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Journal: Huh-huh. Huh-huh.

Journal by neocon
This comment was fun to write.

The self-righteously PC dogmatism with which it was responded to and moderated were, of course, utterly predictable.

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Journal: More threadiness 2

Journal by neocon
Throwing things at the wall to see what sticks -- this thread goes on and on. It's kind of sad to see a guy hang on to his claims of `truthiness' (hat tip: Colbert) long after he has backed away from or openly admitted as false every claim with which he started the thread.

Thread grenade -- sometimes, it's better to pull out the pin and walk away, letting a thread develop on its own.

No points for style -- this fellow seems miffed (poor guy) that I can't be bothered to respond to these two posts. Take a look at them for a perfect example of contentless argument-from-style -- in one post he, advises NeMon'ess that the only way to win an argument is to avoid bringing facts of your own, and instead use words like `fallacy' and attack the other debater's style. In the other, he manages to ramble on on questions of style for a page or so before making his first factual claim -- a claim which had already been thoroughly disproved in the part of the thread he couldn't be bothered to read before posting.

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Journal: Some Recent Threads 2

Journal by neocon
So here are a few recent threads of interest:
  • A somewhat interesting thread sprang out of my last Journal Entry as well. I'll probably devote some more journal space to this one in the next day or two.
  • In this thread, we get a good look at how badly reflexive anti-Americanism clouds the thinking of many on the left, to the point where several posters can't even make up their mind as to whether Iran getting nuclear weapons would be a bad thing.
  • This thread, on the Jack Abramoff scandal is kind of interesting. Don't miss, in particular, the lists of Democratic legislators who, like some of their Republican colleagues accepted money or gifts from Mr. Abramoff. This guy is particularly amusing to watch as he tries to wriggle out of his earlier claim that anyone who says that Mr. Abramoff gave money or gifts to any Democrats is `lying'.

For those who are curious, my own take on the Abramoff scandal is that:

  • All members of both parties who are involved should be investigated
  • I wouldn't mind some shakeup of Republican leadership in the House and Senate, if only because I don't think the people we have there today are fighting for Republican and conservative issues enough, and if this is what makes it happen, well, `bonus'.
  • As long as congress reserves to itself the right to `earmark' money for specific projects at a micro-management level, corruption will always be present in Washington -- there's just too much at stake. This is why attempts to exploit this one along partisan lines annoy me so much: they take focus off of the systemic problems which make corruption so rewarding.

What do y'all think?

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Journal: By popular demand, Neocon looks back 51

Journal by neocon
NeMon'ess asks:

It's been two years. Last I remember you were quite a Bush defender. Any political stuff you'd care to talk about that didn't turn out quite like you expected?

Without limiting my comments to Mr. Bush's performance, which I'm generally quite happy with (certainly more than enough that I voted for him again in 2004), let me comment on what has pleased and displeased me in the last year

Things that have pleased me, from Mr. Bush and elsewhere:

  • Great progress in Iraq -- the last time I posted in this journal, the anti-war camp here on /. was still smarting from the collapse of their wild predictions that the US drive on Baghdad would collapse, and we would go home with our national tail between our legs. It didn't take long for the left to regroup, of course (that one needs a very short memory to follow the left's general thread of logic on this and other wars is something I've commented on before, of course). Since then, the left has gravely predicted certain doom in Iraq because:
    • We would never hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi government -- we did, of course, even doing so early
    • Iraqis would never vote on an interim government, because Muslims `don't want democracy'. -- needless to say, they turned out in massive numbers
    • Iraqis would never approve a constitution, because there are two many factions involved -- Iraq's constitution, calling for coalition government, free elections, and protection of fundamental human rights was, of course, overwhelmingly approved by the Iraqi people
    • The insurgency would only grow stronger, since Iraqis don't want to be free -- this always seemed laughable, but as the insurgents grow more and more desperate, and more and more lash out at exactly the people the left claims support them, this one looks worse by the day
    • Iraqis don't support the new government, and won't fight to protect it -- as Iraqi units increasingly take the lead in all levels of Iraqi security operations, from anti-insurgency raids down to every-day policing, this one seems to have died an early death.

    These days, as a duly elected non-interim government of a free and democratic Iraq prepares to take office, as Saddam Hussein sits in the dock for his crimes against his own people, and as US troops begin to draw down, I'm prouder of the US war in Iraq than ever before.

  • A rising tide of democracy in the Arab world -- with Syrian troops having high-tailed it out of Lebanon in response to popular demand, and with popular movements from Morocco to Iran looking at the success of democratic elections in Iraq and Afghanistan, and demanding the same for themselves, the old lefty trope that ``Arabs(/Muslims) don't want democracy'' is looking deader than a doornail right now, revealed for the racist drivel that it always was
  • Two great nominations to the Supreme Court -- we'll just forget about Harriet Miers, m'kay?
  • Bush steps up to the plate -- for a long, painful year after the last election, even as events in Iraq went from victory to victory, and a series of quiet victories at home and abroad boosted US progress in the War on Terror, the Bush administration seemed surprisingly reluctant to defend itself against a stream of lefty critiques. This `strategy', which led to an empty center stage quickly being occupied by a string of absurdly comic figures (Valerie Plame anyone? Cindy Sheehan?) finally came to an end this past fall, with a quintet of remarkably direct and well-argued foreign policy addresses by the President and others in the administration. That many of the more ridiculous figures of the `summer of silence' melted away promptly (when was the last time you heard from Cindy Sheehan or Jack Murtha, if you don't read lefty fever swamp sites like Kos?), and Bush's ratings promptly recovered when he rejoined the debate confirms my basic idea that Bush's ratings drop in Summer '05 was much more of an own-goal than any harm done by the opposition.

Things that have displeased me, from Mr. Bush and elsewhere:

  • Social what reform? -- perhaps the most painful result of the `summer of silence' from the Bush administration was the collapse of Social Security reform, the scaling back of Tax Reform, and the general floundering of the `Bush agenda' -- the agenda I voted for in 2000 and 2004. It's time to get back in the fight, but this hasn't happened yet.
  • Harriet who? -- as I said, let's just forget that any names were mentioned between Roberts and Alito, m'kay?
  • Border? We don't need no steeenkin' border! -- yes, it's a paraphrase of a misquote, which is mildly annoying. The fact that a nation of our size is unwilling to maintain even a basic level of immigration enforcement is worse than annoying, and what's more, a slap in the face of millions of legal immigrants who have come here, played by the rules, and worked hard, only to see people who shortcut the system or bypass it entirely cash in again and again.

Things which don't really show up on my radar:

  • Katrina -- let's be honest. Anyone who thought FEMA, a tiny federal agency whose only real job or authority is to hand people checks was going to be much help here was already playing with only half a deck. In any case, contrasting New Orleans (particularly now that most of the Urban Legends about `hundreds of deaths at the SuperDome' and so on have cleared) with the neighboring areas in Mississippi, one state over, shows what a difference state and local government make.
  • `Domestic spying' -- trying to frame one President for activities which have been repeatedly upheld by the courts, and have been a vital anti-terrorism tool of the last half-dozen administrations from both parties is just silliness, a manufactured scandal for a slow news day -- and poll after poll shows that the American people agree.
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Journal: Another year older, and deeper in... ? (part 1) 2

Journal by neocon
Well, it's been a year since I've spent much time here, and I thought I'd poke my head in and see how y'all are doing. For the most part, it looks like the more things change, the more things remain the same, with a few honorable mentions in these categories:

``Another year older and no wiser'' category

These guys seem to be carrying on pretty much where we all left off:

  • Deskpoet
  • linzeal
  • SacredNaCl (let me note that this post deserves a special mention for silliness above and beyond the call of duty)
  • Troed (a runner up for the above mention, but falls short by having fewer imaginary `facts' `proving' that 9/11 was an inside job)

``Dude, why were you on my `foes' list again?'' category

On the other hand, these guys, still on my foes list for reasons long sunken in time, seem to be making a good amount of sense these days:

  • Loki_1929 (see further evidence here and here. Welcome off of the `foes' list, Loki, at least for the time being. No blood, no foul?)
  • elmegil (I see nothing to fault in these piece or its thread, and if I disagree with his take on Paul, he seems more than able to give both Paul and Sam a fair hearing. As above, no blood, no foul?).

So that's the foes list, for good record. Before I review the old `friends' list, any recommendations for posts worth reading in the time I've been away?

User Journal

Journal: Thought for the day 25

Journal by neocon

Thought for the day:

``In the perfect world, the schools would be held to the same standard of excellence that our military is, and the teachers unions would have to hold a bake sale when they want to buy a Senator.''

Discuss.

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Journal: Orson Scott Card 36

Journal by neocon

I'm gaining a lot of respect for Orson Scott Card, author of Ender's Game and other novels. Some time ago, I had pointed people here, in several posts, to this piece he wrote on Iraq and North Korea, and ellem and others have pointed out his recent piece, picked up by the Wall Street Journal, on the campaign of hate and fear being waged by the Democrats and many in the media against Bush and against the battle in Iraq.

Today, in his regular column over at The Ornery American, Card takes on the stunning lack of intellectual diversity in our allegedly diversity-happy campuses:

The reason our university faculties are full of people who accept hogwash in the name of political correctness is not because they are stupid or dishonest -- quite the contrary. It is simple human nature to accept as truth whatever the people around you unquestioningly believe. So P.C. dogmas that are outside of a faculty member's area of expertise are accepted without question simply because nobody else seems to be questioning them.

But this is precisely why litmus tests in hiring are so deeply harmful to the whole educational enterprise. It is not just students who need to be exposed to diversity of belief -- it is the faculty themselves who need people to disagree with them in order to stir their thoughts and bring out their best thinking.

Go read the whole thing -- he may be wrong about some things (he opposes the US decision to restrict where we spend our own Iraq reconstruction dollars, not (IMHO) adeequately considering that others are free to spend their reconstruction dollars in any nation they please), but he's quickly becoming one of my favorite registered Democrats.

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Journal: Bush Endorses Dean for Democratic Nomination 1

Journal by neocon

This gem comes via NewsHax:

Bush Endorses Dean for Democratic Nomination

NewsHax wire -- In a move that has stunned and surprised long-time poltical observers, President George Bush today endorsed Dr. Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. The Bush endorsement quickly eclipsed the furor that has arisen over former Vice-president Al Gore's endorsement of Dr. Dean on Tuesday. Many had been shocked that Mr. Gore would endorse a candidate who agrees with him on virtually none of the issues, a point that was clearly not lost on President Bush in announcing his own endorsement of Dr. Dean.

``Mr. Gore has demonstrated that you don't necessarily have to agree with someone to want him to win the Democractic nomination,'' President Bush told reporters, ``And, believe me, though I don't agree with a word the man says, there's no one I want to see win that nomination more than Howard Dean''.

...

Dr. Dean was reportedly pleased with the Bush endorsement, and has called on the other Democractic candidates to abandon their own campaigns and rally around him as the likely nominee and, indeed, as the only candidate to have obtained endorsements from both of the men who were elected President in 2000.

So far, the only person to heed Dr. Dean's call is Green Party leader Ralph Nader. Mr. Nader announced today that the Green Party would not field a presidential nominee in 2004, because, according to Mr. Nader, ``With Howard Dean as the Democratic nominee, this election really doesn't need a spoiler''.

Seems fitting in light of today's Fawning /. piece on Dean...

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Journal: More threads 3

Journal by neocon

Two more threads, both fun ones:

In this thread, we get a look at correct and incorrect use of the term `Orwellian' before diving into a look at the cold war and how it was won.

In this one we look at exactly how much of a crock Michael Moore's ``documentary'' Bowling for Columbine really was (hint: Moore is dumb enough to lie even about things that aren't useful to make his point, and even when his statements are easy to fact-check), and at how far some on the left will go to defend their own when they are caught in misdeeds

Also, GMontag's ongoing JE on Orwell has been updated (and has also grown some discussion), and MC Hampster is considering a new .sig (I say go for it :-) ).

And just to keep things fun, our little circle seems to have grown a troll of our own, albeit not a particularly bright or witty one -- as always, don't feed the trolls, it only encourages them.

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Journal: A Religious JE? Sure, why not... 2

Journal by neocon

In 1999, Fr. Thomas Hopko (OCA) wrote:

In modern secularized society, the language, structures, symbols and rites of classical, biblical Christianity remain, while their content and meaning are radically altered. In the post-modern "deconstruction" of the modern worldview -- by way of radical personal and cultural existentialism, the sexual revolution, the mystical quest, the politicization of theology and ethics, and the explosion of material and spiritual hedonism and avarice -- traditional language, structures, symbols and rites are recreated to the point where their original content and meaning no longer remain at all, but are replaced by a whole new reconstruction of reality.

...

If more than a half century ago H. Richard Neibuhr could say that in modern American liberal Protestantism "a God without wrath brings man without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross" (The Kingdom of God in America, 1937, p. 193), it can now be said that in the new age of most-modern pluralism divinity without sovereignty brings humans without dignity into an age without responsibility through the exploitation of a god or goddess of your choice without tragedy.

Does this apply to other religions and sects as well (from my own upbringing, I'd say that it's at least as applicable to Judaism in America as to liberal Christian churches; from my experiences now, I'd say it applies as much to the `high church' sects as to protestantism; am I right?)? Can this problem be solved? Is it a problem worth worrying about at all? How does this change compare to changes in other institutions (governmental, educational, etc)? Discuss.

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Journal: Quote of the Day 22

Journal by neocon

It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression (although I do not choose to put it into a newspaper, nor like a Priam in armor to offer myself as its champion), that the germ of dissolution of our Federal Government is in the constitution of the Federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow), working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little to-day and a little to-morrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidatee into one. To this I am opposed; because, when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821

Discuss.

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Journal: Oh my, oh my... 22

Journal by neocon

Every thread should have a punchline as good as the one I've been linking to in the past two JE's does.

After post after post in which a particular user has asserted that the story of Onan could not possibly be interpreted as having an anti-contraception message, and that the idea that any Christian might oppose contraception was invented by the Vatican to `keep people in guilt and fear', and but a single post after I linked to evidence that not only has the Catholic church derived this belief from the story of Onan since at least the fifth century, and that many other sects Christian and Jewish hold the same belief, we finally get to see where he's been getting his theological interpretations from.

I'm not a Catholic (though I am a Christian), but if all the church's opponents are as loopy as this, I have no fear of the church being destroyed for many years from now. :-)

Update: don't miss GMontag's latest JE, either. Definitely a winner. :-)

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Journal: Two Threads 20

Journal by neocon

Kind of a fun thread developing in this JE of GMontag's. Another sign of how desperate many on the left are to grasp at any wild claim -- no matter how long since discredited -- to back their wild conspiracy theories.

Now, does this mean that Diebold's election systems are well implemented? I'm not going to touch this one with a ten foot pole. But it certainly does the argument against Diebold no credit if it rests so much of its case on sources no more reliable than a discredited party hack like Bev Harris.

Also, for those of you who had already checked my last JE before I updated it, this thread is a good demonstration of how sloppy bad ideas (in this case anti-Catholic bigotry) get when they go unchallenged in the public square for so long.

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Journal: Open Question: Who's winning the culture wars? 12

Journal by neocon

Well, some amount of buzz has surrounded Brian Anderson's recent piece on South Park Republicans and the state of the culture wars in City Journal (also reprinted in the Wall Street Journal).

Anderson writes:

"The left's near monopoly over the institutions of opinion and information -- which long allowed liberal opinion makers to sweep aside ideas and beliefs they disagreed with, as if they were beneath argument -- is skidding to a startlingly swift halt. The transformation has gone far beyond the rise of conservative talk radio, which, ever since Rush Limbaugh's debut 15 years ago, has chipped away at the power of the New York Times, the networks and the rest of the elite media to set the terms of the nation's political and cultural debate. Almost overnight, three huge changes in communications have injected conservative ideas right into the heart of that debate. Though commentators have noted each of these changes separately, they haven't sufficiently grasped how, taken together, they add up to a revolution. No longer can the left keep conservative views out of the mainstream or dismiss them with bromide instead of argument. Everything has changed."

This is certainly true, as far as it goes. A lot of the energy and enthusiasm in our culture is indeed starting to lean in the right (and Right) direction these days. But Jonah Goldberg over at National Review warns against being too triumphalist, as these small steps in the right direction are still dwarfed by the old elite culture with it's ingrained biases (CBS News, the least well-off of the broadcast news outfits, still has more viewers than all of cable news put together, for example). He writes:

"Think about it: If we'd really won a culture war -- with all of the aggrandizement of territory implied by such a term -- wouldn't our troops be raising our flags in a few more enemy forts? Sure, we've mounted a few heads on a few pikes. But Phil Donahue did most of his damage 20 years ago. By the time he suited up for MSNBC, he was less a formidable culture warrior and more like one of those WWI veterans who sits outside the VFW talking about putting the kibosh on the Kaiser. And, sure, David Brooks now writes for the New York Times, and hooray for that. But he's still the "house goy" over there, ideologically speaking. Meanwhile, I don't see Harvard, Yale, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Hollywood, the Episcopal Church, or the Courts, getting demonstrably more conservative.

Which brings me back to Harrington's pie. If conservatives have such a lock on the culture these days, as Al Gore, Al Franken, and others keep insisting, why don't we just switch sides? The Left can have Fox News, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, the lavish offices of National Review and The Weekly Standard, as well as Sean Hannity's and Rush Limbaugh's airtime. The gangs at the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation will clear out their desks, give John Podesta the code to the Xerox machine, and tell Eric Alterman where in the neighborhood to buy the best gyros.

In return, we'd like the keys to the executive bathrooms at ABC, CBS and NBC, please. We'd like the cast of Fox and Friends to take over The Today Show's studios ("and tell Couric to take her Cabbage Patch dolls with her!"). We want Ramesh Ponnuru as the editor of the New York Times and Rich Lowry can have his choice between Time and Newsweek. Matt Labash will get Esquire and let's set up Rick Brookhiser at Rolling Stone (that way they won't have to change their drug coverage). Andrew Sullivan can have The New York Times Magazine. Robert Bork will be the dean of the Yale Law School and the faculty of Hillsdale and Harvard will simply switch places. Cornell West will be airbrushed out of The Matrix and Harvey Mansfield will take his place (though convincing him say anything other than "you call that a haircut?" will be hard). NRO will get the bazillions of dollars spent by the editors of Salon and Slate, and those guys can start paying their authors with chickens and irregular tube socks made in Albania.

In other words, talk to me about how we've won the culture war when Dinesh D'Souza wins a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" and Maya Angelou has to blog about it because no one at the New York Times will run her pieces.

I guess I fall somewhere in between. It's not time to declare victory -- a lot of progress would have to be made before the `culture' as laid out by media and other elites is anything but to the left of the mainstream here in America, but I'm happy with where the momentum is right now. What do y'all think?

(PS: I'm back. Or at least I intend to be, albeit perhaps with a slightly slower posting rate than in the past. So if you've seen me post recently, here's your confirmation, and if you haven't, well maybe you're finding out here.)

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