Monday, October 11, 2004

Escort Services, Nickel Poker, and Suicide Bombers

This, really, is all one needs to know about John Kerry (from yesterday's NYT interview):

When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," Kerry said. "As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

(Hat tip: Gene Volokh.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Harken Unto Them

Posting has been, ah, light lately.

Not much spare time, but more importantly, not much to say that isn't being said far better elsewhere. Would you prattle on if the Disciples were among us spreading the Word? I find it hard.

So here are the Apostles of the gospel (small "g"--these are catechists of the war for our political souls) whose electronic epistles I eagerly endorse. I wouldn't presume to rank them, so in alphabetical order:

Andrew (Not him. Sorry, I don't have an Andrew.)
John and Paul (with the venerable Scott) are here.
Mark--two of them, actually: here and here.
Matthew (I don't have a Matthew either, but I like this satirical anti-Matthew.)
Phillip (Phillip-Phil-Bill--does that work? Anyway, that's all I've got) here.

No Judas; though I'm strongly tempted.

Thaddaeus and Bartholomew are just implausible, so here are some untraditional names. (This is a canon of right reason, not tradition.)


There. I've posted something. Go read them.

I'll be back with a widow's mite this weekend.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Long Road

George Will reprises one of his favorite themes today--the deep and inherent difficulties of bringing democracy to Iraq:

Bush believes, as most Americans always have, in natural rights: He believes a particular kind of civic order -- democracy, representation, the rule of law, a large sphere of privacy and individual autonomy -- is right for the fulfillment of human nature. But Bush also seems to believe -- at least the slapdash non-planning for the Iraq project suggests this belief -- that a natural right implies a natural (meaning a spontaneous and omnipresent) capacity.
This is indeed a trenchant criticism.

President Bush's belief in natural rights is evident in his frequent references to the Declaration of Independence, which he correctly interprets to mean that the rights derived from nature and nature's God do not depend on race or color. But such rights--or rather the recognition and responsible exercise of them--do depend on reason... and reasonableness.

In claiming their natural rights the signers of the Declaration appealed to "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind"--a sentiment not abundantly evident in the Arab Muslim world. Likewise, the Declaration's political theology--its understanding of "nature's God," "the Supreme Ruler of the world," and "Divine Providence"--is conducive to democratic constitutionalism in a way that contemporary Islamic culture does not seem to be.

So building democracy in this part of the world is, to be sure, a daunting prospect. Yet it seems to be the president's belief that it is nevertheless possible, and indeed the only sure path to ultimate victory. Wretchard apparently agrees.

The least that can be said of this is that it is not self-evident--which does not mean it is not true.

UPDATE: Leave it to Mark Steyn to slice the Gordian knot with surgical prose:
The real divide [in conservatism] is between the neocons (for want of a better term) and the ‘assertive nationalists’ — that’s to say, those who think we ought to bomb rogue states, smash their regimes and rebuild them as democratic societies, and those who think we ought to bomb rogue states, smash their regimes, and then leave them to stew in their own juices, with a reminder that if the next thug is foolish enough to catch Washington’s eye, then (as Arnie says) ‘Ah’ll be back!’ This difference can seem like a big deal — those who think we need to win their hearts and minds vs those who think they’re mostly heartless and mindless, so who cares? But in truth it’s only a difference of degree.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

To Hold the Scales of Destiny in Our Own Hands

The International Herald Tribune , September 28, 2004 (hat tip: Powerline):

France said Monday that it would take part in a proposed international conference on Iraq only if the agenda included a possible U.S. troop withdrawal, thus complicating the planning for a meeting that has drawn mixed reactions. Paris also wants representatives of Iraq's insurgent groups to be invited to a conference in October or November, a call that would seem difficult for the Bush administration to accept.
Alexander Hamilton, December 13, 1798:

[D]uly considering the rapid vicissitudes, at all times, of political and military events; the extraordinary fluctuations which have been peculiarly characteristic of the still subsisting contest in Europe; and the more extraordinary position of most of the principal nations of that quarter of the globe; it can never be wise to vary our measures of security with the continually varying aspect of European affairs. A very obvious policy dictates to us a strenuous endeavor as far as may be practicable, to place our safety out of reach of the casualties which may befall the contending parties and the powers more immediately within their vortex.

The way to effect this is to pursue a steady system—to organize all our resources and put them in a state of preparation for prompt action. Regarding the overthrow of Europe at large as a matter not entirely chimerical—it will be our prudence to cultivate a spirit of self-dependence—and to endeavor by unremitting vigilance and exertion under the blessings of providence to hold the scales of destiny in our own hands. Standing, as it were, in the midst of falling empires, it should be our aim to assume a station and attitude which will preserve us from being overwhelmed in their ruins.

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Non Sense

Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting.

--CBS News President Andrew Heyward

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"I see brain dead people."

Friday, September 17, 2004

Memorandum: Fair Warning

To: The Democratic Party and its Surrogates in Journalism, Publishing, Academia, and Entertainment
From: Many Republicans and Conservatives
Re: Rathergate

If you do not act quickly to denounce--unequivocally and broadly--this outrage, you will do great damage not only to the nation, but to your party and your cause.

Rather than condemning and quickly distancing yourselves from this transparent fraud, you have actually incorporated it into your candidate's campaign! This is very unwise.

You are fond of giving us unsolicited advice. Let us return the favor:

Are you sure you want to start a war over documents with the party of constitutional textualists and Biblical exegetes?

Are you sure you want to challenge the party of free-market entrepreneurs to privatize election campaigns through individual initiatives and independent organizations?

Are you sure you want to throw down the gauntlet of dirty tricks to the party of clandestine operations and national security?


The time is coming when we may--at long last--pick up that gauntlet. We know you will find this risible, even absurd, but most Republicans believe that it is you, not we, who practice the whatever-it-takes-to-win approach to politics. This latest scandal is for us simply additional proof of what we have long believed.

The fraud is blowing up in your faces, yet even now you rise to object only back-handedly or not at all. This foolish choice will simply lead many more of those quiet, ordinary, home-and-hearth, non-CSPAN-watching Americans to recognize the following (which we will be at great pains to point out to them):

You accuse us of scorning "the rules." Yet you are the party whose modern founder violated the tradition--set by no less than George Washington--to serve only two terms as president, and it is your current leader who now violates the equally ancient custom that ex-presidents do not publicly criticize the incumbent.

You call us the divisive, unethical, ruthless party of hate. But you are the party of voter fraud, "Borking," Nazi epithets, racial demagoguery, and class warfare. And for all your hue and cry, the only episodes of actual intimidation and violence in political campaigns seem to be those committed by your union thugs.

We know you have your own list of horribles to wave against us. We do not think these compare, either in kind or degree. We believe it is you, and not we, who have degraded our discourse, coarsened our public life, stretched the rule of law to the breaking point, and abused both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution.

We have endured all this and, to our minds at least, held back from responding in kind, even though it has meant for us over the years higher taxes, bigger and therefore less responsible government, more intrusive and feckless regulation, and less liberty.

For decades, (however mind-boggling you may find this) we believe that we have restrained ourselves--because of our attachment to decorum; our concern for the greater good of the country; and because we do not make a religion of politics.

Your candidate this year is weird, undisciplined and off-putting, and the electoral prospects look promising for us. So our self-imposed restraints will likely hold for now. But rest assured that if you continue heedlessly down the path you have blazed these many decades, those restraints will finally buckle.

We believe--as some of you seem inclined to forget--that we are in a war with a depraved and implacable enemy. We take this war seriously. If we thought you did too, and would therefore fight it relentlessly, we would probably regard this latest CBS scandal and your reaction to it somewhat more placidly. But it is clear that you do not take the war seriously, and therefore cannot be trusted to wage it. That is the context in which we view this new crime against the public trust.

What baffles us about your listlessness in the face of the jihadists is that--unlike the Cold War--the enemy today consists of medieval religious fundamentalists who, were calibrations of their hatred possible, despise the party of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll even more than the party of suburban church-goers. That you do not see this alarms us. The rapid return of your anti-American reflex since the days immediately after 9/11 alarms us. We find it deeply disturbing that you were quick to send tanks to Waco, but seem unwilling even to talk about sending tanks to Damascus or Tehran.

Today, it is no longer our property and our liberty we worry about losing. The lives of many of our families and fellow citizens have already been taken by the enemy, and unless we win the war decisively, many more are in great peril.

If the outcome of the war does not cause you particular concern, remember this: the silly ephemera in which you like to indulge (e.g. a "Department of Wellness"); the crass interest-group politics you like to practice; the spoils, handouts, and favoritism with which you succor your constituencies--all these depend on the survival of the republic.

And the survival of the republic--at the very least its peace, freedom, and prosperity--are now threatened. You apparently do not recognize this. We do. Which is why we are no longer prepared to indulge the illicit tactics which you now seem to think you can conduct even out in the open.

Democrats: Do not bring it on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Miles to go before we sleep

Glenn Reynolds is right that this latest development is jaw-dropping. It is important, however, that we get our jaws back under control and clench our teeth for the battles yet to come.

The egregious display of hubris, hauteur and hokum by CBS has led many of the conservative bloggers to predict that the mainstream media is about to come crashing down.

Not so fast.

The bloggers are understandably, but unduly, giddy. This is a great, but only partial, triumph. The strategy now must be to pursue the scattered ranks and prevent the opposition from regrouping.

The establishment media have known for some time that they were being challenged. Their whining has betrayed them. For more than ten years they have squealed about the illegitimate Limbaugh. Before they could reconcile themselves to talk radio, they were confronted with the flagitious Fox News. As for the bloggers, the MSM did not appreciate their power, but they certainly knew the Internet existed, and that conservatives used it to communicate outside traditional channels. (Even Dan Rather must have heard of Matt Drudge.) The question then arises: what sort of frauds were perpetrated before the MSM knew they were being watched? This is not a question to be elided in the flush of a few substantial, but insufficient, victories.

Much of the establishment media will remain standing after the conclusion of this ugly election campaign. They will say, by way of exculpation and escape, "this is not the time for recriminations." To the contrary, it will be exactly the time for recriminations--long overdue.

Dan Rather's withered head on a pike is a start. But only a start.