Monthly Archives: May 2006

Wanted: A Few Good Amateurs

Maybe now’s the time for amateur hour at the CIA.

An excerpt from a Wall Street Journal editorial:

The CIA’s Iraq mistakes have been amply documented. But the agency’s career analysts also got their judgments of the Soviet Union’s condition badly wrong. The Ford Administration had the foresight to bring in outside experts to do a so-called Team B analysis of the Soviet threat in the 1970s, and they got it right.

General [Michael] Hayden … solicitously told Michigan Democrat Carl Levin he wasn’t “comfortable” with work done by former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. Contrary to Democratic folklore, Mr. Feith’s Office of Special Plans never “politicized” intelligence but functioned as a modern-day Team B, looking at intelligence products and asking questions of briefers. How could the briefers be so sure, for example, that Islamic radicals like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi couldn’t have strong links to the “secular” Hussein regime? General Hayden should have been asked to elaborate on why he is uncomfortable that analysts might have to explain how they arrive at certain conclusions.

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Amnesty and Preference

Thomas Sowell on the new “tough” immigration bill:

Since most of the illegals are Mexican, that makes them a minority. Under affirmative action, combined with amnesty, they would have preferences in jobs and other benefits.

Those who set up their own businesses would be entitled to preferences in getting government contracts. Their children would be able to get into college ahead of the children of American citizens with better academic qualifications.

Illegals who graduate from a high school in California can already attend the University of California, paying lower tuition that an American citizen from neighboring Oregon.
Click here to find out more!

Under the supposedly “tough” immigration bill in the U.S. Senate, illegals don’t have to pay all the back taxes they owe. An American citizen gets no such break from the government and can end up in federal prison, like Al Capone.

Gavito

For Sopranos fans.

Havoc and Vanity

Strong Wall Street Journal editorial on the unhinged left’s rage toward Joe Lieberman and John McCain.

An excerpt about McCain’s reception at the New School in New York:

Rude college kids and left-wing professors are hardly a new story. But the ugliness of the New School crowd toward Mr. McCain reveals the peculiar rage that now animates so many on the political left. Dozens of faculty and students turned their back on the Senator, others booed and heckled, and a senior invited to speak threw out her prepared remarks and mocked their invited guest as he sat nearby. Some 1,200 had signed petitions asking that Mr. McCain be disinvited.

“The Senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded,” said senior Jean Sara Rohe, which makes us wonder what ideals, and manners, she learned at home. “I am young and though I don’t possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.”

Speaking of “havoc,” Ms. Rohe spoke only blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center. The Senator who spent years in the Hanoi Hilton reacted with admirable restraint to these insults…

Mr. McCain was invited to the New School by its president, former Democratic Senator and Congressional Medal of Honor winner Robert Kerrey. When Mr. Kerrey spoke, he was also heckled, with someone shouting, “You’re a war criminal!” It’d be comforting to dismiss all this as mere Manhattan derangement, but these passions have become common in liberal media and Web precincts and are spilling into national politics.

In his prepared remarks, McCain answered the protesters here.

An excerpt:

I became an aviator and, eventually, an instrument of war in Vietnam. I believed, as did many of my friends, we were defending the cause of a just peace. Some Americans believed we were agents of American imperialism who were not overly troubled by the many tragedies of war and the difficult moral dilemmas that constantly confront soldiers. Ours is a noisy, contentious society, and always has been, for we love our liberties much. And among those liberties we love most, particularly so when we are young, is our right to self-expression. That passion for self-expression sometimes overwhelms our civility, and our presumption that those with whom we have strong disagreements, wrong as they might be, believe that they, too, are answering the demands of their conscience.

When I was a young man, I was quite infatuated with self-expression, and rightly so, because, if memory conveniently serves, I was so much more eloquent, well-informed, and wiser than anyone else I knew. It seemed I understood the world and the purpose of life so much more profoundly than most people. I believed that to be especially true with many of my elders, people whose only accomplishment, as far as I could tell, was that they had been born before me, and, consequently, had suffered some number of years deprived of my insights. I had opinions on everything, and I was always right. I loved to argue, and I could become understandably belligerent with people who lacked the grace and intelligence to agree with me. With my superior qualities so obvious, it was an intolerable hardship to have to suffer fools gladly. So I rarely did. All their resistance to my brilliantly conceived and cogently argued views proved was that they possessed an inferior intellect and a weaker character than God had blessed me with, and I felt it was my clear duty to so inform them. It’s a pity that there wasn’t a blogosphere then. I would have felt very much at home in the medium.

It’s funny, now, how less self-assured I feel late in life than I did when I lived in perpetual springtime. Some of my critics allege that age hasn’t entirely cost me the conceits of my youth. All I can say to them is, they should have known me then, when I was brave and true and better-looking than I am at present. But as the great poet Yeats wrote, “All that’s beautiful drifts away, like the waters.” I have lost some of the attributes that were the object of a young man’s vanity. But there have been compensations, which I have come to hold dear.

And why he supports the Iraq War:

I supported the decision to go to war in Iraq. Many Americans did not. My patriotism and my conscience required me to support it and to engage in the debate over whether and how to fight it. I stand that ground not to chase vainglorious dreams of empire; not for a noxious sense of racial superiority over a subject people; not for cheap oil–we could have purchased oil from the former dictator at a price far less expensive than the blood and treasure we’ve paid to secure those resources for the people of that nation; not for the allure of chauvinism, to wreak destruction in the world in order to feel superior to it; not for a foolishly romantic conception of war. I stand that ground because I believed, rightly or wrongly, that my country’s interests and values required it.

…Should we lose this war, our defeat will further destabilize an already volatile and dangerous region, strengthen the threat of terrorism, and unleash furies that will assail us for a very long time. I believe the benefits of success will justify the costs and risks we have incurred.

Some Geopolitical-Globalist Abstract-Athon

As usual, Peggy Noonan cuts to the heart of the immigration issue:

The disinterest in the White House and among congressional Republicans in establishing authority on America’s borders is so amazing–the people want it, the age of terror demands it–that great histories will be written about it. Thinking about this has left me contemplating a question that admittedly seems farfetched: Is it possible our flinty president is so committed to protecting the Republican Party from losing, forever, the Hispanic vote, that he’s decided to take a blurred and unsatisfying stand on immigration, and sacrifice all personal popularity, in order to keep the party of the future electorally competitive with a growing ethnic group?

This would, I admit, be rather unlike an American political professional. And it speaks of a long-term thinking that has not been the hallmark of this administration. But at least it would render explicable the president’s moves.

The other possibility is that the administration’s slow and ambivalent action is the result of being lost in some geopolitical-globalist abstract-athon that has left them puffed with the rightness of their superior knowledge, sure in their membership in a higher brotherhood, and looking down on the low concerns of normal Americans living in America.

I continue to believe the administration’s problem is not that the base lately doesn’t like it, but that the White House has decided it actually doesn’t like the base. That’s a worse problem. It’s hard to fire a base. Hard to get a new one.

Lolita In The Twenty-First Century

Nice piece by John Derbyshire on reading Lolita .

Derbyshire concludes:

Here you see one of the paradoxes of our strange times. Our women dress like sluts; our kids are taught about buggery in elementary school; “wardrobe malfunctions” expose to prime-time TV viewers body parts customarily covered in public since “the lamented end of the Ancient World B.C.” (Humbert); our colleges have coed bathrooms; songs about pimps rise to the top of the pop music charts; yet so far as anything to do with the actual reality of actual human nature is concerned, we are as prim and shockable as a bunch of Quaker schoolmarms. After 40 years of lying to ourselves, we are now terrified of the truth. Which is an unhappy thing, because the truth is bearing down on us fast.

What would Vladimir Nabokov say if he could view our present scene? I think he would weep. Political Correctness was only embryonic in the mid-1950s, and Nabokov poked some gentle fun at it in Lolita:

…according to the rules of those American ads where schoolchildren are pictured in a subtle ratio of races, with one—only one, but as cute as they make them—chocolate-colored round-eyed little lad, almost in the very middle of the front row.

He would have been horrified to see how this how these silly but harmless and well-intentioned courtesies have swollen into a monstrous dreary tyranny, shutting off whole territories of speech and thought, acting as a sheet anchor to hold back our commercial and intellectual progress, corrupting our constitutional jurisprudence, turning unscrupulous mountebank attorneys into billionaires, and making art like Nabokov’s incomprehensible to millions who, had they been born a few decades earlier, would have gotten from it such unexpected, unimagined delight as I got among the birdsong and bowlines in the Sea Cadets’ hut at Northampton School for Boys 44 years ago.

That we are stupider, coarser, duller, lazier, narrower of mind, more fearful of strangeness, more abject, and more craven than the Americans of 1958 is bad enough. What really shows that our civilization is, and richly deserves to be, on its way out, is that we are less able to savor and love a surpassingly beautiful work of art like Lolita.

Spearchucker

Where’s the outrage? Cleveland columnist uses slur against Colin Powell:

Powell rose higher than almost any black Republican by making the party faithful comfortable with his non-threatening and non-demanding presence on racial issues. Powell flamed out after his ego no longer allowed him to be an unquestioning spearchucker in Mr. Bush’s war.

First it was Harry Belafonte calling Powell a “house slave” and now this. Powell seems to be guilty of being a Republican while black.

Feel-Good History

Why Johnny don’t know no history.

An excerpt from a piece by Diane Ravitch:

California… has mandated by law since 1976 that instructional materials used in the schools must provide positive portrayals of specified groups.

When it comes to males and females, for instance, the Legislature decreed that “equal portrayal must be applied in every instance.” That means, among other things, that an equal number of male and female characters must be depicted in “roles in which they are mentally and physically active, being creative, solving problems … ” and that male and female characters in textbooks must show a “range of emotions (e.g. fear, anger, tenderness.)”

California’s textbooks and other materials must instill a “sense of pride” in students’ heritages and may not include “adverse reflection” on any group. Cultural or lifestyle differences may not be portrayed as “undesirable.” Members of minority groups must be shown “in the same range of socioeconomic settings” as those in the majority.

And it’s not just gender and ethnicity that is “protected.” Older people, people with disabilities and people who pursue various occupations have been written into the law.

So it’s not surprising that in recent months gays and lesbians have stepped forward to demand a place at the state’s capacious table. They too want their roles to be portrayed positively in textbooks purchased by the state. And frankly, they’ve got a point. In view of the state’s broad inclusion of every other group in its list of those deserving such treatment, the state has no principled reason to exclude any new claimant.

The Latest Sob Story

The latest sob story from the New York Times (coming soon to your local newspaper and the rest of the MSM) is how “working people” are suffering from the high price of gasoline and are thus forced on to mass transit.

I’m confused. I thought that this is what liberals wanted: for people to abandon their cars in favor of buses and trains in order to halt the “global warming” caused by the internal cumbustion engine. Why aren’t they (the liberals) dancing in the streets?

The answer? The high price of gas is bad for Bush and good for the Democrats, which is much more important than the environmental benefit of having fewer cars on the road spewing carbon dioxide and melting the polar ice caps.

The Long Dark Night of Fascism

As Tom Wolfe once wrote: The long-dark-night of fascism is always descending on the United States, but somehow it always manages to land in Europe. Now the unhinged Democrats and their allies on the loony libertarian right see more evidence of the Bush administration’s “plot against America.”

From a New York Daily News editorial:

Well, here we go again with the horrified screams from the crowd that’s inclined to believe the big bad government is peeping through every keyhole and recording every streetcorner chat about whether or not it looks like rain.

Revelations that the National Security Agency has been collecting a database of every telephone call in America – numbers dialed, that is, not conversations parsed – happen to come as British probers report that July’s London transit bombings might have been prevented if only security forces had been aware that one of the bombers regularly called Pakistan in the days before the blasts.