Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Oh, And the President Gave a Speech Today

And a fine one at that. You can read it here, and it's worth reading.

For those gentle readers who don't follow the link, we quote our favorite paragraph:

Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, "stay the course." If by "stay the course," they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by "stay the course," they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America -- they are right, as well. If by "stay the course" they mean that we're not learning from our experiences, or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong. As our top commander in Iraq, General Casey, has said, "Our commanders on the ground are continuously adapting and adjusting, not only to what the enemy does, but also to try to out-think the enemy and get ahead of him." Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic; we have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy.

CCU/WLW Talk Radio Idol in Finals

As noted previously, J. Todd Smith--Pentecostal preacher, Cincinnati Christian University student on the 12-years-to-graduation plan, friend of SWNID and all around excellent guy--was one of four finalists in AM 700 WLW's Talk Radio Idol competition.

We write "was" because Todd is through to the finals. In fact, he was the top vote-getter by a big margin. He faces off against the number two contestant, who trailed him by a good 12% in the first round.

Todd will appear Thursday, December 1 at 2:30 p.m. on the execrable Bill Cunningham's program. Again, we urge gentle readers to listen, by the station's protean 50,000 watt AM signal or by streaming audio available here.

And we urge gentle readers to vote, early and often. We'll post a direct link as soon as we can after it's available. If we're slow, go to and follow their links.

The Anti-SWNID Discovered

As dutiful parents, SWNID and Mrs. SWNID spent many hours reading Berenstain Bears books to Son and Daughter of SWNID during their early childhood. Blessedly, the SWNID scions learned to read at an early age, sparing their parents the agony of reading these tedious books more than we did. The bears' stories, at once moralistic and soporific, were studies in politely leftist stereotypes. Mama bear was smart and caring, Papa Bear was stubborn and stupid, Sister Bear did everything, especially sports, better than Brother Bear, and science expert Professor Actual Factual talked about public policy, not science.

Well, as many gentle readers no doubt know, Stan Berenstain, co-creator of the literary dynasty, passed away this week. He is survived by his wife, Jan, the other half of the creative team.

But we blog on this event because in the coverage of Mr. Berenstain's passing, we came across the biography of Papa Bear, which describes him as follows (emphasis inserted):

World's greatest expert on almost everything. He is often wrong but never in doubt.

Clearly we have found here the ursine anti-SWNID, the converse of this blogger in a parallel bear universe.

So what would happen if SWNID and Papa Bear ever met? Would a strange, powerful reaction occur, like the reaction of matter with anti-matter in Star Trek?

We can, as the songwriter says, only imagine.

It's Over: Blackwell Next Ohio Governor

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman is no longer a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor. He cites the usual personal reasons, but his wife's recent arrest and guilty plea for DUI didn't help.

So Ken Blackwell is Ohio's next governor. Why? SWNID solemnly notes that ...

  • Blackwell has strong backing from the conservative base of the GOP, so barring major scandal, he will be the party's nominee.
  • Blackwell has been elected twice statewide as secretary of state.
  • Blackwell has run a massively successful PR campaign and is now certainly the best known secretary of state in state history.
  • Blackwell has burnished his credentials by weathering the storm of unwarranted criticism about his conduct of the 2004 election in Ohio, and Ohio voters noted this by defeating Propositions 2-5 by huge margins this month.
  • Ted Strickland, the only declared D candidate, is (a) liberal; (b) white; (c) never before elected at the statewide level.
  • Blackwell, who is African-American, will cut deeply into the D base.
  • Coleman, who is also African-American, was the Ds' only hope for stopping the Blackwell demographic juggernaut.

SWNID will predict that Blackwell will win between 55% and 65% of the vote in November 2006. There just aren't enough white union households in the world, let alone in Ohio, to elect Ted Strickland.

Mark Warner: I'm a Lefty Too

Mark Warner--lame duck governor of Virginia, so-called moderate Democrat and presumptive candidate for his party's presidential nomination--has burnished his credentials with his party's far-left base by granting clemency to a death-row inmate who happened to be the person who, if his execution was carried out, would be the 1000th execution victim since the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that executions were constitutional.

Warner's decision may have been warranted: he does not assert the innocence of the condemned man, only that the state acted improperly by destroying physical evidence which could have been subjected to more sophisticated DNA testing, not available at the time of trial, to corroborate or exonerate.

However, does anyone doubt that Warner, tagged with the "moderate" label that makes him perhaps electable in November 2008 but unable to raise funds or win party's primaries, is adding a leftist credential to his resume before he leaves office?

Finally, The White House Says What the MSM Won't

Since the Vietnam War, the MSM has been constitutionally forbidden to publish positive news about any American military activity. Since Watergate, the MSM has been constitutionally forbidden to publish anything positive about a Republican administration.

So this Republican administration has decided to do its own news reporting ... finally. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (clearly the most unintentionally funny name for a newspaper in the United States) offers an executive summary of the White House's 35-page document defining objectives and noting accomplishments in Iraq.

This is a must-read, as in gentle readers must read this before the pundits start blathering about it.

Do note that the White House reads SWNID: as we have noted many times, and as the White House now states explicitly, the only way that the United States can lose this war is by quitting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Must Read: First and Only Philosophically Informed Column in MSM for 2005

Law professor Paul Campos offers a column entitled "Materialism's Leap of Faith" in the Rocky Mountain News.

We won't gild the lilly: this is a perfect newspaper column, the only thing that we've read recently in the MSM from either side that is philosopically informed on matters of science and faith.

This is number one on our list of internet must-reads for the last six months, which, as gentle readers can count, goes back to the time before SWNID existed. Ignore it at your peril.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

John Leo on SWNID Themes: Media Can't Get Past Hatred for Bush

Meanwhile, over at US News and World Report, John Leo is noting the massive spate of partisan coverage on such matters as Murtha, Schmidt, Iraq and "Bush lied!" He diagnoses the problem as the media's inordinate hatred for Dubya, which leads them to slant every angle against the President, no matter how factually inaccurate or blatantly biased the outcome.

SWNID concurs.

The Speech Bush Should Deliver

James Q. Wilson, a scholar of global affairs of no mean station, offers for the Wall Street Journal the speech that Bush should deliver on Iraq. Summary: we are winning, and winning decisively.

Of course, you've read it all here before. But Wilson does very nicely with the subject. We urge gentle readers to follow the link.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Looking Beyond Murtha's Immediate/Practicable Withdrawal

Clifford May, president of the partisan but provocative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, lays bare the silliness of the Murtha proposal in a "Memo to Murtha."

This piece is so terse that a summary is hardly necessary. But as SWNID's gentle readers don't always click the links, we summarize nevertheless:
  • Criticism of the administration's planning for the war's aftermath is unfair, given that no one has ever conquered a Middle Eastern dictatorship and transformed it into a democracy before.
  • If, as Murtha says, the US military can't stand up to Al Qaida in Iraq, what's to make us think that the Iraqis can?
  • We can expect the insurgent elements to take their fight to neighboring countries if allowed to take root in Iraq.
  • We can expect mass murders and a huge refugee exodus if we leave Iraq prematurely.
  • We can expect little cooperation in the future from other countries with Islamist extremists if we leave Iraq prematurely.

May's two introductory notes in his memo are noteworthy as well:

  • He begins by thanking Murtha for his service. This is de rigeur to avoid the charge of denying the patriotism of any D with a military record. Rs can be accused of lying wholesale, but Ds can never be accused of anything, even is that they have made certain statements that are matters of public record. And the failure to acknowledge a D's patriotism or military service is now taken as the denial of it. Call this the "Schmidt Effect."
  • He thanks Murtha for taking the debate to the actual conduct of the war rather than the empty charge "Bush lied!" In the present environment, it's noteworthy that any D doesn't repeat this Democrat equivalent of the "Hail Mary" prayer.

And so, SWNID makes the following prognostications in light of l'affaire Murtha:

  • In about six weeks, specific proposals for the withdrawal of American forces will begin to come out of the Pentagon in earnest.
  • Murtha will be hailed as the prophetic voice that brought these about.
  • Those who note from the record that the withdrawal of American forces has been discussed since the first day of the war and planned for in the Pentagon since before then will be ignored, so that Murtha and other naysayers can be lionized.
  • Additional pressure will be brought to bear to bring American forces home sooner, with the slogan, "Who will be the last to die for a mistake?" a la John Kerry. Proposals will also be made to reduce military spending and the size of the military.
  • The debate will revolve around the prospects for an orderly withdrawal leaving a viable government in Iraq versus a full-scale retreat to cut losses in a "failed" expedition.
  • Beyond the debate about the pace of withdrawal from Iraq, a debate will emerge between those who insist that the military be strengthened to fight terrorism and those who say that a strong military provokes terrorism.
  • In Congress, a second-millennium equivalent to Senator Frank Church, who in the 70s successfully advocated the abandonment of the South Vietnamese, the reduction of the military and the severe restriction of intelligence agencies, will emerge, vaunted by the MSM as a great military expert and the voice of reason.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hat Tip to LA Times: Good News from Iraq

It needs to be said often because the other side continues to pursue its disinformation campaign: things are going well in Iraq, though not perfectly. Even the LA Times, which vies with its Bay area neighbors to the north for the title of America's Most Consistently Liberal Daily, has taken notice.

In a column by the delightfully named Max Boot, the Times notes that:
  • Iraqis express confidence about improvement in their situation in opinion polls.
  • American soldiers express confidence about the success of their mission in opinion polls.
  • The Iraqi economy is improving by leaps and bounds, so that ordinary Iraqis are now substantially better off than before the war.
  • Real democracy is taking root rapidly in Iraq, including the establishment of a fair electoral process and the rapid growth of independent media.
  • The insurgents have been more successful in their campaign to control opinion on America's main street than in the so-called Arab street.
So SWNID gives the Times a rare hat tip and Max Boot a big hand.

On Thanksgiving Break, A Cheer for American Higher Ed

As American university students travel home--that is, to their own or that of a friend who lives closer--for Thanksgiving, the Economist, in its annual forecast of the coming year, offers Adrian Wooldridge's assessment that their universities lead the world, and will for sometime to come.

The reason? The US "system" leave Uncle Sugar out of the decision making. Universities define their missions and compete for resources from multiple sources. Elsewhere, universities operate as government entities. Imagine getting an education from the BMV or the IRS.

As a member of the American higher-education community who deliberately works on its fringes, and as a graduate of a European university, attracted to it because of the efficiencies of its system in one respect alone and the excellence of its product in one department of one institution alone, SWNID completely affirms Wooldridge's perspective. We say further that these are the best days for American higher education, regardless of its obvious weaknesses. Compare any American university today to its condition in the 1970s and you'll see enormous improvement in nearly every area of its operations.

What's sad is that in Washington, politicians on the right--who should be committed to less government control, more individual discretion, more institutional liberty, and more competition--are pushing for revision of the authorization of higher education funding that would actually put Uncle Sugar in the provost's office.

The solution to whatever ails education in this country is not to apply No Child Left Behind to the one part that's working well. It's to apply the successes of higher ed--institutional competition, innovation, and diversity of public and private administration--to elementary and secondary levels.

Murtha Incoherent, But Schmidt Is the Story

Nothing illustrates the Left's ability to control the MSM better than the coverage of John Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq last week. Days afterward, the story is not that Murtha called for immediate redeployment but then voted against a resolution calling for it and released statements denying that he wanted the withdrawal immediately. The story is that Jean Schmidt called him a coward but now has supposedly "backtracked."

Now, to the facts:
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid-December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice: The United States will immediately redeploy--immediately redeploy.
No schedule which can be changed, nothing that's controlled by the Iraqis, this is an immediate redeployment of our American forces because they have become the target.
  • He then voted against a House resolution which asserted, "the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
  • He then introduced his own resolution calling for withdrawal "at the earliest practicable date." Little attention to Murtha's revision of his language has been paid outside of conservative blogs. Less attention has been given to the insight that no one on any side wants troops deployed longer than is "practicable." And, of course, little attention has been given to the fact that Murtha, though expediently voting for the original war resolution, consistently has spoken against the war for at least two years.
  • Meanwhile, Jean Schmidt made a statement in the well of the House about cowards, not Marines, cutting and running. In her statement Murtha was not the subject of any clause in which "coward" was a predicate but the object of a preposition indicating that she directed the third-person statement to him from an Ohio legislator. Consequently she was accused of calling Murtha a coward, and her subsequent statement that she regrets making a statement that was misunderstood is now labeled as "backtracking."
  • Meanwhile, premature-onset-of-dementia patient Richard Cohen has in his Washington Post opinion column stated that Democratic congressmen, and presumably Cohen himself, aren't accusing Bush of lying (proved by the absence of sentences with "Bush" as subject and "liar" as predicate in the Congressional Record), though Cohen thinks that the term "useful idiot" probably applies.
  • Meanwhile, the Post also reports that actual military officials are already talking about the likely practicability of beginning the American withdrawal/redeployment after the December Iraqi elections.
The moral of this story: in the MSM, if you're on the right, your words will be taken with the worst possible implication, and you, not your interpreters, will be held responsible for the implications drawn. If you're on the left, you have every opportunity of denial, clarification, rewording, or revising, and your interpreters, not you, will be held responsible for the clear meaning of your statements. If you're on the left, you can make outrageous statements, then say that they really meant something sensible, ignore the fact that the other side has actually set forth the same policy already. If you're on the right, no matter what you say is your policy or what you do as your policy, your judgment, reason, honesty and ethics are always suspect. If you're on the left, you therefore with impugnity can accuse people on the right of anything.

As someone whose profession is making sense of texts, I can only say that the situation in politics is not much different than the situation in biblical interpretation. If it weren't for wing-nuts understanding speech acts in absurd ways, we who serve by trying to understand those speech acts in sensible ways would have little to do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Exhortation to Gentle Readers

Conversation and email suggests that our community of gentle readers is of modest but significant number.

But you wouldn't know that from the comments posted on this most significant of blogs.

So we gently urge our gentle readers to overcome their reluctance to share their reactions to what they read. Fear not, gentle readers! The Father has given you the kingdom! Write a few words of reaction, rebuttal or rejoinder.

But, you object, I cannot match SWNID's eloquence or wit! How can I post on so erudite a blog?

Well, we respond that there are many gifts but one Spirit. Because you are not a mouth, are you not part of the body?

So find a previous post that made you laugh or yell or scratch your head, click the "comment" link," and post a sentence. Or a sentence fragment. Which happens to be a sentence fragment, of course.

Kelley Does SWNID's Work While Stars Align

Columnist Jack Kelley of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade, two delightful newspapers of the rust belt, has done what SWNID has lacked the time to do for several days, namely, respond to the much balleyhooed speech of John Murtha and the reports of a gun battle in which Abu Musab al Zarqawi, chief bad guy in Iraq, was at first reported killed. We note the following important developments on this contrasting story lines:
  • It appears that al Zarqawi is being ratted out by former supporters. The tactics of terror, turned on other Arabs, are not effective.
  • Meanwhile, Murtha's call for "immediate redeployment" was presented in so partisan and incoherent an manner that it could only be taken as a call for retreat and a sign of surrender, at just the moment when the insurgency is on its heels.
  • The media puffed Murtha's speech as coming from a hawk, when in fact Murtha has opposed the Iraq War from the beginning.
  • The Democrats, lately stirring up its Angry Left base for fundraising purposes, was caught offguard by the roll call vote on immediate withdrawal, something for which they would pay dearly if more than three of their number were to vote in favor.

However, it's worth noting that when Murtha's incoherent rant is sorted out, he was actually articulating what is likely to be the position of American forces in the next twelve months. Fred Kaplan, who makes Murtha a hero, notes that he is merely articulating a means of taking the next logical step in the handing over of Iraq to its new government while shepherding American resources. Most of these things have been leaked from the Pentagon long before Murtha stepped in front of the C-SPAN cameras last week.

And so political leaders in Iraq are calling for a "timetable" of American withdrawal. So the stars are aligning; the future seems clearer.

But the opposition party needs to suggest that all this means a failure of the Bush administration. Funny, though: it looks like the continued pursuit of the original goals for the invasion.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Important Customer Satisfaction Survey

SWNID gently asks our gentle readers, who tend to be of the Christian bent, to note, and perhaps to complete, a customer satisfaction survey on divine matters.

And we find ourselves in the odd position of thanking the Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship of North Central Iowa for this excellent resource.

CCU/WLW Talk Radio Idol

J. Todd Smith--Pentecostal preacher, Cincinnati Christian University student on the 12-years-to-graduation plan, friend of SWNID and all around excellent guy--is one of four finalists in AM 700 WLW's Talk Radio Idol competition.

Gentle readers should plan to listen to Todd on the air on Tuesday, November 22, from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. EST. For those outside the massive reach of the stations 50,000 watts, streaming audio is available at this link.

More importantly, gentle readers should vote for Todd, multiple times if possible. Click the appropriate link on this page.

Hey, we brought Mallory to the mayor's office. Let's go for another election victory by the power of the blog.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Help in Extracting Cohen's Eye Log

The fine folks at QandO Blog have assembled a nice compendium of data to specify the unfactual nature of Richard Cohen's accusation that Bush mangled the facts. What they document is that Cohen is not simply inventing false statements to attribute to Bush; he is inventing false statements that are the opposite of what Bush actually said.

Does he expect to get away with it? Or does he want to retire to spend time on the beach with Dan Rather or to sell Maureen Dowd's remainders at flea markets?

Cohen, Blind with Log, Identifies Speck

Richard Cohen's column in today's Washington Post begins with the phrase, "In one of the most intellectually incoherent major speeches ever delivered by a minor president."

He then proceeds to offer one of the most intellectually incoherent major columns every written by a minor columnist.

We note the following points of incoherence:
  • Admitting that all the major intelligence services thought that Iraq had WMD, he nevertheless blames the President for calling for action on the basis of the information he had from his intelligence services. Somehow the Senate is not responsible on this count, as they didn't get the "raw intelligence data." Apparently, our Presidents are to have the omniscience to do their own, infallible analysis of intelligence, independent of what their paid, professional analysts are telling them. Result, per Cohen: the President "mangled" the facts to sell the Iraq War.
  • Yet the issue is not the facts, which Cohen says can be "endlessly" debated (a typical refuge for those whose positions are not supported by the facts). It is the "mindset" of the administration, something that Cohen apparently has access to. N.B. that Cohen can't deal with facts but can read minds.
  • He accuses Bush of linking Saddam to 9/11, a point that has repeatedly alleged and consistently shown to be the opposite of what Bush actually said. But this false allegation proves that Bush didn't care about the facts.
  • He further states that Bush links together all acts of terrorism indiscriminately, "neglecting that they are specific to their regions and have nothing to do with al Qaeda." Well, Mr. Cohen, they're all acts by people who express solidarity in the same ideology and the same cause. If you think that they aren't linked on that basis, well, we pity you. A link can be other than "done by the very same individual" or "planned in direct collusion."
  • Cohen makes one coherent point, if we read between the lines: our intelligence could have been better before the war, and we'd like to have assurances that it's better now. But in the end, he doesn't write that no one can have confidence in the CIA and other agencies. He writes, "At the moment, no one can have confidence in the Bush administration." The CIA, some of whose entrenched senior officers have been plausibly blamed for trying to shift blame to the administration for their own failings, is not an issue of concern.
  • Overall Cohen repeats what administration opponents have done since the campaign of 2004: argue that if any statement by anyone in the administration prior to the war can now be questioned by any means, the case for the war is invalidated.

You'd expect better of the leading newspaper of the nation's capital than this pastiche of accusations and non sequiturs. You'd also think that Cohen would have read Hitchens and thought twice about repeating this nonsense yet again. But that's the mood of the moment. Bush's "record" low poll numbers (only records for him, and not at all exceptional since the advent of opinion polling) are like blood in the water for the sharks of the left. Rational political discourse that might actually advance the cause--by spurring more rapid reform of the intelligences services, for example--has been superseded by piling on the accusations of mendacity and incompetence.

Again, we assert that what ails this country is not primarily the failings of the administration but the failings of the party out of power to do its job in providing thoughtful alternatives. There's no debate, just accusations. It's hard to think when the other side just yells.

Something We Wish We'd Written

SWNID is happy to post the following quotation from Andrew Klavan's article, "Imagine There's No Heaven," a review of two significant books on atheism, in Claremont Review of Books (5:4, Fall 2005) 76, wishing that we had composed such insightful prose:

Of all the silly pop songs ever written, perhaps the silliest is John Lennon's "Imagine." "A wop bop a loo ram a lop bam boom" has more philosophical depth as a lyric--and indeed contributes more to the happiness of human society--than Lennon's thudding inanities, which are rendered truly inspiring only by being reduced to a one-word poster on a teenager's wall. Lennon, you'll no doubt remember, asks us to imagine humanity without faith, countries, or possessions. With nothing to kill or die for, he promises, "the world will live as one."

Now you may call me a dreamer, but it seems to me just such a world was imagined long before, in the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There, aliens begin to transform the human race into Lennon's world: a soulless army of automatons living as one without any of those bothersome passions that give rise to religions, nations, or private property. "Love, desire, ambition, faith," one of the aliens intones, perfectly prefiguring Lennon, "without them, life is so simple."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Jacoby Is Cribbing SWNID

Of course, it's got to be tough to be the token conservative political columnist at the Boston Globe. But is it so tough for Jeff Jacoby that he has to get all of his ideas from this blog?

In his latest, Jacoby notes that (a) "Bush lied!" is a miserable lie; (b) the Ds have absolutely no candidates and no alternative policies; (c) Bush's poll numbers are irrelevant to his effectiveness or his place in history; (d) David McCullough writes some really excellent books.

Read it there second, but remember that you read it here first.

And Meanwhile, Over at Slate

Chris Hitchens has laid down a scathingly logical and bitterly scathing reply to the Angry Left on the subject "Bush lied!" In classic fashion he lays out the absurdities one must believe in order to believe that Bush deceived.

But what may be most interesting are the reply posts from Slate's lefty readership. Apparently Hitchens has proved nothing except that he is a traitor and an idiot. The self-evident truth that "Bush lied!" so eloquently demonstrated by the posting of thousands of stickers to men's room walls all over the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village, not to mention university campuses, cannot be disproved.

GOP at the Movies: Watch the Big Lie in Action

If you really don't believe that all the consternation over whether Bush pushed the intelligence on WMD in Iraq, or if you just like to watch politicians saying things that they deny later, head over to and click the video link. You'll see some choice talking heads, from Madeline Albright to Nancy Pelosi to Howard Dean to Bill Clinton to St. Hillary herself declaring that Saddam is a menace who has or is determined to get WMD and can be depended on to use them.

What's sad is that it took the Grand Old Party, not the Main Stream Media, to assemble this pastiche of clips for the information of the American public. Where has the MSM been?

Well, Bob Woodward, the great icon of investigative journalism, today admitted that he knew that Valerie Plame was CIA one month before it hit the papers. So Scooter Libby was forced to testify and now faces perjury charges, and Judith Miller waited in a federal jail for the better part of a quarter, because our most celebrated journalist wouldn't come forward with what would have removed both of them from the focus of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation.

So while a real story is out there, the MSM is busy protecting its book deals and pursuing nonexistent dirt on the administration. Is it any wonder that TV new ratings and newspaper sales are plummeting?

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Commentary on the Celebrity Sunday School Teacher

Part-time ex-President and full-time self-promoter Jimmy Carter presents a precis of his latest book, Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, in the ever-obliging LA Times.

On the book, Publishers Weekly has already said (as quoted on, "Too much of the book, however, is a scattershot catalogue of standard liberal gripes against the current administration. Throwing in everything from human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib to global warming, Carter spreads himself too thin over talking points that have already been covered extensively. "

But for the sake of thoroughness, and because commentary is what we do, SWNID here offers the full text of the Times's article with our trenchant commentary. Mr. Carter's words are italicized; the SWNID commentary is in plain type with bold for emphasis.

IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

The Carter mythology depends on the notion of a bipartisan consensus stretching back to George Washington. We will note below some of the more obvious exceptions to this imagined consensus, some recent, some very old.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Like many on the left, and as Carter himself did in the 1980 presidential campaign, Carter equates his partisan positions with categories of virtue. Differences of opinion are not simply that; they are moral failings. Note that this rhetoric seeks to stifle debate, not engage it. Disagree with Carter, and you're immoral.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

Here the irony is ripe: Carter's rhetoric only works if it silences "dissenting voices," i.e., voices that disagree with Carter. But as to the effect of the so-called lack of respect for dissenting voices, we note that his book was published by Simon & Schuester and his column by the LA Times.

As to state and local autonomy, we believe that the administration that Carter criticizes was lambasted for insisting on some degree of state and local autonomy in disaster response. As to fiscal responsibility, well, we believe that the nation's accounts are have been in better shape in every year since Mr. Carter left office than they were in any year during is misrule.

As to truthfulness, the "Bush lied" thesis has been examined twice by the Senate, and now will get a third hearing because of Harry Reid's hissy fit a few weeks ago. So could we at least assume innocence until guilt is proved, even if the President must be subject to triple jeopardy?

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Now here's where Carter imagines his own special America. The United States, since throwing off the shackles of British imperialism, has been singularly independent in its approach to world affairs. Remember Washington's warnings about "foreign entanglements"? Remember the Monroe Doctrine? Remember nonmembership in the League of Nations? Our relationship to international organizations and treaties has always been ambivalent at best.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Yes, this is indeed a difference. Except with Grenada in the 80s. Or Panama, for that matter. Well, and then we weren't exactly attacked in the Mexican-American War. And there's the question as to whether the Spanish really did sink the Maine. And the case for war in WWI was not entirely clear-cut, especially after Wilson (whose policies Bush's resemble remarkably) campaigned on a pledge not to enter Europe's war.

Really, one can make the case that the only clearly justified American war was the Pacific portion of WWII, and then one can make the case that it didn't need to be carried out to its conclusion of unconditional surrender.

As to the nations branded "pariahs," one shudders to think that Carter is ready to admit the People's Republic of Korea back into the family of respectable nations. And one shudders that Carter is indifferent to the manifest reform of such nations as Lebanon and Libya (cf. discussion of human rights below).

In Carter's world, Kim Jong Il is a world citizen and George W. Bush is a world pariah. Hmm.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by topUS. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

I recall another President who insisted that we "speak softly and carry a big stick." But this Bush's policy is not Teddy's. The First and Better Roosevelt wanted to use American naval and military might to promote American commercial interests. Loosely that can be called imperialism, but of a capitalist variety. Bush's policy, however, is more like TR's projection of power with Wilson's expansion of democracy. Call it muscular Wilsonian foreign policy. Is it imperialism to risk lives, treasure and sacred honor to overthrow someone else's dictator and give that someone else a vote?

Hmm. Sounds pretty American. And pretty bipartisan.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Well, there are a lot of alliances out there, Mr. Carter. There are the 40 or so nations involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are all the nations that voted for various UN resolutions, on the basis of which American and British forces invaded Iraq.

Well, the French aren't there. And do you see how well that's going for them right now?

We didn't mention the five-nation talks about North Korea's nukes, but then to do that would simply bring up another Carter failure, that infamous "agreement" he free-lanced during the Clinton administration with North Korea.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Sigh. We hate to mention this, but the only war that really fits this "sacrifice" mode that wasn't fought on American soil is World War II. If national mobilization would help, well, maybe someone would propose it. Do you see a place for Victory Gardens in the Global War on Terror, Mr. Carter?

But let's remember that for Mr. Carter, a sacrifice is turning down the thermostat, putting on a sweater, buying a compact car, and pledging not to leave the White House until the hostages are free.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Let's name one clear example of a gross violation of human rights under the Patriot Act, passed 99-0 by the US Senate. Name one, Mr. Carter! We dare you!

Now, let's talk about what's at stake. The last terrorist attack on American soil took about 3000 lives. So are you cool with the idea of the FBI and CIA sharing information in that light?

The Constitution is not a suicide pact. Yet SWNID notices no spooks at our public library branch or listening in on our mobile phone.

Of even greater concern is that theUS. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people inUS. custody.

The value of torture as a means of interrogation is debatable. But this moral quandary is not: if torture can yield information that will prevent and imminent terrorist attack that will take many lives, should it be used? Mr. Carter, is your own sense of your moral purity so important that you would not authorize that someone be put in pain and fear so that many other people would not be killed or injured?

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

As Baroness Thatcher observed before she was a baroness, "You can't uninvent nuclear weapons." The usefulness of American nuclear arms remains their deterrent value. Mr. Kim knows that if he uses a single nuke, he and all of his friends will be vaporized. Those who insist on following Cold War treaties after the Cold War is over risk being labeled Battleship Admirials.

And those who think that if the US reduces its arsenal, other nations will give up their nuclear ambitions risk being labeled naive.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

So the rest of the world doesn't like our environmental policies, even though we enjoy a very fine level of environmental quality on our shores? Hmm. So the rest of the world wants us to ratify and follow Kyoto? Hmm. How are they doing with it? Oh, yes: none of the signatories have met their targets so far. Hmm.

To speak plainly: Mr. Carter insists on morally vilifying policies on which there is simple disagreement. Bush and the Republicans simply have a different view on the effectiveness of various kinds of environmental legislation.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

Well, I'm glad I'm rich, because I got a nice tax cut from Mr. Bush and company. And how is it helpful to the poor if the government takes away more money from Bill Gates? Does that create jobs, or lower consumer prices, or spark innovation, or encourage philanthropy?

As to that minimum wage: how many people are earning it these days? And how are the higher minimums working in France, just to pick a nation at random? How do you feel about 12% unemployment, with 40% among people 15-25?

And while we're on it, what's your deal for royalties from Simon & Schuester? What's that Presidential pension these days?

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

We note that you didn't have the nerve to say "a fundamentalist shift in many Americans' religious views." You had to depersonalize and institutionalize it with "houses of worship," as if "houses" believed anything.

First, Mr. Carter, stop dropping the f-word. "Fundamentalist" represents something very specific in American Christianity, and the fundies are not your problem. By definition, fundies are not politically engaged; they withdraw. The evangelicals are your problem. You used to be one, until you were turned off by what you saw in the Southern Baptist Convention. Your social tastes and political alliances drove you from the church of your childhood and adulthood.

Second, how can you criticize Americans for having thereligiouss views that they do and then say that your opponent is being un-American? Are you not down with the First Amendment?

Third, please note that American religion has always tended toward conservatism, revivalism, and the move from faith to social activism.

Fourth, where is this sinister intertwining of religion and government? In the essentially stillborn "faith-based initiatives"? In the discussion of intelligent design in the classroom? These shake the foundations of our freedoms? How fragile do you think our freedoms are?

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.

Mr. Carter, please note: peace, freedom and human rights are exactly what we're fighting to create in Iraq and Afghanistan. And guess what: it's working. Not perfectly. Nothing does. But it's working. And you know it.

Iraq is free. Tibet is not. See the difference?

It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.

Spare us the rhetoric on division. You learned that from the other lefty whiners. "Division" for the left is what exists when people dissent from the conventional wisdom of the left.

As to historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years, I'd say that we're right in line with those. We're using our considerable economic and military strength to promote democracy. As we declared the Western Hemisphere closed to colonization, as we resisted British attempts to reassert sovereignty, as we fought to liberate the Southwest from dictatorship and blacks from slavery, as we pre-empted Spanish imperialism, as we fought for democracy against imperialism and fascism, as we contained and battled communism, so we are fighting Islamo-fascist imperialsm and its Baathist ally. Sounds familiar to me!

American history is filled with all kinds of nastiness. But to say that the Bushadministrationn is un-American in its policies is, well, uninformed historically and un-American rhetorically.

At least we remember why we all voted against this guy in 1980.

Viva la Reagan Revolution!

Of Citizenship and Identity

National Review Online posts a delightful piece by former Ladies Home Journal editor Myrna Blythe on the new test for citizenship in Great Britain. It's timely for multiple reasons: the French riots, the problem of immigration in the US, the question of national identity in an age of radical Islamic ideology. But it's also an amusing comparison of British and American notions of what citizenship entails.

We tease you with a quotation:
For example there is one [question] that asks (and I am not kidding): "What should you do if you spill someone's pint in the pub?" The wrong answers are: "Dry their wet shirt with your own." Or "Prepare for a fight in the car park" or "Run away from the pub." The right answer: "Offer to buy the person another pint." And, no, the test was not written by Monty Python.

We add to Ms. Blythe's observations that the test disrespects the language of Shakespeare and Milton with its abominable use of the plural "their" to refer to the singular "someone's."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Once Again: We Can't Lose This War Unless We Quit

SWNID is fond of pointing out that in an asymmetrical war like the current one, the side with utter military superiority cannot lose unless it quits fighting. Suicide bombers take no territory, overthrow no governments and achieve no political objectives unless they induce the other side to quit.

The angry antiwar left has been arguing for the last two years that American actions were fueling the recruitment of more terrorists, making the war harder to win, if not giving the initiative to the other side. And lately, combined with the angry antiwar left's Big Lie* ("Bush lied!"), the drumbeat of doom has persuaded about 60% of Americans who answer polls that the war has been a failure.

Well, now it looks otherwise. The Scotsman reports on what has been inevitable: a backlash against the pointless slaughter of Muslims by suicide bombers. Demonstrations in the Muslim world are now anti-terrorist demonstrations, not anti-American ones.

We quote the following tidbit from our friends in Edinburgh:

Even in Iraq al-Qaeda may have overreached itself, according to Eric Margolis, author of War at the Top of the World: the Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet. "I think it remarkable that Zarqawi has not been caught yet. But I think it's even more likely that he will soon be either caught or betrayed, possibly by his own people.

"In Iraq there's a lot of anger and fury at Zarqawi, even among the Iraqi resistance forces who are fighting the Americans. They say that Zarqawi is polluting and defaming their struggle by terrorist attacks, which are just brutal and bloodletting, and giving them a bad name."

*For gentle readers unfamiliar with the political strategy of the Big Lie, it goes like this:
  • Make an outrageous, damning charge against your opponent.
  • Repeat it often, at every opportunity, for as long as is necessary.
  • Treat it as if it were an established fact, part of the common wisdom of the age.
  • Express outrage that anyone would believe otherwise, attributing partisan blindness or credulity to those who object.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Steyn on France: Eurabia Rising

Global Content Provider Mark Steyn offers a simultaneously witty and gloomy assessment of Europe's future in light of the French riots. Demographics, he asserts, are dooming Europe to economic marginalization and cultural eclipse. Look for Eurabia to emerge.

The whole article deserves to be read by all gentle readers (N.B. that it comes from Britain's Spectator, which requires free registration, well worth the cost). Of the article's many trenchant paragraphs, we quote one (emphasis inserted):

It’s remarkable to me how many European commentators cling to the old delusions — mocking Bush for being in thrall to his own Texan version of Osama-like fundamentalism. I look on religion like gun ownership. That’s to say, New Hampshire has a high rate of firearms possession, which is why it has a low crime rate. You don’t have to own a gun and there are sissy Dartmouth College arms-are-for-hugging types who don’t. But they benefit from the fact that their crazy stump-toothed knuckle-dragging neighbours do. If you want to burgle a home in the Granite State, you’d have to be awfully certain it was the one-in-a-hundred we-are-the-world pantywaist’s pad and not some plaid-clad gun nut who’ll blow your head off before you lay a hand on his $70 TV. That’s the way it is with religion. A hyper-rationalist might dismiss the whole God thing as a lot of apple sauce, but his hyper-rationalism is a lot more vulnerable in a society without a strong Judaeo-Christian culture. American firearms owners have a popular slogan: ‘If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.’ Likewise, if you marginalise religion, only the marginalised will have religion. That’s why France’s impoverished Muslim ghettos display more cultural confidence than the wealthiest enclaves of the capital.

Guest Contribution: Focus on the Family Reviews Genesis

The following is a guest contribution, composed by Son of SWNID.

Focus on the Family Reviews Genesis

The premise is simple. This book purports to tell the story of the creation of the universe and of the lives of its first inhabitants. One critic (Robert Alter) calls it "the most important and influential work in the history of western literature." The staple of Sunday School lessons for generations, our reviewers sought to determine the book’s appropriateness for this audience, and for discerning adults. Now we here at Focus on the Family have been called censors and prudes, but the contents of this book would shock even the most numb secular critics. Read on...

Positive Elements: None. There is no character in this book (God included) who does not engage in despicable behavior.

Spiritual Content: One might think that a book of the Bible would be extremely spiritual, and so Genesis is, but only in the most negative sense imaginable. All human characters in the book disobey and question God, and there is discussion of the pagans gods of other Near-Eastern peoples. However, even God is not an admirable figure. He repeatedly judges characters in the book with violence, and he is inconsistent in his punishments. Some characters are immediately punished for their actions, while others seem to be blessed. After murdering his brother Abel, Cain is given protection from God and told that he will be avenged for any harm done to him.

Additionally, this book does not present the true spiritual message, forgiveness, redemption and eternal life through Jesus Christ. Instead, this book promotes the Jewish faith, though it demonstrates the many flaws in the God of the Jews.

Violent Content: Too vast to document all of it. Out of jealousy, Cain murders his brother Abel. Verses later, Lamech murders a man for wounding him and a boy for bruising hi, proclaiming that God has avenged him. God drowns all men except for Noah and his family in a flood. A group of kings makes war on another. God destroys two wicked cities with burning sulfur. He commands Abraham to sacrifice his son. A man wrestles with God. A girl is raped, and her brothers murder the rapist and the other men of his town. These same brothers later throw their least favorite brother in a pit and leave him for dead. They later decide to sell him into slavery instead. We are supposed to see the brothers as kind because they decided not to commit the murder. Animals are sacrificed throughout.

Sexual Content: Surely deserves an NC-17 rating. In chapter 2, a husband and wife are described as "one flesh." Husbands repeatedly "know" or "lie with" their wives. Noah gets drunk and lies naked in his tent. Abram sleeps with a concubine because his wife cannot have a child. The men of Sodom demand that they be allowed to sleep with two angels in the city. Lot offers his virgin daughters to the men instead. He then drinks to excess and sleeps with his own daughters. There are many more incidents and of polygamy, rape and pre-marital sex, including a disgusting incident in which Jacob finds that his wife is not the woman he had agreed to marry. Potiphar’s wife attempts to seduce Joseph.

Profanity/Crude Language: Use of words such as "ass" and "whore." Additionally, chapter 11 states, "Everyone on earth had the same language and the same words." Obviously, some men of this age swore. If this sentence is true (and it is, as the whole book is true), then it implies that all men swore.

Drug/Alcohol Content: As stated above, several characters drink wine to excess.

Other Negative Elements: Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, after being told by God not to. Characters disobey God throughout. Jacob pretends to be his brother Esau to deceive his father.

Conclusion: This book demonstrates perfectly that while something might be real, it is not necessarily edifying. While everything is Genesis is a factual account, it is not appropriate for children or adults. It revels in bad behavior and its characters are poor role models. Most disturbing is the marketing of these stories to children while parents look the other way. And if this isn’t bad enough, the book even gives nods to Darwinism. 2:7 states that man arose "from the dust of the earth." I cannot reconcile this statement with the account of the previous chapter. Don’t even begin to read Genesis.

SWNID notes: Remember the good old days, when James Dobson just wrote about raising children?

The President Takes Up Podhoretz's Point

Much political attention today will go to the return of President Bush to the political offensive in his Veterans Day speech at Wilkes-Barre, PA. Among other things, the President said:

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.

Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand is a threat and a grave threat to our security."

That's why more then a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

Bush has apparently been reading Norman Podhoretz's piece in December's Commentary, currently previewed on the magazine's website. SWNID urges gentle readers to take in the elder Podhoretz's diligent attention to the facts, not the media's selective memory, of history. In sum, he reminds us that:
  • Scooter Libby's indictment has nothing to do with the case made for the Iraq War.
  • Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Israel, France and the UN, including Hans Blix, were before the war utterly convinced that Saddam had WMD.
  • Colin Powell's loyal chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, recently counted as one claiming that the Secretary of State was misled about WMD, notes that the entire intelligence community was united in its belief that Saddam had or was pursuing WMD.
  • Every member of the Clinton administration to speak on the subject in the late 90s expressed belief that Saddam had or was pursuing WMD.
  • Leading Senate and House Democrats, including John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, expressed confidence, even fear, that Saddam had WMD.
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 cleared the Bush administration of pushing the CIA or others to give the intelligence that it wanted in order to justify the war.
  • Bush never called the threat of WMD from Iraq imminent; in fact, he repudiated the idea that imminence was necessary to justify preemptive action.
  • Joe Wilson has lied about nearly every detail of his trip to Niger, which in fact gathered data that supported the assertion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium there.

While the fever swamp is buzzing about yet another investigation of all this, it will be useful to keep facts like these in mind.

Robertson Widens Lead Again

Not content with his massive lead in the standings for Most Embarrassing Christian Ever, televangelist and erstwhile presidential candidate Pat Robertson yesterday issued yet another embarrassing statement. Responding on his TV program the 700 Club to the Dover, Pennsylvania, School Board election that removed from office incumbent school board members who had passed a policy requiring the teaching of intelligent design (ID) with evolution, Robertson said,
I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.

In addition to identifying support for ID as a means to securing God's favor, Robertson's remark continued his recent string of statements invoking divine judgment on people who oppose his politics.

After the program aired, Robertson attempted to soften his original statement with qualifications and explanations. Claiming that he was pointing out that "our spiritual actions have consequences," he offered:

God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in His eye forever.... If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.

analysts noted that Robertson's explanations continued his pattern of pronouncements on divine judgment and conditions for divine favor and were interpreted as a means of adding additional embarrassment to his original statement.

Promoting his book at a meeting of disaffected Southern Baptists at Mercer University, Jimmy Carter refused comment when asked if he thought that Robertson's statement was in response to Carter's recent embarrassing remarks pronouncing on the authenticity of George W. Bush's Christianity.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why Riots in France Continue

To bring an end to the French intifada, we urge someone to declare himself the leader of the rioters. Until the French government knows to whom they must surrender, they will be powerless to respond.

Too bad Nobel Peace Prize Winner Yassir Arafat isn't available.

SWNID Endorsement Tips Mayor's Race

This blog is pleased to announce that SWNID endorsed candidate and SWNID neighbor Mark Mallory last night was elected mayor of Cincinnati.

The underreported story in the local media is the crucial role that this blog's endorsement played in the campaign. Mallory's slender margin of victory (51.8% to 48.2%) approximates the total number of hits received by this blog since its inception. Assuming that all hits represented new readers, that all readers are registered Cincinnati voters, and that all voted yesterday for Mallory--reasonable assumptions all--we lay claim to having won the election for the new mayor.

Ward-by-ward results show that Pepper's strength came, predictably, from Price Hill, Covedale, Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout and Mt. Washington/California. Mallory had overwhelming support in predominantly African American wards but also strongly carried the bellwether Ward 25 (Mt. Airy/College Hill), Clifton, and other areas with diverse demographics. Mallory clearly had support that cut across conventional political lines, having earned the endorsement of prominent Republicans and conservatives as well as left-wing groups.

This result will also be called the victory of positive campaigning over negative, the victory of an outsider over an insider, and the victory of grassroots campaigning over big money. The facts support all those assertions.

In other Cincinnati election results, City Council will continue to have as a member a man who has shamelessly promoted an organization involved for more than thirty years in terrorism, namely, Irish Republican Army supporter David Crowley. Four new council members may restore some semblance of order to that chaotic body.

Perhaps the most excellent news is that Issues 2-5, the so-called reform measures for Ohio elections, were soundly defeated. If Mallory's election proves anything, it's that big money is way overrated in politics. All of Pepper's fundraising among his daddy's friends in the Fortune 500 and his buddies from Yale Law School were powerless against the long-term reputation that the Mallory family has in local politics. This is exhibit A in demonstrating that Issues 2-5 were at best unnecessary. Of course, they were fundamentally undemocratic, but that's another matter.

Certainly the future of the Queen City is brighter today than it has been for the last four years.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

One Last Reason to Vote for Mallory

Today's momentous mayoral election in Cincinnati seems to be going down to the wire. No polls have been published to SWNID's knowledge, but everyone seems to expect a squeaker.

Gentle readers know our enthusiastic endorsement of State Senator and SWNID neighbor Mark Mallory. But we note one additional reason to vote the SWNID ticket, as reported by Howard Wilkinson on the Enquirer's political blog.

Pepper has made it clear that there are certain candidates he wants to work with and others he can live without; Mallory seems more willing to take pot-luck when
it comes to Tuesday's council election.

"See?'' said Mallory. "He wants to pick his own council. I'm willing to let the voters do that for themselves. I can work with anybody."

Pepper's P&G-corporate-headquarters style of leadership ... can it survive the exegencies of Cincinnati's dire situation?

More on Plame's Deep Cover

Brit Hume is reporting that everyone's favorite opportunist, Joe Wilson, is said to have been blabbing that his wife was CIA long before the "leak." Wilson's lawyers are demanding that the person who says this, retired army general and Fox News contributor Paul Vallely, issue a retraction and an apology.

Clearly if Wilson has his lawyers working on this, he either trying to protect himself from criminal indictment or from financial loss. In the latter case, he needs to protect his credibility for the book that he's writing, which would be no surprise. In the former case, he thinks there's enough credibility to the allegation that he might be hoist by his own petard and eventually serving a sentence with Scooter Libby as cellmate.

But let's get real about all of this. Valerie drove the family Saab to Langley every day. This is not Maxwell Smart walking through multiple secret passages, dialing a secret number in a concealed public phone booth and dropping through a trap door. She had as much cover as Gypsy Rose Lee.

As long as the left has nothing in its arsenal except the criminalization of policy differences, we'll be treated to spectacles like this one.

Monday, November 07, 2005

First Amendment Rights for All?

The LA Times reports that All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena has been warned by the IRS that it is under investigation for alleged intervention in the 2004 presidential election and may as a consequence lose its tax-exempt status.

The allegation has to do with a sermon during the campaign that was openly critical of Bush's policies but did not make any endorsement of either candidate.

While SWNID will die on whatever hill President Bush tells us to, and while we are happy to see Episcopalians go down after our own brief flirtation with Anglican-style power with the Miers nomination, we sincerely hope that the IRS will knock it off with this outrageous investigation. It's clear enough that the church didn't make a formal endorsement of a candidate. It's also clear enough that many churches are doing exactly what this one did: avoiding formal endorsements while speaking very pointedly on issues related to campaigns.

This is not a case of the lefties losing the advantage that they've come to expect. Conservative churches have been just as politically active as liberal ones in the last twenty years, and they've had more influence to boot. There's no reason for the right to cheer that the left is getting what they deserve, because the right deserves it too.

If the IRS can sanction a liberal, mainline church in this way, it won't take much to sanction dozens of conservative churches, and it will happen sooner than you can say President Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Program Note, and Autobiographical Note Too

SWNID recommends that all gentle readers make time Sunday to listen to St. Paul Sunday on their local NPR classical music affiliate (FM 90.9 WGUC in Cincinnati, airing at 6 p.m.). Yes, even gentle readers who don't care for classical music should hear this program.

Why? Because clarinetist Anthony McGill, formerly of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and now of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, is performing Brahms Second Clarinet Sonata. McGill is an enormous talent, and ridiculously young. He plays with a luminous tone and tremendous feeling for the music. And the Brahms clarinet works are the great composer's valedictory works, pieces that he "came out of retirement" to compose. They are beautiful, delicate, mature, emotionally rich.

Even people who don't like classical music will enjoy this classical music.

For SWNID, programs like this one confirm that we made the right career choice. Back in the mid-70s, as we practiced many hours under the tutelage of master teacher Achille Rossi, we seriously contemplated a career as a classical clarinetist. Life took another turn--we believe under the direction of divine providence. And we have no regrets.

Now we listen to artists like McGill playing the instrument that we still play and love, and we rejoice in their talent and in the beauty of their art. This for us is a blessed outcome.

There are no wasted days or efforts when we follow the Nazarene.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Agreed by Both Sides: Nothing to See Here, Move Along

There's a first for everything. Today's first is that SWNID cites with approval a piece from the left-wing New Republic.

The piece is Jeffrey Rosen's, which offers a stinging critique of Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice. He notes that indictments for perjury are rare to nonexistent for testimony given when no underlying crime has been found to have been committed. Worse, he notes that there is no obstruction of justice where the act doesn't interfere with an investigation and no underlying crime is found to have been committed.

A couple of choice passages:

Contrary to Fitzgerald's claim, charges of perjury, obstruction, and false statements are relatively rare in federal criminal prosecutions. In 2004, federal prosecutors launched 80 perjury cases out of 70,397 criminal cases. "Ordinary prosecutors rarely indict people for perjury and more often indict people for false statements, but almost always as part of a broader indictment including more serious charges," Stuntz says. A review of Fitzgerald's record as an ordinary prosecutor suggests he has presided over more perjury, obstruction, and false statement cases than most. But, when he has issued indictments on those charges alone, it's usually been for bit players covering for people indicted for major crimes. It's special prosecutors who are known for indicting suspects for making false statements alone, without charging anyone with any other indictable offense.

Just as Democrats were right to denounce Starr for criminalizing insignificant and immaterial lies, Republicans are right to denounce Fitzgerald for the criminalization of political differences. It's been clear from the beginning that Libby, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney were trying to discredit a critic of the administration, not trying to disclose the identity of a covert agent. But what makes Nadagate even worse than Monicagate is its effect on the First Amendment. Never mind whether Judith Miller of the Times is a trustworthy journalist: She and Matthew Cooper of Time were correct to fear the spectacle not only of having to appear before a grand jury but also of being charged themselves with violating national security laws. And, as the columnist Walter Shapiro notes, they were also correct to fear the costs of appearing in a public trial talking about their previously off-the-record conversations with their sources--costs that might make national security reporting far harder in the future.

And Have You Noticed?

"Outing" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent is bad.

"Outing" CIA detention centers for terrorists is good.

We invite gentle readers to explain this ethical paradox. SWNID will do different puzzles, probably Sudokus.

A Silver Anniversary Worth Remembering

Investor's Business Daily reminds us of something that we need to remember. It was twenty-five years ago that Ronald Wilson Reagan was elected President.

Supplement the IBD piece with James Taranto's tribute, which leads today's Best of the Web Today. Taranto nicely contrasts the nadir of postwar American life in the late 70s with its resurgence under Ronald the Great and his successors, among whom must even be numbered the Democrat president of the 90s who rolled back the Great Society.

And to think that Jimmy Carter has the nerve to peddle his book at such a time! We can only assume that it will be bought and read by people with short memories, bad judgment, or both.

French Choose Appeasement, Get War

As riots in Paris go into their second week, become more violent (rioters are shooting at police and firefighters) and widespread (they are attacking trains), it's fair to say that the French now have their own intifada.

Let us recall the statesmanlike foresight of Jacques Chirac in opposing the American invasion of Iraq and the observation that the Americans would face the wrath of the Islamic world as a result of the invasion, while opponents of the war would not. We now see how that's working out.

We seem to recall Churchill making remarks about such matters, right after Chamberlain returned from Munich.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Glimmer of Hope for the Ds

Bernard Schwartz, chairman and CEO of Loral Space & Communication and a Democrat, writes most provocatively on how his party can adopt a platform of optimism and realism in the present environment. SWNID invites our gentle readers to consider the following planks:

Surely the United States will resist protectionist policies. And the Democratic platform will advocate tax reform that lightens the burden for the middle class, while encouraging savings and reducing the deficit. We also must pursue policies that shrink the number of families who live below the poverty level and stimulate income growth for low-wage earners.

We must enforce education reform, encourage and support advanced studies, and broaden tuition-financing programs. The Democrats must support scientific programs that face declining budgets. These include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency.

We must strengthen investment in the environment and alternative forms of energy. The successful development, production, and deployment of energy alternatives will increase American manufacturing jobs, decrease dependence on foreign oil imports, rebalance trade deficits, and help the environment.

Allowing that there are still things here to pick at, can anyone imagine proposals like these coming from Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi? But wouldn't it be nice if the debate were framed around questions like these instead of whether Scooter Libby is a threat to humanity?

Does anyone remember what it was like to live in a country with two real national political parties?

Carter Leverages into Contention for Most Embarrassing Christian Ever

Ex-President and self-righteous self-promoter Jimmy Carter today made his move to challenge Pat Robertson for the title Most Embarrassing Christian Ever.

Promoting his latest literary self indulgence, a book criticizing the Bush administration's policies from the informed perspective of Plains, Georgia's most famous citizen, Carter offered the following remark: "I can't deny that I am a better ex-president than I was a president."

In response, millions were heard to say, "We can! You're terrible at both, and this book proves it."

Carter, most famous as a celebrity Sunday School teacher, injected Christianity into his discussion, thereby qualifying his remarks for the Most Embarrassing Christian standings, with the following, as reported by USA Today:

"I don't have any doubt that he is very sincere about his Christian faith," Carter said of Bush. "There are some differences in interpretation. ... I have a commitment to worship the Prince of Peace, not the prince of pre-emptive war. I believe that Christ taught us to give special attention to the plight of the poor."

Bush, he said, "has committed himself to extol the advantages of the rich."

Questions about specks in others' eyes and logs in one's own and about the nature and consequences of false witness and slander were not answered by the retired peanut farmer.

Likewise, questions about the benefit to the poor of Carter's ruinous fiscal policies versus the steady economic growth under Bush were ignored.

Likewise, questions about the efficacy of Carter's sword-into-plowshares tactics for the liberation of American hostages versus the Bush doctrine on terrorism received no answer.

Zell Miller on the Plame Kerfuffle

America needs renegade Democrat Zell Miller. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is carrying his take on the Plame Kerfuffle, and it may be the best analysis yet of the personal and political realities.

But what may be most important is his observation on what needs to be done with the law as a result of what Valerie and Joe have foisted upon us:

We need a Plame rule. Any family member of a CIA agent tapped to help out must live by the same rules regarding information disclosure and domestic political manipulations as those imposed on the agent. If the family member fails to live by those rules, the agent is terminated.

We tip the SWNID hat to the retired Senator from the Great State of Georgia.

Another Reason Not to Spend a Penny to Read the NY Times

The NY Post is ripping its tony competitor today for its selective use of passages from a letter by US Marine Corporal Jeffrey Starr, who was tragically killed in action in Iraq, to his girlfriend.

The Times lifted the following quote:
I kind of predicted this . . . A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.

But the letter immediately went on to say:
I don't regret going, everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me, that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.

It's also worth noting that the letter was of the "to be opened in the event of my death" variety. Starr didn't think that he was a prophet, and neither does his family.

Yes, gentle readers, it's getting that bad among the MSM.

Is Paris Burning?

It now looks as if we know the answer to a perennial question about the media: How long do riots have to take place in a major European city before the US MSM pays attention? Today's headlines give us the answer: seven days. That's how long Paris suburbs have been aflame.

Here are some points that our gentle readers should realize as this story makes its way into the public consciousness on this side of the pond:

  • When we say "suburbs" about Paris and many other continental cities, we refer not to the places that have newer, more spacious houses, but the places where poor people, mostly immigrants, live. Paris and many other European cities have developed in the opposite direction as compared to American cities: the best places are in the city center, while public housing developments are pushed out to separate enclaves orbiting the city.
  • The MSM is paying little attention to the fact that the rioters are Muslims of North African extraction. This is an uncomfortable but salient truth.
  • Something like this has been expected for years. Serious public affairs monthlies have for years been reporting on the significant segregation of North African Muslim immigrants in these Paris suburbs and of the inherent problems of assimilating immigrant populations in European nations that have viewed themselves as largely homogeneous ethnically for centuries.
  • We will hear much about how "far right" parties like Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front will benefit from these events because of their anti-immigrant, nationalist and racial politics. And that's true. But calling them "far right" distorts the political reality. Le Pen and his ilk have virtually no common cause with the alliance of free-market and moral conservatism that represents the "right" in the United States. It is the Europeans' lack of a significant alliance of such views that makes their politics so different from this country's.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Which Is Harder to Believe?

A gentle reader and reformed chicken kidnapper draws our attention to the following remark from Saturday Night Live on October 29, as delivered by Tina Fey during the venerable SNL News:

66% of Americans think President Bush is doing a poor job. The other 34% think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church.
Meanwhile, over at OpinionJournal: Best of the Web Today, the indispensable James Taranto makes the following observation about yesterday's fulminations of the Angry Left:
Democrats love to mock the Republican base for believing the Bible is true. Democratic basemen believe "Fahrenheit 9/11" is true!
While SWNID happily shares this useful comparison on the subject of warranted and unwarranted belief, we nevertheless are forced to admit that some people who believe fervently in a form of Christianity also believe firmly that dinosaurs and humans existed as contemporaries. The drawing above is from the Kidz Art Gallery of the infamous "Lambuel" web site. Draw your own conclusions about what the child who created this digital picture has been taught about the triumphal entry.

We encountered this remarkable Lambuel some months ago when pointed to it by the ever-vigilant Son of SWNID. At the time, we believed that it must be a parody. It disappeared briefly but now has returned at another web address. Follow the link and see if you can follow the reasoning.

Angry Left Plays Fantasy Politics

Q: What do the following events have in common?
  1. Harry Reid breaks with Senate traditions to call the chamber into closed session to discuss the investigation of pre-war intelligence on Iraq.
  2. A student organization at Cincinnati's Walnut Hills High School plans a walkout during their final class period today to protest the Iraq War. The protest is timed to coincide with protests going on nationally.

A: They are examples of the Angry Left's orchestrated attempt to nationalize its echo chamber.

The Angry Left's echo chamber has been listening to its slogan, "Bush lied!" since well before the Iraq war began. But no one else has. With the indictment of Scooter Libby, they think they have their chance to reveal to America the Awful Truth that only they have known for so long.

So here's the deal: the folks who complained that it was Bush's fault that most Americans thought that Saddam was responsible for 9-11 now want most Americans to believe that Scooter was indicted for lying about WMD in Iraq, and that all that keeps the Evil Genius Karl Rove, Despotic Oil Baron Dick Cheney and other members of the administration from being indicted, including the Useful Idiot President himself, is the Republican spin machine that keeps Bush's popularity above zero.

Naturally, that means that the Angry Left now turns up its own spin machine to hypercentrifugal mega-revolution.

So Reid gets on CNN to tell America that behind Scooter's inability to remember how exactly he learned that Joe Wilson needed a job and his wife got him one is a massive conspiracy to cover up the deliberate falsification of intelligence data by Rove, Cheney, et al. Here's what Reid actually said, per ABC News:

The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

And the foot-soldiers of the left (apologies to all actual soldiers for that metaphor) step out to do their sixties nostalgia act on Blair Circle behind WHHS.

The timing is not a coincidence. Someone with a big check from George Soros is using Howard Dean's mailing list to get all this going at once.

But here's the deal. No one will notice or care.

First, most Americans are probably smart enough to know that the intelligence was flawed, not that anyone deliberately misrepresented it. Yes, before the war there was an ongoing discussion of the value and significance of lots of intelligence data, and now there's concern that the intelligence apparatus was (and remains) inadequate. But folks outside the echo chamber know the difference between mistakes and lies.

Second, most Americans aren't nostalgic for the sixties and seventies. They aren't impressed by things that look like Vietnam War protests or Watergate investigations (noted previously as the only two stories that the left's MSM can tell). They're even less impressed when the protesters are a few kids from Hyde Park willing to risk a detention and maybe a point on their GPA for the chance to list on their applications to Brown University that they participated in anti-war protests.

Third, they know that this doesn't make one whit of difference to the present. Bush can't run again, and we can't cut and run from Iraq.

Fourth, even if they listen, they'll simply notice again that the left is out of ideas. Maybe the right is too far right. Maybe the right is stupid. But the left is clueless, and the right has the virtue of ideas which, while imperfect, have yielded some significant stuff in the last twenty years (see fall of communism, spread of democracy, steady and growing global prosperity).

Finally, nobody except Vanity Fair subscribers cares about publicity hounds Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. America still cares more about Brad and Jen.