, starting the fence, announcing withdrawal from Gaza, and humiliating Arafat was forgotten. In the same manner few now write or think about how the United States military went into the heart of darkness in Fallujah and simply destroyed or routed the insurgents of that fundamentalist stronghold in less than two weeks, an historic operation that ensured a successful turnout on election day and an eventual takeover by an elected Iraqi government.

So this paradox of exaggerating the strength of our weaker enemies is likewise an American trademark. Spiked-helmeted Prussians were considered vicious pros who would make short work of doughboy hicks who had trained with brooms and sticks. Indeed, the German imperial army of World War I may have been made up of the most formidable foot soldiers of any age. Still, it was destroyed in less than four years by supposedly decadent and corrupt liberal democracies.

The Gestapo was the vanguard of a new Aryan super-race, pitiless and proud in its martial superiority. How could soda-jockeys of the Depression ever fight something like the Waffen SS with poor equipment, little training, and a happy-go-lucky attitude rather than an engrained death wish? Rather easily as it turned out, as the Allies not only defeated Nazism but literally annihilated it in about five years. Kamikazes were also felt to be otherworldly in their eerie death cult — who, after all, in the United States would take off to ram his Corsair or Hellcat into a Japanese ship? No matter — the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Army Air Corps were not impressed, and rather quickly destroyed not merely the death pilots but the very culture that launched them.

4. "We are alone."
George Bush was said to have alienated the world, as if our friends in Eastern Europe, Britain, Australia, and a billion in India did not matter. Yet the same was said in 1941 when Latin America, Asia, and Africa were in thrall to the Axis. Neutrals like Spain, Argentina, and Turkey wanted little to do with a disarmed United States that had unwisely found itself in a two-front war with the world's most formidable military powers.

By the 1950s we seemed to have defeated Germany and Japan only to have subsequently "lost" China and Eastern Europe once more. Much of Asia and Latin America deified the mass-murdering Stalin and Mao while deriding elected American presidents. The Richard Clarkes and Joe Wilsons of that age lectured about a paranoid Eisenhower administration, clumsy CIA work, and the general hopelessness of ever defeating global Communism, whose spores sprouted almost everywhere in the form of Nasserism, Pan-Arabism, Baathism, Castroism, and various "national liberationist" movements.

5. Why?
Why do Americans do all this to themselves? In part, the nature of an open society is constant self-critique, especially at times of national elections. Our successes at creating an affluent and free citizenry also only raise the bar ever higher as we sense we are closer to heaven on earth — and with a little more perfection could walk more like gods than crawl as mere men.

There are also still others among us who are impatient with the give and take of a consensual society. They harbor a secret admiration for the single-mindedness of the zealot in pursuit of a utopian cause — hence the occasional crazy applause given by some Americans to the beheading "Minutemen" of the Sunni Triangle or the "brave" "combat teams" who killed 3,000 on September 11.

Finally, the intellectual class that we often read and hear from is increasingly divorced from much of what makes America work, especially the sort of folk who join the military. They have little appreciation that the U.S. Marine Corps is far more deadly than Baathist diehards or Taliban remnants — or that a fleet of American bombers with GPS bombs can do more damage in a few seconds than most of the suicide bombers of the Middle East could do in a year.

It is wise to cite and publicize our errors — and there have been many in this war. Humility and circumspection are military assets as well. And we should not deprecate the danger of our enemies, who are cruel and ingenious. Moreover, we should never confuse the sharp dissent of the well-meaning critic with disloyalty to the cause.

But nor should we fall into pessimism, when in less than four years we have destroyed the two worst regimes in the Middle East, scattered al Qaeda, avoided another promised 9/11 at home, and sent shock waves of democracy throughout the Arab world — so far at an aggregate cost of less than what was incurred on the first day of this unprovoked war. Car bombs are bad news, but in the shadows is the real story: The terrorists are losing, and radical reform, the likes of which millions have never seen, is right on the horizon. So this American gloominess is not new. Yet, if the past is any guide, our present lack of optimism in this struggle presages its ultimate success.

A final prediction: By the end of this year, formerly critical liberal pundits, backsliding conservative columnists, once-fiery politicians, Arab "moderates," ex-statesmen and generals emeriti, smug stand-up comedians, recently strident Euros — perhaps even Hillary herself — will quietly come to a consensus that what we are witnessing from Afghanistan and the West Bank to Iraq and beyond, with its growing tremors in Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, and the Gulf, is a moral awakening, a radical break with an ugly past that threatens a corrupt, entrenched, and autocratic elite and is just the sort of thing that they were sort of for, sort of all along — sort of...

DiscerningTexan, 2/25/2005 05:02:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, February 24, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 2/24/2005 08:42:00 PM | Permalink | |

The Islamic Death Cult

First it was the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. Now it is the Germans who are tasting the results of years and years of “anything goes” morality combined with an explosion of Muslim immigrants.

Now pardon me while I ask a rhetorical question here: I happen know a couple of Muslim guys, and outwardly they are as kind and gentle as anyone I know… wonderful people, at least externally... So just how is it that no matter where on the globe you look, Muslims are blowing up innocents, murdering virtually anyone that they disagree with, and otherwise having extreme difficulty getting along with any of their non-Muslim neighbors? Just what is up with that?

Close your eyes and put your finger on a globe: Southeast Asia? Mass murder at tourist resorts. Jerusalem? Blowing up cafes and killing women and children. Lebanon? Blowing up a city block to rid the world of a freedom-loving politician. Egypt? Killing the greatest leader they have had in decades. Openly murdering hundreds of schoolchildren in Chechnya, shooting up a theater in Moscow....the the list goes on: Bali, the Phillipines, Kashmir, Bosnia, Pakistan, Thailand, Afghanistan, Madrid, Albania, Iraq, Italy, Amsterdam, Saudi Arabia. Am I alone in sensing a bit of a disturbing pattern here?

All prejudice aside, is there something fundamentally violent and bloodthirsty about Islam—something that compels otherwise good people to murder, slaughter and project hate wherever they gather in large groups? And if your answer to this question is “no”, how then do you explain all of this murder and violence, virtually anywhere where there is a large concentration of Muslims…and a concentration of people who aren’t. Hell Muslims are even busy blowing up other Muslims. Sunni? Shiia? It doesn’t seem to matter. Blood seems to be the universal sacrament of Islam.

Now let me say up front that I think it is usually wrong for people to paint “groups” with a broad brush, and to thus condemn otherwise innocent people just because of their religious beliefs. This is not something that ought to be encouraged in a civilized world. And there is not a racist bone in my body, truly, nor am I a religious zealot myself. But I am having more and more difficulty understanding just why it is that Muslims seem to have so much of a problem getting along with their fellow men worldwide. I’m a pretty peaceful guy, but I can certainly see a bit of a pattern here. So what do you think the people out there are thinking who do have hearts filled with prejudice, hate and/or racism? I shudder to think: because one of these days one of those bigots is going to talk a lot of otherwise peaceful fellow citizens into becoming a mob and drawing blood from our Muslim friends. And that is a really ugly thought, but it just cannot keep going the way it has been forever.

Think about it: what if they hit one of our cities and kill hundreds of thousands? Could we stop ourselves as a society from lashing out in return—from demanding blood and lots of it? And if a charismatic person were to arise that found a way to galvanize that mass anger? What then?

I do not think we as a society are beyond going to lengths in certain circumstances that might make Hitler look like a humanitarian. It could happen. It already has: remember Bosnia? Remember the systematic extermination of thousands of Muslim men women and children? And remember how horrified everyone was? How could the Serbs do such a thing? But strangely enough, the Euros did nothing to stop the problem themselves...let's let the Americans clean up the mess...right? Well I wonder…if the Serbian crisis happened again today, would America be so fast to send in its own sons and daughters to stop the killing? Or would a lot of Americans now choose instead to look the other way, and to rationalize it by truthfully pointing out how frequently Muslims are murdering their fellow human beings all over the planet? Isn't it time that whatever rational voices are left in the Muslim world start to take such things into consideration before things really get ugly? Isn't it about time that a moderate Muslim leader shows his fellow pilgrims the way to be world citizens and to live with others?

I am afraid: I am afraid for innocents who happen to be in the way of Islamist barbarians today. And I fear also for the innocent peaceful Muslims—for they are the ones who could face a terrible retribution should the wrong chain reaction of events occur. I fear that the only ones that can prevent this kind of tragedy are the Muslims themselves: somewhere sanity has to take over, or we are all in for a rough ride. A leader has to be found in the Islamic community that can rally his fellow peace-loving Muslims away from supporting and sanctioning killing of innocents and towards civilized behavior. It is time for the Islamic world to join the civilized world. I just pray that it happens soon… because from where I sit the loonies are in charge of the asylum. And we are all bound to pay for it one way or another.
DiscerningTexan, 2/24/2005 07:01:00 PM | Permalink | |

Canada's abdication of responsibility continues

Canada has informed the United States that it does not wish to allow the use of Canadian territory for North American missile defense. But the US ambassador has fired back, telling the Canadians that it has just given away its soverignity over Canadian airspace. I wish I could say that this surprises me, but I would be lying. It does make me quite angry however that the Canadians expect to enjoy all of the benefits of a system to defend our continent from nuclear attack, but are unwilling to do its part to help. So if we ever do have to detonate an incoming nuke over Canada...oh well!

UPDATE: great news on the missile defense testing front. We knocked out a short range missile less than three minutes after launch today. Congratulations to all of those scientists whose hard work is making us all safer.
DiscerningTexan, 2/24/2005 06:27:00 PM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Et tu, Vladi?
DiscerningTexan, 2/23/2005 08:26:00 PM | Permalink | |

How sweet it is: German press sees the light

All you really need to see is the headline in Der Spiegel: "Could George W. Bush be right?" But the article is sweet too. Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.
DiscerningTexan, 2/23/2005 07:55:00 PM | Permalink | |

Dreams of an Al Queda state

Belmont Club points to a Weekly Standard article via Austin Bay that discusses Al Queda's strategy in Southeast Asia.
DiscerningTexan, 2/23/2005 07:46:00 PM | Permalink | |

Japan asserts itself

Brian Preston writes that China is now beginning to understand the down side of "looking the other way" while the entire region (including Japan) was threatened by the North Korean nuclear buildup.
DiscerningTexan, 2/23/2005 07:08:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 2/22/2005 11:10:00 PM | Permalink | |
So...let's see if I understand this: Palestinians are now entering the Iraqi assist the bloodthirsty insurgency against US forces? And of course our on-top-of-it MSM is nowhere near the story if it bit them on the ass. And meanwhile we're probably about to pay these same Palestinians to make peace with Israel... There is something that is just not quite right about this picture...
DiscerningTexan, 2/22/2005 10:59:00 PM | Permalink | |

Soros is doing WHAT???

Does this guy have a death wish or something?
DiscerningTexan, 2/22/2005 10:54:00 PM | Permalink | |
Monday, February 21, 2005

The next big Pandemic

Some sobering stuff about the #1 health problem our world may be facing: it is our friends in the air. They may be carrying the next plague. Hitchcock could not be more scary than the reality.
DiscerningTexan, 2/21/2005 10:40:00 PM | Permalink | |

"...on one hand, you can suck it up, play ball,be a team player, and capitulate to any other American-ized cliche or colloquialism I can think of. On the other, I can leave your lying, double dealing ass in the dust of history, along with your "socialist democracy"! (--quote from PeaceThroughStrength)
DiscerningTexan, 2/21/2005 10:25:00 PM | Permalink | |

With friends like this...

In today's The American Thinker, James Lewis describes again how Jacques Chirac sabotaged Colin Powell before the UN Security Council. So I'll just bet everyone's getting along like Peaches and Cream over there...
DiscerningTexan, 2/21/2005 09:23:00 PM | Permalink | |

Europe: Day 1 according to Steyn

Mark Steyn offers his unique perspective of the meeting between the Euros and President Bush.
DiscerningTexan, 2/21/2005 08:55:00 PM | Permalink | |

MSM gets introspective

John Leo continues the effort by a responsible portion of the mainstream media to self-criticize regarding its reprehensible treatment of the blogs.
DiscerningTexan, 2/21/2005 08:36:00 PM | Permalink | |
Sunday, February 20, 2005

You go girl...

Peggy Noonan blows the lid off of the mainstream media and its primal fear of the blogs.
DiscerningTexan, 2/20/2005 07:36:00 PM | Permalink | |

Go ahead...drink away!
DiscerningTexan, 2/20/2005 06:51:00 PM | Permalink | |

Dems guilty of voter fraud

Yep. That wasn't just an optical illusion last November, it was Democrats actively engaged in illegal voter registration.

Not only that, but Democrat Congressmen are now going to the public and telling constituents that Karl Rove "planted" the faked memos for CBS to discover.
DiscerningTexan, 2/20/2005 06:32:00 PM | Permalink | |

The European quandry

As the President's trip to Europe begins, Mark Steyn argues that it is going to take a mighty effort not to break out laughing at the Euros. But things are a bit more serious than that. Europe is in decline and it is in our interest to help to prevent that decline from becoming too precipitious... that is if any of those egomaniacs over there will listen. The post-election words of Herb Meyer resonate here:

Your rate of marriage is at an all-time low, and the number of abortions in Europe is at an all-time high. Indeed, your birth rates are so far below replacement levels that in 30 years or so there will be 70 million fewer Europeans alive than are alive today. Europe is literally dying. And of the children you do manage to produce, all too few will be raised in stable, two-parent households.

Your economy is stagnant because your government regulators make it just about impossible for your entrepreneurs to succeed – except by fleeing to the United States, where we welcome them and celebrate their success.
And your armed forces are a joke. With the notable exception of Great Britain, you no longer have the military strength to defend yourselves. Alas, you no longer have the will to defend yourselves.

What worries me even more than all this is your willful blindness. You refuse to see that it is you, not we Americans, who have abandoned Western Civilization. It’s worrisome because, to tell you the truth, we need each other. Western Civilization today is under siege, from radical Islam on the outside and from our own selfish hedonism within. It’s going to take all of our effort, our talent, our creativity and, above all, our will to pull through. So take a good, hard look at yourselves and see what your own future will be if you don’t change course. And please, stop sneering at America long enough to understand it. After all, Western Civilization was your gift to us, and you ought to be proud of what we Americans have made of it.

Let's hope they get the message...
DiscerningTexan, 2/20/2005 04:39:00 PM | Permalink | |
Saturday, February 19, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 2/19/2005 10:58:00 PM | Permalink | |

Orwell alive and well in the MSM

Rich Lowry skewers the media regarding the Palme affair. It is a shame that these two journalists may have to go to prison for a non-story. But apparently this is what the American mainstream media has come to...
DiscerningTexan, 2/19/2005 09:10:00 PM | Permalink | |

Bush Policy paying dividends in Mideast

Victor Davis Hanson argues on NRO that beneath the surface, things are improving in the Middle East for the United States:

Unsung Victories
The effects of American policy throughout the Middle East are gradually being felt.

Last week, Mr. Abbas ordered the ruins of Yasir Arafat's Gaza headquarters cleared away. The Israelis had destroyed the building in 2002, and Mr. Arafat had kept the ruins as a kind of memorial. Suddenly, in a day, it was gone."
— New York Times, Sunday, February 13, 2005.

In the war against the Islamic fascists and their supporters there have been a number of unheralded victories that have played some role in changing the landscape of the Middle East and eroding the power of the Islamists.

The first bold move was to censure and then ignore Yasser Arafat for his complicity in unleashing suicide bombers, his rampant corruption, and his stifling of Palestinian dissidents. At the time of the change in American policy, other members of the quartet — the Russians, the Europeans, and the U.N. — were aghast. The "moderate" Arab world protested vehemently.

Pundits here alleged Texas recklessness and clung to the silly idea of the Arafat/Sharon moral equivalence, as if a freely elected democratic leader, subject to an open press and a free opposition, was the same as a thug who ordered lynchings and jailed or murdered dissidents.

Review press accounts from the summer of 2002: Neither ally nor neutral approved of Bush's act of ostracism and instead warned of disaster. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country then held the EU's rotating presidency, lectured that without dialogue with Arafat "Israel could not stop Palestinian violence through force."

A circumspect Colin Powell visited the region often to smooth over hurt feelings and in the process to soften Bush's bold action. Dennis Ross, remember, had met with the American-subsidized Arafat almost 500 times, and it was said that the latter visited the Clinton White House more than any other foreign leader — a fact apparently lost on the Palestinian street, which still spontaneously cheered on news of September 11.

Lost in all the controversy was the simple fact that Arafat had come to power through a rigged vote. He proceeded to corrupt the state, censure the media, and let thugs terrorize Palestinian reformers while he systematically looted public monies. His legacy was a ruined economy, murder, and systematic theft.

All knew this; few would say it publicly; none would do anything about it.
Calumny followed as the Israelis unilaterally went on to start their fence, take out the terrorist elite of Hamas, plan to abandon Gaza, and, pace Mr. Moeller, precisely through force crush the intifada. In those bleak months of suicide murdering, Arafat courted the world's sycophantic press as he railed against Sharon from his pathetic bunker at Ramallah.

Then something unexpected happened. Almost imperceptibly in his last two years, he devolved from a feared dictator to a defrocked terrorist to finally an irrelevant functionary. That metamorphosis proved critical as a prerequisite to his demise, as Arafat slowly lost his four-decade-acquired capital of intimidation — critical for any Middle East autocrat — and with it his grip on the popular imagination of the West Bank. In the Middle East a tyrant can look murderous or even psychopathic, but not impotent — and especially not ridiculous.

Thus when he died, far from being sanctified as a mythical strongman, he was almost immediately forgotten and his legacy is currently undergoing a sort of Trotsky-like erasure. Postmortem stories almost immediately spread about absconded funds, tawdry fights broke out over his estate, and, mirabile dictu, a few signs of freedom emerged on the West Bank as elections mysteriously followed and with them renewed discussions of peace. The American ostracism did not ensure that we would see a settlement, only the chance that we could — and that is some progress in the Middle East.

Later in April 2003, the United States withdrew its troops from Saudi Arabia — most pilots and crews in the desert. The ostensible reason for their original deployment — protection from Saddam Hussein's army in Kuwait and monitoring the no-fly zones — was no longer valid. But many strategists thought Americans were still needed in the kingdom to ensure the free flow of the world's oil supply and perhaps to secure the royal family from the very terrorists that many in the clan had subsidized and abetted. Were we "abandoning" an "old and trusted" ally, or finally coming to our senses that the subsidized protection of a near-criminal state had to cease under the changed conditions of the post-Cold War Middle East?

In reality, Americans in uniform were subject to humiliating conditions, such as female military personnel being forced to veil when leaving bases, while helping to ready planes to protect a country where a great many were privately happy that 15 of their jihadists had murdered 3,000 Americans. Our presence among the "holy shrines" only played into bin Laden's hands, as his 1998 fatwa revealed. The Saudi state media often blamed the Americans or the Zionists for most of their own self-inflicted pathologies, hoping that such smears and billions in bribes to terrorists and Wahhabi fanatics might deflect popular outrage onto us.

But by withdrawing, the United States took the first steps in a long overdue disengagement from an autocratic dynasty that will either change under a consensual government into a titular and ceremonial royalty — like the British crown heads — or, as in the case of Iran's shah, be driven out by theocratic fundamentalists. Finally, the United States at last is beginning to cut loose from an octopus whose petroleum tentacles have wrapped deeply around banks, lobbyists, defense contractors, and lawyers in Washington and New York, both Republicans and Democrats, oilmen and multiculturalists alike. It is neither a wise nor a moral thing to have much to do with 7,000 royal cousins who have siphoned $700 billion from their country while unemployment there reaches 40 percent and while women, laborers from the third world, Christians, and assorted others are treated as undesirables.
Now in hindsight, few seem to object to the ostracism of Arafat or estrangement from Saudi Arabia. The moral?

As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully naïve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. "Sobriety" and "working with Arab moderates" is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.

There are other key decisions to be made that will go mostly unnoticed by the world's media. We should decide now to distance ourselves from the Mubarak regime, and to be ready for a dynastic squabble with the passing of the present strongman. We have over the years given $50 billion to that "moderate" dictatorship not to attack Israel — as if it would really start a fifth war it would surely lose. It didn't.

But Egypt did unleash venom against us and become the intellectual nexus of Arab anti-Americanism. In the Arab world, a change in American policies to promote democracy was publicized as "anti-Arab" by state-run media — in almost the identical manner that former support for the corrupt status quo was once condemned as "anti-Arab" by Middle East intellectuals. No matter: Despite the short-term lose-lose proposition, no one ever went wrong in the long-term by standing on the side of freedom.

No longer should we remain in thrall to any Arab government that with its left hand rounds up over-the-top terrorists, while with its right gives others less violent a pass to unleash virulent hatred of America. The Rubicon has been crossed in Iraq, and we can no longer watch Americans die for democracy in the Sunni Triangle while giving billions to a regime that kills off consensual government in Cairo. Diplomats can work out the details without sounding either moralistic or naive, smiling and assuring the Egyptians that our friendship will be only strengthened from a new understanding, as the money dries up and we part without acrimony — even as in desperation Mubarak readjusts to his "helpful" role as a third-party interlocutor in Iraq and Palestine.

The American effort to democratize postwar Afghanistan and Iraq has placed a heavy burden on the United States to develop a coherent and consistent policy of supporting reformers throughout the Middle East. We should continue with demands for elections in a Lebanon free of a tyrannical Syria, elevate dissidents in Iran onto the world stage, pressure for change in the Gulf, and say goodbye to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. If Western elites are really worried about the legitimacy of past elections in Iraq, let them go instead to Lebanon where they can worry first about having any at all, and then later complain about the proper degree of voter participation. The forces of history have been unleashed and we should cease apologizing for the deluge and instead steer the waves in the right direction.

Americans understandably focus on the hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet just as important are the unsung successes that received little praise, and then have a weird tendency to drift off into the collective global amnesia as if they arose from natural, not American-induced, reform.

DiscerningTexan, 2/19/2005 08:40:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, February 17, 2005

Syria at critical mass

It is great to see that Tom Friedman has finally gotten an understanding of what must happen next. It would be nice if some of his liberal friends would follow suit. It doesn't get any more serious than this.
DiscerningTexan, 2/17/2005 09:14:00 PM | Permalink | |

What it comes down to...

It's about time someone did this.
DiscerningTexan, 2/17/2005 08:31:00 PM | Permalink | |

Soros funded Stewart

Byron York tells us that George Soros funded Lynn Stewart's defense. For those who don't recall, Ms. Stewart is the woman convicted last week of passing information from to terrorist organizations from the very terrorists she defended. What a nice touch....
DiscerningTexan, 2/17/2005 07:17:00 PM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Syria about to explode

Don't look now, but calling back one's ambassador at the very beginning of Secretary Rice's term is pretty serious.

UPDATE: and then there is this from Wretchard over at Belmont Club.
DiscerningTexan, 2/16/2005 07:53:00 PM | Permalink | |

DiscerningTexan, 2/16/2005 06:41:00 PM | Permalink | |

Earth to Iranian Press: Is there a story or not?

I think the press was looking for a "do-over" today in Northern Iran...
DiscerningTexan, 2/16/2005 06:22:00 PM | Permalink | |

Whose "decency"??

I have to admit that when I heard about the "Indecency bill" that passed the House today, I had pretty much the same reaction as Glenn Reynolds and "H-Bomb":

CONSERVATIVES AGAINST THE INDECENCY BILL: You can't question the right-wing credentials of guys whose site used to be named "," but here's post in strong opposition to the legislation:

One of the problems is that politicians get so juiced up to out-moralize one another, they forget this is supposed to be America. There's lots of great countries where the state controls what you are able to watch. Move to one of them if you hate Janet Jackson.

As for me, I use the remote control.

Me too.
DiscerningTexan, 2/16/2005 06:15:00 PM | Permalink | |

In the left's morally relativistic world, Hitler = good

Jack Kemp uses some serious kung fu on the notion that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter", and he skewers the left in the process. Well worth the read.
DiscerningTexan, 2/16/2005 05:59:00 PM | Permalink | |

Syria in the cross-hairs?

When even the Washington Post can see Syrian complicity in the recent assasination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, perhaps it is time for Mr. Assad to pack his bags...or else put on his flak jacket...
DiscerningTexan, 2/16/2005 04:54:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Why are we still supporting the UN?

In one of the most damning exposes yet crafted, Mark Steyn documents for the London Telegraph just how fetid the United Nations cesspool has become:

It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the UN. If you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. Thus the Oil-for-Fraud scandal: in the end, Saddam Hussein had a much shrewder understanding of the way the UN works than Bush and Blair did.

And, of course, corrupt organisations rarely stop at just one kind. If you don't want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food programme, don't worry, whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits - in West Africa, it's Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it's drug dealing; in Kenya, it's the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves.

But you get the general picture: on a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece. Didier Bourguet, a UN staffer in Congo and the Central African Republic, enjoyed the pleasures of 12-year-old girls, and as a result is now on trial in France. His lawyer has said he was part of a UN paedophile network that transcends national boundaries.

Now how about this? The Third Infantry Division are raping nine-year olds in Ramadi. Ready, set, go! That thundering sound outside your window isn't the new IKEA sale, but the great herd of BBC/CNN/Independent/Guardian/New York Times/Le Monde/Sydney Morning Herald/Irish Times/Cork Examiner reporters stampeding to the Sunni Triangle. Whoa, hold up, lads, it's only hypothetical.

But think about it: the merest glimpse of a freaky West Virginia tramp leading an Abu Ghraib inmate around with girlie knickers on his head was enough to prompt calls for Rumsfeld's resignation, and for Ted Kennedy to charge that Saddam's torture chambers were now open "under new management", and for Robert Fisk to be driven into the kind of orgasmic frenzy unseen since his column on how much he enjoyed being beaten up by an Afghan mob: "Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi," wrote Fisk. "No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash."

Who's straining at the leash here? Down, boy. But, if Lynndie's smashed to pieces our entire morality with just one tug, Bush's Zionist neocons getting it on with Congolese kindergarteners would have the Independent calling for US expulsion from the UN - no, wait, from Planet Earth: slice it off from Maine to Hawaii and use one of those new Euro-Airbuses to drag it out round the back of Uranus.

But systemic UN child sex in at least 50 per cent of their missions? The transnational morality set can barely stifle their yawns. If you're going to rape prepubescent girls, make sure you're wearing a blue helmet.

And at least the Pentagon put a stop to Abu Ghraib. As a UN official in Congo told the Telegraph yesterday: "The crux of the problem is that if the UN gets bolshie with these governments then they stop providing the UN with troops and staff."

And the problem with that is?

In Congo, the UN has now forbidden all contact between its forces and the natives. The rest of the world should be so lucky.

I take it from his use of "bolshie" that the quoted UN wallah is British. If so, that's the system in a nutshell: when a British bigwig is with British forces, he'll enforce British standards; when a British official is holed up with an impeccably "multilateral" force of Uruguayans, Tunisians, etc, he's more circumspect. When in Rome, do as the Visigoths do.

The child sex racket is only the most extreme example of what's wrong with the UN approach to the world. Developed peoples value resilience: when disaster strikes, you bounce back. A hurricane flattens Florida, you patch things up and reopen. As the New Colonial Class, the UN doesn't look at it like that: when disaster strikes, it just proves you and your countrymen are children who need to be taken under the transnational wing.

The folks that have been under the UN wing the longest - indeed, the only ones with their own permanent UN agency and semi-centenarian "refugee camps" - are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth: the Palestinians. UN territories like Kosovo are the global equivalent of inner-city council estates with the blue helmets as local enforcers for the absentee slum landlord. By contrast, a couple of years after imperialist warmonger Bush showed up, Afghanistan and Iraq have elections, presidents and prime ministers.

When the tsunami hit, hundreds of thousands of people died within minutes. The Australians and Americans arrived within hours. The UN was unable to get to Banda Aceh within weeks.

Instead, the humanitarian fat cats were back in New York and Geneva holding press conferences warning about post-tsunami health consequences - dysentery, cholera, BSE from water-logged cattle, etc - that, they assured us, would kill as many people as the original disaster. But it never happened, any more than did their predictions of disaster for Iraq ("The head of the World Food Programme has warned that Iraq could spiral into a massive humanitarian disaster") or Afghanistan ("The UN Children's Fund has estimated that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die of cold, disease and hunger").

It's one thing to invent humanitarian disasters to disparage Bush's unilateralist warmongering, but a month ago the UN was reduced to inventing a humanitarian disaster in order to distract attention from the existing humanitarian disaster it wasn't doing anything about.

All this derives from a UN culture in which the free nations have met the thug states so much more than half way that they now largely share the dictators' view of their peoples - as either helpless children who need every decision made for them, or a bunch of dupes whose national wealth you can reroute to your Swiss bank account, or a never-ending source of fresh meat. Those British officials trying to rationalise Oil-for-Fraud or child sex rings give the game away: it's not just the underage Congolese girls who get corrupted by contact with the UN.

DiscerningTexan, 2/15/2005 05:06:00 PM | Permalink | |
Monday, February 14, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 2/14/2005 08:14:00 PM | Permalink | |
Jonah Goldberg makes an excellent case:

Raines, Rather, Jordan... Why the right-of-center bloggers are more successful

I've been doing this for a long time now. By "this" I of course mean eating while I type.

But I also mean this Internet thing. This column in fact pre-dates NRO itself and NRO is now considered one of those ancient landmarks of the Internet, like some old city that has been razed and rebuilt so many times nobody remembers why certain streets have the names they do. I remember when the first blogs started to appear and I was not particularly bullish on their chances for success. Of course, I was wrong about a great deal and right about only a little and I changed my opinion on them a long time ago. I still don't think they will ever "replace" Big Media and they will never be money-making — as in capable of generating livable income — for anything but the top .0001 percent of bloggers. But other than that, they really are a much bigger deal than I originally imagined.

Exhibit A, of course, is the resignation of Eason Jordan from CNN. For a week the bloggers chased Jordan the way Brad Davis chased "Rifki" in
Midnight Express.

Jordan's head will hang alongside Howell Raines's, the editor of the New York frick'n Times and four top executives at CBS News. The blogosphere can also take credit for Dan Rather's demotion to "fry guy" at the CBS cafeteria. That is a big deal.

But what I find particularly interesting is that these — and other accomplishments — were achieved by generally conservative or non-left-wing bloggers. What makes that remarkable is that the lefty bloggers are every bit as good at this game as the right-wing ones are. I may not like some of them, but it would be silly to claim that they aren't good at what they do and even sillier to suggest that they aren't as hungry as the conservatives. The notion that the Daily Kos wouldn't chase down similar prey if given the opportunity just doesn't pass the smell test. Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum are just as tenacious about finding damning quotes, contradictions, and old gems on Nexis-Lexis as anybody on the right. There have to be other factors involved.

The most obvious one is that the Right's hunting preserve is teeming with big game. Until Jordan quit on Friday, the lefty bloggers were dancing around the victory fire chanting in triumph over bagging this Jeff Gannon guy from Talon News. I'm extending this metaphor too far, I'm sure, but their celebration makes me wonder how so many brave warriors can eat their fill off the carcass of a chipmunk. I confess that at first I thought this sounded like a real story. But it's turned out to be more than a little sad. While I don't necessarily think Gannon should have been credentialed, even with a day pass, at the end of the day this is one of the ho-hummiest media "scandals" to come down the pike in a while. If the guy hadn't changed his name and registered on gay porn sites, this would have been one of the dullest hullabaloos of all time. And besides, let he who has never registered with a gay military porn site under a different name cast the first stone. Actually, someone will have to explain to me why conservative opinion journalists can be literally outed out of the White House press room while liberal ones get lifetime achievement awards from the National Press Club.

Of course,
the lefty bloggers are determined to make Gannon into a huge story. But no matter how many times the great hunters say "Did you see the size of that chipmunk!" and no matter how much parsley you garnish the plate with, it's still a chipmunk.

What's more interesting is what this whole episode says about the nature of the establishment media itself. We keep hearing that the blogosphere is the new "alternative media." This raises the question: alternative to what? For the right-wing bloggers, they are the same sort of alternative that NRO has been for near a decade now and that National Review has been for 50. Conservatives still see ourselves as the out-party when it comes to the media establishment. Sure, we appear on op-ed pages and as talking heads, but almost always in the spirit of "the other view." This tokenism rarely extends to the executive suites or to the editorial offices.

When we see the media establishment we see a vast confluence of ideas and institutions built up around a whole host of assumptions about the role of government, race, foreign policy, economics, sexuality, etc. Left-wingers, on the web and elsewhere, don't see the same thing. Their criticisms invariably have to do with "disappointment" that the press is being intimidated by the forces of reaction and warmongering. "What liberal media?" they ask. I'm speaking in enormous generalizations of course, but they believe the establishment media's failure has been a lack of resolve in standing up to the right.
This has enormous consequences for how the Internet plays out for the Right and Left. The Left must either focus entirely on the conservative media or it must move even further to the left so it can get out of its clinch with the mainstream media. You can't punch the New York Times if you're hugging it. So far it's done both. David Brock — nipple tucked away for a rainy day — and his gang spend all their time expressing shock that conservatives are conservative and trying to prove we're all liars or some such. It was this strategy that led to the bagging of Jeff Gannon. Meanwhile, the Daily Kos and its lesser imitators are moving what we call liberalism to the left. They're doing this mostly by pulling the Democratic party to the left. Michael Barone
points out that this is good news for Bush.

I think it may be a sign of even better news for conservatives. Looking from a broad, historical perspective all of this seems to be of a piece with the gradual movement of America to the right. Raines, Rather, and Jordan were victims of a new era — they were old growth that couldn't handle the new climate. Fox News is new growth. So is NRO. And so are all of these blogs, on the left and the right. But the evolutionary strategies are markedly different.

The Left seems to want to be where conservatives have been for most of the last 50 years: shooting from the outside in; questioning fundamental arrangements and assumptions about the role of government; griping about media coverage; standing athwart history, yelling stop. Meanwhile, conservatives have had enough of that. We're slowly, inexorably, moving in on, or replacing, the ossified institutions of the old regime. It will be a long, long struggle and I still think liberals have the
commanding heights. But the good news is that for the first time in our lifetimes, the liberals look like they want to switch places.
DiscerningTexan, 2/14/2005 07:51:00 PM | Permalink | |
Redstate has nailed it regarding the whole Gannon matter.
DiscerningTexan, 2/14/2005 07:31:00 PM | Permalink | |

Defending the Blogs against the NY Times "lynch mob"

Jeff Jarvis has a tremendous post in his weblog today, easily my Post of the Day, in response to the NY Times' pathetically transparent coverage of the Eason Jordan resignation:

TO: Bill Keller, New York Times
FROM: Jeff Jarvis, blogger
RE: The Times' blog problems and an invitation:

I'm going to end this with an open invitation to Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times. But first....

The New York Times media beat reporters got beaten badly on the Eason Jordan story -- by [gasp] weblogs and cable news -- and so how do they react? By catching up their readers on what they missed? Of course not. They react by
lashing out at weblogs.

This morning's story by Katharine Q. Seelye, Jacques Steinberg, and David F. Gallagher -- under the headline, "Bloggers as News Media Trophy Hunters" -- is another example of the disdain in which many quarters of The Times -- not all -- hold citizens' media.

This being The Times, many of the slaps are subtle. When they quote Edward Morrissey of
Captains Quarter, who stayed on top of the Jordan story, they make a point of saying he is "a call center manager who lives near Minneapolis" Read: "He's not one of us. He's not a real journalist."

When they acknowledge that Jordan was forced out, they say:

Some of those most familiar with Mr. Jordan's situation emphasized, in interviews over the weekend, that his resignation should not be read solely as a function of the heat that CNN had been receiving on the Internet, where thousands of messages, many of them from conservatives, had been posted.

I think they mean that to be read: "The bloggers didn't do this; they can't take credit for this head; that's our job to behead the powerful; we're The Times." But I read it this way: "There's much more to the Jordan story that The Times also missed."

But some of the story is hardly subtle. When it comes to quoting media bloggers, they ignore the wise and balanced
writings of Jay Rosen on the story and instead, quote the poison-pen letter sent to Rosen by big-media veteran Steve Lovelady: "The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail."

And, yes, they quote me -- from the blog; they did not phone or email me for specific comment -- and they pick that quote carefully:

But while the bloggers are feeling empowered, some in their ranks are openly questioning where they are headed. One was Jeff Jarvis, the head of the Internet arm of Advance Publications, who publishes a blog at Mr. Jarvis said bloggers should keep their real target in mind. "I wish our goal were not taking off heads but digging up truth," he cautioned.

And, of course, that makes it look as if I'm wringing my hands over the morals of my fellow bloggers when, in fact, I'm worried about precisely what The Times is doing here: using this episode to call us a lynch mob. Here's what I
said after that line:

We don't want to be positioned as the news lynch mob -- which is where a radio interview yesterday tried to go -- but as the press of the people. Of course, big media can be a lynch mob, too. But that doesn't mean it's an example we should follow.What a handy 'snip.'

The Times also tries to subtly keep alive Jordan's assertion on military targeting journalists with this line:

Through the latest uproar, the substance of Mr. Jordan's initial assertion about the military targeting journalists was largely lost. Only problem is, they -- like we -- still do not know the "substance of Mr. Jordan's initial assertion" because we don't have the tape from Davos and they didn't even interview Jordan.

And there's one more subtle dig:

The online attack of Mr. Jordan, particularly among conservative commentators, appeared to gain momentum when they were seized on by other conservative outlets. A report on the National Review Web site was followed by editorials in The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as by a column in The New York Post by Michelle Malkin (a contributor for Fox News, CNN's rival).

Read: "Nobody would pay attention to this story if it weren't picked up by real papers." Also read: "Blogs are a conservative lynch mob."

But, of course, what this doesn't say is that the story was reported by the publication that used to be The Times' nemesis before citizens' media and cable news came along: The Washington Post. It was reported there by Howard Kurtz even though he had to navigate the conflict of interest of being a CNN employee. (Note, by the way, that Kurtz was also the person who brought the discussion to CNN's air yesterday and let it be known that I felt free to say anything about the story, the network, and Jordan there and it was made clear that we would be emphasizing Jordan as the major part of our discussion.) You'd think that The Times would have beaten Kurtz to the story. But they were beaten by the Post, blogs, cable news -- oh, the shame; oh, the humiliation -- and why: Because they dismissed this as the mutterings of a rabble, not the
news judgment of the people.

Now add this to Sarah Boxer's horrendous unjournalism about Iraqi bloggers and other feature stories about bloggers without lives and many an offhand slap and it is clear that: The Times has blog issues. So...

TO: Bill Keller, New York Times
FROM: Jeff Jarvis, blogger
RE: An open invitation

Mr. Keller,

I propose that we hold a one-day meeting of webloggers and Times editors and reporters to discover how the interests of both groups are aligned and how we can work together to improve news.

The problem, Mr. Keller, is that many of your reporters and editors hold citizens' media in obvious disdain that has become all too public in your pages. This means that they are slapping the public you would serve and, in fact, your own readers: people who still read news. This also means that they are missing stories -- witness this one. They are missing the opportunity to correct stories and do better reporting -- witness Boxer's story. They are doing The Times and its reputation in this new medium and with the next generation no favors. That is not true of everyone in the paper, of course; we have seen cases of The Times getting ideas and reporting from blogs and listening to the interests of the public through them. But that is clearly not true in other quarters.

So let's get some Times journalists and citizen journalists together in a room.
The agenda is quite simple:
1. Let's spend a few hours letting each group vent at the other to get over it. 2. Then let's explore our common interests -- quite simply, informing the public, acting as the people's watch on authority, getting to the truth, and creating a better-informed democracy.
3. Finally, let's investigate the ways that citizens' media and professional media can help each other find stories and find the truth and listen to the public and extend the eyes and ears of The Times and its journalists in ways never possible before.

If we do this right, the reporters and the bloggers will learn that the "other side" is not another side at all; this isn't about monoliths and mobs but about good people trying hard to do the right thing. Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson spent a few days at Harvard in a room with bloggers and didn't seem to come off any worse for the wear; I think she and the bloggers came away, instead, with better understanding and respect.

So how about it, Mr. Keller? We'll bring the bagels, you bring the sandwiches.

: Here's Michele Malkin's
roundup of dino reaction.

: The Wall Street Journal
editorializes, making the assumption that this is the only reason Jordan is out (I don't believe we know that part of the story at all): That may be old-fashioned damage control. But it does not speak well of CNN that it apparently allowed itself to be stampeded by this Internet and talk-show crew. Of course the network must be responsive to its audience and ratings. But it has other obligations, too, chief among them to show the good judgment and sense of proportion that distinguishes professional journalism from the enthusiasms and vendettas of amateurs.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Little Green Footballs has an interesting tidbit on CNN in general:

In a 1999 lecture at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, former CNN Chief News Executive Eason Jordan told the audience that CNN International was directly inspired by Fidel Castro. (Hat tip: rcl.)

I thank you very much for being here tonight. Let me also thank Fidel Castro. In the earliest days of CNN, when CNN was meant to be seen only in the United States, the enterprising Fidel Castro was pirating and watching CNN in Cuba. Fidel was intrigued by CNN. He wanted to meet the person responsible. So Ted Turner, who at that point had never traveled to a Communist country or knowingly met a Communist, [went to Havana]. It was big deal for Ted and during the discussions Castro suggested that CNN be made available to the entire world. In fact it was that seed, that idea that grew into CNN International, which is now seen in every country and territory on the planet.

I wonder what could have attracted Fidel Castro so strongly to CNN?
DiscerningTexan, 2/14/2005 06:53:00 PM | Permalink | |
Friday, February 11, 2005

Mark Steyn on the Euros and Bush

It is a sheer joy to read this man's work:

Will Europe warm up to Bush climate change?

It was business as usual on NPR the other afternoon. A lady expert was complaining that, in his State of the Union address, George W. Bush had made no mention of ''climate change.'' This is true in the narrow sense that, if you were hoping for some meaningless bit of Clintonesque hot-air micropolitics, the president didn't boldly pledge to join our European allies in pretending to abide by the Kyoto Treaty.

But, in the broader sense, Bush doesn't need to talk about climate change, because he's doing it. He's changing the climate at home and abroad. Social Security is the so-called third rail of American politics, but he's seized it and right now it's the comatose Democrats who look like they could use a jolt or two. As for the wider world, if one had to nominate a third rail of global politics, attempting to democratize the Middle East would be pretty much a shoo-in. But Bush has made it an explicit and urgent goal of U.S. foreign policy. This is a president who wants to leave his mark on more than a cocktail dress.

Go back to the 2002 State of the Union that inaugurated the "axis of evil.'' I loved the expression mainly because all the sophisticates loathed it. Such rhetoric "gets us nowhere," complained Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister. It was unhelpfully "absolutist" and "in unilateralist overdrive," sneered Chris Patten, the European Union's external affairs commissioner.

Why, it was "absurd," scoffed Hubert Vedrine, the French foreign minister.
So much for the axis of ennui. Three years on, one-third of the evildoers is in jail, his people have been liberated, and their country has just held the most free and fair election in modern Middle Eastern history. That last wasn't supposed to happen, either. "They can't have an election right now," declared John Kerry, Senator Nuance himself, in the presidential debates. "I personally do not believe they're going to be ready for the election in January," said Jimmy Carter, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peanuts. "There's no security there."

But Carter and Kerry and Old Europe were wrong, and the absurd absolutist simpleton was right. Iraq is free not just because of the military skill of America and her allies but because of the political will of one man, who stuck to his guns against the opposition of the Eurocynics, the U.N. do-nothings, the Democratic Party weathervanes, the media doom-mongers, and the unreal realpolitik grandees of his own party -- the Scowcrofts and Eagleburgers. Three years on, Bush has not only not abandoned his axis of evil, he's sportingly offered to promote Syria to the vacant slot, made a pretty specific pledge of solidarity to the Iranian people, and served notice on the House of Saud and the thug Mubarak that they better get with the program. No doubt Monsieur Vedrine would denounce these vulgarities as equally "absurd.''

But what's the betting on the lie of the land three years hence? Moving in the Bush direction? Or more in line with the Kerry-Carter-Vedrine-Fischer-Patten view of things? Democrat Senate colossus Harry Reid -- who makes Tom Daschle look like Reese Witherspoon -- said in his first major speech of the week, "With yesterday's elections in Iraq, President Bush has a golden opportunity to change course,'' which means . . . well, to be honest, I haven't a clue what it means. But it sounds a lot like Reid's terrific speech from June 1944: "With yesterday's successful D-Day landings, General Eisenhower now has a golden opportunity to change course and surrender."

Anyway, in his second major speech of the week, Reid said we need a ''Marshall Plan for America.'' Apparently, the United States of 2005 is in as dire condition as the Europe of 1945: its great cities reduced to rubble, and its people starving and desperate for work. Maybe it just seems that way from the ruins of Democratic Party headquarters.

In his third major speech of the week, Reid said . . . well, at the time of writing, he hasn't given a third major speech, but I do hope he does. For every year this guy's on TV as the official face of the party, you can kiss three Democratic Senate seats goodbye. Right now, the Dems are all exit and no strategy.

In Margaret Thatcher's heyday, she'd tell the naysayers, "There is no alternative" -- a phrase she used so often British Tories abbreviated it to ''Tina.'' In fairness to her opponents, they did have alternatives: It was just that Mrs. T thought they were hopeless and unworkable. But Bush's detractors are literal Tinas: They have no alternatives at all. This week's U.N. report on the Sudan nicely captures the alternative to Bush-style climate change. After months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan managed to persuade the U.N. to set up a committee to look into what's going on in Darfur. They've just reported back that it's not genocide. Phew, thank goodness for that. It turns out it's just 70,000 corpses who all happen to be from the same ethnic group; could happen anywhere. But it's not genocide, so don't worry about it.

That's the transnational establishment's alternative to Bush dynamism: Appoint a committee that agrees on the need to do nothing. By happy coincidence, that's also the Democrats' line on Social Security. In a sense, these two issues are opposite sides of the same coin. It was noted in the chancelleries of certain capitals that, in a speech aimed in large part at a global audience, the president didn't even mention Europe. Why would he? One reason why the Continent is in no position to make any kind of useful contribution to the war on terror or reform of the Middle East is because of its inability to get to grips with the looming disaster of its own state pensions liabilities.

For purposes of comparison, by 2050 public pensions expenditures are expected to be 6.5 percent of GDP in the United States, 16.9 percent in Germany, 17.3 percent in Spain and 24.8 percent in Greece. In Europe, we're talking not about the prospect of having to reduce benefits but of total societal collapse. With a death-spiral fertility rate of 1.46 children per couple, the EU will have to increase mainly Muslim immigration to a rate that will transform those societies out of all recognition. American reformers like to say that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The EU has a vastly greater problem: The entire modern European welfare state is a Ponzi scheme. And the political establishments in Paris, Berlin, Brussels et al. show no sign of producing their own plain-spoken EuroBush to confront it.

Unlike Eurocomplacency or Democratic reactionary torpor, Bush's boldness has the measure of the times. In this climate, you have to push your own changes.
DiscerningTexan, 2/11/2005 10:00:00 AM | Permalink | |

Jordan's 'State of the Media' address

If one had any question about the mindset of the mainstream media, one need only have been a fly on the wall in Davos, Switzerland when Eason Jordan opened his fly trap... Ollie North comments:

Lies, damned lies and network 'news'

"... at least 10 journalists have been killed by the U.S. military, and according to reports I believe to be true, journalists have been arrested and tortured by U.S. forces." -- Eason Jordan, CNN executive vice president

Eason Jordan is described by CNN as the network's "chief news executive" and the person who provides "strategic advice to CNN's senior management team." In November, he offered the above murderous assessment of America's military to a group of Portuguese journalists and got away with it.

On Jan. 27, he apparently made a nearly identical outrageous, unfounded accusation at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This time he got caught -- not by his colleagues in the so-called mainstream media, but by "bloggers" who were in attendance. Ironically, Jordan, who also chairs the CNN Editorial Board, made his most recent unsupported allegation of American military war crimes during a panel discussion titled, "Will Democracy Survive the News?" The short answer to the rhetorical question is: "not if Democracy has to depend on people like Jordan to report the news."

And therein lies the problem -- not just with Jordan's calumny about our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines, but with his colleagues in the so-called mainstream media.

The CNN executive's slander went unreported -- and apparently unchallenged -- by other potentates of the press who heard him accuse America's military of deliberately targeting and killing journalists in Iraq. Worse still, other "leaders" in the Fourth Estate are now rushing to Jordan's defense. David Gergen, editor-at-large for U.S. News & World Report and moderator of the discussion in Davos, now says Jordan had recently been to Iraq, and was "caught up in the tension of the moment" and "deserves the benefit of the doubt."

Why? Aren't news reporters supposed to have a thirst for truth? Isn't there some standard of proof or corroboration required before someone in the "news business" makes such a horrific accusation? Furthermore, why should any member of the media in attendance be let off the hook for failing to immediately jump up and demand: "Prove it!" when Jordan made his unsubstantiated charges?

Such damning allegations, if true, would make Abu Ghraib look like petty larceny. Yet, Jordan has offered no evidence to validate the alleged war crimes -- nor, apparently, has he ever proffered any witnesses or evidence of such crimes in Iraq or anywhere else.

Thankfully, not everyone in the Davos audience was as favorably disposed toward Jordan's reckless claims as his media colleagues. Left-of-center U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., released a statement saying he was "outraged" by Jordan's comments and is "tremendously proud of the sacrifice and service of American military personnel." Liberal Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank claims he contacted Jordan and demanded "specifics." Frank said he would pursue the issue if there were credible evidence. At this writing, Jordan has yet to take the congressman up on his offer.

What Jordan has done is claim that his comments in Davos were taken out of context. CNN's Howard Kurtz quotes Jordan -- ostensibly his boss -- as saying, "I wasn't as clear as I should have been on that panel."

That should be easy to prove. Though the panel discussion was "off-the-record," the event was apparently videotaped -- another fact we would not know but for the "bloggers" in attendance. Jordan, Gergen, Kurtz, et al. should call for the release of the videotape -- that way we can see who challenges Jordan's slanderous assertions against our military, and who applauds them. But it's not likely that CNN will join the bloggers in calling for release of the videotape.

According to Rony Abovitz, the Forum-sponsored blogger who first broke this story to the world, Jordan "repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience and cause great strain on others." According to Abovitz, Jordan's charges met with approval among Arab attendees "who applauded and called him 'a very brave man' for speaking up against the U.S. in a public way amongst a crowd ready to hear anti-U.S. sentiments."

There is a lesson in all of this, and not just for CNN, but for all the media. Jordan's disparaging duplicity wasn't exposed by the barons of broadcasting or the potentates of print, but by "amateurs" -- bloggers -- the same "unwashed masses" who brought down Dan Rather. These e-mailing, Web-surfing, call-'em as you see-'em bloggers are the electronic equivalent of the pamphleteers who brought about our revolution.

Today, they "pass the word" faster than an official spokesman can draft a denial. They are the small "d" democrats of the new "news business" -- and more believable to many than what is presented on the tube or in the paper. To the bloggers, it's clear that if Dan Rather worked for CNN, he'd still have a job. Apparently, the network that bills itself as "the most trusted name in news" has even lower standards of proof than CBS.

Next year, the World Economic Forum will again assemble its elite, self-anointed "business, political and intellectual leaders" at the posh Swiss Alpine resort to sip champagne and discuss Orwellian ideas for making "the world a better place." They should ask Jordan to return and answer a somewhat different question: "Will CNN 'News' Survive Democracy?"
DiscerningTexan, 2/11/2005 09:37:00 AM | Permalink | |
Thursday, February 10, 2005

(see below...)
DiscerningTexan, 2/10/2005 11:18:00 PM | Permalink | |

Is the President a 'Horn at heart?

Sorry, but when the old alma mater steps in, it's hard not to be a little bit excited about this. I'd love to see them get it. Hook 'em!
DiscerningTexan, 2/10/2005 11:07:00 PM | Permalink | |

And as the dust settles...

Richard Cohen's latest column in the NY Daily News may be a good indication that some minds are starting to finally change about President Bush. Which of course is why the left hates him with a fury reserved for very few Republicans in history. Or maybe it is just that the left is filled with hate, period...
DiscerningTexan, 2/10/2005 09:31:00 PM | Permalink | |

Greenspan pays his respects to Adam Smith

Thanks to PrestoPundit for pointing to me to this most excellent tribute paid to Adam Smith in a speech by Alan Greenspan, a portion of which is reprised below. But by all means, read the whole thing:

It was left to Adam Smith to identify the more-general set of principles that brought conceptual clarity to the seeming chaos of market transactions. In 1776, Smith produced one of the great achievements in human intellectual history: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Most of Smith's free-market paradigm remains applicable to this day.
Smith was doubtless inspired by the Physiocrats, as well as by his friend David Hume, his mentor Francis Hutcheson, and other participants in the Enlightenment. Early political economists had made impressive contributions, many of them anticipating parts of Smith's global view. But Smith reached beyond his predecessors and subjected market processes to a far more formidable intellectual analysis. One hears a good deal of Franz Joseph Haydn in the string quartets and symphonies of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; yet to my ear, at least, Mozart rose to a plateau beyond anything Haydn and his contemporaries were able to reach. So, too, in his sphere, did Smith.

He concluded that, to enhance the wealth of a nation, every man, consistent with the law, should be "free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of ... other ... men. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

The individual is driven by private gain but is "led by an invisible hand" to promote the public good, "which was no part of his intention." This last insight is all the more extraordinary in that, for much of human history, acting in one's self-interest - indeed, seeking to accumulate wealth - had been perceived as unseemly and was, in some instances, illegal.

In the opening paragraphs of the Wealth of Nations, Smith recognized the crucial role played by the expansion of labor productivity in improving welfare when he cited "the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which labor is generally applied" as one of the essential determinants of a nation's standard of living. "Whatever be the soil, climate, or extent of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or scantiness of its annual supply must in that particular situation, depend upon ... the productive powers of labor."5 More than two centuries of economic thought have added little to those insights.

Smith, on remarkably little formal empirical evidence, drew broad inferences about the nature of commercial organization and institutions that led to a set of principles that would profoundly influence and alter a significant segment of the civilized world of that time. Economies based on those principles first created levels of sustenance adequate to enable the population to grow and later - far later - to create material conditions of living that fostered an increase in life expectancy. The latter development opened up the possibility that individuals could establish long-term personal goals, a possibility that was remote to all but a sliver of earlier generations.

Smith's ideas fell on fertile ground and within a very few decades verged on conventional wisdom. The ancient political power of the landed gentry, the major beneficiaries of the older order, was giving way to a new class of merchants and manufacturers that was a product of the Industrial Revolution, which had begun a quarter-century earlier. Pressures were building in Britain and elsewhere to break down mercantilist restrictions. But with Smith, the emerging elite found their voice and sanction.

Smith's sanction, however, was directed to the freedom of markets and trade, not to the new business elite, many of whose business practices Smith severely deprecated. He concluded that the competitive force unleashed by individuals in pursuit of their rational self-interest induces each person to do better. Such competitive interaction, by encouraging specialization and division of labor, increases economic growth.

Smith's essentially benevolent views of the workings of competition counteracted pressures for market regulation of the evident excesses of the factory system that had begun early in the eighteenth century. Those excesses were decried a century later by the poet William Blake as "... the dark Satanic mills" that by then characterized much of industrial England.

Perhaps if the Wealth of Nations had never been written, the Industrial Revolution would still have proceeded into the nineteenth century at an impressive pace. But without Smith's demonstration of the inherent stability and growth of what we now term free-market capitalism, the remarkable advance of material well-being for whole nations might well have been quashed. Pressures conceivably could have emerged to strengthen mercantilistic regulations in response to the stresses created by competition and to the all-too-evident ills of industrialization.
DiscerningTexan, 2/10/2005 09:15:00 PM | Permalink | |