Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Oh, Baby, it's a wide world

Courtesy of World 66, I learned that I've traveled to only 8% of the world's countries:
create your own visited country map I guess I'm not a very adventurous type. How do you stack up? Hat tip: CDR Salamander

More evidence of much badness in Iraq

This is why the Iraqis don't care about whether or not the WMD rationale for the war was true or not:

Investigators have uncovered a large grave in Iraq that may contain the bodies of 1,500 Kurds killed in the 1980s. It could produce evidence needed to prosecute ousted leader Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants for mass killings during his regime.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Preempting parents

I've posted twice about situations in which I've felt that sexual agendas are being pushed onto very young children without their parents' consent. In both cases, I've made it clear that I haven't necessarily disagreed with the agenda, I've simply disagreed with a government entity taking upon itself the decision to begin instructing my 4 or 5 or 6 year old in sensitive sexual matters. I now read at Michelle Malkin that a father in Concord, Mass. was arrested in connection with this type of government overreaching. David Parker had asked to be notified in advance if materials that implicated sexuality were distributed to his 5 year old. Despite this request, his son came home one day with a booklet regarding family units that included a discussion about same-sex marriages. Like me, Parker was not necessarily opposed to same-sex marriages; he was simply opposed to having the government decide when his 5 year old should learn about them. Parker went to school seeking an assurance -- again -- from the administration that they would in future inform him before they exposed his son to this information. The school refused to give him that assurance, and eventually called the cops on him, rather than doing so. Tells you a lot about how committed the administration is (a) to a PC agenda and (b) to ensuring that parents are put in their place -- which is subordinate to the school. Check out Michelle Malkin for more on this subject. I'll emphasize again, as I did in my two previous posts: I'm very much not opposed to homosexuals and I haven't yet made up my mind about the societal benefits or burden of homosexual marriage. I simply object strongly to well-meaning governmental busybodies exposing my very young children to delicate matters of sexuality that are not yet on my developmental schedule for them. Previous posts: Why parents might be opposed to PBS's venture into PC programming about lesbians Reality check requested

Would you want these political operatives as your parents?

This from David Gerlernter pretty much sums up the Democratic principles in a nutshell:

Democrats habitually treat Americans like children. That's the whole basis of Democratic philosophy (I use the term loosely). We'll take care of you. Leave the thinking to us. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, minority leaders of the House and Senate, respectively, — kindly Mom and Pop to a nation of intellectually limited youngsters. (But thank goodness, they love us anyway.) How could anyone be opposed in principle to private investment accounts within Social Security? I could understand Democrats arguing that 'private accounts are a wonderful idea but the country can't afford the transition costs right now.' But mostly I hear Democrats saying they're a lousy idea, and that President Bush wants to wreck Social Security — because, after all, he wants to let you keep a great big whopping 4% of your payroll taxes in a private account instead of handing over every cent to the government. How on Earth could anyone be opposed in principle to letting taxpayers manage a minuscule fraction of their own money (their own money, dammit!) if they want to? Because private accounts violate the Infantile American Principle, so dear to Democratic hearts. Little kids should turn over their cash to the Big Smart Government for safekeeping. But of course they can't say that, so instead they say, 'Bush wants to privatize Social Security' — as if government were going to wash its hands of the whole mess. The technical term that logicians use for this rhetorical gambit — applying a correct word for one part of a proposal to the proposal as a whole — is 'lying.' Here's another one: How could anyone be opposed to school vouchers? Vouchers let you decide where to spend tax money to educate your children. You give the voucher to any public or private school; it's your call. But Democrats worry that (among other things) too many parents will spend their vouchers at a local Obedience School for Little Nazis or the neighborhood Witchcraft Academy. That's what they think of their fellow citizens. That's what they think of you! Now some readers will say, hold on, be fair! Democrats only oppose vouchers because the teachers unions ordered them to. Agreed, teachers unions are a big factor in every major decision a good Democrat makes, starting with what cereal to have for breakfast. But Democrats also oppose vouchers out of honest conviction. They are honestly convinced that ordinary Americans don't have the brains to choose a school for their own kids.
As his starting point for this column, Mr. Gerlernter used the Michelle Malkin link about the hoo-ha in Georgia from some black politicians, because they don't feel their constituents can cope with having to show photo ID to vote. Since I weighed in on that one, here is my post on that subject ("Blacks as America's permanent children.")

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Calling all Dartmouth grads

More on the Dartmouth trustee election, this time from Powerline (which has blogged on it before). Be sure to cast your vote by May 6. Don't let the administration's PC power grab win. Previous post: Calling all Dartmouth alumni

True fairness

If you have access to the Wall Street Journal, be sure to read this Daniel Henninger article, which uses Brian C. Anderson's new book, South Park Conservatives, as the starting point for an article about how the almost 40 year life span of the fairness doctrine created the "rocket fuel" that powers the current conservative boom in radio, Fox TV, and the blogosphere. With radio such as the quotation below, how can it be anything but a good article:

What goes around comes around, I suppose. Conservatives would say they're now using radio, TV and the Web -- all of it free from political control -- to give as good as they got from the 1960s onward. For years, they claim, liberal managers in broadcasting, journalism, publishing and academia marginalized them. Were conservatives imagining that? Maybe not. Mr. Anderson cites left-wing philosopher Herbert Marcuse (who taught at Columbia, Harvard and Brandeis) urging liberals back then to practice active "intolerance against movements from the Right" in the name of "liberating tolerance." Thus, for example, liberal academics would vote to deny tenure for conservative colleagues -- and still do -- believing that this is a morally mandated act. Liberals now marvel at the energy and output of the conservative "movement" -- the talk shows, the think tanks, the blogosphere. No need to wonder; they compressed the rocket fuel for the inevitable explosion. But a price has been paid. What got lost during the years of liberal exclusionism, according to Peter Berkowitz of George Mason University, was "guidance for the negotiation of disagreement in a democracy." No more perfect example of the price the political system has paid for years of conservative shunning exists than the Senate's standoff over judges. You can find the reasons Democrats are shunning the Bush nominees to the appellate bench by consulting the Web site of People for the American Way -- abortion, corporate law, minimum wage, Social Security, environment. They disagree with these nominees on -- everything.

Know your enemies -- and then protect them

Here, in its entirety is a Little Green Footballs post:

The Bush administration wants to perform research into nuclear bunker busting weapons, that could be used as a last resort to take out deeply buried, highly fortified command centers. Democrats are blindly opposed to any nuclear weapons research, of course, and Senator Dianne Feinstein shows the deep confusion these people have about defending America: Penetrating nukes could kill millions.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the study confirms that nuclear bunker busters cannot dig deep enough to prevent large casualties. “The bottom line is that it would result in the deaths of up to a million people or more if used in densely populated areas,” she said in a statement. “This is the clearest evidence to date that our nation should not pursue the research and development of these weapons.”
Got that? For Feinstein, the possibility that these weapons could cause massive casualties to the enemy is an argument against developing them; in fact, it’s an argument against even doing the research. The threat of fortified underground centers being used to direct nuclear attacks against the US comes in a distant second on Feinstein’s list of priorities; if she has her way, we’ll have no effective method to deal with this threat, and no deterrent to stop countries like Iran. Another glaring example of why the Democrats lost the last election. They’re incapable of being serious about national defense.
'Nuff said.

Still more on Britain's new Nazis

Gail, over at Crossing the Rubicon, has a good round-up of posts from MSM critics of the AUT's decision to boycott two Israeli universities and to try to force Israeli academics in Britain to denounce their country. More posts on the subject: Who knew that England would be the new Nazi Germany? The Nazis in England move forward Actions and reactions More on the British Nazis Some in England still heed Pastor Martin Niemoller's lesson

What really counts in an election

Patrick over at The Paragraph Farmer, points out that the Cardinals, in electing the new Pope, were not driven by regional factionalism (which was the horse on which the MSM put its money), but focused instead on what was best for the church as a whole. Can you imagine an American election run on those terms? Or, even better, can you imagine our members of Congress looking to benefit the entire United States, rather than the troughs back home?

Good visual jokes

Click here for a very funny photo essay over at cdr salamander's blog. I especially enjoyed the last two photographs, neither of which I'd ever seen before. Also, if you're in the mood for a series of photo essays about the really wacky, weird lunacy, and the the vile anti-American and anti-Semitic views, that characterize San Francisco's leftist community, you have to go over to zombie's website -- zombie is a stealth photo journalist who takes pictures at Bay Area "events," and provides great running commentary to go with those pictures.

The attack on American Christians continues

Stanley Kurtz writes a lengthy column about how the liberal media is systematically demonizing American conservative Christians. As you know, though I'm a secular Jew, I've blogged about this liberal trend repeatedly, since I find it dishonest and incredibly disturbing. Read Mr. Kurtz's article and, if you have time and haven't done so already, you may find some interesting stuff in my earlier blogs on the subject. UPDATE: Since he quite literally wrote the book on it (Persecution : How Liberals are Waging War on Christianity") it's scarcely surprising that David Limbaugh has also written a scathing column about the continued liberal attacks on Christianity, and their attempts to portray it as a demonic religion intent on bringing the auto-de-fe, Scarlet Letters and other savory practices to America. Mr. Limbaugh points out, as I've also argued here, that American Christianity is distinguishable from the medieval European version, in being a profound force for truth and freedom:

What the secular Left wants to do is marginalize Christian conservatives by suggesting they are hell-bent on reserving religious liberty (and presumably other types of freedom) only for themselves. But all we have to do to refute that lie is to point to the history of this great nation, which owes its freedom largely to the religious liberties enshrined in the Constitution by Christians. The Left will never tire of castigating Christians, so we might as well get used to that. But in the meantime, it is important that Christians be neither duped nor intimidated from participating aggressively in politics and governance, which is their sacred right and their unquestionable duty.
Previous posts: The new blood libel The new Christian pariah The new Medievalists Who's afraid of Fundamentalist Christians? Christians and progress This is why Rich Lowry gets paid the big journalistic bucks Is religion divisive or inclusive in American politics? It depends whom you ask

A good idea

I probably agree with Dick Morris's proposal because I've been thinking the same thing myself:

The Republican leaders in the Senate do not have to make the false choice between endless toleration of Democratic filibusters that enfeeble their majority and the so-called 'nuclear option' — a ruling that filibusters of judicial nominations are unconstitutional — which will set off partisan wrangling for the balance of the Bush tenure. It is absurd to try to tell the American people why filibusters of judicial nominations violate the Constitution while those of presidential nonjudicial appointments and of regular legislation do not. The American people are going to see the denial of the right of unlimited debate as the equivalent of FDR's court-packing plan, which doomed the second term of his presidency to utter failure (he had a pretty good third term, winning the war). The better way to proceed is to make the filibuster radioactive politically by letting the Democrats talk themselves to death. Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves by their vocal cords. Frist just needs to end the 'virtual' filibuster and make the Democrats stage a real one, replete with quorum calls, 24/7 sessions and truly endless debate covered word for word by C-SPAN for all the nation to see — and ridicule.
In other words, the Republicans should stop running scared, and should take the Demos on at their own game. Ann Coulter, in her inimitable style, reduces the debate to one line:
In one sentence Republicans should state that the so-called "nuclear option" means: "Majority vote wins." (This is as opposed to the Democrats' mantra, which is "Our side always wins.")
I agree with that too. As I listed to the talking heads on NPR, with the Demos complaining about how they had to preserve their power, I kept thinking, "Wait. If the American people had wanted the Demos to have more power, they would have elected more of them." In the same regard, now that the Republicans have finally gone back to pre-January 2005 ethics rules, they ought to start going after the Demos who demanded the reinstatement of the "stricter" rules. That is, let DeLay defend himself (I'm assuming he can) and then ferret out those Democrats who should also be called before the ethics committee. I find it very bizarre that the Republicans are allowing the Dems to call the shots and set the agenda, rather than pursuing the agenda for which voters elected them -- and then letting the voters call the shots in 2006 and 2008, depending on whether they like how the Republicans carried out their mandate. The Republicans' conduct highlights the problem with a collegial body: Senators and Representatives, once inducted, are much more concerned with accommodating their colleagues than their constituents.

Washington is taking on Hugo Chavez

It turns out that Washington is aware of Hugo Chavez, down in Venezuela, and is taking steps to contain him

According to the [april 26 NY Times] story, which clearly was intentionally leaked to The Times by the Bush administration, the United States has concluded that there is no way to improve relations with Chavez and that, in short, he must go. Washington is considering a program of destabilizing Venezuela, which could include financing institutions and political groups that oppose Chavez. Since this has been a basic model for dealing with regimes in Washington's crosshairs for several years, the report can be taken seriously. Moreover, it was timed to coincide with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's departure for a tour through Latin American states, where her agenda included discussions on Venezuela with other regional leaders. Any attempts to build a campaign against Chavez in Latin America likely will hit a wall, since doing so not only would involve giving governments in that region a reason to care about the Washington-Caracas rift, but reversing a growing trend of anti-American sentiment and leftist economic policies that have been taking root for several years already. Moreover, it is difficult to overlook the fact that Chavez — former coup plotter and radical revolutionary though he may be — was democratically elected by the Venezuelans. What is by far the most interesting aspect of this growing crisis is that it is occurring to begin with. The threat from Chavez, whatever it is, was always there. What has changed most perceptibly is the American view of the world. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States has been obsessed with its confrontation with the jihadists. The Bush administration not only had no time for Venezuela before, but the last thing it wanted on its plate was another crisis when it was having trouble dealing with the Muslim world. Now, the Bush administration clearly feels it has that war under control and is now prepared to embark on other adventures. Just how much risk and how many resources the United States is prepared to put behind a push to oust Chavez is unclear. Some of this could be simply talk, intended to satisfy internal political constituencies in the administration. Nevertheless, that the Bush administration is prepared to confront Chavez now is a measure of its confidence concerning al-Qaida and the major war.
George Friedman, who authored the above quotation, seems to believe it may take a lot more than this "freeze" to affect Chavez, but I'm just happy the administration is doing something. Previous posts: Worries in Latin America More on the scary Hugo Chavez Is Venezuela's Chavez facing internal risks?

Hollywood does PC revision on 9/11

Click here for a scathing James Lileks article about Hollywood's cowardice regarding 9/11.

Democrats -- the party of conscience (not!)

From Debra J. Saunders

You know the world is changing when the left — which used to believe in respecting choice and requiring businesses to accommodate workers' personal preferences — opposes choice and letting individual workers say no to tasks they find morally abhorrent, while the right — which used to stand for letting businesses choose policies that promote their bottom line — supports laws that could force employers to accommodate workers whose personal scruples prevent them from selling a product. Yet that's exactly what you get as Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and other Democrats introduce bills that would force pharmacists to sell birth-control pills and emergency-contraception pills such as RU-486 and Plan B, even if the pharmacist is morally opposed to one of these forms of birth control. The issue here isn't hypocrisy. The issue is that these laws can present serious consequences. Do Americans want the government to tell a business what it has to sell? Some states have laws protecting pharmacists' conscientious objections. Do employees have a right to expect legal protections that allow them to say no to tasks to which they morally object? And: How can feminists — read Boxer — say they support 'choice,' as they conspire to outlaw the right of pharmacists to make a choice they don't like?
There's more, but this is really the heart of the matter. I'm wondering when Boxer's loony, inconsistent, selfish world view will finally catch up with her and bite her in the bottom.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The media that can't shoot straight and the folks with the dirty mouths

Over at Wizbang you'll find a great quiz asking you to decide (a) which stories are most newsworthy and (b) which tactics are most intelligent. An example:

I'll describe two stories, and you get to guess which one is more news-worthy. *** 2) A) The House Majority leader is accused (but not formally charged) with violating House ethics rules. B) A top aide to a powerful senator (with ties to a second powerful senator) is being tried on charges of violating Federal fund-raising laws for said senator.
You get the picture. As fascinating as the quiz is, I also found the comments people left regarding Whizbang's quiz fascinating. The first person to comment disagrees with Whizbang's world view, and does so in surprisingly, well, obscene terms. That viewpoint is hardly unique in the critical comments that follow. I mention this because it's entirely consistent with my theory that Demos, whatever their other virtues and failings, have potty mouths. I think political discourse should be elevating, they think it should be scatalogical and sexual. I'm doing Jane Austen; they're doing Hustler. And as a parent, I know which group is more appealing. (Yet another thing that may explain why the Dems faired badly amongst the "married with children set.") Prior posts Liberals -- the people of poop Potty mouth on the left The vulgar ye will always have with you Hat tip: Cheat Seeking Missiles

Is religion divisive or inclusive in American politics? It depends whom you ask

Sen. Mitch McConnell asks this question in a Louisville Courier-Journal column:

Why is it that whenever a Democrat speaks before a religious audience, he is 'reaching out,' but when a Republican does it, he is 'divisive?'
He then proceeds to remind us, through myriad examples, why this question is not merely rhetorical, but one that exposes a profound media truth. For example:
During last year's presidential election, not only did Democratic candidate John Kerry repeatedly campaign at churches, he even quoted scripture to criticize President Bush. While quite literally preaching from the pulpit, Sen. John Kerry opened his Bible to take a shot at "our present national leadership," lecturing the congregation, "The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Sen. Hillary Clinton, back when she was still First Lady, once visited a Florida church to push her disastrous health care plan during the service. Around the same time, Sen. Clinton actually had a meeting with several Roman Catholic cardinals and bishops to tout her health plan. My colleague Sen. Diane Feinstein, the senior senator from California, recently visited a Los Angeles church and actually gave a sermon on "values" to the congregation. She denounced President Bush's plan to strengthen and save Social Security as a threat to seniors, and actually called out to the churchgoers, "Will you help me?" Amazingly, this happened just a few days ago, while she and other Democrats were attacking Frist for doing far less. Bill Clinton barnstormed the country's churches in his 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns and in 2000 for then-Vice President Al Gore and for his wife's New York senatorial campaign. Hillary Clinton herself touched down in half a dozen churches in just one day during that Senate race -- while at the same time accusing her opponent of abandoning breast cancer victims. What happened to turning the other cheek, Senator?
These examples, and many others, are contrasted against this:
My friend Sen. Bill Frist is being called that and worse because of his decision to speak, via videotape, at Highview Baptist Church today to rally opposition to Democrats' unprecedented obstruction of President Bush's judicial nominees. By filibustering these nominees, a minority in the Senate is refusing to allow a majority of senators to exercise their constitutional right to advise and consent, something no Senate minority has ever done in history.
I suspect, however, that even with this hard evidence, the Demos would find some way to excuse this manifestly double standard -- although I'm personally not imaginative to figure out how. Hat tip: Jay Nordlingers Impromptus on National Review Online

Calling all Dartmouth alumni

If you're a Dartmouth alumni, read this post at the National Review Online about the shameful Board of Trustees election shenanigans going on at Dartmouth -- all directed an silencing two candidates who have taken a stand against the current meshugas infection Dartmouth (and other college campuses). Then, before May 6, go here to cast your vote online.

Is Venezuela's Chavez facing internal risks?

I've blogged before about the rising danger south of the US border coming from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Here, though, is an A. M. Mora y Leon article from The American Thinker suggesting that Chavez may be on very shaky ground with his own military. A volatile situation, certainly, and I hope the US is watching out -- and that the CIA is doing a better job than its past track record would lead us to expect. Previous posts: Worries in Latin America More on the scary Hugo Chavez

Some in England still heed Pastor Martin Niemoller's lesson

First They Came for the Jews First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. --Pastor Martin Niemoller
I thought of this famous 1945 poem when I read that some in England have had the decency to protest the vote by the Association of University Teachers to boycott Israeli universities and Israeli professors who don't denounce Israel:
The Association of University Teachers (AUT) has received a flood of protests, accompanied by an increasing number of resignations, following its decision to adopt boycotts against Israeli universities last Friday. The backlash, which may take the form of mass resignations from the union, has seen an outpouring of protests by Jewish and non-Jewish academics across Britain.
Too little, too late? Only time will tell, but it is heartening. Hat tip: Little Green Footballs Previous posts: Who knew that England would be the new Nazi Germany? The Nazis in England move forward Actions and reactions More on the British Nazis

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Another glimpse into the infinite

From Reuters:

A new view of the Eagle Nebula, one of the two largest and sharpest images Hubble Space Telescope has ever taken, is released by NASA on Hubble's 15th anniversary April 25, 2005. The new Eagle Nebula image reveals a tall, dense tower of gas being sculpted by ultraviolet light from a group of massive, hot stars. During the 15 years Hubble has orbited the Earth, it has taken more than 700,000 photos of the cosmos.
Also from Reuters:
A new view of the Whirlpool Galaxy, one of the two largest and sharpest images Hubble Space Telescope has ever taken, is released by NASA on Hubble's 15th anniversary April 25, 2005. The new Whirlpool Galaxy image showcases the spiral galaxy's curving arms where newborn stars reside and its yellowish central core that serves as home for older stars. During the 15 years Hubble has orbited the Earth, it has taken more than 700,000 photos of the cosmos.

Tackling anti-originalist misinformation

As some of you may know, Justice Ginsburg recently gave a speech defending the Supreme Court's new trend of ignoring the Constitution in favor of hazy international notions. I happen to think the Constitution is a remarkable document, and that the Supreme Court justices are committing something close to treason when they ignore it. Now Edward Whelan exposes the fundamental weaknesses and biases in Justice Ginsburg's argument. I especially enjoy the way he destroys Justice Ginsburg's attempt to undermine the originalist viewpoint by claiming that the authors of the notorious Dred Scott decisions were self-proclaimed originalists:

The rhetorical centerpiece of Ginsburg's speech is a crude attack against originalists — those who adhere to the original understanding of the Framers' Constitution and of the various amendments to it. Here's the structure of her illogic: (1) Chief Justice Taney in Dred Scott stated the originalist principle that no 'change in public opinion or feeling . . . in the civilized nations of Europe or in this country should induce the [Supreme Court] to give to the words of the Constitution a more liberal construction . . . than they were intended to bear when the instrument was framed and adopted.' (2) This statement of originalist orthodoxy, Ginsburg asserts, is 'extreme.' (3) Notwithstanding the fact that the Civil War and the post-Civil War Amendments reversed Dred Scott, Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas somehow continue to share Taney's 'extreme' position that constitutional rulings should not be based on foreign developments. With this glaring non sequitur, Ginsburg absurdly insinuates that the position espoused by her three colleagues has some special kinship with Taney and Dred Scott. Taney's opinion in Dred Scott is deservedly infamous, but not because of its recitation of originalist orthodoxy. Besides its overt racism, the main legal defect in Taney's opinion is that, while pretending to be faithful to originalist principles, it in fact marked the Court's first use of the modern judicial activist's favorite tool, 'substantive due process,' to invalidate a statute — the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which prohibited slavery in the northern portion of the Louisiana Territories. Notably, the dissenters in Dred Scott invoked and properly applied the very originalist principles that Ginsburg finds abhorrent: 'I prefer the lights of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, as a means of construing the Constitution in all its bearings,' wrote Justice McLean. '[I]f a prohibition of slavery in a Territory in 1820 violated this principle of [due process], the ordinance of 1787 also violated it,' explained Justice Curtis in exposing Taney's deviation from originalism.
If you agree with me that the above is good stuff, take time to read the whole article.

Will the real Colin Powell please stand up?

I posted a few days ago about Colin Powell, and how I think he's a weasel. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this, as this article from The American Thinker demonstrates:

While President Reagan enjoyed a reputation as the “Teflon President,” able to prevail against critics determined to besmirch his reputation, one figure handily eclipses him in his ability to avert any criticism by the mainstream media: Colin Powell. Knowledgeable insiders have long characterized Powell’s meteoric rise from colonel to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as based on exceptional skills at bureaucratic infighting and deft wielding of the press leak stiletto. But the general public sees only the picture of high-minded public servant. In the wake of the disclosure that he is attempting to use his wiles to torpedo the nomination of John Bolton as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, it is high time to break out the kryptonite and honestly appraise the record and actions of Colin Powell.

Oh, my gosh! Dennis Prager has caught on to my essential cowardice

I'll admit it: I'm a luxury loving coward. Just last night, I was thinking to myself that the greatest invention of modern times is indoor plumbing. I live attached to my computer, and never go anywhere without my cell phone. Why walk, if you can drive? My list of dependency goes on and on. In addition, I'm one of those excessively risk averse people -- I don't speed, I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I don't smoke, I don't like flying.... I've often known that I'm a lily of the field, and at serious risk of getting plucked or stomped. And here is Dennis Prager spelling out what it means to have a country filled with people like me

During the worst of the Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis, I visited Israel and made a documentary ('Israel in a Time of Terror') about how Israelis regarded and lived with the murdering of their fellow men, women and children. I will forever regard the Israelis of that period as achieving a rare level of national greatness: They were able to go on living normal lives, returning the next day to the same cafes bombed the day before, riding on the same bus line that the day before had its passengers blown up, blinded, maimed and brain damaged. While making the documentary, I often wondered how we Americans would react if such terror came to our restaurants, malls and buses. I think the evidence is mixed. I wish I could be entirely optimistic that we would react as befits a nation whose national anthem describes itself as 'The home of the brave,' but there is too much evidence that suggests a less than strong response. I fear that unless a change in the American psyche and character takes place, car bombs as in Baghdad or terror as in Israel could unravel our society. Why? Many Americans have become so afraid of danger, not to mention dying, that they will panic rather than go on with life, which is the only effective response to terror.
He's right of course. I just wonder if I, and the other soft, dependent, risk-averse Americans around me really can rise to the challenge. The Israelis, for better or worse, have been raised with risk from the founding of their state and before. My mother always used to tell me that, in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, many of the soldiers were men and women who had been, mere weeks before, in Displaced Persons and Refugee camps all over Europe.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Liberals and their hated constituencies

Gosh, Michelle Malkin is really hitting it on all cylinders today when it comes to blogging about the tremendous disdain liberals have for the voter groups on which they most rely. Her latest post on the subject concerns a Virginia Democratic candidate mocking how the people in his state speak. I posted back in February about this weird loathing Demos have for those same people they claim fall within their purview: the handicapped, minorities, gays, etc. Liberals want these people malleable, and tend to promote policies that keep them that way -- even if those policies, in both the long and the short run do not benefit the specific group. And, as I noted before, when members of these "liberally protected groups" indicate that they don't want these dubious protections, the Dems turn amazingly vicious. (Examples of this viciousness are the horrifyingly racist attacks on Condi Rice, and the use of pejoratives about the mentally handicapped to attack Pres. Bush.) Considering how much liberals seem to loath the people they rely upon for votes, it's not really surprising that they're pushing to include felons in the voter roles. As Edward Feser said in his recent City Journal article destroying the arguments Demos advance to support felon voting:

Murderers, rapists, and thieves might seem to be an odd constituency for a party that prides itself on its touchy-feely concern for women and victims. But desperate times call for desperate measures. After three national electoral defeats in a row, the Democrats need to enlarge their base. If that means reaching out to lock in the pedophile and home-invader vote, so be it. Even newly moderate Democrat Hillary Clinton has recently endorsed voting rights for ex-cons. This is inclusiveness with a vengeance.
It's at times like this that hackneyed phrases have a purpose, so I'll wrap this post by asking, with friends like the Demos, who needs enemies? UPDATE: Over at Blind Man's Eye, there's an excellent post questioning whether the Demo politician, Tim Kaine really was making fun of Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore's accent. Indeed, it's such a good post, I was ready to announce that this wasn't a case of Demos hating their constituents, but that it actually fell into the category of "sensibilities so heightened, I get nose bleeds." So, I went back again and looked at the source material, and decided that it falls into both categories. Here's the relevant part of the Washington Times piece that started all this:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore says Democratic candidate Timothy M. Kaine is making fun of his rich drawl in a radio ad running across Virginia. Mr. Kaine, who is lieutenant governor, notes in the ad that Mr. Kilgore, the former attorney general, did not use his own voice on his own ad. "If I have something to say, I'm not afraid to say it myself," Mr. Kaine says in the ad. "But Jerry Kilgore has been making things up about me and letting slick radio announcers do his dirty work." The Kilgore campaign said they think the ad is a veiled reference to the Gate City, Va., native's accent. Mr. Kaine "implicitly denigrates the way millions of Virginians talk," said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh. "The message is clear: If you have an accent of any kind, Tim Kaine will make fun of you," Mr. Murtaugh said. But Kaine spokeswoman Delacey Skinner said the ads are "absolutely not" targeting Mr. Kilgore's accent. "The point is that Jerry Kilgore isn't speaking for himself," she said. "What real leaders do is speak for themselves." Mr. Kilgore often pokes fun at his accent -- at an event Wednesday in southeast Virginia, he said he was glad he didn't have to bring a translator with him. Miss Skinner said Mr. Kilgore is the only candidate in the race who has made fun of someone's accent -- "his own."
Clearly, Mr. Kilgore recognizes that his accent is distinctive and rich. Equally clearly, it's fine for him to poke fun at himself. The question is whether Mr. Kaine can, without getting into trouble, take jabs at Mr. Kilgore's accent. And if he is taking those jabs, is he also attacking others in the state who share that accent? To be honest, if it were me, a private citizen, I'd say I'd have no risk attacking Mr. Kilgore's accent, since he's made it a campaign issue. I think, however, that Mr. Kaine, as another candidate, made a dangerous decision to take on a regionalism that Mr. Kilgore shares with others in his region -- and having done that, he legitimately runs the risk that he'll be accused of attacking his own potential voter base.

Sensibilities so heightened, I get a nose bleed thinking about them

There's been a kerfuffle at Princeton because one hispanic group unwittingly insulted another hispanic group:

The International Festival (IF) Committee has apologized to the Chicano Caucus for an advertising slogan some Caucus members called insensitive to immigrant communities. The slogan on the posters that were put up around campus read, 'Meet the Aliens ... the legal ones.' The Caucus will meet today with members of Accion Latina and the International Consortium, which sponsored the festival, to arrange a lunch discussion about the situation. The controversy comes during a period of heightened tension in the local Hispanic community, which has experienced several immigration raids in recent months. 'Try to understand why a phrase such as: 'come meet the aliens...the legal ones,' evokes unpleasant feelings of international student elitism, disgrace and disrespect for our hard-won rights as immigrants in this country, disregard for our immigrant ancestors, and a mockery of something so dear and poignant to us,' Chicano Caucus president Juan Lopez '06 said in an email. 'Again, my issue is not with the IF's harmless intentions but with their continued lack of sensibility and respect for our feelings and their continued attacks upon our response to their phrase.' *** Marek Hlavac '08 of the International Committee explained the origins of this slogan in an email he sent to the Chicano Caucus on Friday. "We thought that people, after hearing 'Meet the Aliens,' would first think of extraterrestrial aliens and be surprised," he said. "We added ' ... the legal ones' to suggest that we are dealing with students and not extraterrestrial beings. We thought this was a funny and eye-catching slogan. We did not realize the other connotation of this slogan, however — that it could instead mean 'legal' as opposed to 'illegal' rather than 'extraterrestrial.'"
I'm still struggling with the Caucus's objection. Here, I'll write it again: "'Try to understand why a phrase such as: 'come meet the aliens...the legal ones,' evokes unpleasant feelings of international student elitism, disgrace and disrespect for our hard-won rights as immigrants in this country, disregard for our immigrant ancestors, and a mockery of something so dear and poignant to us,' Chicano Caucus president Juan Lopez '06 said in an email." I'm a pretty binary person myself in many areas. It seems to me that people from other countries are either here legally or illegally. Is the Caucus complaining because all of its constituents came here illegally and it doesn't like being reminded of that fact? And if they came here illegally, shouldn't that be more a point of concern than a point of pride? And if they didn't come here illegally, why are the all fussed about a silly slogan? Would anyone like to hop on board here and explain to me what's going on, and why it's so important it's generated threats of boycotts, meetings, and an article in the Princeton school newspaper? All I can say is that maybe someone needs to order this crew a whole bunch of those t-shirts that say on the front "Don't sweat the small stuff" and add on the back, "It's all small stuff." And while we're at it, maybe we could send some of those t-shirts to the Harvard gay, lesbians, etc., who were so upset by Jada Pinkett Smith's heteronormative speech making. And lastly, will someone who has been around a whole lot longer than I let me know if American colleges and universities in the pre-1960s era were also so obsessed with non-academic sensitivities, or if this is solely a by-product of our politically correct, therapeutic culture.

More on the British Nazis

Melanie Phillips's words practically melted my computer screen they were so fiery and impassioned about the Orwellian, facist restrictions the association of university teachers in England is imposing against Jewish and Israeli scholars. You should read the whole thing, but I include a select quotation here:

the whole premise of the motion is a truly monstrous lie about who is the aggressor and who the victim in the Middle East, with Israel being wickedly blamed for having the temerity to defend itself against annihilation and genocide. Susan Blackwell, the Birmingham university lecturer (described in David Aaronovitch’s Observer column as a former Christian turned revolutionary socialist) who co-wrote the motion, said the union was ‘standing up for human rights’. What is so terrifying is that, in stamping on the human right to life of the Israelis, she probably sincerely believes this Orwellian inversion of the truth. And these people are teaching our young. The universities are supposed to be the custodians of truth. But these people are systematically purveying a set of big lies. Thus Rose claimed that Israel was becoming an ‘apartheid state’. This is, of course, demonstrably ludicrous. Israeli Arabs have equal rights in Israel — they can vote, they have members of the Knesset, they can serve in the army and as judges and so on. And if he means the Palestinians in the territories, they are not part of Israel. So the charge of ‘apartheid’ (which, apart from anything else, trivialises what actually happened in South Africa) is nothing other than a wicked slander. Like Shereen Benjamin, the other co-author of this motion, Rose is himself a Jew. As I have observed before, the role of Jews in the demonisation of Israel betrays a vicious psychopathology. For this process is deeply racist and anti-Jewish, and the fact that some of its proponents are Jews does not make it less so. It not only subjects Israel to a process of demonisation and delegitimisation based on lies and libels but does so obsessively and disproportionately. It singles out Israel for opprobrium and worse while ignoring the multitudinous tyrannies and autocracies where intellectual freedom really is stifled, but where no boycotts are ever proposed. It is deeply racist, denying to the Jews alone the freedom to be a nation in their historic homeland, lawfully constituted by the world.
Hat tip: Little Green Footballs My previous posts: Who knew that England would be the new Nazi Germany? The Nazis in England move forward Actions and reactions

Blacks as America's permanent children

I blogged several months ago about my perception that liberals view African-Americans as perpetual children, incapable of controlling their impulses or attaining more sophisticated levels of conduct. Apparently that vile perception has been infecting the world view of African-Americans themselves. How else to explain La Shawn Barber's post about African-American politicans in Georgia opposing photo ID as a part of voter registration:

This is an example of what I mean when I say politicians treat blacks like children. Black so-called leaders and politicians disingenuously conjure up images of Jim Crow when they can’t get their way, without even realizing they’re playing to the negative stereotypes that plagued blacks for generations, hurting the “poor, black and elderly” they claim to care so much about. “Poor, black and elderly” citizens don’t know how to go down to city hall or the DMV to get an identification card? First of all, why don’t they already have picture identification? Don’t they drive or hold jobs? How do they cash checks, both welfare and earned, and open accounts, without proof that they’re who they purport to be? Ridiculous. Identification is such a basic requirement that for years I thought you were supposed to show ID when voting. I was surprised the first time I voted in the District of Columbia when the poll worker didn’t even look at my driver’s license, which I had in my hand. It turns out I didn’t even have to bring it! I can certainly understand how poll taxes and literacy tests discouraged people (poor blacks and whites) from voting 50 years ago. Literacy tests were a blatant attempt to keep blacks from voting, and whites were often not even required to take the tests. Read about what they used to do in Alabama. This test (PDF) would be easy for most of us now, although I can imagine the difficulty for someone poor and undereducated at the height of Jim Crow. But this is not 1954, and blacks are not still “overcoming.” We are a free people with all the rights and privileges (and RESPONSIBILITIES) of citizenship. Strangely enough, some blacks think that having less wealth or material possessions as someone white is evidence of racial discrimination. Unbelievable. [Hyperlinks omitted.]
I look at African-Americans, and see fully realized human beings; liberals -- and apparently some African-Americans -- look at them and see political pawns, lacking the ability to care for themselves absent the mother state. Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

It's soylent green time

It's beginning to look very much as if euthanasia is the wave of the future, with Alan Greenspan hinting that we will not have the economic resources in the future to keep alive all the up and coming (and aging (baby boomers). Decades ago, Kurt Vonnegut wrote a series of short stories, published under the title Welcome to the Monkey House (see sidebar for more information). One of the stories in the book concerns a government euthanasia program aimed at dealing with the problems of ove-population. Seems as if Kurt had his crystal ball out when he wrote that story. Hat tip: Moonbat Central

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Unsavory celebrities

Is it me, or is this a very unsavory looking couple? (By the way, the picture shows Carmen Electra getting a kiss from "her husband Dave Navarro as they model one-of-a-kind rock inspired attire designed by Tommy Hilfiger, Friday, April 22, 2005, in Los Angeles at the 12th Annual Race to Erase MS. This year's theme was Rock to Royalty, which inspired those attending to wear diamonds tiaras and black leather.") I just thought, for the heck of it, I'd contrast that picture with pictures of Hollywood couples from the old days when they might have lived quite unsavory lives, but the studios made sure that they projected unsullied images for America's benefit: Clark Gable and Carol Lombard (who apparently loved each other deeply until her untimely death in a plane crash on a war bond trip during WWII) Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball Fred Astaire and his wife, Phyllis (who, as far as I know, had an unusually happy marriage that ended only with her early death)

"I am a Jew and will be a Jew forever"

I've been a bit behind on inspirational thoughts lately, but came across a big one in the Hagaddah we used for the Passover Seder. A bit of context helps explain why I find it such an inspirational poem. The poem comes from a book called I Never Saw Another Butterfly, which I link to in my side bar. The book contains pictures drawn and poems written by children during their temporary stays in Terezin Concentration Camp, before they were sent to Auschwitz and other death camps. The back cover of the most recent edition of this book gives more information:

A total of 15,000 children under the age of fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp between the years 1942-1944; less than 100 survived. In these poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates of Terezin, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their courage and optimism, their hopes and fears. The ghetto of Terezin (Thereseinstadt), located in the hills outside Prague, was an unusual concentration camp in that it was created to cover up the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Billed as the "Fuhrer's gift to the Jews," this "model ghetto" was the site of a Red Cross inspection visit in 1944. With its high proportion of artists and intellectuals, culture flourished in the ghetto -- alongside starvation, disease, and constant dread of transports to the death camps of the east. Every one of its inhabitants was condemned in advance to die.
Incidentally, I wrote here about one of those few child survivors, whom I identify in my post as "Miriam." And here, after that long introduction, is the inspirational poem, which had the kids asking me during the Seder, "Why are you crying, Mommy?"
I am a Jew I am a Jew and will be a Jew forever. Even if I should die from hunger, Never will I submit. I will always fight for my people, On my honor. I will never be ashamed of them, I give my word. I am proud of my people, How dignified they are. Even thought I am suppressed, I will always come back to life. --Franta Bass, 11 year old boy

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Actions and reactions

The Canadian National Post takes on the consequences of the obscene vote by British academics to boycott Israel and Israeli institutions:

Pay attention, British professors. If you support the boycott of Israel proposed by some of your fellow academics -- and if you are to remain intellectually honest -- prepare for a radical lifestyle change. Firstly, unplug your computers. Good. Now switch off your interactive digital television sets. Well done. And now throw away your mobile phones. Excellent. You see, Professors, these machines are not only the engine of the globalized, capitalist world but they also depend on technologies that have been produced by Israeli academics in the Zionist entity. Also, I'm afraid you may not use the British Library because it has been computerized by Ex Libris, a Zionist company that was spawned by the odious Hebrew University of Jerusalem. And if, God forbid, you develop problems of the small intestine, you may not pop the Zionist-invented 'video capsule,' which passes naturally through your body as it monitors this delicate piece of your anatomy. You will, sadly, have to take it up your respective derrieres, Professors. As a matter of principle, of course. All this boycotting, you see, is the logical extension of academic sanctions against Israel proposed by some members of your Association of University Teachers (AUT) at their meeting in Eastbourne, England, this week. Just visit the Web site of Egyptian-born Mona Baker of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. She set the standard by firing two Israeli scholars from the boards of her translation journals as a matter of high academic principle.
There's more, all of it equally good. In fact, this bit is so good, I can't resist including it here, too:
The AUT boycott brigade has cause for concern. It knows that these companies are attracted not only by the innate brutality of the expansionist regime but also by the cunning of its university graduates (most of the R&D centres are located on or near Israeli university campuses). Proportionally, the Zionist entity has more university graduates than any other country, while its scientists, engineers and agriculturists publish more professional papers per capita than do their counterparts anywhere else on Earth. The result is that Israel has the largest concentration of high-tech companies outside Silicon Valley. But the ultimate sin is that Israel, which came to independence in the process of post-war decolonization, stubbornly refuses to become a failed state. So dangerous has the situation become, dear Professors, that at your meetings in Eastbourne, you have set aside the small matter of your salary disputes. Instead, you and your fellow intellectual heavyweights will ponder far worthier matters. Like foreign affairs. Of course, you will not have to bother your turbo-charged minds with last week's UNICEF report, which shows that half of the women in the Arab world are illiterate and more than 10 million children in the region don't attend school. The issue that will preoccupy you will be the aggressive imperialist apartheid state: a state that has nurtured the Palestinian universities and colleges in the West Bank; one that offers equal rights -- and access to its universities -- to all its citizens, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or sex; and which has educated tens of thousands of Palestinians at Israeli universities (several hundred a year still opt for an Israeli education). It is significant that Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian who is encouraging you and your British comrades to boycott Israel, is a doctoral student at none other than Tel Aviv University.
For more of my blogging on this subject, see here and here. Also, for an interesting pick-up on this same thread, check out this post at Brain Droppings. A hat tip and big thank you to Gail, at Crossing the Rubicon, for finding this great article. BTW, Happy Passover, Gail.

Thomas Friedman revealed

In my liberal incarnation, I thought Thomas Friedman, Pulitizer Prize winning writer and NY Times Op-Ed columnist, was meaningful and insightful. I've since had my eyes opened to his essential banality, which is brilliantly displayed in this Power Line post and in this New York Press review of his latest book. If you dislike Thomas Friedman's idiotic spoutings, or if you would like to have your mind opened to just how vacuous he really is, I urge you to click on both of the above links.

Happy Passover!

Tonight is the first night of Passover. Happy Passover to all who celebrate it. I always find it a most inspiring holiday.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Nazis in England move forward

I posted earlier about the new Nazis in England who have already fired people for being Israeli (read: Jewish) and who were planning on boycotting Israeli educational institutions. Well, it's no longer a plan, it's a reality. Hat tip: Little Green Footballs (where you can also read more on the whole thing, which I'm too sickened to post about at length).

I don't like Colin Powell

I dislike Powell. I've heard that it was he who counseled George Bush Sr. not to pursue Hussein in the first Gulf War, effectively setting the stage for the second. I thought he was a lousy operator in the Middle East during his tenure as Secretary of State. I managed to make it through only a few chapters of Bob Woodward's book about the Gulf War, before I realized that it was actually Colin Powell's book -- written when the war seemed to be going badly -- and intended to exculpate him from any association with the war. It was a most disloyal act, and he did it while he was still Sec'y of State. Now that he's no longer Sec'y of State, his disloyalty to the President is becoming even more transparent:

Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell is emerging as a behind-the-scenes player in the battle over John R. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations, privately telling at least two key Republican lawmakers that Bolton is a smart but very problematic government official, according to Republican sources.
Powell may be right, and Bolton may be the wrong man for the office, but I certainly wouldn't bet any money on Powell's instincts. His only true, infallible instincts are for self-protection and self-aggrandizement. Otherwise, at least as to the matters I've cited above, he's been wrong, wrong, wrong.

The Democratic mantra -- look, but don't touch

David Gelernter has a nice riff about how the Demos have become a party fanatically devoted to the status quo, circa 1974:

The filibuster scheme perfectly epitomizes modern Democrats. Republicans want to move forward, confirm some judges. The Democrats' response: Freeze! Or we talk you to death. Democrats are the Stand Still party. They adore the status quo. Conservatives won't settle for the status quo. They want this nation to champion justice, humanity, democracy. Democrats want America to tip-toe around the globe minding its own business, upsetting no one, venerating the Earth, etc. Why did Democrats leap to label Afghanistan and Iraq 'new Vietnams'? Vietnam was 30-plus years ago! But for Democrats it is always 1974. Things change — but Democrats don't. Republicans want better schools: Why not try vouchers on a serious scale? Democrats' response: Hands off! Republicans want to knock the chip off the U.N.'s shoulder and retune Social Security so that even the poor can leave assets to their children. Democrats' response: Hands off! Conservatives wonder, why not let the people's representatives in state legislatures determine the nation's abortion policy? Democrats' response: Are you crazy? The smelly masses? Why is it their business? Today's Democrats dislike democracy on principle, like Russian nobility circa 1905. Should Bush be allowed to pick federal judges merely because Republicans won the presidency, the Senate, the House, the country? No way! And why let the people decide about homosexual marriage when left-wing judges can make the law? Connecticut's governor just signed a law approving civil unions for gays and also stipulating that 'marriage' means a man and a woman. Whatever you think of the outcome, this is democracy — Schumerite Democrats should check it out. At the nation's universities, an occasional conservative wonders whether just maybe racism, sexism and 'class-ism' no longer explain every bad thing in the world. Could 30 years of affirmative action be enough? There are tenured professors who can't even remember a world without it. The Democrats' response: Hands off affirmative action!

Hollywood ostriches

This weekend sees the opening of "The Interpreter" a movie about an assassination attempt at the UN. The plot as originally written involved Middle Eastern terrorists, but the actual movie now has terrorists from a fictional African country. Greg Crosby is less than pleased about Hollywood's pandering:

This isn't the first time Hollywood changed the ethnicity of terrorists from Arab to something else in a movie. Who are they afraid of insulting — Arab terrorists? Funny how they've never worried about changing the ethnicity of Italian Americans in all the gangster/Mafia movies they made. The fact is, Hollywood does not want to make movies about Arab terrorists, or the Iraq war, or radical Islam's jihad against the western world. As far as show biz is concerned the World Trade Center's Twin Towers fell down because of high winds. The Pentagon was hit by a gaggle of crazed geese. And all the Americans that were killed were killed by Republicans living in Orange County. Funny how things have changed. Movies didn't have any problem in depicting the rotten Germans in World War I and II. No problem in calling the Japanese our enemy for bombing Pearl Harbor. There have been plenty of films made about the cold war with no hesitation in referring to the Russians as Russians. Imagine a producer making a cold war spy picture and saying he 'doesn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way.' Why then, this current reluctance to call a Muslim terrorist a Muslim terrorist? If you're waiting for Hollywood to make some old fashioned patriotic movies like they did in the 40's concerning today's enemies, you've got a long wait. Ain't gonna happen. No, they'll continue to make patriotic period pictures of good ol' World War II, because it's safe to hate Nazis, but not today's wars with today's enemies. As a matter of fact, the reason they won't make ANY movies concerning Arab terrorism and the war in the Middle East is because they don't know how to do it. They know that the vast majority of Americans support our military efforts in the war on terror, but to make a pro-American film on the war on terror would be going against the European elitist attitude, the leftist thinking in our own media, the vast majority of university professors and administrators, not to mention their own personal politics. On the other hand, if they make a film that smacks of a pro-Arab or pro-Muslim viewpoint, Middle America will stay home in droves. So if Hollywood makes any more films with plots revolving around terrorist activities, expect to hear a lot more fairy tale country names, like Maldaviana, Kendaro, Transgovia and AbbaZabbastan. The Hollywood 'dream factory' has always been expert at turning out the pure make-believe stuff, that's what they've always done best. Talking animals, flying monkeys, outer space adventures, and middle earth denizens are what Hollywood can do all day long with great success. When they attempt to rewrite history or preach their social agendas to their audience, that's when they start to lose it. Fairy tales, mythologies, and flights of fantasy have been the bread and butter of the movie industry for a century. Considering the world political views and mentality of most producers and film executives today, they would do well to stick to that proven formula and stay away from 'real life' like terrorism.
I'll only add that, having heard one of the NPR reviewers (who gave the movie about a "B") praise it for its love of the UN, I doubt I'll be standing in line for this one.


I was going to comment about this news report, but I can't remember what I wanted to say:

Constant text messaging and e-mailing causes a reduction in mental capability equivalent to the loss of ten IQ points, according to research. Tapping away on a mobile phone or computer keypad or checking messages on a handheld gadget temporarily reduces the performance of the brain, according to the study into the effects of 'infomania'. The psychologist behind the research has concluded that obsessive use of phones and e-mail devices could impair mental capability even more than smoking cannabis - and suggested the modern culture of information could cause a permanent drop in intelligence. 'It is obvious that full concentration is impossible when we have one eye on e-mails or text messages,' said Dr Glenn Wilson, a psychologist at the University of London who conducted the study of 1,000 adults. 'But we found that mental performance, the capability of the brain, was also reduced. Workers cannot think as well when they are worrying about e-mail or voicemails. It effectively reduces their IQ. 'The impairment only lasts for as long as the distraction. But you have to ask whether our current obsession with constant communication is causing long-term damage to concentration and mental ability.'

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Something nice out of the wreckage

A very good acquaintance of mine, who died on Flight 93 on September 11, will have her book published posthumously:

two sisters are making a dream come true for their third sister, a young woman, who died on United Flight 93 on September 11. Her dream was to publish a book. Vaughn Lohec and Dara Near finished the book their sister, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, started but never had the chance to complete. Called You Can Do It!, it will be published on May 3 by Chronicle Books. Mrs. Grandcolas was an advertising saleswoman based in San Francisco for Good Housekeeping magazine. She noticed that her female friends, often too busy with work and family, put off doing what they dreamed of doing. To encourage and inspire them and other women, she began to write a book to teach them step by step how to follow their dreams and seek out experiences. Borrowing from the Girl Scouts, she even suggested that women award themselves "merit badges" when they had mastered a new skill. A book-packager encouraged Mrs. Grandcolas's efforts, and she quit her job and flew to New York to concentrate on completing the manuscript. She was pregnant with her first child at the time she boarded the plane. After her death, her sisters decided to finish the book with the help of Caroline Herter, Mrs. Grandcolas's partner on the project, and writer Yvette Bozzini. Mrs. Grandcolas had written a proposal for the book, the table of contents, and completed the first chapter before she died. "We felt it was the right way to honor Lauren," said Mrs. Near, a New Jersey homemaker. The book is now comprised of 60 chapters or "badges" The badges span everything from learning how to be a rock star, public speaker, author, filmmaker, photographer, and art connoisseur to skydiving, surfing, yoga, and horseback riding. There are also badges on cooking, home decorating, money management, personal style, travel, and relationships. Each badge walks women through the learning process from start to finish and includes personal stories and excerpts from real-life "mentors" — experts in their fields who contributed a lot of their personal time to the book.
As you can tell from the book, Lauren was a can-do gal, and she would have been so pleased about this. I'm providing a link to the book in case you're interested.

What our kids are reading at college

I blogged before about the fact that Berkeley's campus newspaper has a sex column. Now we learn that Princeton has joined the august group of college newspapers purveying sex information. I'll ask the same question I asked with regard to the Berkeley paper sex column -- is it an appropriate use of public and private monies to include sex advice in a student newspaper? I'm not interested in the reality that most American college students are engaged in sexual activity. I'm just interested in the forum. As a parent and a taxpayer, I take umbrage at this use of a student newspaper. Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

The Demos' bee-in-the-bonnet about Bush "the ultimate bad guy"

From Jay Nordlinger’s Impromptus:

I quoted a very famous and influential editor, Michael Kinsley. He said, “Every time George W. Bush hears ‘Hail to the Chief,’ the odds go up that some unsuspecting country is going to find itself getting democratized — with all the violence, anarchy, foreign occupation, arbitrary arrests, torture of prisoners, suppression of dissent, and random deaths that word has come to imply.” I thought of that when news came that further mass graves had been discovered, in southern Iraq. Those graves contain the remains of about 5,000 Iraqis — you know, those happy kite-fliers depicted in Michael Moore’s movie. All told, Iraqis, Americans, and their allies have found some 290 graves, enclosing about 300,000 corpses. You may wish to remember those corpses next time someone like Michael Kinsley tells you what he thinks of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Who knew that England would be the new Nazi Germany?

In 1939, England was the sole country holding out against Nazi Germany, a country that started down the long road to hell by legislating that Jews could be barred from various types of employment. That was Ye Olde England; this is modern England:

A heated debate has developed this week surrounding new British motions to boycott Israeli academics, which will be voted on this Friday at the annual meeting of the UK's Association of University Teachers (AUT). *** The Birmingham University's AUT branch has put four motions on the council's agenda, one of which is also being supported by the Open University's union branch. Three of these motions call for a boycott of specific academic institutions: Haifa University, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University. Pro-boycott activists are hopeful that their motions stand a better chance of being passed this year. One reason for their optimism, they say, is that they have now received the unequivocal support of the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities' Teachers and Employees, a sister union of the British association. The Palestinian federation has recently released a statement endorsing the British call to boycott Israeli universities. Several Israeli academics and intellectuals already expressed their views about the boycott in a recent Jerusalem Post article on the boycott proposal. Among them were Dr. Miriam Shlesinger of Bar-Ilan University, who was fired three years ago from her position on the editorial board of a British academic review because she was Israeli; Professor Yossi Klafter, chairman of the board of Israel's Science Fund; and the writer A.B. Yehoshua. [Emphasis mine.]
How the mighty have fallen, and to what depths.

Reality check requested

My question -- if you were the parent of two young children who can read, would this upset you? My local library is a lovely place, and I generally can't praise it highly enough. I'm troubled by the following, though. The library is set up so that, en route to the children's library, there is a glassed-in display case. This case has traditionally been used to highlight local artists, including artwork from children at local schools. My children and I always stop to look at it, because the contents are often charming and interesting. Last time I went into the library, though, I did not find the contents charming or interesting. It was being used to highlight a local group dedicated to preventing spousal and sexual abuse. I'm very opposed to spousal and sexual abuse. However, I think the library erred by placing what I perceive as adult content in a display booth that every child who enters the library will pass and, most likely, examine. I'm not prepared to discuss spousal and sexual abuse issues with my 1st grader. The librarians very politely listened to my complaints, but it was clear that they thought I was an over-reactive crackpot. They felt that they were providing a public service in a public forum that has the potential to benefit abused spouses and their children. What do you all think?

The computer's real purpose

If you were wondering what computers are really meant for, click here. Having done it, I feel wonderful.

The religious marketplace

Surfing the net, I've come across two major categories of concerns about Pope Benedict XVI: First, that he was once the Church's inquisitor, something that scares Jews; and second, that he is unlikely to change Church policy about homosexuality and the ordination of women. To all those raising these concerns, I suggest a bit of historical perspective. From Charlemagne to the Luther, the Catholic Church was the only game in town. Indeed, it was the only game in Europe. It worked hand in hand with each separate state, and had a complete lock on religion. The only exception to this lock was the Jews, and the Church periodically tried to destroy them (the Inquisition) or simply tolerated them for the useful money lending services they provided (services the faithful were unable to render). For those who disagreed with the Church on matters large and small, there were no options. For the Church, which was defending its territory (the known world), no quarter could be given, since every attack on the Church could, potentially, destroy its hegemony. This control also meant that, for people who disagreed with Church doctrine, their only hope was to reform the Church from within, because there was -- until Luther -- no other approach to Christianity (or, perhaps I should say, to Christ). That's all changed now. The Church is one faith amongst many. It has no ties to secular government. This fact should address both of the concerns raised about the new Pope. As to the Pope's being the former head Inquisitor, who cares? The Inquisition is no longer tied to world dominance, and no longer has as its goal stamping out (with fire) heresy in all its forms amongst all people. (Incidentally, this job seems to have been coopted by fundamentalist Islamists, as evidence by the unlamented Taliban and the religious police in Saudi Arabi and Egypt, who opt for sword, not fire.) The Inquisitor is simply concerned with making sure that, as to those who profess to be Catholics, their beliefs harmonizes with Church doctrine. And if their beliefs don't harmonize? Well, they can change their belief system or -- and this is something that couldn't be done in 1492 -- they can leave the Church. Which gets me to the second point. Liberals desperately want to change the Church. They want it to be a entity that embraces homosexuality and invites women into the priesthood. Well, this is the Catholic Church and it doesn't. But the Catholic Church is no longer the only one faith in the marketplace: Dissenters are no longer forced to try to reform it from the inside (and to risk fire in the process). They can go somewhere else. Heck, they can become Unitarians. The Church is what it is. If you don't like it, go somewhere else. If enough people go somewhere else, as they did with Protestantism, the Church might choose to make changes on its own initiative, as it did in response to Protestantism. Call it the marketplace of religious ideas. And by the way, considering the Church's enormous success in the third world, it seems as if the Church -- without embracing homosexuality and the ordination of women -- is doing quite fine in the marketplace of religious ideas. Good luck to you Pope Benedict XVI.

Strange and violent bedfellows

Courtesy of Little Green Footballs, we get this great story of Muslims in London's East End violently attacking a radical Labour leader who is strong opposed to the Iraq war (or, as Charles, at LGF says, "British MP George Galloway has been one of the most disgusting panderers to radical Islam on the British political scene."). Somehow, his pandering does not seem to have endeared him to his desired constituents:

Anti-war campaigner Mr Galloway was forced to take refuge from Islamic militants who denounced him as a “false prophet”. The former Labour MP said “the police saved my life” after supporters of radical group Hizb-Ut-Tahrir clashed with members of his Respect party last night. *** Mr Galloway was electioneering on the Osier council estate in Bethnal Green last night when a gang of 30 Muslim fundamentalists, who claim voting is un-Islamic, surrounded him and his supporters. The men said they were angry at Mr Galloway’s attempt to woo Muslim voters. They said they were “setting up the gallows” for him and warned any Muslim who voted for his anti-war Respect party that they faced a “sentence of death”. *** Speaking to the Standard minutes after the attack, Mr Galloway said it was clear the men were worried that he could become MP for an area with a large Muslim population. “I was meeting people who live in the flats. Hizb-ut-Tahrir suddenly filled the room and blocked the door. I tried speaking calmly. They then said I was parading as a false prophet and served a sentence of death on me. They were claiming I was representing myself as a false deity and for this apostasy I would be sentenced to the gallows,” he said. “They said they were setting up the gallows for me. Thank God my daughter was not with me. She was in the car outside. Otherwise there would have been nobody to call the police. The police saved my life.” The former MP is challenging Labour’s Oona King in the seat on 5 May, but Hizb-ut-Tahrir has declared that it will fight his bid. Mr Galloway, who is due to share a platform with the leader of Hizb-ut-Tahrir on Saturday at a debate on Muslims and politics, said he was being targeted because he offered a democratic solution to Muslims. Hizb-ut-Tahrir is not illegal but it has been banned from university campuses for stirring trouble between Jewish and Muslim students. It supports Palestinian suicide bombers.
The stupid naivete of those who try to ally themselves with radical Islam . . . well, words fail me.

The right to fire people

One of the bees in my bonnet is the fact that there are so many hurdles in the way of employers firing people incompetent or otherwise useless employees. I grew up in the public school system and, while I was blessed with some good teachers, I also had many rotten teachers who held their jobs thanks to union policies that made it impossible for the administration to fire patently useless, bad employees. I also spent time working in (and being treated by) the healthcare industry, and know that, while most nurses are caring, diligent, reliable people, there are nurses out there who are lazy and/or vicious -- and they can't be fired. John Stossel now writes about a government effort in Michigan to make it more difficult for ordinary, private employers to fire people. This is a step beyond preventing firings for the wrong reasons (race or sex discrimination, retaliatory firings when employees report illegal actions, etc.). This is an effort to prevent private employers from, simply, employing the types of people they'd like to have at their workplace. Once you hire someone, if the proposed new law goes into effect, you're kind of stuck with them. Stossel puts his finger on the nub of the issue:

I think whether you smoke, get fat or go skydiving should be your choice. I say "Give Me a Break" to busybody politicians in New York and California who've banned smoking in every bar and restaurant. But there's a big difference between government banning things . . . and Howard Weyers [a Michigan employer who wants all his employees to stop smoking] doing it. We have only one government. When government bans something, it bans it for everybody in its jurisdiction. That's why the Bill of Rights limits government power. But Weyco is just one company. Its employees have other choices. There are other jobs available in Michigan. Cara Stiffler [who couldn't or wouldn't stop smoking] has already found a "better" job but still told me it should have been illegal for Weyers to fire her. "I want my children to see that I stood up for my rights as an American. That's what . . . the men are over fighting in Iraq for, is my freedom." Give Me a Break. Freedom includes the right to quit your job, but freedom also includes the right not to employ someone you don't want to employ. No one forced Stiffler and Epolito to work for Weyco. But now, they want to force Howard Weyers to employ smokers. He built the company. He owns the company. What about his freedom? I asked Epolito if she "owned her job." No, she said, but "there's a relationship there." There was a relationship, that's true. To put it simply, the relationship was that Weyers thought employing Epolito was a good thing and Epolito thought working for Weyco was a good thing. Weyers doesn't own Epolito; she's entitled to pursue her happiness, not his, and if that means smoking, that's her right. But Epolito doesn't own Weyers; he's entitled to live by his values, not hers, and if that means not employing smokers, that's his right. Government smoking bans take away our freedom. But all Weyers did was exercise his.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Perpetual infants and the welfare state

I think this quotation shows Mark Steyn at his best, as he writes about Britain's appalling government health care system:

Free citizens of advanced western democracies are increasingly the world's wrinkliest teenagers: the state makes the grown-up decisions and we spend our pocket money on our record collection.

The French and their bedfellows

I've blogged before about my dismay that the French have for a long time made it clear that they are hitching their wagon to the Islamic star (something most recently made apparent with the extraordinary hospitality they extended to Arafat). It's scarcely surprising, given that the Muslims among them are beginning to make up one of the largest cohesive voting blocks in France. What did surprise me, though, was to learn that this is not the first time the French have looked to the Muslims. While reading a fascinating biography about Catherine de Medici (see my sidebar link), I came across the following information (at p. 64) regarding a 1542 battle during one of France's endless wars to try to gain control over parts of Italy.

Perhaps the most curious French allies in this war were the Turks led by the infidel corsair Barbarossa, who had become admiral-in-chief of the Turkish navy. The Turks brought their fleet to help the French take Nice. Unsuccessful, the fleet wintered at Toulon where they availed themselves of the locals when they ran short of slaves to man their galleys. It iwas not the first, or the last, time that the Crescent of Islam flew alongside the Most Christian King's own banner, and the frequent Franco-Turkish alliances scandalised much of Europe over the years.
"What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes, 1:9.

Completely enjoyable time-waster

Do you have a webpage you'd particularly like to see get swarmed by wasps, nuked, or otherwise destroyed? Check out this cite, then, and discover just how fun and easy it is to waste time. Hat tip: PalmTree Pundit

Racism and violence

It's not an idea that's bandied about publicly that much anymore, but I vividly remember during the late 80s and early 90s the paradigm holding that blacks cannot be racists. For example, in 1993, when Colin Ferguson, a black man, killed several people on a Island Commuter train, authorities cited "racial hated" as his motive. Immediately after that, one started hearing that, while his conduct could legitimately be "racial hatred," it certainly wasn't "racism." Why? Because racism is an "ism" held only by people in the power position (i.e., white people). Indeed, in a one-second Google search, I easily found the following quotation from an article about Black Americans (or as the author, Larry D. Crawford, aka Mwalimu A. Bomani Baruti, calls them, "Afrikans"):

Racism must be defined by Afrikans in terms of our historical relationship to Europeans’ centuries old festival of "death, destruction and domination." It must be defined as a function of power. It must become recognized for what it is, a function of the perception of the probability of a threat or actual exercise of power by Europeans against Afrikans. There must be a record of unprovoked, unnecessary, excessive killing. The racist must be known and feared for killing for nothing. Without power, racism cannot exist. It would blow away like the dust of a disintegrated corpse. [Emphasis mine.]
I'll admit that I found the article unreadable, so I don't know what point its author was trying to make. I just found that quotation helpful to define a certain prevalent liberal mindset -- that the powerless, by definition, cannot be accused of evil motives. The reason I bring all this up is because the liberals have been exposing the flip-side of this view recently with their mantra that no one may criticize judges, since to do so automatically foments violence. David Limbaugh takes this on in his most recent column, in which he also exposes the liberal attitude that all conservative speech is, by definition, hate speech that inevitably causes violence:
It's regrettable that some have hinted at a nexus between recent episodes of courthouse violence — the murder of a state judge in Atlanta and the massacre of a federal judge's immediate family in Chicago — and the public's angst against unaccountable judges. Both crimes were committed by people with case-specific motives. No one seriously believes the murders were motivated by indiscriminate anger against the judiciary or judicial activism. It's laughable to think the killers were crusaders on a mission to restore the constitutional separation of powers. This spurious alleged relationship between anti-judiciary rhetoric and violence against judges is actually part of a larger anti-conservative slander the Left has been pedaling for years. The theme is simply: "Conservatives are angry, hateful individuals within a hair trigger of lurching into violence. We must discourage, even sometimes outlaw certain speech that might incite these lunatics to violence."
This is very much a "come the Revolution" worldview, based on nothing more than a Marxist political belief about innocent oppressed masses and violent oppressors. In this scenario, it is morally correct, indeed morally imperative, for those oppressed masses to turn and use violence on the oppressors -- who, after all, have it coming to them. With this paradigm in place, reality is irrelevant. It's 1917 all over again.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Not uplifting, but amusing

I didn't feel uplifted today, but I did find something amusing, considering the headlines lately:

Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock.
--Will Rogers (1879 - 1935). Courtesy of the Quotations Page

Good reading material

City Journal has linked the articles in its most recent print edition, so you can now view them on line. Good stuff there, too. Hat tip: PowerLine

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Last post for a few days

Heading out of town to visit a sick relative (who is, thank goodness, getting better). Won't be blogging through the weekend, but will be back Monday.

Politicians' families on the payroll

With the big kerfuffle about members of Tom DeLay's family being on the payroll, and the subsequent (and unsurprising) revelation that many of our Congressmen use the public chest to pay their families for services rendered, I offer this little quotation about George Washington's time as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and the value he placed on his wife's morale building activities:

While Washington never condoned compensation for his own services to the Continental Army, he regarded his wife's ministrations so significant that he requested payment for her trips, scrupulously documenting each charge, which would eventually total $27,665.30. When his officers once serenaded him at camp, he begged that he had retired for the night but dispatched Mrs. Washington, who good-naturedly heard them out and, in the general's name, bestowed a fifteen-shilling tip, duly recorded as an "expense."
From Anne L. Macdonald's No Idle Hands : The Social History of American Knitting (Ballentine Books, 1988), pp. 37-38.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Still no verdict on the Australian gal facing possible death for marijuana smuggling

As you may recall, Indonesia is trying an Australian woman on charges of smuggling in marijuana, and she faces a possible death penalty. Poor thing -- she's still awaiting a verdict:

Accused drug trafficker Schapelle Corby will today learn if she will face the death penalty if a Bali court finds her guilty of the charge. The 27-year-old former Gold Coast beauty therapist has denied knowing anything about the 4.1kg of cannabis found inside her unlocked bodyboard bag at Bali airport last October. But she will return to court today to hear what punishment prosecutors will demand if she is found guilty of the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of death by firing squad in Indonesia. According to the prosecution indictment, if there is not enough evidence to convict her of trafficking, she could be convicted under two lesser laws carrying maximum prison terms of 15 years and 10 years respectively.
I'll keep you posted if there's an update on this one.