Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Taipei Times Editorial Page, at it again

Today’s Taipei Times published an editorial that is very good and an editorial masquerading as a news story that is so bad as to be dangerous, but to be honest, “bad to dangerous” is par for the course for the Taipei Times editorial page.

First, the good. James Holmes uses Thucydides’ account of a couple of battles from Greek antiquity to show that an island nation must be strong to hold off a large aggressive power bent on destroying the island’s civilization. Further, there is no hope for discussion between the island and its tormentor unless there is some rough military parity. The key sentence is quite telling: "Questions of justice," Thucydides warned, "arise only between equals."

Now, the bad. Rick Chang quotes extensively from a pacifist former minister for the Pan-green party who opines that the fact that the Pan-blue party has thwarted efforts to pay for the weapons systems recommended by the US, then the US will forsake Taiwan and that Taiwan should ready itself for takeover by the Communists. Now, the KMT is being ridiculous and petty in blocking Chen’s defense authorization bill but ultimately, Taiwan will pay, maybe not $15 billion, but somewhere close to that. That is the way negotiations work. The President proposes something, the other party counters it and somewhere in the middle, things work out. But it is dangerous and irresponsible for a former minister to blather on about surrender. Standing up to bullies like China requires courage, mealy mouthed cowardly defeatists like Cheng do his country and the world a disservice by giving the Chinese Communists the idea that they might be successful in attacking Taiwan.

Time for a new empire

I just filled my SUV with gas and it cost me north of $60. I have to admit to being pretty angry about that especially since it costs Saudi Arabia about $5 to pull at barrel of oil out of the ground. I look around and realize that there are a lot of folks who are just as angry as I am and are expressing their displeasure to congress. What is the response from Congress? So far, pretty tepid. Hand wringing about gas-guzzlers, blustering about drilling in ANWR but not a lot else.

Here is what I propose. Go to Saudi Arabia and mention that their sultanate exists by the good graces of the United States and point out that it is time for the price of crude to come down. If they want to palaver on about market forces and transportation costs, insurance policies and terrorism premiums, then we should listen politely. When they are done, we can once again mention the part about us having the world’s strongest military and needing a fair price for oil, and seeing if that moves the King and his court. If not, then, we can move to declare the oil fields in the Persian Gulf (heck, we can call it the Arabian Gulf even, if it would salve the wound) imminent domain, and seize them and the equipment working them in the name of the world economy. The US Navy SEALS train specifically to take down oil platforms and terminal stations, and the Marines would follow on to secure them. Once oil starts to flow at massively reduced cost, and the price at the pump plunges, I think you would see people pretty excited about Bush leadership and actually quite enthusiastic about a war for oil.

The only good argument against this policy is that it would probably kill the UK economy which is buoyed by the price we pay for oil they drill out of the North Sea. If the UK economy tanks, then Blair will lose his job and whoever replaces him will immediately pull their troops out of Iraq, which would seriously damage our mission there.

If you don’t have a taste for the dramatic, then perhaps you would be more enthusiastic about drilling in ANWR or more drilling off the Gulf Coast of Florida or drilling off the coast of California, places where there are huge, proven reserves but which are off limits because of “environmental” concerns. Boo hoo, a manatee might bump its head or a whale might have to go further out to sea on its migration, better we pay $3 a gallon. Seize the oil fields in the middle east, and start drilling all over, I am ready for cheap gasoline!

Saturday, August 13, 2005


I have been very concerned for a long time about the shocking misuse of Chinese characters on the bodies of college students. I am not alone in my concern. The good people at Hanzimatter stand with me.

Disagreement Day

Michael Medved has a feature periodically called “Disagreement Day” in which listeners call in to disagree with anything that Michael has ever said. I admire Michael Medved greatly. I think he has real courage and a first rate intellect and it is a joy to listen to him demolish ignorant liberal arguments. There is one area in which I disagree with him and that is his stand on immigration. Michael Medved thinks that it is a “pipe dream and a fantasy” to think it is possible to round up illegal aliens and deport them. His argument is that since the United States has upwards of 10 million illegals here, there is no way, logistically, to make deportation happen. In this case, I think Michael suffers from a lack of imagination. Here is what I would like to ask him if I could get through on Disagreement Day.

“In August 2001, if someone had called you to say that the US should invade Afghanistan and Iraq to safeguard America from terrorism, I suspect you would have said that such invasions would be a ‘pipe dream and a fantasy,’ yet, we all know how that unfolded. How can you now condemn the idea of deportation of illegals in similar fashion?” I am really interested to know what he would say.

If America had the political will, we could deport every illegal Such deportations would not be an onerous task. Once the word got out that America was serious about deporting illegals, then I think you would see a rush to the exits. Only the hardcore and the criminals would have to be rooted out. Concurrent with deportations, we should adopt additional measures.

1) America should insist on English only in all communications from government because publishing communication to citizens in multiple languages violates the “equal protection” clause in the Constitution. Since every citizen cannot read these other languages that the government is using to communicate, then citizens cannot be sure that government is providing advantages not available to all. It is a basic fairness issue.

The upshot of such a policy would be that all schools would teach only in English, and all who come to the US would have to learn English to get along. A common language among people insures a common culture. And a common culture is necessary for a healthy, enduring country.

2) Enforce the border. Use troops. Again, the message would go out which would make this a self enforcing policy.

3) Penalize companies that hire illegals.

4) Develop a guest worker program.

5) Change citizenship rules so that only those children born of citizen parents would be declared citizens.

America must control the border to prevent terrorism and to prevent a breakup similar to what is happening in Canada. Michael Medved should get on board.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My Project Lauralight Pitch

Laura Ingraham did not like it. Oh well.

A Marine Corporal in battle in Falluja. It is raining. The Corporal looks at his watch, it is 4pm and the “7” has been circled in grease pen. Another Marine, holding a radio yells over, “No air support because of the rain, set up a defense until relief can fly in tomorrow morning.” The Corporal looks at his watch and says “Like hell!”, and runs out of the room into the adjoining courtyard, firing his weapon. He picks up a discarded RPG, kneels behind a tree, fiddles with the weapon, fires it across the courtyard, and then dives in to kill the enemy. The platoon is evacuated by truck. Later, a lieutenant tells the corporal that he is a hero. The corporal says “no way Sir, I have a flight out of Bagdhad at 7, and I promised I would meet my wife during her ovulation window. No way can I miss my flight.” Near the airport, his convoy is bombed, his flight is attacked with a missile, he argues with a French journalist and has a harrowing ride with a Turkish cabbie in Munich before he reunites with his wife. The return to combat is just as eventful.

Sea Story

During OCS in the middle of winter, I was team leader during a team movement exercise. You remember the drill: “Rifleman, prepare to rush, rush!” It was mid afternoon, and very cold, and we had been running drills for a couple of hours in below freezing weather. Right at the end of the drill, with the finish line practically in sight, I yelled “Assistant automatic rifleman, prepare to rush, rush.” I looked over, and did not see any movement. So I yelled it again, thinking that he had not heard me. This time, he looked back at me, and said, “I’m too cold to move.”

At this time, the Sergeant Instructor came up behind my Assistant Automatic Rifleman, and told him to get up and move. “If you don’t move, I am calling the corpsman up.”

AAR yelled, “No Corpsman, I don’t want the silver bullet!” The silver bullet was slang for the rectal thermometer that Corpsmen use to take core temperatures to determine the extent of a Marine’s cold injury. The indignity of the procedure had been the topic of endless barracks discussions.

The Sergeant Instructor told him to shut his mouth, then turned to me, and told me to get my fireteam moving. As we continued our team movement away from our fallen AAR, we could hear him still yelling about the Corpsman: “I don’t want the silver bullet, don’t give me the silver bullet, I don’t need…AAAAAAAAARGH!” Turns out, they gave him the silver bullet.

Shut up and read the scores

I can’t decide if sports writing would be dream job or if it would suck, mightily. It would be great to get a press pass to watch every game of the season AND get paid for it. Editors apparently give you a lot of latitude to write pretty much what ever you want in any style you want. If you have talent, that must be really liberating. On the downside, the necessity to go into the locker-room before and after games to compile the statements of someone who probably does not give much thought to what it is that they do and who do not have much of a vocabulary, and do that 160+ times a year, must be a real grind. I suppose sportswriting is like anything else, really cool looking from the outside, pretty routine on the inside.

What I do know about sportswriting is that it does not take any brains, insight or courage to do it. In fact, I would argue that brains, insight and courage would hamper your career. Sportswriters are the worst examples of “herd journalists.” They go in a pack to the same locations, talk to the same people about the same subjects, then socialize with each other, afterward. It is only natural that people who do the same thing in the presence of the same people all the time will tend to think alike. Everyone wants to be in the in crowd, so if all the cool kids are sympathetic to homosexuality, then everyone in the herd will be as well. What results elite sports media organizations in America, is a fealty to political correctness that would make a Harvard liberal arts professor weep with admiration.

The herd style of journalism is no where more in evidence than in the stories about Kenny Rogers, the outstanding left handed pitcher for the Texas Rangers. The story is actually pretty mundane. Rogers is having a really good year, but had a poor outing and was pulled by the manager. In frustration, he punched a wall in the dugout with his right (non-pitching) hand. As a consequence of this self-inflicted injury, Rogers missed one of his scheduled starts. Later, during a practice session on the field in Arlington TX, a cameraman for one of the local TV stations said something to Rogers about the injury and the pitcher’s inability to make a start. Here is where it gets a little murky. What exactly was said, and what words had been exchanged before between the two men, no one is saying. Regardless, Rogers walked over to the cameraman, knocked the video camera out of the man’s hand and off his shoulder. Once the cameraman retrieved the camera, Rogers tried to do it again until Rogers was led away by teammates. All this was caught on tape, but that was the extent of the confrontation. As a consequence, Baseball suspended Rogers for 20 games and fined him $50,000, although that penalty was reduced to 13 games. The cameraman was not hurt except for the indeterminate physical infirmity that develops whenever one is assaulted by a millionaire.

It is not that unusual for athletes to confront sportswriters. There is natural tension between the two groups. And there is no excuse for physical confrontations. Gentlemen should discuss their differences, peacefully. That I will grant you. But sportswriters, who ostensibly use their minds and their personal points of view to write stories, uniformly condemn Rogers actions without giving any of the context to his actions. It would seem that some writer might be a little curious about the backstory here. Is there personal animus between Rogers and that cameraman or the cameraman’s station? Had the cameraman blurted out an obscenity? What had happened immediately prior to the event caught on tape? I think these questions would be of interest but instead of asking questions, sportswriters have instead lined up to denounce Rogers and demand harsher punishments. 20 days is not enough! $50,000 is not enough money! How much is enough? I don’t know, just more more more!

Allow me to supply the context since the sportswriters won’t. Todd Bertuzzi, a hockey player for the Vancouver Canucks, 13 games before the end of the hockey season in 2003, rabbit punched an opposing player so hard that the other player blacked out, and hit his head so hard on the ice that he now has brain damage. Bertuzzi was suspended for the final 13 days, missed the next season as did every other player in hockey because of the lockout, and now will be returning to play. He received 13 days for violently ending the career and damaging the health of another player. Alex Rodriguez routinely cheats and plays dirty as the third baseman for the New York Yankees. His latest misfeasance occurred last week in a game against the Twins. There are actually some varying points of view on these two players, because sportswriters have looked for nuance and ways to understand. Why can’t they give the same consideration to Rogers?

I will tell you why. Because Rogers had the temerity to lay hands on a member of the media. Reporters love stories about themselves and they are incapable of offering context or objectivity when the story includes one of their own. The entire industry has lined up against the malefactor and beat the drum on this story. Hockey player almost kills an opponent? “Let’s try to understand.” Baseball player shoves a pushy reporter? “KICK HIM OUT OF BASEBALL!”

Whenever you have a herd, you also have similar points of view. Witness the series of reports on ESPN in the last couple of months. ESPN reported on Andrew Goldstein, the former goalie for the Dartmouth who is, according to ESPN “is the most accomplished male, team-sport athlete in North America to be openly gay during his playing career.” If you will forgive me for using this metaphor, that is quite a mouthful to describe Andrew. Later on ESPN, we learned about a college hockey player who introduced his mother and her girl friend at the Senior’s Parent’s night. In an on air editorial by Stuart Smith, he lectured anyone who question the style of tennis’ Williams sister. His clear implication was that anyone who does not share his worshipful fascination with those two tennis players is racist. Hold on while I stifle a yawn…

All this claptrap is pretty surprising given the demographic of sports media consumer and the format of the show in which these pieces ran. The dominant political category into which “young men interested in sports” falls would probably be called “dinosaur reactionary.” Their political views are pretty much pro-military, pro-violence as a solution to problems, and anti-gay. You doubt it? I have lived around this demographic my whole life. I was an athlete in high school, I was in a fraternity in college and I have been in the Marine Corps my adult life. I know how and what these young, aggressive sports loving men think. And I can assure you, they do not offer a lot of “understanding and acceptance” to homosexuals they pay to watch on the sports field, or much worse, have to shower with. But don’t take my word for it, listen to sports radio call in shows. The virulence of anti-gay comments is as shocking as it is pervasive.

Further, Sportscenter, the show in which these pieces run, is a highlights show. People like me tune in to see who won and to see any great or unusual plays that have transpired. The last thing I want to see someone’s political agenda masquerading as sports story. But it is almost as if these reporters can’t help themselves. They must disgorge their inner moral superiority on the bumpkins and rubes who make up their audience. The reason why is a harder question than the reason why the herd jumps on someone who assaults one of their own. I think the persuasive liberalism inherent in the stories I cited above goes back to the milieu in which these reports are trained. Although they are sports reporters, all of them have degrees in journalism. The degrees are awarded after sitting in classes taught by the biggest leftists in academia. These students are indoctrinated with liberal ideals, never challenged on these beliefs, and these inflict them on us, the unsuspecting public. Plea to ESPN, shut up and read the scores!