Saturday, December 31, 2005



NEW YORK (AP) - It may not have been evident at the time, but when Tom Cruise was leaping up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch, he was like a piston, churning the wheels of fate.

Had Cruise not chosen to express his love for Katie Holmes on that momentous May day, 2005 might have been very different. Just imagine:

Hurt by Cruise's cold, somber manner on "Oprah," Holmes storms out of the studio and announces that she's leaving the "War of the Worlds" star.

"He could have at least hugged an ottoman," Holmes says.

Spurned by the 27-year-old beauty, Cruise undergoes a period of self-examination and gives up Scientology. Devastated over losing its most famous member, the church quickly recruits Russell Crowe.

Enlightenment soothes Crowe's anger, and the notorious phone-tossing incident never happens (although there are reports of the actor flicking a Cheez-It at a hotel bellboy).

His good reputation takes a hit, though, when Crowe (promoting "Cinderella Man") calls "Today" host Matt Lauer "glib" while discussing medication. The word is apparently central to Scientology beliefs - like "sin" is for Catholics.

Crowe's "Cinderella Man" co-star, Renee Zellweger, thrown by the brouhaha, seeks solace not in country star Kenny Chesney, but someone just as surprising. She marries "American Idol" finalist Bo Bice, a decision criticized by Simon Cowell.

The wedding news breaks just as the circulatory dating of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn hits full stride. It becomes too much for tabloid editors, who begin referring to them as Brangelinastonaughn.

The partner-swapping also elicits fierce debate over whether each relationship is based on true love or strategic image-making and movie-selling. The theory - dubbed "intelligent design" - doesn't quite make it to the Supreme Court.

One case that does make it to a courtroom, though, is Anna Nicole Smith's suit against Kanye West alleging that his hit song "Gold Digger" is about her. The trial is dismissed, though, after Smith shows up late to court in her pajamas.

West remains bitter, a feeling intensified by the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina. At a telethon, his co-presenter, Mike Myers, is replaced at the last minute by Michael Jackson. A confused West then proclaims: "George Bush hates white people."

Distraught over his mistake, West joins Dave Chappelle in South Africa.

Paris Hilton never meets her would-be fiance, Paris Latsis. Instead, she becomes engaged to herself. "That's hot," she claims.

The engagement lasts three weeks before splintering amid a dispute over the prenuptial agreement.

Jessica Simpson, witnessing Hilton's breakup drama, opts to stay married to Nick Lachey. Their "Newlyweds" show is renamed "Mildly Satisfied, Sort of Unhappy Married Couple, Remaining Together for Financial Reasons - Like Everyone Else."

By some strange coincidence, Martha Stewart and New York Times reporter Judith Miller end up at the same prison. Stewart brightens up Miller's cell with curtains and Miller helps Stewart with her "Apprentice" catch phrase.

The pair rules the jail, forming the "Valerie Plame Gang" in which each member must get a tattoo reading "VPG for Life: Disclose this!"

In this alternate reality, though, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline remain together. Even history's left-hand turns can't stop true love.


The rosy-fingered dusk [in boca both dawn and dusk are spectacularly crimson-hued] has yet to settle on 2005 and already one of the certifiably batty Hollyweird
self-parodying victims of autism is howling at the moon about how the Dems are going to capture the Senate next year and begin to impeach Cheney [?!].

That's right. Not even Bill Maher can be as foolish as SNL serial snarker Alec Baldwin, and to his credit, Maher occasionally shows flashes of wit and even evidence that he can understand a contrary point of view.

Not so, Baldwin, although his prediction of terrific storms possibly caused by global warming [and therefore Bush?] causing the American people to vote Democrat is possibly satirical---but given the clinical verisimilitude of schizophrenia Baldwin displays, I'm betting he's really as spasmodically crazy as he sounds.

He rants about ANWR as one of his fixations. But to my mind, you have to give him the most credit for the following exhalation:
Nearly everywhere you look, you see Cheney directly or, more often, his shadow, ruining peoples lives, stealing their freedoms and liberties and/or destroying whole countries to serve his warped goals of an American foreign policy that seemed dated 25 years ago.

A paranoid masterpiece, worthy of a narcissistic solipsistic victim of his own darkest fears, truly a Thomas Pynchon wannabee.

I'd give the man a strong drink, but my guess is his meds couldn't stand it!


Politically Incorrect BRUTAL HONESTY?

First of all, I'd put Vladimir Putin as MOST PROMISING PROSPECT for Major League New York Yankee-level Despotism.

I'd give one of those Jean Hersholt-in-reverse Awards to Castro for unmitigated evil.

And what about Genocidal Chief Omar al Bashir in the Sudan for Honorable Mention?

Or Oaf-in-Chief of Syria Bashar Al-Assad?

Or Populist Moron-in-Chief Hugo Chavez in Venezuela?

Syrian Cat’s-Paw/Stooge-in-chief Ernile Lahoud in Lebanon for the Quisling Award?

Up-and-Coming Evo Morales in Bolivia? Hasn't had a chance yet.

The Venality-in-Chief All-Time Champ Yasser Arafat is gone now!

Brutal Honesty
by T. A. Frank
[What is "Today in Despotism?"]

Since inaugurating the "Today in Despotism" series earlier this year, TNR Online has chronicled the activities of a number of strongmen. Some are old, some are young; some are religious, some are atheist; some are called "Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"; others are called "Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, and Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea." But while countries around the world may have differences, the hopes and dreams of their despotic rulers are shared. It's why Libya celebrates the anniversary of a book by Muammar Qaddafi and North Korea celebrates the anniversary of a book by Kim Jong Il. And so TNR Online is issuing a Despot of the Year Award in an attempt to give a proper nod to outstanding despotic achievements. Ideally, this award would merely reflect the popular will of the rulers' subjects, but, as Donald Rumsfeld once pointed out in a moment of reflection, sometimes that's hard to figure out. "It's awfully hard to know," he said. "In fact, it's impossible to know unless one just speculates. I don't know how many people who live in an exceedingly repressive regime actually like it."

Honorable Mentions

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe. For orchestrating his own reelection and for his program to forcibly relocate thousands of urban slum dwellers to camps in the barren countryside.

Than Shwe, Burma. For his campaign to guard against Burma's destruction through the united strength of the people.

Fidel Castro, Cuba. For nearly five decades of service.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran. For getting right down to business after his rigged election. Goodbye, Western music. Hello, nukes. And Holocaust--what Holocaust?


Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus. Lukashenko, in power for only 11 years, runs one of the youngest despotic regimes in the trade and has built it almost entirely on his own. Drawing on sheer willpower and a dream of undoing any and all reforms that briefly threatened his nation in the early 1990s, Lukashenko has worked tirelessly to preserve, and even revive, Soviet traditions. This year has been an impressive one for the leader. As always, he has spoken out strongly in favor of grain: "There should be no desperation and pessimism. Only good mood. The country will have grain!" And the Olympics: "It is impossible to see what has become of our handball, basketball, volleyball. We can not even win a license to go to the Olympic Games. What kind of a country's handball tournament is it if there are only four teams?" But his achievements go beyond the rhetorical. When Belarusian protesters assembled in March in hopes of imitating Ukraine's Orange Revolution, Lukashenko responded generously with beatings. When the country's ethnic Poles complained of harassment, Lukashenko took pains to have the police storm the office of an ethnic Polish organization. When the regime began to face hints of internal dissent, Lukashenko seized the day and pushed through a parliamentary ban on criticism. (Organizing protests or speaking against the national interest now carries a three-year prison sentence.) He has also announced his intention to run for president again, and he feels the opposition has little to offer: "They are not ready to rule the country." Let them rule when they have 11 years of despotic experience.

Conclusion. If Lukashenko keeps up his current pace, he'll become a strong contender in future years. Still, additional crackdowns will be required to claim the top prize.

Muammar Qaddafi, Libya. Fidel Castro often draws admiration for the length of his reign, but Muammar Qaddafi seldom receives similar credit, even though he has ruled Libya for three and a half decades. Although 2005 hasn't been as eventful for Libya as other years, Qaddafi is an open-minded man, and no one ever knows quite what to expect from him next. This year, Qaddafi cut deals with oil companies, hosted an African Union summit, and gave an interview to Time magazine in which he reminded readers that "Libyans are in paradise." The colonel has remained steadfast in the case of five Bulgarian nurses who were arrested in 1999 and accused of working on behalf of the CIA and the Mossad to spread AIDS among Libyan children. Found guilty, the nurses (and a Palestinian physician) have been condemned to the firing squad. Although some have asserted that poor hygiene in Libyan hospitals was a more likely culprit, Qaddafi has stood by his convictions, asking, "How can we free the murderers of children?" Ever unpredictable, in January the colonel permitted a rock band called The Heavenly States to be the first American band to play in Libya since he took power. Well, sort of. When the band arrived, the scheduled shows didn't really materialize, but its members did get a chance to see Libya. (And they also ended up doing a basement show at the home of an employee of the British consulate.)

Conclusion. On the strength of sheer staying power, Qaddafi was a near miss for the top award; but he'll have plenty of chances in the future. As he said earlier this year: "Elections? What for? We have surpassed that stage you are presently in. All the people are in power now." Sounds pretty good to us.


Kim Jong Il, North Korea. North Korea's leader takes top honors this year. It hardly seems fair since, with Kim in the running, no one else will ever have a chance. Nevertheless, despotism is despotism, and Kim has amassed a record that aspiring dictators can only envy. From nuclear proliferation to famine, Kim has dotted all of his "i"s and crossed all of his "t"s in the classics of tyranny. Kim oversaw nuclear weapons negotiations this year, agreeing to conditions under which he would begin to dismantle his weapons. A day later, North Korea announced that the deal was off unless the country could first have a light-water reactor. When summer rolled around, Kim sent millions of city dwellers into the countryside to transplant rice. And Kim also prepared to groom his own sons as successors. Meanwhile, his commitment to innovation in despotic rhetoric has not faltered--at least if the pronouncements of the North Korean news agency can be taken as evidence. A few highlights from the past year:

Cheney is hated as the most cruel monster and bloodthirsty beast, as he has drenched various parts of the world in blood. (June)

Japan is so mean, despicable and wicked that it is not the country which the DPRK can deal with anywhere. (July)

Japan's attempt to buy a responsible position at the UN is little short of a clumsy bid of an illiterate country peddler bereft of any reason and people's mindset. (October)

And the quote that put North Korea over the top, from this past June:

The chief executive of the United States was reported to have met daily Chosun Ilbo journalist Kang Chol-hwan, an alleged defector from the North, at the White House on 15 June and talked about "human rights situation" in the DPRK.

Explicitly speaking, we do not know such word as "defector".

If there be any, they are just a handful of hooligans and criminals who are not in a position to look up at the clear blue sky over the country with an easy mind for the crimes committed against it and its people.

It is hard to expect to hear anything from such human scum and we, therefore, do not care at all about whatever nonsense they talk.

Given the fact that the chief executive of the world's only "superpower" did sit face to face with such a human trash and conferred with him over "human rights performance" and other "serious matters", it is not hard to guess the political level and stature of the present US administration.

The prize is a free subscription to TNR Online. Kim or his representatives should kindly write to receive details:, attn: human trash/human scum.




There follows a response to a long-time friend who teaches media in high school in Missouri who objected to the UCLA/Missouri Study because on page 14 the Study notes that the media is "to the left of Congress." This friend is captivated by far-left ideas and thinks in images, so he compared Bush to Stalin and Congress to the Nazis. Sort of typical of the quality of critical thinking on the Far Left, I’d say.

Yes, I know it's setting up a straw man and knocking him down, but anyhow, there follows my somewhat dyspeptic reply.

"Let’s see now.

You compared Bush to Stalin, who killed an estimated 50 million people.

Now you compare Congress to the Nazis, who killed about 25 million.

Are you off your meds?

You manage to ignore the massive evidence that the media is biased and prejudiced by saying Congress, elected by the people, is wrong and the media, elected by no one, is correct!? You remind me of what Berthold Brecht said when the East German Govt during the 1954 riots proclaimed that its people are not worthy of Communism. Brecht replied: "Well, maybe the government should select a new people!"

And Brecht was an ardent Communist, who finally saw at the end of his long leftis life that the left is a complete fraud!

By the way, that dirge about the world going to hell is called "The Chicken Little Syndrome." I went around saying the sky was falling for years, even when I was working for Mondale at his National HQ in ‘84. I was hanging around with Christopher Hitchens then and he was so far left he was falling off the planet. So was Fouad Ajami, another buddy at the time.

Now they both support the war in Iraq.

I watch PBS Evening New with Jim Lehrer and listen to NPR Talk of the Nation et al., and watch Fox, CNN and MSNBC. I peruse the NYT and WaPo and LA Times almost daily and read dozens of blogs on the left and right. About 800 people read my blogs last week according to my site meter. I worked in the TV and print media business for years.

Speaking of Chicken Little, there is an Op-Ed columnist for the NYTimes named Paul Krugman who is a professor of economics at Princeton who has been saying for five years that the US is heading for a terrible recession and that the US economy is getting worse and worse. He always cites anecdotal evidence and he yammers and drones about how bad things are and how they are getting worse.

All the while during the last 5 years, the US economy has been chugging along getting better and better. That is, you know that if you read the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist. They have statistics, The NYT has doctrine.

If you read the NYT, we are still in a recession, or all the prosperity in the US that makes it the world’s most prosperous country, is just an illusion, and the sky is going to fall any time now.

Jay Leno last night mentioned that 71% of the Iraqi people think they are now better off than they were before. Then he said, “I guess they’re not reading the New York Times!” and Jay’s audience howled with laughter.

The NYT, which I read just to see how foolish the left’s agenda is and how much reality the NYT can ignore both in the US and in Iraq, demonstrates that the Far Left represents a tiny fraction of the American people, basically "the helping professions," academics, the media, and a few cranks here and there. And there are several states packed with grifters like California and the rest of the Left Coast.

I even read the phony study you mentioned about Fox viewers. Do you have the link? Do you actually believe the crap you read about Bush and Congress? Or do you read much at all?

The UCLA/Missouri study took three years; I’ll bet MSNBC or CNN or CBS threw together the phony Fox study in a couple of weeks with skewed questions and cooked numbers. Most polls are artfully contrived to get the answers they want.

The ultra-left Ahabs are simply losing their marbles about being marginalized more and more by the sane majority. They believe the biased reporting the leftist media tell about Iraq, including the Guardian and Reuters and AP. They don’t even know the US economy is the best in the world. They alternate between calling Bush Stalin [in a blog I saw yesterday] and Hitler. Many can’t express themselves well, so a lot of them spout obscenities and scatological nonsense non-stop.

Basically, they’ve never met a payroll, never really graduated from college, never really traveled outside their own narcissistic bubble, which paradoxically they project their belief that Bush lives in.

I’ve been to forty-odd countries and the US is the best, better than France and England, where I lived for two years and six months respectively. Let alone Lebanon and Saudi and Vietnam. Speaking different languages and actually having lived overseas gives one a perspective like that of guys like Hitchens and Ajami who come to realize that the USA is by far the best place in the world. Including Canada, where I used to visit often for Drexel and Amoco. Where you can smoke dope and wait six months for a Doctor’s appointment.

Bush is trying to protect the country from anarchistic madmen and if he wiretaps American citizens who are talking to Al Qaeda, good for him!

Read my latest blog on Kos and also the one where the Washington Post actually admits that Murtha and Pelosi and Dean are seriously damaging the Democrats with their nutty let’s cut-and-run right now or as soon as possible.

Or read something besides the weird crap on the far left that keeps the Ahabs chasing the Great White Whale!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Newsweek Online interviews Kos

Newsweek online has an interview with left-wing blogger "Kos" who demonstrates some political perspicacity, but basically shows why Howard Dean/Nancy Pelosi wing of the Dem keeps dropping the ball. They and Kos are too angry, too Ahab-like to overcome their own strong hatreds and obsessions.

Kos on McCain:

He’s hated by the GOP. They consider him a traitor on any number of issues. He fought the White House on the torture issue. He’s like the Joe Lieberman of their party. We [Democrats] hate Lieberman. Lieberman is going to get a primary challenger for his Senate seat next year if me and a lot of grass-roots groups have our way.

The shrinks call it projecting when a nutcase like Kos thinks the Republicans hate as much as the “passionate” wing of the Dems, read Pelosi/Boxer/Feinstein/Dean/Reid are ruled by unbridled blinding emotions that destroy their brainpower.

Kos doesn’t get it on Iraq either:
The problem is that part of the Democratic caucus thinks it’s manly and tough to be for the war. They are afraid to basically state what the reality on the ground is.

Which says that part of the Democratic caucus is smart enough to understand that the “reality on the ground” isn’t as bad as the ultra-left MSM says it is.

The Democratic caucus should have rallied behind Murtha. That was all the cover they needed to come out on this issue. But they were sill weak.

Read why Bush’s polls have rebounded and even the WaPo admits it is because Murtha/Pelosi/Dean on Iraq were a flash in the pan. The public doesn’t buy defeatism.

Kos on Clinton:

She has every position. John Kerry had the same problem. Voters look at that and say she’s taking every position, so in other words, she stands for nothing—that’s why “Netroots” don’t like Hillary.

Can you define Netroots for us?

Netroots are the crazy political junkies that hang out in blogs. They’re people who use technology to participate in politics. They do a lot offline, but they do their organizing online. The issue of whether you’re liberal or conservative is not relevant to us. The issue is: Are you proud to be a Democrat? Are you partisan? Will you take the fight to the enemy? Will you roll over when the Republicans say boo?

Yes, Kos represents the crazy angry left that Newsweek online represents----Jonathan Alter and Eleanor Clift and probably Susanna Schrobsdorff, who asked the questions of Kos.

Unless the majority of country goes collectively mad, a la Russia in 1917 or Germany in 1933, we won’t see a ultra-left Dem in 2008, although Kos is placing his bet on Mark Warner who is centrist enough to actually have a chance. As is Hillary Clinton, even though evidently she is too flexible for the nutcase left Kos speaks to on a daily basis.



It’s always good for perspective to read about times just before a catastrophe. Right now, I’m going through a richly-illustrated well-written coffee table book called The Edwardians, the era from 1901 roughly to the First World War named after Britain’s King Edward VII.

The book is authored by J.B. Priestley, a British Labour Party stalwart during and after World War II who was a literate leftist not wholly taken with politics as a life or death obsession.

His chapter on the British press is illuminating as to how popular taste has evolved and perhaps devolved since the turn of the Twentieth Century. Back in the 1890’s an enterprising fellow named Alfred Harmsworth brought out a morning paper called the Daily Mail for a half-penny. This was the birth of English popular journalism and precipitated a deluge of competitors, one of which, the half-penny Daily Mirror, was also started up by Harmsworth, by this time Lord Northcliffe, in 1903. The Mirror was an illustrated version of the Daily Mail, which in turn was a popularized version of the London Times, which in that period was the newspaper of record, much like the NYT recently was. Like Rupert Murdoch, Harmsworth bought The Times to give his operation a touch of class.

Priestley blames Northcliffe and his American contemporaries Hearst and Bennet for creating news that the mass media employed to inflame the public imagination. This in itself would be neutral and not necessarily harmful, but the political class and their attendant public opinion experts began, according to Priestley, to believe the press actually represented in some way the voice of the people.

Or rather, that the politicos could influence the press lords like Northcliffe to sway public opinion one way or another.

There was a big problem. Lord Northcliffe was a notorious flibbertygibbet, changing his mind so often that the hilarious Lloyd George described a conversation with Northcliffe “like taking a walk with a grasshopper.”

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Flash forward to about ten days ago when Charlie Rose had an interview with Pinch Sulzberger, NYT czar and a scatterbrained populist. Pinch should stick to riding his Harleys and stay away from trying to run a serious newspaper.

And anyone listening to Ted Turner for more than ten minutes must wonder how in the world this nitwit ever stumbled into success. Bill Richardson told me once that Ted Turner got so excited in Richardson’s Congressional Office that the Georgian fell to the floor and began to gator vigorously to make his point. Maybe Bill was pulling my leg, but somehow the image of Turner gatoring is not outlandish.

Nor is reading the NYT’s latest illegal leaks and watching CNN gyrate and purvey happy horseshit to the hip-hop generation very uplifting and edifying.

Priestley’s jeremiad about the Edwardian press could be written today; but for adjectival assurance, 100 years of entropy, backsliding and degeneration would need to be added to the mix.

Oh yeah, and a total disregard for national security and the safety of American citizens.

When I lived in France, French politicos could not understand Watergate and how the Washington Post kept attacking Nixon with almost no retribution.

The French assured me that when the Canard Enchaine had caught President Pompidou's cabinet using a table d'ecoutes, the government threatened to raise the price of newsprint.

Voila, in the tradition of French cowardice, the press folded.

The British Official Secrets Act would have a nitwit like Pinch Sulzberger behind bars if he'd done his leaking in the UK, or so I am told by a knowledgeable British friend.

Let's hope the DOJ can come up with the leaker[s] in the NSA and CIA who are endangering our national security just to settle scores with Porter Goss or the new NSA chief.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Playing the Laura Card on Bush

Jim VanderHei co-wrote an interesting
WaPo article
on how a combination of humility and the Democrat’s Murtha-blurt changed the arc of plummeting Bush poll numbers from the mid-30% range back to around 50%.

As did a blog of mine yesterday, VanderHei gives much of the credit for Bush’s turnaround to the ultra-left leadership of the Democratic Party:
Better yet, from the White House perspective, Democrats helped frame the choice when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) endorsed Murtha's withdrawal plan and party Chairman Howard Dean declared it impossible to win in Iraq. "For most of the year we were debating events," the senior official said. "Now we're debating Democrats."
The president received the results he wanted. His approval ratings rose eight percentage points in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, to 47 percent. [50% in a Rasmussen poll]

The Post article continues that after the Dems switched the narrative:
The White House employed every bully pulpit the president has -- speeches to military, diplomatic and political audiences; interviews with key television anchors; Cheney's surprise trip to Iraq; private briefings for congressional centrists; a prime-time Oval Office address on Dec. 18 that reached 37 million people; and an East Room news conference.

The stubborn, many say pig-headed and worse, President also finally began to admit past errors:
The humility theme was woven into speeches, often in the first two minutes to keep viewers from turning away. Aides had noticed that anger at Bush after Hurricane Katrina subsided somewhat after he took responsibility for the response. The idea, one senior official said, was like fighting with a spouse: "You need to give voice to their concern. That doesn't necessarily solve the division and the difference, but it drains the disagreement of some of its animosity if you feel you've been heard."

Fighting between GWB and the First Lady might not be frequent, but the domestic argument finally may have swayed this homebody, in-bed-by-10PM Moonchild. George W. may be a bit thick and accustomed to habit, but his close advisors employed his homeboy domesticity to persuade him to come clean on occasionally goofing up.

Clinton for Secretary General?

This blog wanders a bit, but it concerns Bill, not Hillary, Clinton.
TNR has an
on the plans of the African Union and the Arab League to hold their respective annual meetings in Khartoum, which is a genocidal-monster rogue state. Darfur has simply faded from the front pages of the international press, which is much more concerned by President G.W. Bush defending American National Security in Iraq and by wiretaps.

But I just finished reading Michael J. Totten's piece in the LA Weekly In the Land of the Brother Leader about Muammer Qaddafi’s Libya after thirty-five years of Islamic Socialism. The bleak soulless landscape Totten describes in Libya only has mosques to provide the slightest relief from choking boredom and police-state oppression

And then my experiences traveling in some twenty Arab countries flooded back into memory and I saw the logic of the TNR piece that must confound readers who grew up in the magnificent terrarium of Western Civilization.

To a great extent, the Africans and Arabs feel at home in Khartoum. They are obviously, especially the venal Africans, being handsomely indemnified to hold the AU congress in Sudan. And the AU is a collection of states with a majority of tribal plutocracies.

For every insane socialist tribal kleptocrat like Qaddafi in the Arab League, there is an insane socialist tribal kleptocrat like Mugabe in the AU.

Most African and Arab leaders are not as corrupt as the two above, but are not at all uncomfortable cutting deals with a country systematically murdering a rebellious minority of its citizens. Happens in a lot of their own countries.

And after all, China and France are both business partners with the Sudan, so how could there be any problem?

The US certainly is powerless to affect world events while a shrill minority of left-wing politicians aided and abetted by a highly-partisan left-wing press harasses the Republican majority and appears to be consciously trying to diminish America’s power to defend itself. So forget about American intervention.

The United Nations has become such a bad joke that Harper’s Magazine has a piece advocating Bill Clinton as the next Secretary General, to replace the corrupt incompetent management now ruining the organization’s reputation.

I searched for, but couldn't find the link. I would support Clinton as the best SG this weird world could muster to stem the tide of international anarchy threatening the West.

To wit:

Russia is busy Putinizing the country’s political and NGO systems as the short Stalin-in-waiting threatens Ukraine with a five-fold hike in natural gas prices. Does the gullible West actually believe that Putin, who declared the dissolution of the Soviet Union one of the “greatest tragedies of the twentieth century,” does NOT want to crush Ukrainian independence in a bear hug of Russian nationalism?

And what about a recent survey in Russia that had 37% of respondents favoring Stalin in a history of Russian heroes?

China has eyes on Taiwan, and how long with the US Navy continue its guarantee of Taiwanese independence?

And when China’s paramount status in East Asia becomes overwhelming, what will Japan do after Koizumi eventually retires from the stage and a new generation of Japanese politicos reassess the US-Japan relationship? What about South Korea?

And will India maintain its autonomous status or chase after another showdown with the Paks? Not to mention Iran, which probably had help from Pak entrepreneur A.Q. Khan in furthering its nuclear ambitions?

All this maundering boils down to the fact that the Arab League and the AU, for all the publicity celebrities like Bono and the Gateses can engender, are valuable only as resource bases.

We in the terrarium of Western Civ should worry about countries like India, China, Russia who have cultural capabilities to generate economic and military geopolitical rivalry with the West. Clinton, as an internationalist, is aware of this.

Backwaters like the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are on the periphery of our true concern, which is to maintain the prosperity and freedoms our ancestors worked and fought hard to achieve.

Bill Clinton has enough perspective to realize all this cognitive dissonance and at the same time to maintain America's paramount role in world affairs.


The Democrats and their clueless MSM allies simply employ stupid strategies out of force of habit. They are addicts to past misbehaviors and they just can’t help themselves! Bush's rise back to the fifty-percent approval level, depending on which polls you read, can be traced directly to Dem miscalculations.

Slate's Mickey Kaus, always seismically sensitive to Dem political clumsiness, points out that Old Soldier John Murtha’s righteous anger overpowered his few political brain cells still surviving and his Irish temper prompted him to call for a quick withdrawal from Iraq. Nancy Pelosi, always angry and showing her passionate pain, soon volunteered to second his emotion.

Kaus and other observers believe that, inadvertantly, Murtha let Bush off the ropes where the MSM had him taking belly punches for getting the US into the war via claims that Saddam possessed WMD. Murtha and Pelosi diverted the narrative just at the point when Bush had almost thrown in the towel on WMD.

The National Review pundit John Podhoretz, whatever else you may think of this second-generation neo-con, astutely pointed out soon afterwards on Dec 1st in the NY Post that John Murtha had committed a blunder and done Bush a favor :
GOD bless Jack Murtha. Yesterday we saw how this old patriot, ex-Marine and current Democratic congressman once again came to the aid of his country as he did 40 years ago in Vietnam. Thanks to Jack, President Bush — in a speech at the Naval Academy yesterday morning — spent 40 minutes explaining to the American people that our goal in Iraq is nothing less than "unconditional victory" against the forces of reaction, rejection and Islamic fascism.

J. Po went on to say that Bush was able to change the subject from the how to prove a negative [I did not know Saddam did not have…….] gotcha game the MSM just loves to employ on GWB back to the real world of how we achieve a goal. That is a playing field where the single-minded Bush knows how to play the game.

When you switch the MSM over to the real world and its future, their agitprop hustles over what did he know and when did he know it just don’t work.

Charlie Cook spells this out in his latest e-mail, quoted by Kaus:

While few, if any, would question the right of Rep. John Murtha ... to call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or say he was acting for reasons of political expediency rather than principle, in retrospect, his move might have been strategically helpful to the president.

Prior to Murtha's well-publicized speech advocating an early withdrawal, the spotlight had been on the Bush administration's use of intelligence that led to the decision to go to war, with some questioning whether the administration either lied, fabricated or exaggerated evidence used to justify the United States' action.

Murtha's speech changed the debate, away from whether we should have invaded Iraq and whether the use of intelligence to make that decision was flawed toward the more problematic issue of "what do we do now?"

TNR points out that Steny Hoyer was quick to spot the strategic advantage that the Murtha-blurt provided the Republicans. However, brain-death victim Nancy Pelosi and her tiny pal, Dennis the Menace Kucinich, were their usual mindless selves and marched cliffward along with their lemming-left comrades.

Hillary and even the weathervanes Kerry and Biden are much smarter than the House Dummy Leader and her hysteric histrionic passionate partners in political suicide, or at least permanent minority status.

The Senate has some smart Dems, but the House is led by a group of very confused politicos---Hoyer and a few others excepted.

A comment to the article Hoyer vs. Pelosi in TNR puts it thusly:
When you say that Nancy Pelosi is not a good public speaker because of a propensity for malapropisms, that is a whopping understatement. She is an angry clown. [She is] the very image that Don Rickles' on stage persona projects. The reason that most of us even bother to listen to her pronouncements is the hope that she will say something foolish or ridiculous so that we can all continue to disregard the position of the extreme left that she represents.

Another followup to the TNR piece:

Frankly as a Traditionalist, I hope the Democratic party follows Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean right off the cliff over which they are leading them.
Then, after the inevitable disaster, the far left wing of the party will be entirely discredited and the Democratic party will perhaps reconstitute itself in the tradition of JFK, Harry Truman, and FDR.
If this doesn't happen, the Democrats will go the way of the Whigs. The current leadership is so far left, it doesn't even realize that it is.
-RobertC Beverly Hills, CA

It seems even parts of the Left Coast have had enough!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Five Justices make a winning hand.

Jeffrey Hart has a penetrating philosophical overview of Conservatism in the Tuesday WSJ that even Matthew Yglesias in the American Prospect makes positive observations about. I consider myself an independent-conservative, with some personal divagations leftward when it comes to capital punishment and social safety nets. However, I must also agree with Hart when he chastises the Republican Party for being captured by "Hard Wilsonianism," [read neo-conservatism]. Hart correctly observes that this is:
no more plausible than the original Soft Wilsonianism, which balkanized Central Europe with dire consequences. No one has ever thought Wilsonianism to be conservative, ignoring as it does the intractability of culture and people's high valuation of a modus vivendi. Wilsonianism derives from Locke and Rousseau in their belief in the fundamental goodness of mankind and hence in a convergence of interests.
George W. Bush has firmly situated himself in this tradition, as in his 2003 pronouncement, "The human heart desires the same good things everywhere on earth." Welcome to Iraq. Whereas realism counsels great prudence in complex cultural situations, Wilsonianism rushes optimistically ahead. Not every country is Denmark. The fighting in Iraq has gone on for more than two years, and the ultimate result of "democratization" in that fractured nation remains very much in doubt, as does the long-range influence of the Iraq invasion on conditions in the Middle East as a whole. In general, Wilsonianism is a snare and a delusion as a guide to policy, and far from conservative.

Hart goes on to note that
Conservatives assume that the Republican Party is by and large conservative. But this party has stood for many and various things in its history. The most recent change occurred in 1964, when its center of gravity shifted to the South and the Sunbelt, now the solid base of "Republicanism." The consequences of that profound shift are evident, especially with respect to prudence, education, intellect and high culture. It is an example of Machiavelli's observation that institutions can retain the same outward name and aspect while transforming their substance entirely.

Andrew Sullivan damns the Sunbelt/Southward shift with faint praise:
The alliance between conservatism, as it was once understood, and the historically Democratic American South is, in my view, a brilliant maneuver for gaining political power, but something that has mortally wounded the tradition of limited government, individual rights, balanced budgets, political prudence and religious moderation that were once hallmarks of conservatism.

But Sullivan, Hart and Jonah Goldberg as well as the other commentators I have read miss the massive shift in the ‘80s by Reagan Democrats [read socially conservative often Irish-heritage Roman Catholics] to the Republican Party.
Hart could have insightfully mentioned the Catholic influence when he says:
What the time calls for is a recovery of the great structure of metaphysics, with the Resurrection as its fulcrum, established as history, and interpreted through Greek philosophy. The representation of this metaphysics through language and ritual took 10 centuries to perfect. The dome of the sacred, however, has been shattered. The act of reconstruction will require a large effort of intellect, which is never populist and certainly not grounded on emotion, an unreliable guide. Religion not based on a structure of thought always exhibits wild inspired swings and fades in a generation or two.

The rugged Catholic brand of natural law conservatism has produced four Supreme Court Justices who value the natural structures of human nature and the human condition underpinning the law. If Samuel Alito is elevated to the SCOTUS, that will make a majority of Justices with a structure of thought which resists Hart's apt description of what he might have called another "Great Awakening" that inspires "wild inspired swings and fades in a generation or two."

Spielberg and "Munich"

As far as I am concerned, the Black September operation in Munich at the 1972 Olympic Games remains the nadir of the peak-and-trough Dance of Death between Israel and the Palestinians since 1948.

Now that the terrorist Arafat lies in his grave, there is some hope that somehow a two-state solution as envisaged by President Bush and supported by both Prime Minister Sharon and PM Abbas can eventually occur.

I say "some" because Hamas is a religious-based group given to terrorist actions which has ambitions to become a legitimate political party in the Palestinian elections this January.

Hamas may be the iron bar in the house-of-cards diplomacy between Israel and the PA [or PNA if you insist]. But I digress. Suffice it to say that, barring a miracle, the unhappy relationship between Israel and the Palestinians will not dramatically improve anytime soon.

So it's a safe bet that the movie by Spielberg about the murder of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes and the savage retribution by Mossad against alleged Palestinian terrorists behind the crime cannot dramatically improve or diminish the emotional biases surrounding the Arab/Israeli struggle.

Of course, just as terrorism ALWAYS has innocent victims, counter-terrorism OFTEN has innocent bystanders, or in the case of the hapless Moroccan waiter "accidently" murdered in Lillehammer, Norway, an extremely unlucky resemblance to one of the Palestinian ringleaders of the Munich murder rampage.

And Mossad was implicated in the murder of this innocent look-alike.

I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t comment on Spielberg’s rendition of the entire nasty affair.

I am just happy that the Israeli raid on Osirak in 1981 was completely successful, since Saddam Hussein’s erratic and murderous behavior WITHOUT the nuclear bomb would have been dozens of times more murderous had this megalomaniac monster gone nuclear.

Thank God A.Q. Khan was unable to peddle his nuclear secrets back in ’81. We can bet that Iran has those secrets and would love to achieve what Saddam never could, a nuclear capability.

About the best I can do is pray that a just and lasting peace may someday break out between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the land holy to three world religions.


Newsweek Rats Out Chirac

Jacques Chirac, formerly an admirer of Saddam Hussein, [who still admires Chirac according to recent quotes from his bully pulpit in his Baghdad courtroom], was very businesslike in his dealings with Da Vinci Code director Ron Howard, according to an Newsweek report picked up by Drudgereport.

The French president, never known to be obsessively scrupulous concerning his reputation for integrity,

suggested they cast his daughter's best friend in the leading female role, Newsweek magazine said. "We thought it was going to be a five-minute thing, like a trip to the Oval Office -- a photo and a handshake," said producer Brian Grazer of the hour-long meeting he and director Ron Howard had at Chirac's office in December 2004.

Chirac’s reputation as a fixer/problem-solver was brought up in the conversation:

Newsweek said Chirac offered to smooth out any problem they might encounter in their request to film some scenes at the Louvre -- where The Da Vinci Code's murder-and-religion mystery begins and ends.

Chirac also mentioned his skills at casting and had some particular ideas about the film.
In addition, said Grazer, Chirac suggested his daughter's best friend -- whom Newsweek describes as "an actress of some acclaim in France" -- for the film's leading female role, which in the end fell to Audrey Tautou.

Chirac demonstrated an aptitude for being an agent.
Chirac also "wondered aloud, half seriously, if they could sweeten the paycheck for actor Jean Reno," Newsweek said. Reno plays the detective assigned to the case.

Finally, Chirac showed his highly-nuanced and subtle sense of humor to the amused producer and director.
"That was hilarious," said Howard of the request on Wednesday. "Fortunately the deal was already closed."

The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchain? gave the story the headline "Chirac: "Veni, vidi, da Vinci…" while noting in disappointed tones that Newsweek had not offered more clues [about the identity of the actress Chirac recommended].

The oleaginous Chef d’Etat might be ideally suited for an afterlife post-Elysee Palace metier as a Hollywood producer, given how highly he is admired in Tinseltown for his adept skating-at-the-edge UN performance when his catamite/protege Dominique de Villepin reneged on a promise to Colin Powell to support the US resolution on use of force in Iraq.

Also, rumors of Chirac's prodigious venality would make being a big-time Exec in a Hollywood front office a perfect career fit.

Tom Wolfe and John Derbyshire

The Kalends of Saturnalia bring thoughts of weight-loss after binging on succulent holiday edibles of many varieties, especially the Greek pastries and meat dishes my wife provides in astounding profusion.

But now too is time to muse a bit on more permanent things, as one year glides into another, and no single writer excels the National Review's
John Derbyshire
on bringing perspective into the squalid materialism that is the signature of this decade.

I happened on a National Review piece on Tom Wolfe's disturbing novel I am Charlotte Simmons wherein the heroine, in JD's words:
an innocent young girl from back country North Carolina who wins a place at an elite university, where she — or at any rate, her innocence — is destroyed as swiftly, coldly and thoroughly as a kitten that has wandered on to a busy six-lane expressway. In the last chapter of the novel, titled “The Ghost in the Machine,” we see a Charlotte who has finally lost touch with her soul, thereby becoming a well-integrated member of the elite culture. She loves Big Brother... who in this particular story is a dimwitted college athlete.

This will not be a review of Wolfe’s book (which, however, I enjoyed, and recommend to readers with strong stomachs for cold-eyed observations of modern depravity). It is only that the fate of poor Charlotte

reflects, as JD goes on, something modern that now is becoming a pervasive fact. JD's
paraphrases Tom Wolfe further:
Studies of the social behavior of animals by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, whom Wolfe refers to "Darwin II" [are paramount in his book]. The fictional university Charlotte attends is, amongst other things, a place where dominant males — fraternity bluebloods and star athletes — browse freely on the sexual favors of nubile females, as in a chimp colony. [Wolfe also stresses]Neuroscience. Charlotte Simmons herself takes a course in this subject, giving Wolfe the excuse to insert slabs of it into his novel. Our understanding of brain function has gone much further than most nonscientific people realize. Nowhere in that understanding is there any trace of a notion of the conscious self. According to Wolfe, practically no working neuroscientist believes that such a thing exists. The “I” that is the first word of Wolfe’s title may, science tells us, be an illusion; and the fate of his heroine suggests that this is indeed so.

JD says that at first glance, the new science may paradoxically support traditional conservative values:
Genes for human intelligence? “Sure, we have several nailed down, and more are showing up all the time. See here... and here...”

I have been interested in these aspects of the human sciences, in a dilettantish way — a Tom Wolfish way — for twelve or fifteen years. At first I welcomed these new understandings in biology, neuroscience, and genetics. They seemed to me to reinforce the conservative view of human nature, and refute the liberal view. Yes, men and women are fundamentally and immutably different. Yes, human races exist, and differ in ways other than the physically obvious. No, the human personality is not infinitely malleable, cannot be molded to perfection by social engineers shuffling environmental variables around. Yes, religious belief is a source of health and strength, both personal and social. (From the point of view of Mother Nature, sub specie Darwini if you like, success is reproduction; and the only really philoprogenitive groups of humans are the religious ones.)

However, the new discoveries have implications far beyond cultural and politics. The deeper abysses reveal a profound nothingness that resonates to something profoundly moral and beyond that:

Lately, however, and particularly after reading I am Charlotte Simmons, I have begun to worry about the darker side of these discoveries — about their dehumanizing, deconstructing effects. The neuroscience is especially troubling. The vulgar metaphysics we all carry round with us includes the vague idea of a self, an “I,” imagined as a little homunculus crouched inside our heads an inch or so behind the eyes, observing and directing all that goes on in our lives. It seems probable that this is as false as the medieval notion of the sky being a crystal sphere. Yet if the self is indeed an illusion, then what is to prevent that dissolution of all values foreseen by Nietzsche? In Charlotte Simmons’s world, a world without the self, what is virtue? What is wisdom? What is responsibility?

What, indeed, is beyond human values? Are we trapped in Sartre's Huit Clos?

Here, in a largish area of life and jurisprudence, the self has yielded to the organism, morality to biology. And this is the way the tide is running, fast and strong, in channels carved by science. Wolfe: "We now live in an age in which science is a court from which there is no appeal."

The end of his bleak prognosis may be a case of the wish being father to the thought, but here is his
elegant plea
on our need for a new metaphysic:

We Americans are heading into a "crisis of foundations" of our own right now. Our judicial elites, with politicians and pundits close behind, are already at work deconstructing our most fundamental institutions — marriage, the family, religion, equality under law. The human sciences are showing human nature in a strange new light. Yet perhaps all this will matter as little in the daily lives of Americans a few decades from now as Russell’s paradox and G?del’s theorem matter to working mathematicians. Perhaps we shall come to our senses and stop trying to analyze and deconstruct our humanity down to the bitter end. Perhaps we shall realize that in order to get on properly with life, as with mathematics, a great many things just need to be taken for granted. What will our new metaphysic be? Perhaps the one that sustained Bertrand Russell’s grandmother: “What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind.”

Or, in the words of George Santayana, a greater philosopher than Grandma Russell's grandson: "There is no God, and Mary is His Mother."

Teddy fooled again!

I hope you enjoy this James Taranto piece about the obese bloviating alcoholic symbol of all that is stupid, foolish, and wrong about the Dem Party. I'm talking about the senior Senator from Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy, who's often wrong, but never in doubt.

It's Mao or Never

"The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for 'The Little Red Book' by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story," reports the Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass.:

The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.

Among those who fell for the story, as we noted Friday, was Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who cited it in a Boston Globe op-ed piece (though he claimed the book in question was "the official Chinese version of Mao Tse-tung's Communist Manifesto"). According to a Globe news story on the hoax, the Globe interviewed the shifty student--whose request for anonymity both papers have respected even though he lied to them--"but decided not to write a story about his assertion, because of doubts about its veracity."

Kennedy, meanwhile, apologized for slandering America's dedicated law-enforcement agents by portraying them as totalitarian thugs.

Ha ha, we fooled you! Here's the actual Kennedy response as reported by the Globe:

Laura Capps, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said last night that the senator cited ''public reports" in his opinion piece. Even if the assertion was a hoax, she said, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance.

This puts is in mind of a 1953 quote from science-fiction author Robert Heinlein:

I found in traveling around the world that a great many people . . ., apparently well educated and sophisticated, were convinced that the people of the United States were in the grip of terror and that free speech and free press no longer existed here. They believed that the United States was fomenting a third world war and would presently start it, with Armageddon consequences for everyone else, and that the government of the United States smashed without mercy anyone who dared to oppose even by oral protests this headlong rush toward disaster.

These people could "prove" their opinions by quoting any number of Americans and American newspapers and magazines. That they were able to quote such American sources proved just the opposite, namely that we do continue to enjoy free speech even to express arrant nonsense and unpopular opinion, escaped them completely.

The University of Massachusetts' Amherst campus is hosting a conference next October on "Rethinking Marxism." Indeed, anyone who has set foot on a college campuses in the past 30 years knows that communist ideas are commonplace, as one might expect in institutions that are sheltered from reality. The Mao yarn was never believable in the slightest for anyone except someone like Ted Kennedy, who is only strengthened in his prejudices when the evidence for them is discredited.


But UMASS Amherst will make sure a whole new crop of young fools is being nurtured by the elite academics who have never had a real job in their life---just like Karl Marx, who lived off his prosperous in-laws except for ONE JOB---a reporter for the now defunct New York Herald Tribune as its London correspondent. Dontcha think the NYT would hire old Karl M. in a nanosecond if he were still around!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


The relentless editorial campaign the Washington Post appears to be waging against attempts to portray progress in Iraq hit a speed-bump as a Post reporter who had refused an embed assignment is now being challenged by bloggers because he wrote that embeds are encouraged to write propaganda for successful American operations and programs in Iraq.

The MSM dinosaur Post’s reporting has been frequently bested by Iraqi bloggers in the savvy Pajamas Media and by brave US embeds serving in hot-spots like Anbar Province. Meanwhile Post shirkers cower in the Green Zone e-mailing rumors and second-hand picked-over tidbits often deriving from Iraqi and Al-Qa'ida disinformation.

The latest Post disinformation
was written by Jonathan Finer, who is described as a member of "the Washington Post Foreign Service."

Often enough, this means he is a Post emissary who embeds himself in the Green Zone getting news from often questionable Arab sources. I just wonder just how fluent is Finer’s Arabic, since most of the first-hand Arab news consists of subtle indirection and often inflections in dialect from the finely-nuanced Arabic language.

When Finer did contact blogger Roggio, the embed accused of enthusiasm for some military operations and for actually working for money, it was by e-mail once, since Finer would hardly risk his WaPo butt outside heavily fortified areas. [This was true when I was in Vietnam, when the tradition began of TV and print reporters hanging around Saigon hotel bars swapping rumors that often generated interesting if hardly accurate copy.]

Finer’s commissioned hit-piece tries to foist two untruths on the WaPo reading public, most of whom are already predisposed to believe the worst when it comes to Iraq, or anything about America, for that matter.

The first is that bloggers do it for the money [as if scribblers like Finer do it solely for Peace Corps type idealism].

The second is that bloggers are gulled into putting out positive stories by military when they are shown successful projects or accompany successful operations. The subtext of all these WaPo and NYT hit-pieces against bloggers and embeds is that they are somehow being suborned by clever military public affairs officers or getting along to go along by being compliant or giving our side the benefit of the doubt in often murky and turbulent situations.

The Finer article is more than just a repeat in a long line of WaPo disinformation against the embeds who routinely write better and more accurately than the [with a couple of notable exceptions] WaPo Foreign Service reporters in-country.

There is a more immediate reason. You can bet the real motive for commissioning this misleading WaPo piece derives from the fact that the MSM’s search for another Tet was recently thwarted by bloggers like Roggio, whom in this case the Post tries to discredit and take down by inaccurate and misleading personal attacks.

Remember that although Tet was an overwhelming American military victory, the American media managed to turn it into a psychological defeat. The Butternut WaPo and NYT in-country corps is looking for another Tet, a Dienbienphu, any sort of American reverse they can parlay into a victory for defeatism. Their campaign to Frenchify the American military until they are as feminized as Canadians looks for that “tipping point” they can tag as a US defeat in the field.

But not this time. As Finer’s piece loiters aimlessly toward a conclusion, Finer lets the cat out of the bag:

When news organizations began reporting about the insurgent activity in Ramadi on Dec. 1, Roggio posted "The Ramadi Debacle: The Media Bites on Al Qaeda Propaganda."
"The reported 'mini-Tet offensive' in Ramadi has turned out to be less than accurate," he wrote, citing information provided by Pool. "In fact, it has been anything but."

On Dec. 15, when Iraqis voted in nationwide elections, Roggio reported from Barwana, a Western town where turnout was far heavier than in Iraq's constitutional referendum held Oct. 15.

"Barwana, once part of Zarqawi self declared 'Islamic Republic of Iraq,' " he wrote, "is now the scene of al-Qaeda's greatest nightmare: Muslims exercising their constitutional right to chose their destiny."

The Washington Post lost a major cred point in its disinfo war inside Iraq while paradoxically it continues to triumph on the Beltway battleground where its tag-team WWF combo with the NYT has Rove and DeLay on the ropes.

As a result of losing cred in their Ramadi/Tet scam, Post editors sicced attack puppy Finer on Roggio and other bloggers.

These unfortunate truth-tellers were obstacles in the Post Iraqi in-country defeatist agenda and were targetted by a spurious blogging-for-money disinformation piece.

Of course, the Chardonnay set will swallow it, but the Post had better get bigger and better dogs out there in the field who are not too timorous to venture out of the Green Zone and file real honest copy.

Or else the embeds will continue to clean their clocks ten times out of ten..

Perhaps the Post should send a self-described "traveler" like Robert Kaplan who can write honest narratives like Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground by actually embedding themselves as fellow-travelers and not some high-hat "journalist" looking down his nose at facts that do not please the newsroom and Len Downie.

Maybe The Washington Post Foreign Service will describe occasional US successes, just for a change.


A forthcoming article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics is called A Measure of Media Bias and is available in pdf format.

I had extensively quoted the UCLA News article on December 14th which announced the upcoming piece and my technically-challenged inability to excerpt from pdf means that I must refer you to Strange Fictions and to Abelard for some direct quotes from the 62-page pdf document such as:

contrary to the prediction of the typical firm-location model, we find a a systematic liberal bias of the U.S. media. This is echoed by three other studies— Hamilton [2004], Lott and Hassett [2004], and Sutter [2004], the only empirical studies of media bias by economists of which we are aware.

No surprise there

All of the news outlets except Fox News’ Special Report and the Washington Times received a score to the left of the average member of Congress. And a few outlets, including the New York Times and CBS Evening News, were closer to the average Democrat in Congress than the center. These findings refer strictly to the news stories of the outlets. That is, we omitted editorials, book reviews, and letters to the editor from our sample.

So basically 18 of the 20 media outlets are left of the average Congressperson and the NYT and CBS are virtually Democratic institutions for all practical purposes.

Suffice it to say that the study took three years to compile the glaringly obvious fact [to a disinterested observer] that the privately-owned American media leans to the left at about an ADA rating of 62.8 percent. For those lucky enough to have escaped living inside the Beltway-Boston Corridor and the Left Coast, this revelation concerning the distortion of political reality on TV and in the elite national news outlets is hardly surprising.

The QJE text notes that six percent [6%] of Washington correspondents voted for Bush in 1992, as opposed to 12% in the ninth CD in Berkeley, California and 19% in the sixth CD in Cambridge, MA. Around ninety percent [90%] voted for Clinton and two percent for Perot.

In 2004, the NYT found that only eight percent of all Washington correspondents thought that Bush would make a better President than Kerry, versus fifty-one percent of American voters.

For every Washington reporter that contributed to Bush’s campaign, NINETY-THREE gave to the Kerry campaign.

Some of the Quarterly article’s quotes are genuinely [as well as unintentionally] hilarious. One has to read Howell Raines flatulent tribute to his own objectivity to realize the scope of his catastrophic failure as NYT Chief Editor.

Paul Krugman is a failed analyst of the media as well as a bust as an economist.

Al Franken is a humorist, and he is unintentionally funny in touting how hard the elite outlets of the electronic and print media attempt to be fair.

But the pointed hat and the chair in the corner of the classroom belong to perennial political hack, and darling of the Volvo/brie/chardonnay set, Bill Moyers. Bill, whose recent arrest in Vermont for driving while intoxicated was covered up by the MSM, lost his swizzle stick in his triple martini when he said the MSM was interested only in the bottom line while the "right-wing press" followed an "ideological agenda."

Yes, Bill. Another mimosa or three for the road and too bad about getting the bum’s rush out of PBS. [Or maybe Bill's "bubble" is inside a champagne flute?]

BTW, new left-wing PBS NOW host FNU Brancaccio is zestfully carrying on Bill's slanted tradition para sinistra, already getting reprimanded publicly by PBS Ombudsman William Getler last week for willfully neglecting to cite information that might have balanced a skewed report on NO and Katrina. Go after that Order of Lenin, Brancaccio!

Surprisingly, aberrations like NOW to the contrary, overall the public PBS and NPR are rated less liberal than the private media, although not by much [61%].

The biggest surprise is that the most liberal of all media outlets is theWSJ, with CBS Evening News, the NYT and LAT all close behind at 2,3,4.

Although as mentioned above, the only two out of the twenty major outlets who scored right of center were Fox News Brit Hume and the Washington Times, Brit Hume's TV news was almost dead-center near the ADA 50 yard line.

Another surprise, the Drudgereport scores left of center, probably because many of the stories it links are to dogma-laden leftist chronicles like the NYT, LAT, and WaPo.

As mentioned above, the study will appear soon in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

The University of Missouri was a major participant in the study, led by UCLA, and elaborate precautions---including funding safeguards---were taken to ensure an objective overview.

A Cup of Austrian Kaffee Mit Schlag

The NYT just bought, or rather hijacked, the International Herald Tribune away from joint editorial control with the Washington Post. Ken Auletta in his recent New Yorker piece on Pinch Sulzberger mentions the underhanded business ethics the NYT employed in this corporate filching of a venerated journalistic institution.

Already, the NYT's unctuous editorial content appears to be seeping into "straight" news stories in the IHT, as the characteristically oily/querulous nanny ethos of the NYT smudges a poorly put-together piece on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s refusal of clemency to Crips gang-founder and multiple murderer Tookie Williams.

Clumsily entitled Schwartzenegger Backlash in Austria, the piece gives a long and tendentious narrative on how the Good Burghers of Graz decided to change the name of their Sports Palace named after Arnold in 1997.

But it wouldn’t be a New York Times piece if it weren’t inherently dishonest, burying the fact about a dozen paragraphs into the overly long story the uncomfortable fact that about seventy percent [70%] of the Good Burghers of Graz were AGAINST the move to punish Arnold Schwartzenegger and AGAINST changing the stadium’s name!! Also, if you read far enough, the mayor was against it too!

It turns out that a leftist coalition managed to conjure up a majority on the City Council to score a political point and embarrass this city with a sort of Leftist Putsch against Arnold. But you practically have to be a cryptographer to wrench the lede of the story out of the florid orchidaceous flimflammery surrounding the gist of the entire puff-piece.

Let’s have a plebiscite and see what the city of Graz really wants!

Far Left Bush-bashing in the Boston Globe

Esteemed Republican President Abraham Lincoln is employed by hard-left extremist writer Robert Kuttner not as an example of greatness, but in the undignified role as a foil to President George W. Bush.

Cheap shots at Bush in the Globe, owned by the Liberal Death Star NYT which is busy printing leaks that may damage national security just in order to damage Bush? Who wouldda thunkit?

When a shill for socialism like Kuttner talks about "stacking the courts with ultra-right-wingers," you can rest assured that Roberts and Alito are moderates. It's difficult to go about "fisking" an agitprop machine like Kuttner because so many of his cliches are simply taken from the most recent chattering of the commentariat, such as "Bush lives in a bubble" and "his tiny inner circle."

"Tiny" might better describe the narrow mindset of the Left Coast/Beltway-Boston axes of disinformation that churn out inaccurate and misleading electronic and print propaganda on behalf of the chronic complainers on the far left.

Even when Clinton was President, this noisy claque never stopped whining about the serial neglect that hard-left issues so justly deserve from elected public officials.

It is not enough that these denizens of media and academic hangouts conspire to injure America’s economic security by a drumbeat of misinformation about ANWR or characterize NSA intercepts as invasions of American civil liberties. Leaks to the NYT on counter terrorist measures are applauded as "patriotic." As leftist lunatic Jonathan Alter puts it in his Newsweek pulpit:
rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.

But of course the looney-tune Alter excoriates leaking the name of a minor CIA functionary as grounds for dismissal of the offending leaker. Uh huh.

Guess where the double standard's favorite employer resides? In the MSM, that's where!

Come to think of it, Kuttner probably plagiarized the idea for his Boston Globe rave from Alter’s last Newsweek rant, where he expostulated that
We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Another thing we are seeing clearly is that with defeatist backbiting Dems trying to thwart the effort in Iraq at every turn, Bush resembles Lincoln in having to watch his back as much and as often as he does overseeing a military campaign.

The Dems may have dropped being the party of Rum and Romanism, but they still harbor elements that make them the party of Rebellion.

Monday, December 26, 2005

NYT Leaks Help Bush?

A couple of respected bloggers make the point that the illegal leaks to the NYT may redound to Bush’s benefit. The general public who notes the general brouhaha will also reflect on the fact that there is no evidence that the wiretaps, which themselves may be constitutional, have been employed for domestic political purposes.

The public will also recall the reason that Bush was elected and re-elected, the strong emphasis that the Republicans and Conservatives put towards national security. The recent defeatist proclamations from Democrats on Iraq will combine with the NSA diligence in thwarting a possible terrorist incident to remind the public, already suspicious of the media, that there is a nasty real world out there that the Dems think can be handled with generous NGOs and the Republicans with strong military and intelligence programs.

Powerline notes that
By breaking and emphasizing the story of Bush's efforts to spy on terrorists, The New York Times and the liberal congressional Democrats have reinforced the [national security] image of Bush just as it was beginning to fade from public consciousness.

Hugh Hewitt makes the security issue paramount:
The New York Times and to a lesser extent the Washington Post have decided that they are the ultimate judges of what will constitute a dangerous breach of national security. The trouble is that both papers, and especially the Times are populated by extreme anti-Bush Ahabs, willing to push all judgment aside for the purpose of trying desperately to harm the president. Indeed, the Times may in fact be helping Bush even as the paper injures the country's national security.) The real world experience of the scribblers with intelligence gathering and operations is quite low, and their ability to judge the seriousness of the breaches they are gleefully writing up and slamming on to the front page about as high as their ability to diagnose disease on the basis of an undergraduate degree in biology.

Hewitt goes on to say:
Hopefully a vigorous investigation is under way into who leaked highly classified material to the Times. If the identity of the criminal can be discovered, the country will get a good look at the motives of the leaker, and the best guess is that those motives will be of the low partisan variety --similar, I suspect, to the motives of many of the reporters and editors involved.

If the Plame leak was such a terrific blow to national security, surely the NSA leaks are even more so.

Or does such reasoning go over the head of the MSM and their apologists?

Steyn vs. Dowd: Perceptive/Clever vs. Formulaic/Predictable

Mark Steyn has a few comments on the Vermontization of the Democratic Party, a "lo-fat" retreat from its former "commanding heights" of leadership to the Dems present Seurat-pointillist impressionism of bike-path poop-scoop gentility. Steyn is the Maureen Dowd of the Right, fresh, clever and perceptive rather than Dowd's descent into her formulaic and predictable Bush-bashing bon-mots. Here Steyn on the slow withering decay of Democratic aspirations:

Vermont may now be America’s leading Canadian province, yet Patrick Leahy is still the only Green Mountain Democrat ever to be elected to the US Senate and only the second Democrat Vermonters have ever sent to Washington.
“the growth of government – the dominant social feature of this century” and “the Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias”. But these old battles don’t seem quite as epic today as they did back in November 1955. To paraphrase Norma Desmond, the government’s still big; it’s the big picture that’s got small. The utopian progressivism of the left is a shriveled parochial thing these days.
Half a century ago, Leahy’s Senate seat was held by George Aiken, a Republican and the soi-disant “wise old owl” famous for advising LBJ on Vietnam, “Declare victory and come home.” Today’s Democratic line on Iraq seems to be: Declare defeat and come home to Vermont. It’s not just that Vermont has been Democratized, but that the Democratic Party has been Vermontified

Mark now takes the most straw-filled hollow-man of all as a punching bag:
[This is] a process encapsulated in Howard Dean’s explanation to CNN as to why he left the church he was raised in and became a Congregationalist:
I had a big fight with a local Episcopal church over the bike path.
He had a “big fight” over a bike path? Apparently so. “I was fighting to have public access to the waterfront, and we were fighting very hard in the citizens’ group," he told Judy Woodruff. Fighting, fighting, fighting – for a bike path. Dean’s church had strayed from the gently undulating and narrow. The road to hell is paved, whereas the shared-use trail to hell has attractive wood chips. And so Dean quit the Burlington Episcopalians and took up with the UCC. In the same week the Governor re-lived his profound doctrinal struggle over the bike path, he’d also professed himself utterly indifferent to the question of whether Osama bin Laden should be tried in a US court or at the Hague. “It doesn’t make a lot of difference to me,” he sighed, stifling his yawns, fighting vainly the old ennui. War? What is it good for? The Dems can’t even stay awake for it.

Steyn has more on the Global Bike Path the Dems would pave toward world unity.
Perhaps all cultures have their Howard Deans. Perhaps there are Governors of Peshawar who storm out of the Sword of the Infidel Slayer mosque over its refusal to declare a jihad on Jew bike trails. But, for all their talk about thinking globally and acting locally, today’s Democrats have a huge problem focusing on the first half of that bumper sticker. In our current existential struggle, the debates on the way forward are between factions of the right: the Bush Doctrine vs “realpolitik”, with “assertive nationalism” coming somewhere in between. Proponents of all three worldviews are Republicans. The Democrats appear not to have a dog in this fight. The dog is on the Burlington bike path, where Democrats are busy drafting revisions to the new poop’n’scoop legislation.

Steyn leaves out Mugabe, but includes the Dems new heroes in their struggle to achieve true defeatism and throttle Bush simultaneously:
Governor Dean’s bike-tunnel vision is not an isolated phenomenon. Everywhere you turn Democrats are linking arms and singing their new all-star fundraising anthem “We Aren’t The World”. John Kerry on the campaign trail: “We shouldn’t be opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in the United States of America.” …………You can still glimpse the remnants of the internationalist left on their fading T-shirts – Fidel, Che, Mao, Allende, the Sandinistas. And admittedly today’s global celebrities are a tougher sell – Saddam, Mullah Omar, Kim Jong-Il, miscellaneous clitorectomy enthusiasts in West Africa, etc. But even so the left’s retreat to hicksville is impressive: the western progressive has ideologically downsized and relocated to a remodeled farmhouse outside Montpelier.

That’s what David Brooks got wrong in Bobos In Paradise.
He visited Burlington and other "latte towns" and concluded that they were "relatively apolitical". What he took as the evidence of lack of politics – bike paths, independent bookstores, skinny espressos – is the politics, albeit a lo-fat version. The pre-Tony Blair Labour Party believed it needed to control "the commanding heights of the economy". The pre-Gorbachev Communist Party wanted to control the commanding heights of everything. But the big-picture left collapsed in 1989, and for a Vermontified Democratic Party small is the new big. That’s what Bill Clinton had in mind when he said the era of big government was over; instead, he’d be ushering in the era of small government, lots and lots of it, all over the place, like a map of America re-painted by Seurat – and, when you add up all the little dots, you find out that small government works out far more expensive than big government. Thus, the Clinton legacy is all small print, starting with the Federal toilet-tank legislation: he’s the first President to flush himself down the toilet of history.

Steyn is excellent on the see no, hear no, speak no evil smiley-face---let Osama leave Kharthoum to fly to Afghanistan where he can't blow up our embassies---laissez-faire Clintonian desire to turn the USG into an NGO:
You can understand why the Dems miss the Nineties. There was nary a word about war. Okay, you’d get the odd million-man genocide in Rwanda, but you tended to hear about it afterwards, usually as a late-breaking item in the Clinton teary-apology act. Instead, it was an era of micro-politics, a regulation here, an entitlement there, a recycling program everywhere you looked. Venusian Americans assumed they’d entered an age of permanent post-Martian politics, and they resented 9/11 as an intrusion on their minimalism. When you’re at an event for the “anti-war” movement, you realize it’s no such thing: it’s an I-don’t-want-to-have-to-hear-about-this-war movement.
That’s why they like to mock Bush, Cheney, Rummy and co as the real terrorists – the ones determined to maintain America in a state of “terror…….
If I had to do what the Democrats no longer seem willing to do and raise my sights from their narcissistic poseur politics to the big geopolitical picture, I’d put the bike-path left in the context of one of the most disastrous trends in the developed world. Today most of the west has elevated what one might call the secondary impulses of society – government health care (which America is slouching toward), government paternity leave (which Britain’s just introduced), government day care (which Canada’s thinking of introducing) - over the primary ones: national defense, population growth, faith (in a higher power than government). If you’re a secondary-impulse society like Canada and most Continental countries, it seems perfectly natural that the Defense ministry is now somewhere an ambitious politician passes through on his way up to a job that really matters – like Health minister. America is not there yet (I doubt Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a promotion if he were moved to Health & Human Services) and I’m optimistic enough to think it never will be. Secondary-impulse states can be very agreeable – who wouldn’t want the celebration of one’s sexual appetites to become a key political priority? – but they’re agreeable only for the generation or two that they last. And, as we’re about to see in demographically barren, economically sclerotic Europe, for good or ill it’s the primal impulses that count. The social democratic agenda is a suicide cult, which is why the Continent will be well past semi-Islamified at the time of our hundredth birthday.
It doesn’t even really work on a cute homey Vermonty scale: the Green Mountain State’s signature boutique business, Ben & Jerry’s, is now part of the European multinational Unilever. I’m a believer in a two-party system because in the end the integrity of the dominant party isn’t served by the collapse of the only alternative, and I would love the Democratic Party to get back in the game. But to do that they’ve got to get off the bike path and back on the unlovely central thruway of geopolitical reality. As I said at the beginning, it would be a rash man who’d bet on the contours of the political map in another 50 years. But let’s be rash: given blue-state demographics, the Democratic Party faces a bleak future. If they remain mired in trivia, by 2055 even Vermont will have woken up sufficiently to have ceased electing Deans and Leahys

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish all my family, including my brother who just returned home to Australia from a sojourn in East Timor, all the best for this season and for the year 2006.

And here is hoping for good health and long life to everyone who reads this short missive.

Dave in Boca and his family

Saturday, December 24, 2005


As much as any US government agency, or perhaps even more, the FISA court may have been responsible for 9/11.

The reason that the Bush Administration decided to systematically bypass the FISA Court may have derived from the Court’s reprimand of an aggressive senior FBI official. The recent hyped-up political brouhaha about wiretapping without warrants is put in perspective by a Newsmax article entitled: FISA Discouraged Moussaoui Warrant

Led by the New York Times, a chorus of administration critics have been insisting all week that there was no reason for President Bush to circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when he sought to wiretap terrorists operating inside the U.S. - since the FISA Court almost always approves such requests.

But that's not what the Times reported three years ago, after FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley came forward with the allegation that the Bureau might have been able to stop the 9/11 attacks if only investigators had been allowed access to the laptop computer of suspected 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui.

Moussaoui was arrested in Minneapolis on Aug. 16, 2001 - nearly four weeks before the 9/11 attacks - after an instructor at a local flight school he attended called the F.B.I. to report that he suspected the Moroccan-born terrorist was up to no good.

In a May 2002 report the Times noted
The secret court went so far as to discipline Michael Resnick, the F.B.I. supervisor in charge of coordinating terrorist surveillance operations, saying they would no longer accept warrant applications from him.

Intelligence officials told the Times that the FISA Court's decision to reprimand Resnick, who had been a rising star in the FBI, "resulted in making the Bureau far less aggressive in seeking information on terrorists."

"Other officials," the paper said, complained that the FISA Court's actions against Resnick "prompted Bureau officials to adopt a play-it-safe approach that meant submitting fewer applications and declining to submit any that could be questioned."
Sen. Charles Grassley is among those who think that the FBI might have been able to stop the 9/11 attacks if the FISA Court hadn't discouraged the Bureau from aggressively pursuing a warrant in the Moussaoui case.

In a January 2002 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Grassley noted that had a search been permitted, "Agents would have found information in Moussaoui’s belongings that linked him both to a major financier of the [9/11] hijacking plot working out of Germany, and to a Malaysian Al Qaeda boss who had met with at least two other [9/11] hijackers while under surveillance by intelligence officials."

The REPORT OF THE JOINT INQUIRY INTO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS OF 9/11 by the House Permanent Select and Senate Select Intelligence Committees issued in in December, 2002 clearly stated the FBI’s problem with the FISA courts and procedures. Among the systemic findings of problems the Joint Inquiry uncovered was Finding 12, namely:

12. Finding: During the summer of 2001, when the Intelligence Community was bracing for an imminent al-Qa’ida attack, difficulties with FBI applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance and the FISA process led to a diminished level of coverage of suspected al-Qa’ida operatives in the United States. The effect of these difficulties was compounded by the perception that spread among FBI personnel at Headquarters and the field offices that the FISA process was lengthy and fraught with peril.

It’s becoming clear that the FISA procedures were anything but the almost automatic approval they were intended to be by the original statute. Indeed, the finding above seems to indicate very serious problems with prissy FISA judges.

In the case of the FBI, the judges adopted an extremely hostile stance to the Bureau’s submissions.

Had the Moussaoui computer been searched, the 9/11 Conspiracy might have been averted, or at least a warning might have been sounded.

Instead, a judiciary bureaucracy caused the FBI hassles which blocked counterterrorism efforts which may have prevented the catastrophe from occurring.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Maureen Dowd gets "The Big Head"

Mickey Kaus has a hilarious bit on Maureen Dowd talking about Bush being in a bubble and therefore the Prez cannot hear her because people in a bubble can't hear outside the bubble. And, of course, just beneath the teaser/trailer is a TimesSelect sales pitch telling the reader they cannot read Maureen because she is pay-to-read. Kaus needs no words to make Dowd look even goofier than her bubblicious comments make her appear to be.

Maureen's bubble has been growing very thick recently, but back in the day, she was a sportswriter for the Washington Star, and quite approachable. Indeed, way back in the day:BORING PERSONAL ANECDOTE ALERT: my wife was invited to a shower Maureen gave to a mutual friend who now writes for the Washington Post. Dowd lived in a rather modest apartment and my wife described her as "just one of the girls."

But now that she has become a much-discussed author with a Pulitzer, no less, she does not return calls to the reporter whom she gave the shower for, my wife tells me.

Oh well, Maureen's got what the Irish call "The Big Head" and appears to have become a celebrity.

Although that doesn't seem to have helped her book sales. Both Bushworld and her latest on Are Men Necessary are lagging in sales. While her colleague Tom Friedman's flatworld offering makes megabucks.

Guess there's a lesson there, but the Yuletide spirit prevents me from dwelling on it.

Alert the Media! MSM tilts to the LEFT!

The liberal MSM, goaded by hysteric yammer-monkeys like Barbara Boxer and thankfully-dismissed mediocrity Tom Daschle, are starting to sputter about impeachment.

Their intellectual mentor Barbra has been talking about this for months, and the impressionable Boxer has finally ceded to her Streisand-driven mentality and called for Bush’s impeachment.

But some scholars aren’t so sure that Bush’s limited program is illegal. The Washingon Post has a column by Charles Krauthammer which includes the following:

George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr (one critic calls him the man who "literally wrote the book on government seizure of electronic evidence") finds "pretty decent arguments" on both sides, but his own conclusion is that Bush's actions were "probably constitutional."

Cass Sunstein, a self-described liberal and author of a widely-used textbook on Constitutional Law as well as University of Chicago Law Professor, gives the following thoughtful analysis on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:
HH: Do you consider the quality of the media coverage here to be good, bad, or in between?
CS: Pretty bad, and I think the reason is we're seeing a kind of libertarian panic a little bit, where what seems at first glance...this might be proved wrong...but where what seems at first glance a pretty modest program is being described as a kind of universal wiretapping, and also being described as depending on a wild claim of presidential authority, which the president, to his credit, has not made any such wild claim. The claims are actually fairly modest, and not unconventional. So the problem with what we've seen from the media is treating this as much more peculiar, and much larger than it actually is. As I recall, by the way, I was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, and they did say that in at least one person's view, the authorization to use military force probably was adequate here.

On being asked by Hewitt if the media are being purposefully ill-informed, the liberal Sunstein replies by giving a very generous tilt toward the wild-eyed Jonathan Alter types:
You know what I think it is? It's kind of an echo of Watergate. So when the word wiretapping comes out, a lot of people get really nervous and think this is a rerun of Watergate. I also think there are two different ideas going on here. One is skepticism on the part of many members of the media about judgments by President Bush that threaten, in their view, civil liberties. So it's like they see President Bush and civil liberties, and they get a little more reflexively skeptical than maybe the individual issue warrants. So there's that. Plus, there's, I think, a kind of the American culture, including the media, streak that is very nervous about intruding on telephone calls and e-mails. And that, in many ways, is healthy. But it can create a misunderstanding of a particular situation.
Hewitt steps in with a stronger take on the situation:

Hewitt responds:
The libertarian panic that you referred to, I actually believe that that probably did prompt a lot of the original egregiously wrong analysis. But now I'm beginning to be concerned that the media is intentionally ignoring the very strong arguments defending what the president did. Do you believe that's taking place?

Sunstein replies with typically liberal waffling, but finally owns up that this may be another media spasm:

....I think the tide is turning a little bit in terms of the legal analysis. If it turns out that this goes on for months, and facts don't come out that are worse than the facts we now have, then it looks...then it will look like a continuing panic, which would be worse than what we've seen just in a couple of days.

The media is ignoring some salient background material. As I have pointed out in previous blogs, the House/Senate Joint Inquiry of 2002 did issue a "Finding 12" that:

In the summer of 2001, when the Intelligence Community was bracing for an imminent Al-Qa’ida attack, difficulties with FBI applications for Foreign Intelligence Act surveillance and the FISA process led to a diminished level of coverage of suspected Al-Qa’ida representatives in the United States. The effect of these difficulties was compounded by the perception that spread among FBI personnel at Headquarters and the field offices that the FISA process was lengthy and fraught with peril. [xvii][emphasis mine]

So far the Joint Inquiry has been brushed aside, the media has been sidestepping the Bush defense and it appears that the UCLA study recently published on the media that both electronic and print outlets are left-of-center are correct.

But the media also is saying nothing about the crime of the leak to James Risen. While the media hounds are baying after leakers in the Plame affair, there is utter silence over who broke the law concerning the FISA affair.

This is not a surprise, and goes back to the old hard-left motto: "No Fault On The Left." The MSM spontaneously blurts leftward when consciously-timed illegal leaks like the NYT printed are released. It is a crime when a leak like the Plame affair happens to affect the left. But it is “patriotic” for bolshie types like Jonathan Alter to leak when it helps the right.

Sunstein, who was hired by the Carter Department of Justice, has an old-fashioned respect for the law. As he tells Hugh Hewitt about leaking:

It was implicit. I mean, no one, when I was there, so far as I know, would even spend a second thinking of leaking classified material. That was the most obvious thing in the world. It was a moral requirement, not a…[legal one]….when we were there, we wouldn't leak. It was a moral requirement. It wasn't we were afraid of crime, it was we wouldn't do something that was wrong.

Back in the day, liberals had moral requirements that superseded even the law to obey the law and not do harm to American interests.

Now, Democrats believe it is "patriotic" to break the law, but only if it harms the Bush Administration.