Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Senator Joe Biden does it again.

The latest shock from the 2008 campaigns in progress is yet another Senator Biden gaffe in a recent interview with The New York Observer:
Mr. Biden is equally skeptical—albeit in a slightly more backhanded way—about Mr. Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
It doesn't exactly take a genius to identify "clean" African-Americans who lead public lives. Given that we have just celebrated a holiday to honor an articulate, bright, clean and nice-looking African-American, this is a really dumb thing for Senator Biden to say. On the other hand, the mainstream media seems to be focusing on the accusation of cleanliness as being particularly offensive; given Senator Obama's past use of marijuana and cocaine, surely Senator Biden meant that as a compliment.

The interview is also interesting for some comments about Senator Hillary Clinton:
“Are they going to turn to Hillary Clinton?” Biden asked, lowering his voice to a hush to explain why Mrs. Clinton won’t win the election.

“Everyone in the world knows her,” he said. “Her husband has used every single legitimate tool in his behalf to lock people in, shut people down. Legitimate. And she can’t break out of 30 percent for a choice for Democrats? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in a place where 100 percent of the Democrats know you? They’ve looked at you for the last three years. And four out of 10 is the max you can get?”
Yes, in the real world, people who "lock in" and "shut down" their opponents by pressing legitimate means to sociopathic extremes tend to be feared and despised instead of trusted and respected.

In case you were wondering if Senator Biden has a chance of becoming President, observe that Henry Kissinger wrote in "Ending the Vietnam War" that:
Senatorial pressures for a speedy retreat from Vietnam were mounting daily. On April 14, the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee called on the President in the Cabinet Room, the first time this had happened since Woodrow Wilson. Schlesinger and I delivered grim, nearly identical briefings about the military situation and Saigon's prospects. The senators replied that they had not come to discuss Vietnam strategy but to speed the evacuation of Americans and to make sure that we were not delaying it in order to rescue Vietnamese. Giving priority to saving South Vietnamese, they held, would get us involved militarily all over again. Ford tells the story in his memoirs:
The message was clear: get out, fast. "I will give you large sums for evacuation," New York's Jacob Javits said, "but not one nickel for military aid." Idaho's Frank Church saw grave problems which "could involve us in a very large war" if we attempted to evacuate all the South Vietnamese who had been loyal to us. Delaware's Joseph Biden echoed a similar refrain. "I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out," he said; "I don't want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out."

Monday, January 29, 2007

A splinter in the Gen-X mind, driving it mad.

It is a measure of just how deeply George Lucas wounded the psyches of his Generation X fanbase with Star Wars episodes I through III that Star Wars fans are still trying to diagnose what went wrong (hat tip: Galley Slaves).

Of course one can endlessly debate the different ways of removing this pointless storyline or that miscast actor from any one of these three films. The root problem is actually much simpler than this. As everyone who has watched episodes I through III knows, the catastrophic mistake underlying all of the problems of the trilogy was Lucas's decision to give Anakin Skywalker an Oedipus complex to explain his transformation into Darth Vader.

For example, to give Anakin his core of mother-related emotional trauma, they have to get him away from his mother and planet Tattooine. The only function of the much reviled Jedi "midichloriants" in episode I is to give Master Qui Gon Jin a presumably good reason for carting baby Anakin off of Tattooine to planet Coruscant ("We're not taking your son away. See, his midichloriants are off the chart..."). Otherwise even most 19th century American plantation owners would have felt more unease about taking Anakin away from his enslaved mother than our Jedi warriors display.

Personally, given the onscreen chemistry between Leem Neeson (Jedi Master Qui Gon Jin) and Pernillia August (Anakin's mother Shmi Skywalker) -- by onscreen chemistry I mean that both characters seemed to have been heavily addicted to the same painkilling drugs while on Tattooine -- it would have made more sense for Qui Gon to marry Shmi and raise Anakin himself on Tattooine. Anakin wouldn't be likely to develop his deep-seated yet Oprah-pleasing neurotic habits that way, but it's a big galaxy and Qui Gon was pretty much dispensable in any case.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It never feels like a whole 15 minutes of fame afterwords.

Barrack Obama used to be considered a natural president of the United States. Barrack Obama used to be considered so great that, even before running for president, he was considered to be on the level of Abraham Lincoln in terms of greatness. Barrack Obama used to be considered a secular saint who, alone, could heal America's divisions of race, religion and class by becoming the first African-American president.

Starting about 10 seconds ago, the national news media isn't even sure if Barrack Obama is "black" anymore.

I'm not exactly an expert on the sociology of race in the United States. But if anything proves that the United States has dropped the ball somewhere along the line, its the media's realization that only a rich, upper class, Ivy League educated, liberal, white female shouldn't have to work to get the African-American vote for her presidential bid. You'll notice that people aren't scratching their heads trying to figure out if Hillary Clinton is still a "woman", by the way.

This new storyline in the news media also proves that the Clintons still have something close to their old propaganda instinct, which of course makes Hillary Rodham Caesar one of the most dangerous presidential candidates of all. And if Saint Obama doesn't have the pull with the news media to keep the Clinton's from sliming him, just wait until the Clintons start directing their fire at John McCain sometime in 2008 (even money says that McCain suffers total personality disintegration and resigns his presidential candidacy the moment the national media defects en masse to Clinton).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

An entertaining two years

Now that Senator Hillary Clinton is running for president, we're sure to get another two years of that Clinton specialty: media worship so gloriously sycophantic that it borders on the psychotic.

The announcement isn't even 24 hours old and the examples are already appearing. Perhaps the first example of the new tone comes from the Times Online, which has already proclaimed Senator Clinton to be the "new Thatcher". For us conservatives, such a comparison appears mindlessly absurd. But, in case you spent your whole life in ignorance of the facts, observe that Margaret Thatcher says things like this:
"And what a prize we have to fight for - no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark, divisive clouds of Marxist Socialism and bring together men and women from all walks of life who share a belief in freedom and the courage to uphold it."
While on the other hand, Senator Clinton is famous for her "listening tour" rhetoric:
"I'm not just starting a campaign, though, I'm beginning a conversation with you, with America," she said. "Let's talk. Let's chat. The conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don't you think?"
Terry McAuliffe's remark that Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton are both "tough" is a ridiculous comparison of the two women given that Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton are about as similar as Cicero and Cataline.

Another line of flattery will center around the media's need to dissociate Hillary Clinton from her and her husband's abuses of power during her husband's presidency. The Daily Mail gets this storyline going when it writes:
An ability to apply hard work to a shining intelligence marked out the young Hillary Clinton for high public office.

So when the high-achieving Yale student abandoned her own ambitions in order to help her boyfriend Bill fulfil his own political career, her best friend asked: "Are you out of mind? Why on earth would you throw away your future?"

Now, more than 30 years later, Hillary Clinton is trying to get her future back.

The earnest young lawyer in bottle glasses is now 60 years old, a tough and glamorous New York Senator within sight of being the next President of the United States.
The paper is thus suggesting that not voting Hillary Clinton into the presidency would be a disaster akin to forcing her to marry Bill Clinton all over again. Hasn't the poor woman suffered enough already?

Caesar crosses the Rubicon!

Senator Hillary Clinton has announced that she is running for President in 2008.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Liberals don't want to destroy private enterprise. They just want to make private enterprise "better".

To liberals, one drawback of Wal-mart is that its ruthless drive for efficiency is a bad thing:
And because Wal-Mart so obsessively pursues the lowest possible prices, they're not only depriving their own workers of generous benefits and compensation, they're making it literally impossible for their producers to do so, as Wal-Mart won't abide by the minor cost differences that on-shore production and respectable benefits demand.
On the other hand, one of the big selling points of national single-payer health care for liberals is that it will efficiently keep prices down:
I would suggest an alternative hypothesis -- the vast majority of the public has no idea how inefficient the U.S. health care system is relative to the systems elsewhere in the world. I have been reading the NYT almost every day for more than 30 years; this is one of the few times I can recall any mention of the relative inefficiency of the U.S. health care system. On the rare occasions when the NYT talks about the health care system in another wealthy country (e.g. Canada, Sweden, England), the article is usually focused on the system's problems, and generally implies that its demise is imminent. I would be very surprised if even 10 percent of the NYT's readers knew that per person health care expenses in the U.S. are more than 60 percent higher than in Canada and more than twice as high as in England, and that both countries enjoy longer life expectanies.
In other words: Wal-mart is evil, so let's make the federal government more like Wal-mart!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Good news for Senator McCain...

is bad news for everyone else. Comgressional Democrats put the Fairness Doctrine back on the agenda (hat tip: Captain's Quarters):
Why would Kucinich want to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine and kill off the AM band and talk radio? Because his allies have proven less successful than conservatives at building a market for their broadcasts. Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, and a slew of conservative thinkers carved out an industry out of the AM wilderness, and the Al Frankens and Wendy Wildes can't keep up without government intervention. Air America would lose as well in this scenario, but I'm sure Kucinich sees that as a fair trade, and for good reason.
This is good news for Senator McCain's 2008 Presidential campaign for two reasons. First of all, conservative talk radio is probably not quite the friend and supporter that Senator McCain wishes it could be. So the Fairness Doctrine can't be expected to hurt Senator McCain as much as it might hurt someone more conservative such as Governor Mitt Romney.

Second, Senator McCain's right flank is "in the air", so to speak, over First Amendment issues. Senator McCain's campaign finance reforms are so despised by conservatives that a Democratic Presidential candidate might be tempted to move to McCain's right on campaign financing. Conservatives given a choice between a First Amendment Democrat and McCain just might be tempted to vote for the Democrat in 2008. This move will also be exponentially more tempting for Senator Hillary Clinton since it is practically guaranteed that she'll be violating every campaign finance law in the books if she runs for President in 2008.

Senate passage of the Fairness Doctrine will partially pin a Democratic Presidential nominee to McCain's left in the general election, thus reducing the temptation of conservatives to defect over McCain's campaign finance reforms. But expect McCain to vote against the Fairness Doctrine if it ever sees the full Senate; voting for the Fairness Doctrine would just compound McCain's problems.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The "chickenhawk" accusation and Senator Barbara Boxer

You may have heard that Senator Barbara Boxer from California recently tried to politcally smear Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. As Reported by the New York Post:
Rice appeared before the Senate in defense of President Bush's tactical change in Iraq, and quickly encountered Boxer.

"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price," Boxer said. "My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young."

Then, to Rice: "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."
Note the self-refuting character of these remarks. If Secretary Rice is presumed to have no understanding of life and death in the context of war, Senator Boxer is all too willing to extend that same intellectual disqualification to herself. It's as if Senator Boxer believes so strongly in the "chickenhawk" accusation that she's willing to throw her own immediate Presidential ambitions (her grandson won't be too young for military service forever) into the dustbin in order to prove her disinterested affirmation of such an accusation.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A few quick items

  • The need of certain center-Left pundits to be suspicious of "certainty" -- especially with respect to Iraq -- is now forcing other center-Left pundits to include disclaimers in their articles. For example, Jonathan Chait writes:
    On the other hand, I would suggest that there's not anything wrong with being certain, either. I'm not sure that Jason was implying that anybody who has made up their mind about Iraq before listening to President Bush's speech has rushed to judgment. If he was, I disagree.
    It's at least nice to know that not everyone has elevated the fundamental attribution error into the central pillar of his or her political thought.

  • Here is one of Senator Barrack Obama's comments about President Bush's speech last night:
    "We're not going to baby sit a civil war," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told NBC's "Today" Show. He said the Democratic-controlled Congress would not undercut troops already in Iraq but would explore ways to restrict the president from expanding the mission.
    It's somewhat surprising to see the Democratic Party's frontrunner for the 2008 Presidential nomination so easily infantilizing a nation of people who look differently and believe differently than he does.

President Bush's Iraq Speech

Here is the transcript of President Bush's most recent speech about Iraq courtesy of CBS News.

Hugh Hewitt's impression of the speech seems representative of Conservative opinion: that the President effectively made the case for his new strategy for pacifying Iraq.

Especially impressive was the President's rejection of all of the games for managing Iraq that his political opposition has proposed. The President did not endorse a partition of Iraq. He did not endorse the proposals that the best way to pacify all of Iraq is for American forces to retreat to Kurdistan or Kuwait or Okinawa. He did not beg Iran and Syria to come to the negotiating table to accept our surrender.

Whatever happens to President Bush's domestic support in the months to come, this speech and its support of a strong, unified and independent Iraq is certain to win him some enduring praise from those parts Middle East that aren't yet under the domination of the Iranians.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Historical ineptitude from Hollywood

Dean Barnett discusses a blatantly inept rewriting of history in the film "The Good Shepard":
[The scene in question] involves the American interrogation of a Russian officer who wants to defect to the United States. Up until that point, “The Good Shepherd” has had no action scenes or incidents of violence. Yes, that’s right – the movie made it through World War II and the initial days of the Cold War without anything resembling excitement. The Soviet defector’s identity is suspect, and it is a matter of some import that the CIA determine whether or not he’s on the level.

The American interrogation squad, led by a CIA henchman portrayed by John Turturo, plays rough with their new-found asset. Turturo begins with a couple of graphic punches that shatter the guy’s face. From there, things get a little weird.

The guy is stripped naked. The CIA men then put a black hood over his head and proceed to waterboard him. After that, when the guy is still saying stuff that his American interrogators believe to be false, they give him some LSD.

After the waterboarding and the LSD, we know that the Soviet will be honest. And so he spills the beans, beans that we know are true because they are the result of mind-altering drugs and medieval torture. He tells us that the Soviet Union is a paper tiger. Everything is rusting and there are no spare parts. The country is no threat to the United States. Yet the United States has to treat the Soviet Union as a bona fide threat for the well-being of our domestic military-industrial complex.
The obvious criticism of this scene is that it is contemporary liberal propaganda anachronistically and quite ludicrously rewritten into a portrayal of past events. The argument here (paralleling the liberal case against the 2003 Iraq war) is that since the Soviet Union is not an "immediate threat" to the United States, the United States has no moral grounds for initiating a conflict with the Soviet Union. Thus anyone profitting from an arms buildup in preparation for an attack on the Soviet Union is an evil, anti-American, anti-democratic fascist warmonger.

There may have been some small residue of public opinion in the 1940s and 1950s that would have believed something like this. But the vast mainstream of public opinion in that era would have believed that the Soviet Union was an immediate threat to the United States because the Soviet Union was an immediate threat to NATO. The last thing that practically any American on the political right of the Communist Party would have wanted in the 1950s was for the Soviet Union to win a unified, communist, anti-Western Germany for the Eastern Bloc. NATO was an essential part of America's strategy for keeping that from happening. Besides, if Americans in the 1950s didn't think that Soviet agression against Western Europe was the paramount military threat to the United States, wouldn't General Douglas MacArthur have been elected the 34th President of the United States?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Save the whales: they're our last line of defense!

Here is yet more evidence of the Great Squid Conspiracy.