Saturday, November 27, 2004

Defeating the Communists Again

Here is an amazing article in the UK's Guardian newspaper on an alliance of US Republican and Democrat internationally-oriented party organizations, the US State Department, and, gawd help us, George Soros, training people for nonviolent civil disobedience to challenge stolen elections in former Soviet "republics." Very often these countries (e.g., Georgia and now Ukraine) have come back under the thumb of former communists and others loyal to the Putin government in Russia. These, well, cabals have been trying, and sometimes failing, to legitimize their authoritarian governments in dishonest elections over the past few years.

"With their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime, the democracy guerrillas of the Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory - whatever the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev..."

Kudos for the link go to Instapundit, natch. Credit blogs once again.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Pamphleteers and Bloggers

One of the books I am reading right now uses a quote that appealed right away:

"The indispensible catalyst is the word, the explanatory idea. More than petards or stilettos, therefore, words — uncontrolled words, circulating freely, underground, rebelliously, not gotten up in dress uniforms, uncertified — frighten tyrants"

The reference given is Ryszard Kapuscinski's Shah of Shahs, which is a book about the fall of the Shah Reza Pahlavi in Iran at the hands of the Khomeini revolutionists. And while I recognize that that story is one of a tyrant being overthrown by another tyrant, one whose venom is even still, a quarter of a century later, poisoning the world, the quote has resonance here in the United States in the election year that we have just finished. Several of those who are smug, self-satisfied, and elitist have been toppled by the modern-day pamphleteers, the bloggers. What a refreshing development that the preening anchor and management at CBS and the nominee of the Democrat party and the Republican former Senate majority leader have found, to their cost, the power of free speech and the Internet. I have put links to a couple of my favorites, Instapundit and Power Line, in the list to the lower right. Even now blogs are being used to document the electoral standoff in Ukraine and in the unfolding Oil for Food scandal at the UN. We live in interesting times and, for once, that is not meant as a curse: Sometimes the good guys win!

Dan Brown's Fevered Brain

Heh! The National Review has published a piece on that piece by that piece Dan Brown. Take a look and be prepared to chortle!

"A telephone is ringing in the darkness — a tinny, unfamiliar ring. I fumble for the bedside lamp and turn it on. Squinting at my surroundings I see a plush Renaissance bedroom with exquisite Louis IX furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a mahogany four-poster bed with a person in it, who is me, Dan Brown, the master storyteller and a bestselling author whose talent for dialogue and depth of characterization exceed even Tom Clancy at his finest. The jacquard bathrobe hanging on the bedpost bears the monogram: HOTEL RITZ PARIS..."

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to join Opus Dei. But then you knew that, didn't you?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Drones pick off 'rats' of Fallujah

Think piece from Australia:

"The last hours of the mujaheddin are terrifying. With the city they once ruled with the absolute authority of medieval caliphs now overrun by US and Iraqi troops, they have to keep moving. To pause even for a few minutes can mean instant death from an unseen enemy..."


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Carole Simpson's 2004 Slave States

Here's a video of Carole Simpson's nuanced analysis of how all the red states in the 2004 election were antebellum slave states. Truly despicable. After seeing the video you'll know pretty much what it takes to blunder into a highly respected position in the vaunted fourth estate.

By the way, every time I see this marionette appear in the past few years she looks more and more, um, improved. Just how many surgeries has she had? How many more to achieve gravitas?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Pray for Our Troops In Fallujah

At this moment, US troops have punched their way into Fallujah and are in the midst of heavy fighting. Our Army and Marine units are taking casualties but they are also killing terrorists. Say an extra prayer tonight to keep our troops safe and to help them destroy the enemy.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Sheena Helps Rake Leaves

Sheena the dog is shown here hunting around in leaves that still needed to be picked up. Many of them were picked up today, with critical assistance from Sheena. I needed my best dog to help with the mission and she got a treat afterwards for her selfless sacrifice for the greater good.

A Neocon Schism, Reportedly

An article by one Danny Postel on a claimed schism in the neoconservative school of policy has appeared. It was published on a few days before the election and it smells like a contrived wedge issue or tool intended for the Democrat effort to unseat President Bush. Parenthetically, the “wedge issue” is what the left was so quick to label concerns expressed by the right on current social mores and values. Postel’s article demonstrates that there are those who picked up the grenade and hurled it back over the line. In spite of my cynicism there are a few interesting quotes and I am taking the opportunity to repeat them here. I do not express an opinion about which side is right or whether I think either is right. I believe I will leave that ambiguity be. My tendency sometimes is to absorb arguments without an interest in being drawn into the debate and when interest has been lost, to move on to other things without wasting energy debating who won. Alas I probably could not make a living as a columnist or controversialist.

The public spat is in the form of dueling essays between two prominent neo-conservatives, Francis Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer. Part of my skepticism about the article arises from my skepticism about whether Charles Krauthammer should be considered an intellectual instead of just another syndicated columnist. Krauthammer is often interesting to read in the morning paper but he strikes me as more than a little smug and can be tiresome, especially now that the heat of the just concluded election is dissipating. He makes his living as an influential columnist and influence can be had by being a controversialist as well. Climbing into the ring of foreign policy journals is good for business because it generates attention from the class of published Washington writers over a protracted period of time.

“[Fukuyama says that] of all the different views that have now come to be associated with neoconservatives, the strangest one to me was the confidence that the United States could transform Iraq into a Western-style democracy … [If the US can’t eradicate poverty at home or improve its own education system] how does it expect to bring democracy to a part of the world that has stubbornly resisted it and is virulently anti-American to boot? … [America] needs to be more realistic about its nation-building abilities, and cautious in taking on large social-engineering projects in parts of the world it does not understand very well … [he sees it as inevitable that the US will get] sucked into similar projects in the future [and America must be] much better prepared [for a scenario such as the] sudden collapse of the North Korean regime.”

(Emphasis added.) The article frankly provides little description of Krauthammer’s counter arguments, which is the reason that I am suspicious whether the intent of Postel’s article is to incite rather than to inform.

“Krauthammer once quipped in a radio interview that the only way to earn respect in the Arab world is to reach down and squeeze between the legs. (His exact wording was slightly less delicate.)”

See what I mean?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

(Parts of the) Web Shine on Election Night

The web, not counting many of the blogs, was a far more valuable resource than television for information during election coverage last night. Fox News Channel was amateurish. CNN was boring and pretentious. (Tom Shales called Aaron Brown “pompous.” Heh!) MSNBC, as far as I am concerned, is irrelevant after the months of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann straining for ratings of any kind. Pandering to Democrats is not the same thing as delivering objective news reports. But then they knew that, didn’t they?

The main reason for my frustrated constant channel flipping was the nearly complete lack of substantial NUMBERS being available at any time. We are in an age of spreadsheets and that was probably what I was after. For example Fox News, when they weren’t showing the wrong graphics, would call races, usually after agonizing over whether they were going to get it wrong. But here in Maryland they announced the winners of the Presidential and Senate races immediately after the polls closed. And that was it: “Kerry and Mikulski won” was all we got. Okay, how about some percentages? Admittedly they were basing their projections on exit polling, something they probably didn’t want to admit. All sides were ridiculing the exit polls by early evening. I really felt sorry for the Democrats having their hopes dashed as the night wore on. But it was rough on the Republicans during the afternoon.

Fortunately the CNN website had constructed a very nice election page that had everything: maps, percentages, projections. All one had to do was mouse-over the parts that were of interest and it was then possible to drill down to get the latest updates on the elections that mattered: Daschle in South Dakota, Vitter in Louisiana, Martinez in Florida, etc.

The blogs were interesting but were by their nature not keeping up very well with the news at a useful pace. They were good mainly for moral support for the worriers sitting at home. But they were being hammered and consequently often ground to an unusable state. The outstanding exception was National Review’s The Corner. That blog reacted to events – especially the crappy exit polling – quickly, cogently, and in an entertaining fashion. Republicans reading the NRO blog could not help but be cheered up in the early afternoon before the exit polling started becoming more realistic.

To summarize, kudos to NRO and the CNN web site (but not the CNN cable television channel). An old fashioned Bronx cheer to all the rest on television and much of the web.