"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Judge Found in Hot Tub with Dead, Underage Male Prostitute

No, it's even worse than that, as regards the prospects for Judge Alito to be confirmed for the Supreme Court: a document that suggests he has opposed Roe v. Wade has been found, the Chicago Tribune reports:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote in 1985 that he "very strongly" believed the Constitution "does not protect a right to an abortion," and he said he was proud of his work as a lawyer in the Reagan administration arguing against the position enshrined in the landmark decision Roe vs. Wade.

Alito made the comments in an application for a job as deputy assistant attorney general, when asked about his "philosophical commitment" to the Reagan administration's policies. He also staked out conservative positions opposing racial and ethnic quotas and said he disagreed with Supreme Court decisions that kept a high wall between church and state, as well as those that gave criminal defendants greater procedural protections from police.

The story did not say exactly how the document came to light, which is an interesting side question. In any case, the revelation suggests that Democrats will question Alito even more aggressively on this issue during the confirmationg hearings:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats said Monday that in light of the revelations in the newly revealed document, they expect Alito to be more open about his current views than previous nominees.

Perhaps Judge Alito will be able to survive by parsing his words carefully, as Judge Roberts did during his confirmation hearings, seeming to endorse Roe while leaving room to vote to overturn it later, but it is a certainty that the War over Judicial Philosophy conservative Republicans have hoped for is about to begin in earnest—with Alito right in the center of the crossfire.

Promoting a Comment on Science: Evolution and I.D.

I'm going to do something I think will make our blog even more interesting. We had a commenter on the thread about evolution and intelligent design that Jay started who put in some serious effort to moving the conversation forward. So, I'm moving the comment up to the main page for the edification of any who would like to read it.

The identity of the commenter is a secret. We know him only as . . . Bubba.

Here it is:

Ok, since I WAS a Science major, not a Literature or a PolySci major as it appears most of those who post are, please let me ramble on for a minute.

The "Scientific Method" starts with a hypothesis, and tries to systematically go about to prove or disprove the hypothesis. “Science” is publishing your conclusions, along with your methods and materials, so that other “scientists” may review and prove or disprove your work with their own work, thus creating an open debate.

“Science” relies upon “laws” (e.g., Gravity, Thermodynamics, Motion) which have come to be relied upon as fact after multitudes of experiments and an innumerable number of blackboards of mathematical equations seem to be able to describe and predict the outcome of experiments relative to these “laws”.

OK, where am I headed? The statement was made “Scientifically there is no debate about evolution”. Balderdash. Go read some scientific journals. Open up a “Chemistry (or Physics) For Dummies” book. Use some intellectual integrity to subject your beliefs and theories to serious scrutiny.

Evolution is a theory that has been propounded, promulgated, and legislated without the accompaniment of hard scientific experimentation and data. In fact, the theory of Evolution is believable only after one has blinded one’s self to laws of Science which have been overwhelmingly proven and been accepted as fact for hundreds of years, such as Newton’s laws of thermodynamics, and the definitions of Entropy and Enthalpy.

Alternatively, there is no debate about the veracity of Evolution only if debate has been outlawed in the public forum, or the debaters are shouted down or called “religious extremists” by those who are afraid that open, honest SCIENTIFIC debate would not substantiate their pet theory.

Q: Where did the large molecules come from?

A: They were put together from small molecules after having been zapped with solar radiation.

Q: Where did the small molecules come from?

A: Energy fused micro-molecules together.

Q: Where did the micro-molecules come from?

A: Nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.

Q: Where did the Nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms come from (since “Matter is neither created nor destroyed”)?

A: (no answer)

Q: Where did the solar radiation or the energy required to overcome the laws of Entropy come from?

A: (no answer)

The statement was made: “…I have no problem debating it and even reconciling it, but as tbm says, ID is not science, it's religion…”

It is clear that to believe in the theory of Evolution as though it had been proven factually has become such a matter of complete 'faith', and is no less 'a religion' for its believers than the Evolutionists accuse those who believe in Intelligent Design, or “Heaven” forbid, those who believe in the Bibical account of Creation of having.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Terrell, Jesse, Jesus and Steve

Jesse Jackson has come out in support of Terrell Owens' Right As A Black Man to act like a total buttface.

Presumably because Mr. Owens has been oppressed for like 400 years.

For you Wal-Mart shoppers who gravitate to the books, CDs, major appliances or frozen foods aisles instead of the toy department, Terrell Owens is a fabulously talented wide receiver. (For our overseas friends, that's a job in American football.) He recently, majorly and publicly, disrespected his corporate employer, the Philadelphia Eagles; his boss, coach Andy Reid, a solid/stolid walrus-like fellow in both girth and facial hair; and his team leader, quarterback Donovan McNabb, he of Rush Limbaugh fame.

Consequentially, Terrell has been suspended indefinitely, meaning that according to the terms of his contract he will continue to collect $200K a game to sit on his butt instead of aiding/torturing his team.

Now I've seen Terrell's life story, and folks, it actually is heartbreaking. He was raised by a strict if not psychotic grandmother, and his mother was a substance abuser who could not tell Terrell who his father was.

Until the day the older man from across the street came over, warning Terrell to keep away from his daughter because she was Terrell's half-sister.

So one might think that Terrell was jealous of gruff but fatherly Andy's affection for Donovan, who is one of the classiest and cuddly guys in all of football, and is the ultimate company man. He's the spokesman for Campbell's Chunky Soup. (Although his mom has become the star of the commercials, it just makes Donovan all the more cuddly.) Donovan throws the ball at a receiver's feet instead of forcing it in there and risking an interception, playing his coach's game instead of his own. Donovan is also Black, and I mention this only because I have not known Jesse Jackson to stand up for a White Man's Right to be a buttface.

I don't want to get into Terrell's head, but he reminds me of Steve Christ: "Dad, you always loved Jesus best. Jesus this, Jesus that..."

Steve's brother had a story they call The Prodigal Son, where the disenchanted son took all of his inheritance contract up front in cash, and promptly went forth and blew it all. He saw the error of his ways and resolved to go back to the family home, not to get his old place back, but just to get a job cleaning the stables or something. Home was good.

Terrell has apologized to the Eagles, to Andy, and even to Donovan. He wants to play football, and he wants to play it for the Philadelphia Eagles, whom he considers family.

Fair enough, Terrell. Tear up your contract and the $200K per game it pays, and offer to work for your Eagle family on the suicide squad, the guys who ram full speed into each other on kickoffs. For whatever the union-mandated league minimum is.

Andy Reid is known as a very religious person, and I bet he's familiar with the tale. Donovan McNabb seems to be a well-grounded man, too, and even though his counterpart in the story is the Faithful Son who gets aggravated at the welcome return of the Prodigal, I think he would welcome Terrell back, too.

Jesse Jackson is reputed to be a Reverend, which implies some familiarity with the Bible. It would be good if he passed Steve's brother's story on to the newest member of his congregation.

Late Disclosure: I'm a Philadelphia Eagles fan, and Terrell's criticism of his quarterback is not unwarranted, making this all the more tragic. Whoda thunk that a Proud Black Man and Rush Limbaugh might end up with the same conclusion? Mr. Chunky Soup just threw a game-losing interception on Monday Night Football, for lack of a reliable receiver. (Terrell's replacement zigged when he shoulda zagged.)

Hurry back, Terrell. We can work this out. Read some scripture, eat a little crow, overlook your quarterback's inadequacies, and get us to Super Bowl XL. All will be forgiven, I assure you.

Welcome to Hell, aka American Culture

Journeyman professional basketball player Paul Shirley writes in his latest ESPN.com column of his visit to a rock music show in which a band he likes, Stellastarr* [sic], opened for the Bloodhound Gang. Shirley and his brother enjoyed the opening act greatly, though the sound quality was poor, and they stayed to check out the first three songs by the headliner, expecting "some semi-funny rap/rock by some guys from Philadelphia."

They were treated to a bit more than that, in an experience the likes of which we have all had, where a fairly dubious but essentially trivial cultural product suddenly turns perfectly putrid:

The fact that their first tune was perhaps the worst song I have ever seen performed live did not help their case. Their fate was sealed when, between songs, one of the members of the band had the tank top he was wearing torn off by the lead singer in order that we in the paying audience could be treated to a viewing of his naked torso. The now-shirtless troubadour played along, in that staged-funny way, and acted as if he were surprised by the action. He then gathered up his shirt, rubbed it into his already-sweaty armpit and faked a toss into the crowd -- which probably would have been enough to convince my brother and me to leave the scene. But he took it to another level. Seeing the madness in the eyes of the crowd, he jammed the shirt down the front of his pants and pulled it, through his crotch, out the back. And then threw it into the crowd, where people actively clamored to catch it. If I had been in possession of a hand grenade at the time, I would be writing this from prison.

Any reasonably civilized American today knows exactly how he feels.

Goodbye, Genius: Peter Drucker Dies

I'm a history/law/religion type guy, but I didn't know myself as a younger person and studied social sciences like economics/political science/public administration. One author who stands out to me from that period and whom I still enjoy reading is Peter Drucker. Here was an individual who wrote penetratingly about management and organizations and who launched no fads. There was no "Theory X" or "Re-engineering" with Drucker. He simply had an awesome sense of effectiveness and strategy. Accordingly, he was paid astronomical sums for his advice. Tom Peters, for instance, is fun, but he's just a cheerleader compared with Drucker.

Fortune magazine has a good obit/homage to Drucker available:

He had a brilliant line that skewered both groups: “The reason reporters call these people gurus is that they’re not sure how to spell ‘charlatan.’”


Drucker simply didn’t care about the conventional view on any management topic, since he had thought them all through and knew where he stood. Yet I was still surprised by the vehemence with which he disdained the modern vogue for exalting leadership, as distinct from paltry old management. It infuriated him, though he was too polite to say so unless you asked him about it, which I did. His reasoning was extremely simple: “The three greatest leaders of the 20th century were Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. If that’s leadership, I want no part of it.”


There were many things Drucker wanted no part of. Big universities, for instance. He scorned them all to remain at tiny Claremont College—payback, perhaps, for the scorn they’d heaped on him early in his career. Economists dismissed his work as cheap sociology. Sociologists had no use for business. And Drucker was dismissive of them all. “No economists were interested in organizations,” he explained in a 2001 interview with my colleague, Jerry Useem. The field “was based on the asinine assumption that organizations act like individuals. They don’t.” Here, Drucker had sensed a huge opportunity. Like any great entrepreneur—“somebody who creates something new,” as he once defined the term—he was raiding these older disciplines to create one that didn’t yet exist. Physics sprang from Newton, economics from Adam Smith. And Peter Drucker became the undisputed father of management—the discipline devoted to the study of organizations.

Last time I went on a really good vacation, I took two books with me. One was David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise. The other was Drucker's The Effective Executive. He'll be missed, but some of his predictions are still probably good for twenty more years or so. Start reading.

Debate And Switch

What is a small club like this for if not to have a convivial place in which to let off some steam?

In this context, I would like to comment about the debate in the Kansas school board about whether Intelligent Design should be afforded some diminutive mention in the science curriculum. The strategy of those who would deny the right to mention that "some believe that only intelligent design can explain such a high level of systematization" is to say that there are no serious scientists who believe such a thing. They say that one cannot legitimately make reference to the debate between random evolution and intelligent design because no such debate exists. We all recall Ted Koppel's breathless report that his staff had polled ten heads of Biology departments in universities and not one acknowledged that such a debate exists among legitimate scientists.

After a telephone conversation today with a friend who was parroting that position - a conversation in which I uncharacteristically blew a gasket - it occurred to me that I could vent in this venue my true thoughts and feelings. So, if the members of the Reform Club will forgive me, I will address my next remarks to these activists:

You f***ing liars. You outright frauds. You miserable creeps. To stand up there and pretend that the only legitimate scientific position in positing the origin of staggeringly complex organisms with trillions of interactive components is random non-systematic mutations modified only by the fact that the flawed ones are likely to burn themselves out?

It's one thing to pick that as the better choice in the debate. My side says that you can't create a thing with trillions of components and geometrically compounded amounts of possible permutations. And if you could get one with all the parts just right, there would still be plenty of intermediate ones that could survive. Your side says that it is reasonable to assume that all the guys without eyebrows died out, the ones without armpit hair, the ones with one eye, the ones with one nostril, the ones with one testicle, the ones without male nipples; none of them could endure the grueling survival-of-the-fittest reality show. (Survivor MMDDCCLLXXVIII was especially exciting, when they voted the males without nipples off the island into the sea.)

If the audience determines that you have the better argument, you win. If mine prevails, then I win.

But to say there is no f***ing debate? To say that no sane person can make a scientific argument for the existence of design, system, structure, plan? What total garbage! What absolute tommyrot, bilge and poppycock! Shame on you for your lack of elemental academic integrity.


Thanks. I feel better now.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

On The Commission of Lies

2 out of every 3 top lefty bloggers agree:

What this country will end up needing is something like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission because what the country needs is not so much for particular people to go to jail but for the lies and the lies to cover up earlier lies to stop. The country can't get past what has happened or move forward until we can get the truth on the table, deal with it and move on.

Not really making a partisan point here, but I myself don't think people are ever satisfied with commissions. There's usually a minority dissent, and folks go on believing the side they came to dance with.

I've been interested in the investigations into the Pearl Harbor attack, which might be the closest historical analogue to this, and with parties reversed. Surely someone had blundered. This article seems to be a fair recap.

Seems right after Pearl Harbor, the Roberts Commission found the Hawaii commanders culpable, and FDR and Washington in the clear. Then as the war was winding down in '44, a court-martial was held, and one of the commanders was vindicated.

In November '45, after the war had ended, there was yet another commission which voted along party lines, and with an election coming up, the majority Democrats once again vindicated FDR, even though he was already dead.

In 1995, the Democratic administration's Undersec of Defense killed another inquiry. Finally, in 1999, the Republicans passed a Senate resolution vindicating the naval officers.

Almost sixty years later, and still they were voting along party lines. There will be no reconciliation.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


There has been a good bit of well-deserved media scrutiny of the UC Irvine Medical Center's troubled liver transplant program in the wake of this LA Times story exposing the deaths of over thirty patients who waited in vain for organs that the center was silently declining. However, the last paragraph of the story, which I have seen no one else comment upon, is what caught my eye:

"[I]n 1999, UC Irvine fired Christopher Brown, the director of its donated cadaver program, amid suspicion that he had improperly sold spines to an Arizona research program. The buyers paid $5,000 to a company owned by a business associate of Brown. Brown was not prosecuted."

The market price of a spine is $5000?!? Igor, order me four dozen and have them delivered to Capitol Hill. STAT. Less than a quarter of a million for a GOP that might actually pass some spending cuts and stand firm on tax reductions? What a flippin' bargain that would be.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Original Sin, Mea Culpas, and the GOP

I'm a Republican, and it's my fault. My most grievous fault. Mea maxima culpa. Now, then, and in advance.

Picking through the MSMspeak auspices of my LA Times (one must learn how to read the entrails of his newspaper), I discover/divine that budget cuts are being thwarted by the smaller number of GOP "wobblies" and those from heavily Democratic districts. And, it should be needless to say, every single Democrat.

Of course the GOP as a whole is blamed. Even in the Times' headline and in the lede itself. (Duh.) Some things will never change. Perhaps it's original sin or the Mark of Cain, but it's not exactly media bias (altho every little bit helps):

When the Democrats shut down the government in 1990, demanding more taxes to maintain spending, it was the GOP's fault. GHWBush gave in, and read my lips on this, it cost him the 1992 election.

When Newt Gingrich shut down the government in 1995 over spending, it was the GOP's fault. Bill Clinton hung tough, and that helped him toward his 1996 re-election victory.

Spending wins, but even more precisely, opposing spending cuts is a winner.

Fact is, if the Democrats wanted spending tamed (or illegal immigration for that matter), it would already be so. The threat of their demagoguery hangs like a veritable Sword of Damocles over the GOP pols, who are learning to like being the majority party.

But there's a structural weakness in being an anti-government party that finds itself in charge of the government: The GOP gets credit neither for cutting spending nor for increasing it.

Now, the Democrats have the same problem on foreign policy, where they are the anti-government party. The impotence of the Carter and Clinton administrations was palpable and near-disastrous, and each time ushered in a Republican. But Democrats enjoy a structural advantage: when (and if, ever again) they are remotely credible on national security, their home field advantage on domestic policy will take home all the marbles.

Progressivism in domestic policy is enticing; things can always get better. Wi-fi for the disadvantaged, geez, why not? Anyone who can promise cost-effective dental care for stray dogs has our complete attention. Or if anyone can promise to ease the plight of the poor, boy, we feel good about voting for that, too. We see poor people everyday, and not just on TV. Somebody ought to do something, even if it only requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part. Everybody knows that it's the Democrats who are just the guys to do it.

The Revolution Be Dead, Man.

And we didn't line up any fat, prosperous programs against the wall when we had the chance.

Friends at the cool blog Rock, Paper, Dynamite, noted that we know the revolution is over when Republicans are happily killing budget cuts.

To quote the guys at RPD, "I think it’s safe to say, 1994 – 2005 RIP."

Newt, you philandering scoundrel, we miss you.

What's Good For General Mac Is Good For America

In honor of Veterans' Day, the words of General MacArthur at West Point:

And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now -- as one of the world's noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.

He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other he has drained deep the chalice of courage.

As I listened to those songs [of the glee club], in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death.

They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory.

Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.

And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory -- always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: Duty, Honor, Country.

The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.

The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training -- sacrifice.

In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in His own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.

Call Me Ishmael (While I Burn Your Car)

Is Ilana Mercer an absolute genius or what? What does it say about the conservative movement in America to have this level of passion and talent?

Her article today eclipsed my understanding of the media France coverage, left me feeling like a rank amateur in understanding the depth of the kulturkampf. I had contented myself with the lazy observation that the media was disposed to "excuse" criminality when it wore a liberal-political fig leaf.

Ilana digs much deeper. She explains that the miscreancy is itself cited as "proof of virtue".

Her brilliant insight hit me like an epiphany. I felt like I could actually hear Isaiah (5:20): Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who assert that darkness is light and light is darkness; who assert that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. (My translation.)

Will Europe Return from Post-Capitalism?

Daniel Henninger of the Wall St. Journal thinks a major part of the problem with Muslim rioters in France is lack of economic opportunity. This is an additional consideration to go with theories about the lack of religious freedom in the public square, too cuddly multi-culturalism, and plain ole Muslim cussedness. Henninger terms the last "the young Muslim solution," which is "to burn down the house and rule the embers." The columnist doesn't dwell on these other notions, though, because he is more interested in the economic question. And in that area, he thinks the problem is Europe-wide and applies to more than Muslim immigrants.

Henninger's contention is that Europe is a museum, economically speaking, trapped in the period when Marxism was a putatively serious option. The result, in Western Europe at least, is that unemployment is high and economic opportunity is artificially restricted. In the end, a nation like France, which translates worker demands into law as though wishing makes it so, strangles its own economic future and expedites the process of transforming France into Franceland, an interesting place for tourism, but not for starting businesses or trying to maintain a payroll.

What of Eastern Europe which has experienced the less diluted form of state socialism? Those nations have taken a different course, choosing low, flat tax rates on both corporate and personal income. Result? Businesses, instead of Muslims, are moving east toward greater economic freedom.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Paris Plastered

A colleague wrote a piece today in which he used the phrase: "Paris is burning."

I dropped him a quick e-mail, saying that "if my boyfriend just smashed my Bentley into a delivery truck, I'd be burning too".

More Lyrics from Bob Roberts

Tom brought up Tim Robbins and I commented on the film Bob Roberts that Robbins made as a parody/paranoid comedy about right-wingers. I decided to look for the lyrics and found that Robbins refused to make a soundtrack because he didn't want to hear the songs outside the context of the film. I suspect that's the case because the songs are great conservative humor and would be heard for years to come.

Here are the lyrics of the song I mentioned in the comments to Tom's post:


Some people will work
Some simply will not
But they'll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain

Some people must have
Some never will
But they'll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain

Like this:
It's society's fault I don't have a job
It's society's fault I am a slob
I got potential no one can see
Give me welfare
Let me be me

Hey bud, you're living in the land of the free
No one's going to hand you opportunity

I spend all my time drunk in a bar
I want to be rich
I don't have a brain
So give me a handout while I complain

Some people must have
Some never will
But they'll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain

If anybody knows where I can get the lyrics to the rest of the songs short of getting a copy of the film and transcribing them, let me know.

Another Deserving Loser

Kathy Hutchins writes on the Virginia gubernatorial race:

Jerry Kilgore comes along and runs a campaign that makes Mayor Quimby look like Albert Einstein. The only thing it was a referendum on was opposition to egregious stupidity.

The Kilgore campaign ran an attack on now Governor-elect Tim Kaine's personal opposition to capital punishment, saying he wouldn't even execute Hitler.

C'mon, man.

Capital punishment is a serious and difficult issue on which persons of good conscience can disagree, and it should trouble all persons of good conscience, regardless of where they eventually end up on the issue.

First, Kaine stated that he would not defy the law or frustrate the will of the people by refusing to carry out lawfully decided death sentences. It was no longer a real political issue. But OK, for the sake of argument...

Kilgore's using Hitler in commercials diminishes the scope and gravity of Hitler's crimes. If the Kilgore campaign had any sense of proportion or honesty, it would have brought home the horror of murder with the example of an already-executed Virginia murderer, a real crime with real victims. Perhaps they'd have made a point.

Even Tim Robbins, as director and author of the screenplay of the painful yet elegant Dead Man Walking, by showing both the execution and the crime simultaneously, had the honesty to do that. And Robbins is opposed to capital punishment.

Turning everything into grist for the mill insults not just our intelligence, but our very humanity.

No lousy political office is worth the price you tried to pay, Mr. Kilgore, or the price you tried to extract from another man's conscience. People who do that should be shunned, and enough Virginia voters shunned you on Tuesday. Good on them.

(And I've always wanted to express my admiration for Tim Robbins' professionalism and the purity of his art in Dead Man Walking. I see you ranting on politics at a podium now and then on TV and my eyes glaze over, Tim, but regardless, you'll always get a fair hearing from me.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Those Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of The Cindy Sheehan Summer

Yeah, the polls are clear. Pick a poll, any poll. Toppling Saddam was a mistake, and Iraq is a quagmire. Not a surprising public sentiment. The Pew poll asked (11/3-6/05):

"A few weeks ago, Iraq held a nationwide vote on the country's constitution. How much have you heard about this: a lot, a little, or nothing at all?"

A Lot 22%
A Little 52%
Nothing At All 25%
Unsure 1%

Well, duh. That explains it. Terrell Owens' numbers are probably pretty close. Opinions are like...well, you know the rest.

Like Cindy Sheehan? Nah, I wouldn't compare her to one of those. She suffered, not only from the loss of her brave son, but apparently from a pre-existing psychological/political condition. But her effect was felt.

A tour of the lefty blogosphere (I do it, so you don't have to) tells us that since new darling Gen. Wesley Clark calls for pretty much Bush's status quo, more or less , the Cindy Sheehan summer (I shall always think of it as "The Cindy Sheehan Summer"---we should print T-shirts) revival of the glory days of Vietnam withdrawal protests are pretty much dead. Don't blame me, blame Wes Clark, OK?

(The music sucked anyway. Steve Earle played Camp Casey, but Woodstock had The Who and Jimi. Everyone, both then and now, was subjected to Joan Baez, tho. There is no protest without pain.)

Polls always lag, so I expect they'll catch up to Wes Clark soon and leave Cindy as just another fond memory, like Country Joe & The Fish or Al Gore.

So pretty much all that's left is "Bush lied."

John Podhoretz dutifully and nobly took it all on, once again, ad infinitum, ad nauseum in a well-researched article, with lots of quotes.

Not surprising that lefty mainstay Kevin Drum (he's considered the reasonable one) gets up in arms and unloads on it, although more with a snarl than a scalpel.

If the left loses "Bush lied," it's Game Over. Iraq will make its way somehow to a self-governing system, because without murderous tyrants, history is teaching us that that's what human beings tend to do.

And these al-Qaeda maniacs and their Ba'athist collaborators have shown themselves as the enemies of all humanity, just like their patrons bin Laden and Hussein, all smoked out for the world to see by the occupant of the White House for the next 3+ years.

(Personal Note: Our regular and welcome guests from the left do not harangue TRC with Iraq 24/7, and I for damn one appreciate it. I've opened the door here, so it's all fair game. I just had to write this essay, even knowing what might follow. If at least the initial salvo had something to do with Cindy, Wes, John, or Kevin, that would be cool. Cheers.)

GOP Woes and What the Dems Will Do about Samuel Alito

S.T. does a nice job of giving us the "what it all means" review of Tuesday's events and I'd like to build on it. The Republican Party has fully lost its fashionable insurgency quality and is stuck with the unatractive prospect of just plain governing. Since Newt left, the GOP has not seemed much like the party of big ideas and the war has, in fact, gone on a lot longer than most expected (certainly at the popular level). Fact is, the GOP is on its heels. There is one saving grace. Unlike the GOP of the 80's and early 90's, the Democratic Party is not flush with exciting policy prescriptions. Nevertheless, the GOP doesn't have much positive force right now. They haven't proven the ability to deliver any of the basic agenda beyond some modest tax cuts. No cut in the size of government, no revolution in social security, no market-driven healthcare reforms, no school choice to speak of . . . just a lot of military action with a steady drip-drip of casualties blown into a flood by an unsympathetic press.

Here's where Alito comes in. The only thing that saved Bill Clinton and the Dems, perhaps, was that they gained sympathy when conservatives appeared overzealous to crush him. A filibuster against Alito would constitute similar overreach and would give people a reason to rally around Bush and the GOP again. The Dems want to keep W. in the uncomfortable place he's been stuck in for a while. They won't offer him the easy way out of emerging as the gallant knight riding to the rescue of the well-qualified and dignified Samuel Alito. He'll be confirmed with just a little more sturm and drang than John Roberts got.

"Stinging Defeats for G.O.P." Yesterday

The New York Times characterized the Democrat candidates' victories in the New Jersey and Virginia governors' races as "stinging defeats" for the Republicans nationwide, and suggested that the losses portend further losses in next year's midterm congressional elections.

In California, ballot initiatives supported by Gov. Schwarzenegger met defeat, but so did three initiatives brought by the political Left. In Ohio, four initiatives "backed by labor unions, government reform organizations and the Internet-fueled activist group MoveOn.org," in the NY Times's words, were likewise defeated. In New York state, the voters soundly rejected a ballot initiative for a state constitutional amendment, dubbed by taxpayer advocacy groups as the "Runaway Spending Amendment," which would have sharply curbed the governor's ability to veto spending bills.

The Times painted a basically gloomy picture regarding Republicans's prospects, but suggested that the Democrats still have some work to do in convincing voters that they are a better alternative:

The elections capped a season of political turmoil for the Republican governing majority, which has been buffeted by Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, soaring energy prices, scandal on Capitol Hill and, most recently, the indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.

The national mood remains dark. A new poll by the Pew Research Center, released on Tuesday, showed Mr. Bush with an approval rating of 36 percent, the lowest of his presidency; his approval rating among independents had dropped to 29 percent, from 47 percent in January, and he was also losing support among Republican moderates and liberals.

But Republicans note that voters have yet to turn to Congressional Democrats as a compelling alternative. The Pew survey found that voters were unhappy with both Republican and Democratic leaders.

Still, the results are likely to feed the Republican anxiety on Capitol Hill and exacerbate the sense among Republican lawmakers that after years of having Mr. Bush as an advantage at the top of the ticket, they are increasingly on their own.

Certainly the two gubernatorial defeats must sting. (Update: Jay Homnick makes a good point in the comments section, observing that the Democrats already held both of these governorships.) However, the record on the ballot initiatives suggests that although voters are not overly excited by Republican candidates and sitting political figures (such as Bush and Schwarzenegger) at this time, they are not ready to move strongly to either the Left or Right in policy terms.

The ballot initiative defeats in all three states mentioned earlier, especially the two in California that would have given greater power to the governor and the one in New York that would have favored the state legislature, suggest that voters in these big states were highly wary of making any serious changes at this time. That is to say, the voters were conservative in rejecting overt movements to the Right or Left in all three states.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Oh, That... That's Tomorrow's News

Being a Reform Club member has to count for something, especially after the novelty of the secret decoder ring wears off.

So now we are offering a prepublication glimpse at an article whose other millions of readers have to contain themselves until tomorrow.

Yes, it's just what you have been waiting for: an omnibus article cataloguing some of the distinctive features of the modern-day Democrat and Republican.

And if I must offer a little teaser of a taste to get you to chew on our links, here is a mere morsel:

IF YOU'RE too dumb to figure out a butterfly ballot, then you're probably trying to vote for that smart Democrat Presidential candidate. If you are smart enough to handle the ballot, you are probably voting for that dumb Republican.

If you're afraid to take a magnetic resonance image because your nose ring might stick to the magnet, you're a Democrat. If you're afraid to bob for apples at the church carnival because your tie might fall into the water, you're a Republican.

Happy Belated Blogiversary to Us

On Oct. 18, 2004, The Reform Club launched into the roiling blogwaters of the Bush-Kerry 2004 conflict. S.T. Karnick (founding editor of American Outlook, contributor to everything) conceived it. Hunter Baker (Religion/Politics Ph.D. seeker, former public policy professional, contributor to lots of online mags, -- mainly TAS) filled out the blogwork and made the first post. And, oh yeah, this guy named Alan Reynolds (minor deity of supply-side economics, Cato Institute) was on board POSTING (kidding, Alan, I kid because I love).

I kept thinking that I would remember to commemorate the occasion, but I didn't and neither did anybody else. We're sentimental fools here, aren't we?

If memory serves, Alan told us we should invite Ben Zycher, which we did. With a stroke, we became multi-faith and added our second well-known economist. Next, we invited this fellow Jay Homnick (Jewish World Review, TAS, ghostwriter), whose articles I used to link because I was in wonderment at his facility with wordplay. Then came Kathy Hutchins, who knew S.T. from the Hudson Institute days and whose comments were begging for a more prominent placement. Ditto Tom Van Dyke, whose achievements I mentioned recently (hint, he wrote the quote that got us in Newsweek and everywhere else). And finally, Herb London (NYU Prof. and Hudson Institute president) joined up and brought us full circle because he co-founded American Outlook with S.T. Karnick.

I suppose you could say American Outlook folded its tent and experienced reincarnation as The Reform Club.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Tale of Two Counties

Apparently, the subject of fundraisers and outings at "all-white" country clubs will continue to be raised in political campaigns. I, frankly, think that this is lazy politics. It's shorthand for racial intolerance and insensitivity, but the chain of causation is never spelled out, it's assumed. If a country club has no black members, it's because of conscious policy by the club. If you set foot in an all-white club, you are not only aware of the club's history and policy, you condone every aspect of it. QED.

I find all this silly (although not as silly as similar charges levelled against males who frequent all-male clubs). Is there a policy goal anywhere within shouting distance of meaningful? Is there a human being in the state of Maryland who really honestly thinks that if only Vernon Jordon or Michael Powell were members of the Elkridge Club that the plight of underclass blacks in Baltimore or Seat Pleasant would improve one tenth of an iota? Of course not. Yet refusing to host fundraisers at Elkridge is a necessary proxy marker for sufficient sensitivity to racial issues? Apparently people do think this. Why is that so?

I don't know where Mr. Trippi lives, or how much he knows about Maryland. I've lived here for three years, and I've learned a lot about race issues by doing something I was warned not to do by a lot of people, including some liberals. I bought a house in Prince Georges County, and starting paying attention.

It is staggering to me how segregated Maryland -- a state which never had Jim Crow laws -- remains in the 21st century. What is even more staggering is that this segregation seems to be almost entirely voluntary, and continues even where black socioeconomic status is higher than anywhere else in the country. Despite forty years of civil rights legislation, despite fifty years of integrated public schools, despite enough haranguing about tolerance to choke a stableful of elephants and donkeys, and despite almost identical voting patterns, middle class and affluent whites buy houses in Montgomery County and middle class and affluent blacks buy houses in Prince Georges County, operating in sufficient lockstep that Montgomery County is 27% black and Prince Georges County is 27% white.

Baltimore County, the location of the Elkridge Country Club, is even whiter than Montgomery. Yet I doubt very much that Elkridge has even a tacit rule against admitting blacks. There are simply too many well-connected, powerful, influential African-Americans in the greater DC area to make this plausible. Blacks just haven't done so, any more than they've moved into the very white liberal neighborhoods that tend to vote for the kind of candidates Joe Trippi works for. If blacks are banned at Elkridge, then it is in the same sense they are banned from the bluest-of-blue census tracts in Chevy Chase, Kensington, and Bethesda, which is to say in no sense at all, other than the sense that comes of their own comfort level.

I don't know why this is so, but I have my guesses. Why do blacks who have, beyond question, "made it" -- nailed down educations and careers and salaries that enable them to build seven figure custom homes on five acre lots in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country -- flock to rural Prince Georges County, where their grandparents sharecropped tobacco and soybeans, to do so? Just maybe it's because, having achieved material success, they don't feel any need to put up with the infernal honky bores that infest places like Montgomery County and the Elkridge Country Club.

This Stinks All the Way From New Jersey

Hold your noses:

At one point the moderator, Gabe Pressman, asked [GOP gubernatorial candidate Douglas] Forrester about his decision to use a critical quote from [opponent Jon] Corzine's ex-wife, Joanne, in one TV spot.

The 15-second ad features Joanne Corzine's quoted remarks, including her statement that "Jon did let his family down and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too."

The Republican businessman defended the comment as fair game.

"We took a quote off the front page of the New York Times," he said, explaining that it highlighted Corzine's "abandonment of principle for political purposes. It has to do with governance and letting New Jersey down."

This is what I was getting at when Joe Trippi came to visit us, and this incident is far worse, well past gamesmanship. Mr. Corzine's private life is not a political issue, and to use it as a symbol for his faithfulness to political principles is heinously dishonest. And Mr. Forrester's defense of this slime is laughably sophistic.

I seldom want a Republican to lose an election, but I do in this case. I find Doug Forrester unfit for office. He is a man without honor.

(And for the record, the Joanne Corzine ad is an echo of a much earlier one featuring Forrester's wife, Andrea, touting that Doug Forrester had never let his family down. Fair enough. But had the rumors over the weekend of some Forrester hanky-panky turned out to be true, his opponent would have been fully entitled to use them. It was Forrester who dragged his marriage into his campaign. Fair game.)

The Plame Game Continues

I was very shocked to receive a letter today from a friend who posits that Scooter Libby is taking a fall for the Administration and will be pardoned later by Bush. Reform Club readers will recall that I made a joke to that effect in an earlier post, where I said: "When I heard that Scooter might be going to jail to protect George, I was surprised to hear that Rizzuto was still that loyal to Steinbrenner."

But beyond the joke, to offer this as a serious contention is trumped by logic in every relevant detail.

1) Libby did not admit to being the leaker of Plame's name. On the contrary, he is being prosecuted for denying that fact.

2) If Libby was taking the fall and hoping for a pardon, he would have plea-bargained and pleaded guilty. Coming to court and loudly proclaiming his innocence is not being helpful to the Administration.

3) If Libby believes that this Administration operates by this type of corrupt loyalty system, then he must know that by pleading Not Guilty he is THROWING AWAY ANY CHANCE OF A PARDON.

4) Since Libby is not admitting being the leaker, he is leaving OPEN the possibility that somebody else is, exposing the Administration to further suspicion and investigation.

Bottom line, you do not deflect blame from anybody by denying blame, only by accepting blame.

I grew up around conspiracy thinking; it is a pandemic among Jews. I never liked the whole approach or the attitude of cynicism that it engenders. And, furthermore, it is almost never right.

Calling All Californians

California voters will be confronted tomorrow with two ballot initiatives on pharmaceutical pricing: Proposition 78, promoted mainly by the pharmaceutical industry, and Proposition 79, promoted mainly by the public employee unions.

The bottom line: Prop. 78 will increase drug access and reduce drug prices for those in need precisely because it will enable the drug producers to make more money, by discounting drugs for those less fortunate without being forced to offer the same discounts to the federal government. Prop. 79 explicitly would reduce drug access for the needy in an effort to subsidize the middle class, and would engender a tidal wave of litigation.

Consider a drug that costs, say, 20 cents per pill to produce after the enormous investments in research and development have been made. A wealthy patient might be willing to pay, say, $1 for each pill; but someone less fortunate might be able to afford, say, only 25 cents. Is it profitable for the drug producer to sell the drug to the poorer patient for 21 cents? The answer is yes, as long as the producer does not have to give the same price break to the wealthier patient.

Beginning in 1990, federal law in effect made it illegal to offer that price break to the poorer patient, because then the drug producers would have been required to give that same price to the feds. And so the need to cover large research and development costs prevented the drug producers from using such differential pricing to increase access to medicines for the poor.

The Bush Administration has changed the rules so that the producers now may give such discounts to those less fortunate through Patient Assistance Programs, without being forced to offer those same low prices to federal drug programs. Prop. 78 enables the producers to engage in such discounting in California by creating a legal gateway to the producers’ Patient Assistance Programs. Therefore, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the voluntary approach underlying Prop. 78 yields far greater benefits for those in need precisely because it allows the pharmaceutical producers to make more money.

Prop. 79 attempts to force sharp price discounts for over half the California population by threatening to remove from the Medi-Cal preferred drug list the drugs produced by those pharmaceutical firms not agreeing to the discounts demanded by a new California Prescription Drug Advisory Board. In other words, Medi-Cal patients would be denied the newest and most effective medicines if a given drug producer refused to offer sharp discounts to the middle class, unless a new state bureaucracy granted prior authorization for a given prescription.

That is why Prop. 79 almost certainly would never be implemented: The federal government has made it clear (in a 2002 letter to the state Medicaid directors) that it will not approve state programs that threaten the benefits of Medicaid patients in efforts to reduce drug prices for those not poor. And that is why the original program in Maine---quite similar to Prop. 79---was never implemented; after years of litigation, the state promised not to put drug access for poor patients under the Maine Medicaid program at risk. And so the actual program implemented in Maine is a voluntary one, as is the more successful program in Ohio, similar to Prop. 78.

Under Prop. 79, “profiteering” would be a civil offense, “defined” as “unconscionable prices” or “unjust or unreasonable profits.” This is a blatant attempt to conduct “negotiations” with a gun held to the heads of the drug producers. Any attorney could file a lawsuit, with damages of $100,000 plus costs per prescription. It entirely accurate to say that Prop. 79 would take from the poor and give to the lawyers.

Why is it that the political Left in California is supporting something as preposterous as Proposition 79, a blatant attempt first to politicize pharmaceutical pricing not only in California, but nationwide, second to create a litigation lottery that only the lawyers can win, and third to use political and regulatory processes to confiscate private property? The answer simultaneously is both subtle and crude: Proposition 79 would have the effect of making not only the poor but the broad middle class as well dependent upon government, and that is the overriding central goal of the Left. That is something that all freedom-loving individuals should fear and oppose.

Putin, Russia and American Interests

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s fall and dismemberment, it was widely believed that democratic reforms would be ushered in. Gorbachev had his perestroika which was designed to save as much of communism as possible; Yeltsin, however, claimed communism was dead, a relic of a bygone past.

But the Yeltsin era ended not as tragedy but as farce. Yeltsin was besotted more often than not, acted as a buffoon and was susceptible to corruption. He was replaced by Vladimir Putin, a former KGB operative, who was discharged with putting the Russian humpty-dumpty together again.

For Yeltsin, liberation from economic oppression took the form of a Wild West land grab. Oligarchs gobbled up key sectors of the economy protected by their own private armies as Yetsin averted his gaze or was complicit in the public looting.

Putin restored order in precisely the manner one would expect from a KGB agent. He was ruthless and relentless. He didn’t challenge all the oligarchs only those who used their wealth to compete against his political dominance. When Khordokovsky supported Putin’s democratic rivals, he soon found himself in trouble with the law and now spends his time hammering stones in a labor camp, a broken and forgotten figure.

Putin is the embodiment of the Russian Brumaire, a Napoleon there to restore order, but who violates all of the democratic principles that brought him to power in the first place. His government is organized to promote stability. After all, he has argued the Russian people respect a strong leader.

While he is unquestionably a political figure different from Stalin and his Soviet successors, he is by no means either a democratic proponent or a benevolent autocrat. He presides over a still vast nation with seemingly intractable problems. Russian citizens, for example, have a life expectancy that is in continual decline, the only western nation in this predicament.

American foreign policy analysts are inclined to give Putin the benefit of the doubt suggesting it is better to have his brand of dictatorship than instability. Alas, there is some truth to this contention. Russian intelligence services, eager to ferret out Chechnyan Muslim terrorists, have also worked closely with their counterparts in the U.S. on actions against international terrorism.

But that is only part of a complex story. Putin realizes that the only way to forestall democratic impulses already evident in nearby Ukraine and counter American influence in Asia is to sign a mutual defense pact with China and, this year, engage in joint military exercises. Dictators tend to find like-minded conditions in fellow dictators.

There are many reasons to believe this relationship is unsustainable including border disputes, competition for resources and the growing Chinese population in Siberia. At the moment, however, it is a dangerous challenge to American interests and poses a threat to a U.S. defense of Taiwan should an attack be launched from the mainland.

This China card is an insurance policy for Putin which gives him credibility at home and influence abroad. For the U.S. it is a danger sign that must be thwarted.

At this juncture, the U.S. has some leverage over the Russians because of trade, foreign investment and the development of the still immature oil industry. It is incumbent on President Bush to speak plainly and directly to the man he claims to understand. Russian interests, needless to say, may not be consonant with those of the Bush administration, but when they are in conflict, diplomatic pressure must be exerted.

It is time for Bush to address Putin the way Reagan spoke to Gorbachev in Reykjavik. Just as there must be a “stick” for challenging U.S. interests, there should also be a “carrot” for embracing political openness and liberalization. In the long run, Russian’s future as a European entrant is dependent on democratization.

Enter Bonhoeffer: The Letters and Papers from Prison

Many TRC readers know that I'm powering my way through a massive pile of books in preparation for my doctoral prelims. The next book on the list is Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison. My only previous encounter with this book had to do with my sister's wedding. She asked that I do a reading, so I consulted the very knowledgeable Ralph Wood (religion and literature) scholar at Baylor. He recommended the wedding sermon from a prison cell, which was perfect:

As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

Not a popular sentiment today, but a true one, I think.

In any case, I am going to find out just what the soon-to-be hanged 39 year old Lutheran thought he was doing when he resisted Hitler in Germany's churches and then joined a plot to assassinate him. I do know that he met his finish believing it was just the beginning.

I'd love to see comments or insights from anyone who has read the Rev. Bonhoeffer.

He Gets Scooter, And Cuter All The Time

Here's yet another column written in the dark with little beads of perspiration driving me slowly insane.

It's a light-hearted but true-to-life analysis of the Libby case, analyzing those elements in human nature that lead people to damage themselves more in the interrogation process than in the original matter under investigation.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The New Baylor Pres. Speaks

In an interview with the Waco Tribune-Herald, new Baylor president John Lilley gave the answer that shows he's on board with the university's vision. Here's the relevant exchange:

Q: Here at Baylor, there have been a couple of issues that have been controversial for faculty and others. One is the integration of faith and learning. What do you see as the proper roles for those?

A: Well, the whole issue of Baylor's intention of holding a Christian university in a Baptist tradition, that's at the heart of what Baylor is. In the history of this country, almost all the private schools of any age were founded by churches, and very few of them remain. Most have simply become really outstanding private universities or colleges. And so that was a decision that someone along the way made. And our regents have made the decision, as confirmed by the faculty senate, that Baylor will be intentional about being a Christian university. And Baylor will work at it, as it were. As far as how to do that, where there are disagreements – well, let's rejoice over the agreements, then focus on the disagreements and see how we can work through those. And so it's just kind of a common-sense approach for recognizing, as I said earlier, that the faculty are the heart of this operation. And we have to be unified. Now that's not some false unity, that's genuine unity. I'm confident we can work though theses issues. My impression is that interim president Underwood has been working steadily on them. And I know no one would be happier about a common understanding than Chancellor Robert Sloan.

Looks like Baylor is in good hands. It's also a very good sign that Lilley doesn't run away from association with Robert Sloan.

And Wilma Said "Let There Be Dark..."

Thirteen days after Hurricane Wilma, and Florida Power and Light happily reports on its website that they have restored power to 92 percent of the 3.2 million customers originally affected.

So how unlucky do I (and most of my neighborhood in North Miami Beach) have to be to bottom-feed here in these last 8 percent of unfortunates?

13 days in the dark and counting....

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Say It Ain't So, Joe

You did it to Clinton, too?

(We will assume from here on in that it's the real Joe Trippi corresponding with us [see below]. I'm finding my own search for plausible deniabilities at being taken in by some internet troll redundant and tiresome meself.)

I think Joe Trippi smells a winner in using the Elkridge issue against Michael Steele, and as he's a professional political consultant, I can't blame him for not wanting to let it go. But it's still what Black folks call "tomming" (as in "Uncle Tom").

I don't buy that it's about right and wrong here: it's about partisan advantage, despite Mr. Trippi's protestions, reprinted below.

Unless the (planned?) Elkridge attack ads tell the whole story, as in "Democrats have rented the hall at the all-white Elkridge Country Club, but Michael Steele's lack of concern about the Republicans doing it too makes him unqualified to be the next governor of Maryland," then I think it's race-based demagoguery.

I also find Mr. Trippi's new report of the 1992 campaign rhetoric against Bill Clinton, tying his playing golf at an all-white club with Arkansas' failure to pass civil rights legislation, as misleading and heinous, and sinking him deeper.

Even as an unsympathetic Republican, I would consider linking the two as an insult to my or anyone else's intelligence. And to return to his original quote, I still find Mr. Trippi's use of "obvious", "civil rights" and "discrimination" in reference to Elkridge as partisan, race-baiting claptrap.

(Unless Mr. Trippi's Democrat client condemned his fellow Democrats at the time for doing it, too. Then it would be very cool, fair game, and even highly principled. I might even vote for such a guy meself.)

With that said, Mr. Trippi's latest response appears prominently (unedited, too), as promised:

Tom -- I am really not trying to have a partisan argument about this -- in the 1992 Presidential Primary I ran an advertisement against Bill Clinton for his golfing outing at a restricted all white country club -- the operative language in the spot if I remember it correctly was "While Bill Clinton plays golf at a restricted all white country club, Arkansas remains one of two states that has never passed the civil rights act"

I appreciate your cynical view of me trying to use blurry language -- but I swear I spent maybe 5 minutes on the call with the reporter who said he was on deadline and just blurted out that throwing oreos and calling anyone an Uncle Tom was dispicable and repugnant.

Now on to Elkridge -- Just because Erhlich and other leading Democrats may have used the place doesn't make it right.

Even if every politician in the state used the place that would not make it right.

Now we can have a debate or discussion about why I think its wrong and Steele isn't bothered by it. That obviously is a difference of opinion that reasonable people can have an open discourse about. How much you want to bet that within a year Elkridge opens its doors to an African American member?

(That would be cool.---TVD)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Christianity Today on Baylor's New President

Because Christianity Today's weblog doesn't isolate individual blog topics, I'll reproduce their post in full for your convenience:

Baylor's new president

Those of you who have watched the Battle for Baylor will be interested to learn that the university has a new president. It's John Lilley, who previously led the University of Nevada at Reno and Pennsylvania State University-Erie. He's a Baylor grad, but perhaps not a Baptist. In Erie, he was a ruling elder of the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, a PCUSA church. But the Baylor press release says "While a student at Baylor and USC, Dr. Lilley, a licensed Baptist minister, served as minister of music at two Baptist churches." He told today's press conference that he'll be attending First Baptist.

Weblog doesn't know much about him, but it's worth noting that Hunter Baker, who has written on Baylor fights for Christianity Today, says, "He will be in favor of the faith-learning integration project already underway and will continue on the path to making Baylor a true research university."

Also, it's worth noting that the BaylorFans message board, largely populated by the kinds of people who thought that former Baylor president Robert Sloan was a "fundamentalist" bent on destroying the university, is generally upset with the appointment.

So it sounds like good news. But we'll withhold judgment until we can actually do some reporting on this.

Just to be clear, CT misquoted me slightly. I prefaced the remark above by saying it was based on what I've heard so far from scattered sources. Nevertheless, I've seen the new president's first press conference and thought it was great stuff. The board seems to have unearthed a gem. I liked what John Lilley had to say very much.

Now, let's see what he does about picking a Provost.

The Reform Club Loves Joe Trippi

...and he loves us back, I think. More on that later.

Our hearts were quite atwitter at receiving the already-legendary Joe Trippi's form letters setting the record straight about The Washington Times quoting him out of context (and they did), and then praising blogs in general for their fairmindedness. (BTW, Arnold Schwarzenegger called me today about next Tuesday's election. Well, his pre-recorded voice did, anyway.)

But Joe sent a personalized reply to the post below this one (at least I think it's the real you, Joe), and I'm far more stoked than if it were the real live Arnold, even. He's big, but I consider you a giant.

To business, then:

Without doing a line-by-line fisking, my take was that Joe Trippi had used ambiguous language about the race-sliming of Republican Michael Steele in order to keep alive the demagoguery about a GOP fundraiser at the all-white Elkridge Country Club.

Joe Trippi (?) replies:
"...I am against the Democrats using the place as well..."

That's cool, Joe. Very principled.

But according to joetrippi.com (and we can safely assume that's really you, Joe Trippi):

"I said that civil rights and discrimination were obvious issues that mattered and that there was a diference “between stating the obvious and calling someone names” — and used a recent controversy over a fundraiser for Gov. Ehrlich as an example of something that was obviously an issue and not name calling."

This says to me you intend to make Elkridge Country Club a campaign issue.

In my opinion, you used overly clever language ("obvious," and in your rebuttal, "civil rights" and "discrimination") and got bit in the butt when the reporter didn't understand your subtle search for plausible deniability, and by me when you showed your hand about Elkridge.

If Democrats also held functions at Elkridge, then I find damning Michael Steele's defense of the GOP using the facility as disingenuous, and contrary to any spirit of fairmindedness.

That is my point, why I think you got caught up in the race-related cookie jar and why my sympathy at your quote being misused is, sadly, severely diminished.

"...as for them trying to recruit African American members? Call me when they actually make an African American a member."

A secondary point, and I'll yield it for the sake of discussion. And I don't think your cynicism is misplaced.

But the question remains, Joe Trippi: Will Elkridge be used as campaign fodder against Michael Steele? I find it unfair, and without honor.

The putative Joe Trippi concludes:

"My larger point was that this is actually something that you and I and others can debate without the ugly and repugnant racial slurs and name calling. I believe that the blogosphere is a place that lets us have the conversation -- that is why I stopped by -- because I can promise you one thing -- there are a ton of people who read what the Washington Times reported -- and a ton of emails spreading the falsehood -- and there is no amount of posting on this blog that will undo the damage.


Well, we're willing to help, Joe Trippi. And the door's open anytime for conversation without the ugly and the repugnant, although I'll understand if you're too busy. My admiration for your vision and skill at modern communication was sincere, and you deserve your place in the game.

(If you feel I've mischaracterized anything, your rebuttal will be featured prominently. If not, I hope we've heard the last of Elkridge.)

Squeaky Wheel Time

Hey, Joe Trippi, thanks for stopping by and for the nice words. (If you are Joe Trippi. If you're not Joe Trippi, then my apologies, Joe Trippi.) But Joe Trippi, wherever you may be, I've got a quibble, if I may.

You definitely appear to be taken out of context on the "oreo" thing, but your hand was already in the cookie jar, trying to snatch some political capital out of the GOP fundraiser at the all-white Elkridge Country Club.

According to The Hedgehog Report blog, Democrats have held fundraisers there, too. It seems there's no deeper involvement with the club than renting the hall. Hedgehog also notes that the club has tried to recruit Black members. (I apologize for the second-hand sourcing, but the original links have disappeared.)

Sorry, Joe Trippi. The underlying truth appears to be neither "obvious" nor a question of "civil rights." (I do hope I'm quoting you accurately.)

But it's cool, because it's all in the game, Joe Trippi. Keep going to the race well until it comes up dry. You're a playa, and I mean that sincerely; mad props for your prompt blog damage control alone. Are there any more at home like you? The GOP could use a few hundred.

No wonder you got Howard Dean as far as you did---you're a 21st century animal, a creature of the internet, and I'd hire you in a Vermont minute, Joe Trippi. Respekt.

French Muslim Conditions

Commenter James Elliott quite correctly observes that there was significant French prejudice toward Muslims throughout much of the twentieth century. Since the rise of multiculturalism beginning in the past quarter-century, however, the idea has basically been to allow subcultures, including those of Islam, to flourish with no effort made to assimilate them into the broader society. That policy, along with the aforementioned economic and law-enforcement situation, has worked to isolate and radicalize France's Muslim population.

The important question is, what to do now. It appears to me that economic and criminal-justice reforms are urgently needed in France, not just for Muslims but for all the French, and that the inculcation of a shared French culture must begin forthwith. These measures may very possibly not suffice to create a decent and encouraging environment for French Muslims, but without them, things will only get increasingly worse.

It also seems obvious that the confluence of policies that brought about the current situation in France is something for the United States and other nations strenuously to avoid.

The Trippi Effect

Feeling woozy. Just read Joe Trippi's latest comments on our blog.

Charm . . . offensive . . . working . . . Losing . . .touch . . .with . . .reality.

Need . . . to . . . watch . . . Michael . . . Moore . . . propaganda . . . to . . . stimulate . . . antagonism . . .

necessary . . .

for . . .

blogging . . .

Start . . .

D . . .

V . . .

D . . .

r . . .

Understanding the Living Constitution

Follow this link. It's worth your time. A nice little laugh awaits you with regard to the left-wing love of the Living Constitution.

French Riots—A Wakeup Call

One could have been forgiven, at first, for thinking that the riots in the suburbs of Paris—which have blazed for more than a week but seem to have died down recently—were the work of bored French teenagers. News reports downplayed—cynics will substitute the word suppressed—the fact that the rioters were Muslims. The riots arose as a result of the deaths of two youths being chased by police on Oct. 27; the boys were electrocuted while hiding in an electric power substation.

The riots were severe. Today's AP report notes,

In the troubled region of Seine-Saint-Denis northeast of the capital, arson attacks destroyed 187 vehicles and five buildings, including three sprawling warehouses, said the region's top government official, Prefect Jean-Francois Cordet.

However, Cordet said in a statement that police reported seeing fewer large groups of youths rioting and, "contrary to the previous nights, there were fewer direct clashes with the forces of order."

A commuter train line that links Paris to Charles de Gaulle airport northeast of the capital was still running a scaled-back service Friday after two trains were targeted Wednesday night. The SNCF train authority said one in five trains was running and conductors of night trains were demanding onboard security.

Youths fired buckshot at riot police vehicles in Neuilly-sur-Marne, further east, and a group of 30 to 40 harassed police near a synagogue in Stains where a city bus was torched and a school classroom partially burned, said Cordet.

A bus depot was set on fire to the west of Paris in the town of Trappes, incinerating 27 buses, authorities said.

The unrest was scaled-back from the sometimes ferocious rioting of previous nights. In overnight clashes Wednesday, rioters in three towns fired live bullets at police and firefighters, none of whom were injured.

The AP story ends with a brief reference to what is behind the riots:

The rioting has grown into a broader challenge for the French state. It has laid bare discontent simmering in suburbs that are heavily populated by poor African Muslim immigrants and their French-born children, many trapped by poverty, crime and poor education.

France's Muslim population, an estimated 5 million, is Western Europe's largest. But rather than being embraced as equal citizens, immigrants and children often complain of police harassment and job discrimination.

The discontent to which the article refers had been "laid bare" long ago, but alas both the French and the rest of the Western governments have been firm about ignoring it. Muslim immigrants in France and the rest of Europe have shown little interest in integrating with their host cultures, as is well known. However, those who have citizenship in their host countries (either by birth or naturalization) have a real grievance against any persons or institutions that have shown prejudice toward them, and fair treatment and equal opportunities for all citizens are necessary elements of a decent society. It has been especially stupid and contemptible for the French and other European governments to have failed to educate these children well and at least attempt to inculcate in them the principles behind their nations' social order. That is one of the sad consequences of the doctrine of multiculturalism.

It is is important to note, however, that European Muslims have been adamant about having it both ways: receiving the better economic opportunities the West offers, while rejecting the culture that fosters those opportunities. As a result, they have received neither. An even bigger factor in the discontent, however, is the current condition of European governments. The European welfare states severely limit economic opportunities, especially for those lowest on the social ladder, and they pay people to be idle. And we all know who loves to employ idle hands. In addition, sympathy for the underprivileged (and a decline in the philosophical belief in freedom of the will) has made European court systems highly reluctant to punish criminals—which means, leaving aside debates about deterrence, that unnumbered dangerous miscreants remain on the streets to terrorize the general population. As the psychologist Theodore Dalrymple noted three years ago in a brilliant and terrifying article in City Journal (Autumn 2002),

The laxisme of the French criminal justice system is now notorious. Judges often make remarks indicating their sympathy for the criminals they are trying (based upon the usual generalizations about how society, not the criminal, is to blame); and the day before I witnessed the scene on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, 8,000 police had marched to protest the release from prison on bail of an infamous career armed robber and suspected murderer before his trial for yet another armed robbery, in the course of which he shot someone in the head. Out on bail before this trial, he then burgled a house. Surprised by the police, he and his accomplices shot two of them dead and seriously wounded a third. He was also under strong suspicion of having committed a quadruple murder a few days previously, in which a couple who owned a restaurant, and two of their employees, were shot dead in front of the owners’ nine-year-old daughter.

As a result of these factors, Europe's Muslim communities have become seething cauldrons of resentment and hate, and criminality is rampant. That is by no means even the slightest exaggeration. Dalyrymple writes,

The official figures for this upsurge, doctored as they no doubt are, are sufficiently alarming. Reported crime in France has risen from 600,000 annually in 1959 to 4 million today, while the population has grown by less than 20 percent (and many think today’s crime number is an underestimate by at least a half). In 2000, one crime was reported for every sixth inhabitant of Paris, and the rate has increased by at least 10 percent a year for the last five years. Reported cases of arson in France have increased 2,500 percent in seven years, from 1,168 in 1993 to 29,192 in 2000; robbery with violence rose by 15.8 percent between 1999 and 2000, and 44.5 percent since 1996 (itself no golden age).

Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants and a smattering of the least successful members of the French working class. From these projects, the excellence of the French public transport system ensures that the most fashionable arrondissements are within easy reach of the most inveterate thief and vandal.

Dalrymple describes the mentality prevalent among young people in these housing projects:

A kind of anti-society has grown up in them—a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, “official,” society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust—greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years—is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them. . . .

Antagonism toward the police might appear understandable, but the conduct of the young inhabitants of the cités toward the firemen who come to rescue them from the fires that they have themselves started gives a dismaying glimpse into the depth of their hatred for mainstream society. They greet the admirable firemen (whose motto is Sauver ou périr, save or perish) with Molotov cocktails and hails of stones when they arrive on their mission of mercy, so that armored vehicles frequently have to protect the fire engines.

Benevolence inflames the anger of the young men of the cités as much as repression, because their rage is inseparable from their being. Ambulance men who take away a young man injured in an incident routinely find themselves surrounded by the man’s “friends,” and jostled, jeered at, and threatened: behavior that, according to one doctor I met, continues right into the hospital, even as the friends demand that their associate should be treated at once, before others.

Dalrymple notes that the problems are likely to become worse, not better, unless the French change their ways of thinking entirely:

Whether France was wise to have permitted the mass immigration of people culturally very different from its own population to solve a temporary labor shortage and to assuage its own abstract liberal conscience is disputable: there are now an estimated 8 or 9 million people of North and West African origin in France, twice the number in 1975—and at least 5 million of them are Muslims. Demographic projections (though projections are not predictions) suggest that their descendants will number 35 million before this century is out, more than a third of the likely total population of France.

Indisputably, however, France has handled the resultant situation in the worst possible way. Unless it assimilates these millions successfully, its future will be grim. But it has separated and isolated immigrants and their descendants geographically into dehumanizing ghettos; it has pursued economic policies to promote unemployment and create dependence among them, with all the inevitable psychological consequences; it has flattered the repellent and worthless culture that they have developed; and it has withdrawn the protection of the law from them, allowing them to create their own lawless order.

Perhaps the riots will serve as a wakeup call to France and other Western governments, finally convincing them that the creation of alien, oppressed subcultures within their national borders is a recipe for social catastrophe.

But perhaps not. Given their actions so far, the Western governments seem to be extremely slow learners in this regard.

Missus Steed Misdeed

Day 12 without electricity here in Miami, and a mind trapped inside a dank, dark environment is a terrible thing.

That intro might shed some light (only metaphorically, I'm sad to say) on why I spent much of yesterday pondering the Steed case.

Steed is the Utah judge being removed from the bench because he has three wives. His lawyer is arguing that the statute against polygamy is rarely enforced and in any case it is a victimless crime.

That argument might sway me if we were talking about a one-time lapse such as engaging the services of a prostitute in a jurisdiction that proscribes that activity by law. But to maintain a long-term modus vivendi that is illegal strikes me as utterly contradictory to the notion of judging one's fellow citizens on their compliance with the law.

Incidentally, I have no problem with individual jurisdictions permitting polygamy, a practice that has no immoral element whether judged by reason or Revelation. However, this judge's particular case is completely anti-Biblical: he is married to three sisters in violation of Leviticus 18:18.

This Headline Is No Joke

Kudos to P. David Hornik for this must-read update on the security situation in Israel after the unilateral gift of Gaza to... the terrorists.

What an absolute nightmare!

The Sun Rises In the West

Man bites dog. Water flows uphill. George W. Bush vetoes some pork. Hungry children wait patiently for the insurance salesman to leave. And the latest: A jury—in New Jersey no less—gets it right.

No, really. Merck has just been vindicated completely in the second Vioxx case, without nuance, qualification, or conditional subparagraphs attendant upon article A, clause 4, section f(ii), subsection d(5)(j)(14)(b). And so at least for today, America will not take from the children and give to the lawyers.

Charting A New Course

My editor-in-chief, the great R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., was on the short guest list for Charles and Camilla's state dinner at the White House the other night. The published menu included this gem: chartreuse ice cream. It was an eye chart-reuse moment before I could absorb the words.

Will one of you sophisticates please help out a Miami rube: what the bleep is chartreuse ice cream?

Scouting for General Laughin' Yet

Intrepid and plucky Reform Clubber Jay Homnick, who post-Hurricane Rita is thinking of moving to Baghdad to take advantage of the superior muncipal services, has managed through who knows what combination of hook, crook, and Coleman gasoline generator, to write another article for the American Spectator. He counsels our leaders to use humor, and tells three really bad jokes.

I'm gratified to see he has kept his sense of humor; stuck in a house in Miami with no electricity for the foreseeable future, he's gonna need it.

Joe Frickin' TRIPPI Blogged Here

Knock me over with a feather. Just so nobody misses it, you can go down to the post about Maryland Democrats and Lt. Governor Michael Steele. Trippi appears to have been the victim of some pretty aggressively interpretive reportage. First, Newsweek, now Joe Trippi.

Howard Dean, are we gonna have to write something questionable about you to get you to visit the Reform Club?!!!

Baylor Resolution: New President

I made no secret that I would have liked to have seen Robert Sloan return to the Baylor presidency to finish what he started, but it looks like the board has replaced the interim with a completely new candidate or is just about to do so.

The new president will be John Lilley, who is currently president of the University of Nevada-Reno. Based on what I've heard in scattered information, he will be in favor of the faith-learning integration project already underway and will continue on the path to making Baylor a true research university.

He is an older man, in his mid to late 60's, I think, and may well be a transitional figure. Some wonder whether Union University's David Dockery will eventually become president of Baylor.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Maryland Democrats Wake Up and Smell the Black Coffee

Update: Sincere thanks to Mr. Joseph P. Trippi for stopping by our comments section and giving us the opportunity to correct an error made by the Washington Times and relayed by us. Mr. Trippi does not condone the use of racial epithets and confectionary missiles in political debate. The Washington Times has issued a correction. We do likewise, apologize for the misunderstanding, and are genuinely happy to learn that the Maryland Democratic Party's roster of jerks has one fewer member than previously thought.

However, I cannot accept Mr. Trippi's associated charge that the Washington Times's error was the result of a conservative political agenda. The Times reporter seems to have made an honest, if sloppy, editing error, and his editors were quick to correct the record. This behavior compares quite favorably with the New York Times, which cannot after weeks of controversy manage to adequately correct factual misstatements appearing on its Op-Ed page, despite a clear stated policy and the apparently sincere efforts of both Gail Collins and Byron Calame.

In a followup to Tom's post of yesterday, highlighting the idiotic and offensive statements of a number of Maryland Democrats in defense of a series of racial insults and battery-by-Nabisco directed at Republican Lt. Gov. and Senate candidate Michael Steele, I'm happy to report that the state party seems to have a few members whose elevators still travel to the top floor. In particular, Senate candidate and former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume distanced himself from remarks made by his spokesman, Joe Trippi (yes, that Joe Trippi), who had characterized pelting Mr. Steele with Oreo cookies as an example of "pointing out the obvious."

Martin O'Malley (who is also running in the Senate primary and may therefore find himself on the wrong end of a Trippi-launched Rice Krispies Treat barrage before next spring), intoned "If there are criticisms to be leveled, they should be leveled on issues." I agree, Mayor O'Malley. Let's get down to issues. An examination of the fortunes of the black Baltimore underclass under the forty-year leadership of the Democratic Party would bring to light a number of issues that might fairly be addressed. Pass the milk.