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July 10, 2004

Moving III

7:31 p.m., Eastern Standard Time

Take me now, Lord... please.

Or at least send strong drink. Or automatic weapons.

- Cassandra

July 10, 2004 at 07:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Trivializing the Momentous, Complicating the Obvious

Moving back to the DC area has been exciting, but also something of a shock. On the base in California, where we couldn't get newspaper delivery, it was easy to live in relative isolation from world events. Because I don't normally watch TV news, I had forgotten how adversarial and incredibly biased network news reporting can be. We watched a lot of news on the road.

Victor Davis Hanson expresses my dismay at the way people continue to trivialize current events. I suppose I should not be surprised. Once a people cease to recognize God and distain moral distinctions, life takes on a disturbing sameness. Everything is colored the same boring shade of gray. The man who feeds others feet-first into plastic shredders is indistinguishable from the man who puts underwear on a prisoner's head: both are torturers.

I try to resist drawing lines in the sand, but that's hard to do in today's politically-charged atmosphere. What seems like a calm and well-reasoned argument to me seems like polemics to those on the other side of the aisle.

For some reason, I'm reminded of an old Grandmaster Flash ** song: "It's like a jungle sometimes - it makes me wonder how I keep from going under...":

There is a great divide unfolding between the engine of history and the dumbfounded spectators who are apparently furious at what is going on before their eyes. Mr. Bush's flight suit, Abu Ghraib, claims of "no al Qaeda-Saddam ties," Joe Wilson, and still more come and go while millions a world away inch toward consensual government and civilization.
For over a year now, we have witnessed a level of invective not seen since the summer of 1964 — much of it the result of a dying 60's generation's last gasps of lost self-importance. Instead of the "innocent" Rosenbergs and "framed" Alger Hiss we now get the whisk-the-bin-Laden-family-out-of-the-country conspiracy. Michael Moore is a poor substitute for the upfront buffoonery of Abbie Hoffman.
The oil pipeline in Afghanistan that we allegedly went to war over doesn't exist. Brave Americans died to rout al Qaeda, end the fascist Taliban, and free Afghanistan for a good and legitimate man like a Hamid Karzai to oversee elections. It was politically unwise and idealistic — not smart and cynical — for Mr. Bush to gamble his presidency on getting rid of fascists in Iraq. There really was a tie between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein — just as Mr. Gore and Mr. Clinton once believed and Mr. Putin and Mr. Allawi now remind us. The United States really did plan to put Iraqi oil under Iraqi democratic supervision for the first time in the country's history. And it did.
This war — like all wars — is a terrible thing; but far, far worse are the mass murder of 3,000 innocents and the explosion of a city block in Manhattan, a ghoulish Islamic fascism and unfettered global terrorism, and 30 years of unchecked Baathist mass murder. So for myself, I prefer to be on the side of people like the Kurds, Elie Wiesel, Hamid Karzai, and Iyad Allawi rather than the idiotocrats like Jacques Chirac, Ralph (the Israelis are "puppeteers") Nader, Michael Moore, and Billy Crystal.
Sometimes life's choices really are that simple.

- Cassandra

** Thanks to KJ for correcting my mistake - see comments. My rapping card has been yanked.

July 10, 2004 at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Apparently, Reading Isn't Fundamental...

This isn't surprising, but it is rather depressing. An NEA survey released July 8th shows:

...a precipitous downward trend in book consumption by Americans and a particular decline in the reading of fiction, poetry and drama.
The survey, called "Reading at Risk," is based on data from "The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts," conducted by the Census Bureau in 2002. Among its findings are that fewer than half of Americans over 18 now read novels, short stories, plays or poetry; that the consumer pool for books of all kinds has diminished; and that the pace at which the nation is losing readers, especially young readers, is quickening. In addition it finds that the downward trend holds in virtually all demographic areas.
"What this study does is give us accurate numbers that support our worst fears about American reading," said Dana Gioia, the chairman of the endowment, who will preside over a discussion of the survey results at the New York Public Library this morning. "It quantifies what people have been observing anecdotally, but the news is that it has been happening more rapidly and more pervasively than anyone thought possible. Reading is in decline among all groups, in every region, at every educational level and within every ethnic group," he said, calling the survey results "deeply alarming."

Does reading matter?

The survey also makes a striking correlation between readers of literature and those who are socially engaged, noting that readers are far more likely than nonreaders to do volunteer and charity work and go to art museums, performing arts events and ballgames. "Whatever good things the new electronic media bring, they also seem to be creating a decline in cultural and civic participation," Mr. Gioia said. "Of literary readers, 43 percent perform charity work; only 17 percent of nonreaders do. That's not a subtle difference."
"It's not just unfortunate, it's real cause for concern," said James Shapiro, a professor of English at Columbia University. "A culture gets what it pays for, and if we think democracy depends on people who read, write, think and reflect — which is what literature advances — then we have to invest in what it takes to promote that."
...In the literature segment respondents were asked whether they had, during the previous 12 months, without the impetus of a school or work assignment, read any novels, short stories, poems or plays in their leisure time.
Their answers show that just over half — 56.6 percent — read a book of any kind in the previous year, down from 60.9 percent a decade earlier. Readers of literature fell even more precipitously, to 46.7 percent of the adult population, down from 54 percent in 1992 and 56.9 percent in 1982, which means that in the last decade the erosion accelerated significantly. The literary reading public lost 5 percent of its girth between 1982 and 1992; another 14 percent dropped away in the following decade. And though the number of readers of literature is about the same now as it was in 1982 — about 96 million people — the American population as a whole has increased by almost 40 million.
The survey found that men (37.6 percent) were doing less literary reading than women (55.1 percent); that Hispanics (26.5 percent) were doing less than African-Americans (37.1 percent) and whites (51.4 percent); but that all categories were declining. The steepest declines of any demographic group are among the youngest adults. In 1982, 59.8 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds read literature; by 2002 that figure had dropped to 42.8 percent. In the 25-to-34 age group, the percentage of literary readers dropped to 47.7 from 62.1 over the same period.

I cannot imagine life without books, or poetry, or Shakespeare. It would be like living in a dark, airless cell and never being allowed outside to see the sun set. Television and movies do not have the depth that books provide - they don't convey a character's thoughts, or the author's perspective, experience, or narrative.

Something is lost in in the translation from three- to two-dimensional format, and we also lose if we settle for less for ourselves and for our children because it is easier - or more accessible.

- Cassandra

July 10, 2004 at 08:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack


So what we're really saying here is that if the Fellowship of Christian Athletes wants to wear sashes with crosses and Bible texts on them at graduation, neither the dean of students at UC Irvine nor the ACLU will have any objection.

Why do I find that hard to believe?

- Cassandra

July 10, 2004 at 07:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2004

Saddam Appeals to US Supreme Court

This is way too funny...

I suppose with our jurists wanting to apply international law to our own Constitution, nothing should surprise me anymore. Everything is relative, words have no specific meaning, there are no boundaries, and everything applies to everything. It's a Mad, Groovy Planet we live on.

Someone cue "We Are The World...":

The lone American on Saddam Hussein's legal team said Thursday he has asked the Supreme Court to declare the detention of the ousted Iraqi president unconstitutional.
The long-shot legal maneuver [you think???] comes as Saddam's attorneys await the chance to meet with their client and find out what charges he will face in a war crimes trial by Iraq's new government. He could face the death penalty.
"Even the basic rights of due process, the basic rights of fair trial are being stomped on," said Washington lawyer Curtis Doebbler, who volunteered his services on the 20-member team with lawyers from Belgium, Britain, France, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, and Tunisia.

What a Dream Team...

Thanks to spd rdr for the link.

- Cassandra

July 9, 2004 at 11:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Blixing Merrily Along

Krauthammer, once again proving that there is no such thing as too much Blix-bashing:

Thank God for Hans Blix. Whenever we become lax and forgetful about how the world changed on Sept. 11, former chief inspector Blix is there to make the case for mindless complacency. In a recent speech in Vienna he warned that one should be wary of the claim that "the risk that reckless groups and governments might acquire weapons of mass destruction is the greatest problem facing our world today." Why? Because "to hundreds of millions of people around the world, the big existential issue is hunger, and also that wherever you live on this planet, the risk of global warming and other environmental threats are existential."

Got angst? I can just see Mr. Blix pursing his thin little lips in self-righteous indignation...

Here we are at the crux of a debate over the United States' aggressive interventionism of the past few years. Is Islamic radicalism in potential alliance with terrorist states that possess such weapons a threat to the very existence (hence: "existential") of the United States and of civilization itself?
On Sept. 12, 2001, and for many months after, that proposition was so self-evident that it commanded near unanimous support. With time -- three years in which, contrary to every expectation and prediction, the second shoe never dropped -- that consensus has evaporated.
The new idea, expressed by Blix representing the decadent European left, and recently amplified by Michael Moore representing the paranoid American left, is that this existential threat is vastly overblown. Indeed, deliberately overblown by a corrupt/clueless (take your pick) President Bush to justify American aggression for reasons of . . . and here is where the left gets a little fuzzy, not quite being able to decide whether American aggression is intended simply to enrich multinational corporations -- or maybe just Halliburton alone -- with fat war contracts, distract from alleged failure in Afghanistan, satisfy some primal masculine urge or boost poll ratings.
We have come a long way in three years. The idea that Sept. 11 was a historic turning point, a wake-up call to a war declared by our enemies but ignored by us, has begun to fade. The week after the attacks, the late-night comedy shows went dark -- and upon returning to the air they were almost apologetic about telling jokes, any jokes, ever again. Today, Moore produces a full-length film parody of Sept. 11 and its aftermath that is not just highly celebrated but commands a huge popular audience. To be sure, Moore's version is not quite as crazed as the French bestseller claiming that the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center were remotely controlled by the CIA at the behest of the president. Moore merely implies some sinister plot, citing connections between the Bush and bin Laden families. It's a long way from two years ago, when Rep. Cynthia McKinney was run out of Congress for suggesting that Bush had foreknowledge. (She is today in a tight race, with a very good chance of regaining her seat.)

Mr. Krauthammer points out the obviousness of the threat facing us and is dismayed that it needs repeating. But every day, on every newscast, in every newspaper we open, we are bombarded with the message that it is OK not to worry: there is no threat, there never was a threat. Move along... nothing to see here.

Eating breakfast in our hotel the other morning, I glanced at my newspaper and saw that we had found more sarin-filled shells in Iraq. Shells that had the ability to kill more than 100,000 people. Shells that Saddam was obligated to report under the terms of the UN sanctions. The last time I checked, 100,000 people qualified as a massive number of human beings. Watching CNN, the lead story, repeated at least 3 times during the 10 or 15 minutes while we wolfed down our breakfast led the listener to a diametrically opposite conclusion: "CIA KNEW IRAQ WMD PROGRAM DISMANTLED BUT MISLED PRESIDENT BUSH IN DAYS LEADING UP TO IRAQ WAR". In other words, we have news that ACTUAL weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, but that's not news. Instead, the Communist News Network endlessly repeats a non-story about a single bit of intelligence that (as it turns out) is not dispositive as to the existence of actual WMD's in Iraq, since actual sarin-filled weapons have been found...recently.

No wonder no one is worried - that's what we're being told. And is it really any surprise that Mr. Blix was unable to find any WMDs in Iraq? One doesn't get the impression from anything he has said that he was convinced they were ever there.

- Cassandra

July 9, 2004 at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Moving II

Sorry I'm a little slow this morning.

I decided to sleep in past 4 am for once, and then when I got up I saw Joatmoaf's fine post and wanted to leave it up there at the top for a while. He said a lot of things I have thought about from time to time, but have never been able to put into words quite so well.

Moving will continue to slow me down for the next day or so. Our furniture arrives tomorrow - yesterday we got a lot done. I picked out paint colors for the dining room and living room and bought a big old oriental rug for the LR. This was a big hit with the canine contingent - he was not amused with the expanse of naked hardwood floors and has been busily rolling all over the rug ever since we brought it inside last night to ensure it has the proper scent.

Monday I'll start work again, the Unit reports in at the Five-Sided Funny Farm, and things should be semi-back-to-normal. Wednesday (hopefully) I'll get high-speed access back - I had it all set to be hooked up before we got here, but they neglected to tell me (even though I asked) that they needed to have a computer on site. I'm still not sure why - seems I could set it up myself. I've always done this in the past, but apparently this is something of a Black Box process. Another Mystery of the Universe....

- Cassandra

July 9, 2004 at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Race Card Thrown: 0 Points Scored

This is priceless...

I almost spit out my coffee.

Democratic state Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, who had scheduled a protest by civil rights organizations, canceled the demonstration after an apparent mix-up over the girl's racial background.

So Mr. Dymally was only going to go to bat for the child if she were of a certain racial background.

Dymally was quoted in the San Jose Mercury News Thursday saying the child was "a little African-American girl. Would he (Riordan) have done that to a white girl?"
The girl is white, with blonde hair.


Dymally did not return telephone calls. His office issued a statement Wednesday calling Riordan's remarks to the girl "outrageous and irresponsible," then issued another statement Thursday saying, "To err is human; to forgive is divine."

"Race is not a factor in this issue," Dymally said in Thursday's statement, adding that Riordan had apologized a second time. "It is time for us to move on."

- Cassandra

July 9, 2004 at 07:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

July 08, 2004

Dealing With Ignorance

I went to a retirement ceremony today and during the course of events one of our new architects came over and struck up a conversation. While getting through the initial awkwardness of the Getting To Know Each Other pleasantries he brought up the subject of John Kerry.
Here I was, talking to a very well educated, level headed individual about a subject that he was apparently clueless on. It wasn`t that he was partisan, even though he said he was a Massachusetts democrat he still could think for himself, he simply did not know the things about Kerry that we on the right assume is common knowledge to everyone.
The facts on his Vietnam war records, his days as a leader in the protest movement at that time, a movement that was confirmed to be communist inspired, the fact that Vietnam has a John Kerry suite at one of their best hotels in Hanoi with a plaque in honor of John Kerry for his (wittingly or not) contribution to "the cause."
He and I talked for a couple of hours and I gave him some good information on Kerry, most of it was from Cassandras posts. This well educated, Massachusetts democrat was suprised to say the least, because everything he knew about Kerry came from the news media, and he had considered himself well informed.
This man is the kind of people we conservatives need to be reaching out to. There are millions of them out there who, just like him, vote the party line ticket. Not because they are stubbornly biased or anything like that, but simply because they haven`t been given the facts.
I do talk politics at work and I do it a lot, but I never initiate the conversation. I always wait until the subject turns to politics then I jump in.
I never argue with opponents or name call. If they have facts to debate, then I debate the facts, but if they insist on being partisan I leave them alone and try to educate their friends.
This method works extremely well because when the ignorant are forced to defend what they say against the facts, they always lose, and while it may just make one or two angry, the level headed and open minded people begin to have doubts. Most intelligent people, who begin to have doubts about things that they have, until then, always assumed to be facts, will start to ask questions. Once that happens they start voting their conscience instead of their party.
I think that word of mouth is the best defense we have against the propaganda of the left.
Close minded liberals will visit liberal sites on the internet to get their news and post their views, they`re beyond reasoning with. It`s the swing voters we need to work on, to educate, to give the facts to since they`re the ones who will ultimately decide who wins this next election. To get them on our side all you really have to do is talk to them. As I illustrated above, they`re not normally biased, not stupid, not angry or anything petty like that. They`re simply un-informed of the facts, but they`re sincere individuals who just want to do the right thing, including voting for the person who has the best interest of America as their priority.
It`s our job to try to present our side in as many one on one situations as we can. If we do it with facts, reason and patience, the sensible person will come around because they want to do the right thing, and until then they didn`t know the difference.

- joatmoaf -

July 8, 2004 at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Kerry Courts La Raza

The mainstream media, who regularly profess outrage at the slightest sign of what they perceive to be racial insensitivity or intolerance from Republicans, had no problem with Cruz Bustamente's continued support of MEChA. This, despite his refusal to disavow masterpieces of good citizenship, tolerance, and brotherly love like the following:

The fundamental principles that led to the founding of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán are found in El Plan de Santa Barbara (EPDSB). The Manifesto of EPDSB sees self-determination for the Chicana and Chicano Chicano and Chicana Movement in El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán (EPEDA). A synopsis of El Plan stipulates: 1) We are Chicanos and Chicanas of Aztlán reclaiming the land of out [sic] birth (Chicano and Chicana Nation); 2) Aztlán belongs to indigenous people, who are sovereign and not subject to a foreign culture; 3) We are a union of free pueblos forming a bronze nation...

So I enjoyed seeing this in FoxNews:

On June 30, John Kerry went to Phoenix and spoke before the national conference of the race identity group La Raza. By now most Americans know that “La Raza” is Spanish for “The Race,” and also that the media accept that groups such as La Raza are conspicuously race conscious while being intolerant of others for being so.
Kerry said to his audience, "It is time to fulfill the promise of America, so that those who work hard and take responsibility and build a better life for them and their families, and live by the rules, and pay their taxes and raise their families have a right to share in America and its citizenship in the fullest." Kerry then went on to promise that the 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. would be given a “path to citizenship” in his first 100 days in office.
On closer inspection, it’s clear that Kerry’s pronouncement could have come right out of Orwell. Not a single individual who could benefit from Kerry’s amnesty plan has by any definition “played by the rules.”
Eligibility for the Kerry amnesty plan requires an individual to not just be present in the United States without a current visa (which is a crime under Title 8 of the U.S. Code) but also working, which is a crime under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (search)signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1986. Both activities are capable of treatment as felonies.
If federal legislation represents the national will expressed through our representatives in Congress, then Kerry’s plan is in outright conflict with the will of a majority of Americans. But the fact that Kerry’s amnesty proposal puts only unprosecuted felons “on the path to citizenship” is not likely to be its downfall. After all, Republican Chris Cannon, the congressman from Utah who also spoke at the conference, has proposed similar legislation and it has garnered the support of 63 members of Congress (though several supporters are now distancing themselves from the bill). Kerry’s problem is more likely to be the fact that his amnesty is predicated on payment of one’s taxes.
According to the IRS, in 2001 individuals paying taxes with an ITIN, rather than a Social Security number (i.e. illegal aliens; the only individuals who have a need for or qualify for an ITIN are those without citizenship or lawful permanent residency) paid $305 million in federal income taxes. Calculated against 8 million illegal aliens, that’s a per capita federal tax payment of $38.13, and against 12 million illegal aliens, that’s a per capita federal tax payment of only $25.42. Since neither payment indicates earnings that would allow an individual to survive for one year, we can conclude only that there is persistent, massive tax non-compliance among illegal immigrants.

As Mr. Hayes shrewdly points out, Kerry is pitting the interests of illegal immigrants against the interests of the traditional base of the Democratic party: African-Americans and blue-collar workers. He goes on to ask why both Republicans and Democrats are courting illegal immigrants (or the documentationally-challenged, if you prefer the more politically correct term). He concludes that they hope to earn the gratitude of these voters once they attain legal citizenship.

Mr. Hayes neglects to mention that a significant number of illegal immigrants are already voting (illegally) - for Democratic candidates. He also misses another point - if Kerry's plan is predicated on the condition that applicants are illegal immigrants who have been paying taxes, the number of successful applicants is likely to be quite small. In other words, Kerry is making yet another illusory promise - it makes him look good, but he is not likely to have to deliver.

- Cassandra

July 8, 2004 at 10:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack