Mensch tracht, un Gott lacht

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How the News Works

So there I was, 4:30 am, sitting on the sofa with a 2-month old in my arms. She had woken up coughing because of a cold my other daughter had given her. (We try very hard to teach our children not to be selfish - woo-hoo! Parenting success!!). Around 5 am all the local stations switched over to their Traffic! News! Weather! early morning stations. (I'm a morning person, but how do you look so cheerful at frickin' 5 am?)

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 Positive Side of Sports

While it has been a rather bleak summer for American sports fan, it is nice to see something positive happening on a soccer field that has good repercussions beyond the mere game. Iraq defeated Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup leading to men running in the streets of Iraq.

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 noted where the producers of the upcoming tv show based on the Geico "cavemen" commercials were defending themselves against the suggestion that the characters in the series are sort of stand-ins for racial minorities.

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

Pleased as Punch & Tickled Pink

David Bloch joins front page today. David is a partner at one of America's most prestigious law firms, a rock'n'roller, and an all-around good guy. Plus he's a little weird (as his affection for H.P. Lovecraft attests), so he should fit right in around here.

The pleasure is ours, David, and welcome.

Postscript (in praise of S.T. Joshi)

I also should say, publicly and for the record, that S. T. Joshi, America's foremost Lovecraft scholar, deserves a medal or a MacArthur grant or an endowed chair at Harvard or something. I suspect his politics are at sharp variance with mine, and I know his reasonably militant atheism would rub many members of this group the wrong way . . . but he has brilliantly rehabilitated Lovecraft in the eyes of the scholarly community. And he has thought deeply and well about the philosophical implications of weird fiction generally, and of Lovecraft's "cosmic terror" more specifically.

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.)

A brief meditation on the press (or, Machen on the MSM)

Arthur Machen was a turn-of-the-century (by which I mean turn-of-the-Nineteenth-Century) writer of weird fiction. He never really made much of an impact in his own right, but was a significant influence on H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft, of course, is now recognized as being one of the greatest writers America has produced; he got his volume in the Library of America in 2005.

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

Calling King Solomons

Via the Associated Press, we have the latest in litigating the perversions of the natural law:

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

The Wicked Witch of the West

"These are public airwaves and the public should be entitled to a fair presentation," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is considering whether the Fairness Doctrine should be restored.

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

Better Than?

I'll admit, this is meant to be a shameless provocation, but I had the chance the other day to sample the fine fare at a Five Guys hamburger place. Dee-lish! The burgers were tasty and substantial, the fries were fresh-cut and done just right, and, well, the prices meant there was a very high penny-to-calorie ratio. (That's always an important food question for me. I hate those sissy places where they put a teensy bit of food on some huge plate as a way of making some "artistic" statement. If I want artistry with my food, I'll watch Giada).

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?

Mr. Watson?

Damn It

Wouldn't you know it? Right during the summer rerun season, with the huggy weepy blatherings of Hillary and John and John's Mommy, oops, wife, and Obama's audacity to use such four-letter words as "hope," and The Great Gore's carbon flatulence, and all the rest, we had a chance---a real chance---for the kind of entertainment from which legends are born. I refer to the lawsuit filed by Valerie Plame accusing the Administration of El Presidente W of outing her, and isn't it all so terrible what they did to her and blah blah blah.

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

Headline Footnote

Yahoo ran a headline on its home page today:

"Oh," I thought. "So that is why Brazilian models keep going too far!"

Honest Headline On Iraq-Pullout From LA Times

I almost spit out my cereal this morning when I pulled up my virtual LA Times and read this headline: “Iraq-pullout backers lack plan to deal with violence.” I thought I must be on the wrong website or dreaming. I wonder if the paper version had the same headline. That might be asking a bit too much. Clicking through to the article I found another jarring headline: “Pullout proposal lacking a Plan B: Those who want troops out of Iraq acknowledge that sectarian violence will likely follow.”

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

All Iraq, All the Time (Except When...)

Per MDV's post below---from ("GOP Establishment Rallies Behind Bush"):

[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.


The Democrats and Iraq

One would think from listening to the Democrat candidates for president that they are all for pulling out of Iraq now! Of course we all know that means all military personal, every last one of them, and they will all be coming home ASAP. But the dirty little secret is that whoever the Democrat nominee (i.e. Hilary Clinton), she will not do any such thing. But you would not know this from the mainstream media’s reporting of the campaign. Nor do the Democrats want their left-wing base to know this.

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

Rush Limbaugh's Journal on PBS

Ooops, sorry. Hallucinating again.

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.


Bush = Hitler (again...sigh)

Sometimes with the American press, you don't even hear one side. It's on righty blogs like Power Line and LGF, but a quick google indicates that aside from his local paper, you'll have to go to the foreign press to find out what's happening in America. From the UK's Telegraph:

Bush like Hitler, says first Muslim in Congress

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

The Seeming Inevitable Lightness of Being an Evangelical

You may have heard of a fellow named David Kuo. He's an evangelical who, at one time, worked in the Bush White House. He then wrote a lightly-regarded book expressing his shock (his SHOCK!) that there were politicians in the White House and that the place didn't run like his high school youth group. (Ok, I made that last part up, but take a gander at the book and don't tell me that he wishes folks around there were singing kumbaya a bit more). The upshot was that David suggested that Evangelicals take a "fast" from politics (just in time for the 2004 elections, naturally). Folks wisely ignored him. So what's new with David? Well, he has a blog over at Beliefnet. Ain't that sweet? And he continues to be perhaps the most vacuous evangelical writer out there. Ok, there are no doubt worse ones around, but he's clearly an exemplar of that species evangelicus ditzus. My evidence? His recent blog posts:

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

The Universal Health Care Hurricane

So far, the majority of Americans despise socialism. At least the GOP hopes it's still a majority.

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

Global Warming Reality Show

Now that Live Earth bombed like any reasonable person realized it would, I have an idea some enterprising tv exec should jump on. Find some Hollywood star or starlet who likes to spend their time lecturing the rest of us on how we need to change our lives to meet the menace of global warning. (Laurie David, Sheryl Crow, and Leo DiCaprio come to mind) Then ask them to spend a year living in a way that would be "earth-friendly" and film it as a reality show.

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...

A Court for the Terrorists

This seems like an entirely correct proposal, for Congress "to establish a comprehensive system of preventive detention that is overseen by a national security court composed of federal judges with life tenure." As the OpEd says, it's been nearly six years since 9/11 and we still don't have a robust, stable legal structure with which we can deal with Al Qaeda and the like. Of course, that would require Congress to actually do its job and legislate, instead of hoping that the courts will do their jobs for them. I'm not holding my breath...

Re: His Freddishness

The president of my company---who would vote Dennis Kucinich over Rudy Giuliani, mind you---asked me today who the GOP nominee will be. (I make sure we talk about Dubya as seldom as Americanly possible.)

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


Monday, July 09, 2007

The #1 Rejected 2008 Campaign Slogan

Obama Nation.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Retrieved from Down the Memory Hole

Lost in the, may I say, euphoria of the end of the Clinton presidency was his deal cut with federal prosecutor Robert Ray. I think it has probative value as we consider the justice of the Libby commutation. (Libby was fined 10 times as much, and will lose his license to practice law permanently):

Clinton admits misleading testimony, avoids charges in Lewinsky probe
President's law license suspended for 5 years

January 19, 2001

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton will leave office free of the prospect of criminal charges after he admitted Friday that he knowingly gave misleading testimony about his affair with Monica Lewinsky in a 1998 lawsuit.

Under an agreement with Independent Counsel Robert Ray, Clinton's law license will be suspended for five years and he will pay a $25,000 fine to Arkansas bar officials. He also gave up any claim to repayment of his legal fees in the matter. In return, Ray will end the 7-year-old Whitewater probe that has shadowed most of Clinton's two terms.

"I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely, but I now recognize that I did not fully accomplish this goal and am certain my responses to questions about Ms. Lewinsky were false," Clinton said in a written statement released Friday by the White House.

The admission, which came on the president's last full day in office, stems from the same allegations that led to Clinton's 1998 impeachment by the House of Representatives, and the later acquittal by the Senate.

In a statement minutes later, Ray said "the nation's interest has been served" by Clinton's admission.

"This matter is now concluded," Ray said. "May history and the American people judge that it has been concluded justly."


Bush Should Have Gone All the Way and Pardoned Libby (Sorry, Tom)

Mr. Van Dyke thinks the president’s Libby commutation is the end of the Bush presidency as we know it (see July 2 post). He cites very low poll numbers for a commutation or pardon, as if anything Bush did now would make him even more unpopular with the American people. The Iraq war, Katrina, immigration and other failures large and small have already brought him just about as low as he can go.

The problem with TVD’s assessment is that it isn’t with Democrats and Independents that Bush is losing support. He never had much Democrat support once the glow of 9/11 wore off, and Independents have been going south for quite some time. And there is nothing he can do at this point to win back any of these people. No, it is shrinking support among Republicans and the conservative base that has brought his approval ratings to historic lows.

To let Mr. Libby go to prison would not only not win back Democrats and Independents, it would have put another nail in the coffin for conservatives. Yet as Robert Novak argues (here and here), commuting Libby’s sentence doesn’t completely satisfy his conservative supporters and still drives Democrats mad. He may as well have gone all the way and just pardoned him now. But Novak makes a very interesting case for what he calls this “strange administration.”

This whole sorry episode gets at the personality of this president, which Novak does a good job of capturing.

That (the commuting of the sentence) might be described as a Solomonic decision, but only if King Solomon actually split the baby and distributed halves to rival mothers. Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who called the president's conduct "disgraceful," would not have been any more upset by an outright pardon. While friends of Libby toasted champagne Monday night, they complained there was no pardon. It was an unsatisfying performance as an unhappy presidency nears its end, with Bush again standing aloof from the passion he has stirred.

Fierce Democratic critics seeking to criminalize Bush's military intervention three years ago seized on the Valerie Plame case. In his harsh reaction Monday, Reid described Libby as part of "White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war." The president and his political advisers always have seemed oblivious to this intense campaign against him. The White House attitude that what we don't know won't hurt us resulted in Bush pointing with pride to the appointment as special counsel of Patrick Fitzgerald, the non-partisan U.S. attorney in Chicago. At that point, Bush lost control of a case that his enemies seized on as a serious threat to his presidency.

What this points out, contrary to the left’s demonizing of Bush, is that he is just not a partisan guy. Liberals think he is the devil himself, a right-wing zealot bent on destroying America as we know it. But liberals have been divorced from reality for a long time. If the president had been a movement conservative and philosophically grounded in the principles that it represents, many of the problems that brought him down would have never happened. (Of course, he may never have gotten elected either, so this is very much an academic discussion.)

We all remember the “new tone” Bush tried to bring to Washington way back when. It didn’t work, as we can see, but that attempt reflects Bush’s penchant for believing that he could transcend partisan politics. You can see him thinking, “If only people will realize that my intentions are good, that I’m an honorable person, they will surely give me credit for . . .” Wrong. This is probably why, as Novak points out, that the president was oblivious to what his enemies were really trying to do to him and his administration. He was going to stand above it all. Wrong again.

So he lets a special prosecutor be appointed to basically harass his own administration. It was a travesty, and all the while Bush thinks he’s getting political points for allowing Fitzgerald almost unlimited power to uncover a crime he knew never happened. You think Bill Clinton would have ever allowed this to happen? I may despise the man and his politics, but he had the game down pat. But it’s just not in Bush’s nature, and he is suffering for it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hillary In the Tall Grass

Well, now, I see that many of the Dems are condemning the commutation by El Presidente W of Scooter's sentence. I cannot remember what these particular Beltway blowhards said when Slick Willie handed out a bunch of pardons while helping himself to some White House knickknacks in January of 2000; but I'm willing to bet a lot that the ineffable Hillary won't have much to say about the commutation of Libby. Not today and not tomorrow. I wonder if the other Dems will call her on it during their next debate/forum; they cannot lose by doing so. And during the general election, I cannot see her saying a word about it. And so it seems to me that all this puffery in the papers today about the problems created by the Libby commutation for the eventual Republican nominee is a lot of crap. But what do you expect from the New York Times?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Libby Freed, Bush Administration Cooked

Previous objections to a Libby pardon here, along with objections to the objections.

Libby's motion to remain free on bail pending appeal was rejected today by a 3-judge panel that included a Reagan, a Bush41, and a Clinton appointee. Since I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was therefore headed directly to jail (no passing Go, no $200), President Bush promptly commuted his sentence.

All that can be said at this point is that with a Libby pardon (technically a commutation) polling at 18%, all the administration has going for it is a bit of surprise, as the pundits didn't get in gear punditing on the prospect, and that July 4 falls on Wednesday this year, disrupting the 24/7 newscycle.

But I don't think we've heard the end of this by a long shot, and even if prosecutor Fitzgerald and the jury were wrong wrong wrong, it will be difficult to call this panel biased. I think today marks the end of the Bush Administration for all practical purposes. The lame duck just died, and the next 18 months will be spent on autopsies and cremations, if not barbecuing.

Looks yummy, and this is just too delicious for anyone to pass up what with the "rule of law," etc. at stake. With the 2008 primaries and general election coming up (and the question will be asked), the Democrats will dig in, although Mrs. Clinton has a few bones at the bottom of her own closet as a result of the closing days of her last co-presidency. And don't rule out the GOP turning into the Donner Party, either, although the undeclared candidate won't.