Friday, June 30, 2006

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fur

Well, this just beats all. A blog full of pictures of cats that look like Hitler. H/T Tennapel. Sieg meow!

The Sleeping Giant

Excellent essay speaks eloquently about many things: Wilsonians, Jeffersonians, Hamiltonians, and Jacksonians, as well as what awaits those who go too far in provoking America (and why the Iraq strategy is our way of trying to prevent this).

It's Easy, I Just Wipe Away All The Dust That's Not The Mona Lisa

Via Peeve Farm, some pretty cool "wash me" art.

Supreme Court, Which Part Of "Shut Up, It's None Of Your Business" Do You Not Understand?

I've just read several NRO articles about the Hamdan decision. Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, you guys are high-larious!

This piece has some passages that sum things up nicely:

The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, enacted last December, gives the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., exclusive jurisdiction to review habeas-corpus petitions from the terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay. The act also expressly provides that, other than that court, “no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider . . . an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba . . .” Legislative word-smithing does not get much clearer than that. Equally clear is Congress’s authority to restrict the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court; Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution describes that the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is subject to “such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”

Yet despite this clear mandate from Congress and equally clear constitutional authority for it, Justice Stevens and a majority of the Supreme Court proceeded to hear and consider, and today decided, the application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, currently a resident of Guantanamo Bay and formerly Osama Bin Laden’s driver (allegedly). For Justice Stevens, the law didn’t really mean what it said because Congress did not, in this section of the act, go out of its way to say that it applied to cases already pending, and interpreting the statute as plainly written would, in his view, raise serious constitutional concerns. The lawlessness of the Court’s action is manifest.

This is not the first time in our history when Congress has sought to revoke the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in a certain class of war-related cases. As Justice Scalia correctly noted in dissent, the Civil-War-era Court confronted the issue in Ex Parte McCardle, which involved an act of Congress removing the Court’s appellate jurisdiction over the habeas claim of a convicted war deserter. As here, that case was also pending at the time Congress acted. Indeed, the Supreme Court had already heard oral argument in the case and was already drafting an opinion. Yet that Court, unlike the current one, recognized the constitutional limits on its authority, noting:

Without jurisdiction the Court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause.

In a case which has been reported as the Court’s rebuke to the nation’s commander-in-chief for acting “above the law,” the Court’s own lawlessness should not go unnoticed.


“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Any sound mind would recognize this infamous “mystery” passage to be gibberish. But five justices on the Supreme Court — Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer — have expounded it (the first three in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and all five in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas) as their license to override, in the name of “substantive due process,” whatever democratic enactments they disfavor.

It should come as no surprise that it was these same five justices in Hamdan who disregarded the fact that Congress, in the Detainee Treatment Act, plainly deprived the Court of jurisdiction in the case and who arrogantly and illegitimately intruded on the president’s conduct of military operations. The Mystery Five have simply practiced once again the utterly lawless willfulness that they have proclaimed to be their mission. And they undoubtedly know that they will receive ample cover, in the form of fawning accolades, from legal academia and the liberal media.

Our country (loosely defined) may well survive these continuing judicial depredations. But our Constitution — and the system of representative government, separated powers, and federalism that it established — won’t.

Update: The American Thinker also has a great piece re:Hamdan.

The Planet's Dullest Major Sport, Again

Another good anti-soccer column.


Even though things had not gone the Americans’ way, I regretted missing those two games. I felt vaguely guilty, in fact, the way Americans are supposed to feel when it is pointed out to them that the rest of the world is in love with soccer and that they are a bunch of parochial, provincial philistines for not getting on board. Flat-earthers (the Friedman kind) tend to despise American football — too violent, militaristic, macho, etc. — and find something sublime in the international version. It is the aesthetically — even morally — superior team sport, and the average American sports fan’s indifference to soccer and the World Cup is just further proof of how unenlightened and boorish he is.

After all, Henry Kissinger is a soccer fan, and that ought to prove something.

Actually, to my thinking, it strengthens the case against soccer. Kissinger, remember, was also a fan of détente with the Soviets, which was the geopolitical equivalent of soccer, with lots of 1-1 games where you had to count on your enemy to score your goals. (The Soviets kicked the winner, for us, in Afghanistan.) Fans of American football prefer the American football approach to foreign policy. You know — long bombs, blitzes, sacks, and the rest of the NFL arsenal, with the result being something like a 51-0 annihilation of the guys in the wrong colored jerseys.

With cheerleaders, of course.

Something came up, again, so I missed the American team’s loss to Ghana. Our boys did score a goal, I learned from the highlights. Or, perhaps, that should be highlight, singular. One goal in three games.

I am one of those baseball fans who likes low scoring pitchers’ duels, but one goal in three full games of soccer … watching that strikes me as something more akin to watching chess. The people who push soccer cite the sport’s non-stop action, and I’ll give them that. But there ought to be a point to all that action. Sports are often described in martial locutions, and the ones that come to mind for soccer are “stalemate” and “trench warfare.” Who wants to watch the Brits and the Germans go at it again, the same way they did outside of Ypres?

Speaking of which, for a sport that is supposed to inspire the universalist in one’s breast, soccer certainly seems to stir up the old, primitive, nationalist juices. As an American, I like for my rivalries to resemble a clan feud rather than a struggle between sovereign states. There is more humor and fellow feeling between the Hatfields and McCoys than the Germans and the Poles. So give me an Alabama/Auburn football game any time. After the game, the drunks are much nicer.

Fans at American sporting events will, from time to time, get out of hand in their enthusiasm. They will tear down goalposts after a big college game or burn up some cars in Detroit when the Pistons win an NBA championship. But these things seem trivial compared to the kind of riots and street thuggery that often follow when soccer emotions reach a boil. The cops have busted hundreds of rioters during the World Cup matches this time around, but so far nobody has been killed, which has been known to happen. And fans have not been the only victims. Back in 1994, playing against the Americans, a Colombian goaltender unwisely deflected the ball into his own net. (Shades of the Italians against the U.S. in 2006.) The Colombian team went on to lose, 2-1, and was eliminated from the tournament. A few days later, the goalie was shot, 12 times, as he left a nightclub. The shooter is reported to have shouted “goal,” each time he fired.

Scott Norwood’s last-second kick sailed wide-right against the Giants in the Buffalo Bill’s first of four Super Bowl losses. Yet Norwood is still with us and still appears in public. So much for the way American football provokes violence.

Now If, Say, They'd Knocked Down Two Of Our Biggest Skyscrapers With Hijacked Airliners, Well, That Would Be A Totally Different Thing!


Can This Guy Count to 11?

Writing on the Puffington Host, Philip Slater, who in 1982 "was chosen by MS. Magazine as one of its 'male heroes,' " says war is bad, and America is extra bad for waging it:

Perhaps the reason Americans seem so comfortable about bombing and invading little countries around the world is that the United States, unlike Europe, has never experienced "collateral damage". If we had ever been bombed and invaded ourselves, had our infrastructure demolished, been subject to foreign soldiers breaking into our homes at night, seen our children slaughtered and our houses destroyed, we would be, I suspect, less gung-ho about war and less cavalier about inflicting these horrors on other people.

If you take this guy at his word, he actually has never heard of Sept. 11.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Co-option. Is There Anything It Can't Do?

From Uncommon Descent:

Over at ( Casey Luskin comments on an article coauthored by Ronald Numbers for the Journal of Clinical Investigation (”Defending science education against intelligent design: a call to action”).

In this article we once again hear the bogus co-option argument as a proposed refutation of irreducible complexity: “…Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity argument ignores exaptation (co-option)…”

This claim of the refutation of IC by co-option is so ubiquitous that some people are actually starting to believe it. I therefore feel that it is my civic duty to refute this “refutation” of IC, which turns out to be a trivial exercise.

1) In order for co-option to produce a bacterial flagellum (for example) all of the component parts must have been present at the same time and in roughly the same place, and all of them must have had other naturally-selectable, useful functions. There is no evidence whatsoever that this ever was the case, or that it ever even could have been the case.

2) The components would have to have been compatible with each other functionally. A bolt that is too large, too small, or that has threads that are too fine or too coarse to match those of a nut, cannot be combined with the nut to make a fastener. There is absolutely no evidence that this interface compatibility ever existed (between all those imaginary co-opted component parts), or that it even could have existed.

3) Even if all the parts are available at the same time and in the same place, and are functionally compatible, one can’t just put them in a bag, shake them up, and have a motor fall out. An assembly mechanism is required, and that mechanism must be complete in every detail, otherwise incomplete or improper assembly will result, and no naturally-selectable function will be produced. The assembly mechanism thus represents yet another irreducibly complex hurdle.

4) Last, and perhaps most importantly, assembly instructions are required. Assembly must be timed and coordinated properly. And the assembly instructions must be complete in every detail, otherwise no function will result. This represents an additional irreducibly complex hurdle.

Co-option is a demonstrably fantastic story made up out of whole cloth, with absolutely no basis in evidence. And it doesn’t withstand even the most trivial analytical scrutiny. There is not a shred of evidence that this process ever took place, or that it even could have taken place. Worst of all, it requires blind acceptance of the clearly miraculous.

There is a great irony here. This verifiably ridiculous co-option fantasy is presented as “science,” while a straightforward and reasonable inference to design is labeled pseudoscience. The real state of affairs is precisely the reverse.

The poor Darwinists lack engineering training and are, hence, quite ill-equipped to see these obvious problems. As the first comment to the post says:

I’ve always thought it would be worthwhile for biologists (or biology students) to have some sort of engineering apprenticeship. By spending time with a design engineer (be it software, mechanical, electrical, or any other discipline), they would see first hand just what it takes to end up with a tightly integrated, functional system on the back end.

It still astonishes me how so many in the origins community are so sloppy with their thinking regarding co-option. I particularly like your point about assembly mechanisms and instructions. I’ve commented before that Darwinians seem to be satisfied with a parts list (hypothetical at that), never paying mind to the arguably more important step of assembly - spatially and temporally [shut up, theocrat!].

Uhhh, What You Did Is Nothing To Boast About, Dear

Via Mark Shea, a sensitively written NPR-esque tale of a mercy killing committed by a well known author.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A 19th Century-Style Literary Fisking

This is great. Mark Shea has a couple of background posts that set the stage.

Update: A new installment of the saga can be found here.


Can you spot the stoopid statement in the following (from James Taranto's column)?

Weighing in against the proposed amendment, in an op-ed for the Charlotte Observer, is Dr. Susan Roberts:

Flag burning was thrust into the public eye following an arrest of a young man during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas. The man identified himself as a member of a group calling itself the Revolutionary Youth Brigade. He was charged with a violation of the Texas Desecration of Venerated Objects statute.

In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed an appellate court decision that the man was within his First Amendment rights. Wasting no time, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act just months after the ruling. Wasting no time, the Supreme Court ruled that the Flag Protection Act was inconsistent with First Amendment freedoms and thus unconstitutional.

It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court would now uphold an amendment prohibiting flag burning, even with the change in the court's composition.

I hope you can spot it.

Says Taranto:

It may seem unlikely that the Supreme Court would uphold a statute prohibiting flag burning (and indeed, in 1990's U.S. v. Eichman it overturned the federal Flag Protection Act of 1989). That's why Congress is considering a constitutional amendment, which the court couldn't overturn.

It's embarrassing enough that Dr. Roberts's error got past the editors of the Observer, but it's even worse that she made such a goof in the first place. For she is not a real doctor but a professor of political science, at North Carolina's Davidson College, where she teaches such courses as The Legislative Process (POL 211) and The Politics of Feminism (POL 215).

It is troubling indeed to think that the political scientists of tomorrow are being taught by people who lack basic knowledge about the workings of American government.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Political Dynamics

Interesting analysis by Bruce Bartlett, which looks at why the party in power seems to lose its principles while the party out of power turns into lunatics.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Gravitas Rematch

Stephen Colbert vs Stone Phillips. Quite amusing.

Dance This Mess Around

Another guy named Matt has done something kind of interesting and endearing. H/T Right Wing News.

The Only Sacred Thing On This Planet Is The Press

An outstanding Andrew McCarthy piece on the treason of the NYT. Too much to excerpt, a great piece of writing.

Another great piece of writing is this Lileks screed re: the inspiring Democrat message.

Sweet Surrender

Good retrospective on the glory that is Democratic Party foreign policy.


This rather effete (and eerily French) inclination to seek defeat has a rich history in the Democratic party, going back at least to the Kennedy administration. Despite sweeping declarations about paying any price, etc., for the success of liberty, Kennedy’s foreign policy was actually based on the notion that war most often results from miscommunication. That, apparently, was his thinking when he reassured the Soviets that we would not attack if they raised a wall in Berlin. (They didn’t know that before, which is why they hadn’t built it). The predictable result, a few months later, was the Berlin Wall, which saved the Communist regime of East Germany from death-by-mass-emigration.

What is harder to divine is what Kennedy might have been thinking when he waited until the Bay of Pigs invasion was underway before deciding to pull American air and logistical support. Thousands of Cuban exiles, who were in fact willing to pay any price for the success of liberty, threw their lives away on the beach or rotted in jail for decades.

And then, of course, we have the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was caused most fundamentally by Khrushchev’s desire to see if there was any limit to Kennedy’s submissiveness. (Fortunately, there was a limit to the Pentagon’s.)

The roots of the Democratic defeat-fetish grew deeper in the weary Johnson years, during which nearly a million American boys were sent to the other side of the world by a president who was driven there almost purely by domestic politics and who appears never to have worked up any real resolve to win. By the time 1968 rolled around, Johnson himself gave up, and withdrew from the reelection battle.

Nixon and Kissinger came to office convinced that Vietnam was unwinnable (which, by that point, may have been true) and that the key thing was to surrender without appearing to have done so. They started negotiating with everyone — the North Vietnamese, the Chinese, and the Russians — to try to triangulate a settlement that would bring “peace with honor.” For most Democrats, there was no reason to sugar-coat it — surrender tasted just fine by itself. They put enormous pressure on the administration to withdraw, with or without concessions from Hanoi. In diplomacy, this is called a unilateral concession; in strategy, we use a different term: Surrender.


The basic message of the Carter presidency was that America is on the decline, and we have to accept it. Though the Carter years are really too depressing to think about, I recently came across an interesting and telling anecdote: The Delta Force units that took part in the disastrous Desert One operation were under orders not to use lethal force if they got as far as the embassy in Tehran and encountered a hostile crowd. (As Mark Bowden revealed, they had little intention of following these ridiculous instructions).


The greatest of Clinton’s achievements in the realm of defeat-fetish was his response to al Qaeda’s declaration of war on the United States. After our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were destroyed, Clinton valiantly lobbed scores of cruise missiles at a milk factory in the Sudan and several empty campsites in Afghanistan. The only effect on Osama bin Laden, besides giving him a reason to laugh at us, was to convince him that we were weak and would quickly accept defeat if we were hit hard enough.

And now, with the Iraq war, the Democrats are at it again. Their comparison of Iraq to Vietnam is, to say the least, a stretch. The insurgency in Iraq has failed to achieve a national geographic scope; it has no foreign countries supporting it; it has no political program that anyone can understand; and it does not even have the scant military effectiveness of the Viet Cong. But there is one striking parallel with Vietnam: The Democratic party is once again mired in a race-to-the-bottom debate about how best to make America surrender.

As events in the Senate showed last week, there is diversity of opinion among Democrats on that issue; victory, on the other hand, has almost no support within the party. Senators Clinton and Lieberman, among the only Democratic politicians who think that victory is both possible and necessary, routinely get booed at public functions when they even mention the dreaded “v” word.

The basic problem for the Democrats is that Americans are not instinctive losers. And because the Democratic base is split between moderates who want to surrender in Iraq, and liberals who want to surrender generally, they can’t exploit the biggest vulnerability Republicans have, which is, of course, the war. Any time the Democrats are forced to take a position on the war, they alienate a part of their base, and embarrass themselves in the process. This is why last week’s defeat of the two surrender declarations in the Senate is such good news for Republicans; the Democrats appear to have made surrender the essential theme of their political platform. As a result, they may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory come November.

Golden Retrievers And Train Schedules

From Bill Bonner, one of my favorite (and the most poetic) financial writers:

A large headline in the Financial Times proclaims: "Global economy heads towards a soft landing."

It is a marvelous line, made unwittingly more poignant for being placed over a photo of an addled-looking Noel Forgeard and an Airbus 320. Neither Airbus nor Forgeard managed a soft landing last week. Both crashed...the former because it couldn't deliver the planes it promised and the latter because he sold shares in advance of a profit warning that sent the aforementioned stock down like a kamikaze pilot. Five billion dollars was wiped off of Airbuses' capitalization. Good timing on Forgeard's part.

What the article itself was concerned with was not the sudden crash of Airbus, but the gentle descent of the entire world economy. How do we know it will land softly? Two hundred and forty economists have said so.

"Economic growth is set to slow this year and next amid rising interest rates, weaker house prices, high commodity and energy prices and fresh geopolitical tensions," the FT summarizes. "The global liquidity bubble, which propped up global growth for so long, is now being pricked by central banks desperate to stem surging consumer price inflation."

Here we watch the markets, too, and even more, the market commentary.

Ms. Market, we have found, is like a woman – coy, changeable and contemptuous of our efforts to understand her. Will she be perky and charming today? Or will she be sulky and distant? What is bothering her now? Oh my, my...she seems frisky today, doesn't she? We will never fathom what moves her; we might as well be a golden retriever trying to decipher the Tokyo train schedules.

But market commentary is another thing altogether. It is more masculine, which is to say it is more logical, more understandable, more reliable, and more thoroughly imbecilic. Just read the papers. You will find analyses there that even a 10-year-old could grasp. Are they correct? No more correct than a man trying to dope out his mistress's moods. Are they useful? Yes, of course. Mainly because they are almost always wrong.

Commentators, it seems, are from Mars. Markets are from Venus.

And like Mars and Venus, they move in separate orbits.

We say that, mind you, in earnest admiration. Not of the financial media nor of the pundits, but of the elegant way in which the world is designed to deceive the mass of men. In order for the markets to function as they do, most investors must be wrong most of the time. Otherwise, they would look ahead and thwart the trend. A developing bull market requires that most people distrust it. Otherwise, they would jump in right away and bring the whole thing to a premature conclusion. Likewise, a market peak needs a preponderance of bullish investors at the very moment when bullishness is the most unprofitable sentiment one could have.

The financial media, amplifying popular sentiments rather than filtering them, helps investors arrive where they shouldn't be exactly when they most shouldn't be there.

As near as we can tell, the league of extraordinary economists is right so far. They have only to look out the window; the sky is so dark with inflation hawks, it looks like a scene out of "The Birds." German producer prices are rising at the fastest rate in 24 years, we learn from yesterday's press. The European Central Bank is tightening up to fight it. In Japan, the ZIRP – or zero interest rate policy – is set to end "without delay," says the country's top central banker. China, meanwhile, has begun taking liquidity out of the market as quickly as its own central bankers can manage. And, in America, a further rate increase next week is said to be a "done deal," with another one now expected in August.

"By curtailing the rate of growth of liquidity and making it more expensive for companies or individuals to borrow," the FT continues, "central banks are hitting share prices, bond markets, commodity and precious metal prices as well as the international housing market."

Again, we see nothing to argue with. We have seen what has happened in the financial markets. Houses are not marked to market the way copper and Airbus shares are. If they were, we suspect we'd see a decline there, too.

No, it is not the landing we doubt. That is a known and well-reported fact. It's the qualifier "soft" that we wonder about. How do 240 economists know we will have a landing that is soft rather than hard? How do they know what mood Ms. Market will be in tomorrow or the day after? How does a Martian understand what a Venusian is up to?

They don't. They have no more idea than we do. But their unanimity gives us a clue about where the money will be made. With so many people betting on a soft landing, the long odds on a hard one are bound to be attractive.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The World's Cup Of Tea Definitely Ain't My Cup Of Tea

When I hear or read that the U.S. is not held in high esteem by world opinion, I often think to myself, "Yeah. And soccer is held in high esteem by world opinion. So do you have a point?"

The American Thinker has a nicely written anti-soccer essay.


Despite decades of strenuous efforts to promote soccer to American youth and sports fans, and despite the phenomenal success of the American women’s soccer team in international competition, soccer remains the neglected stepchild of the American sports scene. Indeed, when the American men’s team was bounced in the first round of the World Cup this week, the response from the nation at large was a great big yawn. Compare this to the black cloud that descended over the country when the American men’s basketball team failed to win the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics.

So why don’t Americans like soccer? There appear to be two basic explanations. The first is that the “marketplace” for sports in this country already is filled with baseball, football, basketball, and (to a much lesser degree) hockey, leaving no room for soccer to grow in popularity.


I’m not convinced. Marketplaces are inherently dynamic. If soccer were a worthy object of the American sports fan’s interest, then it would enjoy greater popularity. But it doesn’t. Which brings me to the second common explanation for its lack of popularity: soccer is boring. As a blogger vividly explained only a few days ago:

The first round [of this year’s World Cup] isn’t even over yet, and there have already been five 0-0 draws. Five matches in which nobody scored. In the Argentina-Netherlands match, there were a total of six shots on goal in the match (three a side). For those keeping score at home, that’s one shot on goal every fifteen minutes (and that’s only if you ignore “stoppage time”). There were nineteen total shots taken, if you include the thirteen that weren’t on goal. So barely over one shot every five minutes, on average. When Americans complain that “nothing happens” in a soccer match, this is exactly what we’re talking about.

While I’m on this rant, there were six 1-0 matches, three 1:1 draws (nine total draws), and fourteen other shutouts (twenty total shutouts if you count the 1-0 matches). So out of forty matches played, in 25 of them, at least one team failed to score at all. That’s a staggering 62.5%! (By way of comparison, there were fifteen baseball games today, and two of them were shutouts; in all but 13.3% of the games, fans of either team had at least something to cheer for; and baseball isn’t exactly known for being the most exciting sport in the world…)

In my opinion, a lack of scoring is not merely an incidental aspect of the game of soccer—it is its essence. That is, the ultimate purpose of soccer is to engage in lots of furious activity to accomplish . . . absolutely nothing. Not surprisingly, when that elusive goal is scored (if it is scored), ear-shattering howls of euphoria erupt from players, announcers, and spectators alike, as if their very souls were being released from the depths of hell.

Goals are indeed a rare commodity in soccer, so much so that soccer is, essentially, a zero sum game. The “pie” of goals not only is meager, it never grows. So it is fought over with an intensity that is almost never found in American sports [reminds me of the quip about academia: the infighting is so fierce because the stakes are so low]. This isn’t boring, but it is deeply unsatisfying to Americans.

My theory is that Americans have neither the belief system nor the temperment for such a sisyphean sport as soccer.


That soccer may be “the most popular sport in the world” speaks volumes—but not about America’s lack of sporting knowledge or sophistication, as soccer aficionados like to argue. Rather, I think it reflects the static, crimped, and defeatest attitudes held by so many of the other peoples on earth.

The day that soccer becomes one of the most popular sports in the United States is the day that American exceptionalism diminishes in our souls.

Man-Made Invention Of Soothing Religious Ideas

Doug Tennapel:

“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.” -Emo Philips

Among the many ways atheists spin moral guilt, they could read the above and say we create a creator to help make sense of right and wrong, to invent meaning where there is none. But it would be just as easy to say that I could have a much easier journey through life if I invented a scenario where there was no Creator to feel accountable to.

It's not the Theist who is guilty of inventing moral systems to have a more self-assured life, it is the atheist who removes guilt by explaining away the existence of sin, morals or meaning.

My atheist pal and I debate an argue over the existence of God and he insists that it is evolutionarily beneficial for this upright ape to create stories about a God to keep the tribe in check etc.;

"In order that primeval men, or the ape-like progenitors of man, should become social, they must have acquired the same instinctive feelings, which impel other animals to live in a body... They would have felt uneasy when separated from their comrades, for whom they would have felt some degree of love; they would have warned each other of danger, and have given mutual aid in attack or defence. All this implies some degree of sympathy, fidelity and courage. Such social qualities... were no doubt acquired... through natural selection, aided by inherited habit. When two tribes... came into competition, if... the one tribe included a great number of courageous, sympathetic and faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger, to aid and defend each other, this tribe would succeed better and conquer the other." -Descent of Man, Charles Darwin

So now I've got him because he's saying humans are inclined to make up B.S. stories that are beneficial to him. What about the atheist then? Do the rules of humanity that have entrapped every person of faith somehow not apply to these elite brainiacs? Genius Christians like St. Thomas Aquinas or C.S. Lewis are actually stupid and fall victim to this human problem but atheists like Shermer, Gould and Dawkins are able to tap into the actual truth and cannot be seduced by stories?

“Nearly all peoples have developed their own creation myth, and the Genesis story is just the one that happened to have been adopted by one particular tribe of Middle Eastern herders. It has no more special status than the belief of a particular West African tribe that the world was created from the excrement of ants.” - The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins

If anything, they have swallowed the ultimate story that a fallen man would much rather prefer, that something came from nothing without an Intelligent Agent, that morals evolved, that I can do what I want with no repurcussions in the after life, that I may make up my own morality based on fashion, personal preferences, cultural preferences, or whatever I say 'science' discovered.

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” - Richard Dawkins

...and I go one god beyond Dawkins, the god of unguided, spontaneous generation of life.

Well, I Guess The November Elections Are Pretty Much In The Bag

John Murtha would like to tell Republicans on behalf of Democrats everywhere: You're welcome.

Murtha says U.S. poses top threat to world peace
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.25.2006

MIAMI — American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said to an audience of more than 200 in North Miami Saturday afternoon...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sullivan Wittily Fisked

Good piece.


Frankly, the tone of political discourse distresses the self-described "gay, Catholic conservative" commentator. He finds it beyond the pale that Ann Coulter calls liberals "godless." "The point," he proclaims urbi et orbi in the Daily Encyclical, er, Dish, "is to portray your political opponents as part of a Manichean struggle against existential evil. And so 'liberalism' is literally demonized."

I must have missed something. Is Christianist, then, a term of endearment? Of all people, Sullivan has to be beyond waging Manichean struggles against existential evil. Marcionite struggles maybe, Arian even, but never Manichean.

The Theories Of Conspirators

Peeve Farm:

Is there really something fundamentally different between the "right" and "left" sides of the blogosphere?

I like to think there isn't—that people who disagree on these matters do so as a result of rational reflection, personal experience, and numerous atmospheric influences great and small. My gut feeling is that we all believe the things we do for reasons that seem perfectly good to us all individually, even if we admit they're not wholly rational—like backing the Giants instead of the Dodgers. Get two die-hard fans of opposite teams in the room with each other, and they can have a great old time being human beings together; just don't bring up baseball.

But then I read something like this, and my mind spins.

For years now I've heard people bleating about the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and the "Rovian marching orders" and "cogs in the machine" and so on, and I've sort of instinctively assumed that it was at least partially meant tongue-in-cheek, like the way people on the right side repeat the same terms mockingly. I mean, nobody can actually believe this stuff, can they? If people like Kos are getting taken seriously by Newsweek and the DNC, all this obvious hyperbole must just be a winking indulgence that they abandon once they sit down to actually think about strategy?

I mean, they do all have real ideas that they understand vividly enough in their own minds that they can articulate them on their own, right? That's how things are on this side of the blogosphere, see. I'm a pretty small bit player, but I don't think it's out of the ordinary that I don't get any "marching orders". I don't receive stipends from some shadowy pseudonymous figure with a redacted return address. My thoughts aren't consumed with political action committees and fundraising and back-room deals—I don't care. What matters to me are ideals and who's willing to adhere to them and to what degree. Nobody's ever pressured me to stay "on message" or to write about some subject and not another. About the closest thing that comes to it is when some of my regular readers send me links to interesting Apple news. Is that it? Is that what "marching orders" are?

I honestly am feeling a little bit creeped out here: if the implications of these developments are to be believed, the reason why the Left side of the blogosphere—or at least the part that gets all the press—talks so fervently about conspiracies and shadowy message machines controlling the Right side is that they—on the Left—are the ones with exactly that kind of power structure. And they apparently can't believe that the "other side" can possibly exist without something similar and analogous. I don't give a crap what Karl Rove thinks; but these guys sure seem to think highly of Joe Trippi.

They're projecting. They proudly talk about the "netroots" in their message-controlled missives from the top, while their opponents just write about what they read and how they feel about it. There is no conspiracy on this side of the aisle, not that they'd ever believe me saying so—but there is one on their side, and they know it, and they're proud of having figured out how it all works—and so I must be lying. I and every other "right-wing" blogger: we must be getting our marching orders from somewhere. We must be getting mysterious evil funding. We must be getting paid and ordered to say what we say, because obviously nobody would do so otherwise.

It seems to me that the definition of "netroots" (a term I'm not going to bother using, because it's functionally the same damn thing as "grassroots") is people individually and independently feeling moved to speak out on subjects that matter to them, whether they agree with anybody important or not—and a significant enough number of them happening to speak to the same themes as to constitute a spontaneous and self-motivated movement. It does not mean a "noise machine". A "grassroots" movement does not need direction or message control or organizers or superstars. Such things are antithetical to the very concept. You can't summon a cargo plane by building a bamboo control tower and clearing a dirt runway in the jungle. And you can't create a grassroots movement by command.

The "netroots" wouldn't know a real grassroots society if it bit them in the ass. Which it keeps doing.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Leftist's Idea Of A Civilized Dialogue Is Calling Us Nazis, While Our Mouths Are Taped Shut

Don Feder has an excellent column about the Ann Coulter brouhaha, and how leftist crybabies can dish it out but can't take it.


When leftists start caterwauling about civility, it reminds me of when my kids were young.

When my daughter Anna was 5 and my son, Jonathan was 4, World War III broke out in our household at least once a day. Anna’s modus operandi, as she explained it to her grandfather, was: "I hit Jonathan. He hits me. Then I tell Mommy."

In essence, that’s the leftists’ civility scam: They hit us. We hit back. Then their media lap dogs begin howling about incivility and yapping about the decline of gentility in the political debate (which, if I’m not mistaken, started with the presidential election of 1800).

It comes on cue; Ann Coulter writes a book and liberals start spewing about mean-spiritedness.

In her latest foray (Godless: The Church of Liberalism), Coulter observed that the "Jersey Girls" – four 9/11 widows who turned themselves into tools of the hate-Bush establishment – reveled in their celebrity status. OK, she called them "harpies" too.

Low blow! the media referees of political pugilism cried. (These self-appointed refs always seem to be gazing off into space when left-wingers rabbit-punch conservatives, or deliver a debilitating kick to the groin.)


But Coulter’s comments about the Jersey Girls weren’t gratuitous. She devoted a chapter in her book to the way the left picks spokesmen whose suffering is supposed to immunize them from criticism -- Cindy Sheehan, Nick Berg’s father, Christopher Reeve, the Jersey Girls, etc. When we respond to their crackpot carping, we’re admonished for our stunning insensitivity.

Meanwhile, the left has perfected the gentle art of character assassination, while complaining about the politics of personal destruction. Their idea of a civilized dialogue is calling us really-mean Nazis, while our mouths are taped shut.

The quintessence of liberal civility is the thoughtful fashion in which the left expresses its disagreement with the policies of George W. Bush.

When a liberal writes a book about the 43rd. president of the United States, the words "lies," "liar," "stupid" or "evil" must appear in the title. The trifecta of liberal Bush-bashing would be a book titled "The Evil Lies of Stupid Bush" (or, "The Stupid Lies of Evil Bush").

Illustrative of the liar-liar-pants-on-fire school of liberal analysis, here are just a few of the titles offered on

* The Lies of George Bush by David Corn
* Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn’t Tell You by Paul Waldman
* Big Bush Lies: The 20 Most Telling Lies of President George W. Bush by Jerry Politex
* The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq by Christopher Scheer, Lakshmi Chaudhry, and Robert Scheer
* Bush Lies In State by Michael McCourt; and
* Aliens And Cowboys: Bush’s Legacy of Lies by Jefferson Lang.

Coming soon to a bookstore near you, Neener-Neener/ I-Know-You-Are-But-What-Am-I? -- The Intelligent Liberal’s Guide To Political Discourse by Franken Rodham Moore.

Or, consider the way leftists routinely demonize their opponents:

Evangelical Christians – Ignorant, superstitious, violence-prone fanatics intent on establishing a theocracy and putting homosexuals, abortionists, pornographers, feminists, Moslems, and Ron Howard in death camps.

Gun Owners – Homicidal maniacs who want to arm toddlers with howitzers and kill Bambi.

The U.S. Military
– Stone-cold killers, Lt. Calley-clones programmed to indiscriminately murder women and children and torture detainees.

Pro-lifers – Religious fanatics, misogynists who want to turn women into breeding stock, violence-prone fetus-worshippers who care about life only in the womb.

Immigration Reform Advocates – Xenophobes who are betraying America’s nation-of-immigrants heritage and have an irrational fear of diversity as well as anyone named Juan or Jose.

Politicians Who Support the U.S. Presence in Iraq, but either A) Didn’t serve in the military, B) Served, but didn’t see combat or C) Served, saw combat, but failed to win the Medal of Honor
– Chicken Hawks, nancy boys, hypocritical jingoists who’ll defend America to the last drop of the other guy’s blood.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The President Gets An Unexpected Big Hug

Details at The Anchoress. Be sure to see the slide show at the story she links.

Good Fisking

Freeman Hunt deconstructs the "I blame my abortion on Bush" piece that was in the WaPo a couple of weeks ago.

The Future Lies Ahead


ABC news has asked viewers to send in evidence of global warming. How is it affecting your life? ABC news wants to hear from you. This is like Life magazine asking readers in 1952 to describe the communists under their beds. Bald? Slavic? Ruddy? Drunken?


I am not susceptible to disaster scenarios. I do not believe we have ten years to prevent the inevitable collapse of civilization. As long as I can remember I have been fed end-times scenarios – death by ice, death by fire, death by famine, death by smothering from heaps of clambering humans scrabbling for purchase on an overpopulated world, death by full-scale nuclear exchange, death by unstoppable global AIDS, death by a two-degree rise in temperatures, death by radon, death by alar, death by inadvertent Audi acceleration, death by juju. Doesn’t mean we won’t die of juju. But somehow we survive. The only thing I take away is a vague wistful wonder what it would be like to live in an era when things were generally so bad that the futurists spent their time assuring us it would be better. Say what you will about the past, but at least they had a future. All I’ve ever had, according to the experts, is a grim narrow window of heedless ignorance bliss followed by a dystopian irradiated world characterized by scarcity, mutation, and quite possibly intelligent chimps. You have no future. Oh, and don’t smoke!


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hotel CaliforniAOL


An incredible video from CNBC shows an AOL customer trying to cancel his account, but a phone rep won't let him do it. What customer Vincent Ferrari got when he tried to cancel his account was a lot of frustration.

It took him 15 minutes waiting on the phone just to reach a real, live person.

And, what happened next was recorded by Ferrari on audio and lasted about four minutes:


AOL REPRESENTATIVE: Hi this is John at AOL... how may I help you today?

VINCENT FERRARI: I wanted to cancel my account.

AOL: Sorry to hear that. Let's pull your account up here real quick. Can I have your name please?

VINCENT: Vincent Ferrari.


AOL: You've had this account for a long time.


AOL: Use this quite a bit. What was the cause of wanting to turn this off today?

VINCENT: I just don't use it anymore.

AOL: Do you have a high speed connection, like the DSL or cable?


AOL: How long have you had that...

VINCENT: Years...

AOL: ...the high speed?

VINCENT: ...years.

AOL: Well, actually I'm showing a lot of usage on this account.

VINCENT: Yeah, a long time, a long time ago, not recently...


AOL: Okay, I mean is there a problem with the software itself?

VINCENT: No. I just don't use it, I don't need it, I don't want it. I just don't need it anymore.

AOL: Okay. So when you use this... I mean, use the computer, I'm saying, is that for business or for... for school?

VINCENT: Dude, what difference does it make. I don't want the AOL account anymore. Can we please cancel it?


AOL: Last year was 545, last month was 545 hours of usage...

VINCENT: I don't know how to make this any clearer, so I'm just gonna say it one last time. Cancel the account.

AOL: Well explain to me what's, why...

VINCENT: I'm not explaining anything to you. Cancel the account.

AOL: Well, what's the matter man? We're just, I'm just trying to help here.

VINCENT: You're not helping me. You're helping me...

AOL: I am trying to help.

VINCENT: Helping... listen, I called to cancel the account. Helping me would be canceling the account. Please help me and cancel the account.

AOL: No, it wouldn't actually...

VINCENT: Cancel my account...

AOL: Turning off your account...

VINCENT: ...cancel the account...

AOL: ...would be the worst thing that...

VINCENT: ...cancel the account.


AOL: Okay, cause I'm just trying to figure out...

VINCENT: Cancel the account. I don't know how to make this any clearer for you. Cancel the account. When I say cancel the account, I don't mean help me figure out how to keep it, I mean cancel the account.

AOL: Well, I'm sorry, I don't know what anybody's done to you Vincent because all I'm...

VINCENT: Will you please cancel the account.


AOL: Alright, some day when you calmed down you're gonna realize that all I was trying to do was help you... and it was actually in your best interest to listen to me.

VINCENT: Wonderful, Okay.


"I've never ever experienced anything like that," Ferrari told CNBC.

He recounts how the AOL representative - as a last resort even asked if his dad was home.

"I think I could've put up with everything, but at the point when he asked to speak to my father, I came very close to losing it at that point," said the 30-year-old Ferrari.

Ferrari then posted the call online, and the response was tremendous.

AOL sent him an apology and said the customer service rep was no longer with the company.

Brokeback Al Zarqawi

Movie trailer parody (written language advisory). H/T Ace Of Spades.

Good Question

Jay Nordlinger:

The other day, I was engaged in one of life’s most pleasurable activities: I was reading an article by Mark Steyn. He related a story about Bob Dole, and his attachment to the congressional world.

One day, the senator was visiting a school, and a little girl asked him about acid rain: What did he plan to do about it? Dole replied, “That bill’s in markup.”

But forget Bob Dole: That story got me to thinking, What happened to acid rain? I mean, it was on the cover of Time magazine about 100 times. It was the concern of the century, the environmental crime of the century. Schoolteachers everywhere told their kiddies that Ronald Reagan and the Republicans were climbing into the sky to create that rotten rain. At a minimum, they were indifferent to it.

And then . . . silence. No Time magazine cover. No Democratic talking point. The enviro crowd just moved on to something else (chiefly global warming, a successor to the coming ice age).

To repeat: What happened to acid rain? Or rather — to ask this differently — what does the Left say happened to acid rain? Did their crusade take care of the problem — or did they simply get bored, searching out different alarmist pastures?

(You will recall that, at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, the Left and the media claimed that the Republicans were “putting arsenic back into the water” — that was before the administration began wiretapping Aunt Hazel’s phone, for no good reason.)

I don’t know what happened to acid rain. But I continue to be amazed at the rapid flickering out of the most burning issues in American life. Just wait a little while: Global warming will be the dangerous new ice age again. Environmentalist scaremongering is sort of like hemlines.

Say, Now That You Mention It, I Really Was Craving A Slurpee More Than Usual Today!

This is asinine:

Idiot Box Science

ABC News is looking for viewers' help in "reporting" on "global warming":

Witnessing the impact of global warming in your life?

ABC News wants to hear from you. We're currently producing a report on the increasing changes in our physical environment, and are looking for interesting examples of people coping with the differences in their daily lives. Has your life been directly affected by global warming?

We want to hear and see your stories. Have you noticed changes in your own backyard or hometown? The differences can be large or small--altered blooming schedules, unusual animals that have arrived in your community, higher water levels encroaching on your property.

Show us what you've seen.

Essentially ABC is asking viewers to send in their anecdotes of warm weather, which it will claim are evidence of a warming climate. Well, when Al Gore gave a "global warming" speech in New York a couple of years ago, the temperature was in the single digits. Does that prove the existence of "global cooling"? Only by ABC's standards.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

There's Nothing Wrong With Divine Revelation That A Little Improving Couldn't Fix

Mark Shea:

With the ECUSA reduced to a smoking heap of rubble...

the PCUSA becomes the next to sell its birthright for a pot of message:

Presbyterians this June will be asked to ratify a new report on Trinitarian theology that describes the cornerstone doctrine in various metaphorical terms, including a controversial description of the triune God as "Mother, Child and Womb."

In other descriptions the report uses other biblical terms to name the Triune God.

"We may use words that speaks of the inner relations of the Godhead – Lover, Beloved, Love, and those that speak of the loving activity of the Three among us – Creator, Savior, Sanctifier, Rock, Redeemer, Friend, King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love."

Actually, those terms *don't* speak of the inner relations of the Godhead. The Name that *does* speak of those relations is--surprise!--the one revealed to us by the Second Person of the Godhead. "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (those hopelessly non-PC terms) describe better than anything else the inner relationship of the Trinity: who God is in Himself. The hopelessly banal and trendy titles the PCUSA is batting around have one thing in common: they are calculated to express, not who God is in himself, but who comfortable upscale suburbanites who have dabbled in feminism and multiculti crap would like him to be for the sake of their comfort.

I would like to invite readers to come up with more titles to please the comfortable suburban ear. Perhaps "Trainer, Stairmaster, and Steroid"? How about "Affirmer, Mirror, and Giver of Self-Esteem"? How about "Bank, Check, and Cash Flow"?

At the risk of being accused of blaspheming the Name, please understand, I am blaspheming nothing but the false god these Improvers are creating. All glory, honor and praise be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Six Reasons

For liberal paranoia about global warming (Dennis Prager).

The column begins:

Observers of contemporary society will surely have noted that a liberal is far more likely to fear global warming than a conservative. Why is this?

After all, if the science is as conclusive as Al Gore, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and virtually every other spokesman of the Left says it is, conservatives are just as likely to be scorched and drowned and otherwise done in by global warming as liberals will. So why aren't non-leftists nearly as exercised as leftists are?Do conservatives handle heat better? Are libertarians better swimmers? Do religious people love their children less?

The usual liberal responses -- to label a conservative position racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic or the like -- obviously don't apply here. So, liberals would have to fall back on the one remaining all-purpose liberal explanation: "big business." They might therefore explain the conservative-liberal divide over global warming thus: Conservatives don't care about global warming because they prefer corporate profits to saving the planet.

But such an explanation could not explain the vast majority of conservatives who are not in any way tied into the corporate world (like this writer, who has no stocks and who, moreover, regards big business as amoral as leftists do).

No, the usual liberal dismissals of conservatives and their positions just don't explain this particularly illuminating difference between liberals and conservatives.

Here are six more likely explanations:

* The Left is prone to hysteria. The belief that global warming will destroy the world is but one of many hysterical notions held on the Left. As noted in a previous column devoted to the Left and hysteria, many on the Left have been hysterical about the dangers of the PATRIOT Act and the NSA surveillance of phone numbers (incipient fascism); secondhand smoke (killing vast numbers of people); drilling in the remotest area of Alaska (major environmental despoliation); and opposition to same-sex marriage (imminent Christian theocracy).

* The Left believes that if The New York Times and other liberal news sources report something, it is true. If the cover of Time magazine says, "Global Warming: Be Worried, Very Worried," liberals get worried, very worried, about global warming.

It is noteworthy that liberals, one of whose mottos is "question authority," so rarely question the authority of the mainstream media. Now, of course, conservatives, too, often believe mainstream media. But conservatives have other sources of news that enable them to achieve the liberal ideal of questioning authority. Whereas few liberals ever read non-liberal sources of information or listen to conservative talk radio, the great majority of conservatives are regularly exposed to liberal news, liberal editorials and liberal films, and they have also received many years of liberal education.

* The Left believes in experts. Of course, every rational person, liberal or conservative, trusts the expertise of experts -- such as when experts in biology explain the workings of mitochondria, or when experts in astronomy describe the moons of Jupiter. But for liberals, "expert" has come to mean far more than greater knowledge in a given area. It now means two additional things: One is that non-experts should defer to experts not only on matters of knowledge, but on matters of policy, as well. The second is that experts possess greater wisdom about life, not merely greater knowledge in their area of expertise.

That is why liberals are far more likely to be impressed when a Nobel Prize winner in, let us say, physics signs an ad against war or against capital punishment. The liberal is bowled over by the title "Nobel laureate." The conservative is more likely to wonder why a Nobel laureate in physics has anything more meaningful to say about war than, let us say, a taxi driver...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Anti ANWR Drilling Propaganda

Great post by Brian Tiemann, who looks at the blatant propaganda appearing in National Geographic (good use of pictures in the post, too). As Brian says:

One thing I found out while riding the ferries through the Inside Passage with native Alaskans last summer was that such people are completely disgusted with nationwide coverage of this issue, which to them is about akin to Californians balking at further developing the Kern County oil fields because Yosemite is pretty.

They're Patriotic Because They Are Also Engaged In Heated Battles To Get The Bad Guys

Good Horowitz and Collier piece. Some highlights:

For the first time in American history, a major political party wants America to run from a war we are winning.


And the result of these attitudes can be seen in the way the Democrats and their media allies have conducted themselves throughout. For the Bush administration and the coalition troops in Iraq the battles have been for Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul and Basra, all engagements with the enemy in the field. For the Democrats and their media allies it has been Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Haditha and Niger, all behind-the-lines battles against our troops and their commander-in-chief. For the Bush administration the chief prize has been Zarqawi, the beheader himself. For the Democrats it has been Scooter Libby. The Bush administration barely missed getting Osama bin Laden; the Democrats barely missed getting Karl Rove. The Bush administration’s strategy is to defeat the forces of terror. The Democrats are conducting psychological warfare aimed at American morale – the decisive factor in war.


Whenever there is the possibility of the use of American power against an enemy that can fight back, it is always for the Democrats a quarter past Tet.


No convention in recent memory had been the scene of greater military fanfares. Kerry arrived with a “Band of Brothers,” fellow Swift Boat veterans who vouched for his heroism under fire in Vietnam, and Vietnam – a war fought thirty years before became the convention’s most emotional theme. But the Kerry campaign seemed not to appreciate that Vietnam had ended in America’s only lost war, and that the military career of Kerry had ended in promoting and celebrating that defeat.

Other Vietnam veterans did not share the views of Kerry’s retinue. Many despised a man whom they associated with Jane Fonda and other anti-war activists who had welcomed a Communist victory and America’s defeat. They remembered Kerry not for his military service, but for his widely televised claims that his comrades-in-arms were actually “war criminals” who deserved to be put on trial...

Perhaps Leftists In Congress Will Soon Make It Illegal To Not Charge As Much As The Traffic Will Bear

Opinion Journal has a good profile of Jim Buckmaster, frugal CEO of Craigslist, which is single-handedly destroying the newspaper business model, while declining to collect maybe $500M in potential profits, all while providing a very valuable service to its users for free, without bombarding them with annoying ads. Naturally, the leftists in Congress are bound to eventually find this to be a total outrage (pro: on the face of it, Craigslist is a leftist's dream, for all the reasons given. con: it is hurting leftist propaganda organs).

Here's what one of the reader responses had to say:

Look Out for the Newspaper Lobby
James Henry - Lanesville, Ind.

I believe Mr. Buckmaster can expect some attempt to legislate him out of business. I know, I know, he is violating none of the myriad laws that may apply to his activities. But careers, the existence of a still-powerful industry, and multiple millions of dollars are at stake. This industry will not go quietly into the night. Even Mr. Carney displayed nervousness at the prospect of continued sapping of newspaper revenues.

Consider what a politician, facing the prospect of no more free political support from the front page and editorial page, might produce in committee in the late hours when Congress is in haste to adjourn.

The ground could be cut out from under Mr. Buckmaster in a heartbeat. Consider what a punitive federal tax on his business activities would produce. There would be no sympathy for his plight expressed on the front pages of his competitors. Even The Wall Street Journal might swallow its philosophical support in preference to the bottom line. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

This Should Be Interesting

Professor Mike Adams is going to be doing a little experiment:

Presently, many schools in the UNC system are engaging in racial discrimination in admissions in order to promote “diversity.” This has caused some degree of resentment among students who are not sufficiently diverse – in other words, white. The racial tensions created by the racist policies of the UNC system are nothing compared to the tensions that will erupt when I implement my new classroom civility policy in the fall of 2006.

Under my new policy, black students will be penalized for coming into class late. The one-point deduction will be given only to the person coming in late. The same approach will be followed when blacks bring a cell phone into my class. A one-point deduction will be given only to the black person with the cell phone in his possession. Finally, disruptions like going potty in class and passing class notes back and forth (to someone who skipped the previous lecture and fell behind) will be punished. A one-point deduction will go to the disruptive black student but no other black student will be punished.

The policy will be quite different, however, for white students. When a white student comes in late, brings a cell phone into a lecture, or otherwise disrupts my class I will apply a one-point deduction to the final average of every white person in the class. This may seem unfair at first but my new policy has solid support in existing policies within the UNC system.

For example, our affirmative action policies are clearly punishing white students seeking admission to most UNC schools by holding them to a higher standard than blacks. We penalize the individual white student even if he has never engaged in an act of racial discrimination. This is because other whites have done so in the past. So, in a sense, my new white civility policy is not very original. Like the admissions policies, it punishes the innocent white majority for the sins of the guilty white minority.

But the UNC system has a different view of the relationship between guilty and innocent blacks. We are reminded of that every time a black student commits a crime on campus. The practice of publishing a photo of a guilty black student – or merely attaching the word “black” to a suspect’s description in student newspapers - is met with scorn within the educational community. This is because we bend over backwards to avoid punishing innocent blacks for the sins of guilty blacks. This policy helps us to avoid negatively stereotyping black people although we exhibit no concern for unfairly stereotyping innocent whites. As one can easily see, my new black civility policy is not very original either.


I will refuse to retract my racist policies unless the UNC system retracts its own. It will be difficult for the UNC administration to fire a professor for adopting the system’s own racist philosophy...

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Absolute Personification Of Pure, Unadulterated Evil. Not.

Viewpoint blog:

Class Act

The president's detractors have much to apologize for but rarely do. Contrast that with the president himself:

President Bush, who often teases members of the White House press corps, apologized Wednesday after he poked fun at a reporter for wearing sunglasses without realizing they were needed for vision loss. The exchange occurred at a news conference in the Rose Garden.

Bush called on Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten and asked if he was going to ask his question with his "shades" on. "For the viewers, there's no sun," Bush said to the television cameras.

But even though the sun was behind the clouds, Wallsten still needs the sunglasses because he has Stargardt's disease, a form of macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss. The condition causes Wallsten to be sensitive to glare and even on a cloudy day, can cause pain and increase the loss of sight.

Wallsten said Bush called his cell phone later in the day to apologize and tell him that he didn't know he had the disease. Wallsten said he interrupted and told the president that no apology was necessary and that he didn't feel offended since he hadn't told anyone at the White House about his condition.

"He said, `I needle you guys out of affection,"' Wallsten said. "I said, 'I understand that, but I don't want you to treat me any differently because of this."' Wallsten said the president said he would not treat him differently, so Wallsten encouraged him to "needle away."

"He said, `I will. Next time I'll just use a different needle,"' Wallsten said.

If only those of his opponents in the media and in Congress who have vitriolically accused President Bush of lying to the American people in order to cajole us into war, as well as numerous other impeachable offenses, could display just half as much class and grace as he does.

Denial And Paranoia

Dr. Sanity has an insightful post.

Tribute To Coulter

At Hot Air. BTW, I just finished reading Godless. It's a great book. Sure, Coulter is snarky, and occasionally over the top. But her targets richly deserve it. In her books, she doesn't bat 1,000 in her jokes (some of them I frankly can't decipher), but three out of four are darned funny. When she was on Leno (clips in the Hot Air tribute), Jay talked about the "catching more flies with honey" idea. The way I see it, if she were "nice" (as the "nice" liberals would have it), then she'd just be another niche conservative writer instead of a number one bestseller. It's more important to me that her highly intelligent writing and arguments (backed up with carefully researched facts) reach a wider audience. People could claim she's just preaching to the choir, which is an implicit statement that minds are incapable of being persuaded. I know for a fact that this just isn't true. It was reading humorous books by P.J. O'Rourke in the early nineties that got me out of my commie rut. And I remember distinctly that the leftist rags I used to read (Z Magazine, The Progressive, The Nation, etc) acted as if O'Rourke were some kind of vicious, hate spewing Nazi.

They were wrong. On the contrary, I found him to be witty, intelligent, and convincing. In short, much better than the crap I'd been reading. And thus, my political views changed. Imagine that.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It Shouldn't Be A Cat And Mouse Game

One of Hugh Hewitt's continuing interests is in getting MSM journalists to admit where they stand politically. An account of the latest attempt:

Here's the transcript and audio of the interview with the Washington Post's Joel Achenbach.


Nice fellow. Smart. Good writer. No doubt fun to have a beer with. Wants to discuss politics, but only on his own terms. Doesn't want you to know who he voted for. Wants to turn every question about Michael Moore into a question about Michael Moore and Ann Coulter.

A classic MSMer, in other words, and not very serious about the war though he does write about it on occasion. The war provides material. Everything is material. Got to be able to laugh, right, or at least smile?

I understand that humor and science writing is different from political commentary, but Joel really did not seem to understand my point that, upon leaving humor and science behind for politics and war, tone and approach ought to change.

And he definitely doesn't buy into my long standing belief that those whose bylines appear in big papers or who broadcast from big microphones owe their audience basic disclosures.

In no other field is secrecy as to personal belief and ideological investment so well regarded as journalism.

In the courts, jurors and witnesses must unburden themselves of their past relevant associations and positions before being allowed to participate.

In trading, insiders are under scrutiny, and the self-interested suspect.

In some areas of journalism, it is a sin to report on any entity with which the reporter has even a slight connection.

But political reporters and columnists recoil in horror at the prospect of a simple answer to the question: For whom did you vote.

Here's the reason: If you gathered up the ballots from the past four presidential elections from the 1,000 most influential MSMers in print and broadcast, I guess that more than 3,600 of the ballots would have Kerry, Gore or Clinton on them.

From such a pool an objective press cannot spring.

So upon being asked, they dissemble. But they also stumble.

HH: You've never voted for a Republican, have you?

JA: I'm sure I have.

And this:

HH: Okay, so what I'm getting at is why not tell people? Why not just honestly say here I am. I'm Joel Achenbach in the round. I'm not trying to fool anyone. I'm not trying to smuggle politics into my humor/science column. I'm just a guy who believes in this, this, and this, and correct for the lie of the green. Why not share that out?

JA: That's a good question. I don't know, I don't think that it necessarily helps if you know the political voting pattern of everyone who writes for the newspaper.

It doesn't help the credibility of the newspaper, for sure, if all of their writers are voting left decade in and decade out.

See the rest of the post for Achenbach's estimate of what proportion of generals serving in Iraq will consider the war to be an utter fiasco when they look back on it many years from now.

Beer Cannon Montage

This is just plain good stuff. Rousing classical music. Slow motion videography. The destruction of various objects by beer cans shot out of a cannon. There's something here for everyone.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

First Papal Visit To Six Flags

This Onion piece amuses. Hat tip Mark Shea.

A Liberal Is Someone, Who, While Watching A 14-Year-Old Girl Perform A Live Sex Act On Stage, Worries Whether She's Being Paid The Minimum Wage

The saying in the title came to mind as I read this American Thinker post:

Zarqawi, Schiavo and liberal madness

As more details emerge, the media have begun to ask whether Zarqawi’s life could have been saved given that he was alive for almost an hour after the bombing. They have even floated the possibility that medical aid was purposefully denied to him. The media’s concern for Zarqawi contrasts glaringly with their attitude toward Terri Schiavo when they cheered those who denied her life-sustaining nourishment.

This behavior is yet another striking illustration of the moral madness that is liberalism. Only liberals could show concern for a murderous monster while gleefully watching a disabled woman starve to death. The odious ideology to which they adhere so corrodes their moral sensibilities that they almost completely lose their sense of compassion, proportion, justice and decency. Only thus can they campaign for the killing of babies and the disabled while fretting about the possible lack of medical attention to a head-chopping beast. Terrible is indeed the moral affliction from which these people suffer.

Nice Quote

Ace of Spades:

Bush's "Publicity Stunts" Knock Terrorists' and Media's Own Publicity Stunts Off Front Pages, And They're A Little Snippy About It

You know-- no one ever "questions the timing" of fake-sounding allegations of Marine massacres, or coordinated suicides by Gitmo prisoners who have sort of taken a vow of suicide anyway.

Right Wing News

Some good posts at RWN today. A funny, but probably inadvisable song by a marine in Iraq. How the leftist founder of Whole Foods became an ex-leftist after running a business. And some very good advice for women.

So, You See, What We've Got Going Here Is A Simple Shakedown. Now, You Can Work With Us On That, Can't You?

James Taranto item:

An Honest Accountant
In a letter to the New York Times, Marc J. Lewyn of Atlanta explains why he opposes repeal of the death tax:

As a financial adviser, I spend much of my time helping clients decide how to handle their estate tax liability. . . .

It's not that hard to structure an estate to avoid the tax. That's what the thousands of accountants, lawyers and financial planners do.

From my perspective, the estate tax is purely optional. So repeal is unnecessary except for the uninformed, the unfocused or those people who are unwilling to pay their financial planning team a little more to make the tax go away or be reduced.

People pay their professionals to avoid lots of income tax legally, and they do it every year. Why is it so hard for them to pay a little every few years to review the estate plan and avoid much or all of the estate tax?

In other words, without the estate tax, people who make a living off dying would be out of work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Oy, The Croc's Got My Leg!

The Housing Bubble blog has excerpted an interesting investment column:

Several readers sent in this article for discussion. “All over the U.S. there are stories of a rise in real estate foreclosures. Many people who took those exotic mortgages are struggling to make their payments, and some aren’t making it. Also, a glut of new property supply, especially condominiums, is coming on line.”

“A friend of mine, a very seasoned real estate investor, says in San Diego County, once one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, thousands of new condominiums are getting ready to come to market, just as the market softens. He estimates that over 12,000 new units are coming on line, and the market, at the best of times, can only absorb about 1,000 condominiums a year. If he’s correct, that means 12 years of supply will be ready for market in the next year.”

“The people who are in the most trouble are flippers. Many were buying condominiums off the plans, which means the projects were yet to be built, in the hopes that when the homes were completed, they would sell for a tidy profit. The trouble is many of these flippers, lured into the market by stories of people making a huge killing earlier with a similar strategy, are now the ones to be slaughtered.”

“Now, they either lose their deposit or have to cough up the money for the purchase in the hopes there’s a greater fool than they were somewhere out there real estate. If you recall, the same thing happened around the year 2000 as amateurs jumped into the stock market.”

“In the coming months, I predict we’ll see an increase in people dumping real estate they can’t afford. They’ll be forced to sell because they’ll be eaten alive by a phenomenon known as negative cash flow. Investment properties that you have to feed money to every month are fondly known as alligators, if you can’t afford to feed the property every month, it eats you.”

“I know of one so-called real estate investor (and I prefer to call people like him speculators rather than investors) who has three homes he thought he could flip for a profit, but he priced them too high. Now, $7,500 comes out of his pocket every month to feed the negative-cash-flow alligators.”

“The problem is, he and his wife don’t earn that much a month. Their three alligators are literally eating them out of house and home, consuming the profits they made from other flips, and their savings.”

“To add more pain to the misery, they still have to pay the capital-gain taxes they made from their previous successful flips. They’re toast. The alligators are eating them alive. They can’t afford to feed them, and they can’t afford to sell them because the prices they paid for these alligators are more than they’re worth today. And this is only one story.”

“Now that the market is cooling down, sellers are a little bit more humble. You have more time and can do your due diligence carefully. You can negotiate better terms and make a better deal, especially if the seller has his leg inside an alligator’s jaws. But don’t be in too much of a hurry.”

“A year ago, I sent out a warning to investors, especially flippers, to cash out quickly. I received a lot of irate e-mails from people who thought I was turning on them. They thought I was spreading bad news. Little did they know that by forecasting a real estate downturn, I was spreading good news, good news for real investors and bad news for amateur alligator wrestlers.”

Unusual HuffPo Piece

Why he left the left. Nicely and reasonably presented by a guy who finally had it with the Democrats in 2004. The comments to the piece are exactly as you'd expect.

Astonishing Child Prodgy Artist

You've got to see this. Also, be sure to take a look at the gallery, with associated poetry.

Amusing Animation

Abused Macromedia Animator object fights back. H/T Peeve Farm. Sound required.

Monday, June 12, 2006

If It Had Been Me, I, Too, Would Have Passed Out. But Also Barfed.

Some pretty cool cockpit footage from a reporter's Blue Angel F-18 ride here.

No Rules In A Knife Fight

Lots to chew on in this American Digest essay.


The end state of war is victory and "victory" is a word not often heard from our leadership. Instead, one gets the distinct impression that, speeches to graduates of military institutions aside, the President and his core group would prefer it if Americans and the world began to think of the Iraq stage of the First Terrorist War as a kind of Tsunami relief effort with guns; a Katrina where, from time to time, under carefully vetted conditions, rioters with explosives and automatic weapons might, just might, get shot with rubber bullets. I submit that as a policy and tone this is a clueless condition that cannot be sustained for an indefinite period.

We need to snap out of our pastoral stripmalled stupor. We need to stop pretending. The goal of the Terrorist War must shift from the oft-trumpeted plan of "implanting democracy and bringing freedom" to one of unconditional victory over Islamic Totalitarianism. While "giving the gift of democracy" is a comforting and warm notion on which to run for re-election, it does nothing to achieve victory, since it denies that victory is a goal. Instead, according to the prevailing message being repeated ad nauseum from the administration, "democracy and freedom" are the goals of this war. This is sheer propaganda.

Democracy and freedom for others cannot be the goals of war. They can only be the fruits of something more primal -- victory. Absent the goal of victory, this will indeed become "The Forever War," and America cannot sustain such an effort. In historic terms, the American will to wage war suffers a serious fall-off after three years of fighting unless victory can be see as a clear end state, and only then if progress toward victory is repeatedly demonstrated on the ground. We are already beyond the three year limit, and it is unlikely that Americans can be made to care much longer, in the face of trickle-down casualty rates, whether or not Iraqis ever become free and democratic. Indeed, if most Americans were woken from a sound sleep in the middle of the night and asked the question, they would blurt out that they don't give a damn about the squabbling Iraqis.

Absent a plan for victory, the current state of a low-level, hunt-and-peck war in Iraq will cease to be supported. The conflict will soon become either a hunkered down, bunkered up Korean policing program, or it will fizzle and gutter out. To gutter out and retreat would be to court disastrous consequences for the United States in the short term and the entire world in the future; a future more costly to the planet in terms of life, liberty and treasure than anything currently being done in Iraq.

You think not? Imagine a second 9/11 on the same or a larger scale. That's what the Canada 17 were planning. Imagine the American response to such an attack. Do you know where our 18 ballistic missile submarines are? No? Neither do I, but if you know what they can do you know that the nuclear payload on any single one of them is the end of the Islamic world. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer if it all did not quite come to that. I'm sure the residents of Tehran, if they were free to speak, would agree.


Without the announcement of and an immediate and sustained move to obtain victory in Iraq, the whole momentum of the Terrorist War, always shaky, will slow as it has and, in time, reverse itself. At that point the administration will indeed find itself in the often-predicted quagmire, except that it will be on its own making. It is perfectly feasible that in concentrating too hard on winning the hearts and mind of the Iraqi people, we will lose the Iraq portion of the war. Once that occurs then all that is left is to wait for the second and more deadly path to open in the Terrorist War.

The tragedy is that the second path, the path of Total War in which extreme new rules of engagement come into play, requires the triggering event of a second catastrophic attack on American civilians on American soil. That event, should it be allowed to occur, will cost the lives of thousands if not tens of thousands of American men, women and, this time, children. This is not to say that the clear quest for victory in Iraq, a quest that requires the utter defeat of the enemy no matter how dearly bought, will insure that no such attack happens in America. It is to say that, should we retreat from and fail to secure victory in Iraq, such an event moves from a probability to a certainty.

As demonstrated above, the American response to such another lethal attack on the homeland is not hard to visualize. The only question will be whether or not the state of total war that erupts will include nuclear weapons as a first option, or whether America will be content to level and destroy large Middle-Eastern states and populations with conventional weapons, holding back nuclear weapons as a final persuader. In either case, the opening salvos placed onto the countries involved will be far more staggering than anything seen since the closing days of the air war in the European and Pacific theaters of World War II.

But an air war against Iran, Syria, portions of Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations would only be the opening salvos. Indeed, it is not hard to see an extended air campaign as merely buying time while the country at last moves onto a war footing.

Following the reinstitution of the draft in the United States and the conversion of its present economy of affluence to a war economy, an invasion and occupation of these areas of the world would follow. This time it would not be an occupation in search of a democracy, but one in search of vengeance and security for the United States. This situation would reshape the face of the Earth for generations and perhaps centuries to come. It would be a realignment of the political sphere at home and abroad not seen since Rome. And it will make Rome look like a mere off-hand study.

The specter of an America galvanized into a society that takes classic imperialism seriously is not something that the 21st century has any real preparation for, least of all the United States. But make no mistake, these changes would be the default state of the nation following any serious attack on its home soil. It would, within ten years, create a nation that does not resemble the United States of today. Exactly what it would be, I cannot say, but I would not like to find out. If you are one of those who presently has confused George Bush with Adolph Hitler and the NSA with Big Brother, you will like it much, much less. So much so that you will, at last prepare to move to Canada only to find that they will not let you in and what used to be America will not let you out. Sound familiar? It should.

Which is why, if we value real and enduring freedom in America, we need to now look very seriously at any policy which restrains our armed forces now in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere from pressing forward to victory. Fighting the terrorist with one hand behind our back, a "Have a nice day" attitude, and an overarching concern for civilian hearts and minds does not, in the long run, do anyone any favors. At home or abroad.

Yes. But we had to try. It still may well work. And if not? We'll be that much more able to do what needs doing, knowing that we did try. And the leftists be damned who did all in their power to make the attempt fail.

Cynicism, Served Up With Panache And Flair

Derbyshire is such a curmudgeon. But he writes well and provokes thought. From his latest:

Let’s start from the fact that the whole [Iraq war], taken in one piece—attack plus follow-up nation-building effort—has been a huge negative for the USA. Is there anyone, really, who is glad we did it? Most of my NR colleagues are still talking up the administration’s Iraq policy. It’s hard not to think, though, that if wired up to a polygraph and asked the question: “Supposing you could wind the movie back to early 2003, would you still attack Iraq?” any affirmative answers would have those old needles a-jumping and a-skipping all over the graph paper.


One reason I supported the initial attack, and the destruction of the Saddam regime, was that I hoped it would serve as an example, deliver a psychic shock to the whole region. It would have done, if we’d just rubbled the place then left. As it is, the shock value has all been frittered away. Far from being seen as a nation willing to act resolutely, a nation that knows how to punish our enemies, a nation that can smash one of those ramshackle Mideast despotisms with one blow from our mailed fist, a nation to be feared and respected, we are perceived as a soft and foolish nation, that squanders its victories and permits its mighty military power to be held to standoff by teenagers with homemade bombs—that lets crooks and bandits tie it down, Gulliver-like, with a thousand little threads of blackmail, trickery, lies, and petty violence.

Just ask yourself: Given that Iran is the real looming threat in that region, are we better placed now to deal with that threat than we would have been absent an Iraq war? If we could ask President Ahmadinejad whether he thinks we are better placed, what would his honest answer be?

We are not controlling events in Iraq. Events in Iraq are controlling us. We are the puppet; the street gangs of Baghdad and Basra are the puppet-masters, aided and abetted by an unsavory assortment of confidence men, bazaar traders, scheming clerics, ethnic front men, and Iranian agents. With all our wealth and power and idealism, we have submitted to become the plaything of a rabble, and a Middle Eastern rabble at that. Instead of rubbling, we have ourselves been rabbled. The lazy-minded evangelico-romanticism of George W. Bush, the bureaucratic will to power of Donald Rumsfeld, the avuncular condescension of Dick Cheney, and the reflexive military deference of Colin Powell combined to get us into a situation we never wanted to be in, a situation no self-respecting nation ought to be in, a situation we don’t know how to get out of. It’s not inconceivable that, with a run of sheer good luck, we might yet escape without too much egg on our faces, but it’s not likely. The place we are at is surely not a place anyone in 2003 wanted us to be at—not even Vic Davis Hanson.


It took me a while to figure out that the administration actually believed all the guff about “establishing democracy in the Middle East,” but once it had sunk in, and the party enthusiasms of the 2004 election season had subsided, I was calling for withdrawal. (The first time I gave over a column to it was, I think, in mid-September of 2004.) I wish I had done so earlier. And, yes, I’ll admit, I wish I hadn’t supported the invasion in the first place.

Why did I? For the reasons I declared on another website, just a year after the invasion:

[M]y attitude to the war is really just punitive, and Iraq was a target of opportunity. I am not a Wilsonian nation-builder. I don’t want to “bring democracy to Iraq.” I don’t, in fact, give a fig about the Iraqis. I am happy to leave barbarians alone to practice their unspeakable folkways, so long as they do not bother civilized peoples. When they do bother us, though, I want them smacked down with great ferocity. Saddam Hussein had been scoffing for years at the very concept of international order, in the belief that we would never pass from words to deeds. I wanted to see that belief confounded, and I am pleased that it has been. If the civilized world is never willing to back up its agreements, resolutions, and communiqués with force, then those fine documents are all worthless and civilization is impotent against its enemies. I am very glad to know that we have not yet reached that sorry pass.

I worry a lot that the civilized world, of which this nation is faute de mieux the leader, has sunk into an enervated lassitude, a condition in which it is unwilling to act against threatening, or just annoying, barbarians. Every time we defer to some United Nations resolution, every time we offer an olive branch to some thug ruler, every time we declare our willingness to sit around a table with some crazy demagogue, I think of the old League of Nations, which was mighty big on resolutions, olive branches, and sittings-around of tables. Of course, those things are the basic stuff of diplomacy, and we have to do a certain amount of them. There comes a point, though, where they don’t suffice, and a nation must act. Back in mid-2002 I feared that we had no will to attack Iraq, though I said I wanted us to. I really feared that we had no will, no guts, to chastise our enemies the way I wanted them chastised—not with U.N. resolutions, but with bombs, tanks, and artillery shells. When events proved me wrong, I was delighted. (I felt the same delight when Margaret Thatcher, Whom God Preserve, went to war over the Falkland Islands in 1982.) Now we must act, we really must act, against Iran; but we can’t, because of Iraq.

I’ve never been able to work up any guilt, either on my own behalf or the administration’s, about the WMD issue. So far as I am concerned, what did I know? Saddam’s behavior sure made it look as though he was hiding something nasty. As an ordinary citizen, getting my information from newspapers and the TV, I had every reason to suppose that the WMD claims were true. Just why Saddam was behaving like that is now a bit of a mystery. Possibly he was a secret fan of classic Chinese literature (or opera) attempting a sort of Empty Fort Strategy. As for the administration: Well, either they knew the intelligence was worthless, or they didn’t. If they knew, then their duty was to assume the worst, and present it to us as the worst. If they didn’t know, then they honestly believed the lousy intelligence. None of this excuses the CIA’s incompetence, of course; but even that incompetence serves the good conservative purpose of driving home to the populace the fact that the federal government sucks at pretty much everything.

There's much more in the complete article.