October 31, 2004
Clearly the number one issue of this election is the War on Terror and whether, by our votes, we decide to fight it to win by electing George Bush, or to settle for a standoff by choosing John Kerry. But another, almost equally important issue is whether the American people will choose their president, or will journalism’s elites do it for us. Naively, I suppose, I continue to be amazed at the lengths to which the mainstream media have gone in the promotion the Kerry candidacy. I shouldn't be. We are witnessing a power struggle, in which the left, entrenched in old media journalism, are pitted against the right who've found their outlet in the new media of talk radio and the blogosphere.
For decades the leftward drifting mainstream press and news broadcasters have acted as a behind the scenes branch of government. By setting the public opinion agenda they have all but dictated which of our candidates are worthy of consideration. But the gradual emergence of the Republican majority is symptomatic of the decline in old media influence, brought about first by cable news, then talk radio, and more lately by the bloggers.
Historically, the power of old media has been the power to withhold information. Take the example of Walter Duranty, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times, who managed to ignore the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, who starved under a Stalin imposed Soviet famine. Because of Duranty's infatuation with communism, most Americans never knew it happened.
But the power to withhold has diminished. Deregulation of the airwaves opened up talk radio, then internet technology took off and a flood of information was released. Millions are aware of things that old media wishes they weren't. For example, in an ongoing effort to portray Iraq as a quagmire, old media reported that, Paul Bremer scurried out of Iraq without so much as a goodbye after the handover of power in June. To their misfortune and chagrin Ali at Iraq the Model described local reaction to Bremer’s nationally broadcast speech to the Iraqi people, given just before he left. Corrections were issued.
It just hasn't been working lately. There has been an onslaught of accusations and manufactured scandals. First, Joe Wilson vacationed in Niger and returned to dispute the infamous 16 word in the State of the Union. Then Paul O'Neil came out with his charge that the invasion of Iraq was planned before 9/11. Richard Clarke followed with his breathless tales of an inattentive Bush Administration, who dropped the ball on the problem of global terror. But O'Neil's evidence turned out to be about war games, and Clarke was found to have contradicted himself in one of his earlier versions of events leading up to 9/11.
Non-conforming stories won't just go away any more, so the press has taken to fabricating their own news stories in support of the liberal orthodoxy. Dan Rather is the poster boy for the old media. With the full weight of the CBS organization behind him, he resorted to forgery to promote his political agenda with the Texas Air National Guard memoes purported to show favoritism enjoyed by Lt. Bush, but the forgeries were discovered. The missing explosives from al Qaqaa turned out to have been gone before U.S. troops arrived. And so Bush remains in front in the polls as we get down to the election.
Kerry is the champion of old media. Perhaps champion is a bit strong. But for the mainstream press, John Kerry represents the ideal candidate. With no convictions beyond self promotion, Kerry is imprintable. Like a duckling that emerges from its shell and automatically follows the first thing moves through its field of vision, Kerry will automatically follow cues from the mainstream press. In their concept of a perfect world, old media will present a pet issue in proper liberal light, and Kerry will seize upon it, firm in the conviction that by following the press lead on it, Kerry will advance Kerry. In their perfect world, old media will once again set the political course, and all will be well.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, Kerry has turned out to be the most pathetic of candidates, and John Edwards his running mate is his ideal match. They offer nothing. They have no vision. Old media's empty accusations of administration corruption and incompetence appeared in their field of vision, and they've dutifully waddled along behind and made them their issues. In doing so they've succeeded in turning the spotlight onto their own dishonest campaign and the complete absence of any record of accomplishments of their own. There is no chance that these ugly ducklings will turn into swans. Kerry and Edwards would be even more pathetic as president and vice president than they've been as candidates. I urge everyone who stops by to read these pages to vote for George Bush.
October 28, 2004
Meanwhile back in Iraq
Two interesting bits of news. First is from Zeyad, posting at Healing Iraq, who speculates that the insurgents are mostly Ba'athists operating under the guise of Zarqawi's terrorist group.
...if Zarqawi's group can set up a checkpoint of at least 15-20 armed men in a distant area on the Iranian border (Mandali-Badrah), which is not usually their traditional area of operations, to capture some 50 trained Iraqi soldiers, to tie them up and execute them one by one, to dispose of their corpses in such a way and to retreat unscathed, then something is seriously wrong. It would indicate that Zarqawi's network is getting stronger and bolder despite the US reports of daily bombings against Zarqawi's hideouts.
I find it dubious because the tactics are not those of Zarqawi or foreign terrorists. I have reason to believe that this was the work of former Iraqi security forces. These remain the only organised groups in Iraq today with the required experience and precision to carry out such an operation. This was completely planned beforehand.
The Arab media persists in labelling these criminal elements as freedom fighters in a legitimate conflict with an occupying force, and that this resistance is nationwide, spontaneous and widely supported by the Iraqi people as an immediate result of US actions in postwar Iraq. The media chooses to ignore the fact that the main victim of this resistance is the Iraqi people itself, and that only a tiny fraction of attacks are now directed at occupation forces. This resistance realises that if free elections supervised by the UN and the international community take place in January 2005 and if a legitimate representative government assumes power in the country then the resistance would have to cease to exist.Zeyad's argument is buttressed by this post by Robin Burk at Winds of Change who tells of Humalia Akrawy. She is a 23 year old Kurdish-Iraqi woman whose brother was murdered by Saddam's thugs and whose sister was murdered by Ba'athists who mistaking the sister for Humalia, pumped 60 AK47 bullets into her. Humalia became a translator for the 101st Airborne, and in the face of continuing death threats, she agreed to be translator for the 101st commanding officer, Lieutenant General Petraeus.
She described her family's sufferings under Saddam and the guilt she felt when her sister was killed in an attack intended for her. It was her father who told her that if she was willing, she should go back to her job and show the terrorists (possibly Ansar al-Islam) that they had not and could not win through such violence. So with his support she did just that.
Her estimates: 95% of Iraqis are happy with the removal of Saddam and with the changes that are begining to happen in Iraq. 3-4% are afraid of the changes because they just want peace and quiet. 1%, mostly ex-Ba'athists, opposed , with perhaps 9000-13,000 or so Iraqis actively involved in the insurgency.
Syrians and Iranians make up most of the foreign fighters. Iraqis can identify them by accents, among other things. Syria and Iran clearly do not want Iraq to be a success because "they know they will be next - not necessarily with an invasion but certainly their people will demand democracy if Iraqis demonstrate it is possible."In the opinions of these two Iraqis, ex-Ba'athists are behind the insurgency. They're hopeful and optimistic about the future of Iraq, and grateful for the chance at freedom. Both are clearly at risk for their outspoken support of American efforts to plant the seeds of democracy.
But on several occasions Edwards has said stability is the best we can hope for in Iraq. To the Kerry-Edwards team, Iraqis are not capable of democratic self government. From the ever evolving Kerry-Edwards positions - voting for the 87 billion before voting against it, voting in support of regime change in Iraq then calling it the wrong war at the wrong time - the only certainty we have is that Kerry and Edwards are willing to say whatever might at a given moment appear to help their election chances. Their sloppy and stupid campaigning incites the ex Ba'athists to wage a campaign of terror in support of a Kerry-Edwards victory. A victory for the ex Ba'athists would fulfill the Kerry-Edwards preference for stability, and a victory for Kerry-Edwards represents the best chance for a return of Ba'athist power. The Ba'athists know it.
The New York Post weighs in
Today's editorial column in the New York Post entitled "TIMES' WEAPON OF BUSH DESTRUCTION", makes this assessment of efforts by the Times and CBS to sink the Bush Presidency.
October 28, 2004 -- And so we finally have the October Surprise — a last-minute live political grenade tossed smack dab into the middle of the campaign by The New York Times and CBS' "60 Minutes," the latter still smarting from its Dan Rather Memogate fiasco.
The lead story in Monday's Times reported breathlessly that "380 tons of powerful conventional explososives . . . are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."
John Kerry, predictably, went hysterical — charging that President Bush, by his "incredible incompetence," had now placed the lives of U.S. troops in immediate danger.
But there's much more to the story than the Times would have you believe.
That the story was intended as a last-minute political hit seems undeniable: CBS, which first got the tip and worked together with the Times, admits that it planned to air a piece next Sunday night — just two nights before the start of voting. That would have left precious little time for any response.
CBS says that the story only broke in the last two weeks; when other news outlets got wind of it, CBS agreed to let the Times publish its story first.
Maybe so. But more than a month after its blatant attempt to sink President Bush's re-election by relying on forged documents, no heads have rolled at CBS. Dan Rather is still on the air (and pushing this latest story to the hilt). Activist producer Mary Mapes — whose five-year obsession prompted the story — still works for CBS. The Post sums up the newsworthiness of this explosive story on supposedly missing explosives.
And the Times-CBS stories also ignore the fact that the missing 380 tons, though troubling, was but a minuscule portion of the 400,000 tons of explosives stockpiled by Saddam Hussein — more than half of which has been destroyed by U.S. troops in the past 18 months.
Which is why Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, said "it's hard for me to get that worked up about it," since "Iraq is awash in hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives."
Instead, thanks to the CBS-Times double-play combination, the Bush campaign finds itself on the defensive as the election clock winds down. As one John Kerry campaign aide told CBS: "The headlines in this week are in our favor."
Indeed, they are. October Surprise, everyone. Read the whole thing.
By now everyone has heard about this Kerry campaign literature masquerading as a news story. The Captain's take on it is perfect.
If anything, the attempted hit piece on President Bush by the NY Times has turned out to be quite the public service. Thanks to the extraordinarily incompetent misfire by the NYT and CBS, we now see the overwhelming bias of two major news organizations, the desperation and gullibility of John Kerry, and the incredible failure of the UN to provide any kind of security in an age of Islamist terror and state sponsorship.
October 22, 2004
Elasticity and the Silver Bullet
The term, elasticity, is used to describe the effect of a price change on demand. When demand for an item is said to be elastic, a small change in price causes a significant change in demand. If Clancy’s Bar & Grill adds a buck to the price of a glass of beer, Clancy can watch demand for his beer head toward zero as folks head next door to the Longbranch Saloon. Elastic. If the Longbranch happens to be 300 miles away, maybe folks won't be so quick to head on over. Less elastic.
There is a degree of elasticity in taxable income. For folks getting minimum wage there is no elasticity to their taxable income. It is what it is. But when you get to the higher income ranges, people have choices. They do tax planning. They engage in tax avoidance. They put their investments into tax shelters or tax free instruments, or they defer some income to a later year. The more onerous the taxes, the more effort that's put into avoiding them. Quite legally of course.
How does this bode for Lord Kerry’s plans? The tax cut rollback is the silver bullet Kerry is counting on to cure all our ills. He’ll cut the deficit, reduce health care costs, create jobs, and save the environment. Hell, to hear John Edwards talk he’s going to raise Christopher Reeve from the dead and get him walking again. He's going to pump those tax rollbacks right straight into embryonic stem cell research and miracles are going to happen. Kerry and Edwards have promised.
But rolling back the tax cuts for people making over $200,000 won’t be quite the payoff that Lord Kerry thinks. Raising taxes will change taxpayer strategy, and that's going to cut into that pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. And we haven’t even begun to talk about the demand side issues of a tax hike. Remember when they thought it was a brilliant idea to put a luxury tax on yachts? It nearly killed the U.S. luxury boat industry and put a bunch of skilled craftsmen out of work. The tax was repealed. Kerry’s higher taxes will translate into lower consumer spending, and that will put a different set of workers in the unemployment line.
Unfortunately, it escapes Lord Kerry. In the Kerry world view elasticity of taxable income is not a consideration. It doesn’t exist. It doesn't exist because, well, maybe people don’t really exist. Kerry's penetrating insight is that taxpayers are not thinking people, and that makes the Kerry plan work. It's the key. The taxpayer is an income generating unit. Kerry will raise taxes on the high capacity income units, relieving the burden on the low capacity units, and he'll know exactly how many wheel chair bound units he can get to walk again.
He panders. If he thinks he's got a silver bullet, what he will do with it is shoot the economy right in the foot. We'll do much better by sending him back to the Senate, where he can continue to have absolutely no impact on us, just as he has for the last 20 years. Safely back in the Senate, he can do what he has always done so beautifully. He can take up space.
Red Sox fans
The story book ending to this improbable baseball post season would have Boston beating both the Yankees and the Cardinals. Up to now the Red Sox have never beaten the Yankees in any playoff, and twice the Cardinals have beaten the Red Sox in the World Series. If there is a road to redemption for the Red Sox it runs throught New York and St. Louis.
But I find I don't care so much these days. Sure, I posted that line about the Red Sox driving a stake through my heart, but in reality my disappointment won't be so severe if the Red Sox lose. For one thing, they've folded up so many times in the past, what's one more. For another, just look at the Boston fans. They can be as ugly a bunch as you can find anywhere. Last night night a college kid got killed by a pepper spray shot as police tried to quell rioting Red Sox fans.
Moments after the Red Sox' 10-3 ALCS win early Thursday, some 80,000 delirious Boston faithful poured out from bars and clubs. Fans went out of control, burning a car, hurling bottles and clashing with riot cops, resulting in 16 injuries and eight arrests. Rioting over a baseball game! It's pathetic and it's disgusting. It needs to stop.
October 21, 2004
October 16, 2004
Do ya think?
John Weidner doesn't think much of this idea from Jeff Jarvis who is asking bloggers to show some solidarity with Judith Miller. Miller is the New York Times reporter who may land in jail because she refuses to identify the person who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. Given the repeated ethical lapses by Mainstream Media, I wonder if there anybody on the planet who thinks Miller would be going off to jail in a orgy of First Amendment martydom if the "source" of leak was Karl Rove? Not me. Not a chance. There's an election going on. This is the New York Times we're talking about.
October 15, 2004
The concept of America as an ownership society is not new. What's new is the notion that the federal government would take serious steps to encourage it in areas other than home ownership. But that's what Bush is promoting for his second term. It's a message I got to hear first hand when I listened to him speak in Stratham, New Hampshire this past August. He said from the stump:
This is an exciting time to be an America, in many ways. It's a changing world, and government has got to understand that. You know, you've got workers, when most of our dads were coming up, they worked for the same company, didn't change jobs and so the pension plans or the health care plans were adjusted for that. Now it's a different world. People are changing jobs, people are working out of their homes. Oftentimes, moms and dads are both working. And policy has got to reflect these changing times. Which means, it seems like to me the best way to do so is to encourage an ownership society. For example, we want people owning and managing their own health care accounts that they can take with them, job to job, or go from job to home. In an column that appears in today's New York Post, George Will talks about the ownership society and says a Bush re-election could have a profoundly positive impact on America.
The center of Bush's second-term agenda is his "ownership society" tapestry of tax incentives for individuals to exercise increased responsibility for their personal security and opportunity. The contrasting conservative and liberal emphases on freedom and equality are clear: Tax-favored accounts for retirement, medical and education choices promote the attitudes and aptitudes of autonomous individuals exercising the freedom to choose. Liberalism's unchanging agenda involves increased dependency on government in the name of equality. Could we have a starker contrast between candidates. It's really hard for me to imagine why anybody would think it's good idea to vote for Kerry, even if you could believe what he says.
October 13, 2004
Alliance Is Fraying
Today's Washington Post front page carries this story of Iraqi insurents in Fallujah turning on their foreign Arab allies.
Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.
"If the Arabs will not leave willingly, we will make them leave by force," said Jamal Adnan, a taxi driver who left his house in Fallujah's Shurta neighborhood a month ago after the house next door was bombed by U.S. aircraft targeting foreign insurgents.
One of the foreign guerrillas killed by local fighters was Abu Abdallah Suri, a Syrian and a prominent member of Zarqawi's group. Suri's body was discovered Sunday. He was shot in the head and chest while being chased by a carload of tribesmen, according to a security guard who said he witnessed the killing.Is the fracture in the "insurgent" alliance mirrored in the mainstream press? The appearance of this story on the Washington Post front page, where any news from Iraq that is remotely positive might just as well have been forbidden, says yes. Increasingly, the the way the news is reported is itself the news. Little by little, under the intense scrutiny of the blogosphere factions of the mainstream press may actually take up the practice of journalism.