Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Tempest at the Times

David Brooks has caused a stir among the fevered readers of the New York Times.

Since joining the editorial page this month as a featured columnist after the putsch of Howell Raines, each of Brooks’ provocatively conservative columns have been followed by a rooster tail of angry letters from indignant Grey Lady zombies who apparently have never been exposed to such undiluted heresy.

Case in point, Brooks’ column on Saturday dared to suggest that conservatives are lonely on college campuses because their faculties are so predominantly liberal.

Today the tide of outrage washes up on the Times Letters page.

Several writers are clearly not used to having their conventional wisdom questioned.

Paul Steinle, the distinguished associate professor of communications at Southern Oregon University somewhere in southern Oregon deploys his masterful communications skills to prove that conservatives are schtoopid:

“David Brooks wants to continue the conservative notion that academia is divided into two camps, liberal and conservative.

It's the old "us-them" configuration. It serves the needs of conservatives (and maybe liberals) who are seeking sympathy for their hardened intellectual arteries. But it is a naïve, simplistic and self-serving view of the world.

Mr. Brooks should dust out the cobwebs and let in the possibility of mixed emotions and mixed attitudes in a complex world. Try appreciating life (and society and politics) in its rich complexity.”

Actually Brooks isn’t saying that campus is divided between liberals and conservatives . . . he’s saying it’s dominated by liberals and devoid of conservatives. And Associate Professor Steinle demonstrates why.

Campuses are so intellectually sterile that a faculty member at a prestigious community college for lumberjacks in Oregon can argue without embarrassment that people who don’t think the way the learned ass. prof. does are not just ignorant, but self-servingly ignorant.

Yes, life must be so much more rich and complex for a second tier academic at a mediocre school who spends his time searching for deeper meaning in a field that examines press releases and TV sitcoms way up there in Ashland, Oregon where simplistic debates were silenced long ago.

Herbert Gans of Columbia actually is a professor of some repute albeit in the absurd field of Sociology. He adds his twenty-five cents to the Letters page:

“If conservative students have difficulty getting teaching jobs, why do so many appear every generation in economics, political science, many of the humanities as well as all over business and engineering schools?”

Surprisingly, Professor Gans did not end his huffy letter with the traditional “so there” that closes such arguments.

Gans appears to take issue with Brooks’ article in its entirety. Brooks is totally wrong. Campuses are not predominantly liberal. They are full of conservatives in every field. Gans even seems mildly annoyed by their profusion and persistence.

But I’ve saved the best for last.

Rich Allen, also of that great state of higher learning, Oregon, articulates precisely the sort of attitude that David Brooks was lamenting . . . that the entrenched elite on campus are so closed minded that they can’t even recognize differing points of view as intellectually valid.

David Brooks ("Lonely Campus Voices," column, Sept. 27) presents several reasons conservative professors are underrepresented in higher education.

One reason he did not mention is that the arguments for conservative positions might actually be less sound and less compatible with the breadth and depth of knowledge that the most prestigious educators are rightly expected to possess.

Of course there are no conservatives on campus because you can’t possibly be intelligent and conservative at the same time.

Glad to see that diversity nonesense on campus does not actually extend to rational thought.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

UN cool

President Bush is due to speak today in the well of the United Nations General Assembly a few city blocks away from here.

No doubt he will string together a few well chosen words that conform to the tricky norms and decorum of the UN.

What is said is not important. At the UN it is the act of saying something that counts. I guess that’s inevitable. You can’t expect boldness from a committee of 191 members.

That’s a shame because I’m a closet United Nations fan but mainly for reasions of aesthetics.

I like the UN Building.

I see the UNO headquarters building every day on the way to work. In the morning, with the rising sun behind it looks full of hope and promise. The green glass curtain suspended between two sheer marble slabs, exceptionally at odds with the city grid, a hive of offices, and each worker bee an interesting foreigner with exotic clothing and a charmingly rich accent.

The building’s design is credited to an alliance of mediocre hero-architects. Le Corbusier, the father of all public housing disasters is often mentioned although his deadly touch is thankfully absent. Wallace Harrison, the court architect of the Rockefeller family, is also sometimes credited but he simply didn't have the imagination or talent to design such a refined and aspirational building. The real architect is Oscar Niemeyer -- even if he was muscled out of the spotlight by the more media savvy designers.

Look at the building from any angle and concentrate . . . it doesn't take long for the rancor and petty corruption of the actual UN to dissolve. Look a bit longer and the colors alternate between pastel and Technicolor, a gently samba plays . . . the music of the New Frontier . . . sophisticated, global, human, intelligent. This building speaks in the confident lilt of the New World, not the guttural cynicism of the Old World.

Think of Brasilia before the squalor of real world Brazil encroached on and devoured its pristine towers. In 1958 who could doubt that the future belonged to the energetic people of the developing world? How far back down to earth we've fallen.

Sadly the UN Headquarters Building reminds you that the future isn't what it once was.

No doubt the UNO will continue down its dead end path to irrelevance. But the consequences for the building are what concern me.

The Building evokes of time when thinking people could agree that some nations are more important than others. But the UNO says that all nations are equal members of the world community.

This of course is nonsense.

The UN is an organization of governments, not nations. And not all governments are equal.

The government Switzerland is in a different league than, say, the strutting, kleptocratic Castro dictatorship in Cuba. Yet, in UNO legalese, they are on par.

That's no way to confer legitimacy.

To live up to its aspirations the UN will have to discriminate. It should establish "tiered" membership. Full voting members would be those governments that are directly accountable to their citizens. The second tier of non-voting members would be those governments that are moving toward democracy and openness.

On the third tier would be governments that are repressive non-representative regimes. This tier would include North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and many others.

In the eyes of the UN, these non-member governments would be considered illegitimate and their sovereignty would be conditional.

Rather than excuse injustice as a "domestic matter," member governments would be charged with the responsibility for intervening in the third tier world to ensure that these nations evolve into second tier members and ultimately, fully representative governments.

This will never happen. And that's why the UN is destined for obscurity.

But the building . . . that has possibilities.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

It's a Small World . . . But That Doesn't Mean it's All the Same

Found some very enjoyable video things online today.

One is a rather sinister yet catchy North Korean music video called "Fuckin' USA!" Actually, this thing looks like it could have been produced by the Democratic National Committee.

While you sway to the music, keep in mind that these guys have nuclear weapons. It goes without saying, of course, that Jimmy Carter believes we can reason with these zombies.

Another member of the nuclear club, Britain, is a bit more cuddly. They have an admirable ability to be amusing and jingoistic at the same time.

Here's a TV commercial that demonstrates this uncanny ability while selling some no doubt foul tasting English fruit juice.

Yeah, the Brits are my favorite nationalists.

Friday, September 12, 2003

What’s Left of Allende?

Over the weekend radical chic Chileans gathered in knubbly turtleneck sweaters and designer jeans to remember the violent end of the Allende Administration . . . perhaps the least popular people’s revolution in history.

Allende, much like other sixties-era icons such as Jim Morrison, Bobby Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe, are far more popular in death than they ever were in life.

Salvador Allende, you are unlikely to recall, campaigned for the top political office as the lunatic left candidate in a largely conservative country. Because of the wonders of proportional politics Allende was able to win election with a fraction of the vote, the rest being split among mainstream candidates.

This is like Larry Flynt winning the California recall . . . most Chileans reacted to the election with alarm tempered by the knowledge that Allende had no mandate to do anything foolish.

Allende promptly began to do foolish things like invite Soviet economists to Chile to help dismantle the private sector and thugs from Cuba to apply a little persuasive peer pressure to dissenters.

After nationalizing industries and suspending the justice system Allende was overthrown in a military coup that replaced the bespectled left-wing dictator with a strutting right-wing dictator. The difference being, the right-wing dictator relinquished power peacefully and left behind a thriving economy. Allende did quite the opposite. Nonetheless, Pinochet offended “progressive” sensibilities and is therefore only brutal dictator the Left is willing to criticize.

Anyway, many years have passed and those with little memory or sense showed up at the big Allende love fest this weekend for a day of peace love and music in honor of their favorite authoritarian human rights abuser.

Many musicians from around the radical world played and the United States was ritually booed.

To underscore the true meaning of Lenin’s term “useful idiot” the greatest applause was reserved for Silvio Rodriguez, a Cuban singer whose social conscience is so selective that he actually supported Fidel Castro’s recent execution without trial of three black men who were caught leaving the island paradise without permission.

Rodriguez also managed to find virtue in the imprisonment earlier this year of scores of Cubans who had the nerve to circulate a petition asking the Castro regime to hold free elections.

So the Left celebrates its counter September 11 by cheering the mouthpiece of harsh and repressive Latin American military dictatorship.

I guess poetic justice is better than no justice at all.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Moonbats Among Us

Good God, the Riverside Church in upper Manhattan is commemorating the 2nd anniversary of the worst incident of mass murder in the nation's history by inviting a constellation of lunatics and 9/11 conspiracy zombies to a special film festival called "Reframing 911."

Among the honored attendees, none other than the anti-Semitic former Congresswoman from Georgia and al Qaeda apologist, Cynthia McKinney.

I haven't seen the films but if the the titles are anything to go by they should be an infuriating hate-fest:

AfterMath: Unanswered Questions from 9/11 a production of the Guerilla News Network.

The Great Deception by Barrie Zwicker, "the first television commentator to directly challenge aspects of the official narrative regarding 9/11."

Convoy of Death "a documentary of the brutal killing of prisoners of war by U.S. special forces following the Afghan war."

Yup, this looks balanced.

How appropriate that the festival kicks off just a day after Leni Riefenstahl did.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Mad Dogs and Bundestag

Andreas von Bulow, the one time socialist intelligence expert from Germany who has turned into a full-time grassy knoll conspiracy spotter has some pretty harsh views about Americans.

For his suggestion to make sense that the US government is behind the September 11 attacks you would first have to believe that the US government is adept enough to execute such a complex and risky operation and that its leaders are pure evil.

Of course, for a German government official and heir to perhaps the worst foreign policy tradition in recorded human history, such things are totally plausible. After all, if Germany is known for anything it is for the precise following of orders devised by evil leaders.

But von Bulow’s conspiracy can’t seem to get a foothold in America (where it would be expected to have the most power one would think.)

Why? Because we know the CIA is basically a branch of the same organization as the US Postal service. It is risk averse, generally inept, utterly unable to keep a secret, but at the very least loyal and capable of doing little real harm.

I think this may have something to do with the Euro definition of patriotism.

Europeans all . . . and I use a broad generalization because I know more than everyone else and I’m always right . . .they all equate patriotism with love of the national authority (King, Queen, Prince, President, Fuhrer).

On the other hand, even the most patriotic Americans are likely to see their government as a potential menace . . . hence the right to own a firearm to counterbalance the government’s power.

In any case, von Bulow thinks that Islamic fanatics have gotten a bad rap because their deep reservoirs of global good will are being offset by brainwashed drones who see hundreds of suicide murders committed in the name of Allah and mistakenly conclude that Islamic fanatics are bloodthirsty, revenege-driven . . . well, fanatics.

Von Buelow: With the help of the horrifying attacks, the Western mass democracies were subjected to brainwashing. The enemy image of anti-communism doesn't work any more; it is to be replaced by peoples of Islamic belief. They are accused of having given birth to suicidal terrorism.

Q: Brainwashing? That's a tough term.

Von Buelow: Yes? But the idea of the enemy image doesn't come from me. It comes from Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel Huntington, two policy-makers of American intelligence and foreign policy. Already in the middle of he 1990s, Huntingon believed, people in Europe and the U.S. needed someone they could hate--this would strengthen their identification with their own society. And Brzezinski, the mad dog, as adviser to President Jimmy Carter, campaigned for the exclusive right of the U.S. to seize all the raw materials of the world, especially oil and gas.

Yes, that mad dog Jimmy Carter and his greedy henchmen. I don’t quite remember that campaign for exclusive mineral rights to the Earth but it makes sense since the Nixon Administration had already claimed the Moon.

Oh well, thank goodness those crazy Europeans are completely inconsequential. Otherwise we’d have to turn our mighty death rays on them.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Power to the People

One of the oft repeated complaints about the American administration of liberated Iraq is that electricity is only available sporadically. There is no contesting this sad fact. Iraqis even in the most cosmopolitan quarters of Baghdad are often without electricity.

But a friend of mine traveling through the area this week relays an interesting bit of information. Electrical power in free in Iraq. That’s right, its cost of power to Iraqi electricity consumers is nothing, nada, nil, the null set.

Could it be that newly liberated Iraqis are plugging in their air conditioners, refrigerators, and Playstations and turning them all on to Max Power all at once?

I’m no engineer but wouldn’t that sort of load cripple even a robust power grid like the one in the Northeastern United States and Canada?
Doctor or Escalator?

Lileks proves he has achieved mastery of yet another medium with an inspired music sample called Doctor Poppycock that can be found here.

It includes amusing sound bites from Star Trek's Dr. McCoy.

The best of which is a desperate demand to know what planet he's on. Basically, it's the sort of inquiry you should never make with an unreasonable level of urgency, as McCoy does here. Chances are people will not take you seriously.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Euros Question 9/11

Old Europe just can't seem to grasp 21st Century reality. That's the only conclusion one can draw from the news that both the French and the German bestsellers lists contain homegrown conspiracy diatribes that suggest the September 11th attacks were some sort of Bush Administration policy initiative gone wild.

FAZ.net has an article about one of them, Die CIA und der 11. September. Internationaler Terror und die Rolle der Geheimdienste (The CIA and Sept. 11: International Terror and the Role of the Secret Services), by Andreas von Bulow, which moved up two places this week to number five on the Der Spiegel non-fiction book list.

Von Bulow, claims that such audacious and well-organized strikes could not have occurred without the "support of the intelligence agencies," and he disputes that the 19 Arabs identified as the hijackers were really responsible claiming that they were not Islamist extremists and that seven of them were still alive after Sept. 11.

According to FAZ,

He also explores, over 20 pages, the theory that huge charges were secretly planted in the World Trade Center beforehand and then detonated when the planes struck, assuring that the explosions would be powerful enough to cause the landmark skyscrapers to collapse.

Rejecting the official claim that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network were behind the worst terrorist attacks in American history, von Bulow suggests that the four hijacked jets had been secretly fitted with equipment that allowed unknown parties on the ground to deprive the pilots of control and then direct the aircraft, by remote control, into their targets.

Von Bulow's source for this information is apparently a billboard covered in dense type carried by a man living in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House.

The rationale, according to von Bulow: To "secure American global dominance" by mobilizing an ambivalent American public into supporting military action in the Middle East that would secure U.S. control of the region and its oil supplies.

Only in Old Europe would this be plausible. It requires a belief that the United States was not already globally dominant, that the U.S., as the world's largest buyer, doesn't already control the region's oil, or that the American public is ambivalent about Islamofacism.

In fact, it's the Old Europeans who dream of influence, oil and are willing to ignore genocide to get there. Heck, there's probably a secret workgroup toiling away in some grubby basement in Brussels on "Operation Grandslam," an audacious plan to kidnap every cow in the United States and cripple our ability to make cheese and milk chocolate and make Americans dependant on foreign sources for these nutritional staples.

Von Bulow, 66, once a rising star on the German political scene, hardly fits the standard image of the paranoid conspiracy theorist: A lawyer with a doctorate degree in jurisprudence, he was Germany's federal research minister between 1980 and 1982, and for four years before that served as parliamentary secretary in the German Defense Ministry.

Yes, those educated and cultured Germans . . . you never know what they'll come up with next.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Dean People Suck

Come here to buy my new line offensive political merchandise.

These shirts and bumper stickers are scientifically designed to annoy those pesky ideologues who self-righteously insult mean people while at the same time promote the political fortunes of Howard Dean, perhaps the meanest bastard to run for president since Nixon.

Proudly display this clever design to impress your friends and confound your enemies.

Plus, I donate all profits to charity . . . me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

John Kerry Demonstrates His “Courage”

This morning Adam Nagourney of the New York Times covers John Kerry’s presidential campaign kick-off with an almost palpable sneer.

I must admit, I rather enjoy one of the Times’ exquisite hatchet jobs when it’s directed at someone I can’t stand.

Kerry addressed “a listless crowd” on a “sweltering morning” in front of “an elaborate backdrop of the docked carrier Yorktown 1,000 miles from his Boston home.”

The article reports that the speech represented a “relaunching of a ship that had drifted off course this summer.”

While not directly dispatching the speech as a colossal failure, Nagourney notes that the candidate felt compelled to issue a statement an hour later expressing confidence in his campaign team and declaring that there would be no changes in his staff.

Helpfully, the Times notes, “it took Kerry only two sentences in his prepared remarks before he made his first reference to his service in Vietnam.”

Nagourney also includes this wonderful snippet from deep within Kerry’s speech:

"Some might not like to hear it, courage means standing up for gun safety, not retreating from the issue out of political fear or trying to have it both ways," Mr. Kerry said. "I'm a hunter and I believe in the Second Amendment but I've never gone hunting with an AK-47. Our party will never be the choice of the N.R.A., and I'm not looking to be the candidate of the N.R.A.”

What is this, some sort of psychological disorder? He has the “courage” to stand up for some focus-grouped non-term, pseudo-issue called “gun safety” and not “have it both ways” before claiming that he is both a gun enthusiast and not a gun enthusiast?

I think I speak for much of the American public when I say, what the fuck?

Kerry goes on to explain his uncomfortable vote in Congress authorizing President Bush to unleash his terrible swift sword against the sadistic fascist Saddam Hussein regime thusly:

"I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations."

Nagourney properly calls this "an unusual description." I'll say. Isn’t this like saying “I only meant to threaten the use of force, not actually use it” and isn’t that the sort of thinking that made us vulnerable to attack in the first place? Jeez, no wonder no one trusts the Democrats with national security.

It’s kind of hard to imagine what might be motivating a hard-core Kerry supporter if there are any?

I presume that they’re the sort of coddled and privileged young guys from Tufts who imply they went to Harvard and see politics as a way of furthering their imaginary careers as one-day influential investment bankers with a global focus along the lines of Roger Hormats who can get rich without sullying themselves in actual commerce and some day work at the IMF as a prestigious and useless international bureaucrat.

Sorry guys, but Kerry is a sure loser.

And thanks to the New York Times for demonstrating what they can do when they put their talent to work in the service of good rather than evil.