Friday, August 12, 2005

Family Matters

I hope everybody caught Jay Homnick's check-yourself-before-you-wreck-yourself JWR piece about the racism that still, unfortunately, remains buried only about an inch deep in America.

Now, a look around the world shows that aside from the rare righteous country like Denmark, the rest of the planet is looking out for number one, foremost, first, and last. World civilization is being held together by the English-speaking peoples, the "Anglosphere": the US, UK, and our underappreciated friends, the Australians.

But also underappreciated is that after decades of partner-changing in the geopolitical dance, the Anglosphere may finally be embracing as its own the world's largest democracy, and it's high time. President Bush recently met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and a leading American Sikh, Satjiv Chahil, gushed, "It marked a turning point in US Foreign Policy and was an acknowledgement of the potential for India to become an invaluable strategic partner of the US from a global, political, economic and social perspective."

I hope so, because Dr. Singh followed with these remarks at Oxford while on a state visit to the UK:
Every time terrorists strike anywhere all of us who believe in democracy and the rule of law must stand together and affirm our firm commitment to fight this scourge resolutely and unitedly. I sincerely hope that all of those who cherish and value open and free societies will join hands in the war against terrorism wherever it is fought. I wish the people of London well. I pray that their lives will soon return to normal and they can resume their celebrations for having been chosen the venue for the 2012 Olympics...

Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian Prime Minister to assert that India's experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too. Our notions of the rule of law, of a Constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service, of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age old civilisation met the dominant Empire of the day...

It used to be said that the sun never sets on the British Empire. I am afraid we were partly responsible for sending that adage out of fashion! But, if there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of the English speaking people, in which the people of Indian origin are the single largest component.

Of all the legacies of the Raj, none is more important than the English language and the modern school system. That is, if you leave out cricket!

More on cricket some other time mebbe, but India gets it, and maybe now so will we.

Next time you're tempted to play The Ugly American on an incompetent and/or incomprehensible voice from the subcontinent, blame the outsourcing corporation if you want, but not the person on the other end. They are feeding their families, and helping a great nation and a great people rise out of their heartbreaking poverty with education, a lot of hard work and a bit of Adam Smith.

I admit it's sure tempting to be rude, because overseas service lines are the pits and the frustration is nigh-unbearable. But we should ask ourselves honestly if our tempers would be so quick if we imagined a pasty-faced Irishman on the other end. We should ask ourselves if that's how we treat family.

When I next find myself consigned to the seventh circle of international call-center hell, I'll try to be patient. And if I think of it, I'll take a minute to welcome the heavily-accented voice on the other end to the family. We Anglosphere types gotta stick together. The future of civilization depends on it.

More on Bochco-ed Iraq War Story

Michael Fumento, at my request, sent me the following email exchange that took place today, initiated by a message to Mr. Fumento from a PR executive at FX. (Many thanks, Mike!) I reprint the message and Mr. Fumento's response here, verbatim:

Dear Mr. Fumento,

I'm writing in response to your column in the New York Post this morning.

In the future, feel free to call me if you have any questions about any programs on FX or need production notes on any of our programs. I would be happy to provide you with materials you need to write a more informed column.

It's obvious to me that you have no knowledge about the background of the military technical advisor for Over There. I think if you would have asked, you would know that he is, to use your word, a "true" military technical advisor. He is a former U.S.M.C. Staff Sergeant and his ten years of service included an 11-month tour in Iraq where he was a Fire Power Control Team leader with an ANGLICO unit.

While there have been some complaints with regard to the authenticity of the pilot (first) episode, the majority response from soldiers and military personnel was much more positive/favorable with regard to episodes two and three. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of reviews written about Over There were good to outstanding. The only negative reviews the show received were written by critics who believed that the series should have taken a political position but did not.

To buttress your opinion of Over There based on one posting from an antiwar blog is pretty weak. Yes, I know, you could have found plenty more postings to support that antiwar premise. That said, I assure you that I can provide you with as many, if not more, emails/blog postings/letters/etc. from soldiers/veterans of OIF that have a favorable opinion of Over There.

I respect the fact that you were an embed and have personal knowledge of what it is like in Iraq. I know other journalists who were embedded in Iraq who have seen the show and happen to believe it is an accurate depiction of what soldiers face in Iraq. They recognize that the series takes dramatic license at times but they clearly understand it is not a documentary. I screened the first three episodes individually for several soldiers who had served in Iraq and they had a few criticisms, but overall they believed the show got it right. Tony Perry, the military staff writer for the Los Angeles Times who was also embedded in Iraq, screened it for a dozen Marines who had served at least one tour in Iraq, most of them had served two tours. You should read his article published in the Los Angeles Times (July 27) to see those soldiers' comments.

Finally, I respect the fact that you're entitled to your opinion and it's fine if you don't like the show. However, for you to write that the military technical advisor on Over There deserves the firing squad is reprehensible. He has served our country honorably, fought to protect our freedom and has first-hand experience of service in
Iraq. If you had bothered to pick up the phone and ask a question, I can only assume that you probably would not have written such an insulting and irresponsible comment.

Please feel free to call because I really would like to discuss this with you.

John Solberg
Senior Vice President, Public Relations
FX Networks
[pnone number omitted]

Right. That's why a unit couldn't get air support for 36 hours, instead of the usual less-than-30 minutes. That's why the squad had no reinforcements, no artillery, no armor, and even the heavy machine guns on the two Humvees present weren't used. That’s why the enemy marks its IEDs with white flags, to make sure to warn off Americans. That's why the Humvee gunners (yes including episodes two and three, the “more accurate” ones) have no shielding? It's why a missile or bomb would be used to take out 20 Stingers in episode three, making it virtually impossible for forensics to determine all could be accounted for. (Yes, I know that was necessary to the plotline to make the intelligence officer a liar and make the Americans ruthless killers of civilians.) It's why even though some members of the squad carry grenade launchers only one grenade was fired during episode one with none during those oh-so-accurate episodes two and three; you know, the “more accurate” episodes.

In episode three, the GIs question why an airstrike would be used against two terrorists, without wondering why they won’t fire grenades or a mortar and wipe them out within minutes. Oh, but wait, even though they’re an infantry unit they have no mortar! It's why EOD simply fails to show up to disarm or detonate a car bomb in episode two, even though the incredibly-professional EOD makes it a point to be on-scene in 30 minutes. And sure, legs can keep moving forward even [when] everything above the waist has been blown clean off with that one fired grenade. After all, Washington Irving’s horseman rode without a head! Does a former Marine really not know all this? Even the water bottles are wrong! Evian in
Iraq? No, Mr. Solberg; Iraq is not LA. Americans in Iraq get their water from a Kuwaiti company, not the French. I could go on and on, but to what avail. You either haven't got a clue or you do have a clue and don’t care. All you care about is making money and slamming the military and the war effort generally.

Nor do I care about the favorable reviews you’ve gotten; that’s just the blind and biased following the Bochco. I would recommend to you the Seattle Post-Intelligencer article of
July 26, 2005. I believe the title speaks for itself: “These soldiers say 'Over There' is 'bogus.'”

If your military advisor does give accurate advice, then you're overriding him at every turn and he should have resigned in disgust. Since apparently he hasn’t, he sold out the uniform I and so many others have proudly worn. But maybe a firing squad would be too harsh; he should just suit up and have a real soldier rip every patch off his uniform.

Michael Fumento

Out There with Stephen Bochco's New Show on Iraq War

Michael Fumento has provided a keen analysis of Stephen Bochco's new TV show, Over There, now appearing on the FX channel. I have not seen the program and have no plans to do so, but I found Fumento's critique quite interesting. Fumento, a former Army Ranger, has spent time embedded in real frontline areas in Iraq, and his insights into the accuracy of Bochco's portrayal of the war are consequently well informed. Fumento is a strong supporter of the War in Iraq, and Bochco appears not to be, so sparks do fly. Here's an excerpt of Fumento's critique:

If "Over There" has a true military advisor, he deserves the firing squad. In the first episode a squad is pinned down while besieging a terrorist-filled mosque. The unit remains for about 36 hours with no air support, because "Air is dedicated to another area." Never mind that planes or choppers are always available within minutes. They request artillery, again to no avail. There's no armor.

I thought that Bochco did a wonderful job writing Columbo episodes back in the 1970s, but his subsequent efforts to make television entertainment into an overtly meaningful art form have always struck me as witlessly adolescent. I would greatly like to see him return to the intelligent style of writing he developed under the tutelage of the master mystery writing team of Richard Levinson and William Link, creators of Columbo, Ellery Queen (which was cancelled after only one season), and Murder, She Wrote. Oh, well.

We Hold... That All Men Are Created Equal...

My apologies, lady and gentlemen. Yesterday was a deadline day for me on a writing job, and in my flurry of race-the-clock frenzy I neglected to alert my mates to my column of yesterday at Jewish World Review.

In this important essay, I segue from a chatty reminiscence of my summer road trip into an anti-nativist point that needs to be heard; we all know it in our hearts but can benefit from periodic reminders.

Nero Wolfe: Too Many Cooks

Last time I wrote, I panned The Black Mountain, which disrupted the Wolfe formula by taking him away from his famed New York brownstone. I thought the break in the formula was the problem. Too Many Cooks proves me wrong. This time Wolfe and Archie go to a spa in West Virginia where the world's 15 greatest chefs are gathering for fellowship. One of them is hated and ends up assuming room temperature. Wolfe doesn't want to figure it out, but circumstances force him into it. Wonderful story. Pick it up.

But the point of this post is not so much to review the book as it is to note the interesting perspective on race. The book was published in 1938. At various points I was horrified by the references to the black men working at the spa. They are called boys, niggers, shines, etc. One black man's wife is said to have left him to raise three "pickaninnies." Local law enforcement is clearly racist (which plays a part in the way the facts develop) and Archie is not much better. Because author Stout chooses to speak primarily through Archie, I began to wonder about Stout. Not to worry. Once Wolfe goes into action we finally see a man who has his head on straight about race. He dispenses with racist language and attitude and is rewarded with a frank relationship with the black men who are very relevant to the story.

The longer one thinks about the book, the more one reflects on race and the times. I continue to be haunted by the way Wolfe tells the black waiters and cooks that he is told blacks and whites have a certain way of dealing with one another in a place like West Virginia, but then demolishes the notion by proving that individuals matter much more than race.

When did that strain of civil rights cease to be a mainstay of the discourse?

Genesis Sui Generis

Did I just hear someone say (see comments to my piece below about the Nightline debate) that if you believe in strict interpretation of Genesis species don't change over time? Where does it say something like that in Genesis?

Quite the contrary. The Book of Genesis is a shockingly counterintuitive religious document in that it specifically announces in its second sentence that God did not create a finished world at once. Instead He began with some kind of primordial matter and then began a staged process, including stages separated by time, of bringing it to completion.

In fact, the very first question that any serious student of the Bible asks is: why would an omnipotent Creator choose NOT to create all at once?

As to the creation of Man, it says specifically that he was fashioned out of some primal component of the Earth itself. If you ever stop to think about how shockingly this runs counter to the simple unscientific religious impulse you will get an inkling of just how subtly sound a philosophical work the Bible is - and it might just give you a clue why most of the smartest people in history have believed it and been moved by it to inspiration and passion.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Science And/Or Philosophy

So George Will thinks that intelligent design is worth talking about, just not in science class. I don't agree, but not for a reason I've seen anyone else mention. Intelligent design belongs in the science classroom not because it's science, but because it's philosophy.

I've had this gripe for a long time. Considerations of how a discipline is pursued, and its basic epistomological underpinnings, should not be put off until graduate school. It's a glaring weakness of secondary and undergraduate college education in the United States that it so often is. I'm not claiming the hard sciences are particularly bad in this regard; in fact, they're probably better than history and some of the social sciences.

I came to realize how ill prepared undergraduates were to make basic process critiques when I started teaching History of Economic Thought at the UT/Dallas. (Yes, this is an odd course to relegate to a teaching assistant. But until I offered to teach it, it had been in the catalog for ten years and taught once.) You have to start somewhere in a survey course like this; I started with the Scholastics. But you can't understand anything about how the Scholastics approached economic questions unless you know something about the philosophical structure they used, and in particular the ways they thought it was permissible to argue from individual observation to general theory. Then, when we moved on to the early French and English mercantilists, I realized that my students were no better prepared to understand their epistomology than they were with Aquinas. Most of them had picked up what the mercantilists believed in other classes; none of them had the foggiest notion why they believed it. And so it went, on up into Marshall and Keynes and the standard supply-demand and IS-LM analyses they'd all been suckling since they were freshmen.

And it's just the same in other disciplines. A student who majors in history spends his entire undergraduate career taking courses that teach him what happened when. They teach nothing about why historians think that happened then, how historians work, how evidence is weighed, how contradictions are reconciled. And students of evolutionary biology learn the evolutionary theories that are currently in vogue. They learn nothing about how those theories are formed and tested. They learn nothing about how one would challenge a standing theory, what constitutes a meaningful challenge, how a priori assumptions focus attention on some evidence and blind us to other evidence.

That is why students of biology should be introduced to intelligent design in the science classroom. I hold no brief for or against intelligent design. I don't know enough about it to have an informed opinion. But the little I do know seems to place it squarely in the Kuhnian tradition. Evolutionary biology as it currently stands, while it has significant explanatory power and a body of solid physical evidence, has unexplained mechanisms, apparent contradictions. Intelligent design is one approach to correcting those problems. There is nothing unscientific about the process that sometimes lead to scientific revolutions.

Republicans' Power Fixation

David Boaz of the Cato Institute has published a good oped on the Republicans' intoxication with federal power. Arguing for a classical liberal approach to government, Boaz correctly accuses the Republicans of acting much like the Democrats whom their party had criticized for a half-century:

Republicans have come down with a serious case of Potomac Fever. They believe that their every passing thought is a proper subject for federal legislation. They hold three-ring-circus hearings on steroids in baseball. They sharply increase the fines for alleged indecency on television. They hold hearings on whether college textbooks are too expensive. They threaten to punish Major League Baseball if the owners allow left-wing billionaire George Soros to be a part owner of the new team in Washington. They vote for a federal investigation of the video game "Grand Theft Auto."

Many of these gambits do target real annoyances and even real problems. But in a free society citizens don't turn to the national government to solve every problem. Indeed, a free society is measured by the amount of life that remains outside the control of government. We may all be tempted from time to time to say "There oughta be a law!" when we're angry or frustrated. That's why we write a Constitution -- to protect us from our own temptations to turn our exasperation into laws, and to protect us from our fellow citizens yielding to the same temptation.

Republicans took control of Congress in 1994 by declaring that Democrats had given us "government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money." Now, intoxicated with their own power, they have forgotten those words. They too use the powers of the federal government to lavish money on favored constituents, summon us before congressional hearings to explain ourselves, and intrude into our most local and personal decisions.

Sad but true.

Life's Ups And Downs

Speaking of Irwin Shaw, ponder this:

"An American, starting at any given point, believes that his career must go from success to success. In the American artist, of any kind, it is the equivalent of the optimistic businessman's creed of the continually expanding economy. The intermittent failure, the cadenced rise and fall of the level of a man's work, which is accepted and understood by the European artist, is fiercely rejected as a normal picture of the process of creation. A dip is not a dip to an American artist, it is a descent into an abyss, an offence against his native moeurs and his compatriots' most dearly held beliefs. In America, the normal incidence of failure, either real or imagined, private or public, which must be expected in such a chancy and elusive endeavor as writing novels or putting on plays or directing motion pictures is regarded, even by the artist himself, as evidence of guilt, as self-betrayal." (from Two Weeks in Another Town)

Parenthood and Skydiving

Sometimes NRO is more like feminine-RO, but I like it anyway.

I always enjoy the columns by Myrna Blyth. This little excerpt is worth noting:

At the wedding, my son told his guy friends that they had not been invited to a wild and crazy bachelor party because there had not been one. Jonathan explained that his brother, the best man, had come up with lots of suggestions for ending his bachelorhood in amusing, even spectacular, ways. He had suggested, for example, that they go skydiving together. Jonathan reported, “I said to him, 'You must be kidding. I don’t want to go skydiving.' And then I realized my brother has been married four years and has a baby. Does he know something I don’t know?”

Yes.I'm kidding. Kidding, I say. (I've been married ten years and have two kids under 3.5 years of age.)

I'm going skydiving next week with an outfit named Cooter's Budget Skydive. The motto is "Y'all pack yer own parachute now, y'hear?"

A Koppel Of Errant Knights Align

I'm still seething at the awful mishandling of the debate about Intelligent Design on Nightline tonight.

Cal Thomas missed the point by seguing into the politics of red-state disenfranchisement, leaving the viewer with the impression that there was no reason to advocate the teaching of ID beyond pandering to the rubes.

George Will missed the point by arguing that the question of whether there was design is properly left to the philosophy classroom and has no place in the science classroom; true enough, but disingenuous in the current controversy: the fact is that the anti-design viewpoint is presently taught in science class.

It was a sad day for intelligently designed debate.

The Iraq Budget? He Can Budge It!

Perhaps it's uncharitable of me, but I simply love the fact that the inspector-general for the Interior Ministry in the new Iraqi government is Noori Noori. That's the kind of guy whom I would want as my inspector-general: there's a man who knows how to recycle a valuable resource.

Defending Dobson on Stem Cells

Watch me do it at The American Spectator. I'm dealing with two issues in this piece.

1. Is Dobson totally out to lunch on the Nazi comparison? (Nope.)

2. Is David Gelernter correct to say Dobson doesn't belong in the major leagues of public discourse? (Nope again.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Holding Corporate Boards Accountable

The limited-liability status of corporations allows them greater latitude in decision-making, by taking away the risk that corporate owners and decision makers will be held personally responsible for their actions. It also makes corporations less likely to respond wisely and decently to concerns raised by people outside the main circle of decision makers. As a result, it invites government to step in and regulate corporate behavior directly.

Recent corporate scandals have place increased pressure on management and boards to institute more effective ethical self-policing. Without the incentives of real liability, however, such actions are not likely to have much effect.

Hence the recent court decision regarding Disney's $140 million payoff to former Disney president Michael Ovitz, who served in that capacity for all of 14 months, has greater implications than just the relief it brings the Disney board, whose actions in hiring, firing, and paying off Ovitz "did not violate duties to shareholders," according to the judge's ruling.

The judge, however, was highly critical of the Disney board's behavior, writing in his opinion, "Many lessons of what not to do can be learned from defendants' conduct here." Today's New York Times story on the matter noted that even though Disney won the case, scrutiny over corporate boards and management will increase:

[B]oard members have good reason to adopt a more conservative stance in compensation matters and avoid second-guessing, said Charles M. Elson, head of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware's Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Although the judge ultimately found that the Disney board did not breach its duties, he discussed a tough standard for the diligence required of board members, Mr. Elson said. The standard has been clarified, and directors at other times and at other companies could be held accountable under it.

"It means that you can't just make a decision with a devil-may-care attitude," Mr. Elson said, adding, "it has altered director behavior forever."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bono as EveryChristian . . .

Because we are a multi-faith weblog, I generally try to stay away from straight-out proselytizing. However, since I can peg this to a celebrity, a major world rockstar (who is very newsworthy in his activities), I'll proceed with a humble spirit and ask that co-bloggers grant me a little latitude.

I was reading an excerpt from a new book made up of extensive interviews between a journalist and Bono, the lead singer and songwriter for the band U2 and came across this segment that could speak for virtually any Christian you know. You think I sometimes get overly aggressive with a commenter or am maybe too sarcastic or uncharitable in a post? Believe me, I know that and much worse about who I am. Bono puts his finger on what all of us (Christians) are counting on:

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

When asked to make his confession by the journalist, Bono replies:

That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.

A Prayer for Europe

Today, August 9, the Roman Calendar of Saints commemorates St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, a 20th Century Carmelite nun.

St. Theresa's birth name was Edith Stein. She was the youngest of a large Orthodox Jewish family, born in Breslau in 1891. From her earliest days she demonstrated uncommon intellect; she was one of the first women in Germany to attend university on the same footing with the male students, and she early came under the tutelage of Edmund Husserl, the "Father of Phenomenology." She completed her PhD dissertation, On the Problem of Empathy, under his direction in 1916. (The late Pope John Paul II was another student of phenomenology, and his writings on the philosophy of personalism were influenced by Husserl's ideas.)

Stein's dormant Jewish faith, colliding with the implications of Husserl's philosophy, and tempered in the grief and sorrow experienced by much of her generation in the wake of World War I, led her into an intense search for religious meaning. Her journey ended on the pages of St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography. Stein was baptised in 1922, took up a post at a Dominican school for girls, and began translating the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas into German.

Stein's conversion did not shield her from the coming Nazi storm. She was dismissed from a lectureship at Munster in 1933; unable to find work in Germany under the anti-Semite laws she instead professed vows to the Order of Discalced Carmelites and entered their convent in Koln in 1934. She continued to write works of philosophy and theology, both in Koln and in Holland, where the Carmelites transferred her in 1938 in an attempt to keep her safe.

On Sunday, July 20, 1942, the Dutch Catholic bishops ordered read from every pulpit in the Netherlands a statement condemning Nazi racism. In swift retribution, the Nazi occupation authorities in Holland began arresting Jewish Catholic converts. Edith Stein was taken from the Echt Carmel on July 26 and sent directly to Auschwitz. She died in a gas chamber 63 years ago today, on August 9, 1942.

Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross left behind her a remarkable body of work. Her collected writings run to nine volumes, and include important contributions to philosophy and theology. She was beatified as a martyr in 1987, and canonized in 1998.

Today, Europe is shaken by another storm, remarkably like the one that swept away Sister Theresa Benedicta and millions more. It is a storm that would gladly crush before it thousands of Edith Steins if it could. May we always remember what happened when the men of Europe ignored the massing hatred, sought to appease it, and too late recognized it for what it was. Pray for us, St. Edith Stein, Patroness of Europe, that God will never allow us to forget.

Why Sex Isn't Fun Anymore

"Speak for yourself, Karny," you're probably thinking. But it's not for myself that I bring up Topic A here. It's a matter that affects us all, as J. Budziszewski makes clear in an excellent article, "Designed for Sex," for Touchstone magazine. What I like most about Budziszewski's article is the sympathy he shows for those caught up in the mayhem released by the Sexual Revolution of the past half-century—which includes, after all, practically any American who has not been living in a cave. Budziszewski writes:

Midnight. Shelly is getting herself drunk so that she can bring herself to go home with the strange man seated next to her at the bar. One o’clock. Steven is busy downloading pornographic images of children from Internet bulletin boards. Two o’clock. Marjorie, who used to spend every Friday night in bed with a different man, has been binging and purging since eleven. Three o’clock. Pablo stares through the darkness at the ceiling, wondering how to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion. Four o’clock. After partying all night, Jesse takes another man home, not mentioning that he tests positive for an incurable STD. Five o’clock. Lisa is in the bathroom, cutting herself delicately with a razor. This isn’t what my generation expected when it invented the sexual revolution. The game isn’t fun anymore. Even some of the diehard proponents of that enslaving liberation have begun to show signs of fatigue and confusion.

Budziszewski uses the subject as an apt occasion to discuss natural law theory, and even draws a bit on human biology, though much less than he should. It would be interesting to see a theist use the insights of sociobiology (which require, after all, only a consideration of microevolution, variations within a species over time, which no one doubts) to bolster an argument from natural law. For example, when Budziszewski correctly notes, "the longing for unitive intimacy is at the center of our design," it would greatly aid his argument if he were to use some of the copious scientific evidence regarding human behavior that seems to be wired into our very nature.

His concerns are more on the philosophical level, however, and within those limitations I think he does a fine job. I think that Budziszewski's emphasis on tying sex to procreation is too strong, but at least he does consider its value in strengthening "unitive intimacy." As noted earlier, Budziszewski is not a scold who wishes to upbraid people whom he imagines are having too much fun. On the contrary, he laments that the Sexual Revolution has largely taken the fun out of sex, and he writes with great compassion for the victims of that great disturbance. It is an article well worth reading.

Picture Perfect: Wlady P. on Peter Jennings

Longtime American Spectator editor Wlady Pleszczynski strikes just the right note in summing up Jennings career and legacy. Check it out here.

Planned Parenthood's Cartoon Fantasyland

You have simply got to drop everything and read this amazing post by Dawn Eden at The Dawn Patrol. She's got a scene by scene analysis of an animated feature Planned Parenthood uses for agitprop purposes (actually, it can't be agitprop when you're the establishment).

Go see it here. You will not be disappointed. (Hat tip: Southern Appeal)

Odd Man Out

The metaphysical makes some folks uncomfortable. If it gets under your skin, I'd hate for you to get undermined. So it might be rash for you to continue.

But here is my feeling about Peter Jennings. When you're part of a three-man generation -Brokaw, Jennings, Rather - and the other two retire, that's your signal not to hang on. Enough said.

Monday, August 08, 2005

TRC Rocks

The Carnival of the Capitalists rightfully and righteously recognizes the excellence of our own Kathy Hutchins' post exploring the economics of the dental hygiene and chocolate businesses, Mr. Wonka's factory, misappropriation of trade secrets, undocumented Oompa Loompas, and John Locke. (Spoiler: Properly capitalize labor, and you don't have to eat cabbage soup.)

Follow the link (above) back here to the post (below) in case you missed it; let's give the COTC some traffic. Cheers, Kathy. It's an everlasting gobstopper.


Got one of those pass-it-on emails from an English friend, so I thought I'd, well, pass it on:

Following the events in London last week the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from 'Run' to 'Hide'. The only two higher levels in France are 'Surrender' and 'Collaborate'. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire which destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing their military.

Updates from around Europe...

The Italians have increased their alert level from "shouting excitedly" to "elaborate military posturing". Two more levels remain, "ineffective combat operations" and "change sides".

The Germans have also increased their alert state from "disdainful arrogance" to "full dress-uniform and marching songs". They have two higher levels, "invade a neighbour" and "lose".

Seeing this reaction in continental Europe the Americans have gone from "isolationism" to "find somewhere ripe for regime change". Their remaining higher alert states are "take on the world" and "ask the British for help".

Finally here in GB we've gone from "pretend nothing's happening" to "make another cup of tea". Our higher levels are "chin-up and remain cheerful" and "win".

After years of assault by their chattering classes, the BBC News and The Guardian, the English getting a bit of their pith and vinegar back does my heart good. I have a little more in praise of the Englanders' bottle ("guts" to us in the US) over here.

Karnick Steals Time From Family

To write this cutting and necessary bit on the "family" excuse for either quitting in disgrace or being an absolute promise-breaking renege-meister.

Here's a tidbit:

What is interesting is that (Terrell) Owens claims he is doing this for his family. "The most important thing is my family," he said.

This assertion has become so common and familiar among public figures as to become something like punctuation, a mere indicator of seriousness without any real content.

I won't back down on this matter, it suggests, and not because I'm a pompous, selfish donkey, but on the contrary, because I am so selfless that I will forego my own interests in order to avoid letting down my family. The invocation of family says: Even though my actions indicate otherwise, I'm not a fool, nor a scoundrel; I'm selfless and devoted to others.

Patriotism used to be the last refuge of a scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson said-until phony patriots destroyed the positive connotations of the term. Today, family is the scoundrel's first, last, and paramount refuge.

Stick around and browse a bit TCS readers.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Paleface Scalps Indian

The NCAA is banning the use of Native American mascots for college sports teams even though the Seminole tribe thinks being Florida State's symbol is pretty cool, and probably not bad free advertising for their casinos and smoke shops. As tribal councilman Max Osceola puts it:

"It's like history--they left the natives out...They have non-natives telling natives what's good for them or how they should use their name. You have a committee made up of non-natives telling people that they can not use a native name when you have a native tribe--a tribal government, duly elected and constituted--that said they agree with Florida State."

It figures. The fascist patronizing paternalistic racist oppressor white male power establishment screws the Red Man once again "for his own good." I've half a mind to call the ACLU, but I lost their number. (Permanently.)

Just Call Him Governor Slim

The once rotund Christian governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee (sort of an anti-Bill ideologically speaking) went on a diet and lost a person. He's now slim, trim, and has apparently run a marathon!

I bring him up because he has a new book out with the best title for a diet book I've ever seen:

Stop Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork!