Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Corporal Adam J. Buyes of Salem Killed in Afghanistan

Cpl. Adam J. Buyes
Cpl. Adam J. Buyes, 21, of Salem, Ore., died Nov. 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. This incident is under investigation.

Stars and Stripes reports:
"The 21-year-old joined the Marines Corps in January 2009 after graduating from McKay High School in Salem the year before. Buyes’ brother Joshua is also a Marine, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

"'He cared for his Marines as if they were brothers from the beginning,' said 1st Sgt. Daniel J. Wilson, the battalion first sergeant, in a statement released Tuesday by the Marines on Okinawa Tuesday. 'Cpl. Buyes was just one of those Marines that made being in Okinawa, Japan, or deployed to Afghanistan better and more enjoyable for everyone.'

"A high-school athlete, Buyes 'had high morals, a great work ethic,' his high school football coach Jay Minyard told The Oregonian. 'His peers loved him; his teachers loved him.'

"A memorial service will be held Dec. 4 at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Marine officials said."
According to the Oregonian, Cpl. Buyes is the 31st Oregonian to die in Afghanistan. Full list of Oregon and Southwest Washington servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan before Buyes is here.

[Photo is from the Statesman Journal (Salem).]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Andrew McCarthy: Republicans Subsidize Mansions

Andrew McCarthy in National Review:
"Almost two weeks ago, when they figured no one was watching, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, by an overwhelming 292–121 margin, voted to increase funding for the Federal Housing Administration. Just as government debt hit $15 trillion, edging closer to 100 percent of GDP, these self-proclaimed scourges of spending decided Uncle Sam should continue subsidizing mini-mansion mortgage loans — up to nearly three-quarters of a million dollars."
. . .
"Not housing for the poor, mind you, nor even for the middle-class — luxury homes. The real-estate market is so depressed at the moment that the median sale price of a single-family home is less than $170,000. Even in high-cost areas like Los Angeles, the Wall Street Journal reports, it has plunged to less than $325,000. Yet the Republican House — installed by the Tea Party in a sea-change election to be the antidote to Obamanomics — decided the taxpayers should guarantee FHA loans up to $729,750. Had they not acted, the public obligation would have been reduced to “only” $625,500 per FHA loan — couldn’t have that, right?"
. . .
"If Republicans really thought the growth of government was unsustainable, they’d stop growing it. As it is, the truly profound difference on “a vision of government” is between those who believe that government “growth” is unsustainable versus those who realize that government is unsustainable as is — those who grasp that throwing untold billions at Baby Boomer palaces is not compassion; it is the grandest of larceny, robbing our children and grandchildren of the chance for prosperity our forebears laid down their lives to preserve for us.

"It was only a decade ago that we were getting by on 18.2 percent of GDP, and only about half a decade ago that a $400 billion annual deficit (about a trillion less than what we’re running now) was considered unconscionable. Where are the Republicans who are going to tell us how we get back to that?"
. . .
"Obama Democrats demagogue about the need to balance spending cuts with tax hikes. Republicans predictably respond that they were willing to compromise. When you are $15 trillion in debt, a debate over whether we should borrow another $6 trillion or another $5 trillion is not an exercise in compromise. It is an exercise in insanity."
[emphasis added]

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy Portland City Costs Nearing $1.5 Million

The Portland Tribune:
"The cost of rehabilitating Chapman and Lownsdale squares after five weeks of an Occupy Portland encampment could be substantial, with the price tag hitting $100,000 or more. That is in addition to the police overtime costs for dealing with the protesters, currently pegged at nearly $1.3 million and rising."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for William F. Buckley, Jr. - 2011

William F. Buckley, Jr., with Jeff Greenfield on Firing Line set in 1973

William F. Buckley, Jr., was born in 1925 on this date. He not only changed the course of conservatism in America, but he set a standard of intellectual integrity and personal warmth that changed the lives of many young conservatives. I was among them in the late 1960's. The first time I saw him debate, I asked him to sign my paperback copy of Rumbles Left and Right. The was the first of many kindnesses he showed me.

Proverbs 19:22 says "What is desirable in a man is his kindness". Bill Buckley was a kind, generous and loyal man--to many individuals and to his nation. He remains a blessing from the Lord.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for C. S. Lewis 2011

Hans Wild photo from Life Magazine

After leaving a Christian legacy that is stronger today than during his lifetime, C. S. Lewis passed into the presence of his Lord forty-eight years ago today.

Lewis's passing was little noticed at the time because he died the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Here is a quotation from a favorite Lewis book, Mere Christianity (from The Case for Christianity).
"Another possible objection is this.  Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil?  Why is He not landing in force, invading it?  Is is that He is not strong enough?  Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when.  But we can guess why He is delaying.  He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely.  I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side.  God will invade.  But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does.  When that happens, it is the end of the world.  When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.  God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else–something it never entered your head to conceive–comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?  For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.  It will be too late then to choose your side.  There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.  That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.  Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.  God is holding back to give us that chance.  It will not last for ever.  We must take it or leave it."
Lewis housekeeper Mollie Miller's nephews playing at the Lewis house in 1973

8 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq November 14 to November 21, 2011

November 14 - Spc. David E. Hickman, 23, of Greensboro, N.C., died in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device.

November 16 - They died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Spc. James R. Burnett Jr., 21, of Wichita, Kan.; and
- Pfc. Matthew C. Colin, 22, of Navarre, Fla.

- Spc. Sean M. Walsh, 21, of San Jose, Calif., died in Khowst province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained after encountering indirect fire.

November 18 - Pfc. Adam E. Dobereiner, 21, of Moline, Ill., died at Kandahar province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

- Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Corral, 19, of Danville, Calif., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

November 21 - Pvt. Jackie L. Diener II, 20, of Boyne City, Mich., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

- Cpl. Zachary C. Reiff, 22, of Preston, Iowa, died of wounds suffered Nov. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Parkerization of Conservative Pundits

Kathleen Parker’s recent column asserts a change in the GOP “in which the least informed earns the loudest applause.” She calls it the Palinization of the GOP.

Unfortunately, earning the loudest applause while being the least informed seems all too apt as regards some conservative pundits, too. Parker comes up short on facts supporting her assertions.

Parker starts by citing liberal Democrat strategist Paul Begala on the horrible state of the GOP as the "stupid" party. She goes on.
“. . . as [Begala] also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind. Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in. The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference was co-sponsored by the Birchers.”
But, Parker, who likes to evoke Buckley as a model, departs from Buckley’s own standards and positions.

The first departure is in quoting a leading liberal Democratic strategist as the basis for slamming conservatives and the GOP. Bill Buckley didn't look to leading liberal Democrats (or liberal Republicans for that matter) for political advice. Buckley was on the receiving end of too many of attacks from such as Begala warning Republicans to turn away from hyper-conservatives like Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley himself.

Second, Parker finds problematic scientific skepticism among global warming skeptics. Buckley found it among global warming supporters. Parker writes:
“Scientific skepticism, the engine that propels intellectual inquiry, has morphed into skepticism of science fueled by religious certitude. In this strange world, it is heresy to express concern about, for example, climate change — or even to suggest that human behavior may be a contributing factor. Jon Huntsman committed blasphemy when he told ABC’s Jake Tapper that he trusts scientists on global warming.”
Buckley, though believing scientists on global warming, made the opposite case. It was the global warming supporters who were closed to scientific evidence.
“For those with addled reflexes, here is the story compressed: (1) Anyone who speaks discriminatingly about global warming is conspiring to belittle the threat. Such people end up (2) working for Exxon Mobil, a perpetrator of the great threat the malefactor sought to distract us from.”
Further, Buckley, too, was somewhat skeptical about the extent of the impact of human behavior on global warming.
“Critics are correct in insisting that human enterprises have an effect on climate. What they cannot at this point do is specify exactly how great the damage is, nor how much relief would be effected by specific acts of natural propitiation.

“The whole business is eerily religious in feel. Back in the 15th century, the question was: Do you believe in Christ? It was required in Spain by the Inquisition that the answer should be affirmative, leaving to one side subsidiary specifications.

It is required today to believe that carbon-dioxide emissions threaten the basic ecological balance. The assumption then is that inasmuch as a large proportion of the damage is man-made, man-made solutions are necessary. But it is easy to see, right away, that there is a problem in devising appropriate solutions, and in allocating responsibility for them.”
[emphasis added]
As for Parker’s claim that "skepticism of science" is "fueled by religious certitude", we see which side Bill Buckley thought was more in tune with the spirit of the Inquisition. It wasn’t the global warming skeptics.

Third, Buckley was very warm to religion in the public square. Parker asserts “No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square.” Where that comes from I have no idea. Buckley, along with the U.S. Supreme Court, believed that free speech allowed for revivalists in the public square. Buckley was for more religious involvement in public life not less.

Buckley promoted public discussion of religion and Christianity. Parker may have missed the Firing Line programs with Malcolm Muggeridge, Billy Graham and R. C. Sproul, among others. In one of them Buckley wonders why people aren’t allowed to talk about religion at social occasions without being considered a fanatic.

Then there’s Buckley’s belief that the separation of Christianity from the public square is a "terrible idea". In an interview with Bill Buckley, in August, 2004, Terence Smith asks if the Christian conservative movement has taken over.
"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: That's important. No, they certainly haven't. But certain people in politics feel that in order to engage in politics, it's by no means necessary to forget that you also believe in religion. And to the extent that religion is emphasized, it becomes irksome for people who are skeptical about religion or even hostile to it.

"Because every time Jimmy Carter said grace or -- or President Bush mentions it, there are certain people who wince.


"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: No, not at all, no, because I like to think of myself primarily as a Christian. That's what I seek to be. And when you consider the extent to which people feel that Christianity and politics should be completely separated, I think that's a terrible idea because the principal animus for a harmonious polity I think is religious.

"One's concern for somebody's civil rights, for equality, derives, in my judgment, from the fact that we acknowledge that we are all creatures of God. In the absence of that, of that kind of direction, it would be an afterthought."
Parker does not seem to know that traditionally the Catholic church has supported, not opposed, religion in the public square even up to actual establishment. Buckley, being a firm constitutionalist, did not support establishment in the U.S., but did not rail against state supported churches abroad. For example, he didn't seem much bothered by the established church in Norway or England.

Fourth, Parker intimates that Buckley was not at all like, say, Rush Limbaugh who “says that climate change is a hoax and so it must be.” But Bill Buckley liked and mostly agreed with Limbaugh (maybe he would even agree on it being a “hoax” after learning of the Climategate scandal--about, among other things, "hiding the decline"–-which occurred after Buckley died).

In his interview Terence Smith asked what Buckley thought about the emergence and success of "a voice like Rush Limbaugh".
"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: Well, of course I'm grateful because I'm a fan, and I believe in most of the things he believes in.

"There are stylistic differences which [inaudible] the fact that he's broadcasting 15 hours a week, and under the circumstances, has to be repetitious."
Parker loves to evoke Bill Buckley and his “pedigree” and “nimble mind”. One wonders if he would have thought her mind a little too nimble for minds like his and Limbaugh’s. The Parkerization of conservative pundits?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oregonian Doctors Account of Circulation "Gain"

Oregonian reporter Allan Brettman notes a 1.6% rise in circulation from September, 2010, to September, 2011.
"Average daily circulation for The Oregonian increased to 242,784 for the six months that ended Sept. 30, according to figures released Tuesday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That's up 3,713 copies or 1.6 percent, from the same period a year earlier."
Oregonian Managing Editor, Therese Bottomly echoes Brettman's account.

Though Brettman links to the the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) report, neither he nor Bottomly mention ABC's advice not to compare this year's September numbers to last year's September numbers because measurement standards changed last October
"Today’s FAS-FAX report reflects the U.S. newspaper rule changes that went into effect last October. This FAS-FAX report, therefore, has new and redefined categories of circulation. A fact sheet and a list of frequently asked questions about the changes are available here. And as a reminder, ABC recommends not making direct comparisons of September 2011 data to prior audit periods."
[emphasis added]
Brettman also fails to note the Oregonian's 6.7% circulation drop (and here) from six months ago (March, 2011) when ABC was using the same standard as in the current September report. Further though Brettman states that the Oregonian is now #21 among the top 25 U.S. newspapers, he does not report that this is a drop from #19 in March, 2011.

If Oregonian reporters and editors leave out three key facts in an article on a subject they know intimately, it seems risky business to depend on Oregonian reporting for a clear, in depth account of other issues.

Kathleen Parker Gets Reagan and Buckley Wrong

Kathleen Parker seems to think the best way to emphasize a point is to demean others. Her current column not only takes a hit at Sarah Palin (who Parker targets even though Palin is not running for president or leadership of the Republican party). It also mischaracterizes Ronald Reagan and, strangely enough, questions William F. Buckley Jr.'s friendships.

Parker says the GOP has been Palinized--meaning it has become anti-elite and anti-intellectual.
"It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual Republican base. Call it the Palinization of the GOP, in which the least informed earns the loudest applause."
Interesting that this was the same charge thrown at Ronald Reagan. According to his critics, he was a B movie actor who could smile and look good on camera, who went to a no name college, and was known as a rancher not an intellectual. His persona was of a guy out riding horses or clearing brush rather than spending long hours in his personal library reading. Some questioned whether he read much at all. Not a really smart guy like Jimmy Carter or the reporters and pundits who wrote about Reagan's manifest intellectual weaknesses. Nor was Reagan Ivy League, with a pedigree like George H. W. Bush (son of Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush). Shoot, Reagan wasn't even top tier in the Hollywood set.

Parker omits these facts about Reagan because they weigh against her analysis. To sort of smooth over the manifest Reagan common man appeal, Parker intimates that Reagan was a big tent Republican. Heh. Gerald Ford might dispute that since Reagan ran against Ford in the 1976 Republican presidential primary on the basis that Ford wasn't conservative enough. Big tent people don't usually challenge their own party's sitting president.

But Parker isn't satisfied with swiping at non-candidates like Palin and painting Reagan as "big tent" and, one assumes, different from Sarah Palin, in being pro-elitist and pro-intellectual. Parker takes a swipe at people who were Bill Buckley's friends.
"Republicans aren’t really stupid, of course, and Begala acknowledges this. But, as he also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind."
The intimation is that people who "boast" of being Buckley's friends couldn't really have been such because they don't have the same sparkling wit and intellectual class as Buckley himself. Of course, that would mean that Buckley had almost no friends since few were his intellectual equals.

The most prominent talk show host who has mentioned his friendship with Bill Buckley is Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh from time to time talks about Buckley's friendship, encouragement and kindness in welcoming Limbaugh to the conservative circle when Limbaugh was starting his rise. (Buckley even interviewed Limbaugh on Firing Line. See below.)

To imply that someone else's talk about a personal friendship is meaningless with no evidence other than that the friends have differences is not only anti-intellectual because no proof is given, it also betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of friendship.

Here's what National Review editor Rich Lowry had to say in March of 2008 about Bill Buckley's friendship with Rush Limbaugh when an unfavorable comparison was made between Buckley and Limbaugh:
"Let me stick up for Rush, though. Because Bill adored Rush. And you know, Rush is not a public intellectual. That’s not what he’s doing. And no one would have ever for all Bill Buckley’s talents, 20 million people would never have listened to Bill Buckley on the radio for three hours every day. So, it’s an unfair comparison." (about the 30:50 mark in the discussion)
Ms. Parker seems to have missed one of the main points of friendship--to admire differences while basking in the points of similar interest that brought you together.

One can only feel sorry for a professional political pundit who not only gets it wrong that Reagan stood for expanding the Republican Party to include elites and intellectuals (rather than calling in the conservative, non-elite, non-intellectual working class Reagan Democrats), but who scoffs at other people's friendships just because one of the parties isn't of a "pedigree" that Parker personally likes. Sad.

Oh, and it goes without saying that Sarah Palin having been elected the first woman and youngest governor in Alaska's history (the forced dump of 25,000 of her e-mails showing her as an "effective", "attentive", "hands on", "decisive", governor in areas "ranging from small issues to very large issues"); having effectively fought political corruption and quit a well-paying public job to do so; having authored two best sellers (one vying for the best selling political memoir of all time); having been the first woman Republican vice presidential nominee; having had opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal (and here and just this week here), New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post (and here), and National Review (and here); and having negotiated the largest private sector infrastructure project in North American history has arguably done more intellectual and practical good work than Ms. Parker. Though one must admit that Ms. Parker had a longer running TV series than Governor Palin though with only a fraction of the weekly viewers Palin garnered.

UPDATE: Another good take by J. Robert Smith: Kathleen Parker's Trash Talk

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy the News Media?

If this survey is right maybe there should be Occupy the News Media rallies.

Big business gets a higher favorable rating from the public than the news media. In fact the Public Affairs Council finds that only the federal government gets lower marks than the news media.
"A new survey finds that the federal government is the only sector that people like less than the media. The survey was about how Americans view big businesses. Fifty-four percent viewed news media somewhat or very favorably, while 44 percent said their overall opinion of news media was not favorable."
Here's the breakdown:

Is the Oregonian building next after Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks?

Monday, November 14, 2011

5 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan November 5 to November 13, 2011

November 5 - Lance Cpl. Nickolas A. Daniels, 25, of Elmwood Park, Ill., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

November 9 - Pfc. Cody R. Norris, 20, of Houston, Texas, died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.

November 11 - Pfc. Theodore B. Rushing, 25, of Longwood, Fla. died in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

November 12 - Spc. Calvin M. Pereda, 21, of Fayetteville, N.C., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device while on dismounted patrol.

November 13 - Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan B. McCain, 38, of Apache Junction, Ariz., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device while on mounted patrol.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anchorage Daily News Loses Almost 30% of Subscribers in Three Years

In the three years since Sarah Palin was named the Vice Presidential nominee of the Republican party the Anchorage Daily News has lost 29.23% of its subscribers.

Audit Bureau of Circulations reports Anchorage Daily News paid circulation at 43,794 as of September 30, 2011 (though the newspaper's website posting today notes "yesterday 159,853 visitors viewed adn.com"). The Anchorage Daily News circulation for September 30, 2008, the month when Palin officially become the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, was 61,882. In three years more than 18,000 subscribers left.

The September 1, 2008, Anchorage Daily News ran a nice "isn't this great" lower front page story (with photo) on Palin's parents dealing with the upheaval in their life because of her nomination ("World's Gaze Falls on Wasilla, Palin's Folks: Amid Swarm, Chuck Heath says: 'I just hate not being hospitable'). It even ran a quarter column top of the front page Associated Press article about her qualifications ("Is Palin Qualified? Just Look Says GOP: REASONS: Proximity to Russia, Mayoral Experience Cited"). Imagine that. Proximity to Russia was accepted by Associated Press as a real qualification pre-Charlie Gibson.

The next day saw the beginning of the Anchorage Daily News' growing disenchantment with all things Palin. On September 2 there was a front page banner headline running the full width of the paper on Bristol's pregnancy ("Pregnancy Steals Spotlight") with a back page story on the difficulty of finding Alaskans who could substantiate her vetting ("VETTING: It's tough to find Alaskans who were queried about Palin").

From then on the Anchorage Daily News began to take a much tougher stance (sometimes almost childishly so) on Palin. The iciness was well expressed by Anchorage Daily News former editorial page editor Michael Carey less than a month after Palin's nomination.
"Sarah Palin may be making new friends as she campaigns the nation, but at home, she's making new enemies. She better get elected vice president. If she returns to Alaska as governor, the reception will be frosty -- and not because winter has arrived.

"In the last month, Palin has become something inconceivable during her first two years as the state's chief executive: A polarizing figure rapidly emptying the storehouse of good will she accumulated."
[emphasis added]
The Anchorage Daily News' three year circulation drop rate is twice as bad as that of, for example, the Oregonian (circulation down 14.31% in three years).

Maybe Alaskan readers noticed the Anchorage Daily News growing more and more "frosty" in its unfairness toward Palin. Something to think about anyway.

The GOP Smart Set vs. Experience

I'm not a Rick Perry supporter. Actually, since my candidate, Governor Sarah Palin, decided not to run in 2012, I'm keeping my powder dry. I need to see more before jumping in to support a specific candidate.

But, all the GOP Smart Set ruckus over Rick Perry's debate flub and difficulty in the debates and Perry's statement that he's not running for Debater-in-Chief but as someone who has created jobs reminded me of one of my favorite films, Buster Keaton's The General.

The scenes having to do with a bent rail give Keaton's commentary on the importance for solving a problem of actually having done something previously in the problem area.

Because the clip would be too long, I've edited out the scenes which separate the ones included. The scenes edited out set up background for the coming final battle. But, since they also let the viewer know that the struggle with the rail is a longer, more involved process than the few scenes shown, the humor of the "smart set" being completely befuddled is somewhat dimmed in this shortened version. I've added subtitles to give context and the idea of passing time. The great Keaton didn't need subtitles.

Palin: Fire Eric Holder

Sarah Palin:
"And where is President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in all of this? When did he first know about the [Fast and Furious] operation? In his testimony to the House Oversight Committee on May 3, 2011, Holder stated, 'I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.' But the DOJ’s own documents prove that Holder had been receiving briefings on Fast and Furious for nearly a year before that date. In other words, our government’s top law enforcement official, Eric Holder, lied to the American public. He finally admitted this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 'In my testimony before the House committee [on May 3], I did say a few weeks. I probably could have said a couple of months. What I said about a few weeks was inaccurate based on what happened.'

"When the nation’s highest law enforcement official lies to the American people, he must go.

"And if he claims that he didn’t lie, then how else do we explain this situation? He’s either lying or he’s so grossly incompetent and lazy that he didn’t read important life and death briefings from his deputy attorney general and didn’t know about this deadly operation run by people under him. So, which is it? Incompetent, lazy, or lying? No matter which explanation fits, he needs to go."
Quite distinct from Holder and his boss, President Obama, is the "effective", "attentive", "hands on", "decisive" governor in areas "ranging from small issues to very large issues" Palin was revealed to be in the forced dump of 25,000 of her gubernatorial e-mails last June.

She's still my number 1! Just moved up to 2016.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mark Steyn and the Right Kind of Hits

from SteynOnline.com
If you want to increase your blog traffic, just have Mark Steyn link to you.

Day before yesterday SteynOnline.com and the SteynOnline.com facebook page linked to my review of Mark's After America. So far I've gotten over 1,200 extra hits and still going strong.

The best part of it is that Mark and his staff apparently liked the review. Nice, coming from a man I admire.

Victor Davis Hanson on Labyrinths and Herman Cain

Again, Victor Davis Hanson sets current events and stories in historical, even mythic, perspective.
"'Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here,' is the placard that Herman Cain must have read last week when he descended into the Sexual Harassment Inferno, from which he has not yet emerged."
Dr. Hanson comes right to the point on the absurdity of modern thinking.
"Stranger still, this metamorphosis of liberated women into Victorian-era puritans was accompanied by yet another wild card: Sex was now everywhere. The old probity was gone, whether through blonde bombshells with low-cut dresses on the news, raunchy language and acts on reality TV, or soft porn on mainstream cable packages. Today’s mall is a showcase of trashy overt sexuality among even preteens. It was almost as if the more sexual suggestiveness became ubiquitous, the more we reverted to New England puritanism. The office coffee break with colleagues was now more explicit and yet more prudish than its 1950s counterpart — in the sense that almost no topic was taboo, and yet any careless flippant sexual remark could boomerang as a career-ending offense."
Then there is the blatant hypocrisy.
"Both supporters and detractors agree that Cain should know by now that alleged misdemeanors by Republican frontrunners are always more serious than known transgressions by Democratic rivals. All true — and all irrelevant in the age of liberal indulgence and exemption where noble ends sometimes must justify tawdry means. Yet it is not quite clear whether Cain is supposedly guilty of attempted, fantasized, or foiled womanizing of the sort that Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich have confessed to actualizing. Or is he just a little creepy, in the manner of Al Gore and his masseuses, or the late Strom Thurmond and his wandering hands, or the late Ted Kennedy and his late-hours frolicking?

"Note there is no exemption for Cain even though the charges date from over a decade ago . . . .

"Cain, who has not as of yet actually been accused of engaging in sexual intercourse with a female subordinate, finds himself in the 'sexual harassment' labyrinth, from which there are few paths out in the present era."
Not to mention the lack of the normal mention of white women's supposed inordinate fears of black men--which even Barack Obama referred to in speaking of his grandmother as a "typical white person" and a woman "who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street."
"Oddly, so far no African American spokesman has stepped forward to 'contextualize' the charges in the long history of sexually charged stereotyped slurs about supposedly undisciplined ascendant black males."
Dr. Hanson amplifies the disjunction in media treatment of Herman Cain's race.
"Yet Cain also wins greater scrutiny, not exemption, because he is black — or at least a certain sort of black. In addition to his conservatism, his voice, bearing, grammar, and diction, even his showy black cowboy hat, bother liberals in much the same way that Joe Frazier was not Muhammad Ali and Clarence Thomas was not Anita Hill. Black authenticity, as defined by Southern mannerisms and darker complexion, amplified by conservatism or traditionalism, earns liberal unease. Rarely has anyone been so candid in confessing just that unease as were Senators Harry Reid and Joe Biden in their backhanded praise of Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. I think Reid ('light-skinned,' 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one') and Biden ('I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy') both were trying to say at the time that Barack Obama did not look or sound like someone analogous to Herman Cain."
Cain is not the only one in the labyrinth. The media with its pretzel-like moral and reasoning standards have pushed American society into its own labyrinth. How to get out?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bill Buckley Was Not the Pompous Ass Neal Freeman Channels

WFB and Edward Teller
Neal B. Freeman, a long time friend of William F. Buckley, Jr., thinks he knows how Buckley would have reacted to current GOP candidates. Freeman's opinion piece praises Buckley as courageous (which he was), but errors significantly by channeling a caricature of Bill Buckley instead of Buckley himself.
"How then would Bill Buckley have addressed today's question: 'Buckley's Legacy: How Would the Patron Saint Turbo-Charge Conservatism?'"
. . .
"First, he would have summoned the Republican stalwarts for catechismic instruction."
Huh? Buckley didn't do this in any of the presidential elections during his lifetime. But, that doesn't deter Freeman, who wraps his political dreaming in personal anecdotes and Buckleyesque words and phrases such as "synecdoche" and "ontologically speaking".

I was not a close friend of Bill Buckley as Freeman was. But I did have a 30+ year friendship with him. The last time I saw him was when I was visiting New York in the late 1990's, and he invited me to lunch. On the basis of my own friendship with Bill Buckley I find it odd that Freeman would assert:
"It was a humbling experience to be edited by Bill Buckley. I still have the original of the first editorial I wrote for National Review. We used Royal typewriters in those days to pound out copy on yellow foolscap: Here and there, one of my black words peeks through a blaze of red ballpoint ink. It was his conceit that if you couldn't write, you couldn't think; and that if you couldn't think, you were unlikely to prosper in his friendship."
[emphasis added]
Freeman seems to confuse Bill Buckley as a boss with Bill Buckley as a friend. Never in our three decades of correspondence did Bill ever take me to task for my written prose. I don't think that is due to the fact that I'm superior to Freeman in either thinking or writing, but perhaps I am in understanding what friendship meant to Bill Buckley.*

Bill Buckley did not normally critique his guests and friends. His personal interaction was unlike the pattern of his professional life as a polemicist and debater. Even in that he was a joy to watch because he skewered the opinion not the person and often used a kind of backhanded wit not a sledge hammer-type attack or meanness.

Bill was not the type of person who would have called current Republican presidential candidates on the carpet and presumed to lecture them on their errors. He had too much respect for the kind of courage and substance it takes to become a prominent conservative political figure and endure the kind of anti-conservative blows those in the media deliver daily. Though Bill Buckley might have talked about questions he had about Mitt Romney's economic plan, he would not have:
"bored in on what he perceived to be a lacuna: namely, the widespread presumption that Mr. Romney can fix our broken economy with an economic plan that is manifestly inadequate to the challenge."
Neither would Bill have:
"segued quickly into a mini-lecture on why contemporary international affairs call for a somewhat less, uhhhh, parochial foreign policy than [Governor Perry] has heretofore advanced"
. . .
"concluded, under the unbending terms of the Buckley Rule—-which, as you will recall, holds that conservatives should support for election the rightward-most viable candidate—-that Mrs. Palin was sufficiently rightward but insufficiently viable."
. . .
"counseled [Speaker Gingrich] to add to his senior staff an editor with plenipotentiary powers"
. . .
"spent his time much as he had with Mrs. Palin, in a quiet inventory of the intellectual warehouse. What does Mr. Cain know? What has he read? Is he . . . up to it?"
In other words, in personal interaction, Bill Buckley was fun, funny, sparkling and made you feel like you were the center of his universe. He was not the grilling, pompous ass, always out to lecture that Freeman channels.

How do I know this aside from the fact that personally Bill was gracious and caring and never in his lifetime called in presidential candidates to lecture them on their flaws?

Take Freeman's application of the "Buckley Rule" which says that "conservatives should support for election the rightward-most viable candidate". Bill Buckley supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and never, so far as I know, rescinded that support after the Goldwater electoral debacle. If Goldwater was a "viable" candidate, gaining only 39% of the votes cast, "viable" is a fairly low standard--one which the candidates Freeman's Buckley "interviewed" have pretty much met.

Then, of course, there was Bill Buckley's own run for mayor done not for the purpose of winning but of forwarding the conservative case against the liberal Republicanism of John Lindsay. Apparently, as in his support for Goldwater, a viability that gets the candidate within a few percentage points of winning, was not a key factor in his own decision to run.

Again, I say, Bill Buckley was not the condescending, pompous ass that Freeman paints. He was warm, witty, charming and really cared about the people he talked to. That's why he had so many friends of quite different political views, religious views and social class.

*Bill Buckley was the kind of friend who, when I wrote that I was trying to get into a graduate program at a picky school, asked if there was any way he could help. He ended up writing a recommendation for me and overstating my abilities: "I have met, and experienced intellectually, hundreds and hundreds of young people in the last twenty-five years, and [T D] Williams is among the two or three whose promise is in a class of its own." He continued noting my "formal credentials", "high intelligence", "fine character" and being "well read". That's the kind of encouragement and support that flowed out of Bill Buckley. Unfortunately, Freeman missed it in his portrait of Bill. I cherish as a material indication of Bill's friendship the carbon copy he sent me of that wonderful recommendation.

8 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq October 29 to November 3, 2011

October 29 - Died in Kabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
- Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, 41, of Abilene, Texas;
- Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman, 26, of Shelby, N.C.;
- Sgt. James M. Darrough, 38, of Austin, Texas; and
- Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio, 29, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

October 30 - Staff Sgt. Ari R. Cullers, 28, of New London, Conn., died in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when an insurgent rocket-propelled grenade exploded near him.

November 1 - Died in Paktia province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
- Sgt. Christopher D. Gailey, 26, of Ochelata, Okla.; and
- Pfc. Sarina N. Butcher, 19, of Checotah, Okla.

November 3 - 1st Lt. Dustin D. Vincent, 25, of Mesquite, Texas, died in Kirkuk province, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Review of Mark Steyn's After America

After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
by Mark Steyn
424 pages, $29.95 (print)/$9.58 (digital)
Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2011

Mark Steyn’s After America is a factual and witty stroll down America’s decline and what it means for life in the future--a decline that started decades ago and keeps accelerating.

To highlight his points Steyn uses a supposed time traveler’s view of the difference of America in 1890, 1950 and 2010 as well as the difference between the life of the futuristic eloi and morlocks described by H. G. Wells in The Time Machine.

On some differences between 1890 and 1950:
"Why, the poor gentleman of 1890 would be astonished. His old home is full of mechanical contraptions. There is a huge machine in the corner of the kitchen, full of food and keeping the milk fresh and cold! There is another shiny device whirring away and seemingly washing milady’s bloomers with no human assistance whatsoever! Even more amazingly, there is a full orchestra playing somewhere within his very house. No, wait it’s coming from a tiny box on the countertop!

"The music is briefly disturbed by a low rumble from the front yard, and our time-traveler glances through the window: a metal conveyance is coming up the street at an incredible speed–-with not a horse in sight. It’s enclosed with doors and windows, like a house on wheels, and it turns into the yard, and the doors open all at once, and two grown-ups and four children all get out–-just like that, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world! He notices there is snow on the ground, and yet the house is toasty warm, even though no fire is lit and there appears to be no stove." (pp. 25-26)
Steyn goes on to describe the telephone and airplanes.

Now onward sixty years to 2010.
“. . . [When] he dismounts he wonders if he’s made a mistake. Because, aside from a few design adjustments, everything looks pretty much as it did in 1950: the layout of the kitchen, the washer, the telephone. . . . Oh, wait. It’s got buttons instead of a dial. And the station wagon in the front yard has dropped the woody look and seems boxier than it did. And the folks getting out seem . . . larger, and dressed like overgrown children.

“And the refrigerator has a magnet on it holding up an endless list from a municipal agency detailing what trash you have to put in which colored boxes on what collection days.

“But other than that, and few cosmetic changes, he might as well have stayed in 1950.” (p. 26)
Steyn does note that the one exception is the computer, but what about other major areas of life?

Steyn asks: When was the last big medical breakthrough? (polio vaccine 1955; insulin 1920s; penicillin, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough vaccines 1920s). Cancer and Alzheimer's? All races and no cure.
“In the last decade of the twentieth century, what? A vaccine for Hepatitis A, and Viagra. Good for erectile dysfunction, but what about inventile dysfunction?”
In the 1920's insulin went from concept to use in two years. Today
“the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now adds half a decade to the process by which a treatment makes it to market, and they’re getting slower. Between 1996 and 1999, the FDA approved 157 new drugs. Between 2006 and 2009, the approvals fell by half–-to 74.” (p. 28)
The reason? Inhibiting statism with its monopoly on allowing and regulating in almost every area of life.

Statism has created two Americas.
“. . . [I]n one America, those who subscribe to the ruling ideology can access a world of tenured security lubricated by government and without creating a dime of wealth for the overall economy; in the other America, millions of people go to work every day to try to support their families and build up businesses and improve themselves, and the harder they work the more they’re penalized to support the government class in its privileges.” (p. 69)
Steyn piles example upon example of the infantilization of Americans via government regulations with the resulting lack of thinking, invention, production and power. The end result of statism can be seen in the deterioration, looming bankruptcy and decline in population of European states that have followed the nanny state approach.

So, what does the future look like for the world with America’s decline? It will be sicker (p. 281), poorer (p. 283), more Muslim (p. 291), less Jewish, gay, and with fewer feminists (p. 298), less diverse (p. 302), more dangerous, violent, and genocidal (p. 304, 310), reprimitivizing (p. 312). Life after America's decline will be a life much nastier, more brutish, and short than that to which we have become accustomed.

Steyn ties this plummet in life environment to Friedrich Nietzsche’s insight about what “God is dead.” means for society.
“Many westerners were familiar with Nietzsche’s accurate foretelling of the twentieth century as an age of ‘wars such as have never happened on earth.’ This was a remarkable prediction to make from the Europe of the 1880s, a time of peace and prosperity. But too many forget the context in which the philosopher reached his conclusion–-that ‘God is dead.’ Nietzsche was an atheist but he was not simply proclaiming his own contempt for faith, as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and other bestselling atheists would do in our own century. ‘God is dead’ was not a statement of personal belief, but a news headline–-in the author’s words, a ‘tremendous event.’ If, as he saw it, educated people had ceased to believe in the divine, that entailed certain consequences. For God–-or at any rate the Judeo-Christian God whose demise he was reporting–-had had a civilizing effect during his (evolutionarily speaking) brief reign. Without God, Nietzsche wondered, without ‘any cardinal distinction between man and animal,’ what constraints are there? In the ‘arena of the future,’ the world would be divided into ‘brotherhoods with the aim of the robbery and exploitation of non-brothers.’ . . .

“We know he called the twentieth century right. So what did he have to say about the twenty-first? He foresaw a time even worse than the ‘wars such as have never happened,’ wars that were after all still fought according to the remnants, the ‘mere pittance’ of the late God’s moral codes. But after that, what? The next century–-our century–-would see ‘the total eclipse of all values.’ Man would attempt a ‘re-evalutaion,’ as the West surely did through multiculturalisms, sexual liberation, eco-fetishization, and various other fancies. But you cannot have an effective moral code, Nietsche pointed out, without a God who says ‘Thou shalt not.’” (pp. 321-322)
In the epilogue Mark Steyn gives a few hints for hope: de-centralize (p. 333), de-governmentalize (p. 335), de-regulate (p. 336), de-monopolize (p. 337), de-complicate (p. 339), de-credentialize (p. 339), dis-entitle (p. 340), de-normalize (p. 341) and “do” (p. 342).

Let me close with something Steyn says about “do”. We need more tinkerers.
“Messing about with stuff–-taking it apart, figuring out how it worked, putting it together again with some modification of your own. What boys (and a few girls) used to do in the garage or the basement before the Internet was invented. . . . Tinkerers built America. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, all were tinkerers in their childhood. Everything from the airplane to the computer started in somebody’s garage. . . . The great scientific thinkers of eighteenth-century England couldn’t have been less interested in cotton spinning and weaving. Why would you be? If was left to a bloke on the shop floor who happened to glance at a one-thread wheel that had toppled over and noticed that both the wheel and the spindle were still turning. So James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny . . . . John Ratzenberger likes to paraphrase a Stanford University study: ‘Engineers who are great in physics and calculus but can’t think in new ways about old objects are doomed to think in old ways about new objects.’ That’s the lesson of the spinning jenny: an old object fell over and someone looked at it in a new way.” (p. 344)
After America is the kind of book that helps the reader look at an old thing, life as we live it, in a new way. It's a "must read".

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Politico's Failure to Respond and Overt Falsehoods Raise Questions

I like Professor William Jacobson's take on Politico's failure to respond to questions on its journalistic ethics.

John Nolte adds fuel to the fire on Politico's lack of journalistic ethics as well as its failing journalistic competence.
"Huge headline at Politico: Herman Cain now recalls 'couple of other' items in accusers complaint

"Opening paragraph of the story:
'Herman Cain once again revised his account of the sexual harassment allegations he battled in the 1990s, saying in a TV interview he recalled there were additional 'ridiculous' items in his accuser’s complaint, beyond the single incident he detailed Monday.'"
. . .

"[Politico is] gleefully looking to tie Cain up in what they will claim are contradictory statements, because we all remember the exact details of what happened 15 or so years ago, correct?

"Oddly enough, though, it looks as though Politico can’t remember what happened yesterday, because later an 'update' was added to their story. Yes, an update found waaaaaay at the bottom of the story and that explosive headline is this:
"'UPDATE: Christian Heinze points out that Cain mentioned in his interview with Greta Van Susteren yesterday that there had been additional 'simple stuff' in the harassment complaint, but said he couldn't recall the details. NRA's general counsel 'may have told me what incidents that she might have included in the claim, but all today, as I've been getting beat up, I've been trying to recall what some of those things were and haven't been able to recall a lot of them because that's why they got dismissed,' Cain said on Fox. 'It was no basis because it was simple stuff.'"
So, the price the public pays for Politico's free "news" is indexed to its value. Zero. Or maybe they should be paying those who are cleaning up their messes. Heh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Oregonian Continues to Lose Readers; Circulation Down 6.7%

Update: 2013 and 2014 paid circulation numbers here.

The September 2011 Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) report shows a 6.7% drop in Oregonian circulation from six months previous.

Circulation reported in March 2011 was 260,248. For September 2011 it has fallen to 242,784.

Changes ABC made in the March 2011 circulation report (such as adding e-edition circulation to print circulation figures) gave the Oregonian an 8.86% spike in total circulation (from 239,071 to 260,248) over the preceding September 2010 report. But now the Oregonian is back near where it was in September 2010 before the expanded counting began.

Adding e-circulation was a good idea because it measures a new form of readers. Still, readership is not increasing for the Oregonian. The Oregon paper has lost more than 1/5th (68,000) of its circulation in five years and more than 1/4th (90,700) in six years.

September 2005 circulation - 333,515
September 2006 circulation - 310,803
September 2011 circulation - 242,784

Here are the stats on the top 25 U.S. newspapers from Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Average Circulation at the Top 25 U.S. Daily Newspapers
For the Six Months Ending 9/30/11

USA TODAY - 1,784,242
NEW YORK TIMES - 1,150,589
NEW YORK POST - 512,067
NEWSDAY (NY) - 404,542
DENVER POST - 353,115
STAR-TRIBUNE (MN) - 298,147
OREGONIAN - 242,784
DETROIT FREE PRESS (e) - 234,579

H/T Editor & Publisher