Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Well Said

John Hawkins on the "evil rich".


Conservatives believe that America is a land of opportunity, a place where a person can go from rags to riches if he’s clever and willing to work hard.

On the other hand, liberals believe that in and of itself, wealth is evidence of wrongdoing. Either the rich are, “winners of life’s lottery,” who didn’t earn the money they have or it was somehow swindled from the poor. Even if somehow, some way, neither of those conditions are present, then how can any decent person stand to be so rich when so many other people are so poor—well, unless you’re a trial lawyer, celebrity, or someone who contributes vast sums to the Democratic Party as penance, in which case all is forgiven.

These two attitudes explain why liberals often engage in class warfare and accuse conservatives of being, “in the pocket of the rich.” When your starting point is that, “rich people are bad people because they’re rich,” then simply refusing to display knee-jerk hostility towards the wealthy is taken as a sign of unscrupulousness.

But, what so many liberals fail to see is how much the rich contribute to our society. Just to name one example, let’s take a look at a man whose name is practically synonymous with limitless wealth: Bill Gates.

Would this country be better off if Bill Gates had never been born? My guess is that Microsoft’s 61,000 plus employees wouldn’t think so. What about the recipients of the $28.8 billion that Bill Gates has given away to charities and causes? What about the people who built his mansions and his cars? Heck, what about you? Do you have any Microsoft products on your computer?


Similarly, consider CEO’s like Lee Raymond from Exxon. How many other people on earth could run a huge company like Exxon? Percentage wise, very few. Now, of those people? How many could have run the company as well as Raymond? Almost none. He was a “Michael-Jordan-quality” performer in his profession. So, given that Raymond ran a company that grossed $371 billion worldwide in 2005 and made $36 billion in profit that same year, is a $400 million retirement and salary package for 12 years’ worth of work out of line? When put in its proper perspective, that money was a drop in the bucket for a corporation like Exxon—and if anything, given how well the company performed under Raymond, he was probably underpaid.

But, that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people because they believe that the pie is only so big and if some Americans get a bigger piece of it, then that means the rest of us have to make do with less. However, that’s not true. If you think about it, it’s very obvious that the “pie” keeps expanding.

If it didn’t, we’d all still be living in caves, bonking each other on the head with clubs and trying to figure out how to steal some rocks from the guy hoarding them across town. Moreover, that “expanding pie” explains why the richest and most privileged Americans 100 years ago had a lifestyle that was markedly inferior in most ways to that of Americans with modest means today. Most poor Americans have television sets, radios, air conditioners, microwaves, and other gadgets and gizmos that would have been considered priceless a century ago.


This may come as a shock to some people—like liberals—but the rich don’t sit around in their mansions all day and pass the time by swimming in pools full of their own money like Scrooge McDuck. They’re creating jobs with their companies, investing in the stock market, and loaning entrepreneurs the money they need to start businesses. Also, did I mention taxes? The top 5% of wage earners in this country pay more than half of all Federal Income Taxes.

That’s why we need to try to make it easier for Americans to get rich. It’s because the rich aren’t the enemy in a capitalistic country like America; they’re the geese that lay the golden eggs.

Good luck with that. Envy is a powerful thing. And essentially unmentioned (but often stoked) in our media. Unlike that hideously evil thing that only other people have, called 'greed' (and the media is only too happy to point at the people it thinks have it, as long as they're not liberals. What an interesting way to keep people ideologically in line. If you're rich, but willing to spout leftism, you're cool. If you're rich and unwilling to spout leftism, you are full of greed).

Kids, The Rocket-Science Concept For Today Is: 'Replacement Cost'.

Walter Williams:

Here's what one reader wrote: "Williams, I can understand how the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and Middle East political uncertainty can jack up gasoline prices. But it's price-gouging for the oil companies to raise the price of all the gasoline already bought and stored before the crisis." Several other readers made similar allegations. Such allegations reflect a misunderstanding of how prices are determined.

Let's start off with an example. Say you owned a small 10-pound inventory of coffee that you purchased for $3 a pound. Each week you'd sell me a pound for $3.25. Suppose a freeze in Brazil destroyed half of its coffee crop, causing the world price of coffee to immediately rise to $5 a pound. You still have coffee that you purchased before the jump in prices. When I stop by to buy another pound of coffee from you, how much will you charge me? I'm betting that you're going to charge me at least $5 a pound. Why? Because that's today's cost to replace your inventory.

Historical costs do not determine prices; what economists call opportunity costs do. Of course, you'd have every right not to be a "price-gouger" and continue to charge me $3.25 a pound. I'd buy your entire inventory and sell it at today's price of $5 a pound and make a killing.

If you were really enthusiastic about not being a "price-gouger," I'd have another proposition. You might own a house that you purchased for $55,000 in 1960 that you put on the market for a half-million dollars. I'd simply accuse you of price-gouging and demand that you sell me the house for what you paid for it, maybe adding on a bit for inflation since 1960. I'm betting you'd say, "Williams, if I sold you my house for what I paid for it in 1960, how will I be able to pay today's prices for a house to live in?"


You say, "What about the effect on prices of all those oil company profits and CEO pay and retirement benefits?" If Congress mandated that CEOs work for zero pay, gasoline prices would fall by less than a penny. If Congress mandated that oil companies earn zero profit, gasoline prices might fall by 10 cents; of course, we'd have to worry about gasoline availability next year.

And Three Box Tops Will Get You A Decoder Ring

Looks like it's fraud all the way down to the smallest details. John Stossel on standard congressional operating procedure:

Consider the Congressional Record. You probably think it's a record of what our representatives said or did. But that's a myth.


[T]he Record isn't a record of what was said in Congress -- the politicians wouldn't subject themselves to that. The Record is a record of what the members want you to think they said.

That's fraud, twice over. It's a fraud on the public, which believes the millions Congress spends on the Record are spent to document what actually happens in Congress. And it's a fraud on those of you who think your congressman talked about you.

The Record reports that Derek Vaught's congressman, Mike Espy, rose on the floor to give a tribute to the lad's karate skills. "I thought it was pretty awesome," Vaught said.

The Record says a congressman rose to pay tribute to rock singer Ted Nugent for being "as good with a bow and arrow as he is with a guitar."

The Record claims that a congressman said, "Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in saluting Dot Hill, who's a legend not only in her own hometown, but throughout the world." (Hill is a drum majorette.)

None of those tributes was ever made, but they're all in print, enshrined in history along with what really was said.

Or wasn't said. A congressman once got angry with a colleague and exclaimed, "You're trying to shut me off? You better not do that, ma'am. . . . Who do you think you are?"

You didn't read that in the Congressional Record. The Congressman or his staff had the Record print his comments this way: "I will say to the gentle lady for whom I have the greatest respect . . ."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How to Buy a $450,000 Home for $750,000

Charles Hugh Smith has complete details about how to get in on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Train Wreck In Progress

It's never not a good time to buy real estate. Can I get an "Amen"?

The Palm Beach Post has two housing bubble reports this morning. “Easy money has led to hard times. More than $106 million in home loans collapsed in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties in the first quarter of this year alone. In terms of real people, that translates to about 2,100 families in danger of losing their homes.”

“Experts say the worst is yet to come. ‘We know the whale is coming, we just don’t know how big the whale is,’ said Mike Flagg, of the Center for Responsible Lending. As the state’s red-hot real estate market grew hotter, thousands of new brokers and brokerages obtained licenses. That coincided with the availability of new types of loans, which gave far too many middle-income buyers who couldn’t afford it a shot at living in a half million-dollar home.”

“‘I think the reason we are going to see so many foreclosures, so many more than we have ever had in the past, is because a broker or loan originator has gotten people into these crazy kinds of loans,’ said Steven Schneider, president of the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers.”

And it’s a renters market. “According to local real-estate agents, condominiums and single-family homes throughout Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast are leasing for 30 to 50 percent less than the monthly costs, including property taxes and sky-high insurance premiums, of owning the same property.”

“In Riviera Beach, for instance, three-bedroom townhomes are renting for as low as $1,150 a month. Owning one would cost about $1,800 to $3,000 a month, after a 20 percent down payment.”

“This spring, Michelle Lewis and Rudolph Maragh of West Palm Beach were preparing to buy a condo when they took one last look at the local housing market. And decided to rent.”

“The couple and their two kids leased a 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom house in the gated West Palm Beach development of Briar Bay for $1,500 per month, about 40 percent less than the monthly mortgage payments on a comparable home. ‘It was the same price as an apartment, so we might as well get the house,’ Lewis, said of their decision.”

“Welcome to the flip side of the housing boom, where renters can afford brand-new dream homes while landlords struggle to meet their monthly mortgage payments.”

“In West Palm Beach, $400,000 townhomes are renting in the $1,500 range. Owning one would cost nearly twice that per month. In Lantana, a $450,000 three-bedroom condo with an Intracoastal view is available for $1,850 per month. In Port St. Lucie, three-bedroom, $450,000 houses are renting for about $2,200, a third less than they would cost to own.”

“And in Wellington, $800,000 homes that would cost nearly $6,000 per month to buy are renting for about $3,000.”

“According to many real-estate agents, potential home buyers are now in a wait-and-see mode. Before they commit to buy, they want to see whether prices will fall, and whether the region will be hit by a hurricane this year. The result is a rising inventory of homes for sale, and, increasingly, for rent, at relatively low prices.”

“‘A lot of sales are turning into rentals,’ said Steven Saines, an agent who specializes in Treasure Coast homes.”

“Discussion of the strong rental market makes some real-estate agents uneasy. Several refused to comment publicly, fearing it would further erode sales in an already slow market. ‘People are walking away from sales contracts’ and renting instead, said one who didn’t want his name used. That agent said he sold his own investment property and plans to rent a $2 million house for the bargain price of $3,500 a month.”

“Speculators in particular seem to be fueling the renter’s market. As buyers drag their feet, people who thought they could turn a quick buck by buying real estate last year have been left with empty houses and expensive mortgages. ‘They were hoping to flip their properties but they didn’t, so now they’re trying to rent them out,’ said Putnam.”

“Terrence McManus, president of Florida RentFinders, said now that the interest-only periods have ended on many investors’ mortgages, ‘they’re trying to get income out of their houses any way they can.’ McManus said that most of the landlords he works with are renting at a loss. ‘None of them is cash-flow positive,’ he said.”

“Some agents are advising landlords to slash rents in order to create even a trickle of cash. ‘If it takes seven months to rent at $4,000, you’re better off getting $2,000 right away,’ said Saines.”

“The situation is creating sleepless nights for investors [these people aren't investors, they are speculators. No sane investor buys at the peak of a mania], such as Dena Webster of Wellington, who hasn’t been able to sell any of the 14 houses that she purchased at the peak of the boom. Eleven are in Olympia, a Wellington development where houses routinely carry price tags of more than a million dollars, but where rents are in the $1,800 to $3,000 range. ‘I’m upside-down on every one of them,’ Webster said of her properties.”

“To help make her monthly mortgage payments, which total $50,000, Webster has renters in four of her houses and is advertising for tenants for two more. Still, she’s taking large losses every month. ‘I’m not sleeping,’ she sighed.”

“Renters such as Michelle Lewis and Twanya Robinson, on the other hand, are slumbering soundly.”

Friday, May 26, 2006

There Is Such A Thing As 'Too Expensive'

Some real estate objectivity:

“Friends of mine recently moved into a single family home that was purchased just a few months back. They pay $1,900 per month to rent a home that was purchased for $535,000. First we will assume that, had our friends purchased the home themselves, they would have financed the entire purchase price with a 30-year mortgage at the most recent average rate of 6.6 percent. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say they got that great rate on the full loan amount.”

“If these folks had purchased the home in the manner described above, they would have been responsible for the following monthly outlays: Mortgage principal: $474. Mortgage interest: $2,943. Property tax: $490. Insurance: $100.”

“Once we make (some) final tweaks, we see that the purchaser of this home would be divesting himself of just a bit over $2,500 per month. In addition to the assumption of very favorable tax and insurance rates, this $2,500 per month figure is predicated on the idea that the 80-year-old home will require no maintenance.”

“The renter who is shelling out only $1,900 each month seems to be getting a deal. Even under our unrealistically cheerful assumptions, it would cost 32 percent more each month to own the place than to rent it. Put another way, the buyer would be out an extra $7,200 each year.”

“The standard objections to renting make little sense in a situation like this. Take the old saw that ‘renters are just paying their landlord’s mortgage.’ In fact, they are not coming close. They are only paying enough to cover the after-tax mortgage interest, hardly the renter-to-landlord transfer of wealth that the saying would imply.”

“Similarly, renters are often told that they ’should be building equity.’ But who is the one building equity in this situation? I would posit that it’s the renter who saves $7,200 each year by choosing not to own. A yearly savings of $7,200, wisely invested, will make for a nice little down payment when home prices finally move back into line with rents. (Remember down payments? Yeah, they’ll be back eventually.)”

“What arguments of this type fail to take into account is that homebuyers are themselves renters, it’s just that instead of renting homes, they are renting money from the bank. And when homes cost so much that the ‘rent’ on the money required to purchase a home, otherwise known as the mortgage interest, is more than the rent required to simply live in that same home, aphorisms like these cease to apply.”

We Are In Danger Of Rising Up Into Abject Prosperity

Some well-written spiritual ruminations:

A reader asked me to comment on a post by ShrinkWrapped from a couple of days ago, entitled The Despair of Abundance. The reader mentioned “Kurzweil's theories of a coming singularity, and how that might affect man's search for ultimate meaning.... I often wonder if in Kurzweil's future, where all horizontal needs are easily available and we have all that we want, will man's nature provide him with no choice but to set out in earnest to discover the new world of the vertical? Or will he simply continue to wallow in the material world all the more enthusiastically.”


[T]he singularity is already here, and has always been here. It is radically transcendent, beyond space and time. But because it is, it is necessarily immanent as well. It cannot be contained, so it “spills” into manifestation, sending its rays into every corner of reality, including human consciousness. To be “born again from above” is precisely what it means to reorient one’s life in light of this singularity or "attractor" at the end of history.

The idea that there will be some sort of material singularity that will end human suffering is both absurd and undesirable. According to all religious traditions, the cause of most human suffering is not lack of intelligence but man’s own corruption. No material progress will undo this decadence, and would likely even aggravate it. For as Schuon notes, “the lasting elimination of our miseries depends on our conformity to Divine Nature, or on our fixation on the ‘kingdom of God' which is within you.” What Schuon is talking about is conforming ourselves with the singularity discussed above. This is not theoretical, abstract or ethereal. Rather, it is entirely empirical and experiential--it is the experience that is at the heart of any religious transformation.

To the extent that we do not use the world as a plane to rediscover our divine “inwardness,” then we will be strangers in this world, wandering from pleasure to pleasure with “no direction home.” In other words, in our fallen, “exteriorized” state of consciousness, we require suffering to overcome our faults, to “tear ourselves from sin,” and to reascend back to our source. In the spiritual view, it is our illusory, exteriorized state that is the cause of our suffering. Therefore, to provide this illusory state with even less suffering--to try to make it completely comfortable and to eliminate all friction--is simply going to increase confusion and cause more souls to deviate from their proper end.

These are Nietzsche’s pathetic last men, who will live in a “pitiable comfort.” I’m afraid that we are well into that “false” singularity, and we can already see it’s baleful effects. I believe that ministering to the needs of these last men forms the basis of contemporary liberalism, which increasingly cannot tolerate discomfort, disappointment, or inconvenience. I believe it may have been Theodore Dalrymple who wrote that the fallacy at the heart of liberalism is that misery always rises to the level of the means available to alleviate it. Therefore, even if a liberal program “works,” it doesn’t work, because it simply creates an appetite--an expectation, really--that unhappiness or unfairness should not exist. To live one’s life in this way is a recipe for metaphysical disaster.


Leftism attempts to eliminate evil without eliminating the cause of evil, which is in the human heart. In so doing, it causes deeper existential alienation, a more profound attachment to the very impermanent things that can never satisfy us. This doesn’t mean that we do not attempt to improve the world. Of course we do. But only in the context of perennial wisdom and total, integral truth--of horizontal and vertical realities. In other words, total "horizontal perfection" would lead to a kind of hell with no vertical escape.

It's Not Fair! How Come They Get To Impose The Theocracy?!?

Nathaniel Blake, a Townhall columnist:

"The right-wing hijacking of religion's public role in our political discourse is as undeniable as it is inappropriate, and represents one of liberalism's most serious problems." Writing in The Nation, Eric Alterman illustrates this problem perfectly. Speaking for liberals, he later states that "we happen to have Christianity's deity on our side." Apparently it’s only a "hijacking" and "inappropriate" if religion bolsters conservative causes.

For the past few years, the left in general and the Democratic Party in particular have been struggling with religion – to be specific, with Christianity. The 2004 election demonstrated this clearly; moral values voters, evangelical Christians…the label doesn’t matter. Catholics, especially devout ones, chose the Protestant Bush over the Catholic Kerry. Liberalism had turned off people who take their faith seriously.

The left’s first response was a self-indulgent orgy of hateful rhetoric. Apparently, the real American Taliban isn’t John Walker Lindh, but James Dobson. Though this reaction has receded, it remains a strong presence, as evidenced by a plethora of books, articles, op-ed pieces, etc, decrying the theocracy the religious right is purportedly establishing in America. But the animosity toward the religious right is prompting another impulse: theocracy envy. Having determined that the right manipulated religion to get elected, liberals are increasingly determined to do the same.


This hypocrisy was displayed for all to see in the third Bush-Kerry debate. In response to a question on abortion, Kerry replied, "I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people. That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith." So he would advance socialism because he thinks that is implicitly encouraged by his faith, but won’t oppose the legal killing of babies even though his faith explicitly commands him to. Clearly what he claims is his faith serves him as nothing more than a prop, to be pulled out or put away as it serves his own agenda.


The crucial difference lies between what those who are devout on each side believe. This is illustrated by Dan Wakefield, who of late seems to have become one of The Nation’s pet Christians. His opinion of conservative Christians is this: "While I'm not sure what it is now that they believe in--since they don't believe in a lot of the messages of Jesus--they do have a strong belief in whatever they conceive of as Jesus and his resurrection." Liberal Christianity is about social, not spiritual, salvation – the Kingdom of God on earth, not in heaven.

This arises from the liberal rejection of the doctrine of original sin. Liberal philosophy has proclaimed the problems of the world to be found in causes external to man, not in an intrinsic fault of his, and liberal theology has quietly accepted this view. It treats Christ as if he was the greatest of moral teachers, come to save us from a poor social construct, and perhaps some personal foibles. It most certainly does not act as though he were the Son of God, sent to suffer for the remission of our sins and save us from hell, which we had sentenced ourselves to by rejecting God.

And that is why the religious left cannot sustain itself, for as Lewis observed, "Instead of the Creator adored by its creature, you soon have merely a leader acclaimed by a partisan." We don’t need another moral philosopher, we need a savior. As Whittaker Chambers saw, the mark of the crisis of our civilization is that if all the material needs of men were satisfied, they would still die of despair.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Theory Rests On Very Solid Fundamental Theological Arguments

Cornlius Hunter at ID The Future:

This week I had the honor of debating against the venerable Michael Ruse, philosopher and evolution superstar. The occasion was an intelligent design versus evolution debate sponsored by the Socratic Club at Oregon State University in Corvallis. When experts simply point fingers and disagree the audience learns nothing, but in this encounter Ruse and I found much to agree on. The result was an illuminating discussion where, at least for a moment, the underlying motivations in this on-going debate were clear.

I began the debate with a sampling of what science is telling us and I explained that in spite of these empirical scientific evidences, evolutionists not only stick to their theory but remarkably they mandate that Darwin's idea must be a fact. It is not that evolutionists are ignorant or misguided, I explained, but rather that evolution is assumed to be a fact for non scientific reasons. Evolution has to be a fact, and one way or another all scientific observations must fit the evolution framework, no matter how awkward the fit.

Evolutionists make the bizarre claim that all evidence in biology supports evolution. They are unable to make a theory-neutral evaluation of the scientific evidence. It doesn't matter how long is the list of mind-boggling complexities and other problems with evolution, evolutionists are committed to their idea. And not surprisingly they often have difficulty making a fair and objective assessment of design theory.

When Ruse's turn came, he did not so much refute my points as he did demonstrate them. He used a powerful argument from the problem of evil which, for evolutionists, falsifies design. And of course, given this theological mandate then evolution, in one form or another, must be a fact. There is no other option.

And since evolution is a fact, then for Ruse and the evolutionists all of biology must provide supporting evidence, no matter that we can't see how this could be possible. My scientific examples, explained Ruse, were actually evidences for evolution, even if they don't seem to be.
Ruse also characterized intelligent design as an attack on science.

For the most part Ruse's position perfectly fit my description of evolutionary thinking, and for a moment the debate became clear.

And, Comrade, Never Forget That Walking Saves The Most Gas Of All

Seriously out of touch and politically tone deaf:

Hillary's Score

That's "score" as in 20--the number of people who showed up in Nashville for "the national kickoff for, a grass-roots group pushing to draft the New York senator and former first lady to run for president in 2008," according to the Tennessean.

The paper reports that the rally "drew critics of President Bush, nonpartisan voters looking for a strong leader, and people who want to elect a female president." The motives of the other 14 attendees are unknown. (Hat tip: GOP and the City.)

Mrs. Clinton herself, the New York Post reports, was in Washington:

In a surprise move yesterday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called for "most of the country" to return to a speed limit of 55 mph in an effort to slash fuel consumption.

"The 55-mile speed limit really does lower gas usage. And wherever it can be required, and the people will accept it, we ought to do it," Clinton said at the National Press Club.

This really makes us wonder about her political acumen. The 55 mph speed limit is such an unpopular policy that people attribute it to Jimmy Carter (it actually originated in the Nixon administration). It was relaxed in 1987, then abolished in 1995 as part of a transportation bill the senator's husband signed. The National Motorists Association notes that 49 of the 50 states now have top speed limits of at least 65.

Only Hawaii stuck with the dreaded double-nickel on its interstates--which explains why it takes forever to drive to the next state.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fantasy Facts Lead To Fantasy Conclusions Lead To Fantasy Righteousness Lead To Fantasy Politics

Jonah Goldberg on the infamy that was Katrina press coverage:

[I]t is worth reminding people that the Katrina they think they remember wasn't the Katrina that actually took place. In fact, it is difficult to think of a bigger media scandal in my lifetime than the fraudulently inaccurate coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Where to begin? As I've written before, virtually all of the gripping stories from Katrina were untrue. All of those stories about, in Paula Zahn's words, "bands of rapists, going block to block"? Not true. The tales of snipers firing on medevac helicopters? Bogus. The yarns, peddled on "Oprah" by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans police chief, that "little babies" were getting raped in the Superdome and that the bodies of the murdered were piling up? Completely false. The stories about poor blacks dying in comparatively huge numbers because American society "left them behind"? Nah-ah. While most outlets took Nagin's estimate of 10,000 dead at face value, Editor and Publisher - the watchdog of the media - ran the headline, "Mortuary Director Tells Local Paper 40,000 Could Be Lost in Hurricane."

In all of Louisiana, not just New Orleans, the total dead from Katrina was roughly 1,500. Blacks did not die disproportionately, nor did the poor. The only group truly singled out in terms of mortality was the elderly. According to a Knight-Ridder study, while only 15 percent of the population of New Orleans was over the age of 60, some 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older, and almost half were older than 75. Blacks were, if anything, slightly underrepresented among the dead given their share of the population.

This barely captures how badly the press bungled Katrina coverage. Keep in mind that the most horrifying tales of woe that captivated the press and prompted news anchors to - quite literally - scream at federal officials occurred within the safe zone around the Superdome where the press was operating. Shame on local officials for fomenting fear and passing along newly minted urban legends, but double shame on the press for recycling this stuff uncritically. Members of the press had access to the Superdome. Why not just run in and look for the bodies? Interview the rape victims? Couldn't be bothered? The major networks had hundreds of people in New Orleans. Was there not a single intern available to fact-check? The coverage actually cost lives. Helicopters were grounded for 24 hours in response to media reports of sniper attacks. At least two patients died waiting to be evacuated.

And yet, a ubiquitous media chorus claims simultaneously that Katrina was Bush's worst hour and the press's best. That faultless paragon of media scrupulousness Dan Rather proclaimed it one of the "quintessential great moments in television news." Christiane Amanpour explained, "I think what's interesting is that it took a Katrina, you know, to bring us back to where we belong. In other words, real journalists, real journalism, and I think that's a good thing."

But in the race to prove the federal response incompetent, the "real journalists" missed some important details. As Lou Dolinar of exhaustively documents, the National Guard did amazing work in New Orleans. From the Superdome, the Guard managed some 2,500 troops, a dozen emergency shelters, more than 200 boats, 150 helicopters (which flew more than 10,000 sorties moving 88,181 passengers, 18,834 tons of cargo, and saved 17,411 survivors), and an enormous M*A*S*H operation that, among other things, delivered seven babies.


None of this is to say that the federal government and the Bush administration didn't make mistakes. But, if we're looking for poster children for arrogant incompetence in response to Katrina, there are better candidates than George W. Bush.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Thought Is Not The Answer

Dennis Prager:

The highest-ranking Democrat in America, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, described the Senate bill making English the national language of the American people as "racist." And the New York Times editorial page labeled the bill "xenophobic."

Welcome to the thoughtless world of contemporary liberalism. Beginning in the 1960s, liberalism, once the home of many deep thinkers, began to substitute feeling for thought and descended into superficiality.

One-word put-downs of opponents' ideas and motives were substituted for thoughtful rebuttal. Though liberals regard themselves as intellectual -- their views, after all, are those of nearly all university professors -- liberal thought has almost died. Instead of feeling the need to thoughtfully consider an idea, most liberal minds today work on automatic. One-word reactions to most issues are the liberal norm.

This is easy to demonstrate.

Here is a list of terms liberals apply to virtually every idea or action with which they differ:


And here is the list of one-word descriptions of what liberals are for:

The poor
The disenfranchised
The environment


"Phobic" is the current one-word favorite among liberal dismissals of ideological opponents. It combines instant moral dismissal with instant psychological analysis. If you do not support society redefining marriage to include members of the same sex you are "homophobic" -- and further thought is unnecessary. If you articulate a concern about the moral state of Islam today, you are "Islamophobic" -- and again further thought is unnecessary. And if you seek to retain English as America's unifying language, you are not only racist, you are, as the New York Times editorial describes you, "xenophobic" and "Latinophobic," the latest phobia uncovered by the Left.

There is a steep price paid for the liberal one-wording of complex ideas -- the decline of liberal thought. But with more and more Americans graduating college and therefore taught the liberal list of one-word reactions instead of critical thinking, many liberals do not see any pressing need to think through issues. They therefore do not believe they have paid any price at all.

But American society is paying a steep price. Every car that has a bumper sticker declaring "War is not the answer" powerfully testifies to the intellectual decline of the well educated and to the devolution of "liberal thought" into an oxymoron.

Monday, May 22, 2006

We Played The Flute For You, But You Did Not Dance, We Sang A Dirge But You Did Not Mourn

The Anchoress has a very well written, thought-provoking post in defense of George W. Bush against being abandoned by his erstwhile supporters.

It begins:

A much-esteemed, long-neglected friend sent an email this morning, which was delightful to recieve. At one point he mentioned this post from yesterday and wrote: "I think (President Bush) has lost his bearings. but then, so did Moses from time to time, it’s quite understandable".

That made me wonder a little - has President Bush lost his bearings, or have we? Is it President Bush who has broken faith with “his base” or have they?

When I read my friend’s line, I thought of a line from Pride and Prejudice, in which Elizabeth Bennett says in new appreciation of Mr. Darcy, “In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was.”

Perhaps I am a dim bulb, but President Bush has never surprised me, and that is probably why I have never felt let down or “betrayed” by him. He is, in essentials, precisely whom he has ever been...

Saturday, May 20, 2006



MODERN CULTURE JUST DOESN'T SEEM TO BE ABOUT a sense of proportion and being soothed by pleasant things AT ALL ANYMORE.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Maybe The Joke's On Us

I've had a small, sneaking suspicion that Dan Brown might be more clever than I've given him credit for. Details here.

Look At Them Burn Their Widows. Isn't That Special?

Some good bits in this TownHall column:

“Although the film invests time among the tribesmen, it never really explores the idea that one man's missionary work is another's ideological aggression."

It’s been months since I first read it, but this line from the Washington Post’s review of End of the Spear still leaves me flabbergasted. Only one sentence previously, the author had noted that the Christian missionaries had “prevailed upon the natives to stop their deadly infighting, which threatened the very survival of the Waodani people.” Which is worse, cultural and ethnic suicide or a bit of “intellectual aggression” by Christians? For the Washington Post and its ilk, that’s a tough call.


Like everyone else who advocates relativism, the multiculturalists are conditional in their embrace of it. The slavery and conquest practiced by the Aztecs is excused, but the slavery and conquest practiced by whites is a moral blemish of which we cannot be absolved.

There is hubris in this double standard. As Leszek Kolakowski notes, “A European who says that all cultures are equal does not normally mean that he would like to have his hand cut off if he is caught falsifying his tax forms, or be subjected to a public flogging (or, in the case of a woman, a stoning) if caught making love to a person who does not happen to be his legal wife (or husband). To say in such a case, ‘This is the law of the Koran, and we must respect traditions other than our own’ essentially amounts to saying, ‘that would be dreadful if it happened here, but for those savages it’s just the right thing.’”


The solution to this puzzle can be understood by considering the “museum Fremen” in Frank Herbert’s Dune books. In this popular sci-fi series, the Fremen began as fearsome warriors hardened by the unforgiving desert environment they lived in. But environmental modifications and political and religious pressure slowly change this. Near the end of the series, thousands of years after the beginning, the only remnants of this people are “museum Fremen” whose job is to preserve some of the trappings of the culture, without even understanding why they do what they do. Actions once required for survival have become merely a ritual performance. In short, there was no longer a culture, merely the relics of one, with people acting parts.

I’ve watched an auditorium filled with hundreds of good, peaceable liberals applaud a war dance from the Pacific Islands. Why shouldn’t they? No one was going to be speared afterwards; the dancers were going to get out of their grass skirts and ribbons, and slip into jeans and sneakers. Having been stripped of all meaning and context the cultural artifact was found fit for liberal consumption. When the left applauds multiculturalism, what they mean is liberal culture with more culinary and entertainment options.

So long as they are kept at a comfortable distance, most liberals will excuse the wrongs of other cultures while delighting in a few reproductions of the less noxious aspects. The portions of the culture that are real for them are those on the stage or in the dining hall, not those in the mosque or harem. “Child brides and honor killings? Well, that’s just their culture, and isn’t this falafel delicious?”

Doubt Should Not Be So Selective

THe WSJ has a piece exploring what C.S. Lewis might have thought about something like the Da Vinci Code. I liked this Lewis quote:

"I do not wish to reduce the skeptical element in your minds," Lewis explained. "I am only suggesting that it need not be reserved exclusively for the New Testament and the Creeds. Try doubting something else."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Just Fiction

Mark Shea:

Ireland, Day 4

More TV and radio interviews yesterday. One sympathetic and a couple more asking the tired question, "Isn't it just fiction?" I proposed a fictional film in which all the homosexuals in the world were engaged in a vast conspiracy to destroy Western Civilization.

"That would be offensive."

No duh.

The *only* time people fall for this notion that a fictional story which goes out of its way to malign and defame a billion people is "just fiction" is when it bashes Christians. The only time such people believe it will have absolutely no effect on what people think is with the Da Vinci Code. Try making a modern fictional film in which blacks are all watermelon-eating Stepin Fetchit dunces, or Jews are all conniving lechers and you will (rightly) get a storm of protest because these lies are pernicious and do real damage. But declare Christians the suckers of a 2000 year old Vatican conspiracy of murder and lies in the service of "the greatest coverup of all time", blaspheme Jesus and call all Christians fools for believing in him: that's just fiction.

And the most galling aspect? It's "courageous" to say this. As if Christians are going to bomb the office of Sony or issue a fatwa against Ron Howard.


Rotten Tomatoes is currently 0 for 7 on the movie being any good.

Liberalism Has Never Recovered From 1963

Very interesting Commentary essay explores the question

It is one of the ironies of the era that many young people who in 1963 reacted with profound grief to Kennedy’s death would, just a few years later, come to champion a version of the left-wing doctrines that had motivated his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. But why should this have been so? What was it about mid-century liberalism that allowed it to be knocked so badly off balance by a single blow?

One Can Dream

You can't help but wonder why the obvious is never attempted:

George W. Bush isn't at 29 percent because he's lost support among moderates and liberals - he's at 29 percent because he has been too willing to cave in to moderates and liberals.

The recipe for restoring his popularity to above 50 percent is simple: Bush must screw the Left every chance he gets.

Example: Immigration
Liberals want open borders, amnesty, and quickie citizenship for all the illegals who are here, and millions more who cross the border tomorrow, next week and next year. Why? To add to the government dependency rolls and the Democratic Party voter rolls. But even if Bush gave them that, they'd never be for Bush or vote Republican.
Solution: Give the Left exactly what they don't want: troops on the border, and then construction crews building a wall. And no amnesty-lite guest-worker program. Yeah, some GOP moderates and business types won't like that last part. So what? They're not going to switch over and vote for tax-raising, regulation-loving Democrats. And if a few stay home, well, they'll be more than offset by a surge in support from conservatives. And from the thousands of newly-employed construction workers working on that wall. Just make sure no illegals are doing the work.

Example: Spending
A Republican president can not spend enough to make Teddy Kennedy and his ilk happy. A Republican president can not spend enough to make Democrats vote for Republicans. Yet that's what GWB has tried to do. However, you can spend enough to make conservatives lose faith in you. Or you can restrain spending enough to attract "Reagan Democrats" - moderate Democrats who lean conservative.
Solution: Slash spending. Now. Propose wholesale cuts to everything but defense. Propose a balanced budget no matter what you have to cut, other than defense - and make the Democrats defend deficit spending.

Example: Oil
Oil is now a national security issue, what with us needing so much of it and so much of it coming from the same part of the world that breeds terrorists bent on killing us, and with it being so important to the continued health of the U.S. economy.
Solution: Issue a national security presidential directive declaring it to be in the national security interest of the United States to begin immediate oil exploration and production in the coastal plain of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. And along the coasts. The environmentalists and the dog whose tail they wag - the Democratic Party - will howl. But so what. They aren't for Bush and never were. Adults who drive cars will support it. So will the thousands of new and well-paid oil field workers.

Example: War on Terror
The Left never really supported the war on terror - to the Left, terrorism is a criminal act rather than an act of war, and terrorists need to be "understood" and the "root causes" addressed, and by "root causes" they mean "American foreign policy," not "Islamofacist wacko-ism." A majority of Americans understand that Islamofacist terrorism must be defeated.
Solution: Up the ante. More troops killing more terrorists. And get more confrontational with Iran, the root cause of most Islamic terrorism in the world today.

Example: Everything Else
More moderates lean conservative than lean liberal. Figure out what the Left wants, then do the opposite.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It'd Be Kind Of Funny If The Movie Turned Out To Suck

Sounds like it does.

Beginning of Variety article:

A pulpy page-turner in its original incarnation as a huge international bestseller has become a stodgy, grim thing in the exceedingly literal-minded film version of "The Da Vinci Code." Tackling head-on novelist Dan Brown's controversy-stirring thriller hinging on a subversively revisionist view of Jesus Christ's life, director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have conspired to drain any sense of fun out of the melodrama, leaving expectant audiences with an oppressively talky film that isn't exactly dull, but comes as close to it as one could imagine with such provocative material; result is perhaps the best thing the project's critics could have hoped for. Enormous public anticipation worldwide will result in explosive B.O. at the start in near-simultaneous release in most international territories, beginning May 17 in some countries -- day-and-date with the official Cannes opening-night preem -- and May 19 in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Sitting through all the verbose explanations and speculations about symbols, codes, secret cults, religious history and covert messages in art, it is impossible to believe that, had the novel never existed, such a script would ever have been considered by a Hollywood studio. It's esoteric, heady stuff, made compelling only by the fact that what it's proposing undermines the fundamental tenants [uhh, exsqueeze me, but the word is "tenets". You'd think a big name magazine would be more literate than a blog comment section] of Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, and, by extension, Western Civilization for the past 2,000 years...

Excerpt from other link:

The most hotly-awaited movie of the year "The Da Vinci Code" failed to crack an audience of movie critics here at a sneak preview ahead of Wednesday's opening of the Cannes Film Festival.

Several whistles instead of applause were all that greeted the end of Ron Howard's 125-million-dollar film, and worse than that, the 2,000-strong audience even burst out laughing at the movie's key moment.

"I didn't like it very much. I thought it was almost as bad as the book. Tom Hanks was a zombie, thank goodness for Ian McKellen. It was overplayed, there was too much music and it was much too grandiose," said Peter Brunette, critic for the US daily The Boston Globe.


Thus book's detractors will no doubt be comforted to hear that when Hanks reveals who is supposedly the last surviving descendant of Jesus, the Cannes audience couldn't hold back their laughter.

"At the high point, there was laughter among the journalists. Not loud laughs, but a snicker and I think that says it all," said Gerson Da Cunha from The Times of India.

Other critics said the two and a half hour film was confusing to those who hadn't read the book.

"People were confused, there was no applause, just silence," said Margherita Ferrandino from the Italian television Rai 3.

"I have only read half the book, and then I got bored. It's terrible," she added.

"It was really disappointing. The dialogue was cheesy. The acting wasn't too bad, but the film is not as good as the book," added Lina Hamchaoui, from British radio IRN.

Despite being filmed against the backdrop of some of Paris' and London's most impressive and historic buildings -- Howard was even given unprecedented permission to film inside the Louvre -- the film fails to convince, becoming more of a drama-documentary with its overuse of historic flashbacks and other devices to tell the tale.

Hanks seems to get bogged down in the interminable dialogue, whereas Tautou, so brilliant in "Amelie", fails to make an impression.

Clever Movie Trailer Satire

This is amusing. A comedy 3,000 years in the making!

The Crybabies Get Their Bottle

This about sums it up. Too bad the GOP never seems to produce a president who understands what a bunch of ruthless operatots he is up against and responds accordingly, giving as good as he gets.


Think back to September 12, 2001. Imagine that an omniscient seer had told you then that four-and-a-half years later, the U.K. and Spain would have experienced al Qaeda attacks in their own countries; France's appeasement-oriented government would have been rocked by Islamic riots in Paris and other cities, Denmark would have had its citizens and embassies targeted for Islamic terror attacks on account of political cartoons portraying Muhammed; Russia would have endured a deadly hostage siege by Islamic terrorists at a school full of children; and in all that time, the United States would not have experienced a single additional terror attack on its own soil. Imagine the seer had told you further that the United States would, in the same period of time, wage and win two wars in the middle east, overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan and midwifing the formation of a parliamentary democracy there, then driving Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and bringing that destitute country to the verge of its first parliamentary government, elected by nation-wide vote and backed by a western-trained police force and a non-Baathist army, while Saddam himself sat in the dock awaiting the verdict of his trial for crimes against humanity. Imagine he had told you that American combat deaths in these two wars over three years time would not have exceeded 5,000. Imagine that he also told you the American economy would have fully recovered from the 9/11 attack in this timeframe, returning to employment, interest, inflation, and growth rates rivalling if not exceeding those of the Clinton years, despite wartime budget deficits and huge increases in gasoline prices caused by the inevitable uncertainties in the middle east, while the socialist economies of Europe stagnated or shrank. Then imagine that he told you George W. Bush's approval rating just six months after his reelection would stand at 29 percent.

Would you have believed him? Would you have believed that the predicted accomplishments could be achieved so speedily, if at all, in the post-9/11 world? And would you have believed that a man who led such bold endeavors would be the least popular president in modern history save for Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter?

Yet that is the case.


How could this have happened? Bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck? Well, in case anyone has forgotten this elementary fact, every presidential administration has its share of bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck. These are the whales, sharks, and other monsters that swim ceaselessly in the political ocean. But the ocean itself -- the medium in which the monsters swim -- is the MSM. In this context, the blogosphere is no more than the foam on the whitecaps stirred up by the vast currents and movements in the ocean below. And while the bloggers were fighting their various and diverse battles in the name of truth, justice, and common sense, the MSM ocean was harnessing its entire immensity on just one story, told an infinite number of times, in every possible inflection, from every direction, and with the deadly persistent accuracy of a dripping tap: George W. Bush is no good.

It doesn't have to be true, it doesn't have to be fair, it doesn't have to be consistent in its terms. All that matters is that it is repeated with uniform constancy: drip, drip, drip. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Change the headlines, seem to change the subject. Abu Ghraib. European disdain. Tom Delay. Katrina. Deficits. Valerie Plame. Gas prices. Karl Rove. Death in Iraq. Angry mothers. NSA wiretaps. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, the lede is always the same. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Forget the good news, bury the accomplishments or ignore them altogether. Drip, drip, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good.

It took the MSM three years to bring George W. Bush's approval ratings down from their post 9/11 high to 52 percent on election day 2004. It's taken them just 18 months [corr. per Tim] to bring him down another 20 to 25 points. They never forgot their mission. While the princeling bloggers pissed and moaned about Harriet Miers, and immigration, and federal spending, the MSM kept on dripping out its one story, and now they are within reach of their goal -- Democrats restored to the majority in both houses of Congress and the stage set for the vengeful impeachment and dismissal from office of the most courageous president in modern times.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Four Salient Questions

For Muslims as posed by Cardinal George Pell.

The FrontPageMag article concludes:

Over three years later Cardinal Pell’s unanswered questions highlight the predictable failure of the feckless “We’re all three Abrahamic religions”, “dialogue for the sake of dialogue” approach to both Muslim-Christian, and Muslim-Jewish dialogue. Until Muslims are willing to address with candor these admittedly wrenching questions, Dr. Malik’s sobering conclusions from his February 2003 speech will remain apposite: "One certainly needs to be open at all times to learn from the Other, including to learn at times that the Other right now has nothing to teach me on a particular issue."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Screw The GOP

Unless they change in a pretty serious way between now and November. I found this to be an excellent post on the theme.


I didn't come to Washington 30 years ago to help Me, Too Republicans further the Liberal Democrats' Leviathan state; I came to help put it back in the cage that is the Constitution, traditionally understood.

So, with national security issues, Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court, the 2001 tax cuts and welfare reform of 1996 excepted, having this GOP majority for the past dozen years has accomplished very little. Given how the GOP congressional leadership avoids genuine congressional oversight of the federal bureaucracy and is terror-stricken by the prospect of actually engaging in sustained and determined political hand-to-hand combat with the Democrats, odds are even these accomplishments are anything but permanent.

In short, what the GOP majority has done is waste a unique historical opportunity - one that voters might not ever grant them again.

Second, there is the congressional and national GOP's bad faith with conservatives for lo these many years as they've frittered away their opportunity. John N. Mitchell, Nixon's first Attorney General, reassured worried liberals that Nixon's conservative campaign rhetoric of 1968 was nothing more than talk.

"Watch what we do, not what we say," Mitchell cooed in a pattern that has been evident ever since, with only the Reagan years being an exception (and even then not always). This is why the GOP Establishment loves the conservatives voter on Election Day but the day after always forgets the promises made to get us to the polls.

Conservatives end up getting lots of smoke and mirrors talk, but little genuine accomplishment. The GOP wants our money, our energy and our votes, but then they expect us to sit down and shut up until the next election while they perpetuate Big Government.

Put simply, the GOP has been giving conservatives the idiot's treatment since 1968.

UPDATE II: What is to be Done?

Bruce and Paul assume that the key point of what I advocate is having conservatives stay at home on election day this year. It is never so simple as that. I am at least partially responsible for this misconception since I've not previously gone into any detail on what I think conservatives should do. I've focused instead on describing why conservatives are upset and assessing the response to date of the White House and Hill GOP.

So what is to be done? Three things...

Friday, May 12, 2006

All Is Lost

Victor Davis Hanson has written a very good parody of 2006-style defeatist and treasonous whining superimposed on the facts of the very end of World War II.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Here's What Air Traffic Controllers Do

Via Vanderleun, check out this cute video. Basically it is a time lapse radar view of FedEx planes being routed into Memphis during thunderstorms. Vanderleun's title sums it up pretty well: "Land... Land.... Land.... Land.... FLEE!". It's neat to see the routing and then the little circling holding patterns/delay vectors as the storm passes over Memphis.

All Along The Watchtower

A brilliant Vanderleun essay re:the corrupt and dying liberal media.


It's not really a question of whether or not the old media could get their sad act together, get their fat ass in gear, get their revenue base back, come on in, have a cigar, and call it 'riding the gravy train.' They could. Fox News, every season, proves that. Nor is it a state secret how to do it. Fox News shows you how, 24/7/365. No, it is more a question of whether or not the established elements of people that make up the failing media can, themselves, get the audience back. And the answer to that, now and into the future, is, "No."

All along the watchtower,
princes kept the view
While all the women came and went,
barefoot servants, too.

No, they can't because they simply don't have the intellectual tools to do so. They might have been able to at one time much earlier in their careers, but by now they are so ossified in their age and in their hiring practices that they have no chance at it. Old liberal media has been failing to reproduce at replacement rate for years. And when it has hired, It has not hired new, fresh minds into its institutions, but has been buying up the clones produced by such mainstream media bio-labs as the Columbia Journalism School. This is not surprising since they've been retiring into teaching positions in theses sorts of schools for decades. Positions in which they create little journalists out of their whole and moldy cloth; kids that turn out just like them.

The result is that, even as the media generation forged in the sixties and seventies begins to retire, their replacements in their institutions are merely clones of themselves. Sometimes they are even their own children since nepotism is the way of the media companies. They are kind to their children, they have to be since in many cases the kid is the one child that survived the great liberal abortion festivals that marked the early marriages of these people. The end result today is, like an ancient cosmology that was turtles all the way down, these liberal media monoliths are staffed with liberals all the way down. And that means that their daily bleatings in search of love will continue. It means that their cracked bells will never stop ringing.

And those bells will ring even louder in the next few months as the liberal media, bleating in lock-step with the Left and the dwindling liberal Democratic party, tries to beat a war-weary electorate into shrugging submission; into a desperation so deep that they will do anything to make this cast-off cartel of crap shut up, even vote them into power. And so they will ring out their cracked bells of doom, of surrender, of despair and the decline of America into delicate things.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hey, Sullivan, I Don't Think The Word "Catholic" Means What You Think It Means

Ace of Spades and Lifelike Pundits examine the latest asininity from Saint Andrew.

Among his foolish utterances:

And there are those who simply believe that, by definition, God is unknowable to our limited, fallible human minds and souls. If God is ultimately unknowable, then how can we be so certain of what God's real position is on, say, the fate of Terri Schiavo? Or the morality of contraception? Or the role of women? Or the love of a gay couple? Also, faith for many of us is interwoven with doubt, a doubt that can strengthen faith and give it perspective and shadow. That doubt means having great humility in the face of God and an enormous reluctance to impose one's beliefs, through civil law, on anyone else.

Yes Andrew. God is totally unknowable. It says so right there in the Nicene Creed. In fact, having no idea about what God might possibly want from us is the very quintessence of what it means to be a Catholic!

Update: Hewitt gives Sullivan what for.

Piloting Is Fun

I had a good flying lesson today out over the San Mateo county coastline, working on maneuvers for my Commercial Rating, with lots of time over the beaches and the ocean waves. After I got back, I had lunch at the outdoor cafe next to the flying club. Today, they were playing 60's tunes on the patio speakers. "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf came on, reminding me of the cool F-18 video that made the rounds about half a year ago, then disappeared from its original site. I just found it on YouTube again (sound required):

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cool Puzzle

Here. There's something funny going on with these triangles!

Image Hosted by
Where does this “hole” come from?

The Things You Stumble Across

Clever human beatbox.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What 30 Years Will Do To You

Found this here:

1976: Long hair
2006: Longing for hair

1976: The perfect high
2006: The perfect high yielding mutual fund

1976: KEG
2006: EKG

1976: Moving to California because it’s cool
2006: Moving to California because it’s warm.

1976: Growing pot
2006: Growing pot belly

1976: Trying to look like Marlin Brando or Liz Taylor
2006: Trying NOT to look like Marlin Brando or Liz Taylor

1976: Seeds and stems
2006: Roughage

1976: Popping pills, smoking joints
2006: Popping joints

1976: Killer weed
2006: Weed killer

1976: Hoping for a BMW
2006: Hoping for a BM

1976: The Grateful Dead
2006: Kevorkian

1976: Going to a new hip joint
2006: Receiving a new hip joint

1976: Rolling Stones
2006: Kidney stones

1976: Being called into the Principal’s office
2006: Calling the Princicpal’s office

1976: Screw the system
2006: Upgrade the system

1976: Disco
2006: Costco

1976: Parents begging you to get your hair cut
2006: Children begging you to get their head shaved

1976: Taking acid
2006: Taking antacid

1976: Passing the driver’s test
2006: Passing the vision test

1976: Whatever
2006: Depends

The Song Remains The Same

Ace of Spades highlights an article chock full of interesting quotes of what the founding fathers had to say about Islamic barbarism (and they'd know, having had to deal with the Barbary Pirates in the early 19th century).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Few Smileys Worth Many Words

This comment is amusing.

Casting And Script By Wesley Mouch

John Hawkins on the prospects of an Atlas Shrugged movie from Hollywood:

I thought Atlas Shrugged was a phenomenal book and I would really be looking forward to seeing what Hollywood does with it, except that I'd be surprised if Hollywood doesn't screw it up.

For one thing, Atlas Shrugged is really too long to be done as a two hour movie. You'd probably need 3 hours or even a mini-series to do it effectively. I've heard some people suggest that they might do it as two parter, like Kill Bill, but I'm not really sure that would work either.

Even setting the length problem aside, the really big problem is that Atlas Shrugged is a book that completely and utterly rejects the liberal view of the world and yet, the project would end up being run by liberals from top to bottom. How can you expect a bunch of liberals to faithfully recreate Atlas Shrugged when a big part of the message of the movie is, "Big government liberalism will ruin the country?"

Somehow, some way, by the time the liberals get done tinkering with the script, it'll probably be conservative business owners wrecking America, socialists trying to save the country, and everyone will be walking around asking, "Who is Che Guevara?"

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Widely Reported By The MSM Coverup By The MSM

I've been enjoying and looking forward each day to Michelle Malkin's video blog, which started a couple of weeks ago. Here's a great one. Leftist bloggers are totally insane, and sometimes video is the best medium to show it.

Down The Memory Hole

The WSJ ties together the failure to execute Moussaoui and how the United 93 movie reminds us of things we shouldn't be forgetting.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lost Forever In The House Of Mirrors

Todd Gitlin has written a lament.

This Corner post is a good introduction:

Academic Life [Stanley Kurtz]

What's it like to be in today's academy? I don't think anything (inadvertently) conveys the experience more clearly than Todd Gitlin's, "The Self-Inflicted Wounds of the Academic Left."

At the beginning of this piece, Gitlin puts on a masterful show of bias and intolerance by equating liberalism with reason and conservatism with ignorance. Gitlin leaves no space for legitimate intellectual argument between liberals and conservatives. When it comes to conservatives, Gitlin sees it as strictly a matter of exposing their willfulness, malevolence, and stupidity. But that's just the first couple of paragraphs. In the rest of his article, Gitlin strikes a pose of moderation by taking on the unreconstructed academic communists to his left.

This was my experience in the academy. The faculty believed they were having real debates and deep exchanges of ideas, because one sort of leftist was always arguing with another. Conservative ideas were considered illegitimate on the face of it, and so belonged outside the academy. Ideas on the left, however radical, were to be taken seriously and vigorously debated. So this bizarre article, in which Gitlin poses as a fair-minded moderate liberal, is an all-too-accurate depiction of the state of the academy today. They think they're a serious debating society when in fact they're a squabbling political party of the left.
Posted at 9:37 AM

Where Are The Leftists When You Need Them?

Glenn Reynolds:


Of the top 14 oil exporters, only one is a well-established liberal democracy — Norway. Two others have recently made a transition to democracy — Mexico and Nigeria. Iraq is trying to follow in their footsteps. That's it. Every other major oil exporter is a dictatorship — and the run-up in oil prices has been a tremendous boon to them.

My associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ian Cornwall, calculates that if oil averages $71 a barrel this year, 10 autocracies stand to make about $500 billion more than in 2003, when oil was at $27. This windfall helps to squelch liberal forces and entrench noxious dictators in such oil producers as Russia (which stands to make $115 billion more this year than in 2003) and Venezuela ($36 billion). Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez can buy off their publics with generous subsidies and ignore Western pressure while sabotaging democratic developments from Central America to Central Asia.

The "dictatorship dividend" also subsidizes Sudan's ethnic cleansing (it stands to earn $4.7 billion more this year than in 2003), Iran's development of nuclear weapons ($45 billion) and Saudi Arabia's proselytization for Wahhabi fundamentalism ($149 billion). Even in such close American allies as Kuwait ($35 billion) and the United Arab Emirates ($36 billion), odds are that some of the extra lucre will find its way into the pockets of terrorists.

Of course, if we seized the Saudi and Iranian oil fields and ran the pumps full speed, oil prices would plummet, dictators would be broke, and poor nations would benefit from cheap energy. But we'd be called imperialist oppressors, then.

UPDATE: Various people (with various degrees of enthusiasm) see the above as a call for invasion. It was, rather, a comment on the vacuity of the "imperialist oppressors" language. Though I was probably wrong there anyway: If we really were imperialist oppressors, the critics would be sucking up.


But just to troll a bit more, I do think that seizing Saudi and Iranian oil would be entirely morally justifiable on terms usually approved of by the left: They didn't earn it, they inherited it (it's like the Estate Tax writ large!). They're extracting huge profits for fatcats at the expense of the poor. They're racist, sexist, homophobic theocrats! (Literally!) Surely if it's ever permissible to redistibute wealth by force, this is the case. Right?

Great Rejoinder

Documented by Jay Nordlinger:

Every now and then, Erping faces Chinese students in America, who are still proud Communists (or at least defensive of the PRC). Most strongly, they decry "Western influence" in their country.

Erping delivers a jolting line to them. It goes something like this: "I, too, decry Western influence on China. I think it's a very bad thing. And, at present, there is only one Western ideology that is legal in China: and that is Communism. Communism has nothing to do with us, nothing to do with China. This is an ideology born in Europe, first practiced in Russia and elsewhere. There is nothing in our traditions or history like Communism. We have a 5,000-year-old civilization, and Communism has been with us for less than 60 years. Other countries, such as Germany and Russia, have discarded it. Why shouldn't we?

"So, again, I agree with you: We must eradicate foreign influence in China. And the biggest such influence is Communism."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Good Rant

By Ace Of Spades.


Not that it matters, but I really didn't mind Colbert busting on the President much. Which he didn't do all that much of, anyway. Sure, some. But that's why he's there.

What annoyed me was his attacking the media.

I'm not a media defender, of course. I'm annoyed he attacked the media as being too "right wing." And of course the media takes this sort of criticism seriously. We on the right have been documenting the media's shameless shilling for Democrats for twenty, thirty years now, and yet when the far left suddenly begins making specious claims about a "right wing media," or the media being "poodles" of the GOP, they take that as important criticism that they have to consider seriously.

Every time a left-leaning group charges the media with bias against them, the media is all too willing to consider the charges, and they often admit some degree of guilt, and promise to do better. All through the eighties and nineties I saw "Special Editions of Nightline" where, for example, a panel of media donyennes would consider if the media were too bigoted against blacks, or not sufficiently "fair" as regards the black liberal agenda. The media-types would flagellate themselves, saying "We're not doing enough," etc.

Same with women, gays, Muslims, Hispanics. The media is quite willing to admit it's biased against groups associated with the leftist coalition.

But, of course, there's one sort of bias they dismiss out of hand. There's one sort of bias they do not devote special hour-long town-hall discussion panels to exploring. There's ONE group on the entire planet they insist they are congenitally incapable of being biased against.

Methinks they doth protest too much. Surely if they're willing to admit the possibility of unconscious racism, a group of people who votes 90% Democratic can show the courage to admit the possibility of unconscious media bias towards the people they're consciously biased against politically.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hip Hop Psalm

Here (H/T Mark Shea):

The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is all that, I need
For nothing
He allows me to chill.
He keeps me from being heated
And allows me to breathe easy.
He guides my life so that
I can represent and give
Shouts out in his Name.
And even though I walk through
The Hood of death,
I don't back down
For you have my back.
The fact that you have me covered
Allows me to chill.
He provides me with back-up
In front of my player-haters
And I know that I am a baler
And life will be phat
I fall back in the Lord's crib
For the rest of my life

The Operative Syllogism

From The Corner:

[H]ow about this syllogism: Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Treason is the highest form of dissent. Therefore treason is the highest form of patriotism.

A Piece Of The Puzzle

Interesting analysis:

Why then are churchgoers the likeliest to back the Iraq War? Former Navy Secretary James Webb, himself now a war critic, explains in his recent best seller "Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America," that American evangelicals are disproportionately Celtic and warlike. The Scots-Irish culture that predominates in the U.S. South and lower mid-west has always been pro-military.

But the explanation for war support among churchgoers is probably not entirely genealogical. Gallup shows that increased religious practice across several traditions, and not just among southern Evangelicals, indicates likelier support for the Iraq War.

So try this explanation. Persons of traditional religious belief, with transcendent faith and hope about eternity, have cause to be more patient with set-backs, delayed gratification, risk-taking, long-term suffering, and the prospect of distant success. They are also cognizant of the power of human sin, and appreciate the limits of the best human endeavors.

Bush, the Methodist from Texas of Scots-Irish roots, fits the "Born Fighting" stereotype of the Jacksonian war hawk. But, if Gallup is right, other types of Protestants, along with Catholics and Jews, can also understand the need for sacrifice, persistence, and a vision beyond the typical news cycles.

The third anniversary of the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein has rattled many former war supporters and confirmed the fears of war opponents. Contrary to the stereotypes, the faithful can often face the moral complexities of politics and war better than the secularist utopians.