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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

CLOSET REPUBLICANS

"People just assume you are a Democrat."

Richard Nixon had a term for what he considered conservative, average Americans who weren't happy with the changes of the late 60's and early 70's. People who rejected the radical left, hippies, the drug culture, and the free love generation's ideals. He called these people the "silent majority;" silent because he thought that people in the country were quiet about their politics and ideals and majority because he believed that the bulk of the people thought this way, but felt alone, isolated, outnumbered, and shouted down.

For years, the media, the news, entertainment, and politics were largely dominated by a single voice, that of modern liberalism. When you disagreed with this, it seemed as if you were all alone, or a small number of people. After all, if there were many of you, your point of view would be out there, right? Until Ronald Reagan's two landslide victories when he appealed to this huge segment of the population, and Rush Limbaugh's wildly successful radio show, it seemed that way.

But there are areas of the country where, outnumbered and in danger of losing work or status, or even friends and family members, people still hold their tongues when politics comes up.

Ann Kornblut at the New York Times wrote an article about this topic that has gotten a great deal of attention lately:
For years, Sheri Langham looked at the Republican politics of her parents as a tolerable quirk, one she could roll her eyes at and turn away from when the disagreements grew a bit deep.

But earlier this year, Ms. Langham, 37, an ardent Democrat, found herself suddenly unable even to speak to her 65-year-old mother, a retiree in Arizona who, as an enthusiastic supporter of President Bush, “became the face of the enemy,” she said.

“Things were getting to me, and it became such a moral litmus test that all I could think about was, ‘How can she support these people?’ ” said Ms. Langham, a stay-at-home mother in suburban Virginia.

The mother and daughter had been close, but suddenly they stopped talking and exchanging e-mail messages. The freeze lasted almost a month.

“Finally, it hit me that if one of us got hit by a bus tomorrow, I don’t want my final thought to be, ‘She supports George Bush,’ ” Ms. Langham said. They resumed contact, but have agreed not to discuss the administration and the war, or even forward each other humorous political e-mail messages.
That's just one of several examples that Kornblut gives, reflecting a change in attitudes from tolerance and uniting as Americans despite disagreements to stark rejection of those who dare question the party line.
Many people said they are simply tired of debating the policies that have split the country so thoroughly. They know where they stand; they know where their friends, neighbors and colleagues stand. Rather than shift their views or even play along in a show of tolerance, many said they have opted for retreat and the safe harbor of friends who agree.

Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who conducts focus groups nationwide, agreed, saying, “In most parts of this country it is very difficult to have a civilized conversation between two people that fundamentally disagree.”

Which, while perhaps invigorating for television ratings, is proving less so for the nation’s social fabric.
Judith Weiss at Pajamas Media wrote about this as well:
Notice how all the shunning is being done by liberals/Democrats. Given that this is most of the Times declining readership, I don't think the article was weighted to make them look bad. I think Anne Kornblut just couldn't find any examples of conservatives/Republicans doing the same thing.

Some of us discussed this at a party I hosted yesterday evening, to eat chili and pack goodies for the troops in Iraq. An unexpected and welcome visitor was the twenty-something daughter of one couple, who was in town for a visit. She works in an extremely lefty-liberal industry, looks the part, and is matter-of-factly in the closet about her conservative politics. Most of us are in the closet, or we get treated like the people in the article.
The shift is more significant than simply family members who cannot get along. She describes a dynamic here that is different from people who disagree because politics are brought up, rather there is anger that someone dared disagree and break up their mutual commiseration session.

I've shown this in the past, where totally out of context and without any rational basis, the same angry, paranoid, conspiratorial talking points will show up almost anywhere. It can be a Wikipedia writeup on the war in Iraq that claims (until edited) that the WMD were the only justification for the war, it can be a movie review on IMDB, it can be a site talking about food and recipes.

For some, the compulsion to inject hatred of President Bush is overwhelming, like monomania, they stab it into every conversation, every setting, every possible situation or opportunity. This madness makes every conversation a chore, every blog comment section and message board dreary to a certain extent. After fighting the same battle the 629341th time with people who will not listen, do not care what the facts are, and are never going to change their position no matter how totally refuted it is, you simply stop. You give up, you quit arguing, you keep your mouth shut. You've been effectively silenced by a small, loud, unceasing minority.

The national dialog is reaching this point, the one drumbeat has been so relentless, constant, and loud that you simply begin to wither under the effort. Reason and fact cannot compete with glassy-eyed madness in terms of devotion.

Commenters at Judith Weiss' site responded:
When I studied abroad, it was clear that all of my classmates were to the left of even the Democrat mainstream. My husband suggested that I keep my politics to myself until I had made some friends. Well, after I had made a few friends, I piped up with a conservative opinion. I wish I had taken a picture of the shock and horror that flashed across their faces. The other side had invaded their ranks! One of my friends even told me that it was smart of me not to reveal my politics right off the bat because she would have never befriended me if she had known I was a...gasp...Bush supporter.
-by Fern R


I have run into this so many times. I think of it as a spiritual disease, which may explain why the left is more prone to it than the right. People who lack a religious sense tend more than most to invest their egos in their opinions (since they have nothing, really, that transcends the self). Thus they experience disagreement as disrespect, as a personal attack. As you point out, it is sad.
-by Mike Walsh, MM


It's a timely subject, with the holiday season approaching as well. I'm not sure if "friend" is the right word, but I do stay in touch with a very small number of flaming lib/rad friends I used to be very close with, including one who lusts for Bush's impeachment and another who is very close friends with Code Pink activists. But I certainly do *not* confide in them as I once did. I've also let certain others fall by the wayside.

Would rather have an elephant in the living room than a donkey.
-by Jeremiah


I have an aunt and uncle that I haven't seen or spoken to since Christmas 2002. They had spent years ridiculing my parents (voting for a 2-bit actor, etc) so when my uncle started in on me, I didn't let it pass. He supports the Dems because they support the unions and vice versa. Then he insulted my father by claiming that the ONLY reason my father had any success in life was because he was a union member. Problem was, I remember when the union tried to strip my dad of several years seniority to protect some union flunky that had fewer years than my dad. I also know how my dad continuously strove to better himself through any training available to help him do his job better. Personally, I think the union held him back.
Anyway, my aunt and uncle stayed until after dinner, though neither spoke a word, then left and didn't speak to my parents until Easter. Now my mom's older sister and brother both died years ago and this aunt is her only remaining sibling. Four months of attending the same church, but without the daily phone calls, etc. nearly killed my mother. My aunt finally started talking to her again, but was still outrage at me. She has since told my mother that I am no longer her nephew.
I've offered to speak with them, but my mother refuses. She doesn't want to risk losing what contact remains.
I wish they could read this article, but I doubt they'd accept it if they did.
Sorry for the long post.
-by JR Davis

You thought you were in a project meeting or a coffee klatch or a dinner party, and all of a sudden it has turned into the Communist Youth League Self-Criticism Session.
A-frickin'-men. I'm right of center and I work in a very left wing environment and I can't count how many times a meeting turned into a political discussion. I generally just keep my mouth shut (which has probably damned me) because I have to work with these people. Some of them got into a yelling match during the 2004 campaign season because one of them didn't hate Bush (wasn't going to vote for him, but he didn't hate the man). The Bush-haters were so enraged that this guy didn't hate Bush like they did they started a big argument which prompted an e-mail from HR to the company requesting people respect each other's political views. I doubt these people would accept my views with open arms.
-by CT


I have experienced this myself on several levels. However, not only am I a conservative, but I am also a currently serving Soldier in the Army. I usually get remarks like," You're so nice, I would never had any idea" when people learn of my profession. The left in my opinion sees itself as a direct line to the "people". So those who oppose them, oppose the "people" and therefore are illegitimate. Those on the republican/libertarian right see the left as making logical errors ie. 2+2 =5. One does not get emotionally upset at a math/logic error. Those on the left see the right as being invalid from the start and being in opposition to the "common good". I actually had an leftist acquaintance tell me that she "forgave" me for being in the Service. Unbelievable!
-by Bob F.


I have to admit as a Republican, I would probably never (could never) have a deep, long-term relationship with a Democrat. My sister is a dyed-in-the-wool Dem, but family is an exception. Of course, I don't see her that often because of distance and if I did, we'd probably avoid political talk most of the time.

I work around some Dems though and I think they sense that I'm not one of them because I don't nod in agreement at their bombastic opinions.

I'll also agree that never, ever have I heard someone just voice a pro-republican or pro-Bush opinion before a work meeting began but I've heard pro-dem opinions all the time.

The number of times I've had to bite my tongue...
-by Tom


That is pretty pathetic not associating with someone because of their political opinions. It is as sad as, say a Mets fan who would refuse to play p*ker with a Yankees fan or something...there's nothing wrong with some good-hearted ribbing among friends, but totally avoiding someone due to their politics? No way.

Still, if I knew that a co-worker of mine was, say a supporter of Hamas, even if he kept his politics to himself at work, I certainly wouldn't want to hang out with him on a business trip. Likewise, if someone down the hall in my apartment building expressed his opinion against same-sex marriage to the degree that he refused to be polite to my partner, I think I would be justifed in turning down an offer to play cards with him.

I suppose there's always an exception if someone is rude or pushy about it...I mean, a pushy Democrat or Republican is as obnoxious as a rude sports fan who yells "your team sucks" -- but what about the Hamas supporter or a similar situation?
-by Mike Silverman


Here in Utah, the reddest of the red states, you've got the opposite extreme: isolated liberals floating in a sea of conservatives. So, naturally, one might expect the same conflicts as those described above, only in reverse... right?

Wrong.

Where I work, a small company, everyone (as far as I know) is conservative. When a new guy was hired, we avoided talking politics at all around him, until we got to know him better. We didn't want to risk offending the guy. Turns out he's sorta half and half, probably more liberal than conservative. But we all get along just fine, and even have those wacky "logical and friendly" political chats you guys seem to only dream about. We wouldn't THINK of demeaning a liberal co-worker just because he or she thinks differently. At other places in Utah where I've worked (4 or 5 in all, sometimes very large organizations), it was the same.

My wife, her sister, and her husband, are all conservative, too. I doubt they vote straight Republican ticket, but they damn well didn't vote for Kerry. Not that I asked, but you get a sense of these things. Anyway, my wife's mother is the hard-core liberal of the group. We avoid political discussions like the plague, when we can, but sometimes she can't restrain herself. Even when she knows we won't agree! She gets even more angry when we refuse to buy in to the liberal point du jour, and if we decide to actually argue the conservative case... well, we've learned over the years to cautiously try to change the subject before things get really bad. So why does she insist on starting these arguments?

Over here, in the heart of "Jesusland West," I have yet to encounter a group of conservatives bullying someone into thinking their way. I don't even know the political leanings of most of the people I talk to every day, even though, more often than not, it turns out to be "conservative" once conversation eventually heads that way.

If other Utahns have encountered otherwise, I'd be interested in hearing about it. I hope this extends beyond my own personal experience. My experience here, coupled with the stories I have read on this page, add up to an eye-opening - and disturbing - glimpse into the liberal psyche.

Is it really that bad out there in blue territory?
-by KJ


i reside in southern california. i am a Japanese American female, licensed psychotherapist working as a mediator for the Superior Courts. Because of these attributes it is assumed that i must be left of center in my political and social views. Oh, i am also one of those Christian types too.

I work in a professional setting and i am continuously amazed at the bias, prejudice and hostility openly expressed by my colleagues against all things Republican/Conservative/Spiritual.

I wonder at how they completely overlook the irony in their vocal castigation regarding closed minded, intolerant right wingers,fascist neocons and religious types. In one recent circumstance I experienced what was a frightening realization.

With four of my closer colleagues i came to understand something i have never been able to mentally comprehend. How could/did neighbors and friends turn in their neighbors and friends to the Gestapo/SS/Third Reich collaborators?

Individuals i thought at least respected my right to my personal beliefs were vehemently attacking me as i drove all of us home from a distant conference. The intensity of their belief that the religious and neocons are ruining our nation and are the same as Islamic extremists if not worse. These are educated and generally kind people. But none would consider that their views are seriously skewed. I know of no one in my spiritual community who wants to take up arms and kill in the name of Yeshua...or convert anyone by point of sword :) There are no plans for a religious Theocracy...most of my fellow Christians lean to a Libertarian political view of live and let live with as little government involvement as possible. That is until decisions are being made in the community and ultimately through the courts that impacts our ability to freedom of practice and expression... such as Baccalauriate celebration to bring God's blessings, maintain historical symbols in county seals, attempts to exclude all Judaeo/Christian values, symbols on campus in the community but hypersensitivity to anything Muslim.

My intellect, reasoning and psychological health was questioned in my support of Pres. Bush and the policy to fight a war against Islam extremists. Actually stated, "how can you,a woman of color ever support the policies of the neocon Republican party? The moral equivalency given to all countries compared to America and Israel was completely illogical.

it was so intense that afterwards, alone, i realized that anyone of these, my closest colleagues could and would turn me in if it ever became a legal requirement... they'd do it believing they were doing it for the "good" of the country or something... i have not quite recovered from this realization...

i don't know what to make of the changes in what use to be opportunities for civil discourse. i am hopeful that the atmosphere will mellow in the coming years but i fear it will intensify as the internet continues to illuminate so much that has not been available through the usual media sources and i think the extreme left loses more and more validity in our society.
-by Linda
There was a Biblical term for this concept, shibboleth. This was a word that people from another nation would ineviatbly mispronounce, giving the Israelites a clue that they were dealing with an outsider. It let them know who spies were, it was a dividing line. Having conservative views or supporting President Bush has become this shibboleth, it's when you become ostracized by some.

The old rule was "don't talk about religion or politics in company" but that's changed. You can talk about them all you want - if you have the right positions. If you don't prepare to pay the price. And it's not just the left that enforce this, in some areas, if you hold the wrong position, the right shuns and punishes you. But typically, it's the other way around, especially in bastions of tolerance and diversity such as New York, LA, or Seattle.

Bob F puts it well; the right considers this a mistake, a logical error, confusion, so there's no emotional investment. You're mistaken, here are the facts, oh dear you're one of those who cannot be reached, how sad. For the radical left, it's a religious and emotional investment, a series of lies stacked upon each other and repeated so much that they begin to take on a plausibility when echoed by friends and associates.

And that's the deepest reason I think the effect Kornblut describes is happening: when someone makes you doubt your faith, you usually don't react in curiosity and careful study, you react in panic, anger, and rejection. But if you are an intellectually honest, mature person, after this reaction you study more deeply to understand the truth. There are many more reactions by commenters, many more stories in the articles linked. This is a sickness in America that has gotten so deep and entrenched I don't honestly know what will fix it, if anything.

One thing is true: President George Bush is not a uniter, the nation has become grossly polarized during his administration. But this is not due to any particular policy or action on his part, it is due to an extreme reaction to his policies by a segment of America.
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TENURE DENIED

Sadly, Indiana Jones, despite being brilliant, daring, and a very popular professor, was never extended tenure at his university. This sad lack has been finally explained, as McSweeney managed to dig up a 1939 tenure denial letter:
January 22, 1939

Assistant Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr.
Department of Anthropology
Chapman Hall 227B
Marshall College

Dr. Jones:

As chairman of the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, I regret to inform you that your recent application for tenure has been denied by a vote of 6 to 1. Following past policies and procedures, proceedings from the committee's deliberations that were pertinent to our decision have been summarized below according to the assessment criteria.

Demonstrates suitable experience and expertise in chosen field:

The committee concurred that Dr. Jones does seem to possess a nearly superhuman breadth of linguistic knowledge and an uncanny familiarity with the history and material culture of the occult. However, his understanding and practice of archaeology gave the committee the greatest cause for alarm. Criticisms of Dr. Jones ranged from "possessing a perceptible methodological deficiency" to "practicing archaeology with a complete lack of, disregard for, and colossal ignorance of current methodology, theory, and ethics" to "unabashed grave-robbing." Given such appraisals, perhaps it isn't surprising to learn that several Central and South American countries recently assembled to enact legislation aimed at permanently prohibiting his entry.

Moreover, no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist's tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver.
Experts in typesetting and forgery have confirmed the letter is every bit as real as the TANG letters used by 60 minutes in late 2004. The entire letter may be found at Timothy McSweeney's site.
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STUNT MUSLIM REDUX

"Reality TV... isn't"

Remember back in April when NBC's nightline show was sending a cameraman with a clearly Muslim-dressed guy to NASCAR events to film reactions? Get those hicks in the act of being hickish! It didn't work out so well, people at NASCAR are interested in the race and are friendly on the whole.

Now CBS is looking for people who are uncomfortable around Muslims:
Do you get nervous when you see a Muslim on an airplane? Have your opinions about Muslims changed since September 11? Do you have family or friends that get nervous around Muslims?

A NEW CBS SHOW SEEKS New York families who have traditional family values but are uneasy around Muslims.

The show will profile families in different communities across the country. This one hour documentary-style series from the producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Deal or No Deal" will take a look at the people and cultures that make up America.
This also is a revealing look at how "reality shows" are set up. Get people of a certain mindset, put them in places they'll react poorly, and film them being unpleasant to each other. Drama, that's what matters, not the interaction. The Learning Channel had a show called Monster House on that I enjoyed some of because it was about contracting and engineering and building. They showed how the builders approached the problem and what they did to finish the job, how they did their craft.

But the show's producers were more interested in how much they fought and complained and didn't get their job done, which was the parts of the show I didn't care for. That was "reality TV" to the producers - make people angry, stressed, and uncomfortable, and film it. Great TV look at the genuine people how they act behind closed doors! When egged on and harassed and confronted with things they aren't happy with.

In any case, I wonder if they'd be willing to put Muslim extremists on camera with a few typical Upper Manhattan lifestyle guys and film that. "This infidel is openly a lover of men! Push down the wall upon him!"

Story courtesy the Gawker
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Quote of the Day

"A love for tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril."
-Sir Winston Churchill
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Songs I Like: Race Among the Ruins (Gordon Lightfoot)

The road to love is littered/By the bones of other ones/Who by the magic of the moment/Were mysteriously undone

The first album I ever owned was Summertime Dream by Gordon Lightfoot - my oldest brother gave it to me when he didn't care for it because I liked "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." This is in my opinion his best record, although he had many songs I like once he got past the earnest young folkster stage and matured some. Gordon Lightfoot had a terrific voice and was skilled with his guitar, and that was all he needed, although some songs had more. On that album are several very fine songs, but one of them that really sticks to my memory is Race Among the Ruins.

Although the tone and theme is very nihilistic and depressing, the words are crafted with great skill, including some very memorable lines about life and love. Gordon Lightfoot's considerabl songwriting skills and poetry was at its height with this album and in my opinion he's one of the best, least-famous songwriters of the late 20th century. I consider him far better than Bob Dylan, if for no other reason than the fact that he can actually sing.

You think you had the last laugh
Now you know this can't be true
Even though the sun shines down upon you now
Sometimes you must feel blue
You make the best of each new day
You try not to be sad
Even though the sky falls down upon you
Call it midnight feelin' bad
When you wake up to the promise
Of your dream world comin' true
With one less friend to call on
Was it someone that I knew?
Away you will go sailin'
In a race among the ruins
If you plan to face tomorrow
Do it soon

The road to love is littered
By the bones of other ones
Who by the magic of the moment
Were mysteriously undone
You try to understand it
But you never seem to find
Any kind of freedom, comin' clean
Is just another state of mind

When you wake up to the promise
Of your dream world comin' true
With one less friend to call on
Was it someone that I knew?
Away you will go sailin'
In a race among the ruins
If you plan to face tomorrow
Do it soon

So take the best of all that's left
You know this cannot last
Even though your mother was you maker
From her apron strings you pass
Just think about the fool
Who by his virtue can be found
In a most unusual situation
Playin' jester to the clown

When you wake up to the promise
Of your dream world comin true
With one less friend to call on
Was it someone that I knew?
Away you will go sailin
In a race among the ruins
If you plan to face tomorrow
Do it soon

When you wake up to the promise
Of your dream world comin' true
With one less friend to call on
Was it someone that I knew?
Away you will go sailin
In a race among the ruins
If you plan to face tomorrow
Do it soon
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TALKIN' ABOUT YOUR GENERATION

IF YOU'RE A BABY BOOMER, stand by. I'm about to p-p-put you down

Viagra
While I try to be charitable and even handed, I along with many others who look back at the last 30-40 years cringe and see a devastating pattern: one generation of people in western society have done considerable damage to culture, society, arts, and academics. More than any other generation I'm aware of the Baby Boomers have been incredibly damaging and pernicious. And I'm not alone in this observation. The Indepundit, Captain Smash had much to say about the generation as well:
You may be the most insufferable, self-centered, and irresponsible generation in American history. Oh, one-on-one, some of you are tolerable. But as a group, I can't stand you. You seem to be generationally incapable of moving beyond the past, dealing with the present, or planning for the future.

At this moment, your generation dominates American politics. And just look at the mess you've made of it! As a nation we have become so divided, so tribalistic about our affiliations, that it is now almost impossible to have an intelligent discussion about any issue of substance. And it's all your fault.
He examines four topics which among others are typical of the damage and problems the boomers caused: Vietnam, Abortion, Watergate, and Social Security. As boomer age, their terror at growing old and dying grows, and their selfishness and perpetual adolescence will not allow them to face this gracefully. Viagra sales skyrocket, anti-aging snake oil sales are booming, and the burden of caring for this generation falls on my and subsequent ones.
Your parents may have been "The Greatest Generation," but they did a terrible job raising you lot.

I hope you all die before you get old.
Smash isn't pushing for genocide of the elderly, he's just quoting the Who. Now, before I go on, let me offer the unnecessary but nonetheless almost requisite clarification: there are many in the boomer generation who are not this sort of person. Some are great Americans, patriots, leaders, and fine individuals. But viewed as a generation and as a whole, even you must recognize the problems that have been caused.

Commenters at Indepundit responded to this screed:
Gulp.

Great piece. Err, can you identify the birthdates that fall within the Boomer Generation, in your definition?

Just wanted to ask.

Class of '77

SMASH SEZ: 1946-1960.
-by dadmanly


I really had to laugh when I read your screed about Boomers. Years 1946-1964. Yep, I was born in 1946 and I have to say you are absolutely right about everything you said. We are the nightmare generation-worlwide. Every country on the planet suffers because of their boomers.

Can you imagine how horrible it will be for the industry that profits from old people when the Boomers hit the assisted livings and the nursing homes? The healthcare industry will never recover.

Good luck trying to talk sense to the selfish Boomers. Frankly, Smash, you might as well save your breath.
-by oahu

Now for the hard part: Afghanistan is not Vietnam. Iraq is not Vietnam.
Now for the even harder part: given the huge changes throughout the world since 1973, in the unlikely event something should flare up in Southeast Asia and make modern-day Vietnam into the next geopolitical hot spot, even Vietnam will not be Vietnam.
-by Xrlq


Um, err,let's not write off that whole baby-boomer generation. Some of us were on the side of the angels, rehearsing to carry the nukes TO BLOW THOSE COMMIES BACK INTO THE FREAKIN' STONE AGE!

Ah, sorry. I had a flashback to the Cold War there. Sorry. Let my find my pill box and take my meds and I'll finish this post.

OK, well, what I was saying was, sure, a lot of my generation were goobers but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. I can't help but notice at my high school reunions that some of the deadhead stoners sobered up and became Citizens. Republicans, even. One of the big dope smokers of my high school class is an air traffic control supervisor. Think about that the next time your pilot turns off the seat belt sign at cruise altitude.

From what I saw, Vietnam didn't mean all that much to most of my classmates from my high school class of '73 except as a high-minded excuse to cut class to smoke dope with hot and easy hippie chicks. My high school class was about the last one with any chance of going to Vietnam. I only know of one of my classmates who made it to Vietnam in the Army, where he only spent a few weeks packing up to leave.

I propose drawing a line at the Class of '73 that separates the Good Boomers from the Bad Boomers who preceded us. We Good Boomers voted in Reagan (OK, I voted for Carter the first time, my bad) and got the conservative ball rolling. Without us, there would be no Fox News, no Stealth bombers, no Internet. All this time we few, we happy few, we band of conservatives were holding the fort agains the liberal barbarian hordes, waiting and hoping for our numbers to swell.

So, ya little whipper-snapper, all we Good Boomers have to say is, "What took ya so long to get here?"

You might try tracking down some of those wise-ass hippies from the '60s and ask them how that "don't trust anyone over 30" thing is going for them now.
-by Tantor


Wow! Hold on just a damn minute. SOME of us are still fighting Vietnam. Only now, we're stateside, fighting the lying bastards that didn't go. And we ain't givin' up 'til every last one of 'em is down for the count.

Who do you think has got you young whippersnappers' back? :-)
-by antimedia


Ouch!

But, I have asked myself in the past ... is it going to take the demise of "my" generation to see an end to the repeated attempts to apply an ideology so thoroughly discredited?

And, SMASH, you aren't the only one who's not counting on SocSec being there when you hit your golden years ... younger boomers like myself aren't counting on it, either.

This may be surprising, coming from me, but I find myself agreeing with your "too many other pressing issues" argument vs. abortion. While I am solidly pro-life, abortion isn't the ONLY evil out there that could be either thwarted or furthered by the actions of our elected leadership.

You have to look at the total package ... and ask yourself if you are willing to elect the next Jimmy Carter, only because he's pro-life ... or are willing to elect an apparently-competent candidate (like, say, Rudy Guiliani) who is willing to support abortion -- and live to fight that battle another day.

I mean, I don't think the Islamofascists support abortion, either ... would my fellow pro-lifers elect one of them?

What Tantor said about "Good Boomers" rings true, though. We saw the idiocy of our big brothers/big sisters ... and rejected it for ourselves.

Of course, ... you should be nice to your elders, as y'know that geezers like Tantor, myself, and my fellow 1977 "gradgit" Dadmanly, we had to walk to school five miles through snowdrifts ... barefoot ... uphill BOTH ways!

Then, to save energy, we had to put our sweaters on, every day ... our President back then, said so ... as we twiddled with our slide rules, in an era where mice had no buttons, Notepad was colored yellow and had lines, and I couldn't draw a straight line if my life depended on it (thank God for that new-fangled CAD!).

But, at least for those among us who were fortunate enought to have trucks (or the occasional tractor) to drive to school, at least they had no problems with keeping your rifle on the rack behind the seat, when you parked in the school parking lot ... there for you, if needed, to guard your precious stash of 8-tracks, full of music from manly men who played their guitars proudly through vacuum tubes ...

... ah, the good old days.
-by Rich Casebolt


YOU ARE A SHALLOW FOOL. MY GENERATION BROKE AWAY FROM THE "GOVERNMENT ALWAYS GOOD AND RIGHT" MENTALTY AND MADE THEM BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS. WE CHANGED THE SHEEP MENTALTY TO THAT OF A LION.
-by bruce (who's capslock appears stuck)


Out here in the fields, I fought for my meals, I put my back into my living...and...

In 1972, I raised my right hand, along with about 1000 others to be sworn into the reserves. It sure wasn't popular at all to get a buzz cut and put on a uniform, and go to a school that kept you in all week and controlled your activities most of the rest of the time as well, all in the name of character building. I was commissioned under Carter and left under Clinton, but saw the Reagan years bring a pride back to the profession.

It's like reading the MSM...they just "forget" to publish much of what's happening (most particulalry of a positive nature), and don't think it's censorship. They are still doing it now, but more openly.

Many of the Boomer's performed just fine. Some of your generation didn't give other kids bloody nose and steal their lunch money, as in the school days of us Boomers, they walked into school in black trench coats and shot their fellow students in cold blood, and now there are police walking the halls of schools to keep the children "safe." I agree, there has been the influence of the Boomers/Dr. Spock culture that engendered some of this, but, it's still all about personal choice.

Bottom line: Don't be seduced by the methodology of the MSM. Keep your focus, pull the good and factual out of the weeds, present it to your extensive readership.

Actually, many indicators, like teen pregnancy and STDs and drug use metrics show a positive trend, so the tide is turning. There is a tremendous amount of credit to the small number of our population (1.5M) who now serve in a heroic and incredible mamner, despite the bitching about how DIs can't use "bad words" to bring them into the warror culture. I'd say the dropping of sure conventions may have made an even better class of warrior.

On the other hand, the Gen X/ "c" ("Cynic") types are the masses of the (anything but) "truthers" that counterbalance the men and women who defend us.

How about we all take the high ground and celebrate the accomplishments and work to correct the things that tear us apart/down?

As one commenter put it: Time to get to work and solve the problems.

There's too much to get done to waste time complaining. I vote for raising Valour-IT funds as therapy for the "funk." :)
-by Curt


Your e-mailers all make good points about the Boomers and; of course, not all Boomers are the same. They all weren't and aren't selfish self-involved parasites.

I do think the one defining characteristic of Boomerism is that these folks found their "cause" when they were in their early 20s and 30s. They truly believe that they changed the USA by their political activism and they can't let that go. They want to be as important today as they think they were then.

They think they stopped the Vietnam War, got rid of Nixon, got rid of Johnson and are solely responsible for our wonderful education system today---among other stellar accomplishments.

The Boomers who were not antiwar activists just went about their lives as ordinary Americans and stayed out of the political arena. Those Boomers are still just living their lives as real people with a real world view.

The activists are still pounding their chests and yelling, "But what about me?" Unfortunately, this group of Boomers will never grow up or change. Their whole identity is rooted in the 60's, their whole reason for being happened when they were very young. They are a sad group and if they weren't so darn annoying, we could pity them.
-by oahu


This post isn't about Boomers per se; it's about people who can't let go of things that happened decades ago, and who define themelves by things that became academic discussions before their brains did. It's about people who feel a sense of entitlement for actions that they are not responsible for, and for those who don't have the critical thinking skills to realize this.

It's about people who are not focused on the world their children will inherit, since they are so self-absorbed that they think the world will end with their deaths.

The only reason he's speaking of Boomers is because they're the ones who are old enough to fit those profiles. Do not doubt that in time, some Gen-Xers will come in for the same kind of criticism.

(Incidentally, speaking of that sense of entitlement, I had a very young co-worker, otherwise very nice, who would complain about how high housing prices were keeping her out of the market. She was nineteen— why on earth did she feel as though she should deserve a house at nineteen? *I* can't afford a house at nearly thirty!)
-by B. Durbin


I am completely embarrassed by my generation (1946 start for me). "Gonna change everything", we shouted, but have made a worst mess than the folks who came before us. Sorry to see that the folks who follow will have to try to clean it up. This self-centered bunch has set a "memememememe" agenda from Day #1. It does not matter WHAT the issue is, it's all about me. Bill Clinton has to have been the ultimate poster boy for "us". Yes, I'm part of it, and disgusted beyond all belief. We can't even take criticism about the last 30-40 years of our destruction of a perfectly OK society.
-by Bob


I'm 24. I agree that the boomers have screwed up a lot, but it all stems from the Greatest Generation screwing up raising the boomers. While it is understandable wanting to focus on plenty and peace after such a horrible war it had the bad side-effect of spoiling the boomers. The boomers then passed it on to their kids, who in their rebellious age took it a step further, and so on. It basically started a snowball effect where you now get what one of the earlier posters said; the tire on your car going out and daddy buys you a new one.

The 'do whatever you want' attitude has gone so far that parents run off and do what they want, leaving their kids to do what they want, and it's thought of as good parenting by those individuals because everyone gets to partake in the great American Dowhateveryouwant. Now it's tantamout to child abuse to even say "no" to your children and you get 5 years probation for smacking a 17 year old once whose bitten 6 big hunks of flesh out of your forearm while you're driving.
-by Ranba Ral
The ironic thing is that the boomer generation became that which they fought against. They are the establishment, they are the business owners, they are the corporations, they are the politicians. Yet they sing the same song, attacking that which they've become - the show 30-something in the 1980's tried to tackle that but was so woeful and clueless it accomplished nothing but creating a term with it's title. It's boomers who are downsizing and moving companies overseas, polluting, and running the wars now. It's the boomers who are giving us the most uneducated, clueless batch of politicians that has ever walked America's soil.

My generation is no better, believe me. Born in 1965 I can see how my generation is simply apathetic, we lack leaders, vision, goals. We've rejected the boomers, and their predecessors and offer nothing in their place but comic book movies, X-Box, and rap music. More than any other generation, mine ("busters" according to some) is almost totally compelled by media, entertainment, and popular culture. We don't make culture, we ape and repeat it. For example, what will rap stars 10 years from now sample? There' nothing unique coming out anymore. We all have a lot to change and we all have a great deal of room for improvement. But if you have to point to one generation that as a group has caused the most damage and problems, Smash has it dead on.
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FEAR THE GREAT AND MIGHTY OZ

Isn’t Australia under the US nuclear umbrella? So if we nuke them for having nukes would that mean we’d have to nuke ourselves too?

Vegemite
Australia's shocking plot to build nuclear weapons with which to attack the United States was revealed by US Senate candidate Harold Ford last Friday.
"Here we are in a world today where more countries have access to nuclear weapons than ever before," Mr Ford said, adding that when he left college in 1992 he thought the nuclear age had come to an end "and America would find ways to eliminate the number of chances that a rogue group or a rogue nation would get their hands on nuclear material".

"Today nine countries have it - more than ever before - and 40 are seeking it, including Argentina, Australia and South Africa," he said.

Mr Ford was referring to the nine known nuclear weapon states: the US, the UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and now North Korea.

He said this made the US less safe because "more countries have nuclear weapons today which means the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands has increased dramatically".
Senator Ford is a politician, so he's willing to say whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear, but he made a misstep here identifying Australia as a rogue state seeking nuclear weapons that might let the weapons get into terrorist hands. The news story claims the South Africa does not have nukes, but they were suspected of testing one in 1979 and it is known that they developed at least 6 in the 80s. Satellite photos showed underground test digs being prepared in the Kalahari desert, but they were never used. However, South Africa voluntarily dismantled their nuclear weapons program and bombs, and no longer seems to have such capability.

When the press tried to question Ford after his odd statements, he was bundled off into a car and press handlers deflected efforts. "You don't win us any votes," said one spokesman - in a rare moment of candid truth about the press.

But Australians were amused, to say the least. "Our plot is exposed" quipped Tim Blair, and commenters at the site laughed along:
Wow, he figured out that the recent earth tremor in south-eastern Melbourne was really a nuclear test and that the HoWARd government is establishing a nuclear weapons capability because they know Howard Dean will become President in 2008
-by Oafish and Infantile


Hmmm. That could explain the recent import ban. He must have worked out what “Vegemite” (nudge nudge) really is.
-by ErnestBludger


I knew it. The Crocodile Hunter (R.I.P), Paul Hogan, and Men at Work were all just spies sent to steal our nuclear secrets.

For shame!
-by chrisbg99


It’s so good to see that at least some American Democrats realize who the real enemy is!

Between Mr Ford and that Murtha fellow, US foreign policy under a Democrat administration is really something to look forward to…
-by JPB

Australia has an interest in nuclear weapons
You bet your bippy we got an interest in nuclear weapons. Like, North Korea’s, Pakistan’s, Iran’s. You know, people like that....
-by Bonmot


Headline: Australia ‘a nuclear threat’

*Flexes muscles, and looks at globe of world menacingly, before chugging on a XXXX*

But seriously, what the hell is this guy smoking?
-by ekb87


This bloke got the script really mucked up. Any Leftie down here would have been happy to tell him we are the 51st State of the USA anyway and he’s proposing to take action against his own country.

That or of course the AWB got more than mere kickbacks for that wheat. Maybe all the Iraqi WMD got shipped out here and is sitting in a dis-used wheat silo somewhere in the wheatbelt.
-by nailgun


Sad to say that, as we all know, Greenpeace are full of it. Amongst people who actually monitor nuclear safeguards, Australia vies with the Vatican as the world’s best anti-nuclear citizen.

When new anti-nuke safeguard regimes are trialled, they are usually trialled in Australia first.

ANSTO scientists, incidentally, perform a number of valuable tests for the IAEA, that help in the fight against proliferation.

A few years ago, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation did a survey of the Australian public to ask what they knew of ANSTO’s activities. A significant percentage (and I can’t be arsed to look, but it should be on the ANSTO website somewhere) believed that ANSTO are in the business of making nuclear weapons and, presumably what’s more, are not overly concerned about it.
-by Margos maid


I knew it. We never have really trusted you guys ever since the Anschluss. You Australians and your Schnitzel “Weiner Art”. Why, when this news gets out, it’s Auf Wiedersehen to YOU mates!!!!

.....psst, Texas Bob, that was Austria, NOT Australia...

Oh. Sorry. What can I say? My high school geography teacher was from Tennessee.

Well, what in the heck do you guys want with nuclear weapons anyhow? And you all seemed nice. Frankly, I’m shocked.
-by Texas Bob


Not US, Texas Bob, it’s a VRWC/Vatican project.

We just get to rule the world afterwards. Global Australian Rule will include compulsory Vegemite appreciation lessons, mandatory beer-drinking for all males above the age of 16, all nubile females on all beaches to be topless by law and the banning of wearing armour plate during football matches.

Hey, if people’s heads get taken off as a result in that strange football game you Americans play, you are just gonna have to live with it, OK?
-by MarkL


That piece on Ford made him sound like the New JFK. Are all your newswriters this fatuous?About the nuke misunderstanding, Mr. Ford had received a report from one of his adviors, Joe Wilson, who covers international terrorist threats for him.
-by oldfart


Why would you Ozzies need nuclear weapons? I’m sure the Vegemite crisis can be solved diplomatically.
-by Paco (who got an instapundit link for this comment alone, as did the mcenroe comment below. instapundit Clogging, now if only Glenn Reynolds would give up his anti-blogger bias)


Australia is where Hitler was born, right?
-by rebase

This is all because South Park dissed Steve Irwin, isn’t it? The way France nuked Springfield over The Simpsons?
-by richard mcenroe
As gaffes go, this one is more fun than meaningful, although it does raise some questions. Is this information that Ford has from his present congressional position, and he was foolish enough to leak? The countries are fairly specific and plausible in development. If so, that does not speak well of his qualifications for higher office. Being merely charismatic and notorious with the ladies does not make one fit for power, if you can't keep your trap shut.

If it's just a silly mistake due to lack of sleep as Glenn Reynolds speculates, then no harm, no foul, just some fun for the Australians and us.
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Quote of the Day

"Their modern vision - a post-national multiethnic welfare state linked by nothing but the language in which people curse one another - is fatally flawed."
-James Lileks (on France and the EU)
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

AMENDMENT I (part one)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

HISTORY AND INTRODUCTION
James MadisonJames Madison, who wrote the bulk of the US Constitution and was considered the most intelligent of the founding fathers, wrote the first amendment as well. He thought initially that the 1st amendment would be at best a "parchment barrier," of little use against government encroachment on powers if that should happen, but included a second amendment that would extend these freedoms to the state level, which was rejected - not until the 1920s was it decided this was true for states as well as federal by application of the 14th amendment.

However, he came to understand over time - especially watching Hamilton's use of the treasury department to consolidate power and influence policy in the Washington administration - that the people's freedom to speak and influence government was a critical check on the power of the federal government.

But it was under the Adams administration in 1798 when the Sedition Act was passed by congress - the Federalist party controlled both houses and the Presidency - which made it a crime to publish any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, the President, or either house of Congress—but not against the Vice-President (Jefferson). Jefferson was not a Federalist, he was the informal leader of the nation's first opposition party, the Democratic-Republicans. The Sedition Act filled Madison with concern as he saw the way it was implemented to punish people who questioned or had negative opinions about the government. In practice it was a tool used to try to keep Jefferson's party from gaining power or having a voice in the press.

For example, Congressman Matthew Lyon (Vermont) wrote “Under Adams every consideration of public welfare is swallowed up in a continual grasp for power and an unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp and foolish adulation and selfish avarice. The Senate treats Adams with more servility than ever George III experienced from either house of Parliament.” Lyon spent four months in jail and paid a $1,000 fine for this statement, but was reelected while in prison.

Jefferson was elected president and the Sedition Act expired in 1801, although a new one was passed in 1918 to control public opinion and expression during WW1. It was repealed in 1921. that law and the government's activities during the first World War are actual examples of the loss of liberty and fears that some consider to be happening now under the Bush administration. For them, a study of that time period would be useful in terms of comparison and perspective. A study of the Sedition Acts would be handy for better understanding of what they think the PATRIOT act does as well.

For Madison - the man who wrote the first amendment, it was not about personal expression, it was about the ability to speak out against the government, a check against federal power by the people. Madison understood this amendment not to be an unrestrained, unlimited guarantee of totally free expression on any form, but rather a protection of the citizen's ability to disagree with and speak out against the government and its actions.
FREE SPEECH
In New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) the lawyer for the Times, Herbert Wechsler, claimed that a libel verdict against the newspaper violated the First Amendment. The court decided that
a State cannot under the First and Fourteenth Amendments award damages to a public official for defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves "actual malice" - that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was true or false.
In other words, because of their public position and government status, the requirements for proving libel and silencing speech or the press are greater than they would be for a private citizen. Wechsler maintained that Madison's rejection of the Sedition Act of 1798 demonstrated the key meaning of the first amendment: protection of dissent and public disagreement with the government. The Supreme Court embraced this view, stating in its opinion that the controversy over the Sedition Act “first crystallized a national awareness of the central meaning of the First Amendment.”

But from that time on, the courts have all but abandoned this concept, and have steadily expanded the idea of freedom of expression to cover areas never intended or desired by Madison. Instead of being a check and balance against federal power, free speech now means any act or expression by someone - opinion or not - whether rational deliberation or not.

Free speech in the first amendment never, ever meant dancing topless or burning flags, it never meant obscenity or shocking, offensive materials. In no way did this amendment protect an abstract search for truth or "collective understanding," and it was not intended to be a protection for personal expression. States and societies were free to restrict or allow expression as they saw fit or thought were proper, based on the community and the ideals of the people involved.

The last tattered remnants of this concept surround obscenity laws, which define something as obscene based on what the community thinks. If topless dancing is considered obscene in your home town, then the Supreme Court has defined that as obscene - for you - and thus not protected by first amendment rights. For now. Almost all expression except political dissent and rational discussion was intended to be interpreted this way originally.

THE PRESS
Burning newspapersIn 1735, newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger's New York Weekly Journal so enraged the Governor of the New York colony that he took the man to court for libel. Under English Common Law, the jury was restrained to finding if the accused had actually printed the libel or not. At the time, something being true was no defense for libel, only that it was defamatory. Juries were not to decide whether something was libelous or not, only whether the printing had actually taken place.

Zenger's lawyer Andrew Hamilton, however, took a different tack. He called for the jury to nullify the law with their decision and appealed to them to recognize that the ability to speak or write against the tyranny or oppression of an administration is critical for a free people.
It is natural, it is a privilege, I will go farther, it is a right, which all free men claim, that they are entitled to complain when they are hurt. They have a right publicly to remonstrate against the abuses of power in the strongest terms, to put their neighbors upon their guard against the craft or open violence of men in authority, and to assert with courage the sense they have of the blessings of liberty, the value they put upon it, and their resolution at all hazards to preserve it as one of the greatest blessings heaven can bestow....

The loss of liberty, to a generous mind, is worse than death. And yet we know that there have been those in all ages who for the sake of preferment, or some imaginary honor, have freely lent a helping hand to oppress, nay to destroy, their country.... This is what every man who values freedom ought to consider. He should act by judgment and not by affection or self-interest; for where those prevail, no ties of either country or kindred are regarded; as upon the other hand, the man who loves his country prefers its liberty to all other considerations, well knowing that without liberty life is a misery....

Power may justly be compared to a great river. While kept within its due bounds it is both beautiful and useful. But when it overflows its banks, it is then too impetuous to be stemmed; it bears down all before it, and brings destruction and desolation wherever it comes. If, then, this is the nature of power, let us at least do our duty, and like wise men who value freedom use our utmost care to support liberty, the only bulwark against lawless power, which in all ages has sacrificed to its wild lust and boundless ambition the blood of the best men that ever lived....

I hope to be pardoned, Sir, for my zeal upon this occasion....While we pay all due obedience to men in authority we ought at the same time to be upon our guard against power wherever we apprehend that it may affect ourselves or our fellow subjects....

You see that I labor under the weight of many years, and am bowed down with great infirmities of body. Yet, old and weak as I am, I should think it my duty, if required, to go to the utmost part of the land where my services could be of any use in assisting to quench the flame of prosecutions upon informations, set on foot by the government to deprive a people of the right of remonstrating and complaining, too, of the arbitrary attempts of men in power....

But to conclude: The question before the Court and you, Gentlemen of the jury, is not of small or private concern. It is not the cause of one poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying. No! It may in its consequence affect every free man that lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty. And I make no doubt but your upright conduct this day will not only entitle you to the love and esteem of your fellow citizens, but every man who prefers freedom to a life of slavery will bless and honor you as men who have baffled the attempt of tyranny, and by an impartial and uncorrupt verdict have laid a noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity, and our neighbors, that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us a right to liberty of both exposing and opposing arbitrary power (in these parts of the world at least) by speaking and writing truth.
His argument was well received by the jury, made up of people who had suffered under the governor's corruption and spite. Historians seem unable to find anything good about the man, in fact. The jury found him not guilty, and although the law was unchanged, it set the basis for future developments in freedom of the press.

Justice Blackstone is the first to have expressed the concept of "prior restraint" in defining freedom of the press. This is the concept that the press should be free of any restrictions to it's content before printing. This concept has been a treasured and protected ideal of the American press for centuries and has spread to other nations as well.

DagonBut how far does this protection go? Clearly extreme examples (deliberate, malicious libel, for example) are not allowed, you cannot deliberately and falsely print that x politician is a baby raping monster who is building a shrine to Dagon out of the bones of his victims with the intent to harm and defame him. Prior Restraint requires very difficult burden of proof, one can compel a paper not to print some things, but it is a difficult process and requires very strong reasons.

In 1971, the Pentagon Papers were published by the New York Times (along with a CBS special by Dan Rather) using leaked classified documents to tell how President Johnson had expanded the war to include bombing along the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. The government was angered because classified documents had been released and printed for the world, and because this harmed their efforts to fight the war. The Supreme Court decided in New York Times v. United States that the injunction to stop printing against the Washington Post and New York Times were unconstitutional violations of prior restraint.

The decision was inconclusive, it didn't say whether printing classified documents was acceptable or not, just that the injunctions were improperly obtained. To this day it is considered by some unclear whether a paper may freely print what is illegal for ordinary people to even read, let alone show to the world.

The New York Times has gleefully begun printing various classified documents once more, attempting to repeat the damage they did to the Vietnam War and President Nixon (even though the Pentagon Papers were about decisions from 1945-1967, before he was elected). This kind of activity clearly and obviously violates the laws regarding classified information, but the sacred concept of freedom of the press is so ingrained in the American psyche that even questioning it is considered a violation of the first amendment by some, and the government is extremely hesitant to take action.

Certainly the government must not be free to ban printing without restriction, and any attempt to prevent something from being printed or said should meet heavy opposition and require great evidence of how important and critical this ban would be.

But at the same time, clearly newspapers cannot be free to print whatever they wish, whenever they wish, on any topic they wish without any restraint or concern over legal action. The press must be free, yes, but not totally and completely free without the slightest restriction of any kind. Newspapers have a responsibility to the public as well as themselves, and should the papers abuse this responsibility and liberty too egregiously, then they should face penalties just as any other entity that abuses their freedoms. Newspapers cannot be the only entity in the world that can act free of consequence.

CONCLUSION
In the final analysis, all rights have their free expression limited by the society at large to the extent they are deemed excessively damaging or pernicious. For example, you have the freedom to write, but cannot write deliberately, maliciously libelous information about someone.

You have the freedom to speak, but cannot shout dangerously and deliberately inflammatory things (shouting "fire" in a fireless, crowded theater is the classic example - it might cause panic and thus harm people, not to mention harm the revenue of the theater owner). Advertisers can speak of the benefits of their product (or, more commonly today, show appealing images and try to make you associate them with their product), but cannot outright lie about your product's benefits or invent false ones. You cannot freely enter into a contract with a hitman, that contract being expressly to cause harm to another person.

All rights are hedged by the amount of damage their expression may cause others. Rather than a balance between liberty and restraint - which suggests an even amount of either on a scale - a proper perspective is required. Enough of one and not too much of the other. This perspective is tricky and must over time be shifted slightly to match changes in technology and events, but must be maintained in order to have a civilization or society of any kind. On one side, unrestrained, total liberty in all actions and behavior demolishes society and reduces liberty by making the most morally unrestrained and tyrannical free to exert their oppression on all others. On the other, a loss of the expression of rights is instantly tyranny by the government. Care must be taken not to climb onto the horse with such vigor that you fall off the other side.

During times of great crisis or emergency, some rights must by definition be restrained - that is the idea behind curfews and martial law. These steps are commonly taken in the aftermath or during some great catastrophe for the protection of people and to give the law enforcement authorities greater power to stop looting and rioting. Sometimes this can be taken too far - in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, police were disarming citizens, taking away weapons (except for the bodyguards of the very wealthy). Recently congress passed a law making this illegal, although the 2nd amendment seems to make that clear without requiring additional legislation.

In essence, during crises, the perspective shifts toward restraint, and during safety, the perspective shifts toward liberty. The important key to this is to allow and understand the shift. Demanding identical liberty during times of crises is as bad as demanding greater government control during times of ease and safety. During a war, for example, the freedom to speak and transmit information must be more restricted to protect soldiers and fight the enemies of the country. When not at war, those restrictions must be lightened and less stringent. It is insane and unreasonable to demand that no limitations on free expression of rights be in place during times of emergency - and tyrannical to demand they remain when not in emergency.

This is part of the Greatest Document essay series
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Friday, October 27, 2006

BOGUS POLL #2398102

"Tonight, on CNN Special Report: Broken Government..."

Part of CNN's special and especially bias-free report "Broken government" was this story about a poll. It seems that most people polled in America do not believe their civil rights have been horribly violated by the Bush administration. Hard to believe that could be true, given all the mass purges, doors kicked in, silenced dissent, and protests broken up with dogs and fire hoses.

The first line of the story?
Most Americans do not believe the Bush administration has gone too far in restricting civil liberties as part of the war on terror
It turns out in their poll of a ridiculously tiny portion of the more than 300,000,000 people living in America, only 34% thought that the administration has gone too far restricting civil liberties, the poll claims. The question here was this:
Question: Do you think the Bush administration has gone too far, has been about right or has not gone far enough in restricting people's civil liberties to fight terrorism?
Note the presumption that civil rights have been restricted, not "have they been" but "how much have they been?" in the poll. This is what is known as a leading question which is designed to get a result. I've asked and asked trying to get people to give one civil liberty they've lost in the last 6 years. One. The closest anyone can come up with is the system the NSA uses to track where and when people call - taking this information from phone companies, who have done so for decades, and sell the data to anyone who wants to buy it (such as telemarketers). The only civil right I can think of being taken away was the Kelo decision that removes our 4th amendment right to property.

The Confederate Yankee has a different way of putting the CNN poll:
CNN Poll Says Bush Failed: America Not Completely Fascist Yet
Commenters there responded to this story.
We can attribute the lack of fascism to the Department of Homeland Security's gutlessness in enforcing various and sundry crimes against the state proved by examinations of the reading lists of all Americans and foreigners dangerous enough to use a public library or to buy patchouli incense. The ineptness of bureaucrats in bringing about the Republic's descent into the dark night of totalitarianism is truly appalling.
-by wjo


This means that 33% of Americans are ignorant of history. Prior wartime presidents (Lincoln and Wilson come to mind first) exercised much more severe and actually REPRESSIVE powers. (arrest and trial of American citizens by military authorities? Civil war under Lincoln)

How sad.
-by Dawnfire82


Just wait until Bush starts declaring those of us who oppose him vociferously as "enemy combatants" and throwing our a--es in jail.

Then, Bush's fascism will become very clear to everyone.
-by TD Larkin

Just wait until Bush starts declaring those of us who oppose him vociferously as "enemy combatants" and throwing our a--es in jail.
When they went after the child molesters I didnt pipe up, because I wasn't a child molester;
when they went after the suicide bombing terror leaders, I didnt pipe up, because I wasn't a suicide bombing terror leader;
then, when they went after the burglars and thieves, and I cowardly said nothing because I wasnt a thief;
*then* they went after the drug dealers, and I said nothing as I wasnt into drugs ...
and then they went after the shoplifters ...
and then the hustlers and con men ...

And I did nothing to defend these from the ravages of the police state that tried, convicted and jailed these for being 'enemies of the state'...

But by that time our town was pretty well cleaned up on crime, and I said "Hey, being tough on criminals really works, doesnt it!"
This means that 33% of Americans are ignorant of history. Prior wartime presidents (Lincoln and "Wilson come to mind first) exercised much more severe and actually REPRESSIVE powers. (arrest and trial of American citizens by military authorities? Civil war under Lincoln)
Let's not forget the liberal hero FDR who with another liberal hero Earl Warren rounded up Japanese-americans, including thousands of US citizens, and sent them to camps.
-by Patrick


TD,

Are you more worried about Hezbollah? How about Hmmas? Islamic Jihad? Muslim Brotherhood? The Iranian Revolutionary Guards or whatever?

By the way September 2006 was a milestone of sorts. It was the month that military fatalities in the GWOT (from October 2001 onward - almost 5 years) exceeded the civilian fatalities of 9/11 (almost two hours). It is a nice way of remembering that our adversaries do not seek military targets - they seek you TD.

Two thousand, zero, zero party over oops out of time... So tonight let's party like its 9/10...

During a war our Congress passes a bill the President signs which provides military tribunals for non-citizen illegal combatants and terrorists.

That terrifies me as a citizen who is not a combatant and is not initiating any terrorist activity.

Who would have thought that espionage, sabotage, and murder would be illegal in a time of war?
-by Boghie


It continues to amaze me that those taking the position that data mining phone records in order disrupt terrorist activity is a serious invasion of privacy, but appear to have no problem with publishing the identity and private emails of a senate page in order to score cheap political points in a meaningless race for a house seat.
-by TO
Polls, Schmolls.

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NEWSWEEK AND GLOBAL COOLING

"There is a finite possibility that a serious worldwide cooling could befall the Earth within the next 100 years"
-U.S. National Academy of Sciences Report, 1975

Iceberg
One of the more amusing tools of calming climate change hysterics is to point to the fact that in the 1970s, scientists were sure that the world was getting cooler - at least, according to the press. Both Time and Newsweek ran a cover story all about the global cooling suggesting such extreme solutions as pouring soot all over the arctic cap so that it would melt faster. Ross Perot proposed an audacious scheme to tow icebergs to the south to melt them so the air would not be cooled by their vast expanse.

For me this was cautionary: be more thoughtful and less reactionary to news from "leading scientists" about catastrophic events, chances are they are not saying what the news reports, and further chances are activists are making the noise and more thoughtful, capable scientists are just working and don't care for the trouble of interviews. Just because the newspapers trumpet one thing (now) doesn't mean it is true or completely accurate, because quite often in a few years they will print the exact opposite. Case in point...

Now Newsweek magazine has printed a retraction of their Global Cooling story, but this time they have it right: the world is getting hotter and we're all doomed anyway. Seems their story is being used by people who don't seem to think this is accurate, and Newsweek is embarrassed enough to publicly retract the tale.
In April, 1975, in an issue mostly taken up with stories about the collapse of the American-backed government of South Vietnam, NEWSWEEK published a small back-page article about a very different kind of disaster. Citing "ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically," the magazine warned of an impending "drastic decline in food production." Political disruptions stemming from food shortages could affect "just about every nation on earth." Scientists urged governments to consider emergency action to head off the terrible threat of... well, if you had been following the climate-change debates at the time, you'd have known that the threat was: global cooling.
Ace of Spades HQ carried this story and noted the pattern of reporting on certain topics in the legacy media.
They reported all of this nonsense uncritically (as late as 1992, Newsweek itself notes, when they reported "Global Warming" could cause a new Ice Age) and not only report it, but actively endorse it now. Newweek's entire piece is written to convince you that what they're now reporting is in fact quite accurate:
The point to remember, says Connolley, is that predictions of global cooling never approached the kind of widespread scientific consensus that supports the greenhouse effect today. And for good reason: the tools scientists have at their disposal now—vastly more data, incomparably faster computers and infinitely more sophisticated mathematical models—render any forecasts from 1975 as inoperative as the predictions being made around the same time about the inevitable triumph of communism.
Which story Newsweek and Time ran as well (Communism was going to win anyway, and how we should stop antagonizing our future warlords, which they for one wanted to welcome). Commenters responded:
The tools scientists have at their disposal now- vastly more data, incomparably faster computers and infinitely more sophisticated mathematical models
Notice they don't mention satellites. Of course, the weather satellites have found no significant warming in the last quarter-century. So they are non-tools.
-by Bob Hawkins

The implication he draws is that if you're not worried about being trampled by a stampede of woolly mammoths through downtown Chicago, you don't have to believe what the media is saying about global warming, either.
No. The implication he draws is that those who do not learn from the mistakes of Chicken Little are doomed to repeat them.
-by Glen


The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. (I don't think it was our ancestors' campfires that caused it to end.)

6,000 years ago the tree line in Canada was about 200 kilometers north or where it is now. (In other words it was significantly warmer 6,000 years ago than it is now.)

Climate changes on a regular basis and has throughout the earth's history.

But since Communism has clearly failed, the preferred way to try to castrate capitalism is through environmental scare tactics. And since the msm would love to wreck capitalism (especially now that its own business model is imploding) it will do everything it can to hype the latest assault.
-by Max


I could never figure out why it's so cold up in the mountains. I mean, you're up real high, closer to the Sun. It should be hotter, right?

I need to think about this some more.

Okay, I'm done.

Nope. Nothing.

Damn.
-by Al Gore

"The tools scientists have at their disposal now- vastly more data, incomparably faster computers and infinitely more sophisticated mathematical models
Notice they don't mention satellites. Of course, the weather satellites [link added for clarity] have found no significant warming in the last quarter-century. So they are non-tools.

Hey, this is the digital age! If you can work up a good simulation, you don't need observed results!

Think of it as a CBS/NY Times poll kinda thing...
-by richard mcenroe

Even by the time [the cooling article] appeared, a decades-long trend toward slightly cooler temperatures in the Northern hemisphere had already begun to reverse itself
That's an ironic statement, because even as this article has run today the Earth has begun reversing it's slight warming trend... and hasn't measurably warmed in 5-8 years.

And, to reinforce what the others have said, the media (and scientists writing abstracts for media consumption) ignore not only the sat data, but also the radio sonde data... the sats and the balloons are mutually validating, and both show very little warming. Certainly nothing that is outside the bounds of what we might reasonably expect to be natural variabillity.

Here's the thing that really drives me crazy about these morons... most of them are the same people who pshaw the "Intelligent Design" theory (I'm not endorsing it) because they claim that it is not falsifiable and therefore cannot be a valid scientific theory. Then they will turn around and tell you that whether it gets warmer or colder or dryer or wetter, it doesn't matter, it is "anthropogenic climate change", which essentially renders their own theory non-falsifiable. The irony--nay, hypocrisy-- is lost on them.
-by DaveS


DaveS is quite right, you know. Scientists are human. There are good ones and bad ones, and honest ones and dishonest one,s and vain ones and humble ones, on and on.

It takes a lot of nerve to claim you can predict the climate. Such scientists know there is no one in the media or government that can challenge them. They know other scientists can refute their claims, but they also know the media and many others will drown out the critics. The Global Warming issue is not really about science or climate, it's about political and social power. The scientists use the media and politicians, and the media and politicians use the scientists. Think about it, if all economic and social decisions have to pass through the Global Warming filter, you can control everything.
-by eman

It takes a lot of nerve to claim you can predict the climate.
Particularly when everyone knows Bush and Rove can CHANGE the climate any time they want to suit their evil plans.
-by Purple Avenger

I have a degree in Computing Science, and I happen to know that almost all global warming claims are based on computer models.
At my second computer job may years ago, my boss tried to write a model to predict the options market. He purchase 20 years of data and started tinkering. Every time he had it working for past data, it would fail to predict future data correctly. He would make more adjustments to correct it for the failures, try again, and fail again. Its the same problem, real world systems with millions, nay billions, of variables are not predictable save in a general way. A trend is a trend until its not.
-by Toby 928
The data is too complex to draw any absolute conclusions, let alone hysterical hand-wringing like Al Gore's dog and pony show. Global Climate Change is scientific fact - we've got record and history that shows for example the temperature dropped significantly in the middle ages, after being rather warm. Greenland for instance was not covered by an ice sheet, it really was green when discovered by Danes. Cornwall was more like the Riviera than now, although a few palm trees survive still.

The question is whether the climate change we see some signs of is as catastrophic as some advocates are crying, and whether it is actually caused by human activity, and in my opinion the situation is incredibly, vastly, immensely too complex for us as humans to predict or model, even with a computer. As number crunching tools, computers are quite handy, but they can only work with what they are given. If the guy programming and entering data doesn't know or understand all the interacting forces and complexity, the computer cannot either.

Author Michael Crichton has written and spoken on this topic considerably, and he makes excellent points about complexity and limited understanding, particularly in the area of wildlife management. I recommend reading his material. His book State of Fear turned him from a Hollywood darling into a pariah by daring to doubt and question the status quo and conventional wisdom - which is a constant theme of every single one of his books.

Just a few things to consider. First, other planets in the solar system have gotten slightly warmer over the time period we've been able to measure their overall temperature. Second, we only have accurate, consistent global temperature records for about 100 years, making long-term modeling challenging, to say the least. Third, the oceans over the last three years have been cooling, not warming, and as they are the primary thermal battery and mechanism of influencing global temperatures, this is problematic for terror over global warming.

The reason we ought to be careful about pollution and technology is that it is wise and proper, moral and good to do so. Crying wolf to get people to not follow your example and drive smaller cars - if at all - is doomed to failure and even the reverse of what you desire. When it's shown you're wrong (eventually), people will do the opposite of what you have called for.
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SOLDIERS DOING GOOD

"Alas, this isn’t the kind of thing the mainstream news wants to show, they all have an agenda to depict this war as evil, unnecessary, and destructive and want to make Bush look bad."

Just to give the full picture of events in Iraq and Afghanistan, blogger Muslihoon posted several videos and stories of soldiers doing good and helping people. Strangely enough the locals seem to appreciate these acts such as building schools and hospitals, roads, power lines, and so on. They appear to like the fact that these soldiers bring food and medical supplies, pacify an area so that the people can move safely, defeated a brutal dictator, and are helping bring liberty to the middle east.
May God bless and keep all of the above, and may He bless, keep, protect, and abundantly comfort and strengthen all of our men and women in uniform, wherever they may be. May the world thank them for the wonderful job they do, and may we always be grateful to them.
Go take a look at these stories of the Goodness of US Soldiers, and consider that next time you hear Congressman Murtha talk or watch one shot by a sniper on CNN. Think about it when you read a story like this one from the BBC and its glowing tones describing the Taliban:
The failure of the international community to stop this makes the military task of the British-led Nato force in the south much harder.

The Taleban official spokesman, Mohammed Anif, explained: "When the Islamic movement of the Taleban started in the first place, the main reason was because of concern among people about corruption.

"People were fed up with having to bribe governors, and other authorities.

"We rose up and saved almost the whole country from the evils of corruption and corrupt commanders. That's why people are supporting the Taleban again now."
...
There is one other factor that increases Taleban morale.

Few have any education beyond years spent in the madrassas, the fundamentalist religious schools in Pakistan that have produced an endless supply of Taleban for more than a decade.

But all know the story of Afghanistan's past victories over the British.

Engraved in their collective folk memory of Afghanistan's warrior history are tales of the defeat of the British in 1842 and 1880 along with the defeat of the Russians in the 1980s.

The Taleban disappeared to the mountains after their defeat in 2001, and found it hard to recruit.

Five years on they are back, and regrouping against an old enemy.
Or this story, from the perspective of the death squads and Islamofascist terrorists in Fallujah, or this one, where a CBS news photographer was with terrorists as they set IEDs and took pictures of the results, or this one about how an AP reporter was apparently spying for Iraq before the war, or this one about how the New York Times is telling reporters how to avoid facing prosecution for leaking government secrets, Or these stories about news photographer Bilal Hussein who always seems to get pictures of terrorist activity as if he's right with them - winning a Pulitzer prize for this work.

Commenters at Muslihoon's site had some thoughts on the matter:
We’re fighting against monsters. Monsters who shoot kids in the head. To me, that pretty much sums up the “why” of our fight. I can’t say there’s much pleasure in it (God knows I came back from Iraq with some emotional scars, shocked at the plight of good Iraqis living under the bootheel of Saddam) but at least I left Iraq knowing that good folk like Chief Master Sargeant John Gebhardt stayed behind to carry on the fight!

Without our innate goodness, we’d be doomed.

This story and picture bucks up my spirit. Thank you for this. Seriously. Thank you.
-by Kadnine


This is something I posted on Dan Freeman Site “It Shines for All.

Make my feelings known

Stand Tall, Stand Proud. (10/19/06)

Last night on my way home from work, I decided to stop at Marlowe’s in
Palatine, Illinois for dinner and a few drinks. The parking lot had a lot
more cars in it than I thought was usual for a Thursday night.

As I sat down at the bar, I noticed a young man in a Marine uniform talking
to a few people. I did something that I will never fail to do when I see one
of our service men. I walked over to him, shook his hand and thanked him for
what he was doing. His reply was, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”

When I returned to my seat I asked the server to give the Marine a drink on
my tab. That is something else I will never fail to do. Though I thought
that the crowd was there for the Marine (perhaps a welcome home), I learned
that the get together was for his father who was a regular customer at
Marlowe’s. It really didn’t matter because I still had the privilege to meet
him.

The young Marine came to thank me for the drink and I shook his hand again.
What struck me immediately were his proud stand and his strong handshake. He
earned the right to stand tall and stand proud. He is a Marine. I could also
not help but notice the Purple Heart that he wore on his chest.

He had served 3 tours of duty in Iraq. He mentioned the names of cities in
Iraq that I couldn’t even begin to spell correctly but I knew that there had
been some intense fighting there. I didn’t get into the details of his
assignments but I had the feeling that he truly believed in what he was
doing.

I met his fiancée as well. She was absolutely beautiful. She jokingly
expressed sympathy for me because I had served my 6 years in the Army and
not the Marines. They will be getting married next February.

I bought the Marine another drink and thanked him one more time before I
left. I also asked him to tell his fellow solders that there are many here
that support them.

In closing, I am asking all who read this to show your support by going to
this link that was previously posted on Michelle Malkin’s site.

http://www.americasupportsyou.mil/americasupportsyou/index.aspx

Also, if you see these brave men and women out having a drink or dinner put
it on your tab. Never fail to thank them.
-by Bob


I appreciated the distraction from my usual routine that your post provided - I needed, we all at times need, to be reminded that these are not just soldiers randomly blowing up things but these are real men and women. The tenderness and compassion portrayed in these pictures and so many others (i’m sure) is very moving.

People need to be reminded of this, especially with the additional negative press as we near an election. People need to see that we ARE making a difference over there…even if it is only in the lives of these children (though I believe it is more far reaching than that).
-by jipmeister
There were, of course, the compulsive "America is evil!!! Iraq was a mistake!!! ABU GHRAIB!!!!1!11!" Comments, in response to which I leave you with this final thought by a commenter:
“Hand any soldiers a stricken child and they comfort it.”
Yeah, unless they’re Muslims. They try and shoot it in the head.

“I don’t defend that criminal bastard, Saddam Hussein, but you… what have you done?!!?!??…”

Really? Where are your pictures of Abu Ghraib under Saddam’s management? Where were they before the war, if you’re so outraged by injustice? Leash-girl and the naked pyramid are the same as rape rooms and dismembered doctors to you? Interesting.

I always find it funny how people from the rest of the world have such strong opinions about our leaders. Rochonf, what’s your president’s name? I’d google it, but “The One that Ran Away from Iraq” usually suffices. It’s not like he’s terribly important in any other context.
-by Dex
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