Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Five masked men took the "Cliffs Near Dieppe". Worse yet, they took the "Lane of Poplars Near Moret". My question is: if the cops know their route so exactly, why can't they follow them back to headquarters?
Which painter is stolen more than any other? You guessed it: Monet. Now the question is, what about country music shoplifters? Do they favor Cash?
Monday, August 06, 2007
Notice, though, how Sports Illustrated describes the SCLC: as a "Christian Group" that's going to honor Vick. Now, in some ways, that's true. The SCLC has long ties to black churches. But when was the last time you saw it described as a "Christian" organization, as opposed to a "civil rights" one? Interesting choice, wouldn't you say?
Thursday, August 02, 2007
For the record, I don't think that Hillary!'s self-labeling as a "progressive" of late means much of anything with respect to support for eugenics. And I do think there is a distinction to be made with the "new eugenics" in that its supporters don't want (yet) the state to enforce the improvement of human beings. And it seems right to say that if we could use some sort of gene therapy to prevent folks from developing, say, cystic fibrosis, that would be a very good thing. And most liberals/progressives really aren't tied to the sort of strong notion of progress that their forbears bought into.
Still, the liberal bleating that they're really *not* eugenicists and that it's all going to be merely individual choice and so everything will be just hunky-dory is just a bit disingenuous. These are folks, after all, who in every area of life other than those things that might ever so tangentially touch on the freedom to procreate as one will (or will not, in far too many cases) insist that free choice really isn't free choice. Hey, some folks decide to take out 35% interest pay-day loans - they made their own choice, right? The truth of the matter (it seems to me) is that in a society where certain sorts of perfection start being the product of choice, especially among the wealthy, well-born, etc., it will necessarily create an obverse pressure on everyone to *choose* in certain ways. One of the ways that Tocqueville gets democratic culture exactly right is his analysis of how public opinion works to ensure a uniformity of views that is much more powerful and much more thoroughgoing than anything government itself could do. So when the successful and wealthy people in a society suddenly start having children that all have TVD's beatific good looks and winsome personality and everyone has a "choice" about what "sort" of children they produce, they will "choose" to all have little TVD's. God help us.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.
This fits the lefty mantra that we had bin Laden surrounded and only peeling off troops for Iraq thwarted his capture and everything would be ducky if we had. (Afghanistan is the "good" war.)
The man on the street forgets that when an American public figure speaks, the world listens. Obama has no such excuse:
Pakistan, by virtue of its nukes and population of 170 million, is the most powerful Muslim nation in the world. For Obama to even hint at invading it or even violating its territorial sovereignty is, oh, how did she put it, ah yes, irresponsible and frankly naive.
I trust the American people will not put our lives in the hands of this amateur. And this might be the coffin-nail for even the VP slot. Hillary doesn't need him---contrary to the prevailing wisdom that the black vote will stay home if he's passed over, Hillary polls very well among blacks and is married to the even more popular First Black President. After this latest bit of nonsense, Obama could easily cost more votes than he would gain for the ticket.
No, Hillary's VP choice will be Evan Bayh, a senator and former governor of the great red state of Indiana, and he'll single-handedly plunk it down in the blue column. Mebbe Obama figured that out, and that's why he's been going for broke lately. Bayh is a helluva statesman, a solid centrist, and was my secret hope to become the Democrat nominee in 2008. But he sized up the field, saw Hillary astride it, and decided not to run. He's kept a very low profile since, avoiding the Reid/Shumer partisan wars and the line of fire on Iraq, in order to arrive at the Democrat convention next year as the squeaky-clean VP nominee.
With his thoroughly impressive record and resume, many Democrats will wonder if the ticket isn't upside-down. This Republican will have no doubt.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Anyway, one of the little news stories that caught my attention was the local tv station reporting on the NYT Op-Ed the other day by the Brookings Institution scholars O'Hanlon and Pollack arguing that the surge currently underway in Iraq could work and we ought not start hightailing it out of there. People will disagree, naturally, but tell me, when was the last time you heard on your local tv news a report on something written in an Op-Ed page? Pretty interesting, it seems to me.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
The jubilation over the team known as the "Lions of the Two Rivers" gave Iraqis a rare respite from the daily violence. The victorious run sent men of all ages cheering and dancing in the streest in what politiicans said was a show of unity that proved Iraqi factions could come together.
Sure, it's a small victory, but small victories matter in sports and in culture. Sorry, Myra Fleener, it's not just a game . . .. Let's hope for more victories for the Iraqi national team.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I'm sort of surprised this hasn't shown up before. Commercials and now a tv series where the main characters are these rather swarthy, "less-evolved" guys who are the butts of jokes? Why hasn't Al Sharpton been out front and center? Doesn't Jesse know an opportunity when he sees it? I'm sure the tv studios would be happy to shovel some cash these guys' way to keep 'em quiet. It's very disappointing.
In any case, I'm sure it will be a big hit. Seinfeld. Friends. Cavemen. How could it possibly lose? Maybe next season they can make a tv show out of one of those crazy used-car salesmen I see on the tube. It'd be brilliant...
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The pleasure is ours, David, and welcome.
The "cosmic" perspective--the idea of human insignificance--is a philosophically-legitimate grounding for the atheist's world-view. It is far more convincing, at least to me, than Selfish Gene-style evolutionary reductionism. Evolution doesn't necessarily exclude religion, though it tends strongly to favor Deism; but man's existential insignificance, as expressed powerfully by Lovecraft, generally does. It's hard to give much credence to the notion that a loving God has a plan for every field mouse and every cold virus. . . So I can see how Joshi's studies of Lovecraft might have led him toward atheism (or, conversely, why he might have been attracted to Lovecraft in the first place). I think this tends to sit uneasily with Joshi's Left-of-center political beliefs (at least, insofar as I can ascertain them), but--hey--no one ever said scholars need to be consistent.
(Joshi edited the Machen book I mentioned in my previous post; and I thought I'd publicly acknowledge my admiration for him here.)
So it's in that spirit that I've been reading some of Machen's work. And in "The Terror," he writes:
Now a censorship that is sufficiently minute and utterly remorseless can do amazing things in the way of hiding . . . what it wants to hide. Before the war [WW I], one would have thought otherwise; one would have said that, censor or no censor, the fact of the murder at X or the fact of the bank robbery at Y would certainly become known; if not through the press, at all events through rumour and the passage of the news from mouth to mouth. And this would be true--of England three hundred years ago, and of savage tribelands of to-day. But we have grown of late to such a reverence for the printed word and such a reliance on it, that the old faculty of disseminating news by word of mouth has become atrophied. Forbid the press to mention the fact that Jones has been murdered, and of those who hear how few will credit the story that they have heard. You meet a man in the train who remarks that he has been told something about a murder in Southwark; there is all the difference in the world between the impression you receive from such a chance communication and that given by half a dozen lines in print with name, and street and date and all the facts of the case. People in trains repeat all sorts of tales, many of them false; newspapers do not print accounts of murders that have not been committed.
(Arthur Machen, The Terror & Other Stories, pp. 3-4, Chaosium ed. 2005.)
Now, "The Terror" turns in part on the idea that information about strange murders is being suppressed by wartime censors, so I guess we should take Machen's comments with a grain of salt. And "The Terror" was originally published in serial form in the London Evening News, so there's something self-serving about the comment, too. Still, I think the comment is valid as a general statement about the state of information dispersal and retrieval throughout the 20th Century.
Clearly, we're seeing a shift away from that paradigm in the early years of the 21st Century. Is our reliance on multiple, dispersed, often low-trust sources of information (as Hugh Hewitt characterizes the blogosphere) sui generis, or instead a reversion to humankind's historic ways of gathering data and assessing facts? Machen's not definitive, by any means, but there's a sense in which his language suggests that it's the 20th Century's near-exclusive reliance on print (or, more broadly, "official") media that represents the true anomaly.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
In what is being called a "wrongful birth" case, a jury awarded more than $21 million Monday to a couple who claimed a doctor misdiagnosed a severe birth defect in their son, leading them to have a second child with similar problems.
Daniel and Amara Estrada, whose two young sons aren't able to communicate and need constant care, sought at least enough money to care for the second child, 2-year-old Caleb.
The couple claimed that Dr. Boris Kousseff failed to diagnose their first son's genetic disorder, called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, which is the inability to correctly produce or synthesize cholesterol, after his 2002 birth.
Had the disorder been correctly diagnosed, a test would have indicated whether the couple's second child also was afflicted and they would have terminated the pregnancy, according to the lawsuit.
The nub is that the genetic mistake who is Caleb Estrada would simply have been erased in his mother's womb, if only they had known. I imagine the philosopher-king Solomon would've offered the plaintiffs the choice of killing the baby now or surrendering him to the protection of the state, and we all know how that one would come out.
Still, these are strange days and they'll continue to get stranger as science and modern philosophy stand astride nature yelling, "Go!" Moral judgments must keep up with the times:
The doctor clearly committed medical malpractice, which is bad, and in their defense, the Estradas putatively want to raise Caleb in their family environment---putatively with as much love and respect for his human dignity as they can shower on him---which is good.
As for the legal details, by Florida statute since a state institution was involved, Caleb's parents cannot collect $21+ million, only $200,000. Their lawyer hopes for a way around that---by custom and practice he gets one-third, but that's OK. Despite the perverted circumstances, I say justice is served, although $200K is too low but $21M could care for a number of Calebs, so you have to wonder what the jury was up to.
Ah, for the day when two mothers, one baby, and a philosopher-king with a sword made for a relatively easily-solvable equation. The challenge of this age is a lot tougher.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Oh, please. She's not "considering" anything. The ineffable DiFi wants it back in full force precisely because she wants to shut Limbaugh and all the others up, particularly given that Air America and the other left-wing wannabees can't seem to compete.
Free speech? That's the last thing on DiFi's list of concerns. As is the rest of the Bill of Rights, which DiFi has made a career of shredding. The first amendment: She loves campaign finance "reform" (incumbent protection from criticism and competitors) and the Fairness Doctrine. The second amendment: She loves gun control. OK, as best as I can tell, she's never attempted to erode the third amendment on the quartering of soldiers in peacetime. The fourth amendment: DiFi loves the drug war, the no-knock searches and all the rest. The fifth amedment: She's a great believer in using federal prosecution in cases in which the state and local prosecutors don't get convictions; and forget about all that due process crap, as DiFi is a staunch supporter of the forfeiture laws and takings for her constituencies. The sixth amendment: Has DiFi ever tried to do something about the plea bargain racket, in which prosecutors threaten the innocent and the almost-innocent so as to coerce guilty pleas on lesser charges? Well, actually, no; how are we gonna do something about narcotics unless we break some eggs? The seventh amendment: She has done nothing about the litigation lottery and the habit of many, many judges to allow the manipulation of juries with fraudent testimony. The eight amendment: You can't fight a war on drugs without filling the prisons with nonviolent drug offenders. The ninth amendment: DiFi doesn't believe even in the right to keep and bear arms, let alone any unenumerated rights. The tenth amendment: DiFi is a staunch supporter of federalism. Yeah, right.
But, the press treats her like a statesman. Oh, by the way, DiFi also believes strongly in her right to use her committee assignments to enrich her husband. But of course. After all, there's nothing in the Bill of Rights about that.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, and I think Five Guys might even beat out some other place that at least a couple of folks around here might have heard of...nah, probably not?
Now, that would have been a real show to watch, in particular, Joe Wilson's testimony under oath about all the lies he told about, well, everything. Would he have told the truth about the lies? Would he have lied about the lies? Would he have been truthful about the truth, thus contradicting every utterance that he has made over the last three years, or would he have lied about the truth? The possibilities seem endless. Or would he have suffered from sudden amnesia? Who knows? The judge threw it out, thus depriving all of us of some YouTube fun that would have approached immortality. Let's impeach the bastard.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
What is this world coming to when one of the more liberal leaning big city newspapers actually reports accurately on what Democrats say and do? Holding Democrats accountable for their policy positions is just not something you see very often in the MSM. We’re not getting the near-unanimous vote TVD references below, but this is still a pleasant surprise.
As to the substance, most Democrats just don’t give a damn what happens to Iraq and the Iraqis. The Majority Leader calls what happens after a withdrawal “hypothetical” and he’s just “not going to get into it.” I have a question for Mr. Reid: When offering up legislation, especially about a war, exactly what would not be hypothetical? He’s simply pissed off that he has to answer for the consequences of the Democrat position. How dare you question The Great Majority Leader! Yes, Mr. Reid, now you know what it’s like to be a Republican, especially a conservative one, all the time.
Anyway, most of this is just a show for the kook fringe left of the Democrat Party. The left wing of that Party is simply devoid of any notion of reality. This war is just like Vietnam to them, so we need to just get the hell out and the Iraqis be damned, just like millions of Vietnamese were then. The implications for our national security don’t cross their mind; they probably don’t even care.
Fortunately for our national security, many Democrats realize that a "precipitous withdrawal" would be a disaster, thus the 94-3 vote. President Bush, most Republicans and a few Democrats understand that a failed state in the Middle East run by Al Qaeda is not an option. That is why even the harshest critics of the president say we can’t leave Iraq or the region entirely. The dirty little secret I mention below is getting out, and that puts the Iraq war debate on a whole new footing.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
[Today,] Senate Republicans pushed through a nonbinding resolution stating that "precipitous withdrawal" from Iraq would "create a safe haven for Islamic radicals, including Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, who are determined to attack the United States and (U.S.) allies." The vote was 94-3.
Huh? A near-unanimous vote on Iraq, in any way, shape or form? This isn't just man-bites-dog, it's more like man-bites-unicorn.
Will that lead off the evening news, be the headline of my morning LATimes? We shall see. To me, that's the news, and all else is sound & fury, signifying, well, I think MDV put his finger on it.
So far my Google news points up no other source from America's Media (slogan: "Trust Us to Tell You What's Important"), and just one other---from Italy, with Arabic script involved, under the headline "Senate votes to authorize continued occupation of Iraq."
Dang, but ain't it hard to find out what the hell's going on in this country these days. Better to move to Italy and learn Arabic.
I’ve read this before, and Rush has mentioned it numerous times, but a Washington Post article yesterday means it may be getting out beyond a few of us right-wingers. Clinton was campaigning in Iowa recently and in a 10-page news release her campaign dedicated all but one paragraph to troop withdrawal. Here was that one paragraph:
But toward the end, Clinton noted that it would be "a great worry for our country" if Iraq "becomes a breeding ground for exporting terrorists, as it appears it already is." So she would "order specialized units to engage in narrow and targeted operations against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region." U.S. troops would also train and equip Iraqi forces "to keep order and promote stability in the country, but only to the extent we believe such training is actually working." And she might deploy other forces to protect the Kurdish region in the north, she said, "to protect the fragile but real democracy and relative peace and security that has developed there."
The author mentions the Baker-Hamilton Report, which is basically what this is, and eventually this is where Bush wants to get to as well. However, he doesn’t want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory to get there too soon. Democrat primary voters don’t want to hear any of this, so Clinton won’t be playing this up anytime soon. I wonder if her allies in the MSM will play along.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
This week, Bill Moyers' Journal will feature John Nichols, a "journalist" from the far-left rag The Nation, who favors impeaching both President Bush and #2 man Dick Cheney. Also featured is Bruce Fein, a minor Reagan-era Justice Department official who (ta-da!) favors impeaching Bush and Cheney.
Fair and balanced and open-minded, that's our tax-supported PBS. Always willing to listen to both sides of the same side.
By Toby Harnden in Washington
Last Updated: 1:14am BST 15/07/2007
America's first Muslim congressman has provoked outrage by apparently comparing President George W Bush to Adolf Hitler and hinting that he might have been responsible for the September 11 attacks.
Addressing a gathering of atheists in his home state of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, a Democrat, compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. This was probably burned down by the Nazis in order to justify Hitler's later seizure of emergency powers.
"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that," Mr Ellison said. "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."
To applause from his audience of 300 members of Atheists for Human Rights, Mr Ellison said he would not accuse the Bush administration of planning 9/11 because "you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box---dismiss you."
Oh, not if the US press continues to cover up for you, Congressman Ellison. You can say the most crackpot stuff and never have to answer for it. Being a Democrat in this country means never having to say you're sorry. Must be nice.
Friday, July 13, 2007
First, there's the pair of posts detailing his shock (his SHOCK!) that the Pope is, well, Catholic. More to the point, he can't believe that the Pope didn't realize that some might take offense at his view that the Catholic Church is, well, the True Church and that the other Christian churches are something less. (For the record, I'm still "Protest"-ing so I didn't get my secret Opus Dei message owl telling me to bash an evangelical on Friday). So the Pope shouldn't say what he thinks because some might take offense and as a follow of Jesus, the Pope should know better, since "no one was more attentive to his marketing and the marketing of his message than Jesus." Yep, that's right, Jesus the marketer. In my New Testament, I seem to recall that same Jesus saying things like "take up your cross and follow me," "no one comes to the father except by me" (darned exclusivity again!), "you brood of vipers", etc. All perfectly focus-group tested and never, ever available for being misinterpreted. Nope, no Christians ever took the words of that marketing genius Jesus and turned them to bad ends. That bad Pope really should take a lesson.
Oh, and then there's the "I miss John Paul II" post. (Actually, it's one of the "Why is the Pope a Catholic" posts, but who's counting?) John Paul II would *never* have done what that mean Benedict XVI did. Or, what Mr. Kuo reads that he did, since he didn't have a chance to actually read the 12-PARAGRAPH DOCUMENT because he's on a "tight deadline" - must be all those blog editors really cracking the whip). Um, I guess if he *had* read it, then perhaps he would have noted that it's a reaffirmation of what some pope in the past had said before in an encyclical named Dominus Iesus. Who was that? Oh, John Paul II. Gosh, really miss him too, David.
Then, and now I feel like I'm beginning to bash just a bit, David lectures us for being cynical about John Edwards' "poverty tour," where Edwards is touring the most poverty-stricken parts of America to draw attention to them - and, maybe, just maybe, his own floundering presidential campaign. What's wrong with our cynicism? Well, at least Edwards is doing "something" about poverty and our cynicism is just a symptom of our "discomfort" with the fact that Edwards is "bug[ging] us." Hmmm....I hear a U2 song coming to mind...funny how Bono doesn't seem to worry about those folks in El Salvador these days...sorry, got distracted. Right, so John Edwards is so darned focused on poverty. Well, bully for him. But for Pete's sake (gosh, am I "Poping" again?) get that head a bit harder, David - the reason people are cynical about Edwards' "poverty tour" is precisely because it's in the middle of a presidential campaign and precisely because it is (cynically or not) designed to improve his chances of becoming president. It won't do a doggone thing to help folks in poverty. If John Edwards wanted to do something about poverty in America, he'd get together with his other gazzilionaire friends and invest in some businesses in those areas - y'know, create JOBS? Instead of piling money into, oh, I don't know, hedge funds, maybe he could start some businesses. But once a trial lawyer, always a trial lawyer - and for Edwards, the equation always is take from those have ill-gotten gains and give to those in need. Oh, and take a hefty cut for yourself in the process.
It's an interesting question as to why evangelicals all too often seem all too earnest and earnestly stupid when thinking in public. Why are we such lightweights? That's a good question.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
But Republicans had better brush up on the health care issue and pronto, because it's going to be a 2008 campaign issue, and bigtime. Costs are slamming the middle class, and then there's the problem of the 470 million Americans without health care.
So I surveyed a passel of my British penpals---National Health Service (NHS): Boon or Bane?
---8 agreed with "I love it. It could use improving, of course, but it's a system that works."
---2 agreed with "I love the idea, but it's broken and needs a major overhaul."
---Zero agreed with "Should move toward privatisation for most, as long as the most vulnerable are protected by gov't," and "Nuke it" probably would have finished at negative infinity.
An unscientific poll to be sure, but it backs the fact is that Brits love their NHS---it's a source of national pride. Everyone's taken care of, at least in theory, and that gives everyone a warm & fuzzy. Even the head of the putatively Conservative Party David Cameron devotes rather large swaths of time condemning the Labour government for the NHS' inefficiencies in practice.
Now, it's fair to say that Brits know little about the reality of the American health care system except the horror stories they're fed by their press, which is sympathetic to anything socialist.
It's also true that all whatever many Americans know about socialized medicine in the UK and elsewhere is the romanticized view given by our own press---and there are more converts to the idea every day as a result of that propagandistic film going around. Not only is it free, they even give you money for carfare!
(We should expect that film will find its way to DVD and cable and to a helluvalot of voters before November 4, 2008.)
Conservatives and libertarians are appalled, but they were also appalled at Bush's drug program for seniors. But it was an idea whose time had come, or at least a bill come due in the 2000 election. Bush was forced to promise a program to compete with Al Gore's. (Perhaps it was foolish for him to keep his campaign promise, but Bush is that kinda guy.)
So what can the GOP do to resist a rising tide of sentiment for single-payer health care socialism, another idea that has come due?
Try to let Americans know the facts on the ground in countries with socialized medicine? A risky proposition, but one woman on talk radio today told her tale of exporting her daughter to the US because the 2-year waiting list in Canada would have left the girl paralyzed. The caller herself had had failed ankle surgery there and warned that if you like handicapped parking spaces, you'll love Canada---there are a lot of spaces and a lot of new handicapped. Their government is not doing right, she said.
I don't know if the truth will work, that it's beyond government to do right for everybody. You won't find a lot of Britons testifying---over there it's still one for all and all for one. As a reasonably homogeneous society, they still believe in their government as representative of their society. Even while they hate whatever blokes populate their government, they love their NHS.
But there's no way the polyglot that is America will put up with waiting lists of a year or two. America hates not only its people in government but government in general, and even the New York Times won't be as mellow as the UK's leftist Guardian at failures in a US universal health care system, even if a Democrat is our president.
We want what we need and need what we want right damn now, and God help whoever's not giving it to us. It's true that Bush screwed up Hurricane Katrina, but imagine Katrina times 1000, for ever and ever and ever.
Americans will want the best care in the world for everybody, and every American will want the best health care in the world for himself and his or her family, which in principle is a reasonable demand.
But in practice, nobody's that good, not an executive, not a legislature, not an administrator. And I suspect that even God can't print enough money to cover their shortcomings. America, unlike the countries of the Old World, was built on the individual and his family, not the esprit de corps that cheerfully allows more handicapped parking spaces and cheerful patriots willing to be put in them.
I admire the civic spirit in other countries that tolerates such shared suffering. They seem to prefer universal suffering to working hard and/or disagreeably to get the dough to insure your family's health care. Americans have so far resisted, but universal suffering may become our fate after the 2008 election, forever and ever and ever.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Here's what it seems to me would be required. First, they'd have to move to a relatively small place. For a single guy (or gal), that means a 1 BR apartment, maybe 600 sq ft or so. They can get another few hundred square feet for spouse and another BR for a child. They have either to drive a small hybrid or take public transportation everywhere they go. If they travel, they have to fly coach. They have to keep their house cooled only to 80 degrees in the summer and warmed to 60 degrees in the winter.
I'm sure there are lots of other things we could think of, but the idea would be for some prominent person to show us how to live, lead the way in changing our lifestyles. Of course, none of our public scolds would dream of actually taking this up - and that would be precisely the point...
He has a ton of vetting to get through, and the mainstream media will be happy to oblige (my pal Patterico's on top of it), but my answer was that it's Fred's to lose. Something comes up, the GOP scrambles to Rudy. All I can say about Mitt is that I wouldn't want to Ride on the Roof with Romney*.
*The #4 Rejected 2008 Campaign Slogan