Friday, January 10 2003
CLASS WARFARE: "When the rich take from the poor, it's called an economic plan. When the poor take from the rich, it's called class warfare." This line is from Richard Cohen's recent attack in the Washington Post on the President's proposed economic plan. I would like Mr. Cohen and the rest of the closet socialists to explain to me exactly how "the rich take from the poor." It is one thing for thoughtful Democrats or moderate Republicans to criticize the President's plan for potentially exacerbating the deficit or for focusing the bulk of the tax relief on the wealthier in our society. That's fine, that's why we have two different political parties with two different ideological approaches on how best to grow jobs and create wealth. Most Republicans prefer the private sector as the engine of job growth which is why they generally support lower taxes and less government regulation on individuals and businesses. Most Democrats see the city, state and federal governments as more important to the well being of the nation and they in turn support a higher level of taxes and intrusion on the private sector.

The problem in the burgeoning debate over Bush's economic plan are the folks on the left who ratchet the debate up another notch by accusing the rich of stealing from the poor. These folks are socialists. Only a socialist could rationally accuse the Bush tax cut of two years ago and the current proposal as programs that permit "the rich to take from the poor." For in their heart, these people don't feel individuals have a right to 100% of their property and assets, if they did they wouldn't make stupid assertions that the rich are stealing form the poor. They honestly believe the state is "entitled" to a portion of anyone's income, wealth or property. This is important. This is the intellectual mindset that launched European Socialism in the 19th Century, which of course was followed by its evil twin, Communism, in the 20th Century.

The truth is 99% of the "rich" have far more taken from them via taxes than they receive back from the government. And 99% of the "poor" receive far more in benefits than they themselves ever contribute. But for socialism to succeed politically these facts are a serious obstacle. Because for socialists to come to power they have to get the poor to hate the rich. Class warfare rhetoric is designed to play on the natural human emotion of envy and is a powerful ally of the socialist movement, but to really get someone to hate you have to make them think the other guy is screwing with you. If you're poor, it is one thing to be envious of the rich guy in the big house, it's quite another to think that the rich guy got that house by stealing from you and your poor comrades.

The late 20th Century demise of Communism and a very successful post-WW11 run for capitalism and freedom around the world may have dulled the socialist embers. Defenders of freedom should be aware that the economic ideology of the left is not dead, its seeds are sprinkled throughout this world just waiting for the rain of the next serious capitalist downturn. The current tax debate may be an early opening act. John M. 6:43

Thursday, January 9 2003
OTTO MOVES: President Bush won't renominate Otto Reich to the State Department and instead will move him into the White House on Condi Rice's NSC staff. It looks like Bush doesn't want to go through a long, drawn out confirmation battle and will keep his powder dry for future nominations.

DOUBLE TAKE: Buried deep in this AP story about Joe Lieberman's impending announcement for a run at the White House is an interesting reference:

Sen. Christopher Dodd, the senior senator from Connecticut, has also considered a presidential run. Dodd said Wednesday as he left the Capitol, "I haven't decided yet, I'm still thinking about it."

Dodd hasn't really been on anybody's radar screen. It's unlikely that he'll run, of course, but it certainly illustrates just how wide open the race is now that Gore is gone. There are probably another half dozen Democrats in the Senate who think they might have a chance.

INSIDE POLITICS: The brouhaha over the House Ways and Means committee appointments isn't going to get a lot of attention outside the beltway, but it's instructive if you want see just how highly charged the atmosphere in Congress is now with regard to racial matters.

On the Senate side, Charles Schumer is vowing to filibuster Judge Pickering's nomination because:

"To renominate Judge Pickering, who has not built a distinguished record and is probably best known for intervening on behalf of a convicted cross-burner, shows unfortunately that Richard Nixon's Southern strategy is still alive and well in the White House."

Schumer's statement may have set a new low for deceitfulness. How else to characterize the Senator describing a judge who was given a "well-qualified" rating by the ABA as not having a distinguished record? How else to explain why Schumer smears the judge as a racist - even though he knows full well that Pickering put his life at risk by testifying against the KKK in the 1960's?

This is the same strategy the Dems have pursued with Pickering all along, but Schumer obviously feels the Lott affair has strengthened his hand in playing the race card and taking the precedent-setting step of publicly threatening a filibuster over an appeals court nomination. All I can say is, go Pete King. - T. Bevan 7:25 am

Wednesday, January 8 2003
UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT: Selena Roberts commits a personal foul on the NFL in today's NY Times. The article is a Howell Raines special, a racial hatchet job filled with odious prose and tendentious logic. Roberts claims that 1) the different responses to the antics of Jeremy Shockey and Terrell Owens are a product of racist attitudes 2) the league is racist because only 2 of 32 current head coaches in the NFL are black 3) broadcasters reinforce racist stereotypes when referring to the athletic talent of black quarterbacks instead of their "mental capacity" and 4) NFL owners are racist.

Roberts writes that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has:

Let his league of owners get too cozy with their backward ways. Even after the bad publicity and the Johnnie Cochran legal threats, the league is still as white as baking soda while teams ponder their openings...

Owners aren't hitting their car locks, but few are showing they're at ease with letting African-Americans into their world. Maybe owners can say "some of my best friends are black," but those pals apparently aren't close enough to be insiders. It's Trent Lott logic; just because you can say, "What's up, homey," doesn't mean you're inclusive.

And just because you're a reporter for the New York Times doesn't mean you have a clue about race relations in the NFL. Roberts is about one paragraph away from likening NFL owners to plantation slave masters, exploiting African-Americans for their own financial gain. It's absurd.

If you watched Mike Vick dismantle the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field last week and listened to praise heaped upon him by Madden, Michaels and the rest of the crew, the idea of racism isn't one that jumps readily to mind. Now that I'm forced to think about it, celebrating Michael Vick's talent is the exact opposite of racism.

And therein lies the point. People who love and watch sports don't do so with an eye for racial politics - only reporters with an ideological ax to grind do. In fact, team sports - in all of their forms and at all levels - are one of the most refreshingly colorblind activities we engage in as a society. In sports the virtues of trust, teamwork, talent, discipline, respect and hard work are rewarded and everything else - including one's race, ethnicity and religion - is irrelevant in pursuit of victory for the entire team.

Is my view of sports overly idealistic? Perhaps. Is the NFL perfect? Of course not. But that doesn't it make it any less of a disgrace for Roberts to try and gin up evidence that "race relations are running a reverse in the N.F.L."

DASCHLE IS OUT: I'm not totally surprised. To me, Daschle has never had the markings of a strong national leader. Even with the status of being Senate Minority Leader, Daschle's mild-mannered public demeanor would have made it tough for him to stand out in a crowded field.

JEB'S MOMENT: Jeb Bush delivered a truly amazing speech at his second inaugural yesterday. Peter Wallsten of the Miami Herald called it "a stinging ideological attack on the role of government." Here is but a small quote:

Consider the mathematics of the tragedy: Each year in Florida, eighty thousand children are born without a father in the home. Each year, there are eighty-five thousand abortions. And each year, eighty thousand marriages are dissolved. Sadly, today, almost fifty thousand children are in the custody of the state, and hundreds of thousands more aren't receiving the child support they are due. The numbers are so staggering, the implications so bleak, that we can become numb to the human toll they exact.

In the past, our response has been to raise more taxes, grow more government, and embrace the thin fiction that if only we can hire one more social worker or complete one more form then we can somehow reverse these corrosive trends and salvage these lives. But while these intentions may be noble these methods are folly. Government will never fill the hollowness of the human heart. It can only be filled by a like kind substance. It can only be filled by another human heart.

Read the rest when you have a chance. - T. Bevan 8:01 am

Tuesday, January 7 2003
KARL ROVE DOESN'T SLEEP: He's too busy working on 2004.

"PRESIDENT OR BUST": Gephardt says he won't seek reelection to Congress.

"THEY'VE TAKEN STEROIDS": That's how one GOP aide described the White House's $674 billion economic stimulus plan, which includes eliminating taxes on dividends paid to shareholders, almost doubling the child tax credit to $1,000 and accelerating income tax cuts through 2006.

It's classic Bush: set the mark much further down the field than anyone imagines and then work your way back to a compromise that is still well beyond any original expectations.

By contrast, the Dems $136 billion proposal looks positively paltry. Without getting into specifics of why the Dems plan isn't very serious or stimulative, the fact that Democrats have been coerced into offering up another round of tax cuts at all shows just how badly Bush is beating them on the issue.

Bush and his team recognized the political importance of relativity. That is to say, they understood that the smaller their plan, and thus its relation to the Democrats' plan, the stronger the argument Dems would have to make regardless of the merits of each proposal.

If the Bush plan had been only twice the size of the Democrats' plan, the relative distance between the two plans would have been small, and all of the sudden the Democrats would gain the appearance that they are serious - almost as serious as Bush - about cutting taxes and stimulating the economy. But by proposing a plan that is almost five times greater than the Democrats' plan, Bush creates the opposite impression. Look at the language used in the press: Bush's plan is "bold" and "aggressive" and by comparison the Democrats plan is tagged as "modest" and "timid."

THE OTHER REPARATIONS: Native-Americans filed suit against the US government for $137.2 billion. It sounds like the case might have some merit if lawyers can prove the government extracted resources from Indian land and failed to provide proper payment. - T. Bevan 8:02 am

Monday, January 6 2003
PC SUSPENSION: Bill Cotterell, the longtime political reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat, was suspended last week for making some unflattering comments about Muslims in an email. Here is what he said:

"Except for Jordan and Egypt, no Arab nation has a peace treaty with Israel. They've had 54 years to get over it. They choose not to. OK, they can squat around the camel-dung fire and grumble about it, or they can put their bottoms in the air five times a day and pray for deliverance; that's their business... I don't give a damn if Israel kills a few in collateral damage while defending itself. So be it."

Cotterell's email was in response to a reader who had emailed the paper in protest over this cartoon by Doug Marlette. After the cartoon made national headlines in late December, Executive Editor John Winn Miller published this weak-kneed non-apology and a week later the paper published Marlette's sharp rebuttal to the protests.

Let's get back to Cotterell's comments. Cotterell immediately offered an unsolicited apology for his remarks saying they were "grossly inappropriate and do not reflect my views toward Muslim people." Fine. Mistake made, apology accepted.

But Miller's public apology to readers of the Democrat last Friday is significantly more alarming than anything Cotterell said and reeks of political correctness run amok in the newsroom:

"On behalf of the Tallahassee Democrat, I apologize to all of our readers, and most especially, to members of the Islamic faith everywhere, for the intemperate e-mail comments of political writer/columnist Bill Cotterell. They absolutely do not represent the views and sensitivities of this newspaper. Worse, they run counter to many of the values we hold dearest, among them tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness."

Newspapers shouldn't have "sensitivities" (except perhaps on the editorial page) and the only value they should hold dear is OBJECTIVITY. Cotterell's remarks require an apology for the simple reason that the Democrat must reestablish a trust with readers that Cotterell's reporting on matters relating to Muslims will be fair and balanced. Miller's apology, however, implies the opposite: the paper is less interested in being seen as a dispassionate provider of facts and information and more interested in promoting an image as a tolerant, diverse, and inclusive organization.

One last note: Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement that Cotterell's suspension will, "send a positive message to the Muslim community in Florida that this kind of bigotry will not be tolerated."

Cotterell's remarks were certainly off-color but were hardly bigoted. It's convenient for many groups to throw the word "bigotry" around today as a nice catch-all heavily loaded with unpleasant connotations.

But bigotry is defined as "extreme intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own." If you read Cotterell's words he shows no such intolerance. He doesn't denigrate Mohammed or make any moral judgments about the religion of Islam. In the end, Cotterell is actually making the opposite point: Muslims can do whatever they want, "that's their business."

Yes, Cotterell makes a mocking reference to the "camel-dung fire" and to Muslims "putting their bottoms in the air" while praying, but is this any different from someone referring to a Christian as being a "Bible-thumper" or "Jesus-freak?" How many liberals indignantly jump to their feet when this happens? And how many members of the media have been suspended for saying something similar in a private conversation, or even in a public one? It certainly didn't happen at CBS - if you believe Bernard Goldberg's account of how a senior news producer once referred to Gary Bauer.

Far from proving Cotterell is a bigot, the whole episode only serves to reinforce two other notions: 1) political correctness hangs heavy in the air of newsrooms across America and 2) if CAIR spent as much time policing the hateful speech of Muslims around the world everyone would be a lot better off - and Mr. Hooper and company would have lot more work on their hands.

EMAIL ALERTS: For those of you on our email list and to those of you who have recently signed up to receive email alerts, we apologize that we haven't been able to send them over the past few weeks. We have been switching our email delivery system (seemingly for the tenth time) and the process has been much more cumbersome and time consuming than we imagined. We should be back up and running smoothly very soon. Thanks for bearing with us. - T. Bevan 8:57 am

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