Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Blame Game

Blame Game

Very few Americans understand exactly how our government operates. Even many who believe themselves to be knowledgeable about the Constitution, even many history majors and civics teachers have only a cursory understanding of how the sausage is made. Thus the gullible are easily fooled.

Evan Thomas of Newsweek has famously said that the media bias in favor of regime change in Washington is worth 15% of the vote on election day. With most polls showing the coming contest at about even, that statement says volumes about just how conservative our electorate actually is, but one wonders how many of that 15% change their vote because the truth has been revealed to them, or have their preferences been moved by propaganda promulgated by a complicit journalistic industry. Considering just how few voters actually understand how their government works in the first place, the answer is obvious.

In the Washington Post, one of the three sisters of the axis of journalistic evil, and arguably the least evil of the three, there is a series that has just run that blames the Bush administration, and specifically President Bush, for, well, creating in West Virginia what can only be visualized as one of the seven circles of Hell, right out of Dante's Inferno. According to the last article in the series, George W. Bush has removed over 600 mountains, and filled in 700 miles of streams, all in the swing state of West Virginia. Anyone who believes what they say in this three article series would have to want to join a march on the White House that would look like the last scene in Frankenstein, where all of the torch-bearing villagers burn down the white castle of Dr. Frankenstein for being the embodiment of evil. And, indeed, many democrat voters would describe Bush as just that. They hate Dr. Frankenstein so much that they wish to elect the monster himself to replace him.

But blaming the President for the promulgation of regulations is like blaming God for the contents of Hebrew National hot dogs. God may have declared pigs to be unclean, but it took dozens of Rabbis to promulgate the Kosher laws, and even then the first sausage of any kind was made over a thousand years later. The "higher authority" had no opinion on how much lip, ear, and cheek meat, how many insect parts, or how much ash (yes, these are all ingredients in kosher hot dogs) would wind up in a food that is so much more delicious to those who have never seen the recipe.

Under our constitution, it is the job of the two houses of Congress to promulgate legislation. What they really do is to make laws that are as vague as possible, and therefore force the bureaucracies to create regulations that flesh out the details of those laws. They do this mostly for the reason that it allows them to occupy both sides of any criticism that ensues when the inevitable unintended consequences take place. It is also an obviation of their constitutional duty to promulgate the laws themselves, but there is no one to tell them not to make law in this manner. After all, while it gives Congress freedom to be on both sides of many issues, it also vests additional power in the executive branch. Once one has voted for the clean water act, for example, one is free to complain when the EPA fails to make the water clean, as well as take credit for the very cleanliness of the water. One outgoing President is free to promulgate overly strict regulations in his last weeks in office, leaving his successor to take the blame when the bureaucracies set things back the way they were. Simply put: whatever Bush did or did not do here, he is exposed to blame from an environmental mafia that sees humanity itself as vermin. To the environmentalists, or rather the Watermelons (P.J. O'Rourke's term for those who are Green on the outside, and Red on the inside), there is no proper way to mine a single gram of coal. For that matter, burning petroleum should be a crime, nuclear power is worse, and even solar panels kill the grass that seeks to grow beneath them. And we know now that wind turbines kill birds, and in any case must be banned if they are visible from the estate of the senior senator from Massachusetts.

And, it is not only West Virginia horror stories that they seek to lay at the feet of the president. The other side will blame the President for just about anything the executive branch does. For instance, for the last 15 years there has been a movement by a majority in congress to realize a "peace dividend" in the form of a withdrawal of bases that stand in opposition to a non-existent Soviet threat. This is non-controversial, and embodied in established law. Yet, the moment President Bush announces a fraction of the legally mandated withdrawals, his opponent "attacked the redeployment plan as politically motivated and said it would undermine the U.S. relationship with NATO." In the crazy world of our national debate, the Left can make any claim, no matter how outlandish, and as long as there is a strain of possible truth running through it, they can rely on their credulous allies in the television networks and the three sisters to repeat it, with many if not most other media outlets following right along. Thus is propaganda distributed in our modern liberal society. No, not propaganda. Only the right, and the Nazis, use propaganda. Leftist and liberal thought is correct, and any means used to promote correct thought is OK. If you don't believe that statement, just look at all the lefties who justify the rabid lies of Michael Moore.

Recently Nick Kristoff ran a piece in the NYT complaining about how President Bush has made his office near Times Square vulnerable to nuclear attack. Kristoff can rest easy, as there is almost no chance that any nukes will make it to Times Square. Maybe as far as a ship in the East River, but far more likely a container port, like the one on the Jersey side of the Hudson, so Nick is probably safe.

Americans need to understand two things. One, we are at war. In war, people die. The answer to being under attack is to redouble our efforts to kill the enemy until he surrenders and gives up the fight. Until then, we are all at risk. Two, any nuclear nonproliferation scheme, including the hugely expensive one currently underway, can only shave the odds a little bit. There are, and will always will be, those states which will cheat the game. This is a dangerous world, and as the pages of the calendar turn, technology militates that a smaller and smaller effort can result in larger and more dangerous destructive tools. State based diplomatic solutions can do little to stop radical groups wilth the money and the will to play this deadly game. What Kristof and many other liberals fail to realize is that their view of how the world works is only one of several equally possible models. In fact, I self-identify as a conservative when I merely say such a thing, as believing that politics is a debate between two or more sides flies in the face of liberal doctrine, which states that there are only two sides, their side and the wrong side. Yet when they were in power, they did exactly the same thing that our government is doing today. The dirty little secret of American politics is that there is almost no daylight between the two great political parties in this country.

Yet the blame game goes on, with a willingly credulous media and a public that allows it to inform their view of how the world really works. But the American public is smarter than the Left would have us believe. The folks realize that a blame game that goes only one way is a rigged game, and so they seek out the other side of the argument. Even as the Kerry campaign complains about any attempt to blame him for anything he ever did, many citizens are willing to believe some nasty allegations being made about his wartime service. Since his side is the one which has poisoned the well of public discourse, honest and probing debate about the truth of the allegations are untenable as well. So the campaign will launch ad hominem attacks against the bearers of this bad news, and seek to blame this one away as well. Hoist on their own petard, they are, and they have no one to blame but themselves.