Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fashion Consultant to the Gods

So, I'm thinking---Sam Alito definitely has the makings of an ubersexual---brilliant, kind, and obviously confident in his sexuality, but he looks like a total wienie, let's face it.



So, I thought, to achieve a consummate ubersexuality, he might spruce up a little bit. A very cool facial hair statement, sometimes called a Van Dyke, might help.


Not. Bad.

Not bad at all.


Give the man a festive shirt and a decent tan, some pixelating to lend an air of mystery, and of course, some appropriate shades:




Yeah, baby. Ladies and gentlemen, the next Supreme Court Justice of these here United States. Destiny awaits, and rightfully trembles.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Little Monk Grousing

I wasn't satisfied with the conclusion of Monk tonight. The writers successfully established that the lab tech was guilty of fiddling with results, but did not reach the same level of certainty with regard to the fashion designer being the murderer.

It was possible that only labels had been changed, but the lab tech could have engaged in more elaborate fraud and disposed of any evidence tying the fashion designer to the original crime. The loop remains open and I don't like it.

Otherwise a pretty good episode. I'll annoy the Karnickian by stating for the record that I still miss Bitty Schramm.

About a Million Words About "A Million Little Pieces"

Here's the link to the story by The Smoking Gun on the latest author to stir up controversy from Oprah Bookland!

There's a lesson to be learned here which is that there is absolutely no room for a crap artist on the scene today. YOU WILL BE DISCOVERED AND MADE TO LOOK LIKE THE LYING CRETIN YOU ARE!

Fortunately, if you managed your money well you can have a reasonably comfortable humiliation.

Monk Returns, and All's Right with the World

O.K., people, get out your toothbrushes and scrub the floors, and don't forget to dust the chandeliers. Grab a wet-wipe and a cool bottle of Sierra Springs and settle down for the first episode of season 4 of Monk, the best show currently running on American television, tonight at 10 EST on the USA Network. In tonight's episode, Malcolm McDowell guest stars as "Mr. Monk Goes to a Fashion Show."

There will be a quiz!!!

For those benighted souls who haven't seen the show, the last episodes of a daylong Monk marathon are now running on USA Network, and a free iTunes download is available here.

Dance of the Gay Puritans

Our sharp-tongued pal Bern Chapin has written an excellent rejoinder to Mark Gavreau Judge's article on the American Spectator site in which the latter claimed that people on the Right should abjure popular pleasures such as NASCAR, country music, and even rock and roll and football, as well as down-home clothing styles such as tee shirts, sneakers, and jeans, and that we should all shop at Brooks Brothers instead of Wal-Mart.

On our site, Hunter Baker took exception to Judge's suggestion that Christianity requires an individual to wear certain types of clothes and enjoy certain types of entertainment, a claim which Jesus would certainly have found ludicrous. Hunter is absolutely right about this.

Judge seems to be going for a sort of Gay Puritanism here.

Hunter is correct to take him to task for it.

Now, as I said earlier on this blog, I do agree that "Most prominent conservatives today have little appreciation of the fine arts, and they show little respect for style, just as Mark says. Among the causes for this, I would suggest the fact that conservatism used to be a more elite position than it has been since Reagan, who made real the populism that Goldwater's candidacy had begun." (I then left Judge and went into a discussion of the Omniculture.) But Hunter and Bern are right to bring out these other implications of Judge's elitism. The notion that the right should be a movement of people who shop at Brooks Brothers and not Wal-Mart is a guarantee of marginalization. There just aren't that many people who can afford to do the former and not the latter. (Otherwise, the president would be a member of the Green Party.)

In addition and even more importantly (if you can imagine anything as being more important than partisan politics), it's silly to place stylistic litmus tests on morality. Either people love God above all things and love their neighbors more than themselves, or they don't. Wingtips and sneakers provide not the slightest clue of an individual's position on that—or, if anything, one would expect a person who really keeps those two commandments to be wearing the more humble footwear.

Of course, if one has a certain amount of the ready and has come by it honestly, sure, looking nice is better than being a slob, and attending to elevating and edifying art is far better than wallowing in trash. But the particular standards Judge is suggesting are overly specific and snobbish, and they also praise a phenomenon, "metrosexuality," that should be laughed right off the earth as soon as possible. As Bern says,

A metrosexual is one who possesses a woman’s taste, and anyone who has ever cringed at the color pink or had glitter rub off on them knows that female taste cannot always be equated with the word “good.”

Another mistake is apparent as metrosexual has never, to my knowledge, been applied to opinions about art and music. The term has always been used in reference to fashion, grooming, habit, and social interest. I have never heard it applied to intellectual interests, but that is an assumption on which the rest of the piece rests.

This is an important point. In praising "metrosexuality," Judge is, perhaps unintentionally but definitely, siding with the notion that the differences between men and women are not largely natural but are in fact culturally determined. This is a crucial point, and one which Judge really should revisit and reconsider.

So, thanks to Bern for bringing this to the fore.

In addition, I want to add an angry complaint about Judge's disgusting, outrageous dismissal of football as a low-class endeavor. That is a simply contemptible assertion: football is in fact the greatest sport of our time. It gives young men a way to excel in an area that the modern world seldom allows, and it is a thing of great beauty, complexity, and subtlety. It teaches individual achievement within a structure of essential cooperation. A boy who plays football, and to a lesser degree anyone who watches the sport, learns that group success comes from each individual doing the very best at whatever he or she has been told to do. It is a beautiful matter of individuals cooperating to bring their personal abilities together in a group effort. The team that wins consistently is the team in which the most players do exactly what they are supposed to do on the greatest percentage of possessions.

I have coached football at the junior level, and it is a great way to help silly, uncontrolled boys become serious young men. It doesn't always work, as so many cases attest, but of the millions of boys who play organized football, I would suggest that it benefits all of them in some way. If Judge has never played or coached football, and is not even a fan of the sport, well, that says a lot about him, and something any real male would rather keep quiet about. Any woman who finds a contempt for football attractive would be far better off simply finding another woman to live with.

Now, I do think that style is important and that nice things are much better than crap. Much, much better. But Bern and Hunter are absolutely right to point out that Judge is into some very dubious stuff and shouldn't force his weird tastes on other people. Keep that in the closet, girl!

I think that the styles people choose do say important things about them, and I like to be as jaunty and prosperous-looking as possible, but to associate Christianity with metrosexuality strikes me as utterly grotesque. Brrrr.

I suggest that Mr. Judge punt and try to get his defense in order.

NPR, James Frey, and the Memoir

Listening to NPR this morning, I heard their segment
on James Frey, whose "memoir" (something about a million little pieces - I'll admit I must have missed that publishing phenomenon) has been shown by the Smoking Gun to be either an entire fabrication or extreme exaggeration. (Example: Frey apparently claims he rear-ended a police vehicle when in fact he just ran one wheel of his car up onto a curb. Almost the same thing). This made the news because the book made it to Oprah, who loved it and made it in turn a national bestseller. (Again, I'll admit I never heard of the book until I read about the controversy). His defense? Well, "memoir" isn't really the same thing as, say, "history" since we all know our memories are faulty. The NPR reporter, Lynn Neary, guts the excuse with some well-put quotes from another publisher who more or less accuses Frey and his publisher of being willing to flat-out lie in the pursuit of an emotional hit and the big bucks. Good for NPR.

It's worth noting as an aside that the sort of subjectivism and emotivism on display in this incident is a perfect picture of the postmodernist mindset. What matters is not whether something happened or not, but rather our interpretations of things and how that makes us "feel." And it's also worth noting - and this certainly is not an original insight - that this kind of subjectivism is a perfect match for the sort of consumerist, no-limits market capitalism that the Left is always decrying. Talk about being hoisted on your own petard...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Life at the Bottom and How to Get There

This remains one of my favorite pieces of writing, and of social criticism---it's an excerpt from John Derbyshire's review of Theodore Dalrymple's Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass:


"The knife went in," three different stabbers told Dalrymple, when he pressed them, in the prison, to describe the deed that landed them there. Why should a low-IQ barely-literate youth believe in the doctrine of free will, when, for all he can see, his intellectual superiors have given up on it?

Dalrymple is particularly good on the squeaky-wheel syndrome that is so characteristic of modern social services. Defy your circumstances; manage to get some scraps of education; win some decent, if low-level employment; stay out of trouble; stay off the dole; maintain some minimal standards of honesty and chastity; and see what happens to you! If you are lucky, the authorities will ignore you; if not, they will actually harass you. Should your less disciplined neighbors make your life a misery, you will get no help from police or social workers. If, on the other hand, you follow your peers into the world of dysfunction and dependency, all the attentions of England’s extravagant welfare state will be lavished on you. You will be given a free apartment furnished with all modern appliances, a regular supply of money, free medical attention, and the doting ministrations of “health visitors,” “case workers,” “counsellors” and so on.

Americans may find it surprising that most of the people wallowing in this slough of ignorance, illiteracy, promiscuity, bastardy, intoxication, vice, folly, lawlessness and hopelessness are white English people. Much of what is described here is the sort of thing Americans instinctively associate with this country’s own black underclass. There is some satisfaction, I suppose, though of a very melancholy kind, to be drawn from the revelation that sufficiently wrong-headed social policies, persisted in with sufficiently dogged refusal to face simple truths, will visit moral catastrophe on people of any race.

LOST

Most of popular culture is a sewer and I'm happy to rarely switch on the tv (we don't even have ESPN or the 24-hour cable news shows). But I do try to catch the ABC drama LOST and last night, as Amy Welborn notes, included some nicely done dramatizations of issues regarding sin, forgiveness, and redemption. Maybe it's because the show (like, I think, the X-Files) trades in mystery, it just can't avoid religious claims. But I'm hard pressed to remember another time where two people sympathetically recite the 23rd Psalm as, seemingly, an act of religious devotion. Good stuff.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Left Shouts "Racist!"

As Judge Samuel Alito endured his protracted questioning in the Senate Judiciary Committee with the Left still unable to make a plausible case for turning him down, the desperation became evident with some prominent Democrat Senators' allegation that the nominee is a racist. The charges appear to be utterly unfounded, but it appears that there may well be some unsavory racial activity in the past of one Democrat Senator on the panel:

Charles Schumer trying to tar Samuel Alito as a racist because of membership in some club? Don't make me laugh. The fact is that Charles Schumer came to power as a New York State Assemblyman in 1974 by virtue of an overtly racist scheme that he created and sold to a naive neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. He convinced them that he would use his power to rid their area of black people. And who is my source for this serious accusation? Me.

Yes, me. I was there.

The article by Reform Clubber Jay Homnick in today's issue of The American Spectator Online documents the claim. It is a very interesting story indeed, and very revealing of some unsavory truths of modern politics.

Why My Husband Will Never Sit on the Supreme Court

My husband is a brilliant man, possessed of legal skills of rare quality and a true judicial temperament. His thought is organized and systematic, his grasp of, and ability to remember, detail is little short of stupefying to mere mortals like me, and he has, in addition, the sort of dry intellectual wit that would make reading his opinions the joy of any 2L. There are, of course, hundreds of lawyers like this in DC, and none of them will ever sit on the Supreme Court either. But my husband has a higher hurdle than any of them, and it is this: if he had been sitting in Sam Alito's seat yesterday, and I had been sitting in Martha Alito's seat yesterday, I would not have been weeping, I would have been using Ted Kennedy's severed head to beat Chuck Schumer senseless. Listen up, minority members of Judiciary: when you survey your peers and notice that Joe Biden is winning the good behavior prize, it's time to rethink.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Letterman's Swinishness, or: More Media Bias

This ties up our recent discussions into a nice little bow, I think.

If one googles "Letterman" and "pencil," he'll find numerous (with video) blog reports of David Letterman stirring his pencil into Bill O'Reilly's courtesy beverage before O'Reilly comes onstage. (Yes, O'Reilly drank from it, too. )

If one googles "Letterman" and "pencil" in the Google news section, which monitors hundreds if not thousands of mainstream news sources, one will get back zero hits.

That's zero hits, folks. Nobody in the media noticed? Nobody? A week later, and still...nothing?


Media bias includes what is not covered. It is impossible to conceive that this is not of news interest. Nor is it possible for me to conceive that if a right-winger had committed this bastardly deed, his career would not be over, and rightfully so.

Now, maybe the blogs are wrong: I didn't see the show, and haven't watched Letterman since he got terminally lazy with his fat contract and I got cable sometime in the last century and had moose mating or whatever to switch over to on Discovery. But even debunking this is newsworthy enough for a media that has nothing better to talk about than Lindsey Lohan's hip size.

That's zero hits, folks. Crickets chirping. Letterman's in the club.



(Mad props to The Political Teen for this photographic evidence (?), and to the exquisite Larry Elder for the riff. If his radio show isn't available in your area, give him an ear via the internet. The Sage rules.)

TV Show of Daniel

I finally finished watching The Book of Daniel, the new NBC-TV program that has raised the ire of conservatives and religious folk. It was rather difficult to achieve—the watching, that is—because of the show's glaring weakness: it is terribly arch and tendentious, and its author's obvious (too-obvious) intentions contradict one another. That is to say, my objections to the show are aesthetic.

Unlike most of the program's detractors, I didn't find it to be antireligious or anti-Christian. It certainly painted an unflattering picture of organized religion, but I didn't see that as being the point of the show, nor did I see it as being what most viewers would take away from the program if viewing it fairly. What the show's creator was apparently trying to do was make a Desperate Housewives knockoff set in Westchester County, and actually to emphasize the moral content by including a religious setting.

The latter decision was a huge mistake, however, because the moral content of Desperate Housewives is perfectly obvious to anyone this side of a psychopath, and hence does not need enhancement; and, perhaps more importantly, because the creator also clearly had another thing in mind which conflicts with the moral analysis. He wishes to transform our notion of morality: to place tolerance, kindness, and other such yummy things atop the moral pyramid and make them dispositive in all cases.

That may in fact be a fair picture of the atmosphere within a liberal Episcopalian church in Westchester County, but it waters down the significance of the characters' choices into nothing. If tolerance is the most important thing, what exactly is the significance of what any of these characters do? When one person causes another to suffer, that's just the price we have to pay in order to have a world in which others won't judge our actions. We cannot judge, lest we be judged. Of course, that leads to a situation in which a sort of Gresham's Law of Morality applies: bad behavior pushes out the good.

The Book of Daniel reflects exactly that process: these characters, who have grown up in a world of tolerance and a nurturing of whatever appears to be genuine in a person, do what they bloody well please as long as they think they can get away with it. This, however, kills any possible drama. Given that nearly all of the people depicted in the program are hypocritical, snide, selfish, morally obtuse, and utterly charmless, there is nothing with which to contrast the bad behavior. After all, every Lovelace needs his Clarissa: moral perfidy committed against other morally corrupt individuals is not so very interesting, especially in the rarefied atmosphere of this fictional Westchester County, where the great majority of the suffering appears to be self-imposed. The characters are dull, flat, and lifeless because their choices do not matter.

And that, of course, makes for bad drama—really, no drama at all.

As a result, The Book of Daniel commits the cardinal sin of failed entertainment: it is a bore.

Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman

I caution our annoying anonymous commenter(s) that your actions are now illegal.

Word up.

How Media Bias Works

Hunter Baker refers below to a recent study alleging liberal media bias in the news. The methodology used was to count citations of outside "experts" to see if there was a partisan balance.

The study found a strong tilt to the left in the reports of most media organizations.

Now is this proof in itself of bias? Let's look at a recent Washington Post article on the NSA domestic "spying" affair.

Aside from the contentious wording that the administration has "assertions" while the contrary congressional report has "conclusions," we see that the WaPo quotes two "experts," both of whom are dismissive of the administration's position.

I discussed this very article with a lefty pal of mine and he sees no bias. Me, I see not only Congress lined up against the executive branch (little surprise---this tug-of-war over national security authority has been going on since the founding of the republic), but 100% of the outside experts. I would expect the casual reader to conclude that the weight of arguments is against the administration, since they occupy the lion's share of the volume.

I find this article to be representive of the norm, and certainly my liberal buddy saw nothing unusual about it. Which is precisely the point.

Since I'm feeling magnanimous today, I'll offer that no Bush-friendly "experts" were consulted because the WaPo simply doesn't know any. But whatever the reason, the aforementioned study (and it is not the first such) clearly indicates it is the rule rather than the exception in our national news media that among third party commentators, the left get more air than the right.

Put simply, an article or news segment is imbalanced unless it presents both sides in roughly equal proportion, as spoken by third parties, not just the accused and the aggrieved themselves. We all tend to give credence to the views of third parties when making up our minds about things, as we should. For that reason, I find the theory behind the study's methodology entirely proper, and can think of none better.

The WaPo rounded up two "impartial" witnesses against the Bush administration and none in its defense. Any reasonable person would, based on the evidence presented, be obliged to conclude its guilt.

The WaPo article was biased, whether intentionally or not. I do not know which of those possibilities is more disconcerting.

A No-Brainer, Really...

This may qualify for some as "dog-bites-man", but here's a nice little precis on the link between family structure and educational outcomes. Unsuprisingly, kids in two-parent households do better across the board.

Where I live, there are two public elementary schools nearby. One is fairly diverse but mostly serves reasonably well-off folks with mostly intact families (and children of foreign graduate students). The other has a much larger population of public housing kids, almost entirely black and almost entirely from single-parent families. It's been striking how many of our friends, though thoroughly liberal and deeply committed to public schooling, have already decided that they won't send their kids to the second school if they can't get into the first. Not surprising, but a bit striking.

More on Media Bias: I Mean, It's Serious.

Came across a fascinating article in Investor's Business Daily on dead tree (see, you accomplished something with that free trial).

The IBD staff compiled evidence of media bias via the various studies on the subject. Here are some of the results:

1. 2005 Study -- Every major media outlet except The Washington Times and Fox News Special Report leaned to the left. The furthest left (by a long shot) was the Wall St. Journal news division (as distinguished from their conservative op-ed group). Other groups leaning left were all the network morning news shows (with one exception), NPR Morning Edition, and the major newsmags. The closest to the center were Aaron Brown's Newsnight (now canceled, hmmm), PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and ABC's Good Morning America. The authors of the study hailed from UCLA and Univ. of Missouri.

2. A 2004 study showed that nine of 10 major newspapers are more likely to portray economic data as negative if a Republican is president.

3. A 1996 study showed only 7% of Washington correspondents voted for George H.W. Bush in 1992, nearly half as many as voted for Bush in ultra-liberal Berkeley, CA.

4. A 2004 NYT story found only 8% of Washington correspondents thought Bush would be a better president than John Kerry.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I found item 2 particularly interesting. For years, I have had the sense that Republican economic data has been spun in a negative light relative to when Democrats are in office. Looks like the old intuition was right.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Introductions

Many thanks to Hunter and everyone else over here at The Reform Club for allowing me to add my two cents' worth occasionally (and, as you'll discover, you get what you pay for). I'm a recent PhD in political science with interests all over the map, including the intersection of religion and politics (Pat Robertson's a pagan - more on that later), the fiery roasting of select meats, and good conversation. My wife and I have two small children. For the record Michael Simpson is a pseudonym - I would like an academic job and I see no reason to make it any harder for myself than I need to. Be seein' y'all around...

Blogging on Small Business

I have found an excellent blogger on small business matters. If you are thinking about getting into that racket. You'd be well-served to spend a little time with Jeff Cornwall.

Pat Robertson's Perspective

A friend, who wishes to remain anonymous (for good reasons which will be evident upon reading the appended message), sent me the following note which provides a very good analysis of what drives Pat Robertson and his followers to say the strange things they regularly say:

As the son of parents who have sent God only knows how many thousands of dollars to Pat Robertson, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Jimmy Swaggart and others of their ilk over the years, I have watched these TV preachers -- and their supporters -- with keen interest. You are absolutely correct about Robertson's reckless rhetoric, but it is precisely his willingness to make such statements that brings in the cash.

There is a paradox in people like my parents and other followers of the Robertsons of the world. They are true believers who doubt their beliefs. This is why they glom onto signs and become breathless at the prospect of a prophecy fulfilled. If they truly believed, they would not need constant reassurances and proofs. They are fearful believers -- afraid of God, afraid of Satan, afraid of Death, afraid of Themselves.

Robertson pointed to Sharon's stroke and then to the Bible and said, "See, the Bible said this would happen, and it happened!" It was his way of exciting his base of doubtful believers.

He not only bucked them up by giving them a proof. He also gave them a sense of superiority. They came away from his show believing they have knowledge others do not have, some because they are ignorant and others because they will not see the truth. His listeners believe themselves to be an enlightened elite.

There is a line in Daniel about the King of the North attacking Israel. My mother currently believes the King of the North is Turkey, and she is expecting an attack by Turkey on Israel any time. Over the years the King of the North has also been Iran, Iraq, the Soviet Union, the European Union, and the United Nations.

Pointing out to my mother that predicting attacks on Israel is like predicting cold in winter has no impact on her. Pointing out that she has believed in numerous Kings of the North over the years does nothing to temper her belief now. Each time a new King of the North is identified by Robertson or some other Evangelical preacher, she gets all fired up, and out comes the checkbook.

My parents are also believers in the Rapture (the righteous will go straight to heaven without the inconvenience of dying, and the rest will be left behind to endure seven years of tribulation ending in the battle of Armageddon and the establishment of 1,000 years of Heaven on Earth.) Israel plays a central role in this. Before the Rapture can happen, Israel must be fully established. Anything that holds back Israel holds back the Rapture.

There are plenty of Christians who opposed Sharon because they saw his position regarding the West Bank as holding back the Rapture. An expanding Israel gets them to heaven quicker.

So there really are three reasons for Robertson's remarks regarding Sharon. First, they keep the money flowing. Second, they give believers a feeling of superior knowledge. And third, they are a way of gloating over the destruction of a man whose policies were delaying Jesus' return to Earth.

This is how I see it, anyway.

Monday, January 09, 2006

On the Wing(le)s of Love

My young daughter invented a cute sub-adjective, the word "wingle". It exists only as a tagalong for "single", as in "you say that to me every single wingle time."

It occurred to me to convert it into a noun and write her this little poem about the pitfalls of excess.

I bought a single wingle
And it made me tingle
So I bought a double
And it made me trouble.

Ledeen on Osama and the Middle East

I'm amazed by Doc Zycher's mention of the possibility Osama might be dead. If this is true, then the two kingpins of 9-11 in the public mind (be sure to note that phrase Moore-ons, I'm asserting nothing) will have been taken care of via either imprisonment or the rigors of being pursued.

Here's the link to the Ledeen story.

If Ledeen is right, and I hope he is, then Bush should be due for another bounce. I'm waiting for the big Drudge headline or a CBS news rumble. Something, anything to confirm the event.

Here's an excerpt that leaves you singing:

This historical moment is not easy to understand, since we are in transition from a relatively stable world, dominated by a handful of major powers, to something we cannot yet define, since it is up to us to shape it. It seems clear, however, that there is a greater rapidity of change, accompanied — inevitably — by the passing of the leaders of the old order. This is particularly clear in the Middle East, where seven key figures have been struck down in the past six years: King Hussein of Jordan in February, 1999. King Hassan of Morocco in July of the same year. Syrian dictator Hafez al Assad in June of 2000. Yasser Arafat of the PLO in April, 2004. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in May of last year. Ariel Sharon of Israel was incapacitated by a stroke in early January. And, according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried in Iran, where he had spent most of his time since the destruction of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Iranians who reported this note that this year's message in conjunction with the Muslim Haj came from his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for the first time.

This remarkable tempo of change is not likely to diminish, as old and/or sick men are in key positions in several countries: Israel's Shimon Peres is 82. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is 82 (and his designated successor, Prince Sultan, is 81, and was recently operated for stomach cancer). Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, although probably in his sixties, is said to have serious liver cancer, and is not expected to survive the next year.

And, of course, the patient activities of the Grim Reaper are not the only source of revolutionary change in the region. Saddam was a relatively young man (mid-sixties) when he was toppled by Coalition forces; the deposed Taliban leaders were relatively young as well (Mullah Omar is barely 50); and the likes of Bashar Assad, the Iranian mullahs (Khamenei is probably in his early sixties), and even the legions of the Saudi royal family have to contend with mounting animus from the West, and mounting cries for freedom from their own people.

Much of the demographic component of rapid change comes from the enormous disparity between leaders and people. The wizened ayatollahs of Iran, like the gerontarchs of Saudi Arabia, seek to contain the passions of a population one or two generations younger, which is probably one reason why the mullahs turned to a youngster, the fanatical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to crush all potential opposition to the Islamic republic. Most Iranians, two thirds of whom are younger than 35, do not take kindly to the white beard and beturbaned tyrants who have banned Western music and just last week began speaking of segregating the sidewalks of the country by sex; males on one side, females on the other, even as they announced the execution of a woman who dared defend herself against a rapist.

In short, both demography and geopolitics make this an age of revolution, as President Bush seems to have understood. Rarely have there been so many opportunities for the advance of freedom, and rarely have the hard facts of life and death been so favorable to the spread of democratic revolution.

The architect of 9/11 and the creator of Palestinian terrorism are gone. The guiding lights of our terrorist enemies are sitting on cracking thrones, challenged by young men and women who look to us for support. Not just words, and, above all, not promises that the war against the terror masters will soon end with a premature abandonment of what was always a miserably limited battlefield. This should be our moment.

Ozzie Laid to Rest

According to Michael Ledeen on NRO today, that ineffable friend of freedom, Osama Bin Laden, departed this world in mid-December as a result of kidney failure. Ledeen's sources seem unusually good in such matters---even his dear departed James Jesus Angleton, available only via Ledeen's ouija board, is not to be discounted---and so I am quite reluctant to dismiss this as disinformation or such.

In any event, my question is somewhat irreverent, but here goes: I wonder if Osama, or Ozzie, as his friends knew him, at the end wished that he could have availed himself of infidel medical technology and care? After all, the seventy-two virgins could have waited a bit longer, non? Maybe Ozzie will come back as a K Street lobbyist for a defense conglomerate.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Democrats: Tax Parasites

Remember those wack maps Democrats came up with after the Bush-Kerry election?




A similarly self-serving wackiness arose around the same time, that, presumably due to their larger populations (as unaethstetically if not bizarrely illustrated above), the 19 Blue States pay Washington more money than they get back, so they'd be better off seceding from Bush Country.

True, as far as it goes.


But let's take a closer look.

Kerry made the election close only by carrying by nearly 20 percentage points the 23% of the electorate that makes less than $30,000 a year. They pay little or no income tax, and many of them receive federal subsidies like WIC or the Earned Income Credit.

Now, Bush and Kerry split the votes of the $30-50,000 income voters, but Bush carried every other income group above $50,000 (who represent 55% of all voters) by 10 percentage points or more.

And as we all know by now, or should, the top 50% of wage-earners pay over 96% of all federal income taxes.

So let's bury once and for all this canard that the highly evolved Blue States subsidize bucolic and backward Jesusland. More accurately, it's the productive, taxpaying Red Staters both inside and outside the Blue States who largely foot the bill for all.

Elvis' Birthday



I heard somewhere that if he'd lived, Elvis would have been 71 today.

Man, I didn't even know he was sick.