CAN I BE OF ASSISTANCE?

Tuesday, May 24

World

I Know That Game

Glenn Reynolds (free, ad supported) links to a short piece by Mickey Kaus (free, ad supported, ©2005 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC) regarding the latest efforts of George Lakoff to reshape the Democratic Party without actually having to go through any of that awkward change.

Well, unless you knew Lakoff already, you wouldn't know that's what they were talking about, although Mickey links to pieces in The Atlantic and The New Republic Online, which, while both being for subscribers only, do give short excerpts which (more so in The Atlantic's case) give us some idea of what is going on.

Which is this: Lakoff says that the Democrats' problem is not their policies - the policies are perfect; flawless, glittering gems, thank you very much - but the words they use to describe them. From The Atlantic:

When conservatives invoke "strong defense," liberals, Lakoff says, must reframe the concept by referring to a "stronger America." Instead of "free markets," liberals should speak of "broad prosperity." Likewise, "smaller government" must be recast as "effective government," and "family values" as "mutual responsibility." Those greedy "trial lawyers" excoriated by the right should be reframed and praised as brave and selfless "public-protection attorneys." And perhaps most important, when conservatives start promoting more Bushian "tax relief," liberals should respond by defending taxes as "membership fees" or "investments" in America.
Mickey Kaus seems to think that the key weakness of Lakoff's argument is his model of politics:
Oddly, neither attacks Lakoff at what would seem to be his central weak point, namely his conflation of politics and parenting--identifying "conservative" values with "the strict father" and "liberal" values with the "nurturant parent."
Now, apart from the fact that anyone who uses the word "nurturant" and means it should be taken out and shot, this rather misses the point.

What Lakoff's point is, is this: Don't address the issues. Don't ever address the issues. Because although We (the Democrats) are on the right side of every issue, We have this little problem with educating Them (the residents of Jesusland) so that They are smart enough to agree with Us. In the meantime, feed them bullshit.

To put it another way: Lakoff is preaching contempt. His view is that voters are idiots, or robots, programmed into specific voting patterns, to be swayed by specific codewords rather than substantive policies.

It's one thing to disparage those that didn't vote for your party, Mr Lakoff, but what does that say about those that did?

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World

What If We Went On Strike And Nobody Noticed?

BBC who?

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Monday, May 23

World

Ah, That's the One

I've been looking for a particular article written recently about the game being played by the mainstream media, but I couldn't find it again among the flood of similar pieces both on blogs and the fringe (i.e. not hopelessly liberal) media. But following a random link (in other words, I've forgotten who linked to it), I found it again:
Its rules are simple and cynical. Presume the U.S. government is lying -- particularly when the president is a Republican. Presume the worst about the U.S. military -- even when the president is a Democrat. Add multicultural icing -- allegations by "Third World victims" get revered status, while U.S. statements are met with arrogant contempt. (Yes, it's the myth of the Noble Savage recast.)
I had found a piece by Austin Bay elsewhere that was awfully similar but didn't have the quite same clarity of expression. So I checked the author of this piece - aha. That would explain the similarities.

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World

Right and Wrong, Part III

No sooner had I posted Right and Wrong, Part II than one of the victims of self-inflicted insanity I spoke of in Part I popped up demanding Donald Rumsfeld's head on a plate.

Wretchard of Belmont Club has a post up discussing exactly this problem.

And Blackavar at Silflay Hraka has an insightful analysis of what went wrong at Bagram.

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World

Bush Country

Not to be missed article in the Wall Street Journal:
To venture into the Arab world, as I did recently over four weeks in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, is to travel into Bush Country. I was to encounter people from practically all Arab lands, to listen in on a great debate about the possibility of freedom and liberty. I met Lebanese giddy with the Cedar Revolution that liberated their country from the Syrian prison that had seemed an unalterable curse. They were under no illusions about the change that had come their way. They knew that this new history was the gift of an American president who had put the Syrian rulers on notice. The speed with which Syria quit Lebanon was astonishing, a race to the border to forestall an American strike that the regime could not discount. I met Syrians in the know who admitted that the fear of American power, and the example of American forces flushing Saddam Hussein out of his spider hole, now drive Syrian policy. They hang on George Bush's words in Damascus, I was told: the rulers wondering if Iraq was a crystal ball in which they could glimpse their future.
Stand firm; do not listen to the spineless weasels who protested against the wars to liberate first Afghanistan and then Iraq, and who even today are crying out to abandon the people of those countries. Stand firm, and we - and they - can transform the world.

(via Roger L. Simon)

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Sunday, May 22

World

Evil 'R' Us Too

Silicon Image SATA controllers are extremely common, and the second set of four ports on my new motherboard are provided by a Sil3114 chip.

They are, unfortunately, pure evil.

I know that the Linux developers are still adding patches to the kernel to work around problems with Silicon Image controllers. And maybe one day they will succeed. Until then, I wouldn't trust them at all. Well, maybe with one disk, if it didn't contain data I cared about, and I had backups of everything.

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Saturday, May 21

World

Right and Wrong, Part II

This is wrong.

But note the source for the New York Times' report: A military investigation.

And recall that Abu Ghraib was also the subject of a military investigation before it was a blip on the radar of the media.

Our military is imperfect, but it does police itself, and it does hold itself accountable.

There's a lesson there, for those willing to learn.

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World

Important Things

Bill Whittle has a new post up. He's gotten a little irritated by the incessant carping of the left, and explains a few things to them.

Oh, and my SATA controller has arrived, so I'll be able to rebuild Yuri this weekend. The only problem is that it's a PCI card, of course, so it will be quite a bit slower than using the controller built into the motherboard, which sits on its own high-speed bus. On the other hand, it should actually work. There are few things more irritating than an intermittent, untraceable, and fatal fault in a $2000 machine. Well, actually there are many things more irritating than that, but Bill just dealt with most of them.

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Friday, May 20

World

The Sickness Spreads

The New York Times has jumped into the mud (alongside Andrew Sullivan and the Daily Kos) to defend Newsweek and journalistic standards:
Newsweek is under intense criticism for a report it has now retracted about the American prison in Guantánamo Bay.
Yes, they are. They printed inflammatory bullshit on the basis of a single unnamed third-hand source. They damn well should be criticised.
Since we've weathered a journalistic storm or two
Translation: Since we're not only hopelessly biased but have been caught red-handed making up stories.
we can only say the best approach is transparency as Newsweek fixes whatever is broken, if anything.
"If anything"?

Says it all, doesn't it? Look, you miserable swamp rat, Newsweek purports to be a news magazine. That involves reporting what actually happens. The Koran-flushing story was selected on the basis of consistent editorial bias, and not subjected to even the slightest examination before printing.

The entire bleeding magazine is broken, and indeed most of the industry.

There is already a debate about journalistic practices, including the use of anonymous sources, and these things are worth discussing - especially at a time of war, national insecurity and extreme government secrecy, a time when aggressive news reporting is critical.
There it is again.

No, you pathetic pismire, what is critical is accurate reporting. Aggression is for opinion pieces, and rarely helps even there.

Just try, try for once, losing the aggression and presenting the facts.

But it is offensive to see the Bush administration use this case for political purposes, and ludicrous for spokesmen for this White House and Defense Department to offer pious declarations about accountability, openness and concern for America's image abroad.
Why, exactly?

Should not the White House and the Defense Department be concerned with these matters? Since the mainstream media are quite obviously not; or at least only concerned with the destruction of all three.

It took Newsweek about two weeks to retract its report.
Two weeks to retract two sentences.
It has been a year since the very real problem behind the article - the systematic abuse and deliberate humiliation of mainly Muslim prisoners - came to light through the Abu Ghraib disaster.
Abu Ghraib?

Which was already being investigated by the military before any newspaper touched the story?

Which involved the abuse and humiliation of prisoners on a single day?

Which did not in fact demonstrate any sort of systematic abuse, but has been shown to be one of a small handful of incidents?

Which was not any sort of disaster?

That Abu Ghraib?

And the Bush administration has not come close to either openness or accountability.
You mean, except for investigating everyone involved, and everyone in their chain of command?

Except for that, right?

The White House and the Pentagon have refused to begin any serious examination of the policymaking that led to the abuse, humiliation, torture and even killing of prisoners taken during antiterrorist operations and the invasion of Iraq.
more...

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World

Mistake in the Job Description

Hugh Hewitt had ABC News' Terry Moran (who I have never heard of) on his show, discussing the extraordinary exchanges between him and White House press secretary Scott McClellan, and McLellan and Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times.

This is what Moran had to say for himself:

It comes from, I think, a huge gulf of misunderstanding, for which I lay plenty of blame on the media itself. There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing it's job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor.
Maybe it's just me, but I somehow thought that the media's job was accurate reporting?

We saw this during the Hutton Enquiry in Britain as well, with a senior BBC figure making the statement that the BBC's primary function was to oppose the government of the day. (I'd love to find the exact quote for that.)

Excuse me, but there is an actual, elected opposition to do that.

Your job is to present the facts. If you don't like that, you should have gone into real estate rather than journalism.

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