Saturday, December 24, 2005

Different Translation

Just as an educational tool, I thought it would be instructive to copy here from the most commonly used translation in synagogues. This is based mostly on the commentary of Rashi (1035-1105), which is considered authoritative. Rashi generally culls his explanations from the Midrash, a collaborative commentary that precedes the Talmud; it's about 1800 years old.

In the beginning of God's creating the heavens and the earth -- when the earth was astonishingly empty, with darkness upon the surface of the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the waters -- God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated between the light and the darkness.

God called to the light: "Day," and to the darkness He called: "Night." And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

The rest is about the same. But there are some key differences in that opening passage.

(I should add that the translation of "Divine Presence" is interpretive. The Hebrew words are more correctly rendered as "the Spirit of God", which Anders used.)

Where All Men are at Home

A Christmas poem from one of The Reform Club's patron saints:

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

G.K. Chesterton, The House of Christmas

Many thanks to my good friend Brenda B. of Crazy Stable for bringing this lovely poem back to mind. May of all of us who are homeless -- that is, all of us here -- put our peace in the possible impossible things and find home in the coming year.

This Is Most Certainly True

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
—Luke 2:1-20

Merry Christmas to all, and may God bless you with truth, understanding, and above all, love.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men

It's getting to be an inside joke among those who don't really believe that there's anything Higher, Greater, and Kinder than ourselves to wish each other Io Saturnalia. I just can't get behind it: the costumes are tacky and the songs are terrible.

To my fellows of The Reform Club, thank you for taking me into your midst; it was the best present I could have received, and my warmest regards of the season. To our regular and irregular readers, your comments are always gelt. And to our friends who hang around like Billy Bob Thornton in The Apostle, I hope someday one of us can help you find what you're looking for.

So, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all.

It was on Christmas Eve 1968 that the astronauts of Apollo 8, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, became the first of mankind to see an earthrise from the orbit of the moon, and looking back on us, they spoke these words:

Anders: "We are now approaching lunar sunrise. And, for all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 have a message that we would like to send to you...

"In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness."

Lovell: "And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Borman: "And God said, Let the waters under the Heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas: and God saw that it was good."

And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth."

It is good. God bless us, every one.

Another Success of Adult Stem Cells

Singer Don Ho has had great improvement in his heart function as a result of an experimental procedure that used his own stem cells, AP reports:

"I'm feeling terrific, 100 percent better," Ho told The Associated Press in one of his first interviews since surgery Dec. 6. "I'm ready to go, but I've got to listen to the doctors.

"When they say my heart is strong enough to get excited, I'm on."

The 75-year-old singer underwent a new treatment that hasn't been approved in the United States. It involves multiplying stem cells taken from his blood and injecting them into his heart in hopes of strengthening it.

"It was my last hope," said Ho, who suffers from nonischemic cardiomyopathy — a weakened heart muscle not due to blockages in the coronary arteries.

The experimental procedure he underwent was developed by TheraVitae Co., which has offices in Thailand and laboratories in Israel, where Ho's stem cells were sent to be multiplied. The therapy was supervised by Dr. Amit Patel, a heart surgeon from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

This is just another of the many impressive healings achieved by doctors using adult stem cells.

Clone Stranger

After weeks of increasing suspicion directed at Seoul National University researcher Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk, his resignation from the university was announced today. Dr. Hwang has for years been in the forefront of the media publicity storm accompanying mammalian cloning: supporters hailed such advances as cloned puppies and cloned human embryos created for the purposed of yielding stem cells for therapeutics. In addition to his position at SNU, he was the head of South Korea's Stem Cell Hub project until earlier this month, when he resigned amid allegations of improprieties in the process used to obtain human eggs from young women. Now not just the most current work, in which Dr. Hwang and his colleagues claimed to have created personalized embryonic stem cell lines for individual patients, is under question. The entire output of the South Korean stem cell research juggernaut will have to be taken apart and reexamined, bit by bit, by independent researchers, before any of it is admitted back into the universe of demonstrated scientific results.

The South Korean project has often been used as a stick with which to beat American government policy towards embryonic stem cell research: If only we had government funding, look what we could do! The rest of the world will leave us in the dust. These fundie cranks are standing in the way of reason and progress. Phooey. The scientific establishment should be ashamed this morning that, as Dr. Hwang's gang racked up paper after peer-reviewed paper, the only questions that were raised about his work came from people the press labelled as religious nuts and anti-rational Luddites.

For my part, I was suspicious of the whole enterprise the moment I laid eyes on Snuppy. Faced with a choice of over 200 dog breeds, an eminent scientist clones an Afghan hound? If you ranked dogs by intelligence an Afghan hound would place somewhere between a cicada and a head of cabbage.

Obituaries 2005

This is just an utterly amazing resource to remind us of notables who passed on in 2005. Kudos to the gentleman who compiled this staggering body of work. The sheer mass of information is a wonder.

I suspect you'll want to visit this compendium a few times between now and Jan. 2. Dig in. Laugh a little, cry a little.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Jack In The Box

Jack Kevorkian was denied parole, this despite evidence to the effect that his medical condition is grave.

Well, I'm with the Bard on this one. I say that the quality of mercy is never strained. Especially in the holiday season.

So let's show Jack some real mercy and kill him off painlessly.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Full of Joy, See?

There is nothing funny about the linked article, is there?

It's just a straightforward report about the strenuous effort being put forth by the state of New Jersey to convince people to stop avoiding a visit. It's a wonderful place to be; there is no reason to stay away. That's not funny at all.

Except this. The dateline is Philadelphia. Yep, the reporter wouldn't cross the state line. He filed the story from Pennsylvania.

Tom Van Dyke on Washington, Du Bois, and African-American Prospects

As Hunter Baker has done below, I, too, wish to commend Tom Van Dyke for bringing forth a discussion of Booker T. Washington, a man whose thought has been insufficiently appreciated. I invite you to look at Tom's posts below and investigate the writings he mentions. To me, Booker T. Washington is an intellectual hero, and I am highly impressed with Tom's thoughtful assessment of the man and the controversies his ideas created.

Thanks, Tom.

TV Watch!

Our friend Spencer Warren sent us a reminder that Turner Classic Movies is presenting a very special film tonight:

Tonight Turner Classic Movies at 9.30 pm. is presenting the restored classic Western, Seven Men from Now, made in 1956 with the leading Western icon Randolph Scott and directed by Budd Boetticher. This film has not been seen on TV in decades. Readers who wish to gain moral sustenance and inspiration from this product of a Western civilization and popular culture when they still were vital should tune in.

In the later 1950's, Scott and Boetticher made seven modest Westerns, little noticed at the time. Today, Seven Men from Now, Ride Lonesome (1959) and Comanche Station (1960) are widely considered three of the greatest Westerns ever made. No films dramatize more powerfully the Western hero as knightly man of honor -- a man who forsakes personal happiness out of loyalty to the code of doing what is right. Seven Men from Now also has a scene (around the wagon) which is a masterpiece of understated, allusive eroticism -- possible only in a society that upheld and venerated moral self-restraint.

Readers who identify the Western only with the medicore—cinematically and morally—Clint Eastwood owe it to themselves to see this masterpiece. Those who are interested in the context of this film can read Spencer Warren's article, "Rediscovering the Classic Western," here, and his discussion of the greatest Westerns, here. (The last two [films] listed date from 1962 -- just before the cataclysm of the 1960's began.)

Spencer Warren is correct about the high quality of these films, and I am delighted to inform you of tonight's showing and grateful to Spencer for suggesting that I do so.

Let 'er Man The Torpedo?

Top ten reasons why not to give this chick a restraining order:

10. A flying saucer is not a legal address.
9. A secret decoder ring cannot double as an engagement ring.
8. If she wants the password to break the spell, all she has to do is watch Leno.
7. Helping a misfit survive is against evolution, and by definition un-Constitutional.
6. She can't read code for beans; he's actually sending atomic secrets to the Chinese.
5. That's not David Letterman signaling her; it's an alien who lives in her TV.
4. You can stop Letterman, but who will stop the CBS eye?
3. If she's still up at 11:30, then she's not taking her pills.
2. Letterman lives in New York, so the Federal government lacks jurisdiction.
1. David Letterman cannot be restrained.

Don't Miss Van Dyke on Race Below

I just realized that Tom Van Dyke gave us a thoughtful post (requiring a little actual work) on the race issue below and didn't want it to go unnoticed under a hail of other stuff. Just scroll down and take it in.

Evolution, Textbook Stickers, and Public Reason

Joseph Knippenberg of Oglethorpe University has been increasing his profile lately, first through the Ashbrook Center's blog "No Left Turns" and more recently as a columnist for The American Enterprise. Dr. Knippenberg's recent piece for TAE on the Cobb County textbook controversy shows why his work is becoming better known. He has the unusual knack of actually informing through opinion pieces.

I'd give you a snippet, but it just wouldn't do justice to the overall argument. As Instapundit likes to say, "Read the whole thing." You'll come out understanding religion in the public square a bit better than you did before.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fetter All Logic

In a triumph of dispassionate, clear-eyed jurisprudence, a Federal judge in Pennsylvania decided today that a country whose Declaration of Independence cites inalienable rights bestowed by Nature's Creator has a Constitution that precludes the suggestion in a science class that Nature appears, in the view of some, to be sufficiently complex as to evidence creation by some higher intelligence. And right he is: there can be no higher intelligence than a Federal judge.

In response, The American Spectator is hosting some reflections by your humble servant. They will be available to the wider readership at midnight; our Club members get to peek.

A glimmer:

I approach the issue of random evolution vs. designed development as more than a judgment call one way or the other. It is not enough to say that design is a more likely scenario to explain a world full of well-designed things. It strikes me as urgent to insist that you not allow your mind to surrender the absolute clarity that all complex and magnificent things were made that way. Once you allow the intellect to consider that an elaborate organism with trillions of microscopic interactive components can be an accident, you are in a menagerie of bizarrerie; you have essentially "lost your mind" as a tool that operates and defines within recognizable parameters...

OK, What Am I Missing?

Head above water, temporarily; only one last paper to finish this year. Just read---sorry, I'm a couple of weeks behind everything right now---that Harvard and Georgetown have accepted a ton of cash from some Saudi potentate for Islamic studies, or something. Can that possibly be true? These are universities that now are trying to get the Solomon Amendment thrown out, on the grounds that allowing those evil military recruiters on campus, with their "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" bigotries, would eviscerate the universities' free speech rights. Or something; they just can't say "No" to all that federal money. Anyway, at the same time that they make that utterly hypocritical argument, they accept tens of millions from the Saudis, who are happy to behead anyone who comes out of the closet. The modern university: Diversity in all avenues of shamelessness. Monty Python lives.


"The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing."

It was for these words at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta that Booker T. Washington was tommed (although the term hadn't been invented yet), and a lifetime of vision and work toward making Black equality in America a reality was lost, perhaps forever.

For the thirty years since emancipation, Washington and his Tuskegee Institute had perfected a blueprint for the full assimilation of the Black man into American society. Washington, correctly and eerily, foresaw that unless he came into his own with tools and skills and good living, the Black man (who had been "freed" with only the clothes on his back) would remain resented by white society, both for his economic dependence and, in his plight, as a reminder of the shame of slavery and the failure of reconstruction.

In a deal with the Democrat south, the Republicans had ended reconstruction in return for Rutherford B. Hayes' ascension to the presidency in the dead-heat 1876 election. Without the presence of Union troops, Jim Crow, the systemization and institutionalization of the segregation and marginalization of Black America, began, and all of white America was in on it, either actively or tacitly.

By the time of Washington's Atlanta "exposition" of Black progress, Homer Plessy had already been arrested in 1892 for being in a "white" rail car, and Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decision that enshrined Jim Crow into law, was only a year away. Washington asked white America to "cast down your bucket where you are" and hire America's Blacks (instead of white immigrants), who had to their credit, largely kept the peace in the postwar south. But it was not to be. Jim Crow, the lynchings, all of it, grew worse, not better.

W.E.B. DuBois, Harvard's first Black Ph.D., although initially sympathetic, correctly labeled the speech the "Atlanta Compromise" and by 1903 had written in The Souls of Black Folk:

Mr. Washington’s programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races. Again, in our own land, the reaction from the sentiment of war time has given impetus to race-prejudice against Negroes, and Mr. Washington withdraws many of the high demands of Negroes as men and American citizens... at this period a policy of submission is advocated.

In the history of nearly all other races and peoples the doctrine preached at such crises has been that manly self-respect is worth more than lands and houses, and that a people who voluntarily surrender such respect, or cease striving for it, are not worth civilizing.

For a man trained in the classics, where the pursuit of individual virtue and excellence is the highest purpose in life, DuBois could scarcely have held any other view.

To understand where we are today, add to the equation Marcus Garvey's later (1920s) demagogic Pan-Africanism and his conclusion that America would always remain a "white man's country", and it all starts to come together.

The irony is that WEB tommed Booker T., and was in turn tommed by Marcus, who in his radical way agreed with Booker T. (Later, Malcolm X was to similarly tom Martin Luther King, as Nation of Islam is a philosophical descendant of Garveyism.)

It cannot be said that either Booker T. or WEB was wrong: such is the nature of true tragedy. However, now that Black America has wrested the equality before the law that DuBois fought for, Booker T. and Black self-empowerment are shown to be the longer view, and the more stunning of the two visions. What today is agreed upon among Black Americans from Sowell to Farrakhan is that, as Washington observed in the very next sentence of that 1895 speech that ended up destroying him, "[n]o race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized."

The Achilles' heel of the visionary is that he sees too far ahead, and cannot answer the question, "What about today?" As in a dream, Booker T. Washington saw the slow train coming, but like in a nightmare, he was powerless to get us out of the way. But I shall keep up my hopes that visions do not die, that they are only postponed, and Washington will someday be forgiven his gradualism and recognized for the astonishing prophet he was.

Technology Empowers (Some) Individuals

The truth that great power brings great responsibility applies to all of us, and it is reinforced in the current The New York Times story on a natural evolution in the use of the webcam: live pornography of children and adolescents. Modern telecom technology confers great power to us very ordinary individuals, and naturally enough, that power is often used for great evil. In our modern society of easy divorce and family breakups, the young are at truly severe risk as they become instantly connected to the entire world and are vulnerable to the manipulation of wily strangers who know exactly how to use these people's insecurities to obtain their own perverse gratifications:

Justin had hooked up a Web camera to his computer, hoping to use it to meet other teenagers online. Instead, he heard only from men who chatted with him by instant message as they watched his image on the Internet. To Justin, they seemed just like friends, ready with compliments and always offering gifts.

Now, on an afternoon in 2000, one member of his audience sent a proposal: he would pay Justin $50 to sit bare-chested in front of his Webcam for three minutes. The man explained that Justin could receive the money instantly and helped him open an account on, an online payment system.

"I figured, I took off my shirt at the pool for nothing," he said recently. "So, I was kind of like, what's the difference?"

Justin removed his T-shirt. The men watching him oozed compliments.

So began the secret life of a teenager who was lured into selling images of his body on the Internet over the course of five years. From the seduction that began that day, this soccer-playing honor roll student was drawn into performing in front of the Webcam - undressing, showering, masturbating and even having sex - for an audience of more than 1,500 people who paid him, over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The power of cheap, widely distributed technology, which is of course a very good thing overall, has made this sort of activity possible and indeed common:

Not long ago, the distribution of child pornography in America was a smallish trade, relegated to back rooms and corners where even the proprietors of X-rated bookstores refused to loiter.

By the mid-1980's, however, technology had transformed the business, with pedophiles going online to communicate anonymously and post images through rudimentary bulletin board systems. As Internet use boomed in the 1990's, these adults honed their computer skills, finding advanced ways to meet online and swap illegal photos; images once hard to obtain were suddenly available with the click of a mouse.

As the decade drew to a close, according to experts and records of online conversations, these adults began openly fantasizing of the day they would be able to reach out to children directly, through instant messaging and live video, to obtain the pornography they desired.

Their dream was realized with the Web camera, which transformed online pornography the way the automobile changed transportation. . . .

By 2000, things had worked out exactly the way the pedophiles hoped. Webcams were the rage among computer-savvy minors, creating a bountiful selection of potential targets.

Through the same technology, the users can easily communicate the tricks of their appalling trade with one another, honing their skills at exploitation and providing justifications for their actions:

Not long ago, adults sexually attracted to children were largely isolated from one another. But the Internet has created a virtual community where they can readily communicate and reinforce their feelings, experts said.

Indeed, the messages they send among themselves provide not only self-justification, but also often blame minors with Webcam sites for offering temptation."

These kids are the ones being manipulative," wrote an adult who called himself Upandc in a posting this year to a bulletin board for adults attracted to children.

Or, as an adult who called himself DLW wrote: "Did a sexual predator MAKE them make a site? No. Did they decide to do it for themselves? Yes."

The central narrative of the story includes other ghastly facts, including meetings of a boy with molesters and the involvement of his father in the scheme.

These are, of course, developments that we had to expect, but the ubuquity of the phenomenon is hair-raising, and the story is a rather depressing though necessary read.

One more thing. Although we often hear tales about journalists exploiting people for a story, there are also instances of great good that people in our profession do, beyond just presenting the news. In that light, I wish to commend the author of this story, Kurt Eichenweld, for his immensely honorable actions toward the young man at the center of the narrative. Eichenweld's part in the story is not emphasized in his article, but it is quite inspiring.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Wendy Time Comes

Wendy's has decided to spin off its subsidiary, Tim Horton's, and make it into a separate company. Reading that over at Galley Slaves prompted me to write the following reminiscence:

Once, on a Sunday night about ten p.m., with three kids in the car, I got a flat somewhere between Toronto and Windsor. I got out in the freezing cold and changed the tire. But I had no full-sized spare, only the donut. I figured that I had no choice but to try to drive a hundred miles or more on the donut, perhaps stay overnight in Detroit, fix or buy a tire Monday morning.

Suddenly I get spinning cop colors in my mirror.

I pull over, puzzled; I wasn't speeding or otherwise in violation of the law.

The officer sidles up to my window and informs me that if I persist in driving three kids in a car with an inadequate tire he will have to toss me into the clink. Too dangerous."Okay, but what should I do?""Pull into this town right here and you'll see a garage at the first light. I called ahead; they're expecting you; they'll fix you up."

Every short story in an Alfred Hitchcock collection, every scary movie, echoed in my head. This was a bad dream. Oldest scam in the book. Cop pulls you into town. Garage charges you a fortune, makes you put it on your credit card. And who knows what further indignity they had in store? Sell me four tires and a new transmission for three thousand dollars? That might be getting off lightly.

In the end, all the fears were proven to be the absurd product of American faux-sophistication.

The people in the garage were nice beyond belief. They sold me a used tire that was in decent condition, and they charged me only 35 dollars (Canadian). All this at almost 11 p.m. on a brutally cold Sunday night. Just gosh-darn nice folks.

But where did the kids and I spend that half-hour while the fellas worked on the car? At the Tim Horton's that was wide open for business with a couple of super-sweet waitresses cluck-clucking over our predicament.

Who Knew?

As an alumnus of Yeshiva education, I was excited to see that Mortimer Zuckerman, the Editor of U.S. News and World Report, paid a visit to the Yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey. As you may know, that is the largest Jewish institution outside of Israel that offers a curriculum of only Jewish Studies. There are currently about 4,000 students. Yes, I was a student there for one year between the ages of 19 and 20 (not sure if they're proud of that, but I am); at the time, 1978-79, there were only a thousand students.

Here is how Zuckerman summed up the experience in an interview with American Jewish Spirit magazine.

AJS: You had the opportunity recently to visit the Lakewood Yeshiva... Can you tell us what that was like?

MZ: It was at the behest of a rabbi I study with that I went and visited the Lakewood Yeshiva. I had never been to a yeshiva before in my life and I sort of did this out of some degree of curiosity but more out of a sense of moral support for what had been such a central part of this rabbi's life. But I have to tell you, when I got there I was absolutely knocked out by it.

I will tell you that it was the single most intellectually active, energetic, fascinating environment I had ever witnessed. There was a sort of buzz and just sheer concentration and joy in the learning process and it was literally visible to somebody like myself.

I mean, I said it afterwards, it made Harvard Law School, which I happen to have attended, look like a kindergarten. It was absolutely extraordinary to see so many people - from various walks of life - in there for the sheer joy of learning about their religious tradition. And the sheer intensity and intellectual demands of this place made it such a unique place to visit.

So for me, it was absolutely a stunning experience and I wish everybody could have the chance not only to visit it but to have a guide like I did.

Booker T. and W.E.B.

I attended Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida, so I've always paid attention to anything about the man that crossed my desk.

The popular/academic assessment has been that Booker T. was an Uncle Tom willing to settle for what the white man would tolerate, while his contemporary W.E.B. Dubois was a righteous civil rights warrior.

My friends over at the excellent blog Rock, Paper, Dynamite have a nice piece aiming at rehabilitating Booker T. and showing that Dubois and he weren't polar opposites.

Sometimes, we cook up roles for historical figures because we want to prove a particular point or tell a certain story. It looks as if Booker T. has been the victim of those who wanted to tarnish his halo, while polishing Dubois'.

Dissent Helps, Not Hurts, Our Troops and Freedom in Iraq


"They want an exit strategy, a cut-and-run exit strategy. What we are for is a successful strategy," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn, according to AP.

But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: "We want to change the course. We can't stay the course."

Despite the differences, today’s developments indicate a growing willingness by Congress to probe the president’s handling of the Iraq war as the U.S. military death toll rises, public support slides, and the Iraqi resistance grows.


"It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country."

"The mistake that they made is that when they kicked out Saddam, they decided to dismantle the whole authority structure of Iraq ... We never sent enough troops and didn't have enough troops to control or seal the borders," Mr. Clinton said.

It would have been better if the U.S. had left Iraq's "fundamental military and social and police structure intact," he noted.

The current U.S. President George W. Bush has been trying recently to revive the public's fading support to his unjustified decision to invade Iraq, saying that many current critics warned that Saddam was a threat before the war started.


Rep. John Murtha, an influential House Democrat who once voted for invading Iraq called Thursday for immediately pulling out American troops from the country, a move described by analysts as another sign of growing unease in Congress about the war.

"It is time for a change in direction," Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats said, adding that the U.S. Army "is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."

Italics mine. Comfort and encouragement for the insurgent murderers to keep doing what they're doing, theirs.

The issue is not whether these Americans have the right of free speech, it's whether they are doing good in their exercise of that right. If they can question, so can I: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Listening In

I know, I know, I keep saying that I'll do a long article on this someday. But for the meantime we should keep doing the small ones.

Media folks love to deny that they practice biased reporting. Their position is refuted easily enough, merely by pointing to headlines. One needn't trouble to seek proof in the fine print of the reporting itself. It proclaims itself in big letters right up top.

This link is to the ONLY fair headline on the domestic wiretapping story. It is to the London Times, with the headline reading: Bush defends secret wiretapping of Americans.

All the American headlines have cleverly slipped in a negative tilt. Some make the President seem ominous; others paint him ludicrous. Ominous ones read something like this: Bush Backed Spying on Americans (BBC). Or: Bush Defends Secret Spying in U.S. (ABC). Ludicrous ones go like this: Bush Says Eavesdropping 'Makes America Safer' (Reuters).

Jack Anderson, RIP

Reform Clubbers have the privilege of previewing my elegiac article about Jack Anderson which will be publicly available midnight tonight at The American Spectator.

Have a swig:

Jack Anderson died Saturday at age 83. He was one of the great columnists this country has ever produced, not noteworthy for his prose but for his "relentless pursuit of the truth," to borrow Mr. Limbaugh's phrase. So much so that, much to my consternation, I have to share an observation that I prefer to reserve for cocktail parties with lots of beautiful and famous people listening.

It always amuses me to hear people, especially conservatives, speculating about the transition from the hard-bitten cynical reporters of The Front Page to the young, idealistic journalists who think they can change the world. People attribute it to the Vietnam War, to Watergate, but the truth is that it had already begun a decade or so before that with Drew Pearson and Murrow and Sevareid and some of their buddies. The real influence that created the modern American (and from here, it has spread across the world) crusading journalist was Superman.