Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 20, 2005

Syllogistic Hypocrisy #3: Inauguration Costs

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:16 pm

Lots of people are complaining about the costs of the Bush inauguration (example here). The complaint is, basically, how dare Bush spend $40 million taxpayer dollars on an inauguration (as if he himself is spending the money) when there are children who need vaccines, tsunamis victims who need houses, a war in Iraq, etc. Some of the objections are summarized by Joseph Curl in in the Washington Times

Reuters news agency this week headlined a story, “Critics Say Bush Inaugural Too Lavish for Wartime,” then quoted one “critic,” Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, who complained that the estimated $40 million for the Bush-Cheney inauguration is extravagant.
The Associated Press moved a story that asked, “With that kind of money, what could you buy?” The answer, the wire service said: “200 armored Humvees … vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children … and a down payment on the nation’s deficit.”

Let’s put aside, for the moment, the fact that most of the spending is private contributions, not taxpayer dollars. In fact, except for security at the event itself, almost all the money is from private contributions. Some critics don’t know this; others say the private money would be better spend elsewhere.

In my previous posts here and here as the phenomenon of people an organizations claiming to favor or oppose X because of self-evident principle Y, but not applying principle Y to everything else, and in severe cases not applying principle Y to anything but issue X. Here, principle Y is “It’s bad to spend lots of money on trivial things,” and X is this particular inauguration.

Let’s see what to other issues we might apply that principle. For one thing, how about other inaugurations? Joseph Curl points out,

But a review of the cost for past inaugurations shows Mr. Bush’s will cost less than President Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997, which cost about $42 million. When the cost is adjusted for inflation, Mr. Clinton’s second-term celebration exceeds Mr. Bush’s by about 25 percent.
According to the Consumer Price Index, $42 million in 1997 is the equivalent of $49.5 in 2004.

Were there any complaints about the extravagance of Clinton’s second inaugural? I don’t remember any. (But if there were, send me an e-mail or leave comments with a link.)

Oh, but that was not during a time of war. OK then, how about Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration in 1965, in the midst of the Vietnam War? Joseph Curl again:

President Johnson didn’t eschew pageantry in 1965, racking up a $1.6 million bill [1965 dollars, unadjusted for inflation] for inaugural festivities despite the Vietnam War, historian Robert Dallek told Reuters.

And what about other trivial expenditures? Like, movies, for example. Matt Drudge pointed out on his radio show last Sunday,

Just to put this into perspective, the 40 to 60 million dollars that they’re spending, do you know how much the cost of the movie Polar Express was? 160 million dollars. You could fit four inaugurations into just the cost of The Polar Express. All of the wild Dems making all these accusations that the Republicans are spending so much, oh how horrible this is, and there’s blood in the streets and homeless and all the rest. And a lot of these people are Hollywood folks pointing the fingers. You can almost hear Annette Benning backstage saying, the Bush inauguration is spending too much money, where’s my limousine?

So don’t start crying that oh, this is outrageous, when to make The Aviator cost three times the amount of the inauguration. Meet the Fockers cost twice as much as the inaugural. Who are these people pointing fingers at? Who are these people preaching at? Why are they lecturing us, when they are paying their stars as much as it costs to put on the inauguration for the entire country? How is this a story? Who is falling for this except for some disgruntled Bush-haters who cannot book a room in South Beach because it is already too crowded?

How about the news media? Drudge again:

ABC World News Tonight led with this story tonight [Sunday, 1/16/05], complaining about the inauguration. Do we really want to go into how much Peter Jennings is making? And Katie Couric signed a 200 million dollar agreement to stay at the Today Show. That would be five inaugurals total–what Katie Couric gets paid. It would not take long just to come up with the salaries at ABC News to cover the cost of one inaugural.

Does anyone know how much Peter Jennings has contributed to tsnuami relief — or more to the point, to Fisher House, which helps the families of wounded soldiers? It wouldn’t normally be any of our business, but he’s the one who raised the issue.

CAIR’s Double Standard

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:50 am

I’m not sure if this counts as another case of syllogistic hypocrisy, but let’s see:

Daniel Pipes reports on two criminal cases on which the Council on American-Islamic Relations has taken a stand. In Case #1, they take the position that someone who sent them some nasty e-mails should be prosecuted for “threatening” them, and in Case #2 they take the position that someone who said he was going to blow up a Best Buy store should not be prosecuted, since it was a misunderstanding caused by “language barriers.”

The first criminal case concerns Dale Ehrgott, a non-Muslim insurance broker living in Reno, Nev. Appalled by CAIR’s record of apologizing for terrorism, plus the then-recent arrest on terrorism-related charges of its former employee Ismail Royer, Mr. Ehrgott dashed off four angry e-mails to CAIR in mid-2003.

One read: “We accept you [sic] holy war. Looking forward to it very much. We can deal with you easily especially since you are on our soil. You have taught us much about terrorism so get ready to be the receiver.” In another message, some weeks later, he wrote: “You are making a lot of people angry and you idiots are sitting ducks.”

“It wasn’t a threat, just a nasty email,” Mr. Ehrgott told The Associated Press. He described CAIR as “an anti-American organization” and pointed out that at no time did he physically intimidate it. CAIR saw matters differently and forwarded the notes to law enforcement agencies, which came down heavily on Mr. Ehrgott, perhaps because the Department of Justice decided to make an example of him.

The second case concerns Taiser Hosien Okashah, a Muslim food broker (and an illegal immigrant from Syria) living in Miami Beach. On June 3, 2004, Mr. Okashah threatened to destroy the Best Buy store in Plantation, Fla., because, according to the store clerk’s sworn testimony, he was displeased with a rebate offer on a laptop computer. “I am going to come back and blow up this place if I do not get my money this time,” the clerk quotes him as saying. On June 29, the authorities arrested Mr. Okashah, charged him with threatening to detonate an explosive, and briefly jailed him without bond.

The executive director of CAIR’s Florida office, Altaf Ali, leapt to Mr. Okashah’s defense. Muslims, he said, are “very concerned that a very humble member of the community, for asking a question about a rebate, can be put in jail.”

Mr. Ali attributed Mr. Okashah’s travails to a miscommunication exacerbated by the negative stereotyping of Muslims. A CAIR press release further specified that the arrest stemmed from “language barriers and overreactions by store employees and law enforcement officials.”

Now I’m not going to endorse the behavior of either of these people, but it seems to me they are on about the same level — except for the fact that in the the second case there was an actual threat of violence, and in the first case there was just someone exercising his First Amendment rights.

But Pipes points out that CAIR’s differring positions on the two cases can be justified based on traditional views of radical Islamists:

The mentality of radical Islam includes several main components, of which one is Muslim supremacism: A belief that believers alone should rule and otherwise enjoy an exalted status over non-Muslims. This outlook dominates the Islamist worldview as much in the streets of Paris as in the caves of Afghanistan.

So, I guess it’s not syllogistic hypocrisy after all. Or not any other kind of hypocrisy, either. Not that that makes it any better in my view.

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