Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for May 2005

America the Bad, Europe the Good

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The French have just scuttled the so-called European Constitution, which interesting only in it’s their baby, but the wailing and gnashing of teeth is quite loud nonetheless. But one wailer caught my eye in particular:

Not long ago, for example, Romano Prodi, the former president of the European Commission, had predicted that a French no would mean “the end of Europe.” On Monday he called the outcome “a disaster,” but insisted that the union would continue to function under current rules and that things could be worse.

“This is still better than a war of secession like the United States once had,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m serious now. We must keep this perspective in mind. We don’t have a treaty, but we also don’t have wars.”

Say what?

Let me get this straight, Prodi is comparing this vote to the Civil War? And if I read this correctly, it was worse than the French non?

Well no merde paison, but what does that have to do with the price of brie in France?

The American Civil War has less to do with this vote than the French Revolution does, and the notion that Europe doesn’t have wars is laughable. North America hasn’t seen a war in more than a century, but I believe Europe’s record is a touch mixed there. Most recently in the 90s, not counting those couple of times Germany got uppity. Europe spilled oceans of blood in the last century.

I do believe this vote has them positively unhinged. But never mind the facts, America is always bad.

Written by martinipundit

May 31, 2005 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Eurofollies

McCain Dreams

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In today’s OpinionJournal, Brendan Miniter observes the McCain meme is back:

Having helped broker the Great Senate Compromise last week, Sen. John McCain is back in the media limelight, winning the usual accolades for bucking his party. But the deal by 14 “moderates” doesn’t just preserve the judicial filibuster and allow confirmation of a few of President Bush’s “extremist” nominees. It also reveals that the myth the McCainiacs hoped would propel their man into the Oval Office in 2000 still endures, despite evidence of successive elections to the contrary.

The myth is simply that the only way to win elections is to draw voters from the other party by bucking a few of your own party’s principles. Call it “maverick moderatism,” but this belief has been the foundation for Mr. McCain’s strategy for achieving national office and has given us great ideas like the recent iteration of campaign finance reform, opposition to some tax cuts and dogged attacks by Mr. McCain on some military expenditures. It’s also the foundation of many pundits’ advice to the president that he pick more “moderate” judges, give up on using payroll taxes to create private Social Security accounts, and trim his sails on fighting terrorism by spreading freedom.

It’s everywhere you look again – McCain will be a formidable candidate. 2008 will be his year. The ‘maverick’ has done it again.


Miniter is not sanguine on McCain’s chances in 2008. I’m conisderably more optimistic: McCain doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the 2008 Republican nomination. The Media’s sure. The Democrat’s sure. The RINO’s sure. But Republicans? No.

I confess to being completely bewildered by the willful blindness of the MSM on this issue. Of course, they love McCain, he’s basically a Democrat. But why they would willfully delude themselves does evade me.

McCain gained some goodwill last summer it is true, by sticking by Bush when the stakes were high. But that goodwill was never going to translate into support at the polls. Conservatives like me cannot stand John McCain because he has consistently opposed bedrock conservative principles or worse, waffled in the crunch like last week on judicial filibusters. That issue alone would be enough to sink him in the primaries, but his botched campaign finance reform carries just as much baggage. And then long-time readers know what I think of senators aiming for the big chair.

Nevertheless, I’m sure we’ll be treated to years of speculation on the man from Arizona, and I doubt this will be the last word on this blog on the subject. But remember, you read it here: John McCain will never be elected President of the United States on a Republican ticket. Take it to the bank.

Update And if you need even more proof, apparently Andrew Sullivan has become a McCain supporter. What a surprise.

Written by martinipundit

May 31, 2005 at 12:13 pm

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics

First American Carriers at War

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The United States was somewhat slower to develop aircraft carriers than other navies, both the Japanese and the British gaining a head start. But in the interwar period, the US built some remarkable ships, several of which would become instrumental in turning the tide of battle in the Pacific in 1942.

Here is a photo of the first three US carriers in Bremerton, WA in 1929:

At the bottom, we find the USS Langley CV-1, the first American carrier. She saw action in WWII as a converted seaplane tender, being sunk in February, 1942. In the middle is the USS Saratoga CV-3, a ship which survived the war only to be sunk during the nuclear tests at Bikini Atholl.

It is the top ship we’re most interested in. This is the USS Lexington CV-2, the “Lady Lex.” She and her sister Saratoga began life as battlecruisers, but they and the four other ships of the class were cancelled in 1922 in compliance with the Washington Naval Treaty. The Lexington and Saratoga had already been launched, and the decision was made to convert them to aircraft carriers. In this guise, they were undoubtedly more successful and more valuable to the nation. Before Pearl Harbor, a total of eight carriers were built by the US, all of which eventually saw action of some sort in WWII, and only three of which survived. The other five were all lost to Japanese action in 1942.

The first six months of 1942 were difficult ones for the American military forces in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor had devastated the American battleships, forcing the Navy to rely on the carriers for major operations. That Pearl Harbor had changed naval warfare in favor of the carrier only made a virtue of the necessity. Three key objectives drove American strategy in those months: Protect American forward bases in the Pacific, prevent the Japanese from seizing New Guinea and the Solomons (which would threaten Australia), and conserve the carriers. Basically, two of these three objectives would be met.

As a prelude to the invasion of New Guinea, the Japanese sent a task force to seize Port Moresby which included three carriers: the Shokaku and Zuikaku – two heavy carriers that had been at Pearl Harbor, and the light carrier Shoho. In total the Japanese carriers had 140 aircraft. In response, Admiral Nimitz dispatched two carriers, the Lexington and the much newer USS Yorktown CV-5 with 138 planes. This is the Yorktown in 1940 in San Diego:

The resulting battle, called Coral Sea and fought over May 7-8, 1942, was the first battle ever to be fought entirely with carrier-based aircraft. The American commander, Rear Admiral Fletcher, attacked the Japanese invasion force on May 7, and sank the Shoho. The next day, the main carrier duel began, and the Japanese withdrew after losing 73 aircraft, cancelling the invasion. The first time out, the American carriers had inflicted a strategic defeat on the Japanese.

It came at a very high cost, however. In addition to the loss of 66 planes, the Yorktown was damaged and the Lexington hit by two torpedoes. Here she is just before the war (the dual 8″ turrets were removed early in 1942):

The damage was severe, and fires raged throughout the ship. Many men were trapped below decks, and herculean efforts were made to save them. The crew managed to put out the fires, only to have them flare up again when the ventilation system was turned back on. The order was given to abandon ship, all hope lost for the trapped crewmen. The Lexington was scuttled, and the US had lost her first heavy carrier. The Yorktown had also been damaged in the battle, and she steamed to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

This loss was not without gain, however. One month later, a decisive carrier action took place near Midway Island, key to a Japanese invasion of Hawaii. A huge Japanese fleet, including the other four heavy carriers from Pearl Harbor: the Akagi, the Kaga, the Hiryu, and the Soryu were met by the newly repaired Yorktown and her sister ship the USS Enterprise CV-6. When the battle was over, all four Japanese carriers had been sunk, and along with their irreplacable loss was the irreplacable loss of the cream of the Japanese aviators. But this battle was won at the cost of the Yorktown, damaged by the Japanese planes and finished by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine.

Yet Midway was a staggering victory. From that point forward, the American took the offensive in the Pacific, and the invasion of Guadacanal followed soon after. The Japanese had shown the world the power of the aircraft carrier, but it was the US Navy which took them to school. A salute to all our veterans, past and present, on Memorial Day.

Written by martinipundit

May 30, 2005 at 11:45 am

Posted in History, Ships

Benedict XVI on Judaism

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I’ve been looking into some of the writings of our new Pope, Benedict XVI. In an interesting little book written while he was still a cardinal called “Many Religions – One Covenant,” I found this gem on pp. 45-6:

Jews and Christians should accept each other in profound inner reconciliation, neither in disregard of their faith nor in denying it, but out of the depth of faith itself. In their mutual reconciliation they should become a force for peace in and for the world. Through their witness to the one God, who cannot be adored apart from the unity of love of God and neighbor, they should open the door into the world for this God so that his will may be done and so that it may become on earth “as it is in heaven”: so that “his kingdom come.”

Funny, doesn’t sound like a Nazi. Do you think those calling him that might not know what they’re talking about?

Written by martinipundit

May 30, 2005 at 9:05 am

Posted in Church

The LA Times Puts the Cart Well Before the

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I’m not going to pretend that I’m a big fan of Bill Frist right now, or for that matter, ever. I simply do not understand the senatorial disease in which each of them sees themselves as a future president. That having been said, I don’t believe Frist has formally announced his candicacy for 2008, and so this seems premature:

The best thing a Senate majority leader with presidential aspirations can do is quit. That was Bob Dole’s strategy in 1996, when he resigned to run against President Clinton. And it may be part of Bill Frist’s decision not to seek reelection in 2006. If so, Frist could hardly make a smarter move.

Oh come on. It’s obvious to me that it’s more than a little ridiculous for an MSM stalwart to call for the resignation of a Republican from the Senate three years in advance of an election he isn’t in yet. After all, Dole didn’t resign in 1993. Does the LA Times actually think it’s fooling anyone here? Now, it’s true, Kerry wasn’t the leader at the time of his nomination, but doesn’t it seem a touch laughable that they call for Frist’s resignation now but Kerry’s … never?

Written by martinipundit

May 27, 2005 at 12:08 pm

Posted in 2008 Election, MSM, Politics

A Year of MartiniPundit

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Hard for me to believe, but today marks the one year ‘blogiversary’ of MartiniPundit. Many thanks to all those who’ve stopped by and to the three or four of you who read regularly. Also thanks to those who said I should have done this a long time before I actually did.

I gather it’s a tradition of sorts to take a look back at the year’s better posts (from my admittedly subjective point of view), so here they are: This is the first post ever.

Predictably, it combined the Europeans and the election. Off and running! Also in those early days was The Perfect Martini, which has proved popular over the year. Another key Martini post here.

Two colossal figures on the world stage left us this year. Here is my look back at President Reagan. The other was Pope John Paul II. Here is the post on the 26th anniversary of his Pontificate, and this on his loss.

Ship-blogging has been a topic to which I’ve returned from time to time. I still get plenty of Google searches that find The Old Battlewagons, although I’m more partial to my look at the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. And we cannot forget my shadow, the USS Ramage.

I visited Apocalypse Now a couple of times, once in connection with terrorist beheadings, and once – far less seriously – in connection with my purchase of “Unfit for Command.”

As with just about everyone else, the election of 2004 formed the backbone of the blog through November. As a Bush supporter in Massachusetts who had been watching Kerry for some time, I was fairly relentless in my criticism of the junior Senator. Kerry’s military service as a campaign theme was exhausted fairly early for me, and I later felt the need to poke a little Photoshop fun. And to note that Kerry had been at a lot of important events. While Ted Kennedy told us to fear George Bush, black helicopters circled Boston. Also seen at that time, was Kerry channeling Nixon. It really was all about Vietnam. Towards the end of an ordeal we were all tired of, I had an encounter with a pair of Yellow Dawg Moonbats, summed up my issues with Kerry, and endorsed Bush for reelection.

Now and then, I dipped into the books to look at things from a historical point of view. Once on two-terms as a phenomenon, and I also touched on King Sihanouk. I also noted how close we came to disaster in 1864, and what Lincoln had to say.

I’ll note for the record that a certain infamous bloggers lost me early, and some people have been on the fringe for some time.

But of course, the most important blogging subjects over the past year have been Chloe and Daphne.

Written by martinipundit

May 26, 2005 at 8:10 am

Posted in Blogging, General

Back Tomorrow

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I’ll be back in earnest tomorrow, which, incidentally, will be the first anniversary of this blog.

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May 25, 2005 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Blogging

Light Posting

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Posting will be light this week as my attention must turn to other matters for a few days.

Written by martinipundit

May 17, 2005 at 11:04 am

Posted in Blogging

Enterprise in Drydock Again

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James Lileks on the cancellation of the latest Star Trek offering, “Enterprise:” 

Forty-one years after they filmed the pilot, “Star Trek” went off the air for good this spring. Five series. Hundreds of episodes. Ten movies. Pulpy novels, video games, fan fiction that had Spock falling madly in love with Kirk. Model kits, barware, conventions packed with eager geeks. Done. Over. I have a friend who has the insignia of the Klingon Empire tattooed on his substantial bicep. How will these people deal with the end of sci-fi’s most successful franchise?

Reruns, of course. But they’ve already adjusted. True fans already know the last shot of the last episode: The ship slowly sails into the inky beyond, engines thrumming, ending the show as it began: by violating the laws of science. Spacecraft don’t make noise in a vacuum.

It’s Lileks so you know it’s good.

Written by martinipundit

May 16, 2005 at 11:16 am

Posted in General

Harry Reid Strikes Again

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He just doesn’t know when to quit. That or he simply has no control filter between his brain and his mouth. Reid’s latest is to smear a judicial nominee by saying that if you could see his FBI report you’d be against him too. (This is not the first time the Democrats have tried this with this nominee. See here.)

Couple things wrong here:

One – The “trust me” gambit. The Dems love this one. After all, they do know better than the rest of us, and so we really – no really – ought to shut the blank up and let them take care of us. Harry Reid has access to this report so you and I should trust that it’s bad, and that he’s reading it correctly. Certainly no need for us to worry our little heads about it.

Two – This form of opposition is truly despicable. There is no way the nominee can address this accusation – he might not even know what’s in report himself – and to even do so elevates it. Yet it is a crime to disclose the contents of FBI reports so Reid smugly knows that he won’t have to elaborate. He drops a little stink pellet onto the Senate floor secure in the knowledge it will make nasty headlines. Such ad hominem character assassination reveals the sort of person who will stoop very, very low to conquer.

The Democrats must be crazy to keep this guy as their leader.

Written by martinipundit

May 13, 2005 at 11:45 am

Worst Jobs in History

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Do you like your job? Well, it could be a lot worse. Channel 4 has a roundup of the worst jobs in history. A taste:

Medieval: Lime Burner: Do you like to live on the edge? How about creating and handling an extremely nasty chemical agent to make a vital component of mortar?

Running a lime kiln requires you to supervise the heating of chalk — or, near the coast, oyster shells — until they start producing incredibly toxic carbon monoxide. This can easily make you drowsy or even paralyse you before you suffocate. Don’t worry, though — you only have to sit with the kiln for 48 hours at a time.

If you really like a risky challenge, the next process could be for you. The hard cake of quicklime (calcium oxide) is taken from the kiln and added to water. It immediately reacts, producing intense heat and a shower of caustic, agony-inducing specks of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide). These crumbly grains are then crushed into lime powder, which will be added to sand to make mortar. You obviously don’t need safety goggles because they haven’t been invented yet.

There are lots more, neatly organized by period. Not while you’re eating though, okay?

Written by martinipundit

May 13, 2005 at 9:28 am

Posted in General, History

World War II No Longer a Just War

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At least, that seems to be the view of Pat Buchanan, whose greatest contribution to the Republican Party was to leave it.

I don’t normally pay any more attention to Buchanan that I pay to Michael Moore, or Arianna Huffington, or any of the other fringe players. Still, statements like this do make one wonder:

When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France — hundreds of thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires — was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?

If the objective of the West was the destruction of Nazi Germany, it was a “smashing” success. But why destroy Hitler? If to liberate Germans, it was not worth it. After all, the Germans voted Hitler in.

Leaving aside his all too predictable omission of the Holocaust, Buchanan attempts a very clumsy sleight of hand here. By stating the destruction of Nazi Germany as a conditional, he can then rewrite history in this way:

In 1939, Churchill wanted Britain to fight for Poland. Chamberlain agreed. At the end of the war Churchill wanted and got, Czechoslovakia and Poland were in Stalin’s empire.

But this myopic view of Churchill’s policy gets it precisely wrong. Churchill did not wish to fight Nazi Germany on behalf of Poland but on behalf of the British Empire. He recognized the sort of man Hitler was – grasping, megalomanaical, and insatiable. As he did not stop at the Rhineland, so he did not stop at the Sudetenland, Austria, Bohemia. And he would not have stopped at Poland. Germany had invaded France twice already within living memory in 1939, yet Buchanan says:

But before Britain declared war on Germany, France, Holland and Belgium did not need to be liberated. They were free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany — on behalf of Poland.

When one draws a line on tyranny, that doesn’t mean that the line is all there is. Buchanan sounds a lot like the anti-war Left who focus only on WMDs and not the other reasons for invading Iraq. He also excoriates Churchill and FDR for giving away too much at Yalta. Indeed, they did, but one must look at the situation objectively. FDR was a sick man at Yalta, and by no means on top of his game. Churchill was the first minister of an exhausted empire. They were simply not going to go to war against the Soviet Union at that time even if that might have been a good idea it was impractical in the extreme. Churchill wanted to do it, but could not act without the US.

I have to wonder if Buchanan honestly suggesting that the world would be a better place today if Nazi Germany had been allowed to continue grabbing territory, perfecting genocide, developing atomic weapons, and conducting human experiments. Or does he think that the Nazis would have fought the Soviets and solved the problem that way? What might have happened to eastern Europe then?

One would have thought that this war of all wars would be clear. Another view here.

Update InstaPunk agrees and he’s got pictures!

Written by martinipundit

May 12, 2005 at 8:45 am

A Bizarre Tale

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David Horowitz relates a tale from a prestigious New England college all too believable for those with exposure to such places:

The student, who was a political science major, had written a paper supporting the Iraq war in a class he had recently taken. When he got the paper back it had been graded “F.” On his previous paper he had gotten a “C-” which he accepted grudgingly at the time, not because he thought he deserved it, but because he couldn’t actually believe his professor was grading him for his political views and not his academic performance. But an “F” was ridiculous. No one at this elite college, which required high SAT scores for admission, got “F’s” unless they wrote their papers drunk — and probably not even then. This time he went to his professor and complained. Taken aback by the student’s passion in defending his paper, the professor conceded that maybe he had graded the paper unfairly. “I’ll give you a chance to rewrite it,” he said, “but you need to use the sources more.” Since the sources were universally hostile to the war in Iraq, the cue was unmistakeable. The student went back and changed every statement that represented a point view to its opposite. Thus, where he had argued that the conflict in Iraq was central to the war on terror he changed the relevant sentence to say that it was a “distraction” from the War on Terror. The entire structure of the paper he handed back remained the same. Only the conclusions were changed. He got an “A.” From then on he lied on the papers he wrote for this professor feeding him the leftwing conclusions he wanted to hear. The result was a series of papers the professor graded with an “A.”

That academia has become the last bastion of tyrannical leftism is hardly news, and one must almost applaud the student’s ability to game the system. Frankly, any professor worth their salt should have smelled the rat of passive acceptance rather than serious intellectual inquiry. But although Horowitz seems surprised, the rest of his story (which you ought to read) shows that passive acceptance is just what they’re looking for. These days it’s almost like such a degree has been reduced to a brand name, but it won’t take very long for that to fade as graduates of such places lack the critical skills to succeed in the marketplace. Really, the only place for them will be academia …

Written by martinipundit

May 11, 2005 at 11:28 am

How Long Will Reid Last?

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Harry Reid is imploding. One has to wonder if his calling the President a loser in front of a bunch of high school students isn’t the tipping point. Certainly Senator Reid is entitled to his opinion, but one must question the propriety of coarsening the nation with such statements.

The Democrats don’t seem to have learned the lesson of Tom Daschle’s defeat, and Reid’s behavior proves it. The job is too big for him, and the Democrats would be far better off finding someone who can lead their party in the senate rather than tear it apart.

Written by martinipundit

May 10, 2005 at 11:32 am

USS San Francisco Redux

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Remember the USS San Francisco, the sub which ran aground while submerged last January? The Navy has concluded it was ‘pilot error.’

The crew of an attack submarine that struck an undersea mountain in the Pacific Ocean earlier this year did not adequately review navigation charts that warned of an obstacle in the vessel’s path, according to a Navy report released Saturday.

I have no idea if this is whitewash or not, but you knew someone had to be blamed.

Written by martinipundit

May 9, 2005 at 11:21 am

Posted in Ships

Carnival of the Cats #59 …

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… is up at the Conservative Cat. Enjoy!

Written by martinipundit

May 9, 2005 at 10:58 am

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with

McCain Wants to Be President

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That’s nice for him.

Sen. John McCain says that he “absolutely” wants to be president and that he is qualified for the job but that he is focused on his Senate duties and will “wait a couple of years” to decide about a White House bid in 2008.

Think long and hard Senator. Due to your casual disregard of the First Amendment it’s clear were you ever to take the oath of office it would be a sham. This lifelong Republican voter will not support you in the primaries or the general election. Hillary Clinton would be better than you – at least she’d be more honest.

Written by martinipundit

May 7, 2005 at 10:44 am

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics

Sick Cats

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Daphne and Chloe have been under the weather this week, and so have been less than active except for various unpleasant ’emissions,’ of which we will speak no more. Here they are at their more vivified:

The vet says it’s our fault as we switched cat food brands on them. I think they’re just doing an exceptional job of skylarking.

Update Just to clarify, this is a picture of them from this week, at a time when they were being more active. Overall sleeping was up about 50% this week.

Written by martinipundit

May 6, 2005 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with , ,

Missed by a Day

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Michelle Malkin notes that yesterday was “International Respect a Chicken Day.” Her suggestion of honoring with a good recipe rings right, but damn! We had chicken Wednesday, clearly jumping the gun. On the other hand, yesterday we did respect a serious ribeye and a lovely pork chop.

Written by martinipundit

May 6, 2005 at 1:44 pm

Posted in General

VDH on Ossified Democrats

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Victor Davis Hanson offers some unsolicited advice to Democrats:

When will Democrats return to power? Three of the most influential legislators in the Democrat party — Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Nancy Pelosi — reside in and came out of the San Francisco Bay area, which for all its undeniable beauty has created a culture still at odds with most of America. John and Teresa Kerry would have been the nation’s first billionaire presidential couple. The head of the Democratic party is a New England condescending liberal, with a vicious tongue, who ran and lost on a platform far to the left of an unsuccessful liberal.

In contrast the only two men elected president from the Democratic party in 30 years were southerners, hammed up their rural and common-man roots — the son of a single mother in Arkansas and a peanut farmer in Plains, Georgia — and were narrowly elected largely due to national scandals like Watergate or third-party conservative populists like Ross Perot. The aristocratic media — CSB News, the New York Times, NPR — is often liberal and yet talks of its degrees and pedigree; the firebrand populist bloggers, cable news pros, and talk-radio pundits are mostly conservative and survive on proven merit rather than image.

When we see Democrats speaking and living like normal folks — expressing worry that the United States must return to basic education and values to ensure its shaky preeminence in a cutthroat world, talking of one multiracial society united by a rare exceptional culture of the West rather than a salad bowl of competing races and tribes, and apprising the world that we are principled abroad in our support of democratic nations and quite dangerous when attacked — they will be competitive again.

Since they will not do that, they will keep losing — no matter how much the economy worries, the war frightens, and the elite media scares the American people.

I don’t think they read him. But you should.

Written by martinipundit

May 6, 2005 at 1:30 pm

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