The View From 1776
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Appeasement: A Sickness of the Soul
The evil spirit of Neville Chamberlain hovers over the liberal-Progressive camp, turning people into jelly fish. J. B. Williams puts the latest occurrence into perspective.
From the time of Ahaz, king of Judea (Isaiah 7:1-25), God has abandoned appeasers who would not trust in His wisdom and stand righteously against their enemies. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was so eager to avoid conflict that he agreed to stand aside while Hitler ravaged Czechoslovakia. What Chamberlain believed to be “peace in our time” simply granted more time for Hitler to strengthen his armies for the conquest of France, the Battle of Britain, and the Russian invasion.
The United States followed Chamberlain’s craven lead in Vietnam, leaving millions of civilians to be slaughtered by Communists in the notorious killing fields. This seems to trouble virtuous liberal/Progressives not at all. They still are willing to pay any price to appease our enemies.
Rep. John (Jack) Murtha (D)
From Hero to Zero in 72 Hours
Written by JB Williams
Unlike Senator John Kerry, whose self-proclaimed war-hero status of some 30 years ago is questionable at best, not a single individual doubts the past valor of House Representative John Murtha thirty-five years ago in Viet Nam. It?s what has happened to him since then that gives rise to great doubt. Mostly, his recent recitation of DNC issued political propaganda concerning the mission in Iraq, which has a very familiar ring to it?
Do these words sound familiar? ?Our welcome has been worn out,” “They’re subdued [our troops] compared to normal morale of elite forces,” “There’s no military solution.? “The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further militarily. It is time to bring [the troops] home.”
They sound a lot like the words Rep. Murtha used less than a week ago leading up to his formal call for troop withdrawal from Iraq. However, these are instead the words Rep. Murtha used to convince Bill Clinton to withdraw troops from Somalia in 1993, after 18 U.S. soldiers were attacked and killed in the streets of Mogadishu.
The most important part of this story for every American to know and understand is this.
Al Qaeda, at the direction of our friend Osama bin Laden, organized that street attack against U.S. Soldiers in Mogadishu. Bin Laden himself later said that America’s withdrawal from Somalia had emboldened his burgeoning Al Qaeda force and encouraged him to plan new attacks. (This was years before 9/11.) “Our people realize[d] more than before that the American soldier is a paper tiger that run[s] in defeat after a few blows,” the terror chief recalled. “America forgot all about the hoopla and media propaganda and left dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat.” Osama bin Laden, (Source: HAN in Nairobi)?
This is indeed not the first time Rep. Murtha has adopted a ?cut and run? attitude towards a challenging, but worthwhile mission. In fact, this is not the first time he has done so while staring into the face of international terrorism and not the first time his words have emboldened America?s enemies, here and abroad.
There is a 95lb tigress from Ohio named Jean Schmidt though, who is currently being maligned for bravely carrying a message from a U.S. Marine to the floor of the people?s House. She is being tarred and feathered by her colleagues in the House and the media around the world for reading a Marines statement that was at odds with Rep. Murtha?s ?cut and run? attitude and that of his faux patriot friends in the DNC.
But that Marines message was kind compared to what many active and retired military folks would like to say on the floor of the people?s House, given the chance. I have included a letter from a reader who responded to my recent column ?When Rhetoric Clashes with Reality?, just so you won?t miss the point? I receive similar messages from active and retired military on a daily basis, as I?m sure the press does as well. This one just says it better than I could ever hope to?and unlike the press, I?ll publish it?
The letter is from a New Jersey man who served in the Fourth Division of the U.S. Army in Germany from 1954-1957. He is the very proud father of two Marine sons?, both of whom have served in Iraq. His oldest received the Navy Meritorious Medal for his actions directing attacks on Najaf. The younger is a Cobra helicopter pilot who flew missions in the attack on Fallujah. Both of them volunteer Marines, both of them commissioned at Quantico. The youngest has volunteered for further duty in Iraq. This writer is also a former FBI agent and no novice in the arena of national security. His name is Robert Hallett? (Without edit)
I think many people have bought into the BS that Rep. John Murtha is a “well-respected veteran of the Viet Nam War.”? He was decorated and earned two purple hearts.? But, you know, I simply don’t buy into a man’ courage demonstrated thirty-five years ago, that whatever he does today must be measured by that once demonstrated act of valor.? As a Democrat he has surrounded himself with the lies and fury of his party for too long.? It clearly has made him into a coward today.? I’m truly sorry to malign a man who once demonstrated his courage on the battlefield but it is his act TODAY that angers me.? As a man who was once in battle in an unpopular war, he more than others should know what advocating “cut and run” really means.? Obviously, he doesn’t remember or more likely doesn’t want to remember.? Today, he is a Democrat politician and as such, I call him a coward as I would have called him a hero thirty-five years ago.
I know that what I am saying here would anger many Americans and I’m sorry they feel that way but I have said it and I mean it.? People change over time and it is clear to me that Rep. John Murtha has changed.? For his political end he has, like that other Viet Nam “hero”, John Kerry, changed his stripes and he has become a yellow coward for his own political gain.
Before going to press with this statement, I offered Mr. Hallett an opportunity to reconsider his strong words, to which he replied. ?I reread my statements to you a moment ago and feel sad that I should state a decorated Marine Viet Nam hero should have changed his stripes so significantly, apparently to satisfy his current political status.? I hold Rep. Jean Schmidt’s comment, “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do” in high esteem and quite correct.? Hopefully, Col. John Murtha will rethink his statement and his attacks upon a commander-in-chief (same speech) as a liar.
Like the Marine that sent Rep. Schmidt to read a message to congress, Mr. Hallett?s comments do nothing to malign the past heroism of Rep. John Murtha some thirty-five years ago in Viet Nam. Instead, they rightfully question the motives behind the current acts of cowardice of Democrats throughout the people?s government, including the recent acts and statements of one Rep. John Murtha.
I believe that Mr. Hallett is exactly right here. People do change with time, not always for the better and not always for the best reasons. It does appear that Rep. Murtha has either lost his will to win, his will to defend freedom and liberty, whether in Somalia, Iraq, or even here at home, or been overcome by the leadership of his failing Party, resorting to the same desperate attacks that have become standard DNC operating procedure today.
Viet Nam was the first war fought on our TV screens, and consequently, the first war to be heavily politicized back home while our troops were in harm?s way. Democrats and their minions in the press have worked diligently to turn the war on terrorism into another Viet Nam by once again politicizing a war effort in search of an elusive political power.
Soldiers shouldn?t have to remind Americans back home how to properly behave during a time of war. They sure shouldn?t have to remind the people who authorized that war.
As sad as it is to see a good mans past honor tarnished in the political brawl over Iraq, it is even sadder to think of what it must be like to be in uniform, on the ground in Iraq or many other parts of the world, fighting an enemy capable of 9/11, feeling the need to write home just to tell your politicians to shut up and have a little backbone.
Clearly, the blood of real Americans is nearing a boiling point and the era of tolerance for anti-Americanism at home is fast coming to an overdue end? Jack Murtha will always be a Viet Nam war hero. Nobody can ever take that away from him.
But his actions today, like the actions of his fellow Democrats, are anything but heroic. And no amount of hogwash from DNC headquarters or their many minions in the press can change that either?
?Visit MoveOff Network Members
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Monday, November 28, 2005
Liberal/Progressive Economics Pushes Us Off the Cliff
For the first time in our history, we are regularly spending more than we make. People are not just saving less of their income, they are spending their savings. This disastrous, hedonistic proclivity was ordained by liberal/Progressivism.
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s began the process of killing traditional moral values.
Among the victims was the idea of saving for a rainy day, the virtue of thrift, Ben Franklin’s “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Young people since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth had been raised with the admonition to spend only after working hard and saving more than enough to cover the expenditure.
Since New Deal days, the Federal government has endorsed the idea that saving is bad and spending is good, both in its own budgets and in its incentives to the public.
Today we have a population of all ages that is juvenile in its expectations that everyone can, and should, have anything he wants from the get-go, without the necessity of earning it with hard work and thrift. Just put it on the credit card and pay later.
Gretchen Morgensen’s article in the New York Times’s November 27, 2005, edition tells us what to expect. She writes:
“DOES a financial train wreck lie dead ahead for American consumers and investors? Paul Kasriel, chief economist at the Northern Trust Company in Chicago fears as much. He reckons that even a mild recession next year could spiral into something ugly, given the combination of rising interest rates, off-the-charts consumer debt and a cooling housing market.
“We have a very accident-prone economy,” Mr. Kasriel said. “We have the most highly leveraged economy in the postwar period, and the Fed is increasing rates. In the past 30 years or so, whenever the Fed has raised interest rates, we’ve quite frequently had financial accidents.”
“..... If a financial blowup occurred, the unhappy fact is that few consumers would be able to walk away unscathed. After all, over most of the last five years, American households have spent more than they earned. In contrast, for almost 30 years beginning in 1970, the opposite was true: households earned more than they spent.
“..... Real trouble could begin, Mr. Kasriel fears, with a decline in property values, the assets backing the enormous debt of consumers and banks alike.”
How have we got ourselves into this perilous financial condition?
There are two major factors.
First is the obliteration of common sense and the rejection of past values that were the essential aspect of the 1960s and 1970s student activism. Students, remember, seized control of college buildings and demanded that they be the ones to determine what classroom subjects were “relevant.” A motto of this juvenile age was “Don’t trust anybody over thirty.”
Those Baby Boomers are today’s profligate, “you deserve it” spenders, who must be supported in their old age by today’s young workers.
Along with this came anti-Americanism. 1960s and 1970s student activists took to the streets to proclaim that the “power elite” in government, the military, education, and business were fascist criminals. Few Boomers actually understood the nature of Fascism, but it sounded grandly profound.
In the disintegration of society that ensued, President Johnson’s Great Society implemented some of the final stages of true socialism with a vast array of entitlements programs, which stamped in the minds of Boomers that no one need take responsibility for his own actions, because it’s the government’s responsibility to take care of us, no matter how badly we behave. Can’t pay your credit card debt? Declare bankruptcy and go on welfare. Society now looks upon such conduct as normal.
Second, today, whenever the economy slows and some workers are laid off, liberal/Progressive Democrats instinctively call for increased government spending and higher taxes on “the rich.”
From the beginning of our republic through the 1920s, all political parties (including the Democrats) were careful to economize in Federal spending and reluctant to increase the scope of Federal powers and activities. Compared to instincts of both Republicans and Democrats today, it was the difference between daylight and dark.
What changed those instincts was our Depression in the 1930s, coming on the heels of what appeared to be highly successful experiments with socialistic collectivism in Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy in the 1920s. Progressives saw in socialism a utopia in which planning by impartial, highly trained bureaucrats would replace the greed of private property and capitalism. Under the presumably skilled, scientific management of Federal regulatory bureaus, there would be more than enough to go around when government took ill-got gains from “the rich” and redistributed tax money equitably among the people.
This has become rigid orthodoxy for liberal/Progressives since the appearance of the socialistic economic theories of British economist John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s.
Buried within a barrage of calculus equations was the simplistic conclusion of Keynes’s so-called general economic theory: depressions are caused by people saving too much and not spending enough.
The solution to this “excess savings” problem, the so-called “liquidity trap” that Keynes believed caused economic recessions, was government intervention. Government was required to spend more, a great deal more, via the welfare state and public works programs. When Franklin Roosevelt took office, income taxes were more than tripled, from maximum levels of 25% up to 80%, in order to remove control of consumer spending from the hands of individuals across the nation and place control in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington.
Implicit in Keynes’s theory is the presumption that the economy is driven by consumer spending, not by prospects for profitable business activity. All that mattered, said Keynes, was that the government spend sufficiently large amounts of money to boost consumption expenditures. What the money was spent for was unimportant. It would work satisfactorily to pay men to dig holes one day, fill them the next day, dig them again the next day, then refill them, ad infinitum. On second thought, why bother to work; just give more money to the voters.
Liberal/Progressive theory goes disastrously wrong in assuming that business will not revive and unemployment will not drop unless the Federal Reserve creates more money for people to spend. This is, by definition, inflationary, because it pushes up the ratio of money to available goods and services. The money supply increases before production increases.
In contrast, if the business cycle is permitted to run its normal course without inflationary creation of money by the government, excess inventories will be liquidated and businesses will cut costs and eliminate unprofitable activities. Lower costs enhance prospects for profits, and businesses then can resume production, creating millions of new jobs without inflationary pressure. Increased spending power from newly hired workers’ wages will be balanced by simultaneous increases in availabilities of goods and services.
Nonetheless, the Federal government, with the all too brief interlude of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, has followed Keynes’s prescription. The result has been steady inflation every year since 1933, culminating in the 1970s stagflation - rampant inflation coupled with widespread unemployment.
Ironically, at exactly the time when mainstream socialist media were trumpeting the success of Keynesian economic advisors in fine-tuning the economy to eliminate recessions, 1970s stagflation destroyed the value of middle class savings, nearly doubled the number of women thrust into the full-time work force, and turned the industrial heartland of America into the Rust Bowl of shut-down manufacturing plants.
Keynes’s best known American disciple, Harvard economist Alvin Hansen, went so far as to predict that the capitalistic model based on private property ownership had failed. As a consequence, he predicted, the private sector of the American economy would never again attain the production levels of 1929. It would be necessary for the Federal government to fill the gap with spending to employ new workers in the future and to fund investment in new production capacity.
It was this socialistic vision of the world that led Congress to pass the Employment Act after World War II, arrogating to the Federal government the role of managing the economy and guaranteeing full employment.
We are still flying on auto-pilot with navigation settings established by Professor Hansen’s now obviously misguided perceptions, urging the government and consumers to spend like drunken sailors on shore leave, without a thought to the inevitable rainy day that lies ahead.
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Friday, November 25, 2005
Radicalizing Students: Liberals Poison the Well
Liberalism in our schools is like the AIDS virus. Having been taught no understanding of the founding principles of our nation, students have no immunity to the falsehoods of secular materialism. To stretch the metaphor further, liberalism is like arsenic: small doses of it aren’t lethal, but keep ingesting it long enough and you die.
This article is scheduled for publication in the forthcoming edition of the Republican Voices newsletter.
Most people, even some Democrats, find it hard to understand liberals’ eagerness to destroy President Bush, even at the cost of our servicemen’s lives, by emboldening Islamic terrorists to redouble their suicide attacks. One might assume that today’s liberals don’t know what happened in the Vietnam War thirty years ago. Maybe liberals don’t know that the enemy forces told us after the conflict’s end that they could never have defeated us militarily, but had to do it by sapping the will of the American people on the home front to continue fighting.
Sadly, that is not the case. American educators know exactly what they are doing and openly declare their hatred for the United States. They are intent upon warping the minds of their students just as Soviet educators did after the 1917 Revolution:
?We must hate ? hatred is the basis of Communism. Children must be taught to hate their parents if they are not Communists.?
V. I. Lenin ? speech to the Commissars of Education, Moscow, 1923.
Following the 9/11/01 terrorist destruction of the World Trade Towers and part of the Pentagon, with the loss of approximately 3,000 civilian lives, a Rutgers University professor told her students that ?We should be aware that, whatever its proximate cause, its ultimate cause is the fascism of U.S. foreign policy over the past many decades.?
In March 2003, an estimated 3,000 students and faculty members at Columbia University held a rally to protest America?s impending military action in Iraq. Professor Nicholas De Genova told the Columbia rally, “The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military. I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus.” (Mogadishu was the location in Somalia where in 1993 Al Queda terrorists killed American soldiers and dragged their bodies through the streets to entertain the townspeople).
The truly devastating threat to survival of Constitutional government, indeed of civilization itself, is liberal control of education. As Thomas Jefferson and many others in the founding era noted, preservation of political liberties depends upon an educated public that understands the nature and source of its freedoms. Liberal-controlled, multi-cultural, and secular education deliberately obscures that understanding.
In today’s cut-and-run clamor from the liberal mobs and socialist media we see the poisonous effects of public ignorance about foreign policy, geography, economics, and political history. Too many people have no comprehension of the enormous potential costs of abandoning our front line military pressure on Al Queda. Because of our abysmal educational system, hardly anyone is aware of the trade-offs that must be taken into account in determining our Middle Eastern policies.
The average American voter looks at the war on terror as if it were just another cable channel. People are bored and want to switch to the channel playing “Sex and the City.”
It?s a cliche, but nonetheless a fact, that young people are the future. If our children all become converts to the secular religion of socialism, if they are all radicalized to believe that the Constitution and its principles are crimes against humanity, the United States is doomed. This is precisely the goal of the liberal jihad.
Liberals? sympathies lie with the third-world peoples who, they believe, are deliberately oppressed by an imperialistic United States. Just as the religion of secular socialism teaches that people everywhere would live in tranquility and abundance if societies were no longer structured to protect private property rights, secular socialism teaches that capitalist nations? survival and prosperity require imperialistic exploitation. When American teachers start with such presumptions, then every current event can be seen by them as ?proof? of American evil.
Today?s massive waves of immigration make this a particularly dangerous potentiality. Millions of immigrants, legal and illegal, are coming into our nation, many from cultures with no established systems of constitutional government based on the rule of law. Some immigrants come from cultures in which the only obligations of honesty and good faith are within the family or the clan. In the cultures from which some immigrants come, there is no tradition of mutual respect for liberties and no tradition of civic duty to society as a whole. Liberals support this massive influx, because they have been able to convert such immigrants into voters for liberal, welfare-state candidates.
Many immigrants make major contributions to our nation with industrious work habits and often with highly developed skills and technical knowledge. But they deserve, and the nation must have, ways to teach them the fundamentals of our historical traditions of personal morality and responsibility. Immigrants? children will not get any of this in our educational madrasas controlled by liberal mullahs. Instead they will be radicalized with anti-American socialism. They will be told that the only ?value? is called ?tolerance,? which means the absence of any standards to judge conduct. They will be taught the socialistic dogma of welfare-state social justice.
Education has ceased to be about teaching academic subjects, particularly those involving American history and constitutional government. Indeed, since the 1960s, every generation of students, for the first time in American history, has been less well educated than the generation that came before it. American public education has become a system designed to encourage ethnic, religious, and racial separatism under the banner of multi-culturalism. The net effect is a public education system that deliberately prevents immigrants from being assimilated into American society.
This stands in sharp contrast to an earlier era. From the 1880s until our 1917 entry into World War I, roughly twenty-million immigrants, mostly from non-English-speaking countries, flooded into this country. Yet the public and parochial education systems in those days managed rather well to Americanize them.
Astonishingly, even a few members of the Democratic Party, the home of liberal-socialism, have become concerned. In September 2003, a report called Education for Democracy was released by the nonpartisan Albert Shanker Institute. The late Mr. Shanker was a prominent liberal and founder-president of New York City?s United Federation of Teachers, a perennial stronghold of liberal-socialism. The report concludes that American schools offer history and civics instruction that overemphasizes America?s shortcomings and fails to emphasize America?s good aspects, especially by failing to compare our society to those of repressive nations. Students instead are radicalized by a picture of American history made up entirely of Vietnam, Watergate, rotten campaign financing, and what is described as American imperialism. The impression is given to students that the United States could easily eliminate world poverty by sharing its unfair portion of the world?s wealth, but fails to do so owing to the greed of ?the rich.?
A Washington Times September 10, 2003, article about this report notes that the hostility and cynicism generated by anti-American education contributes to apathy and to diminishing citizen-participation: ?Over the past 30 years,? reporter Ben Feller observed, ?the percentage of people under 25 who vote has dropped 15 percentage points, the report says. It cites other signs of apathy and disengagement, such as when children touring Washington said they knew Memorial Day as ?the day the pools open?.?
Clearly public policies should be subject to legitimate criticism, but there should be some balance, with both sides of the argument fairly presented. There is a lack of such balance today, especially at the college level, because such a significant number of teachers are the former student anarchists who in the 1960s and 1970s engaged in or supported terrorist bombings, murders, and riots aimed at destroying ?the establishment.?
The appeal of anti-American and pro-socialist teaching is enhanced by the normal rebelliousness of teen-agers and young adults who are eager to assert independence from their parents. Liberalism?s radical paradigm captures the romantic imagination and rebellious spirit of these youthful students who are by nature inexperienced and ignorant of the past. Radicalized students feel self-important when they participate in teach-ins, sit-ins, strikes, and demonstrations, particularly so when they interfere with the lawful rights and property of other people. Protesting the very system of industry and commerce that raised the world?s living standards and enabled them to be in college classes, they storm into the streets, with great ?lan to burn automobiles, smash store-front windows, assault policemen, destroy campus computer records centers, and dismantle administrative offices, while waving placards with slogans they couldn?t explain if they had to do so. They are following the path of their Baby Boomer parents and teachers whose militant anti-Constitutional chant in the Vietnam War era was, ?Death to Amerika! Bring home the war; kill your parents and ice the pigs!?
Hitler knew what he was doing when he organized the Hitler Youth. Get ?em when they are young, brain-wash ?em, and they remain warped for life. Make no mistake about it. If the liberals? relentless jihad against American history and traditions continues, the United States will become, like France and Germany, a third-rate, has-been, socialist nation. With liberal jihadists in charge of education, there soon will no longer be a United States.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Murtha Democrats: Lose the War to Win the Election, Then What?
Democrats (motto: anything to win an election) have no plan to deal with terrorists. They have to wait until public-opinion pollsters tell them what to do next.
It’s back to the degenerate barbarities of the 1960s student-activist Weatherman era. Democrats’ wetted-fingers-in-the-air are so sensitized to breezes of public opinion that they don’t need a weatherman to tell them which way it’s blowing. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry assiduously fan the coals still glowing under the ashes of liberal-socialism’s burnt-out ideas. Once again, we hear echoes of wisdom from unhinged student sit-ins: end the fight and liberate “the people” from capitalist oppression. For Baby-Boomer liberal Democrats it doesn’t matter if millions of Cambodians, Vietnamese, and now Iraqis, are slaughtered because of our abandonment.
It’s back to the days of Slick Willie’s foreign policy governed by domestic political aims. Make nice to third-world dictators-of-color in order to identify the Democrats with multi-cultural political-correctness. For liberal Democrats it doesn’t matter whether our national security is endangered, so long as they project a proper socialistic “sensitivity” to the opinion of mobs in the streets of Europe and the United States.
As dictated by their worship of atheistic, secular materialism, these Democrats have reduced themselves to soulless, mechanical receptors of mob mania manipulated by the liberal media. Don’t bother to think about the consequences of speech or actions; just react to the material nudging of public opinion, wherever it pushes.
If the opinion pollsters should report that skydiving has become widely popular with voters, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will be first in line for skydiving lessons, without stopping to ask if skydiving is a prudent practice for political leaders.
But isn’t heeding public opinion what our American democracy is all about? Isn’t it elitist to say that expert knowledge, however deficient, is more likely to be a better guide to foreign policy than uninformed public opinion?
Here we come to one of the great internal contradictions and the great danger of liberal-socialism.
Liberal-socialism tends inherently toward collectivist tyranny, what the elite of the Soviet Union called the dictatorship of the proletariat. Individual political liberties must be curbed in order to impose the socialistic welfare-state, which deals only with classes and masses. To create a monolithic ruling structure, the Democratic party and its allies work to foreclose appointive public office to anyone who is not an atheistic materialist.
At the same time, liberal-socialists speak reverentially about “every vote must count” public opinion. The reality, however, is that, to function, liberal-socialism requires that public opinion be manipulated by educators and by the socialist media establishment.
This leaves the Democratic party prisoner to its most left-leaning deviants, housed in the offices of the New York Times editorial board and Ivy League faculty clubs, where “public opinion” is fabricated by falsifying history and by highly selective, and often distorted, news reporting. Liberals in Congress might as well get their marching orders from Michael Moore and Al Franken.
In contrast, hard-won political liberties undergirding our 1787 Constitution were acquired during many centuries of struggle in England between Parliament and the crown. In that tradition, there was no dichotomy between an elite and the masses, there was no public opinion that could be manipulated by politicians. The struggle was between elected members of Parliament, who constituted an elite of the best informed and most prudent local leaders, and an elite of the king and his ministers. The resolution was a constitutional balance of power between those two elites that was intended to work for the best interests of the nation as a whole.
Edmund Burke, often cited as the founder of modern conservatism, was emphatic that the commission of an elected member of Parliament was to exercise his best judgment in behalf of his constituents. It was not the role of the legislator merely to follow mercurial public opinion.
This principle led Burke, in the decade before our Declaration of Independence, to oppose the crown’s determination to levy heavy taxes on the American colonists. Doing so, Burke said, might achieve a short term domestic political victory at the immeasurable cost of losing Britain’s North American empire.
Democrats’ unprincipled kow-towing to public opinion in matters of foreign policy will mire us in a quagmire of hedonistic, self-indulgent weakness. It will leave us helpless when terrorists put knives to our throats, demanding submission to sharia.
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Monday, November 21, 2005
Congressman John Murtha and the Madness of Crowds
Abandoning pretense to principle, Congressman Murtha admits he was merely playing for votes when he called for surrender in the middle of the war on terror.
According to November 21, 2005, news broadcasts on NPR stations and WQXR, the New York Times radio station, Congressman John Murtha now admits that he was just following that latest swing in public opinion, hyped by negative, one-sided media propaganda, when he called for a near-term, unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
This calls to mind Charles Mackay’s 1843 “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” a history of popular folly. Repeatedly, in the modern era of mass media, public sentiment has been subject to impetuous, usually wrong and dangerous, swings.
The French Revolution of 1789 was the first such event, created by propaganda that aroused city mobs to enjoy the daily spectacles of guillotining that mounted to more than 70,000 decapitations of politicians, noblemen, bourgeois businessmen and their families, philosophers, Catholic nuns and priests, old men, women, and even small children as young as eight years old.
The Dutch tulip bulb mania and John Law’s Mississippi Company bubble are two other examples of the many such delusions that beset public opinion. Our most recent example was the dot.com boom in the late 1990s under President Clinton. Small investors, speculating in the stock market, purchased shares of companies that had no record of performance, driving the share prices to extraordinary multiples of projected sales per share. Small investors lost their life’s savings and the nation was plunged into recession, all because public opinion took flight to Never-Never Land.
More to the point, volatile public opinion in the Vietnam War period, as we all know, led to a premature pullout that cost several million Cambodian and Vietnamese civilians their lives when our liberal-socialists’ soul-brothers, the communists, took over. Craven abandonment of our former allies also created the “paper tiger” image that emboldens our terrorist enemies still today. We suffer yet from the unwillingness of a large part of the electorate to defend our nation militarily.
What initially was billed by the socialist press as Congressman Murtha’s principled, statesmanlike call for a reversal of our foreign policy now is revealed as just one more Democratic party tactic to win Congressional seats in next year’s elections. Regardless of the additional cost in lives of American servicemen in the Middle East from heartening Al Queda, the Democrats are intent upon venting their hatred of President Bush. Regardless of the propaganda victory that Congressman Murtha’s proposal would hand Al Queda and terrorists everywhere, Democratic party leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are prepared to do anything and say anything that will discredit the United States.
If our representatives in Congress are merely to take opinion polls and vote strictly according to the results of pollsters’ interpretations and statistical adjustments, why bother to elect people to Congress? Why not do as Ross Perot vowed to do if elected in 1988: give everybody access to computers and let each of us vote on every issue before the government?
I noted earlier in “Iraq: What Are We Fighting For?”:
“As Plato repeatedly wrote, public opinion is not wisdom.? The public can make intuitive judgments about personal character when electing the nation?s leaders.? But uninformed public opinion, clamoring for the easy way out, is not a sound basis for foreign policy, in which the full array of factors, for national security reasons, never can be made known to the public.”
Public opinion on complex matters like foreign policy is even less reliable than in earlier decades. Our secular and materialistic public education system, concentrating on teaching the social justice catechism of socialism, has effectively abandoned teaching history. What history is taught has been deliberately falsified to burnish the image of socialism and denigrate the image of our founding principles.
As George Santayana noted, those who don’t know history may be doomed to repeat it. Results the second time around won’t necessarily be better.
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Friday, November 18, 2005
Reader Challenges Newton’s Fundamental Postulate
Reader Adam Leigland challenges the root postulate of Isaac Newton’s scientific discoveries: his intuition that the laws of science are applicable everywhere in the universe, because the universe is Intelligently Designed by the Mind of God.
Adam Leigland disagrees with my assertion in PBS: Inadvertent Truth From Corrupt Mouths that Isaac Newton’s most fundamental postulate was that the Universe is a product of Intelligent Design by Divine Power.
If Newton is correct, the universe had a beginning that originated in Divine Force outside the universe, whence come all the laws of mathematics, physics, and chemistry, as well as life itself, in all its forms.
If Darwinians are correct, the universe just “is” and always has been in existence by virtue of some unknowable accident. There is no meaning to life or to the universe other than random changes in material conditions in specific locations. Life came into being accidentally as a product of such random interactions of material, physical factors. All living creatures, plant or animal, evolved from the resulting original, primordial blob.
Yet astronomers, physicists, and chemists have observed everywhere in the universe the same chemical elements, the same laws of gravity and motion, the same sub-atomic structure of matter, all held together with the huge amounts of energy that produce nuclear explosions. Atheistic secular materialists dismiss the intuition that this regularity and order on an inconceivably vast scale is the work of a Divine Being from outside the universe. But they have no trouble accepting the unbelievable miracle that all of this happened purely by accident.
In the Darwinian world, logically there should be no rules of any kind other than natural selection. Unfortunately, however, natural selection has to assume implicitly the existence of Newton’s Intelligently Designed universe with its universal laws of mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Darwinian polemicists like Richard Dawkins repeatedly refer to those laws to support their concepts of evolution.
For perspective on the methodology of Darwinism, consider an everyday example.
Darwinians analyzing changes over many decades in the game of football would look strictly at physical factors. How a football came to exist, or who might have made it or thought to use it in a game are not the sorts of questions with which Darwinians bother themselves. They would tell us that changing material conditions in the playing environment led to random changes, some of which proved more effective than others and therefore survived among more teams until they became standard tactics. For instance, field goals and extra points in former days were drop-kicked. By accident someone kicked a ball while it was held by another player. As this proved to be more consistently effective, natural selection decreed that the latter practice survive. Similar explanations would be given for the development of forward passing and the transition from leather helmets to plastic ones.
What we call plays would be described as the ever more complex and cumulative evolutionary results of random collisions of 22 physical life forms.
Anyone so rash as to suggest that these were not accidental events, but evidence of intelligent design, would be dismissed as someone who does not understand science.
In the following paragraphs I recite Mr. Leigland’s commentary in full, interspersing his points with my replies.
Mr. Leigland: With all due respect, you should stick to politics and philosophy and stay away from science.
My reply: That is precisely the problem. Separating Darwinism from politics and philosophy is impossible, because Darwinism is a melange of deductions by biologists, combined with both religious and political doctrines.
It must be understood that the climate of English intellectual opinion in 1859, when Darwin published “On the Origin of Species,” was suffused with secular materialism.
Philosophical doctrines of the French Revolution had become very popular among the intellectuals by mid-19th century. Gradual acceptance of Darwinism was greatly aided by their socialistic belief in Progress, a sort of evolution on the social and political fronts.
Christianity was being challenged by the intellectuals at the very time that Methodists were rousing public opinion for Parliament to outlaw slavery and to enact the first measures to improve working and housing conditions for the poor.
Charles Lyell and other geologists theorized about mountains and valleys created by geological events over millions of years, challenging the Bible’s description in the Book of Genesis. Fossil hunting was a popular week-end and vacation pastime for the English middle class.
Darwin did his research contemporaneously with Karl Marx’s publication of the “Communist Manifesto” and John Stuart Mill’s espousal of socialism. Both Marxians and non-revolutionary British socialists happily supported Darwinism, claiming it as proof that the secular materialism of socialism was indeed scientific truth.
Intellectuals held that belief in God the Creator was medieval ignorance, that man alone had created everything in the world and therefore could redesign everything to attain perfection of human nature and human society, a sort of accelerated Darwinian evolution.
Darwinian evolution was also widely accepted because it fit so neatly with the doctrine of French socialists and Karl Marx that history itself was evolving in accordance with scientific laws leading humanity inevitably toward socialism.
Note, however, that the concept of inherent laws of history moving society inevitably toward socialism conflicts with Darwinism’s official position that biological evolution has no meaning and no determinable objective. This nonetheless doesn’t deter Darwinians from visualizing evolution of life forms as upward progress from primordial soup to human beings, just one of Darwinism’s manifold internal contradictions.
It must also be understood that Darwinism was as much an anti-Christian project as a scientific one. From its inception in France of mid-18th century, socialism was an aggressively anti-religious doctrine. Absent the vitriolic attacks on Christianity by Darwin’s supporters, which brought it to full public attention, Darwinism would be just another hypothesis in an obscure corner of biology.
Charles Darwin himself wrote in his autobiography that discrediting the Biblical account in Genesis was one of his reasons for pursuing the question of life’s origin and the development of life forms. He also wrote that he was happy to have played a role in undercutting religious beliefs.
Darwin’s most vocal champion, Thomas Huxley, asserted that Darwinism proved that there is no such thing as morality or sin; life, he declared, is nothing more than the struggle for survival, hardly a prescription for social order and harmony.
Huxley’s assertion was picked up here in the United States thirty-five years later by the doyen of American socialism, John Dewey. In Columbia University lectures on his philosophy of pragmatism, he instructed his students (who became part of the original Eastern liberal establishment) that morality is entirely relative. Darwin had proved, he said, that everything is continually in flux, including moral standards. Thus the only valid criterion is whether your actions get for you what you want. The Christian idea that each individual should strive to do the right thing, in the sense of the Golden Rule, is nonsense in a hard, secular and materialistic, Darwinian world.
Mr. Leigland: No one who truly understood both Intelligent Design (ID) and current scientific orthodoxy could claim that mainstream scientific thought “backfires at every turn in the real world,” while maintaining that ID is supported by “incontrovertible evidence.”
My reply: As implied above, the reason for my contention that “It is easier for such ?scientists? to rely on an unprovable belief in atheistic secularism, which backfires at every turn in the real world…” is simply the empirical historical results of pursuing atheistic, secular materialism.
Let’s start with the riots and fire-bombings in France. I wrote recently:
“France was the greatest nation in Continental Europe so long as it remained a Christian nation.? The 1789 Revolution brought about a complete rejection of God and embrace of purely secular, materialistic socialism, which remains today the religion of France.? Apart from the brief bravado of Napoleon?s Empire, France has endured an endless succession of governments and constitutions, sinking ever lower in world influence.? Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 1850s that France already had gone through more than a dozen constitutions.? It has had restorations of monarchies, empires, republics, dictatorships, and the Vichy government collaboration with Nazi Germany.
“Today, in common with liberal-socialists here and elsewhere, French socialists pride themselves on their secular materialism and the belief that all they survey is the work of their own minds.? They look, not to God, personal morality, and love of their fellows, but to the theories expounded by the technocrats produced by the Hautes Ecoles.”
In another posting I wrote:
“As an example, let?s take a look at Sweden, the darling of liberal-socialists, the best that the world of liberal-socialism has to offer.? Sweden was apotheosized by Pulitzer-Prize-winning liberal columnist Marquis Childs in his 1930 best-seller, ?Sweden: The Middle Way.? The book influenced Franklin Roosevelt?s decision in the 1932 election campaign to promise imposition of socialistic state-planning in the New Deal.
“Sweden?s experience suggests that the heaven-on-earth of liberal-socialism?s materialistic political and social order is, in practice, not a boost to productivity, but a disincentive to work and to produce goods and services.? According to its own government statistical studies, the average Swedish citizen in 1999 had a comparative income 40 percent lower than his American counterpart.? Worse, productivity is so much lower in Sweden that the gap is increasing each year.”
Let’s, of course, not forget the barbaric savagery of the atheistic, secular, and materialistic Soviet Union and Hitler’s National Socialist Germany. They exemplified in pure form Thomas Huxley’s contention that Darwin had proved there is no such thing as morality, just the atheistic struggle for survival.
Mr. Leigland: Take Michael Behe’s book “Darwin’s Black Box.” The ID community places a lot of weight on this book, but when Behe’s arguments are distilled down, all they become is “There are some complex biochemical phenomena out there. We can’t explain how they arose. And since we can’t explain them, ipso facto they were designed.” This might be called the argument from ignorance. In fact, Behe’s whole concept of irreducible complexity is a hollow construct. It fails on both logical and empirical grounds.
My reply: This completely misstates Michael Behe’s argument. He introduces the concept of irreducible complexity by noting that X-ray microscope technology available only in recent years has enabled biochemists to explore the detailed chemical structures of what Darwin expected to be simply fluid-filled cell membranes with no internal structures. The simple creature that Darwin assumed might possibly have come to exist via accidental combinations of chemicals at the precisely the right time under exactly the right conditions.
As Mr. Behe, a biochemist, illustrates, even the simplest of known single-cell life forms have several internal structures of considerable complexity. There are mechanisms to attract and capture food, to move food about within the cell, to digest the food, and to move the toxic waste of food digestion toward a system to expel the toxic wastes, as well as systems for replicating the cell itself. Each of those systems is comprised of many different, complex, synthesized organic chemicals not found on a stand-alone basis in nature. Unless every one of those highly sophisticated internal systems is present from the beginning, the cell will die almost immediately.
This is irreducible complexity and it would have been impossible for the systems to have evolved over the aeons required by the gradual process of Darwinian natural selection.
But, Ah! cry the Darwinians, there MIGHT have been much simpler life forms of the sort envisioned by Darwin, from which our present-day simplest life forms evolved. That’s about as scientific as Darwinism gets.
Mr. Leigland: Similarly, the Gonzalez/Richards book “The Privileged Planet,” is logically flawed. How can we possibly know that the Earth is precisely positioned? That presupposes that humans already know the entire arc of possible knowledge. As Rumsfield famously said, there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns, and in the fields of astronomy and cosmology, I would say we are well into the territory of the latter.
William Dembski’s idea of specified complexity is yet another ID bedrock that is flawed, for more complicated reasons.
I could go on. I challenge you to offer one piece of “incontrovertible evidence” for ID. Or, perhaps easier, to give an example of mainstream thought backfiring.
In short, the real unprovable belief is Intelligent Design. Indeed, ID is nothing more than belief masquerading as science.
My reply: To begin, Darwinism is what police and prosecutors would describe as a case based entirely on circumstantial evidence, from which a motive and modus operandi have been speculatively deduced.
There were no witnesses, nor could there ever have been, to the beginning of life as asserted by Darwinism, nor have there been any witnesses to the supposed process by which all life forms are intuited to have developed.
For good reason, cases with only circumstantial evidence are the hardest to prove, because the prosecutor (or Darwinian biologist) can do no more than state his conclusion based on assembling various pieces of information that suggest the possibility that certain things might have occurred. Defense attorneys can play the same game equally well, demonstrating holes in the logic by which the prosecutor (Darwinist) reached his deduction.
The jury of public opinion must accept the Darwinist’s circumstantial case purely on religious faith. If the juror is a worshipper of atheistic, secular materialism, he welcomes Darwinism as supportive of his religion, even though there is not a single proof of it beyond “might have been.” For the same reasons, atheists and Darwinists fight to the bitter end to forbid what they regard as the heresy of questioning their religion in the nation’s classrooms.
The purely circumstantial nature of Darwin’s dogma is why, within Darwinism, there are fiercely differing sub-theories, both with respect to the purported process of natural selection and with respect to classifications of fossils and other life remains. There are similar dogfights over the differing ideas about the so-called tree-of-life diagrams purporting to identify the evolutionary paths from elemental life forms into today’s living plants and animals. Darwinist do not agree among themselves at what point certain species branched off from what ancestors.
Darwinism is not scientific in the sense defined in Webster’s dictionary:
“Agreeing with, or conducted or prepared strictly according to the principles and practices of or for the furtherance of exact science, especially as designed to establish incontestably sound conclusions and generalizations by absolute accuracy and perfect disinterestedness of investigation….”
Branches of knowledge that are indisputably scientific, such as chemistry or physics, are based on deriving laws that both describe natural processes and can predict results accurately. If a chemistry or physics researcher publishes a new hypothesis, his peers expect to see his data and must be able to replicate his results with their own work, if the new hypothesis is to receive credence.
This standard approach to scientific knowledge is entirely foreclosed to Darwinism, for two reasons.
First, experimentally replicating natural selection over a long enough period for a new species to develop, unaided in nature, is vastly beyond the life-span of human researchers. Most Darwinists stress that the highly differentiated and complex structure found in life forms can be credibly assumed to have developed only if we postulate those changes occurring over millions of years.
Those random changes, moreover, must be assumed to have been cumulative in all cases, even those in which the random mutations served no useful purpose whatever at that time, because they might become useful aeons in the future when different environmental conditions might be encountered.
A second reason that normal scientific methods cannot be applied to Darwinism is that Darwinism postulates the complete absence of all exogenous design (i.e., that Intelligent Design is medieval ignorance). But all scientific experiments are quintessentially Intelligently Designed processes, with specific goals in mind, under precisely controlled conditions.
A Darwinian experiment would require throwing everything on the table, walking away, and waiting at a distance to see what happens all by itself.
Thus, no designed and controlled experiments, such as those with fruit flies, can be accepted as evidence in favor of Darwinism, because they are obviously designed, prepared, monitored, and aided by the biologist’s human intelligence.
Such “experiments” are rigged from the start. Researchers interbreed selected populations in carefully controlled atmospheres. Then these “researchers” play the role of a secular god by culling only the mutations they are looking for, then interbreeding that refined population, until finally they have a fruit fly that might be called a new species.
Such “experimental evidence” supporting Darwinism is an analog of Intelligent Design in God’s creation of the universe.
Bottom line: what you hear on all sides about Darwinism having been proved by overwhelming evidence is not factual. All of the evidence is strictly circumstantial and all of the conflicting conclusions of Darwinists are no more than reasonable guesses. Darwinism MIGHT be true, but there is absolutely no way to prove it.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
PBS: Inadvertent Truth From Corrupt Mouths
PBS’s Nova series program, “Isaac Newton’s Dark Secret,” makes the case for Intelligent Design , which doubtless was not intended.
The Nova series program on Isaac Newton aired on PBS, one of the official media venues for propagandizing the secular materialism of socialist religiosity.
The program focus is the unexpected discovery among Newton’s unpublished notebooks that he was intensely interested in alchemy. How, asks the program narrator, could Isaac Newton, the greatest name in modern science, have been so involved with medieval ignorance?
The answer made clear near the end of the program is that Newton was engaged in what amounted to the beginnings of modern chemistry. His specific goal remains unknown, but the experimental processes he employed were carefully documented and can be replicated today. Scientists doing so have found that Newton was discovering the basic properties of chemicals and minerals, hoping to find ways via chemistry to transform base materials into more valuable ones.
In between, Nova provides a summation of Newton’s discoveries that are the foundation of modern science, work that is considered to be the greatest of all scientific achievements, without which modern science would not exist.
Newton laid out the laws of motion and the mathematics of gravity and the motions of planets and other orbiting objects. Using his work, it became possible to predict the positions of planets and moons with exactitude. It was Newton whose mathematics demonstrated that the planets and moons move in elliptical orbits, not the circular orbits assumed by Galileo and other predecessors.
Among his discoveries is that white light is actually a combination of the rainbow’s colors, along with his invention of the mirror telescope still used today in the world’s great mountain-top observatories and in our space satellite observatories. Newton also invented calculus, and while serving as head of the Royal Mint, recommended to Parliament the gold content of the British Pound Sterling that for so long was the world’s standard of sound money.
In the course of revealing all of this to the viewers, Nova casually glosses over Newton’s most fundamental view, the very one that enabled him to make his astonishing discoveries of the laws of motion and the mathematics of gravitational attraction that govern the movements of planets and other material bodies in space.
That absolutely essential view was Newton’s perception that the entire universe is the product of the mind of God and that, therefore, all matter anywhere in the universe is subject to the same sets of physical and mathematical laws created by God. In fact, Newton is quoted as writing that the universe is pervaded by Intelligent Design.
Darwinians and other devotees of socialistic scientism deny Intelligent Design, yet find it convenient continually to refer to the laws of chemistry and physics without concerning themselves with how those necessary laws came to be. The unfathomable vastness, perfection, and orderliness of the universe is, in their minds, just a random accident, despite the infinitesimally small odds of an accident on such a scale.
It is easier for such “scientists” to rely on an unprovable belief in atheistic secularism, which backfires at every turn in the real world, while ignoring the incontrovertible evidence that Intelligent Design suffuses every aspect of the universe, of life, and our perception of it.
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Sunday, November 13, 2005
History Channel Distorts the Crusades
By presenting only part of the background leading to the first Crusade, the History Channel gives us another example of liberal media bias.
The History Channel’s new series about the Crusades begins with a depiction of Western Europe as a refuge of barbarians, contrasting it to the “civilized” opulence of the Muslim world. The History Channel’s experts neglect to point out that Muslim “civilization” and opulence were the product of what Muslims had looted from India and cities of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Greece, Asia Minor, and the Middle East. To this civilization the Muslims contributed very little themselves.
Some of the reasons for the first Crusade in 1095 -1099 AD, as advanced by the History Channel’s experts, certainly were true. Western Europe in the 11th century was indeed a warlike and violent place with fortified cities often under siege and continual battles among rival barons. A great deal of that violence, however, was defensive actions against invading Muslim hordes that terrorized Western Europe for centuries.
By overlooking Islam’s role and by suggesting that the first Crusade was little more than a ploy by the new Pope Gregory VII to establish his political and military influence over the unruly barons, the History Channel’s experts give a decidedly liberal-socialist, anti-Christian tinge to the presentation. To the extent that Christian religious motivation is mentioned, it is described as sincere, but hard-to-comprehend irrationality that thankfully no longer besets modern secular societies.
Completely missing is the most important of all motivations: the fact that for 450 years all of Christendom had been subjected to continual conquest, slaughter, pillaging , and enslavement by the Muslim hordes who, as with today’s terrorists, preached that slaughtering Christians was a good way to enter their paradise (not to mention, an effective way to acquire loot). Muslim Middle Eastern and Levantine territories had been taken by conquest from the Eastern Roman Empire, based in Byzantium (Roman Emperor Constantine’s Constantinople, present-day Muslim Istanbul). The Muslims also had been busy in Western Europe, overrunning Spain and much of southern France, until they were halted by a Frankish army led by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD.
The only mention of this in the History Channel presentation, even tangentially, was to say that the Muslim Seljuk Turks had defeated Byzantine armies in the 11th century and were threatening the capitol city itself. Ultimately, in 1453, they conquered it.
Beginning early in the 11th century, several decades before the First Crusade was mounted, Muslim Caliphs began persecuting Christians in the Middle East. Then in 1071, the marauding Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem, despoiled the Holy Sepulcher, and cut off all Christian access to the place where Jesus Christ was crucified, the primary pilgrimage destination for Christians.
No matter how liberals and Muslims try to spin it, Western Christians were not responsible for the Crusades. The Crusades were a very long-delayed, and entirely appropriate, response to Muslim savagery.
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Friday, November 11, 2005
Special Prosecutor: Indict Senator Kerry for Perjury
If Senator Kerry had been under oath when he claimed that Vietnam military personnel routinely mutilated prisoners under orders from their officers, or when he voted for invasion of Iraq and stated that Saddam had WMD, and now when he denies all of the above, he would be doing a long stretch in the Federal slammer for perjury.
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Oxymoron: New York Times’s Journalistic Ethics
The Times’s firing reporter Judith Miller demonstrates that the lap dogs of its editorial board heel to the commands of liberal-socialist party propagandists, just as American liberals responded when Stalin jerked their chains in the 1930s.
The New York Times has fired reporter Judith Miller. Why? For articles that she wrote and they printed two years ago, and supported with editorials, at the outset of the Iraq invasion preparations.
Just as American liberals used to have to turn on a dime in the 1930s to reorient their propaganda message to conform with the latest pronouncement from Stalin, the Times had to repudiate Judith Miller’s reports to demonstrate that the editors are loyal propaganda flacks for the liberal-socialist party today.
From 1933 until 1939 American liberals denounced Nazi Germany as an enemy of the Soviet Union. Then in 1939 Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, and overnight Hitler’s National Socialists became American liberals’ heroes.
Today’s situation parallels that of the socialist world in the 1930s.
Miller’s accurate reporting about the best available military intelligence at the time is now in embarrassing conflict with the new liberal-socialist propaganda campaign being readied for the 2006 Congressional elections. Liberals are reviving the falsity that the Bush administration had no reason to invade Iraq other than providing additional revenues to Halliburton Company and that all of the administration’s statements were deliberate lies.
In 2003, major Democratic party luminaries, as well as the New York Times’s editorial board, agreed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Today, that view must be repudiated and swept under the rug as the liberal dogs of political war begin biting at President Bush’s ankles.
We know that Judith Miller worked 28 years as a reporter for the Times and, during that span, won a Pulitzer Prize for her work. Until very recently, she was regarded as a star reporter.
But she made what in retrospect is the mistake of writing articles at the outset of the Iraq invasion preparations that agreed with the opinions of every top Democratic politician, namely that Saddam Hussein was a danger to the United States because he possessed weapons of mass destruction capability.
Not just British, Israeli, and American intelligence operators believed this to be the case. Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, among others were on record agreeing with that assessment before the Iraq invasion. President Bill Clinton, during his tenure also had declared it to be a fact.
One has to question the judgment, if not the sanity, of Sonny-boy Sulzberger, the times’s CEO and Darth Vader of the editorial board. Like Lady Macbeth, guilt seems to have addled his mind, as he stumbles about moaning, “Out, out damned spot.”
Two years ago the public was exposed to New York Times self-recriminations over the Jayson Blair scandal. Blair was a very young and inexperienced reporter given assignments, over the heads of more experienced reporters, to report on big news stories. The only reason was that Blair fit the Times’s profile (illegal for law enforcement, but OK for “news” reporting) as a member of a minority oppressed by capitalists. Failing to do proper fact-checking, the Times discovered afterwards that Blair was really just writing fictional reports from his Brooklyn apartment.
Frantically attempting to wash out that “damned spot,” Sonny-boy Sulzberger fired reporter Blair and two top editors. But, overcome with guilt, he subjected Times readers to an embarrassing series of rationalizing apologetics published in his newspaper.
With the Judith Miller mess the New York Times once again has forced its readers to wallow in Sonny-boy’s bathos. Do we really care about
young Sulzberger’s anguishing over whom to sacrifice to protect his own mistakes? Is it our problem that he has to do it all over again to propitiate the gods of liberalism and the Times’s corporate board? He could save himself time and energy by just staying on his knees.
Jason Blair retaliated in 2004 with his own book-length account of Sulzberger’s hypocrisy and the lack of editorial oversight and fact-checking that seems to have permeated both the national and Washington desks of the Times. Will Judith Miller favor us with similar juicy details?
In any event, Ms. Miller hasn’t gone quietly into the night. The following postings from her website present her side of the story, which the Times refused to print.
Response to Byron Calame’s Article
I?m dismayed by your essay today. You accuse me of taking journalistic ?shortcuts? without presenting evidence of what you mean and rely on unsubstantiated innuendo about my reporting.
While you posted Bill Keller?s sanitized, post-lawyered version of the ugly, inaccurate memo to the staff he circulated Friday, which accused me of ?misleading? an editor and being ?entangled? with I. Lewis Libby, you declined to post the answers I sent you to six questions that we touched on during our interview Thursday. Had you done so, readers could have made their own assessment of my conduct in what you headlined as ?the Miller mess.?
You chose to believe Jill Abramson when she asserted that I had never asked her to pursue the tip I had gotten about Joe Wilson?s trip to Niger and his wife?s employment at the C.I.A. Now I ask you: Why would I—the supposedly pushiest, most competitive reporter on the planet—not have pushed to pursue a tantalizing tip like this? Soon after my breakfast meeting with Libby in July, I did so. I remember asking the editor to let me explore whether what my source had said was true, or whether it was a potential smear of a whistleblower. I don?t recall naming the source of the tip. But I specifically remember saying that because Joe Wilson?s op-ed column had appeared in our paper, we had a particular obligation to pursue this. I never identified the editor to the grand jury or publicly, since it involved internal New York Times decision-making. But since you did, yes, the editor was Jill Abramson.
Obviously, Jill and I have different memories of what happened during that turbulent period at the paper. I did not take that personally, though she never chose to discuss with me our different recollections about my urging her to pursue the story. Without explanation, however, you said you believed her and raised questions about my ?trust and credibility.? That is your right. But I gave my recollection to the grand jury under oath.
My second journalistic sin in your eyes was agreeing to Libby?s request to be considered a ?former Hill staffer? in his discussion about Wilson. As you acknowledged, I agreed to that attribution only to hear the information. As I also stressed, Scooter Libby has never been identified in any of my stories as anything other than a ?senior Administration official.?
The third ?troubling? ethical issue you raised ? my access to secret information during my embed in Iraq ? had been fully clarified by the time you published. No one doubts that I had access to very sensitive information or that I did work out informal arrangements to limit discussion of sensitive intelligence sources and methods to the most senior Times editors. Though there was occasionally enormous tension over whether and when I could publish sensitive information, the arrangement ultimately satisfied the senior officers in the brigade hunting for unconventional weapons, the Times editors at the time, and me. It also led to the publication of my exclusive story that debunked some of my own earlier exclusives on the Pentagon?s claim that it had found mobile germ production units in Iraq.
I fail to see why I am responsible for my editors? alleged failure to do some ?digging? into my confidential sources and the notebooks. From the start, the legal team that the Times provided me knew who my source was and had access to my notes. I never refused to answer questions or provide any information they requested. No one indicated they had doubts about the stand I took to go to jail.
Your essay clearly implies that the Times and I did something wrong in waging a battle that we did not choose. I strongly disagree. What did I do wrong? Your essay does not say. You may disapprove of my earlier reporting on Weapons of Mass Destruction. But what did the delayed publication of the editor?s note on that reporting have to do with the decision I made over a year later, which the paper fully supported, to protect our confidential sources? I remain proud of my decision to go to jail rather than reveal the identity of a source to whom I had pledged confidentiality, even if he happened to work for the Bush White House.
The Times asked me to assume a low profile in this controversy. I told everyone that I had no intention of airing internal editorial policy disputes and disagreements at the paper, as a matter of principle and loyalty to those who stood by me during this ordeal. Others have chosen a different path, ironically becoming ?confidential sources? themselves.
You never bothered to mention in your essay my decision to spend 85 days in jail to honor the pledge I made. I?m saddened that you, like so many others, have blurred the core issue of that stand and I am stunned that you refused to post my answers to issues we had discussed on your web site at the critical moment that Times readers were forming their opinions.
Posted by Judith Miller | November 09, 2005
Responses to Byron Calame’s Questions
To: Byron Calame
From: Judith Miller
Responses to your Questions:
Oct. 20, 2005
Why did I not cooperate fully with fellow reporters on stories about the Valerie Plame inquiry?
1) I cooperated fully with Don Van Natta?s team for its story, despite being under considerable legal pressure not to do so. I spent over four hours talking to Don, first in a 90 minute on-the-record interview which my lawyer monitored because I was still under a contempt of court order. After the order was vacated, there were further on-the-record and background interviews which I gave while struggling on deadline to complete my own account of my grand jury testimony and writing testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee which had asked me to testify on the Federal shield law. I complied with all of the team?s requests except for its demand for access to my notebooks. I declined to provide these not only because my lawyers objected, but because the paper told me I was being treated in this project not as a fellow Times reporter, but as any subject of a Times story would be. These notes were part of what I went to jail to protect, and I was not about to share them with anyone who was not authorized to see them.
Why did I keep drifting back into national security reporting after Bill Keller took me off the beat?
2) I was not a loose cannon or insubordinate, self-assigning reporter. The reason I kept I kept writing about Iraq and weapons after my embed in Iraq had ended was that I was assigned to cover the Oil for Food scandal, which involved both Iraq and unconventional weapons, and to cover counter-terrorism efforts in New York, which also involved both topics.
How did I find the second notebook?
3) I found the second notebook I testified about only after I was released from jail. During my grand jury testimony, there had been some confusion over whether redacted notes of an interview I had done with I. Lewis Libby and which I provided to the special prosecutor were taken on July 12 at my home in Sag Harbor or during a briefer discussion with Mr. Libby earlier in the week. Under oath, I had promised the special counsel I would search for any additional notes I might have relevant to Mr. Libby and my Plame/Wilson testimony. On my first evening back at the Times while I was on the phone with my lawyer, Bob Bennett, I came upon the notebook as I was looking through a shopping bag filled with notebooks that were kept under my computer at my desk. Though the notebook was too early to be covered by the subpoena, I discovered that it contained an interview in June with Mr. Libby. Deciphering my notes, I was astonished to see it showed that Mr. Libby and I had discussed Joe Wilson and his trip to Niger, as well as his wife, two weeks before Mr. Wilson had published his attack on the Administration in The Times. I told Bob Bennett what I had found, and he immediately informed the special prosecutor.
Was I telling the truth when I said I couldn?t remember who first told me the name Valerie Plame?
4) As I told the grand jury under oath, I cannot remember who first told me the name of Joe Wilson?s wife, or ?Valerie Flame,? another name which appears in my notebook. I cannot remember when or why I wrote that misspelled name in my notes. The name is free-floating, separated by two pages from the end of an interview with Mr. Libby. It is not embedded in any other interview. I spoke to dozens of people when I returned from Iraq about a wide variety of WMD topics that I wrote about. I was not at all focused on the Wilson story and certainly had no idea that two years later Wilson?s wife would be at the center of a major political scandal and grand jury investigation. I cannot specifically recall having discussed Mr. Wilson?s wife with anyone other than Mr. Libby. No other sources on that subject are cited in my notes. But there were people with whom I discussed sensitive information for stories on other subjects that The Times did publish, and unless Mr. Fitzgerald had agreed to focus his questions to me on Mr. Libby and the Plame/Wilson affair, I could not have testified.
Why did you agree to change the attribution of Scooter Libby for a story?
5) I never did, and never would have identified Scooter Libby in print as a ?former Hill staffer.? Mr. Libby has never been identified in any story I have written as anything other than a ?senior Administration official.? While I was prepared to listen to what he had to say based on that attribution, I would have attempted to confirm the information he was providing through other sources, preferably on the record, or gone back to him to renegotiate a more appropriate attribution had I decided to write a story.
What was your assignment in Iraq and did you have access to secret information that was not shared with readers?
6) As part of my assignment with the soldiers who were hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I regularly had access to secret information. As a condition of this assignment, like other reporters embedded in sensitive posts, I signed a non-disclosure agreement which gave the military authorization to screen copy I wrote to prevent the disclosure of sensitive sources and methods. Because senior officers of the Exploitation Task Force were so concerned that this sensitive information not be casually discussed in my newsroom, I assured them that I would limit discussions of the most sensitive intelligence sources and methods to senior news executives. Reporters like me remained bound by these commitments after their embeds ended. Unlike many other newspapers and reporters, the Times and I noted the existence of such agreements in stories whose publication had been delayed by military review.
Posted by Judith Miller | November 09, 2005
Letter to Maureen Dowd
October 23, 2005
I?m glad you always liked me. But in the interests of journalistic accuracy at a very sensitive time for The Times and for me, I wish you had checked some of these damaging assertions about me before you printed them. If you had, there are seven specific mistakes you could have avoided. As important, you could have avoided creating a false and damaging impression that I had tried to cover up for a crime, or that I had convenient memory lapses at the behest of the administration. Just to remind you, I never went to see Scooter Libby to hear character assassination against Joe Wilson. I was trying to get to the bottom of the intelligence failures that were very important to me because they had led to my publishing several incorrect stories based on that intelligence. As my Sunday story stated, the question I put to Libby was this: ?was the intell slanted?? The Joe Wilson discussion that day, and in subsequent interviews, was a small part of a much larger story I was trying to understand and tell so that I could offer readers who had trusted my earlier reporting, and whom I wanted to trust my future reporting, a more complete account of what had gone wrong in U.S. policy and intelligence.
As for the specific errors in your story, they include the following: First, I never intended to, nor did I mislead Phil Taubman, as I told both Barney Calame, the public editor, whom I asked to post my responses on his website, and Bill Keller, as Kit Seelye reported in her story today. To recap our Sunday story, Phil asked a group of reporters in the fall of 2003 whether we thought any of us had been targeted by the Administration as part of a deliberate campaign to put out information about Wilson?s wife. I was unaware that any such campaign existed, and if it did, that I did not think that I had been a target of it. That is one of the key issues that the special prosecutor has been trying to resolve for the past two years.
Two, it is completely untrue, as you say in your reference to me as badly needing a ?leash,? that I was an insubordinate, self-assigning reporter who kept ?drifting back? into areas from which I was barred. I kept writing about Iraq and weapons because I was assigned to cover the Oil for Food scandal, which involved both Iraq and unconventional weapons, and to cover counter-terrorism efforts in New York, which also involved both topics. Bill Keller and your close friend, Jill Abramson, approved both of those multi-story assignments.
Three, as I also told Calame, Scooter Libby has never been identified in any of my stories as anything other than a ?senior Administration official,? and never would have been identified in print in one of my stories in any other way. I accepted the attribution for the sole purposes of listening to the information, not publishing it. While I was prepared to listen to what he had to say based on that attribution, I would have attempted to confirm the information he was providing through other sources, preferably on the record, or gone back to him to renegotiate a more appropriate attribution had I decided to write a story.
Four, I did urge a senior editor to let me pursue a story on Wilson/Plame. As I told the grand jury under oath, I had proposed soon after my breakfast meeting with Libby on July 8th that the paper try to find out whether what Libby was saying was true or whether it was a potential smear of a whistleblower. I said I had felt strongly that because Joe Wilson?s op-ed column had appeared in our paper, we had a particular obligation to do so. I never identified the editor to the grand jury or publicly, since it involved internal NYTimes decisions. But since you did, yes, the editor was Jill Abramson. Obviously, Jill and I have different memories of what happened during that turbulent period at the paper. I gave my recollection under oath.
Five, I have already addressed the ?Valerie Flame? issue publicly in my answers to reporters at the Senate hearing on the shield law. And again, as I told Calame, ?more than two years later, I cannot remember when or why I wrote that misspelled name in my notes. The name is free-floating, separated by two pages from the end of an interview with Mr. Libby and written in a different color ink from my Libby interviews. It is not embedded in any other interview. I spoke to dozens of people when I returned from Iraq about a wide variety of WMD topics that I did write about. I don?t know why you and Tina doubt my word, but you should know that I gave this account under oath as well.
Six, the Associated Press story which you cited is untrue. While A.P. did not call to check, you might have. It is true that the special prosecutor asked about whether I had had an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby in June. But as I testified, the discovery of the notebook was prompted by an entirely different matter the special prosecutor had raised. Once again, I found the notebook, which was not covered by the subpoena, as I was searching for additional notes on where I was when I conducted my July 12th interview with Libby. As I told Calame, ?Under oath, I had promised the special counsel I would search for any additional notes I might have relevant to Mr. Libby and Plame/Wilson that would clarify whether the notes had been taken in a taxi in D.C. or at my home in Sag Harbor. On my first evening back at the Times while I was on the phone with my lawyer, Bob Bennett, I came upon the notebook as I was looking through a shopping bag filled with notebooks kept under my computer beneath my desk. I discovered that it contained an interview in June with Mr. Libby?I told Bob Bennett what I had found, and he immediately informed the special prosecutor.?
Seven, as far as ?nailing me to a chair to extract the entire story of my escapade,? my lawyers tell me that senior management of the Times, including Bill Keller, were briefed on all important aspects of this case where I was concerned. I held nothing back at such meetings and answered all questions they put to me. I remember that Bill attended several of these sessions.
I agree with you that reporters must be more than stenographers. The same is true of columnists. I hope you will correct the record soon.