This is something I did not like to see:
President Bush said Tuesday that an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally "would cripple our economy"...
(Bush) suggested the risks of attack from Saddam outweigh the potential costs of war.
"This economy cannot afford to stand an attack," he said, even as his budget team was predicting war with Iraq would cost at least $50 billion.
I understand that another attack similar to 9/11 would have a major negative effect on the economy; it comes as no surprise to anyone with a functioning brain. What I don't like to see is the fatalistic way this information is presented, even if the point is to give a justification for the war. Markets move on perceptions as well as on facts, and if people think the economy is going south, they will behave differently than if they do not think so. And if we hear, consistently, that if X happens, then Y will follow quickly, when X does happen, we begin immediately to respond to Y, or prepare to do so even before it happens, because we've been told it's inevitable. What if Y could have been averted or ameliorated if we worked at it, instead of being fatalistic? We should be thinking of ways to shore up the economy, rather than risking our own needless destruction just because of a bad attitude. When dealing with an economy like ours, spreading about that the economy will crash when our soil is attacked again could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Such a crash could well happen even if we as a nation respond as optimistically and strongly as humanly possible. But if we harp about a "crippled economy" constantly as if it's a bygone conclusion, it makes us almost a sitting duck with a big "attack me and I will die" sign tacked in every available space. No no no no no. If Saddam, or anyone else, launches a terrible attack on our shores, there will be economic consequences. But if we approach that inevitability with a can-do, make-it-through attitude, we're going to wind up better off in the long run than if we droop our faces and lay down to die. And our president has a responsibility to win the psychological war on the home front as much as he does to win the physical one on the other side of the world.
This is the first year I've been in New Jersey for New Year's Eve, so I seriously considered going to Times Square to see the dropping of the ball live.
This is why I'm not.
Michelle also expresses it well (although I've no one at home to feel me up. I'll have to make do).
And when I asked Mike at Cold Fury his view on attending, he had this to say:
Times Square on NYE is someplace I wouldn't go to if you paid me by the hour. The whole thing is my worst nightmare come to life: awful, rude, amateur drunks shoving into you constantly while you wade around in puddles of amateur-drunk puke. Nothing worse than an amateur drunk - just one can bring down the atmosphere in an entire bar, even a good one. Imagine what a few million would be like. And all around the perimeter you have a whole ton of cops who would rather be just about anyplace else. It'll be cold as hell and you'll have to get out there hours early and just...stand...around.
Brent at The Ville also makes a good point. That cartoon is good reinforcement for staying home too.
So I have a nice bottle of sparkling apple cider chilling, and the Fellowship of the Rings extended DVD that I got for Christmas ready to go in the DVD player. Homemade soup is bubbling on the stove and bread is baking in the bread machine. I may even totally break tradition and go to bed before midnight. What a way to start a new year - doing exactly what I please.
I like this.
A couple of months ago my dad the deer hunter asked me if I would like some venison to take home with me at Christmas. Of course! I said, so he shot a doe just for me and had it dressed. I was concerned about whether Iâ€™d make it home on the plane with it, but my dad assured me that my great-uncle had taken a cooler of deer meat from Kentucky to California without incident, the meat still frozen solid when he got there.
By the end of last week I was vacillating â€“ should I try this in todayâ€™s hypersecurity atmosphere? But it was my dad! I did want the meat, and I didnâ€™t want to disappoint him. So he packed up a small cooler (think 4 six-pack size) with deer burger, deer sausage and deer steak and, because he knows his daughter very well, a nice package of fresh frozen home-grown corn. We left my parentsâ€™ house on Saturday morning, all my things in the back of the van including the cooler. I cried a little, because I always hate to leave. The meat was not top in my mind.
I didnâ€™t actually leave Kentucky until 7:30 Sunday night. When we got to my sisterâ€™s house I asked my dad if the meat was okay in the cooler or should I stick it in the freezer? Or at least outside where itâ€™d be in the 30s? He said, eh, itâ€™ll be fine. So the meat in the cooler, with an old leather belt around it to keep it shut, stayed in my sisterâ€™s foyer while she and I went to a used bookstore in Lexington and dad went hunting again. That night I put it in the car, where it stayed until my niece handed me off to my friend Melody on Sunday afternoon. Then it stayed in the back of her Jeep while I practiced shooting with two of her revolvers (I did much better this time), and ate a wonderful meal she cooked.
To understand how the next played out, you need to know a little about me and Melody. Weâ€™re like Felix and Oscar, with me as Oscar â€“ although neither of us is nearly as annoying as that Odd Couple. I tend to go through life with a â€śla la la la laâ€ť kind of attitude, figuring if something goes wrong Iâ€™ll fix it, not being the best planner. I never reconcile my bank statement. My decorating style is â€“ ahem â€“ eclectic, asymmetrical and flow-y. Melody likes to know exactly whatâ€™s going on at every minute. She reconciles her bank statement as soon as it hits the mailbox. Her beautiful home is very elegantly and symmetrically decorated in a kind of Colonial Williamsburg way. She isnâ€™t so tied-down that it makes me uncomfortable, but weâ€™re very distinctly different in our approaches to life. It makes for a great friendship, but we do have interesting moments.
This was one of them.
About an hour or so before leaving for the airport:
Melody: Susanna, I heard on the news, I think it was Dan Rather, that you couldnâ€™t take food with you on the plane.
Me: Huh? You think so? Should I call the airline?
Melody: (Hands me the phone book)
Me: (Hanging up phone) The lady said it was okay to take it but just be warned that they may unpack it to look at it. Maybe I should leave it here.
Melody: Iâ€™ll put it in my freezer, what will fit. But you could try taking it.
Me: I think Iâ€™ll take it. Dad went to a lot of effort.
About 10 minutes before we leave for the airport:
Melody: Should we put ice in the cooler? Have you looked in it?
Me: I donâ€™t think so. Dad said it would be fine.
Driving down the driveway on our way to the airport, Melodyâ€™s husband driving:
Melody: How long has the meat been in the cooler:
Me: Since yesterday morning.
Melody: (Turning toward me with a Look) Itâ€™s been in there since yesterday morning?!
Me: Uh, yeah.
Melody: We need to check it to make sure itâ€™s okay! We need to pack it in ice! Have you even looked at it?
Me: Um. No.
Melody: Do you want to pack it in ice?
Me: (Vacillating, thinking that would be a lot of trouble for them) I donâ€™t know.
Melody: (Exasperated) Tell us now! (Her husband) will have to stop right now if we do!
We pull into the grocery store lot, we split up, I get trash bags, Mel gets ziplocs, her husband gets ice. We reconvene at the back of the Jeep, and open the cooler.
Me: This pack is not frozen but itâ€™s still cold.
Melody: Should you keep it?
Me: Maybe not. (taking two packs to the trash)
Melâ€™s husband takes out the meat and empties the cooler, Mel puts the meat in ziplocs, I open the ice and start putting it in a ziploc. Her husband helps me. Other grocery customers see three people frantically packing one tiny cooler.
Melody: Hurry, hurry! Weâ€™re going to be late!
Me: (Thinking, maybe a little close but Iâ€™ll make the plane) Okay.
Finally itâ€™s packed, wrapped in a garbage bag and back in the Jeep. We race to the airport, and Melody goes in with me so she can rescue the venison if the security folks object to it. She sits just outside the security area watching as I go through. My luggage is checked so itâ€™s just my huge tightly packed backpack, my cooler and my coat in a tray. It goes through. I walk through, no problems. Standing on the other side, I watch the security guy looking at my things. The cooler inches outâ€¦ then goes back. I practice looking nonchalant on the theory that if I look worried theyâ€™re more likely to take something off the line to check. Finally both backpack and cooler come outâ€¦ but are stopped just outside waiting for another security type. Uh oh. Iâ€™m caught. Security chick comes over, and takesâ€¦ my backpack? The cooler comes on toward me. I wonder if the security guy saw bones in the steaks or not. Carrying my cooler, still nonchalant, I wait for security chick to check my backpack, waving at Melody so she can leave.
Five hours later, the meat is in my freezer, having only softened along the edges in the interim, the center still solid on all the packs. Mission accomplished!
Venison chili, anyone?
I slept 11 of the last 13 hours, so I'm beginning to get back on track. Look for A Venison Tale later this morning, and more this afternoon when I get home from work. Lots to talk about - media, politics, the Vast Left-Wing idiocy. I'm feeling energized already!
I'm back in New Jersey.
Just a quick entry before I head back up to The Urban Wasteland tomorrow. Someone scrounging around in photos from my nephew's wedding came up with this one that I like. It was taken at Christmas two years, a haircut and several boxes of chocolates ago; I'm wearing a corsage because I sang in the wedding.
I will also note that my hair looks more dark blonde and less red in person. I may assist nature in the "red" direction sometime, but probably not until "white" makes significant inroads.
Yesterday afternoon my dad and I went out behind the house and shot some of his guns - a .22-magnum High Standard revolver, a .38 Smith&Wesson revolver, and a .22 Marlin Carbine semi-automatic rifle. We first shot at a milk jug but I kept missing it with the revolvers, so we got the lid of a carton of apples and stood it up with the milk jug in it. You'll be happy to know that I did consistently hit the lid, although I only hit the jug twice out of about 20 shots with the revolvers. I did much better with the rifle, which had a very cool scope that made life easier. Here's how I did with it - we cut the apple I was aiming at out of the box lid so I could keep it. The white streak is about an inch long, and I was aiming for the middle of it. Please remember that the last time I've shot firearms was several years ago, and then it was only a couple of times.
Tomorrow I may get to shoot some guns at my friend Melody's house, if we have time. She has an excessively cool revolver with a laser site on it. I bet even I can hit a milk jug with that.
UPDATE: The question has arisen about why the photo of me is named "/archives/Amanda16.jpg" if it is in fact me. It's because I scanned it at my sister's house, the last few photos scanned were of my niece Amanda, and I couldn't figure out how to change the name after the software named it based on the previous names used. So "/archives/Amanda16.jpg" is what it is. Note that the photo of the shot-up paper apple is "Amanda15.jpg". I promise you my niece is not a shot-up paper apple.
I'm sitting at my friend Melody's computer, behaving myself (barely, she says). She for some reason thinks that since it's her computer I can't come in and change all the settings. Hmph. Anyway, it's been a lovely day of shopping and laughter, a delightful visit. Tomorrow I'm going to try to beat the snow back to my parents' house where I'll settle in for a long winter's nap and then some.
For the last few days my left wrist has been sore; it feels like a slight inflammation of a tendon going from my hand up my forearm. I've decided it's best that I not type much (if any) until it gets all better, so I won't be posting again until the end of the week and possibly not until I return to New Jersey.
I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday. I know mine will be a blessing.
UPDATE: Yes, I know, no more posting. But I thought you might want to see who I'll be spending the holidays with.
Yesterday afternoon I traveled with my brother's family to my aunt's house in the county where I grew up. It was the Christmas gathering of my mom's family - three sisters (including my mom) and a brother, with assorted spouses, children and grandchildren. We ate turkey and dressing, broccoli rice casserole and sawdust salad (extremely good, even if it is jello), opened presents and commented on how much the children had grown. My first cousin's little boy, who I had not seen before, is now 2 1/2. He's a little blonde clone of his daddy - fortunately himself a handsome and kind man - and they enhanced the image by both wearing medium blue shirts and khaki pants. At one point little clone divested himself of all but the shirt, and ran around the house - in his word - "nekky". No one was incensed (kudos to whomever gets the reference), and his parents were happy because little clone peeled out after going to potty by himself. For battle-worn potty-training parents, a little "nekky" is acceptable on the way.
I would not suggest you try this at your own family party, however. There is a statute of limitations. Little clone is within it; you are not.
Today I attended church where I attended growing up, but the service was short - someone had turned off the gas at the main pipe, so there was no heat. As we didn't know how to fix it, church adjourned early. That meant an early lunch dining on leftovers from yesterday's party, most of which my sister had gotten for her family and forgot at our house. We appreciated her efforts.
The afternoon began with a reception at my cousin's house - her son graduated from college this fall. He has an elementary education degree now, as does his grandmother, his mother, his great-grandmother and great-grandfather, two great-uncles, three great-aunts and assorted cousins. Yes, it's a genetic thing, apparently. There I got to see family I hadn't seen in as long as 10 years, and I'm happy to report that all of them were worth seeing. At least the ones I spoke to. We won't discuss the others.
This was, btw, my dad's sister's daughter. We have some tangled kinships here. One of my cousins at the gathering is my first cousin once removed on her dad's side and my second cousin on her mom's side. That's because my Granny's brother married my Papaw's sister's daughter, and this cousin is their daughter. Got that?
Having gotten the family obligations out of the way, I treated myself to a trip to Wal-Mart with my mom. It was another community event, since it's a small town and everyone had last minute shopping to do. In the way of small towns, the people who hadn't seen me in 20 years - or knew my parents but did not know me - chatted when we crossed paths as if we'd sat beside each other in church this morning. I stocked up on aspirin, wrapping paper, jingle bells and toothpaste, then went to the crafts section to pick up stuff for three projects - I only brought two with me, and you never know when you may have a pressing need to crochet instead of cross-stitch.
And this is What I Did On My Christmas Vacation, Day II. What did you do?
(I did watch the news some, which seemed to be full of Hillary making an *ss of herself which is to say, nothing new on that front. The woman is trying to tar and feather the entire Republican Party for the past 100 years on the strength of Lott's scandal. The woman has the integrity of ... well, there's no one I want to insult that badly.)
I made it to God's Country (translation: Kentucky) last night about 11 p.m., after delays in Newark and a brief fright when the puddlejumper 33-seat jet in Pittsburgh went back to the gate after leaving it for takeoff. The pilot said there was a "discrepancy" in the "mechanical check" but it was an "easy fix". Ha. This same pilot made a beeline for the restroom which was beside my seat just before we left the first time, and then again immediately after we stopped for the "easy fix". Was the "mechanical problem" an over-greasy taco?
This was a prop jet and it was a windy night, so there were some interesting dips and wiggles as we climbed to cruising altitude. The man seated across the aisle from me told me he was a pilot, used to be a military pilot, so I kept an eye on him. As long as he was comfortably reading, I was fine. When he looked up and peered around in a questioning way, I got edgy. Very funny. We made it down safely, and I must say given how we were dipping and weaving again with the wind on the way down, it was a beautiful landing. That last bathroom run must have done the job. Or else someone gave the pilot an Immodium. That was not a landing done by someone whimpering "gotta go! get this thing down!" every breath.
My brother met me at the airport with a surprise - my almost-3-year-old niece was with him, way past her bedtime. She was excited to see me ("I came to the airport to pick you up!), but more concerned about a new car on display in the lobby which was, she said severely, "Not on top of the road where it should be!" Today was about wrapping presents, having a get together with my mom's family, some of whom I hadn't seen in two years, and then sitting around the fireplace with the tree lights on at my mom's house. That's what Christmas is all about.
My sister told this story on a friend of hers that I just had to pass along for those of you with children. A woman with a daughter just about 3 went with her husband and friends to a restaurant. The woman left to go to the restroom during dinner, and when she returned her daughter leaned forward, looked at her mom and said very loudly, "Did you wipe your butt and wash your hands??!!" I understand a good portion of the restaurant broke up, and the mom said she wanted to stand on a chair and say, YES I DID!
Now this is something that I would actually teach a small child to say. I'm bad that way. At my brother's wedding, held at his wife's parents' home in another state, I was goofing around with the 9-year-old daughter of a family who went to church with my new sis-in-law's parents. I was crossing my eyes at her (a talent of mine) much to her delight, and she begged to learn how. I took a couple of minutes to show her, then said, "When your mother asks you who taught you this, tell her 'Laurel Nolan'." That, btw, is my sister. I thought it would be days or never when she did this in front of her mother. Of course I was wrong. She made a beeline to her mom, showed off her new skill, and said, "Laurel Nolan taught me how!" I could tell from the mother's face that she was a bit, shall we say, of a sniffy nature. In good conscience I had to 'fess up. So there I was, at my brother's wedding, telling a sniffy tight-lipped woman that not only did I teach her young daughter to cross her eyes, I told her to lie about who taught her.
What is it the Bible says about that? "Be assured your sins will find you out." (That's from the very popular Susanna Paraphrase gold-embossed edition.) I've already started on my little niece - at a tea party with her this morning she gave me a toy car to hold, which I promptly drove over the "cake" (a stuffed pillow-like cake), then put it down to play like I was eating the wooden knife. My niece immediately objected ("Noooo! You do not drive the car on the cake! Noooo! You do not eat the knife!") then drove the car over the cake and licked the knife.
Maybe I should have stayed in New Jersey. For the sake of the children.
I'm leavin' on a jet plane...
Should be able to check my email and things tonight. And yes, there will be posts probably every day while I'm gone. So.... cya soon.
ABC News and Drudge are reporting that Trent Lott is stepping down as Senate Majority Leader but not as Senator. Lott is supporting Tennessee Senator Bill Frist as his successor.
UPDATE: Here's the FoxNews article on it.
I mentioned before that this whole discussion on racism in re: Lott has triggered my thoughts on it. It’s a topic that’s never very far from my mind, given that its drumbeat goes constantly in the background of our society. Even my hesitation about speaking my mind on it is, to me, telling about the fears we all have of being labeled racist ourselves – especially if we are white and thus ostensibly always the offender, never the victim. But can we have a debate in our society about the practical responses to the needs of all groups if we tiptoe around such a central issue?
The truth is that everyone in this society, in fact in the world, is biased about some other group. Note I said “biased about”, not “prejudiced toward”. We are as humans drawn to the familiar, people and things that represent pleasant associations, valued principles or just plain personal preferences. The need is not to stamp out bias. The need is to consciously operate in our actions in such a way that we are not letting our biases improperly guide our choices so that someone else is inappropriately harmed as a result. The “inappropriately harmed” is key – you can make the argument that when 10 people apply for a job and one gets it, the other nine are “harmed” by the fact that they did not get it. That kind of harm is a part of the push and pull of a dynamic society. The “inappropriate” happens when the choice is based on considerations other than merit in regards to the job’s tasks, and the “fit” of the person’s work habits to the job. (For example, no matter how great a writer I am, I would never be a good fit for a position that required I be bang on time every day. I’m not wired that way. I will be late. I would not work well in a position where that is a problem. So while I’m harmed by not getting the job, it’s the right thing for the hiring company to bypass me.)
So how does this bias manifest itself? Well, note that while interracial dating and marriage is more broadly accepted and done these days, dating and marrying within your own racial group is still the norm – for whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, whomever you want to look at. Is this a problem? I don’t think so. Marriages are strongest when you have a wide variety of cultural and value connections, and most people still find that connection in people with their same racial history. I do think that fact is in part a result of either deliberate or cultural segregation, but as the races come together more in daily interaction that will change. Is that a problem? No. It’s the natural flow of things. The younger generations now have much less race consciousness than their parents, and much less than their grandparents. And they will have more than their children. As this consciousness diminishes, more and more people will find they share sufficient cultural and value touch points to make good marriages where race really isn’t a concern. But that time can’t come as robustly as possible as long as we’re forced to consider race as a salient aspect of someone’s value.
I think we’re at a tipping point of sorts. The people who lived through the avid racism and segregationist policies of the past are coming to the end of their public lives. We really are becoming less racist over all. But there are people who have made their careers out of finding racism in every corner, and whose careers would be over if in fact we did “just all get along”. Unfortunately many of these folks have made “white” a required part of the definition of racism, as in you have to be white for your prejudice against another race to be racism. The truth is, racism in this society will not go away until everyone hates it just as much, regardless of whom it is directed against. It also won’t end until we stop conflating “bias” with “prejudice”.
Reader Dave Mecklenberg sent me a link to a column by a black columnist in the Chicago Sun-Times; I read it this morning but apparently it was at the end of its month of availability because it’s gone now. At any rate, it was published on November 21, if you’re interested in tracking it down; the title is "A White Woman, MJ? How Could You Do It?" The premise of the article is that Michael Jordan disappointed all black women by cheating on his wife with a white woman. Not just adultery, but adultery with a white woman, was a slap in the face of all black women. I asked a black co-worker of mine once what she would think if one of her two sons dated a white woman. She said, and this is a direct quote, “I’d ask him, what’s wrong with all the black girls?” Does that make you angry? Try it this way – what if I had a son dating a black woman, and I asked him, “What’s wrong with all the white girls?” Would that do it for you? Until both of those are equally distressing, we’re not where we need to be. (And a quick note: I don't think it will ever be a bad thing to prefer to marry within your own race. It's a bad thing if you hold it against someone else if they marry outside it.)
I think my generation was the one that bridged the years between the bad old days and the modern world of miscegenation at will and with all good cheer. I know there were no black children – or Hispanic, Asian, Muslim (not even Catholic) – in my elementary school. I remember distinctly thinking, as I was going to high school, that I would find a nice black girl and be her friend because I didn’t want to be racist. That memory makes me shake my head now, but it shows my heart was in the right place. It was a transition time, and if we can shut up the race baiters of all ethnicities, the transition will be complete sooner rather than later. The extent to which we kowtow to the likes of Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters and Bill Clinton is the extent to which race will continue to be a hot point for our society. Yes, Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond are a sign of a time we wish were gone. But so are all the racists of today, whatever color they are.
UPDATE: Dave found the article here; I'm reproducing it in its entirety in the MORE section. Also, here is a follow-up column that has a lot of emails sent to the columnist - Mary Mitchell - after the piece appeared.
A white woman, MJ? How could you do it?
BY MARY MITCHELL SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Black women forgive almost anything. Indeed, church ladies were among the Rev. Jesse Jackson's most vocal supporters when his baby mama's drama was exposed a couple of years ago. Karin Sanford, the baby's mama, was called everything but a child of God when she went on TV and discussed the details
of her love affair with the married minister. And when R. Kelly was indicted on child pornography charges, a group of black women dragged their own daughters down to 26th and California to cheer on a man who is accused of
filming himself having sex and urinating on an underage black girl.
But Michael Jordan is in trouble.
Nothing turns most black women off more than a rich black man who marries a poor white woman, or a rich black man who marries a black woman and sleeps around with white women.
Jordan was our hero.
At a time when it seems that the first thing a black athlete did when he hit the big time was to marry a white woman, Jordan married Juanita and made her a part of the Jordan dynasty. That meant a lot to black women who, frankly, were tired of watching wealthy black athletes parading white women. On Tuesday, while WGCI's "Crazy" Howard McGee and NBC-Channel 5 anchor Art
Norman were railing against the attack on Michael Jordan by Karla Knafel, black women were likely thinking: That's what Jordan gets for sleeping with a white woman.
Sounds bitter, I know.
But it's true.
When I asked a black co-worker what shocked her most about the Jordan sex
scandal, her eyes widened and she whispered what a lot of black women have been saying since Jordan filed suit against his former paramour.
"She's a white woman," the co-worker said. "How could he do that to Juanita?"
Worse yet, Jordan admitted that he paid Knafel $250,000 to keep silent about the affair. Now, maybe he would have paid a black lover the same amount, but I doubt it. In fact, I'm willing to bet the only thing a black woman would have gotten under these circumstances was a "too bad" and free tickets to Bulls games.
It is no secret that there are a lot of black women who have slept with and have
had babies fathered by multimillionaire athletes. These women didn't even get a marriage license. All they got out of the affair was court-ordered child support--and most of them had to drag themselves and their babies into court to get it.
Knafel, who behaved like a strumpet, got paid the big bucks for "mental anguish"
or for "not going public" with the affair, depending on which lawyer is doing the talking. Talk about white privilege. Not only did Knafel expect to be paid for doing the decent thing--that is, not bragging about having sex with a married man--but she expects to pick up an additional $5 million for keeping quiet about getting pregnant, even though the baby wasn't fathered by Jordan. If the affair happened the way Knafel claims it did, she has a heck of a lot of nerve for a woman who laid up with someone else's husband.
I think Jordan has a lot of nerve, as well. Rather than accept the fact that he
messed with the wrong bimbo and spare his family and the rest of us the details, he is putting his infidelity on public display.
"I really do question whether Jordan's lawsuit was a good strategy," said James
H. Feldman, a partner at Jenner & Block and one of the top domestic relations attorneys in the city. "It doesn't make any sense. I am sure this woman feels very wronged, but usually this kind of thing is approached on a more reasonable basis. This is just silliness. You have to consider what this does to his standing in this community to be involved in such a public display.''
Too bad Juanita Jordan can't do in Illinois what Margaret McCarthy did in
Seattle. When her wealthy husband died, his lover tried to get her hands on a watch, ring and $200,000 she said he had promised her. According to a segment that aired on "Good Morning America" this week, the wife turned the tables and sued Kathie O'Keefe, who acknowledged having a 20-year affair with the married man.
Under Washington state laws, one spouse cannot gift community property to an
individual without the consent of the other spouse. O'Keefe was ordered to account for all the gifts and money McCarthy's husband had ever given her and to pay it back in cash. Unfortunately, the boys in Springfield have made it difficult for wives in Illinois to do the same. The state's "Alienation of Affections Act," in effect since 1948, was changed in 1990 to make it virtually impossible for a wife to sue the girlfriend for husband tampering. Instead of Michael Jordan suing, Juanita Jordan should be the one in court suing to get back the $250,000. That's a case worth rallying behind.
Black women forgive almost anything. But this Jordan/Knafel brawl is tearing into some very deep wounds.
One thing I will agree with here - Knafel behaved like a strumpet. Only that's probably not the word I'd use.
(More, more! they cried. And they were rewarded. Love the bloggers, etc. You may want to read the first few graphs of the story linked in the title first.)
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler (Emperor Misha I)
Let the Mossad have ‘em!
It seems a little nasty cell of terrorist-scum has been cleaned out by the FBI in the Emperor’s own local fiefdom. These vile excuses for humanity are lucky the Feebs got them before the Emperor’s minions could forcibly show them their error with firm applications of The Cluebat ™.Arab-American leaders said the arrests and warrants would fuel the perception among Islamic residents that legitimate charities and businesses were being singled out for harassment by law enforcement officials.
His Imperial Pissed-Offness doesn’t give a freakin’ sh*t what the “leaders” think, when they don’t do anything themselves to root out the evil puss-swollen dog-turds who hide behind their “ethnicity” while knifing his country in the back.
blogoSFERICS (Kevin McGehee)
5 Brothers Charged With Aiding Hamas Eric Lichtblau with Judith Miller, New York TimesFederal officials intensified their pursuit of terrorist financing today with the arrests of four brothers in Dallas who investigators said used their computer business to funnel money to a leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas.
The four brothers, including one who led an Islamic charity in Texas that the authorities say was a front group for terrorist financing, also illegally shipped computer goods to Libya and Syria despite their official designations as state sponsors of terrorism, prosecutors said.
Officials filed charges against a fifth brother, the brothers' company and a Hamas leader overseas and his wife. The charges were part of a flurry of activity by federal officials, who have vowed to shut down the money pipeline between American financiers and global terrorists.
Yeah, these guys are toast. The question is, why did it take so long?
The Ville (The one-named Brent)
Shut ‘em down!
What moronic *sswipes! These pampered arrogant Israel-haters set up in our country, shop at our Wal-Marts and hide behind our laws then ship money over to countries that want to kill us. I think they should all be locked up with nothing to eat but pork and bad coffee! D*mn! I feel like a song!
Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the FBI
who will arrest your sorry *sses
and lock you up until you die
You’re a traitor to my country
And deserve no break at all!
The truth is marching on!
D*mn straight! Throw away the key!
HappyFunPundit (Steve and Dan – your choice which this is)
Correspondence captured in recent arrest of Hamas supporters in US
We are In Receipt of your Last Contribution to our Great Cause.
The SheikhTom is very pleased with your generosity. Our supporters in The Great Satanthe United States have made the expansion of our work possible.
Please note how this memo is addressed, and use this form in the future.
SUBJECT: Thank you
Thank you for your Kind Response to our latest Contribution. We are delighted to take money from
infidelsgood Americans who want to end our causesupport your massacre of innocentsimportant work. We hope to remit additional funds soon.
We are in receipt of rumors that your
terrorist supporting lying organizationfine charity has been uncoveredharassed by the infidelsFBI. Please let us hear from you soon. We are concerned that your funding to us will dry upyou have been unjustly accused.
TO : Rick
A friendly FBI agentBill’s buddy
The rumors are
exactly rightunfounded. Your friends are rotting in jaildoing fine. You are so screwedWe hope to see you soon.
(Are we having fun yet?)
...when work interferes with blogging. I had meetings this morning and a park dedication to go to now (long boring story), so while the will is strong the time is non-existent. However, there will be bloggish goodness this afternoon, I promise!
Kevin at Links I Like has the perfect sign for all good gun owners forced to live next to anti-gun types.
A NYC art student painted shirt boxes black, painted the word "Fear" on them, and attached them to various parts of the Union Square subway station.
A citizen called the police, not knowing what the boxes were about. After the bomb squad was called and the boxes neutralized, the student was arrested. His teacher gave him an A. She said he was "a very smart and caring and good person" who had "opened a dialogue".
Clinton Boisvert "only intended to observe the public's reaction to his final art project", not "create mass hysteria and fear".
I suggest the teacher and Boisvert be required to share the cost of having the police respond to the scene of Boisvert's "art".
The latest Carnival of the Vanities is posted on Heretical Ideas, full of chewy bloggish goodness. As I am apparently suffering writer's block today, I recommend a jaunt over there for the scoop on the world.
I'm working on some new parodies, and I'm doing some navel-gazing about the direction of the blog (and navel gazing in subzero weather can get icy, let me tell you), so I should have some posts up later today.
Speaking of blog direction, I've been reminded today that I've skidded off the media bias focus I had initially. I do want to regain that, but I don't know that I want to feel limited to it. "Cut on the bias" is about going against the grain as much as exposing media bias, so it's not just a one-note song. I'm curious about what you the reader thinks. If this were a democracy, which it's not, what would you vote for in terms of the direction of the blog? What would you like to see more of?
My readership spiraled up sharply in late summer/early fall, and has since dropped, not back to the summer levels but by about 100 readers/day, which also makes me wonder. Things that make you go hmmmm... I'm not driven by stats, but when people aren't coming back who did for a few weeks, it does make you wonder.
So there you are. I'm off to a meeting where I will be struggling to stay awake. Maybe I'll brainstorm blog posts instead of the normal doodling...
The Republican Party in Kentucky is gathering its forces for a run at the governorship in Kentucky next year. Current governor Paul Patton, a Democrat, is serving the second of his two allowable terms, so the office would be open anyway. But Patton is embroiled in scandal with a former lover accusing the married governor of using his office to help and then hurt her, so the Democrats as a whole are hurting in the state. It's the best shot for the GOP for the top state seat since 1967. I think they have a good chance.
My money's on Ernie Fletcher. Metaphorically, of course.
Reem Sheikh is a 36-year-old Saudi native who has been teaching in a Washington, DC, public high school for 10 years. The Arab News posted an interview with her today that has several points of connection to current news stories.
First, an explanation for why people believe there might be Saudis with less than loving attitudes about the US; the ones referenced here are the parents of Sheikh's students:
As most of these parents come from low-income families with little education, they believe much that is broadcast about Arabs and fear another attack by terrorists in their ranks.
That's right. The reason any American would believe that there might be another attack by terrorists connected to Saudi Arabia is because they're poor and uneducated - not because most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudis or because some Saudis support terrorist organizations. (That quote isn't specifically attributed to Sheikh, so I don't know whether it's her view or editorialization by the writer or editor.)
Apparently Sheikh also needs to get in touch with CAIR so they can get in touch with reality:
When asked about any racial discrimination or slurs she has experienced as an Arab woman, Reem said: “None whatsoever! I have always been treated well — in airports and in local stores, for example — and I continue to try to provide a different image of women and about Saudis. I have never had anyone discriminate against me because I was Saudi Arabian in southeast Washington, D.C. or the whole metropolitan area.”
That was actually nice to read. I'm glad, although not surprised, that this is the case. Contrast that with the attitude of students in her classroom, at a high school the article describes as in "an over-crowded, dilapidated urban area where the residents are overwhelmingly African-American":
"They tend to look at skin color more than anything else. I was once mentioning that students behave better in the classroom in the Middle East and one student said to me: ‘You’re not black and you don’t live in a black neighborhood, so you can’t talk to us about how to behave in the classroom’.”
This is one student in one school, but it's a telling comment nonetheless. In that student's mind, you have to be black and live in a black neighborhood before you can tell him (or her) how to behave. And apparently - given the way that Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Clarence Thomas and other conservative blacks are treated by liberal establishment blacks - your blackness is defined by the extent to which you hold the establishment line rather than your actual heritage. It's a convenient way to control legitimacy and thus dodge accountability.
It keeps coming back to race and bias. So more on that as well, later.
Those of you who've read this blog for very long know I've gotten into some good tussles with various people about Big Bang theory, evolution and such. One thing I've been pilloried for is saying I want the public education system to stop teaching Darwinism and evolution as if they are immutable and unquestioned. That usually makes the discussion quickly skid into accusations that I want the Bible's Genesis creation account taught in schools, which is absolutely not the case.
It looks like the state of Ohio has gotten it right:
Ater months of debate, the Ohio State Board of Education unanimously adopted science standards on Dec. 10 that require Ohio students to know "how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."
Ohio thus becomes the first state to mandate that students learn not only scientific evidence that supports Darwin's theory but also scientific evidence critical of it...
This is precisely what I want. I don't want to shut down scientific enquiry, I don't want science teachers to teach religion, and I don't have any interest in pulling evolution out of the curriculum. I want the truth of the debate taught. That's all. And given what the Ohio state board decided, that's all they want too. But that didn't stop the Darwin religionists (and yes, the adherence of some has the fervency and faith of a religious belief system):
In Ohio critics of Darwinism were compared to the Taliban, and Ohioans were warned that the effort to allow students to learn about scientific criticisms of Darwin was part of a vast conspiracy to impose nothing less than a theocracy.
But their dodges didn't work this time:
For years, Darwinists successfully shut down any public discussion of Darwinian evolution by stigmatizing every critic of Darwin as a Biblical literalist intent on injecting Genesis into biology class. While Darwinists still try that tactic, their charge is becoming increasingly implausible, even ludicrous. Far from being uneducated Bible-thumpers, the new critics of evolution hold doctorates in biology, biochemistry, mathematics and related disciplines from secular universities, and many of them teach or do research at American universities. They are scientists like Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, University of Idaho microbiologist Scott Minnich, and Baylor University philosopher and mathematician William Dembski.
I know that to some this is tantamount to insisting that medical schools teach the competing philosophy of "humors" as the cause of illness along with modern anatomy. But science is never diminished by opening up the debate for more voices, and always reduced when some avenues are shut down. The natural process of time and new discoveries will either validate the decision of the Ohio state board or will show it to be the last gasp of an intellectually antiquated system. But a true scientist is not afraid of honestly competing ideas.
UPDATE: I just came across this, as a small illustration of the pervasiveness of the Darwinistic evolutionary model:
Salmon cannot help being stressed out. They are programmed to die, their systems propelled into overdrive by evolutionary design.
Now this is in an interesting article on human stress, and evolution is not a part of the discussion in any direct way. I just wonder, what's wrong with saying it this way:
Salmon cannot help being stressed out. They are programmed to die, their systems designed to propel into overdrive.
You tell me: Is that a pernicious change? Does that inject religion into the article? Is it inconsistent with an evolutionary model?
The mechanism through which most bias is introduced into media is framing. I'll have more to say about that in another post soon (although not in the context of evolution), but for now I'll just note that evolutionists have been controlling the scientific frame for a long long time. I'd like to see a neutral frame become the standard.
(See what you've done by encouraging me? Following are parodies, and are not to be taken seriously. All in clean fun, love the bloggers, etc.)
Asymmetrical Information (Jane Galt)
from the desk of Jane Galt
California Rep. Gary Condit is suing author Dominick Dunne for allegedly saying that Condit "should have known" that Levy would be killed.
This type of reaction is not unusual in disgraced public figures - it's an effort to regain some of their besmirched character. The annals of history show a repeated pattern from both politicians and movie stars. Look for instance at Al Gore - he sued the NY Post for calling him "a wooden, irritating lump of a stupid man" who "consorts with ill-intentioned characters in bad suits". Similarly, Barbra Streisand sued the Sean Hannity show for saying she "traded on the light of her fading stardom to bilk aging babyboomers of their ill-gotten gains while castigating them for having ill-gotten gains, yet not revealing that her own gains were ill-gotten." The problem with these legal tangles is that truth is a defense; both Gore and Streisand lost in court. I suspect Condit will have difficulty bleeding Dunne of much more than notoriety.
The economic impact of this kind of lawsuit is minimal. In an economy slowly getting its legs, the financial implications of these kinds of nuisance suits will serve as little more than opportunities for the news media to make additional money. And an unrestricted market in this instance is a good thing.
File 13’s Amish Tech Support (Laurence Simon)
Condit swims upstream
What’s with shellac-haired Gary Condit, the defiler of innocent interns (no, wait, that’s Bill Clinton) (no, wait, no wide-eyed innocence there, just wide-mouthed slurping), suing Dominick Dunne for slander? That’s like suing a weather man for saying it’s raining when he can see it out the window.
Condit: Give me a freackin' break, you idiot.
I’ve got Garlic Parmesan Pretzels boiling on the stove and the oven hot to go, Lox and Feta Bread in the breadmaker, you losers are so jealous. I see your drool.
Edloe just smacked Nardo up side the head with a catnip mouse. How I love being a cat-daddy!
Ipse Dixit (Dodd Harris)
It appears that soon to be former Rep. Gary Condit has brought a lawsuit for slander against author Dominick Dunne for his comments on several television programs claiming that Condit was connected to the death of his lover Chandra Levy. This type of lawsuit amuses me, as the facile idiocy of his response to the investigation left him open to much speculation. And Democratic party leaders waited until after his disastrous "interview" with Connie Chung to make even the most tepid statements of distaste for his behaviour, which I believe emboldened him into thinking he could ride out the situation. For him to now assail Dunne for speculation that even his own colleagues were likely whispering in the Congress cafeteria is evidence of his own over-inflated ego.
The Last Page (The Mysterious Pseudonymous Page)
8 Shopping Days ‘til Christmas
And Gary Condit, jack*ss representative from California, is suing author Dominick Dunne for slander. They’re both jack*sses.
I’m in a jack*ss mood, but since I’m all about giving I’m posting.
Here’s more. Contain your joy.
Overheard somewhere in the nation’s capitol:
(click click click)
Page: What are you doing?
Dave: Condit’s on every channel. He’s suing Dominick Dunne.
Dave: Which one?
Page: Both of them.
Dave: Isn’t truth a defense?
Page: Yeah. But Condit wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him on the *ss.
(click click click)
Dave: He’s on every channel.
Page: (Updating her website) Television media is run by jack*sses, what do you expect.
There. Don’t say I don’t love you.
(Will there be more tomorrow? Who knows. I wake up in a new world every day.)
I'm having a difficult time finding something specific to blog on today. Many of the things I want to say others are doing quite well - like, for instance, Robert Prather and Mike Hendrix on the demonization of the South as a whole in this Lott thing, and Martin Devon on how long Lott will last. Media Minded, John Rosenberg and Jeff Jacoby have the media bias ground covered, with a week-old column by E.J. Dionne preaching the Gore conservative-bias line. What is there left for me to say? I've been collecting some things on media bias lately, mostly pulling together ideas from the academic journal articles I've been reading about media. I hope to do a long post - maybe broken into two or more installments - about that maybe next week, when news will be slow.
I'm working on an essay on racism, and what my experience with it has been. It's a difficult topic because everyone has their view of what it is, of what is acceptable and what is not, and they get tight-lipped and judgmental if where you fall is not in their "safe zone". While I'm of the dreaded Euro-Caucasian heritage, I've had my own brushes with -isms that give me some peg to hang my understanding on. When I discuss bias and prejudice in the classes I teach, I make a distinction between them - prejudice is a negative judgment based on information received indirectly, second hand, or on data filtered through a cultural screen that doesn't allow all the information through or dismisses some of it. Bias is often a neutral thing, meaning you prefer one thing over another. I find no problem with, for instance, generally preferring people I have commonalities with over people I do not. The problem comes when you make judgments about someone's value based on characteristics that aren't a matter of choice - like race, place of origin, size or appearance (where it's genetic or externally determined). It's an important distinction, but one I think gets lost in modern discourse about race.
At any rate, my thoughts overall are still too chaotic to share with any coherence. Nothing unusual about that, is there? So I will have more to say when things coalesce. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Last night I watched an HGTV special on decorating the White House for Christmas. It included a section on artists making ornaments for the White House trees. As someone who leans toward crafty things - quilting, crochet, cross stitch - I found it fascinating. They'll be replaying the shows. If you like that kind of thing, like me, you'd enjoy it.
(This is the first in a series of parodies of bloggers covering various news events, wherein I attempt to mimick their styles for your amusement. I do this with the greatest of love in my heart for all these fine bloggers. Update: The links in the Instapundit parody go to real places but there are no posts there associated with the parody. It's a joke. Get it?)
Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds)
CRUISE SICKNESS: Carnival Lines is going to face some problems if they don't get a handle on this infection. It's more than the cruise industry can stomach for long. Heh.
UPDATE: My Tech Central Station column has more on the implications for the industry.
Yourish.com (Meryl Yourish)
The Incredible Hulk leaps onto the cruise ship.
Hulk: Where bad thing?
Woman: (tossing cookies over the side of the ship) Um (gag) what bad thing?
Hulk: Hulk hear bad thing making people sick! Tourist industry hurt! Hulk smash bad thing!
Woman: Um, I don't think you can smash this, not without it being really gross.
Hulk: Hulk don't care if gross! Hulk rescue! Hulk smash!
Woman: (coughs on Hulk)
Hulk: You are bad thing! Hulk smash you! Hulk... (suddenly rushes to the edge of the ship)
Cold Fury (Mike Hendrix)
Happy pukin' holiday
I've noticed a lot of people are getting sick lately on these fancy *ssed cruises out in the Caribbean. Did anyone check to see if they weren't all old folks with stomach problems already? It's either that or the sh*tload of food they put on the tables there; you can't turn around without more in your face. Of course they're getting sick!
I've thought about going on a cruise, but being locked up for a week with a bunch of grampas from Wisconsin or Joe Slicks from some creepy dive in Miami ain't my idea of a good time. Give me the open road with a revved up Harley or a hot lickin' band in a bad-*ssed bar with a cold one in my hand and a woman who jiggles when she walks sittin' on my lap, I'm a happy man.
I'm just sayin', is all.
Scrappleface (Scott Ott)
GORE MISTAKES CRUISE SHIP FOR CRUISE MISSILE
WASHINGTON, DC - Al Gore announced today that he will not be running for president after hearing that a ship with cruising projectiles was in the Caribbean.
"I just can't sign on to lead a country that's willing to put cruise missiles on a ship right in our own back yard," said Gore. "We're apparently beyond help. I've applied for Canadian citizenship and plan to challenge Chretien for Prime Minister. It seems like a good fit."
Sources say that Gore misinterpreted a story on projectile vomiting on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, which lead to his decision to bypass the 2004 presidential race.
Dr. Weevil (Mysterious Male)
Sickum In Cruiselineus
The Carnival Cruise Lines have been having difficulties with vacationers getting ill on their voyages. This type of group illness is not limited to modern times; when Tactile lead his troop of Estruscans to conquer Athens, some bad mead made the whole unit violently ill. In his history of the Estruscan invasion of Athens, Platon called the illness projectionus diarrheaus, from which we get our term "projectile diarrhea".
Platon even wrote a haiku on it:
whenus marcha withus groupis
My favorite translation is by Marion Estudenten:
Green leaves, long walks
the fruits of our labors
Both Hesiod and Warbloggerwatch have been silent on this development so far, which is no surprise to anyone.
(I know, I desperately need a life. But hey, it amused me.)
In a way, I kinda wish he was running. He'd make a mess of all the campaigns of the other folks, and it'd be fun to beat him again. But I guess we'll have to settle for watching the whole thundering herd of Democratic presidential hopefuls beating up on each other for two years. Let's be good neighbors and be sure to help them out, ok?
You don't see that kind of headline here very often, with good reason. But I appreciate the stars who are entertaining the GIs through the USO, including Robin Williams. It's nice to know that not all entertainers had lobotomies at the beginning of their careers.
Sen. Don Nickles, R-Oklahoma, Republican No. 2 leader in the Senate, the Minority Whip in the previous Congress, is calling for another vote for Senate Majority Leader, the first call (that I'm aware of) for Lott to step down from his Republican colleagues in the Senate.
Of course Nickles would be a major contender to replace Lott, so it isn't precisely an altruistic move on his part to "save the party". On the other hand, according to the article, he's not asking Lott to step down but rather seeking to get it back before the Senate for a vote. It would in essence be a vote of confidence/no confidence for Lott.
The senator who will be No. 2 in the new Congress, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, says, basically, "He's apologized. Let it go." He would also be a potential candidate if another vote were held.
...doesn't mean the Democrats aren't being flaming hypocrites.
Because they are.
I just got back from an afternoon in Manhattan, and while I'm tired I'm glad I went. I met my friend Ben in Chinatown, where we had custard buns at Maria's Bakery (I highly recommend it), then browsed some of the stores before heading up to Strand Bookstore. Did I buy books? Uh, yeah. (I was going to say, "Just you try to go there without buying books", until I realized that Ben didn't. He's much more disciplined than me though.)
We jumped on the subway next and took it to 49th, then walked over to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and watch people ice skating down below it. The place was packed, even though it was raining (that annoying rain that's just past drizzle but just shy of really raining, so you vacillate about whether to put up the umbrella). I headed home after pizza at Sbarro's under the Rockefeller Center. Although I live about 8 miles from midtown Manhattan, it takes up to an hour and half to get home, depending on how I hit the trains. This was a good night - I was home in just over an hour.
I'm worn out so I'm going to go ice my knee and watch television. I hope you all had a great day.
I sent this column off to two publications, both of which passed on it. So as it's getting dated, I thought I'd post it here for you all, and get to work on something else for The Big Guys.
Elitism, big money and the Dems' hypocrisy
The Democrats are facing a big money dilemma.
For years, theyâ€™ve portrayed the Republican Party as the party of big money; most especially, during the 2000 presidential election and since, theyâ€™ve alluded to George W. Bushâ€™s family wealth and connections as the source of his power, rather than the will of the people. Itâ€™s an attractive illusion to them, but it is at heart an empty argument coming apart under the weight of their own hypocrisy.
In this fall election cycle, two women who ran for state office were careful to use their family names â€“ the names of prominent, wealthy politician fathers â€“ during their campaigns. Lois Combs Weinberg in Kentucky and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in Maryland both come from families with political traditions like that of George W. Bush. Both are wealthy from family money, Weinbergâ€™s from her father (and former Kentucky governor) Bert T. Combsâ€™ natural gas wells in Eastern Kentucky, Townsendâ€™s based in a wide range of business interests pursued by her grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, patriarch of the Kennedy political family.
Both Weinberg and Townsend are Democrats.
In October, Forbes magazine listed the top 10 wealthiest politicians currently in office or who ran for office this year. Of the 10, six are Democrats; one is an independent. Only three are Republicans. Four of the six Democrats are currently serving as senators â€“ John Kerry (Massachusetts; $500 million), Jon Corzine (New Jersey; $300 million), Herb Kohl (Wisconsin; $250 million) and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia; $200 million). Rockefellerâ€™s money comes from his familyâ€™s interests; Kerry married into the Heinz fortune, while Kohl made his with department stores and Corzine through Wall Street â€“ inherited wealth or business wealth. Big money.
Historically our nation has been served well by its public-minded wealthy citizens. Many of the framers of the Constitution, and our first President, were wealthy. In the more than two centuries since that first President George, personal wealth has continued to play a prominent role in politics, to the extent that we make a point of emphasizing an Abe Lincoln, a Harry S Truman, a Jimmy Carter â€“ men who rose to the highest office even though from modest beginnings â€“ because they succeeded despite a lack of personal funds. The current problem with the Democrats is that they are trying to portray themselves as a working- to middle-class populist party when in fact many of their top candidates and operatives are themselves extremely wealthy beyond the reach of the average Democrat â€“ or, significantly, the average Republican.
Both the myth of the GOP as the party of big money and its fallacy are facts that arenâ€™t just being noticed by conservatives. In the November 6 edition of The New York Times, a news analysis about the New Jersey election had this to say:
â€śNew Jersey has more money than most states, more corporate headquarters, and more M.B.A.'s and S.U.V.'s, status symbols long associated with a Republican world view. But this year they have symbolized the rise of New Jersey's Democrats.
In defiance of patterns that were once political gospel, New Jersey has become more Democratic as it has become wealthier, more suburban and more educated.â€ť
Itâ€™s not that Democrats - or anyone else - shouldnâ€™t be wealthy. What matters are character, integrity, and a willingness to do the right thing. But a major component of the high moral ground to which Democrats lay claim is their connection to â€śthe peopleâ€ť, which they contrast with those who have so much money that they donâ€™t understand how â€śthe peopleâ€ť live - and thus would not make the right decisions for the majority of people, those for whom the choice is not Mercedes or Jaguar, but a used Ford or a used Chevy. But that image is not compatible with a party where multi-millionaire entertainer Barbra Streisand sang at a party fundraiser where tickets started at $500 a person â€“ and ten people in attendance paid $250,000 each.
The truth is, money and politics go together. What separates any politician from others is not his money, but whether he will represent his constituents honestly and with a genuine desire to further their and the countryâ€™s interests, not his own. By deliberately fostering their big-money myth, the Democrats lose even the illusion of moral high ground.
It appears that I am clueless, audacious and lacking in reflection, yet somehow also seemingly intelligent and articulate, with the potential to be Anne (sic) Coulter in hiding.
I'm not quite sure whether to be offended or gratified. How about I settle on amused.
Overlawyered is back from hiatus, and has all kinds of good stuff on legal idiocies.
Trent Lott is right now taking questions in his press conference, which I'm listening to on Sean Hannity's show on WABC 770. Lott made a very explicit, categorical apology, and seemed sincere to me, not another non-apology. He announced that he will appear sometime early next week for a full hour on BET (Black Entertainment Television) to discuss the situation and (paraphrased) his hopes and support for the black community.
It seems he's planning to hang on, at least to ride this out. Whether he stays on as Majority Leader into the next term remains to be seen.
UPDATE: Iâ€™m taking some criticism for defending Lott at all â€“ seeing his apology as possibly sincere, etc. Folks, this is in part just my personality. Iâ€™ve mentioned before my tendency to say â€śwell, he has some good qualitiesâ€ť about virtually everyone; itâ€™s difficult for me to dismiss someone as totally cynical and irredeemable. Some I do, but not often. Iâ€™m not saying itâ€™s always the best way to be, but I go a long way before dusting my hands of someone completely. I do believe Lott should not be Majority Leader â€“ thereâ€™s a difference between forgiveness and consequences. Sometimes even when youâ€™re totally sincere and contrite, and we can forgive, you still have to accept the consequences of your wrong behavior. And thatâ€™s the best position Lottâ€™s in now. Iâ€™m not defending Lottâ€™s actions or words. Iâ€™m just saying, every sinner has the potential to be sincerely repentant. And Iâ€™m giving him the benefit of a doubt.
I don't apologize for being somewhat credulous. I prefer that to full-blown cynicism.
Prominent Blogger Tells Everyone What They Ott To Do
WAYCROSS, Ga. – Prominent blogger Scott Ott – known to his thousands of fans as “Scrappleface” – is on a book tour promoting his 1998 self-help tome that his publisher has re-released now that Ott’s fame is beginning to assume Sean Penn proportions.
“It was a great honor to have my book republished,” Ott said, speaking from the broom closet in the back of the Waldenbooks in Waycross, Ga., where he was signing the janitor’s mop-water stained copy of All I Ever Needed To Know About Chicken Soup I Learned from the Celestine Women of Venus. “I was surprised when approached, but grateful.”
Ott self-published his 13-page bookette.
Although short, the bookette movingly details Ott’s journey from self-ignorance to self-mockery. While noting that he personally felt and deeply absorbed every lesson along the way, Ott acknowledges his debt to John Gray and other old-line self-helpers.
“I was struggling with how to integrate my material into a form that spoke of my experience without borrowing too heavily from the other texts,” he said, pausing to sign the Waldenbook’s manager’s copy of the bookette. “However, once I consulted with my mentors, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Bellesiles, I realized the answer was yellow legal pads. I had no trouble after that. It’s as if the words appeared by magic.”
One particularly outstanding feature of Ott’s bookette is the carefully drawn parables, constructed to illustrate his points. Even when the points themselves are missing, the parables stand alone as quirky asides that will make most readers go, “huh?” If you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself, to go beyond the ordinary, to reach for the stars with everything that’s inside you, this is probably the last thing you want to buy. But it’s really funny, if you like that kind of thing.
(It actually is very funny, and worth not only $1.14, but the full $3.50 asking price. You can order it on his site, in the upper left hand column.)
Dave Barry doesn't always get it right, but when he does he gets it very right. Here's his take on a hip NYC hotel:
Speaking of insane: One of my stops on the book tour was New York City, where the publisher put me at an extremely hip hotel. It's so hip that there is no sign outside saying ''HOTEL.'' I walked right past it the first time. Evidently if you're hip, you just know there's a hotel there.
The lobby was full of hip people on stark, modernistic furniture, talking into cellphones. They were all 25 years old, and they all wore black. I suspect their underwear is black. I myself was wearing khaki pants. I felt like a pig farmer in town for the big manure-spreader show.
The worst part was that I couldn't see. At some point in recent years, light must have become unhip, because this was the darkest hotel I've ever stayed in. The lobby wasn't so bad -- it was merely gloomy -- but the elevator was so dimly lit that I had to put on my reading glasses, squat, and put my face right next to the buttons to find the one for my floor. I'm sure this amused the hip lobby people. (``Look! A pig farmer squatting in the elevator!'')
My floor was actually scary. Have you ever been in one of those Halloween fun houses, where it's pitch-black and people leap out of the darkness to frighten you? The hotel hallway was like that. It was so dark that I honestly could not see my feet. I initially thought the walls were painted black, although I was later informed that they were very dark purple (a hip color). Sometimes I would encounter other guests in the hallway, but of course I could not see them, because they were wearing black. I knew they were there only because I could hear their cellphones ringing.
My room had stark, modernistic furniture and several modernistic low-wattage lamps, which, when I turned them all on, provided about the same illumination as a radio dial. The only way to read was to turn the TV on and tune it to a program with bright colors, such as Baywatch. My room was strewn with hip items, many of them for sale, including a hotel T-shirt (black), various herbal substances and an ''Intimacy Kit'' for $12. If they really want to make money, they should sell 100-watt light bulbs; I would have paid $20 for one. They did sell a candle, labeled ''TRAVEL CANDLE,'' for $15; I considered buying it and using it in the elevator, to find the ''Lobby'' button.
I get this same feeling when I see those hip young people commercials on television, where everything is stripped down to bare walls in their apartments, both girls and guys have neutral toned slacks hanging off their prominent hipbones, their hair is spiked in a very cool way (and if it's TOTALLY cool their hair is also dyed maroon) and no matter what else they have on their bellies are showing. Most wear little eyeglasses with rectangular lenses. I think those are the people who go to Dave's NYC hotel.
Form over function, always and forever.
One of the funniest things though was unintentional - the list of columnists for The Miami Herald goes by topic: "News Columnists", "Sports Columnists", "Technology Columnists". Makes sense. Barry is listed under... "Living Columnists". I realize what they mean, but it just struck me as very funny. All the others are dead? You may get that impression from reading them, but it's unlikely to be true. I think I'd find some other designation.
Hanging in my computer room, up above the door to the stairway and the outside, is a rough board about 10 inches high, 3 feet long and half an inch thick (if that). Although it’s painted with flat black paint – most likely fence paint – you’d get splinters if you ran your hand across it. Stenciled lengthwise on it is what looks like a large lobster, with a ‘93 flanking its tail. It’s in white paint with reflective qualities, which I’ve always thought was probably road sign paint. The board is nearly broken in the middle, with a small splintery hole at the top. The hole is where the nail was that held it to a telephone pole in my home county in Kentucky; it’s nearly broken because the nail resisted my efforts at yanking the sign off the telephone pole. I had wanted that sign for months, and when its utility was ended I made my parents stop their car on one of my visits home when we passed that pole. I climbed over a ditch and into a field with grass to my knees to get that sign now hanging in my apartment.
The sign is fascinating to me as a part of the modern culture of my childhood community. It’s not a lobster there, you see – why would anyone in southeastern Kentucky, tucked away in the foothills of Appalachia, have anything to do with lobsters? It is a crawdad – what those further south call crayfish - and it is a political sign. One of the men running for county judge executive in 1993 was nicknamed Crawdad, and that was his way of asking for votes. Signs like that were all over the county back then, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few still linger now, almost 10 years later, on the side of some remote barn, or on a utility pole up some holler reached by gravel road.
Politics have their peculiar rhythm in every community, and in a small place where some families go back together over 100 years, you come to speak a shorthand without even realizing it. It’s a place where many people have nicknames, where “Crawdad” can have the same one-name relevance that “Madonna” does in other settings. To me that sign is not just an artifact, but a reminder of a culture.
CG Hill at Dustbury today quotes an article from Automobile magazine about a road trip in Kentucky where the writer found just that kind of thing:
It was election time in Kentucky, and all of our turns were marked by clumps of campaign posters for people with names like Peanuts, Lacey, Doc, Dot, Butch, and Buford. There was a Bobby Lee, a Ricky Lee, a Proctor, a Thurston, and a Catfish. You got the idea that a guy named Jim or Bob might not have much of a chance at the polls, but a guy named Jim Bob could rule the world.
Often times in communities where you passed by “Junior” generations ago, dual names and nicknames are handy ways to distinguish someone from his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Jim Bob is the son of Red who’s the son of Junior who’s the son of Old Man Jim. Often when you hear a dual name or a nickname, it’s not so much a “redneck” preference as a community necessity. So for me, seeing the Crawdad ’93 speaks of home on several levels. I think it’ll be hanging in my next apartment too.
Here's an excellent article about what needs to be done for NYC transit.
Here's everything you wanted to know about the search engine that lets you know everything.
As you know, one of the keynotes of this blog is looking at bias in the media. I'm also reading through a stack of academic articles on criminology and media in preparation for an exam I'm going to take in a couple of months. Today I read one by a critical criminologist, which is to say leftist or Marxist (by his own definition) which decries the tendency of the media to engage in "corporate hegemony" in denying leftist voices any purchase in the public debate. The whole thing is a fairly fascinating look into how a leftist looks at the media, but I thought this one section was particularly interesting given how conservatives tend to think public radio is wildly liberal (this was published in 1995):
...(R)ecent revelations concerning nonprofit news programs are almost as alarming. Public radio, once a bastion of news that seemingly was more inclusive than for-profit news, has been attacked from all sides for its alleged liberal slant. Public television has also come under fire. Ironically, such criticism comes at a time when public broadcasting has been assuming a more centrist political presentation of news. Even so, during its apex of "liberalism", the voice of critical criminology rarely was given a forum and today, with public broadcasting moving tot he right, little hope is evident that progressive criminologists will be heard... The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the federal overseer of public radio and television, no doubt has played a role in maintaining status quo broadcasting. Despite being a public rather than private news medium (at least for now), CPB's directors are appointed by the president and offer little in the way of news or editorials that are considered incongruous with the goals of corporate America, capitalism, and the capitalist state. As a result, censorship, however subtle, results in skewed programming as the voice of the Left, including critical criminology, remains unheard...
There you have it. Public radio is actually moving to the right. To help you gain a sense of the perspective of this writer - Kenneth Tunnel - he identifies in the article with Lani Guinier, Noam Chomsky and Barbara Ehrenreich.
And what do critical criminologists offer that we're not getting?
The media, and thus most Americans, simply dismiss progressive criminologists even though they may be the academics best-equipped to explain various social phenomena and especially crime, since they depart from behavioral interpretations and focus instead on the political economy of crime and punishment, the physical, economic, and symbolic consequences of corporateviolence, and governmental activities that are both criminal and non-criminal, yet socially harmful. Due ot their ideological interpretations of criminalization, crime, and the social reactions to it, and to their lack of prestige, this group of criminologists is consistently excluded from the sacred halls of legislative action (or inaction) and, as a result, has almost no voice in public policies concerning crime and justice...
In addition, critical criminologists, who could bring a fresh, humanistic perspective - one that places people before the insatiable drive for profit - and could offer innovative public crime policies, are completely ignored, as if they were simply irrelevant to contemporary crime-related social problems.
I guess the option that they actually are largely irrelevant isn't one they want to explore.
UPDATE: CG Hill points out a few other difficulties with Tunnel's vision over at Dustbury.
Tunnel, Kenneth. (1995). "Silence of the Left: Reflections on critical criminology and criminologists." Social Justice, Spring 1995.
Ted Turner laughingly compares the collapse of his money empire to the collapse of the World Trade Center.
[Link via JunkYard Blog]
Apparently I'm biased and not very bright on the Lott issue.
And that's the nice interpretation.
I don't know how else to put what I've said. Is Trent Lott racist? Possibly, when you look at the preponderance of evidence. I'm not convinced that was what was in his mind when he made his comments last week. Is he the poster child for modern racism? If he's in that picture at all it's well behind Democrats Robert Byrd, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as well as Louis Farrakhan.
James, I'm not "pretending" Lott isn't racist so we can beat the Democrats. I'm saying they are riddled with hypocrisy in their behavior and we do the Republican party a disfavor to allow the Dems to frame this discussion so completely. And quite frankly, you're a bit off the scales chiding me for "calling a Senator who is interracially married" with my thoughts on Lott. I'm hoping that McConnell won't have a knee-jerk reaction to what other people are saying Lott must have meant. And you know what? I wasn't even thinking about who McConnell was married to when I called him. Because it doesn't matter. He should not be more inclined to read racism into anyone's remarks merely because the woman he loves is not of Euro-Caucasian descent.
And for the record, I've never said bias didn't exist on both sides of the political spectrum. I've explicitly said that it does. That's why all communication is a "buyer beware" situation. Even mine.
UPDATE: Because it matters to Landrith, here's what McConnell has said thus far:
Sen. Mitch McConnell, speaking at a Louisville bankers event Thursday, didn't mention the Trent Lott controversy...
Majority Whip McConnell, the number-two man in the Senate, wouldn't go that far [referring to comments by Congresswoman Anne Northup, also quoted in the article]. WHAS11 News asked him a number of questions, including would he replace Lott as majority leader, if Lott steps down. The answer, each time, was like a broken record.
"Sen. Lott said a foolish thing, he's apologized, we should accept that apology and move on," McConnell said.
I'm told he's actually issued a press release on it but I can't find it. As soon as I do I'll link it.
UPDATE: In case it's unclear, I agree completely with what President Bush said.
Does this come in Christmas cards? I need it for some of the folks on my Christmas list - Handgun Control, PETA, you know, those folks.
[Got this in an email, so not sure who the artist is. If anyone knows, tell me and I'll credit it.]
FoxNews is saying that Cardinal Law will submit his resignation to the Pope tomorrow. The Pope may or may not accept it. I wonder if he's a bone they're tossing to the masses, or if this presages real change?
Insight magazine has an interview with Sam Donaldson posted on World Net Daily; it's worth reading. The interviewer, John Berlau, asks Donaldson about the different styles of presidents in relation to the media, and Donaldson speaks at most length about Reagan, Clinton and Bush.
It's interesting what he considers his most revealing interview, because of what it reveals about him. He interviewed a Nazi SS officer, at the time 80 years old and living in Argentina. The officer had been involved in more than 100 killings in Italy, and the deporting of more than 5,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Here's the end of Donaldson's discussion of the interview:
When we put this story on the air, Italy immediately demanded his extradition. ... They convicted him, and he will spend the rest of his life in prison. He's now 88, and I wish him a long life.
[Thanks to Curt for the link, and the concern about my Weather Pixie. Yes, Curt, she's hopelessly trashy; she'd apparently wear a belly shirt in subzero temps.]
On Sunday I posted about an anthropologist who believes he's disproven a central tenet of the Mormon faith, yet wants to remain an official member of the Mormon Church. The church, in the meantime, is discussing excommunicating him. If you want to know what I thought about it, here's the post.
Today I received an email from Nathan Shumate, who wanted to give his perspective as a Mormon. His email is posted in its entirety in the "MORE" section. Nathan also has a weblog here called Etched in Stone, although it doesn't appear to deal specifically with religious issues.
Here is his email:
Sorry if this line of thought has already dropped off your radar, but I wanted to comment a bit on your entry about soon-to-be-excommunicated Mormon anthropologist Tom Murphy.
For clarification, Tom hasn't been what we refer to as an "active" member of the church for years; he's still on the books, but rarely attends, and doesn't consider himself a believer.
While the church almost never makes public pronouncements on why it excommunicates anybody, or even that it HAS excommunicated anybody, there are some easy-to-understand reasons here.
First, Murphy has taken some pretty shaky genetics as the basis of his case. In essence, he's saying that he hasn't been able to find, in the decimated remains of what used to be millions and millions of Native Americans, the genes of about 20-30 Middle Eastern immigrants who entered the population around 600BC. Really? You don't say!
Proving a negative is hard under the best of circumstances; Murphy's contention that therefore these people didn't exist goes far beyond what anyone could prove from the evidence he cites.
But what has really raised more eyebrows is that, justified by his "proof" that the Book of Mormon is therefore ahistorical, he feels free to publicly dispute the doctrines found in the book. There are plenty of Mormons who have trouble with the idea of the Book of Mormon as a historical record (though I am not one); no one is disciplined for such belief. But when Murphy decides then to say that, furthermore, the teachings of the church are wrong, and he knows better than men whom we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators... I wonder, in what sense IS he a member?
You see, though there is a very heavy cultural aspect to being a Mormon, it is not the reason for the faith. The Church is a goal-oriented group, a community of believers who share common tenets and common desires. When someone openly opposes the basis of the organization -- the idea that God does indeed inspire our leaders and lead the Church today -- then I don't see that he has much claim to membership. Indeed, in any sense but the card-carrying one, he is NOT a member; not a unit or part of the body. The excommunication merely
lends an official stamp to the reality of the situation.
I don't see that this is in any way either anti-intellectual or otherwise forboding; any community of common beliefs and goals SHOULD take measures against those who chop at the entire reason the community exists. Think of any organization of highly dedicated people, be it a social, political, or religious; it's counterproductive to continue to include those who oppose the purposes of the organization. I don't agree with PETA's stances, but I wholeheartedly support their right to cut off a member who lobbies publicly for Cheeseburger Fridays.
Thanks for giving the issue some thought. I appreciate anyone who approaches the issue thoughtfully.
Certainly the validity of the data is an important consideration in assessing its value. And while his point about PETA and Cheeseburger Fridays is well taken (although it assumes a consistency in PETA that I haven't seen), I think a religious organization has a responsibility to seek truth instead of protecting tradition. That's why I think, while it's fine for Murphy to be excommunicated if they want, they also have a responsibility to make it clear that it's not his questioning that is a problem, but rather his intransigence in attacking them while his data is questionable.
Well, I just called Senator Mitch McConnell's office in Washington and spoke with one of his assistants about the Trent Lott situation. McConnell is the senior senator from Kentucky, and while I don't live there now I voted for him when I did and will again when I move back. He will be Majority Whip in the Senate in the next Congress, and would be one of the ones under consideration for Majority Leader if Lott is not.
Of course his assistant just listened to me, no comments about what I was saying. I told her that I did not think that Lott was racist, or that his comments last week were meant to be, but that I felt his words were poorly chosen and he has a history of such problems. I told her that I had actually defended him to others, but I found his apologies in the past few days to be uncompelling - more a deflection of the trouble than a sincere horror at being misunderstood. I said that I had not found him to be a strong leader prior to the current mess, and this was the final straw. He should not be Senate Majority Leader in the next Congress, for all those reasons.
I asked her if Senator McConnell had spoken about the situation, and she said no. Then she said she would be sure that he got my message.
I'd be very curious to know whether I'm the only complaint call on this, one of several or one of many.
For the record, I'm still concerned about the echo effects of Lott stepping down, because I think the Dems would play it as a victory for them. However, his remaining will give them even more leverage in the next election, which we must avoid. And the way this situation has been handled (mishandled) by the Republican leadership in general, including Lott, has contributed to its escalation from minor stupidity to Federal Case. We need to get it off the docket and return to what's important.
You just know from the headline that this isn't going anywhere good:
Girl, 4, Brings Teacher Gift of Marijuana
But you gotta give mom points for trying:
The girl's mother, Shelin Colon, 32, said she doesn't have any drugs in the house and doesn't know where the girl might have gotten the marijuana, police said.
It probably is the girl's own stash and she's just trying to lay it on mom. Ya think?
"We cannot bring these animals back - but we can send a message that only people truly struggling to survive have any excuse for wearing fur."
They're also putting white paint on the arms of the coats to identify them as "recycled", so "the recipients would not be left "open to ridicule for wearing something so cruel"". Instead, PETA and their supporters will be open for ridicule for being such idiots.
I think there's hope for Eli the baby, but Caleb... well, that expression indicates he's got a good dose of daddy going. This could get scary.
I'm not a Lock Things Down Where They Are type of linguistic person, but I do hate to see words losing their precision of meaning, because then, well, we don't have a word to mean what that word used to mean. My current pet peeve is the words "blatant" and "flagrant" being used interchangeably. It's a timely peeve, since everyone is saying Lott is "blatantly" racist. Actually, no. If he's anything, it's "flagrant". "Blatant" has an element of sound to it.
blaÂ·tant Pronunciation: 'blA-t&nt - Date: circa 1656 1 : noisy especially in a vulgar or offensive manner
Now, the dictionary has bowed to current convention and allowed the second meaning to drop the sound, but I'm refusing to acknowledge it. Let's use "flagrant" when we mean that kind of thing:
flaÂ·grant Pronunciation: 'flA-gr&nt - 1 archaic : fiery hot : BURNING 2 : conspicuously offensive
; especially : so obviously inconsistent with what is right or proper as to appear to be a flouting of law or morality
See, it's a sign of my flexibility that I'm willing to let "fiery hot" recede into its archaic darkness. But isn't that second meaning just lovely? So specific, and more precisely denotative of what Lott did. Or what they say he did. Or something.
If it helps, think about it this way: If you fart loud and long with a grin on your face while in the line at Wal-Mart, that's blatant. If you run off with your brother's wife, that's flagrant. And if you do both at the same time, well... that's just trashy.
As you know I've taken a less rabid stance on the Trent Lott debacle, because I think the comment was not intentionally racist. I recognize, as things I link below indicate, that he has a history of questionable pronouncements. But I think we do ourselves as Republicans a disservice to turn him loose as a result of that particular comment at Thurmond's party. I think it's likely he should go, but to bow to this instance is to over-emphasize a single incident and to feed rabid anti-conservatives fuel for their vitriol. I was therefore delighted to see Arthur Silber is on the same track generally, with this excellent passage in his most recent post on the topic:
So the Republicans had better make absolutely clear that they are letting Lott go for all the other reasons that apply, and that have applied for much too long a time: he is not a genuine friend of limited government (witness the pork he is proud to carry to his home state in many, many bills passed under his watch); it is impossible to determine exactly what his basic political principles are (do you know what they are?) -- and as best I can determine, he is only for the status quo, which means a vastly overintrusive federal government in every conceivable area; whenever he has had the opportunity to lead, he has done so in a stunningly lackluster and uninspiring manner; and he has also repeatedly demonstrated the same tin ear and vacuous mind that led to this latest debacle.
Let him go for those reasons -- and not because he is a "racist." As I said, if the Republicans do let him go for that reason, or if it even appears that that is the reason, it will only be like throwing red meat to rabid dogs, the dogs being the Democrats and their friends in the mainstream press.
Arthur also has a lot of good points to make about the Democrat hypocrisy in this, which others have pointed out as well. It isn't that racism should be given a pass regardless of who it is, where it's said or for what reason. It's that this act was no worse than, and I would say not as bad as, any number of hateful things said on the Democrat side, and for us to join them in jumping on Lott without making this crucial point is, quite frankly, both wrong and idiotic.
Jim Bowen at No Watermelons Allowed points out that we get angry about what Trent Lott says when some groups - such as rural southern whites - are fair game. It's a good point, and as someone who grew up in rural Appalachia, I know whereof he speaks.
It's one of Those Days where I am running around trying to get too much done in too little time, and I also left at home the article I was going to post about at lunch, so it may be early evening before I get to some serious blogging. Meantime, here are a number of links well worth your time and thought.
Media Minded slices and dices columnist Michelangelo Signorile for his efforts to demonize a Washington Times copy editor who holds some private views that are not very admirable. MM, who always does good work, also has a few things to say about the Augusta brouhaha.
Tom at JustOneMinute dissects liberal media bias in coverage of the Trent Lott idiocy.
Matt at Overtaken by Events, a new blog to me, briskly fisks Jimmy Carter's acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
Laurence Simon is hosting The Carnival of the Vanities this week, all kinds of wonderful things to see and read, and it's got icons too!
Finally, I found this article on Rhetorica. It's obviously written by someone with a bone to pick with the Bush Administration, but his accusations are so strong and specific that I turned to one of my Trusted Advisors for his take. Here's what Morgan Strong has to say in the linked article:
The Bush administration has hired a former advertising executive to sell America's coming war with Iraq to the Arabs, in an effort to convince the Arabs that a war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is not a war against Islam...
The current Bush administration has been far clumsier at selling the idea of an invasion of Iraq than the previous Bush administration a decade ago, despite its use of advertising experts. The last war, in fact, was sold to the American people by Hill and Knowlton, the giant Washington public relations firm with close connections to the Bush administrations, past and present.
It was Hill and Knowlton that coached the daughter of a Kuwaiti ambassador for her appearance before a congressional committee in 1990. The ambassador's daughter testified falsely to Iraqi cruelty, with a story of Iraqi troops taking babies from incubators and leaving them to die on a hospital floor. That story was used by President George Herbert Walker Bush, father of the current chief executive, to arouse American public opinion in support of war against Iraq.
Hill and Knowlton also carefully coached another supposed witness to the same event, who spoke before the U.N. Security Council. She was the wife of the information minister of Kuwait and had not been in Kuwait when Iraq invaded the country.
There's more, but you get the idea. Here's what Indepundit Scott Koenig had to say when I asked him about it:
I know that Hill & Knowlton was hired to stoke up the public for the First Gulf War, but I'm pretty sure that it was the Kuwaiti government in exile that paid the bill, not the US Gov't. The allegations that they coached witnesses are probably true to some extent, although not all stories of Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait were created out of thin air. The occupation was, in fact, brutal, with the usual summary executions, abductions, and torture that one might expect from Saddam's Thugs. The author is correct in saying that we have no solid proof (as far as I know) of Iraqi involvement or complicity in the Terrible Tuesday attacks. But we do know about the existence of the Salman Pak "anti-terrorist training facility" complete with 707 fuselage. I've seen pictures of it, including one with Scott "Waging Peace" Ritter standing right in front of the airplane. One has to ask what the heck they were doing with this airplane in the middle of a military encampment (no airport within miles) if not training hijackers. See Saddama Bin Laden if you haven't already. Saddam is an evil, evil, evil man who will stop at nothing to punish his enemies -- and he considers the United States of America to be Enemy Number One. Couple that with his unchecked drive to obtain really nasty weapons, and you have all the reason that you could ever want to rid humanity of this menace. The threat is not fiction. It is not propaganda. It is real.
Strong isn't just another reporter off the street - here's his bio from the article:
Morgan Strong is a former professor of Middle Eastern History at SUNY Poughkeepsie, and an adviser to "60 Minutes" and other programs on the Middle East.
I've not searched out more about this, but will. For now, it's out here for your consideration.
Have a great day.
Scott Koenig, the Indepundit, is meeting a new and exciting challenge at work that will, unfortunately, mean that he won't be writing on his blog for a while. We'll miss him, but we'll hold him to the promise to come back.
Ampersand, my favorite feminist, went digging in my archives and hauled out an old post where I said men are hard-wired to be more aggressive than women and disclaimed interest in men who weren't "manly". Ampersand proceeds to fisk me on it, not too aggressively but skidding off at one point onto noodles*.
I have to say that I worry about men who use that term for, as Ampersand says, "what's between their legs". Not precisely the imagery I'm interested in constructing, but perhaps there's an effort to create an expectation of size so just about anything real is much more impressive. Not for me to say. And this is just idle pondering, because I've heard the term before, and is in no way directed at Ampersand. Although I don't think he'd pay much attention to such sexist cogitations anyway...
I just spoke to a police detective who had a bit of good advice - don't leave your mail in your car with the home address showing.
I do have a tendency to leave my mail in the car, especially junk mail that goes straight from the car to the trash. He had a spin I hadn't thought of - someone can walk through a parking lot (say, for a park 'n ride lot, or a big business), and jot down the addresses of those with mail in the car. Then, knowing you're at work, that person can go to your house and break in. If the thief is quite clever, he might also make the connection that there's more likelihood that no one is at home if the mail belongs to a woman. Not many house-husbands, Lileks notwithstanding. Of course given the condition of my car said thief may well conclude that even if I wasn't home, breaking into my house would be more trouble than it's worth (and he'd be right). But for those of you with a little more posh wheels, it's something to think about.
Another something I do just because I'm paranoid - I shred all credit card applications before tossing them in the trash. I don't want anyone else using them. I'll shred various other things too, although I'm probably not comprehensive enough.
And that's your Crime TipÂ® for the day.
This website is all about people who have dissed University of Kentucky's men's basketball program over the years - Top 10 Kentucky Detractors. If college basketball is your thing, you'll enjoy it. Top of the list is John Feinstein who, if the webmaster is to be believed, has UK hatred as a major theme in his professional career as a sports writer.
Not, you understand, that UK basketball is a big thing in Kentucky.
[Link from my brother Alan (again), who bleeds blue.]
Robert George has an article today in NRO about Trent Lott, which places in solid context his comments last week.
...that automatic transmission fluid is red.
That's all I'm going to say.
Did that headline catch your attention?
A study by the Barna Research Group asked a group of 270 non-Christians whether they had a favorable or unfavorable impression of 11 different categories of people. Military officers had the highest rating, prostitutes the lowest - and evangelicals came in 10th of 11. It's a pretty interesting study, and one that could be accurately described by the headline above. But it'd be a little prejudicial, don't you think? That's one of points made in the discussion of the study:
The survey data suggest that people form impressions of others on the basis of one-dimensional images created and communicated by the mass media. "Our studies show that many of the people who have negative impressions of evangelicals do not know what or who an evangelical is," commented George Barna, whose firm conducted the research. "People's impressions of others are often driven by incomplete, inaccurate or out-of-context information conveyed under the guise of objectivity when, in fact, there is a point-of-view being advanced by the information source. Too often, we develop mental images of others without knowing those people."
We tend to get testy at someone concluding a particular race or group is a "certain way" based on contact with one person from it or with media coverage of that group, yet we do it with religious people all the time. Something to think about.
The ratings of other groups were interesting too - Democrats were rated higher than Republicans, and my immediate thought was, is that because non-Christians are more likely to be Democrats? I don't know, there are a lot of conservatives who are not religious. The study raises more questions than it answers, but it's a good starting point for thinking about the reasons why the study found what it did.
And while it's a randomized national survey (excluding Hawaii and Alaska), it's got a sizable margin of error - +/- 6.2 - and the methodology says "There are other types of error besides sampling error that may also be present in surveys." I don't know if that's an admission that there are those errors in this study or if that was just a general acknowledgement. So it's a good start but in no way definitive.
[Link from my brother Alan, a member of one of the better regarded groups - minister.]
Jimmah Carter accepted his Nobel Peace Prize yesterday, and even the chairman of the awards committee, Gunnar Berge, couldn't bring himself to say Carter was worth a dime as president:
"Jimmy Carter will probably not go down in American history as the most effective president," said Berge. "But he is certainly the best ex-president the country has ever had."
Well, Berge got it half right.
The public transit workers in NYC are threatening a strike mid-month because contract negotiations between the city and their union are not going well. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking an aggressive stance on it, claiming the workers will be in violation of the state's Taylor Law if they do strike. It has all the earmarks of a throwdown.
But Bloomberg's transportation alternatives show he's more than a little out of touch with reality:
Under Mr. Bloomberg's plan, drivers would stop at specific zones to pick up strangers, the back seats of taxis would be shared, and the 108th mayor would pedal his way downtown on a 10-speed. And if he does opt to ride in his S.U.V., he said he would be happy to help out in the civic emergency and pick up urban hitchhikers.
What kind of flagrant idiocy is this? Oh sure, I'm going to hop into the car of a stranger to head out of Manhattan into Jersey, or one of the outer boroughs. Hold your breath, Mr. Mayor!
I've heard people talking about this on the radio for the past couple of days. One guy who lives pretty far out in Jersey pointed out that he drives in every day and doesn't know anyone who lives out his way who goes into the city. So he's not allowed to go to work? Another guy lives in Manhattan and has a car. Is he not allowed to leave the city to go on a trip unless he picks up a few people hanging on the street corner waiting for a ride out? Ron Kuby, a leftist lawyer and morning talk show host on WABC talk radio, said he's sure the homeless will be happy to rent themselves out as placeholders in the cars of those needing to get in and out of the city. As a solution, it's as good as Bloomberg's.
And that's not even addressing the safety angle. I would not get in the car with a group of people I did not know at all. How many stories about raped and dead hitchhikers does Mr. Mayor want us to invoke before he has a needed revelation about this plan?
And a 10-speed bicycle? In the snow? At below freezing temps?
Someone needs to adjust his meds.
UPDATE: Just heard on the radio from someone named Iris with Bloomberg's administration, who said that the PATH train will not be affected by the strike if it happens. Whew. I have to get to the airport next week to get home (!!!) for Christmas, and was NOT looking forward to paying a week's lodging for my car at the airport. Now I can park it somewhere else free and take the PATH in. Well, PATH to Newark Penn Station, then the airport shuttle from there.
It's pretty amazing sometimes to realize that my grandfather rode horseback to court my grandmother, because nobody had cars in eastern Kentucky back then (early 1930s). I'll take a subway train to a station, another train to an airport, two planes (stopover in Pittsburgh), then a car to my parents' house. It's a different world.
Lance Armstrong was a strong and talented professional cyclist before he developed testicular cancer. After his successful fight against the disease, he became a stronger cyclist with the mental toughness and discipline needed to harness his talent. He won his fourth straight Tour de France this year, and doesn't intend to stop any time soon.
That's why it's so fantastic that Sports Illustrated has honored him as 2002 Sportsman of the Year, in their December 16th issue. I think this is one SI I'll be buying.
I've read Armstrong's book, It's Not About The Bike, and I follow his Tour each year. His book - and other things I've read - make it clear that he was cocky and arrogant before his illness, and some say he's not lost all of that. At the same time, I don't know that you can be the type of complete world-class athlete that he is without tremendous focus and self-determination, traits that are easy to mistake for arrogance. I have a great admiration for Armstrong; I wish him many more years of cycling dominance, and a long life with his family after.
Two Vancouver roommates are flying to the Middle East to go into Baghdad, where they will "serve" as "human shields":
[Irene] Vandas, a 30-year-old registered nurse, and [Jennifer] Ziemann, a 32-year-old home-care worker, will wait in Amman, Jordan, for entry visas allowing them to drive into Baghdad in the next couple of days, concerned mom Lesley Vandas told The Province.
She said that, despite her concerns, her daughter, a member of the anti-war organization Voices in the Wilderness, decided to live with Iraqi civilians as a human shield in order to dissuade U.S.-led forces from attacking the regime of Saddam Hussein.
My question is - what will the outcry be if these people die during a war? Will it be the evil US's fault, or them for putting themselves deliberately in harm's way? I think we know. And what if they're taken hostage by their "host" country, and used in an effort to affect world public opinion and our military strategy? Will they still think it's such a fine idea? The scary part is, the answer could be "yes".
My favorite part of the article:
Irene Vandas told CBC News Online: "I'm not too scared. I think it will be a powerful experience."
That's right. That's why you're going. For the self-actualization. I just hope no one dies - including you - because of your arrogance.
[Link via Brent at The Ville]
Chesa Boudin learned this weekend that he's a Rhodes Scholar, and, tragically, couldn't tell his parents in person because, well, they're in prison.
But you know what? The children of the two police officers Boudin's parents killed as a part of a heist can't tell their dads about anything, by telephone or otherwise because - well - their dads are dead. Because of Boudin's parents:
His mother and father, both 1960s radicals, have been in prison since 1981 for murder and robbery in an armored car heist. Boudin was raised by two other former members of the radical Weather Underground, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers of Chicago. Dohrn was once on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.
...a few months after his first birthday, Boudin's parents were arrested for their roles in the $1.6 million holdup of a Brink's armored truck in Rockland County, N.Y. A security guard and two police officers were killed...
Boudin's parents also missed out when he graduated from high school with a 4.0 grade point average, and will miss his graduation next May from Yale University, where's he's a Phi Beta Kappa.
"I've gotten used to it, in a tragic way," Boudin said. "It's deeply saddening."
Breaks my heart. How's yours doing?
I really do feel empathy for the families of people in prison, but this article about Boudin is just so skewed toward sympathy for him and his family with no sympathy for the families of his parents' victims. Note this:
In high school, Boudin received the coach's award for leadership on the cross-country team and an award for his participation in the Model United Nations.
At Yale, he's a volunteer interpreter for Spanish-speaking hospital patients and a leader of the Yale Coalition for Peace, which opposes war with Iraq. Boudin spent his junior year in Chile, where he worked at a community health center and was a translator for Greenpeace.
I don't see anywhere in there that he is an advocate for the families of murder victims. Isn't that a good cause? To help folks whose lives were shattered by the selfish acts of others? Isn't advocacy for the families of, say, police officers who were killed in the line of duty, right here in the US, as important as improving the health of Chileans?
I wonder if the children of Boudin's parents' victims had his advantages:
Boudin, 22, said he had advantages most other children of prisoners lack: a stable, loving home, money for tutors, counseling and the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, plus "the fact that I had white skin."
Well, maybe they have white skin, I don't know, but apparently Boudin thinks that's a dubious distinction.
For all that Boudin is clearly an incubating Noam Chomsky, I do find it tragic that he didn't have his parents in his life other than telephone calls, letters and visits with armed guards in attendance. But he was in that situation because his parents thought it was okay to participate in killing law enforcement officers. They made a choice, out of arrogance and selfish interest, no matter what their stated reason, and even if they didn't mean for those men to die they had to know it was possible. So this article dripping with sympathy for Boudin, painting him as some tragic figure victimized by the system, is flagrant leftist idiocy. The cause of his tragedy is his parents. And I would venture to guess that the sons of his parents' victims didn't have a college professor to pave their way to being a Rhodes scholar.
Whether or not they have white skin.
I posted this weekend about the need for the Catholic church to take a strong and public stand against the molesters and the "religous" bureaucrats who hid and thus abetted them. This article shows that this has been happening, and is bearing fruit:
Cardinal Bernard F. Law abruptly canceled his schedule this weekend and flew to Rome, as anger toward him mounted and some priests signed a draft of a letter calling for his resignation...
“The events of recent months and, in particular, of these last few days, make it clear to us that your position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston,” the [signed by 45 priests requesting his resignation] petition reads...
“The time has come and the erosion of the leadership has come to the point where we need to have a change,” said the Rev. Alfred J. Ellis, pastor of St. Augustine parish in Andover, who is not part of the reformist group [which drafted the petition letter]. “I have finally come to the point of feeling that.”
Father Ellis said that at a late Mass on Saturday, he read the letter to parishioners and asked those who agreed with it to raise their hands.
“Probably three-quarters of the congregation raised their hands,” he said. “I was stunned. That sort of confirmed it.”
Good to see.
Kevin McGehee says that the Dems are spinning the Landrieu victory as a repudiation of Bush's mid-term mandate.
Well, they have to earn their money somehow.
Trent Lott said something about Strom Thurmond that was probably not the brightest and well-thought-out thing he could have said. And now the Blogosphere is landing on him in force, assuming that Lott's comment is referring to Thurmond's segregationist stance.
Admittedly Lott's PR spin is being handled poorly. But the Dixiecrat party, according to my brother the Southern historian, was not just about segregation but also about keeping the federal government small and less intrusive - and we would be better off if the federal government were minimized. While the racist aspect of the party is reprehensible, it isn't as if it wasn't the stance of the overall Democratic party at the time, and we haven't dismissed everything the party did before the late 1960s as tainted (well, I do, but that's because I'm a conservative. You know what I mean). I'm not offering this as a full defense of Lott's statement. But assuming the support for segregation is the part of the party's platform that Lott was supporting is making a fairly huge assumption.
Now, if you want to smack Lott around for being inept and unclear, be my guest. But this piling on based on an unsupported assumption doesn't add to the credibility of the blogosphere. If you want Lott to go as Majority Leader, say so and give a range of reasons. Don't demonize him out of his post.
Jim Bowen at No Watermelons Allowed has good comments on this too, and inspired me to write this post.
UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg makes sense:
To be clear: I don't think Lott's a racist, pro-lynching segregationist. I think he says stupid things a lot. This time it was in defense of the '48 Dixiecrats. Next time he'll say Caddyshack II was better than the original. It's not that he can't be defended. It's that the only defense is, Trent Lott says stupid things. That was my point on CNN.
And Dodd (as always) makes sense:
Assuming Lott was expressing nostalgia for segregation is a bit of a stretch. It was a birthday party for a 100 year-old man, fer cryin' out loud! It was a dumb thing to say, sure, but it was pretty typical of the kind of meaningless blather one associates with such occasions (and Trent Lott, for that matter).
Dodd has more to say too. Of course.
UPDATE: Okay, I clearly need to clarify what I'm saying here, based on the comments and emails I received, including one from Fritz Schranck, who is both gentleman and friend.
I do not in any way support Trent Lott if what he said indicated support of segregation, or was meant to be racist in any way. I do not think the Dixiecrats were a good alternative party, nor that our country would be a better place if Strom Thurmond had been elected president on the Dixiecrat ticket. Judging anyone's worth on any basis other than the choices they've made in their life is wrong.
And I'm rather appalled that apparently I have to defend myself on that score. How does one prove a lack of racism? Prominently display photographs of myself with friends and acquaintances of other races? Join the Rainbow Coalition? Being non-white isn't any defense, if the way that Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas are treated is any example.
What I am saying about Lott is two-fold: 1) The Dixiecrat party did have more than one plank in its platform, and perhaps in the heat of the moment, looking for something good to say about a 100-year-old Senator who was venomously wrong in his youth and middle years, and should have retired before Reagan became president, Lott grabbed another plank in the platform to admire. That's all I'm saying above - you can't assume that his comment indicated admiration for Thurmond's racism, even if he meant what he said. He could have been speaking of another aspect. It's a thin thread, I know. But it's possible, is all I'm saying. 2) It's even more likely that he just behaved with a good deal of idiocy and little thought at all, which again is no sign of racism.
The third piece is - this looks so bad for Lott because he has a pattern of idiocy. If you want to chase him out of office, use this as the straw, not a cudgel. The idiocy this exemplifies is sufficient. The hysteria trying to paint him as racist is strained. That's all I'm saying.
The point of the post is that an anthropologist who is a Mormon decided to test a central tenet of Mormon belief, which is that many Native Americans are descendents of the ancient Israelites. Using DNA data, he showed that in fact they aren't. As a result, he's in danger of excommunication from the Mormon Church.
This kind of thing is what gives religion a bad name amongst, well, just about everyone including religious people. I wanted to make this distinction since we've recently had the "prove God" discussion here and Jim Bowen on No Watermelons has addressed the Big Bang theory again. As I've said before, a fear of science and what science has shown to be true serves no good purpose to any religious belief system. If you believe in God, and that he created this world, how can finding out more about his creation cause damage to your faith? It should rather inform it. I don't understand everything in the Bible, much less everything about God, so I shouldn't reject out of hand information that could help me. I think that the more concrete knowledge we have about the physical world, the better we do know God.
The problem that I have is when science makes extrapolations from its data and calls it fact, or even implications so clear as to be as good as fact, when in actuality there is more than that one explanation that fits the data. That's the problem with the Big Bang theory, which is not a settled question even in the scientific community. I have never said that the "theory" of the Big Bang is just a supposition. As best as I can tell, it's a valid theory for the data. However, I don't think it's the only theory that fits, nor is it going to be a theory that does not change (as the theory of gravity likely is). For proof it requires knowledge that quite frankly is unobtainable.
Religion does itself no favors when it refuses to learn from the physical world. Science does itself no favors when it excludes what it calls untestable theories when its own theories contain untestable elements yet are treated as fact. And the Mormon church, if it excommunicates the anthropologist, will prove it is more interested in tradition than truth.
Physician Sydney Smith does usually brief but always interesting posts on medical issues; a few of her latest:
A story that gives an idea of the kinds of things the weapons inspectors in Iraq face.
Medicare in its infancy, and why a single-payer insurance system is a bad thing.
A related issue - the increasingly prohibitive costs of health insurance for retirees.
Oliver Willis has a long and interesting post about how the proliferation of porn has driven a lot of the success of modern communications technologies, and how it is becoming even more accessible and normalized. I read it after following a link from Instapundit, and had the impression from the post and comments that there's not a lot of tolerance for criticism of porn from a moral standpoint. While I could wax eloquent about that, I didn't in his comments (and won't here, I doubt that any regular reader doesn't know the moral arguments). However, I find Oliver's prophecy of a society that normalizes porn, and what to me seems in implicit approval of that, to be frightening not just from a moral standpoint but from a relationship standpoint. So I commented, then decided to copy that comment here. I recommend that you read Oliver's post first.
I have problems with pornography on a variety of levels, but one that is distinct from the absolute morality of the industry itself is the impact on human relationships it would have if your prediction is true. I've heard it said, and I think it's true, that when sex is good it's 20% of the relationship and when it's bad or a source of contention it's 80% (not that there's less sex when it's good - usually much more - but rather that's the percentage it is of the emotional focus of the relationship). Virtual sex is almost completely under the control of the viewer - timing, acts, intensity, etc. If you immerse yourself in that type of "on demand" environment, it's going to be difficult to adjust to the realities of a real, long-term relationship with a real live partner. And I think this is true of men and women, although I think it would be more of a problem for men.
How many women are going to feel the center of their man's life - as she should in a solid relationship - if whenever she's tired, or works late, or just isn't in the mood, her guy says, "Hey, baby, no prob, I'll just fire up Virtual Vicky. Be back in a bit." I'm not thinking that's going to be conducive to true intimacy. And how many men would have no problem if their partners were just as happy, if not more so, with a hot pink realistic vibe and streaming video?
Just because porn is readily available in just about any form, and its suppression is an earmark of societies with dangerous control issues, that's no reason to celebrate its availability or encourage its use. I don't think an occasional dip into porn is going to make the average healthy person into some kind of freak sex addict or numb his/her ability to have good real relationships. But its normalization as an acceptable alternative to reality has the potential - and I think the likelihood - of being very damaging to both the individuals who give it that status in their lives and to society as a whole to the extent that's done by individuals.
While I do think there need to be legal limits on the availability of porn and the range of behaviors it portrays, I think the main focus should be realistic presentations on and understanding of what it is in a broader context. After a certain point, people have to make their own decisions; I'm not going to say that legal lines must be drawn where I think they should be (although I might advocate for that) or the country's going to crumble. But it's childish and self-absorbed to think that using pornography extensively harms no one but you, or leaves your attitudes about real-life relationships untouched. While it's a moral issue for many of us, it's also a very pragmatic one that should be of concern to everyone.
UPDATE: CG Hill adds his comments at Dustbury.
...I closely read dozens of stories every week that go into our newspaper. Does screaming left-leaning bias leap out from every story? Of course not, and I believe conservatives hurt their case by suggesting that it does. But there's still enough to cause concern and to make me grumble as I push the "send" button.
MM's take on media bias is always worth your time, since as a real-life editor at a major newspaper he knows whereof he speaks. And as the excerpt above shows, he's not knee-jerk or lacking balance in his assessment.
good on Last for reminding us: the Times is flawed, and criticism is important -- it can help make it better -- but it's still pretty damned amazing, and it's still the first stop in my morning reading, not because I'm looking for flaws, but because I'm looking for good, detailed, reliable reporting. And the Times usually -- not always, but usually -- delivers the goods.
Chafetz in turn is commenting on a newsletter column by The Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last:
...it's worth pausing for a second to appreciate the New York Times for what it is: a stunning cultural achievement. Almost anything of note from anywhere appears in the Times--it's the paper-of-record for Western civilization. From Circuits to Science Times to the Sunday Magazine, the New York Times is shockingly comprehensive and incredibly well-written. It's no exaggeration to say that the New York Times we pick up every morning is an accomplishment on par with the Great Library of Alexandria.
The NY Times and other media outlets are biased, IMO, in important ways and to a disturbing degree. However, as I've said before, that could be partially handled by just admitting to some level of bias in a "buyer beware" fashion, or being more openly willing to present alternative views (the Times has lost a lot of points in the Augusta National column-spiking brouhaha). And as MM, Glenn, Josh and Jonathan point out, as a whole the media do a beyond-amazing job of presenting information.
Now, excuse me while I rip around on an idiot journalist of the type that makes us forget how good a lot of journalists are.
Yesterday I was listening to NPR (I know, I gotta stop that) when James Poniewozik, the TV critic for Time magazine, did a little rant about journalists covering the war, in the guise of a review of the HBO movie Live from Baghdad. What was telling was not just what he said - which was riddled with inaccuracies, leftist playbook excerpts and just bad writing - but the tone of his voice, something you obviously don't have access to when reading his work. His screed would have been venomous enough without the tone, but he sounded so ... well, snarky is the only word that seems to work comprehensively. Self-righteous, angry, mocking and... okay, I didn't want to say this. But folks, he sounded bitchy.
His main point was that the Bush administration and the military in general are conspiring to prevent journalists from reporting on the war, and that this is a pattern. He talked about how they were kept from the heat of battle, fed pool tape from the military, and generally prevented from their jobs. But my question is - if it's so important that you not be prevented from reporting, why do you have to go in under the auspices of the military? Who says you have to have military credentials, travel with the military, or stay where the military approves you to stay? Make connections with some Iraqis or others who aren't in the US loop. Go into Baghdad on your own. Find some translator and pay buckets of money to his help and use him to take you around to the war zones. Talk to people on the street. Be a real reporter!
But they don't want to do that. Now I understand that the military doesn't want a bunch of journalists swarming over the country without their knowledge, because it's, well, a war zone. It's best for the safety of the journalists and the military too to have some controls in place. Maybe the military is being too closed down, I can't say. But this kind of reporter-whining is just childish, and shows that he has no clue what he's talking about. They want to be protected by our military from the consequences of being in a war zone while at the same time allowed access to any and every aspect of the mission. They expect their judgment to be consulted or trusted as to what is sensitive or dangerous to be released. Now, I ask you - if you're a military type who has people who could die if certain information gets out, are you going to tell Poniewozik how to order pizza, much less anything militarily sensitive?
Poniewozik also made a huge deal out of how much the journalists were allowed access to in WWII. Apparently someone hasn't informed Poniewozik of the proliferation of media and the advances in communications technology since the 1940s. When Ernie Pyle wrote from the front lines, his words didn't show up on a website 10 minutes later, while the action he was describing was still going on. The Japanese didn't have a cable feed to CNN to see real-time what was going down, to use in their own military strategizing. We are not dealing with people in primitive caves; Saddam has access to all the media that every American does. In the same time frame. We are not living in the media world of the 1940s. And Poniewozik is either showing his ignorance or is deliberately trying to mislead his audience.
The saddest thing is that Poniewozik probably thinks he's a fine example of an objective journalist.
Here are a few examples of Poniewozik's work; you'll notice that it's focused on important topics of the day like the Martin&Lewis biopic, the Osbournes, an interview with Sean Hannity, and his review of Andrea Pelosi's movie of George Bush on the campaign trail, Journeys with George, where he says:
What Journeys finally exposes is not Bush but the price of access: how the campaign plane creates a dynamic in which pressing a candidate on a substantive issue is bad manners, and getting the big story means not straying too far from what the campaign says that story is. We see the journalists working exhausting hours but also posing for pictures with Bush and having snowball fights with adviser Karl Rove; on Pelosi's birthday, the Bush campaign gives her four cakes. As reporter Richard Wolffe of the Financial Times admits to Pelosi, "We were writing about trivial stuff, because he charmed the pants off us." The political press has front-row seats for the most important story of the day, yet groupthink and space and airtime constraints keep them from sharing its nuance with their audience.
It makes you wonder what those journalists would do if they did have full access to military sites, actions and strategizing. Think they'd be subject to pressures from other sources? Nah. It's only the Republicans and the military-industrial complex that puts the squeeze on them.
There's just nothing I can add:
It is hysterically funny to read statements from young persons who are pierced with the equivalent of an anvil's worth of steel, have the entire Sistine Chapel tattooed on their bodies, and are living off their parents' credit cards complaining about "conformist, fascist, Amerikkka" when the worst thing that might happen to them in this country is that they might get pulled over for playing their Rage Against the Machine cds too loud in their Mitsubishi Eclipses.
Go read it all.
Clinton strategizes for the Dems.
The Palestinians seek to export their most famous product.
Halle Berry is hanging out in Iraq.
Snow Storm retreats behind PR firm following charges of murder.
Saddam becomes the new quinessential war blogger.
It's a scary world out there, folks. Fortunately, we've got Scrappleface to make sense of it for us.
[Why do people add to Scott's satires in his comments? It's like gilding the lily with fool's gold. I just don't get it. Makes me nuts. Not that I have far to go.]
I have a bit of a Currier & Ives view of Christmas, and have no intention of shedding that anytime soon. Of course, some people actually live C&I, as this photo from Fred at Fragments from Floyd shows. I've sat on that second story porch in the photo, doing needlework while the sun rose over a warm autumn day - it's directly off the bedroom I stayed in while visiting the Firsts several weeks ago.
Even after just a weekend there, I have a little nostalgia for the place and the people - the Firsts are truly gracious and warm hosts. That's why this post from Fred about winter and the baking of fruitcakes makes me wish for a four-wheel drive and a long weekend - I'd go stir the batter some myself.
Disclosure: I actually not only like some fruitcakes, but have been known to make them myself. And mine are good, thankyouverymuch.
Justin Sodano is back to posting on The Weigh-In. We're glad to have him back, reversing the trend of people bailing. He promises longer think pieces that will stay up long enough for us to go over and get into comment-tussles about the ideas, so that should be fun. I'll be keeping an eye on it to see when I need to straighten everyone out.
A "theologian" with the LA Times (reprinted in the Lexington Herald-Leader) has discovered quite a dilemma - apparently there's all kinds of options for what Jesus drove:
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler theorized that Jesus would tool around in a vintage Plymouth because "the Bible says God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury."
And our research department uncovered several other divinely approved autos. For example, in Psalm 83, the Almighty apparently owned a Pontiac and a Geo. The passage urges the Lord to "pursue your enemies with your Tempest and terrify them with your Storm," although theologians aren't sure how a Geo Storm could be considered terrifying, unless it had those scary shooting flames painted on the sides.
It's amazing how many models are discussed in Scripture; I feel so much better about driving a car now, except that my Sentra isn't apparently amongst the Chosen.
UPDATE: Joe Bob Briggs adds his take - pretty funny in places, a few good points, and some questionable theology. A favorite passage:
There's a simple reason that we don't know what Jesus wore, what he ate, how he slept, whether he was right-handed or left-handed, or what the color of his eyes were. The reason is that, if we did know any of these details about his life, there would be entire religions based around trying to mimic him. Never underestimate the ability of otherwise clear-thinking men to take the most meaningless outward sign of holiness and build a monument to it.
True, true. Which isn't to say that using the Bible as a source for information on how to live your life is a bad thing. I think we're going for balance here. Don't underestimate the ability of otherwise clear-thinking men to find whatever means necessary to avoid conclusions that point to a direction other than the one they want to take.
[Link via Instapundit]
Actually, the weather outside is great - SNOW!! We got more snow yesterday than we had all winter last year. Snow is essential to a perfect Christmas, and having it this early really got me in the spirit. I bought my first Christmas tree in three years this evening, and now it's sitting in its little stately splendor (it's about 3 feet tall) on the dresser in my living room. A length of red fabric with a tracery of poinsettias in gold is draped around the base of the tree, and my small collection of wooden Santas are clustered around a lighted scented candle beside it. I've got two mixing bowls started with cookie dough (choc chip and oatmeal scotchies) and I'm about to put water on for spice tea.
Life is very good.
There's just something lovely about schlepping around the house, in majorly baggy sweats, an old flannel shirt and fuzzy slippers, getting ready for Christmas. It's a connection to my childhood, to my family, to everyone else around me who celebrates, and in a way I feel deeply but not so much spoken is a connection to hundreds of years of celebrations. In two weeks I'll fly home to be with my family, which is a joy all its own.
I wish you the joy of this wonderful time of year.
The New York Times is going to run the two columns spiked because they disagreed with the editorial stance of the NYT on the Augusta National matter.
Glenn Reynolds says Howell Raines surrendered to the blogosphere. Now wouldn't that be awesome?
Alan Cornett at theosebes points to an article about a local school system going after homeschoolers, and discusses why homeschoolers are a threat to the current order of things. He and his wife have decided to homeschool their children, a decision that I applaud.
UPDATE (TOTALLY UNCONNECTED TO THE ORIGINAL POST): Well, I just noticed that this is my 1000th post on Blogfodder! Very cool. Fitting that it would be a link to my brother's new blog.
I'd like to thank my mother, my father, the people who fired me from a newspaper job because they said I couldn't write...
No, wait, not them. Never mind. I would like to thank Dodd of Ipse Dixit, who is the Blogfodder Blogdaddy. It is a generous thing he does, to host us Blogfodder sorts (did you ever figure out a name to call us, Dodd?), and he is always a gracious and gratifyingly techno-addicted host. Yay, Dodd! Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be a Blogfodder blogger.
Shameless plug: He's also an excellent blogger. Make him a daily stop. (Don't worry, football season will be over soon and he'll shake off that pigskin haze.)
Now, I like Rod Dreher; I linked below an excellent Corner entry from him. But I just read his article on hunting and... well... it's squishy and pious.
was a successful deer hunter exactly once. And it was the last day I ever hunted deer. Killing that big, beautiful animal for no good reason left me disgusted with myself. Shortly after that, I quit hunting game for good, and hadn't thought about it for over 20 years, until I started reading Matthew Scully's remarkable book Dominion, which makes an impassioned conservative case for reconsidering the often-brutal way we humans exercise our God-given dominion over the natural world.
Dreher grew up in the South, and for a few paragraphs he remembers his hunting days where his sensibilities were sadly trampled until he just couldn't do that man thing anymore. I have some agreements with him - people who go hunting just to drink beer and be macho should be excised from the sport. They're dangerous idiots. But don't bust on hunters just because some of them are lower life forms themselves.
I get annoyed too at the man thing designation. I know a lot of women who hunt and love it. Also, my dad loves hunting like a woman loves chocolate, but my brother doesn't hunt and doesn't intend to start. Not his thing at all. Do I think one of them is more "manly" than the other? Not in the least, just like I don't think a woman who doesn't like to cook isn't feminine. It isn't her thing. That's fine by me. I think femininity and masculinity are real things, not just social constructs, and you don't need to fit some mold to be a "real" version of either.
Dreher gets really squishy toward the end:
...I think it's arguably morally inferior to eat beef, pork, and chicken raised cruelly on some factory farm, as opposed to venison you've hunted in the wild and dressed yourself.
Apparently he's been reading PETA brochures. This is just nonsense. I do think humane means of raising animals for food is best. But this "live wild, live free! And then we'll eat you!" business is just silly. And he addresses something I've hit on here recently myself:
The hunter, at least, does not avert his eyes or his thoughts from what unpleasant things must be done to put meat on the table. If we had to slaughter the pigs, chickens, and cows we eat, how many of us would become vegetarians overnight?
Actually, I have participated in the slaughter of both pigs and chickens, and waved off Bessy as she went to the slaughterhouse, then keenly enjoyed the steaks later. No qualms. I even demanded once that Dad kill a specific rooster that had taken to chasing me about the barn and trying to flog me. I said, kill it! He did, and those were the best chicken and dumplings I've ever had.
If you want to talk about "real men", I think this squishy attitude is more indicative of a problem than not wanting to hunt.
Brooke Shelby Biggs (see below for who she is) also linked this piece by Amy Ray, one of the Indigo Girls, responding to a piece published in August in The New York Times Magazine, called "Queer as Folk". I've not read the article, just Ray's response, but the gist of it according to her is that the folk music genre has been hijacked by lesbian singers and as a result is losing market share.
Here's how Ray starts her response:
Women always have to ruin everything. Now we are strangling the life and diversity out of folk music. As if men are not allowed to participate. You would think lesbian folk musicians are sailing up the radio charts and selling millions of records, instead weâ€™re fighting the same battles weâ€™ve fought for years. In fact, the world of singer/songwriters is still dominated by men. Comparisons of record sales and radio play between male and female singers/songwriters clearly demonstrates this. Shawn Mullins, David Gray, or John Mayer-these guys had more radio play and more record sales in the last few years then any lesbian I know. Sure there is a queer folk scene out there and luckily, itâ€™s thriving, but only in the most marginal way. Itâ€™s never really a good time in the mainstream music industry to be a queer girl with a guitar. I can look at the trajectory of my own career and see that the more political the Indigo Girls have become, the less radio play and press we have received. If anything is going to limit the folk music scene, itâ€™s under-reported articles like the one written by David Hadju for the New York Times Magazine.
It's worth reading the whole piece just to get a feel for her sense of umbrage, but the real point in my judgment is this one little bit from above:
I can look at the trajectory of my own career and see that the more political the Indigo Girls have become, the less radio play and press we have received.
Yes. And that's exactly what you should have received.
There's not many musicians whose lifestyle I would say I think is a fine example of how to live, but that doesn't mean I haven't listened to their music and enjoyed it. I used to listen to Kiss when I was in high school, and one of the singers recently estimated his count of women he's slept with at 4,600. I've always liked Elton John, and still do, and I knew the majority of that time that he's gay. And I've enjoyed the music of a wide range of musicians whose drinking, drugs and bizarre idiot politics would make me nuts if I had to listen to them sing about it ad nauseum.
But that's the point. They haven't, and when they have I've turned it off. Music is about common experiences, about the love, hate, pain, sadness, joy and excitement of life. When a woman sings about the pain of a lost love, I don't spend a lot of time wondering if that love is a man or a woman. I'm thinking about my own lost loves, and projecting myself into that situation. When the songs become overtly political, and insist that I partake of her experience, that I validate her, rather than enjoy the music for what it says to me, well, I'm going to turn it off.
While I've not listened to the Indigo Girls a lot, what I've heard (admittedly a few years ago) I really liked. And if I found that cassette tape today, I'd play it again and enjoy it again. Even after reading her article. Since I'm not up on the folk scene, I can't say if it's been taken over by the political femmes as she says Hadju claims. Certainly folk has a tradition of political statement that's valid. If that's the way they want to go, be my guest. But I don't want to have to listen to it.
And Ray admits to an agenda:
Hadju completely missed the opportunity to situate the discussion of womenâ€™s music in a larger social context which would recognize the oppression of lesbian/gay/bi/trans sexuality.
There I am, baking cookies, thinking about work tomorrow, wondering what to get my niece for Christmas, listening to the Indigo Girls and... jamming to a hot tune on the oppression of lesbian/gay/bi/trans sexuality? I don't think so. They want to be celebrated for their lifestyle, a lifestyle that I personally don't want to celebrate, anymore than I celebrate the Kiss singer. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy listening to Beth - I do. But if Kiss re-released it with "Beth" now "Girl #3,521", I think they'd lose me.
Sing on, Indigo Girls, make your beautiful music. I enjoy your talent. But don't blame me if your choice to make your music more political results in my choice to listen to something else. It's a free world - for both of us.
I really shouldn't go to liberal sites. I try occasionally to link through various types of liberal media places, liberal blogs, looking for some kind of reason or logic, some actually practical "do this" to match their constant drumming "don't do this! don't do this!", but I don't often find it.
This morning was no exception.
On this particular cloudless and frigid mid-November morning, I am standing outside the gates of the U.S. Army's Ft. Benning in Columbus, Ga., listening to the names of thousands of people -- men, women, children, priests, nuns, bishops, labor leaders, land reformers, intellectuals -- slaughtered in Latin America by soldiers trained right here on this patch of land in the Home of the Free. With my tax dollars.
It is here, as thousands of pacifists march slowly toward the Army base's heavily guarded perimeter, that America's war on terrorism assumes, for me, the purest heights of hypocrisy.
As Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al beat the drums of war and chime in with percussive notes about a shadowy enemy with no regard for human life, I think of the 900 residents of El Mozote, the El Salvadoran village that was massacred en masse in the 1981 by paramilitary forces. I think of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot in the head while celebrating Mass a day after appealing to soldiers to lay down their weapons and end the civil war. I think of the Sisters of El Salvador, Catholic missionaries who were raped and murdered for assisting the poor.
All of their assailants had studied the finer points of torture and assassination right here in rural Georgia. With my tax dollars.
It goes downhill from there, as she excoriates the US for The School of the Americas, which shut down in 2000, and another program she quotes an activist as calling "New name, same shame". I don't know that much about The School, and I can't say that I've always agreed with US policies in South America. But she uses this connection to condemn the current effort in the Middle East without offering any other solution. That's what annoys me about this drivel, other than the purple prose (at one point she describes tears "jetting" down her face. I hope they didn't hurt anyone).
The point of the protest is to read the names of people in Latin America who they claim were killed by people trained in the US. The names go into the "thousands". Well, so do the names of those who died on 9/11. So do the names of those killed by Saddam. So do so many other lists of names of those killed by despots, and the names of those who would forfeit their lives for engaging in a protest like Biggs attended - a much worse fate that this:
A few sneak past the perimeter fence and are quickly tackled, handcuffed and hauled away to be booked. Those arrested face up to 18 months in federal prison and fines of up to $5,000 for their civil disobedience. And yet as they are tackled by massive men in Army fatigues, I notice something about them: They are smiling.
I told you it was purple. "Massive"? I've known quite a few military men in my life, but I wouldn't describe many of them as "massive". Fit, yes. Hunky, well, usually yes. But not "massive". No Thors, no Arnolds here. But I digress. All this liberal breast beating does nothing more than give them something to congratulate each other about over lattes at the coffee house. Face this reality, Brooke - there is evil in the world that wants you dead. You. Your family. Your way of life. How do you react? This is an evil that won't even pause when you begin singing "Imagine" and toss a flower in its direction. What do you do then?
Until you know, until you have a solution, your emotion is nothing but a sugar rush for your ego.
(If you didn't get enough, Biggs' blog is The Bitter Shack of Resentment.)
Rod Dreher posts on The Corner about going to the neighborhood near Ground Zero to hear Christmas carols, last night in the snow. It's just beautiful.
Jack Rich at Who Dares Wins thinks WaPo is playing the moral equivalence game:
Today's Washington Post, in a front-page story carries the headline "Inspectors Rebuked By U.S. And Iraq". Pity the poor UN inspectors, torn between two apparently equal poles of discontent: The noble Iraqis, under the brave leadership of Saddam; the aggressive Yanks, under the decisive leadership of Dubya.
Well, now, Jack, we can't have our journalists being unobjective.
Charlie LeDuff of The NY Times has tweaked LA, and they don't much like it. He's writing lifestyle pieces about the city, the Times is running them on the front page, and LA thinks he's a arrogant tourist full of cliches:
"(N)o matter how much you make fun of us, you East Coast snot, you have to admit that Sunday was bright, sunny and dry. A perfect day for flying. Back East. One way. And don't forget your earmuffs," [Long Beach Press-Telegram Associate Editor Harold] Glicken wrote in an editorial.
Pretty funny. What I'd like to see is both of them move to a town of 2,000 or fewer somewhere in flyover country for about 10 years. That would make for some great columns.
[Link via Romenesko]
New York Times Managing Editor Gerald Boyd says he spiked two columns because one was poorly written and one too insular, not because they both took positions on Augusta National different from the NYT editorial position.
In the case of the Araton column, Boyd said he sought to have it "rewritten and improved" after reviewing it, but found it "lacking" following a rewrite, so he chose to hold it. He said the column did not openly address the paper's stated editorial opposition to Augusta's ban on women. It focused on plans to drop women's softball in the Olympics (reportedly treating this as a more serious issue than the Augusta flap).
The Anderson column, however, directly addressed the paper's editorial stance against Augusta, and disagreed with it, Boyd admitted. He said it wasn't published because columnists should not be focusing so much attention on the paper itself.
"We would have had the same reaction if the column had reflected the editorial opinion of The New York Times," Boyd said. "Nowhere in all of this discussion was there an issue of whether it was adhering to the editorial position of the paper. We did not care in the least about his position. Our position was that we wanted our columnists to do more than just comment on editorials, whether [Anderson] is for it or against it. That, as a matter of practice, becomes very parochial, inward-looking, and self-absorbed."
Boyd added that the Times has published previous columns by Anderson reflecting a viewpoint different from the Times' editorial page. "We didn't want a situation where we were writing about the ins and outs of The New York Times," Boyd said of the Augusta story.
Quite a pious little editor, isn't he? Given the interest in this issue, I think he could prove his lack of concern over Anderson's column particularly by just publishing it now. Don't worry, Gerry, we can handle a little Times navel-gazing occasionally. It's not like we aren't used to it being self-referential - for instance, all those "common wisdom" and "sources say" lines that we suspect originated as water-cooler conversations.
UPDATE: And Glenn Reynolds is on top of things with a link to this article at CNS about a woman who says the Times reporter misrepresented her in a story where she was quoted about the Augusta brouhaha, and then refused to print her letter to the editor about the reporter's behavior and misrepresentations.
When the gun registry was proposed in Canada in 1995, the cost estimate was approximately $2 million. It's now run into the hundreds of millions, an auditor is accusing the Canadian Justice Department of deliberately trying to hide the extra costs from Parliament, and the effort to get still more funds for it is hitting the shoals.
And NPR's All Things Considered made sure they put a pro-gun-control spin on it. (You can listen to the whole show here.)
In an interview with a Canadian official (I couldn't write down names, I was driving when I heard it), one of the ATC hosts said (paraphrased): "Even though there are cost overruns, that doesn't mean that this isn't a good thing. It's still a good program, and supported by the police in Canada."
The official said (paraphrased): "You make a good point. It is a good program."
Hmmm. Well, it must be:
In defending the program, [Prime Minister Jean] ChrĂ©tien said Canada has "five times, six times" fewer murders by guns than in the United States and that police favour the registry central to the initiative.
I wonder if his statistics take into account the fact that there are fewer people in Canada? I read something recently that says something very different from what ChrĂ©tien said, but I have to get to work and can't dig right now. I'll try later. And also, this just begs for a comparison to Maryland...
UPDATE: Ok, I'm confused. I looked at the list of stories from yesterday on ATC, and that one isn't listed. It also gives the hosts as men, and the show yesterday had two women. But I can't find another show that it could be either. Hmmm... I was listening about 6 p.m., but was also driving and talking on the phone at the same time, so it's clearly possible I missed the name of the show. I'll keep looking. (And yes, you're happy that you aren't driving on the same road as me.)
I realize that Catholics themselves are the victims of the predatory priests out there, but the evidence keeps piling up that a culture of predation and coverup is endemic to at least parts of the priesthood in the church - and I don't see Catholics as a body rising up and saying, this is ungodly, this is an abomination to God, no system that allows this to continue can claim any grace. I don't agree with Catholic doctrine, but how can the priesthood as it now stands hold its head up with any level of integrity unless it's totally washed clean of this filth? And how can the Catholic Church as a whole lay claim to righteousness when this is not just condoned, but actively covered up?
Thousands of newly released personnel files show that the Archdiocese of Boston went to great lengths to hide priests accused of abuse, including clergy who allegedly snorted cocaine and had sex with girls aspiring to be nuns.
It deepens and broadens, the deeper people dig. It reminds me of what Jesus said of the scribes and Pharisees:
Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:26-28, NKJV)
Bernard Law is a whitewashed tomb, and so are many other of these "priestly" leaders and apparently quite a few "priestly" followers. Absolutely insupportable.
We go on and on about how the Muslims have to disclaim the evil of terrorism. Well, the Catholics must disclaim the wickedness of this behavior. Law should be summarily removed from his position of power and, IMHO, stripped of his ordination. And all priests proven to engage in these activities should follow him out the door - and go straight to jail. Jesus essentially said that very thing by pointing out that cleaning out the inside of the cup is what's necessary, not a pretty outside.
It's true that some of these behaviors were quite a bit in the past, but it's also true that apparently there's not any repentence for it. Here's an example:
In the late 1960s, the Rev. Robert V. Meffan allegedly recruited girls to become nuns and then sexually abused them, according to 1993 letters from Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin to her boss, the Rev. John B. McCormack, who was a top aide to Law. Meffan allegedly would counsel the girls to perform sexual acts as a way of progressing with their religious studies...
Meffan told The Boston Globe the allegations in the documents were true, and that he still believed his sexual relationships with the teenage girls were "beautiful" and "spiritual," and were intended to bring them closer to God.
"What I was trying to show them is that Christ is human, and you should love him as a human being," said Meffan. "I felt that by having this little bit of intimacy with them that this is what it would be like with Christ."
That is just breathtaking in its audacity and ungodliness. I realize that there are bad apples in every basket, but this rot has been buried deeper so it could spread unchecked, not excised as it should have been. And the Pope has the bizarre sense that while this is going on in his ranks he can take the moral high ground with President Bush?
UPDATE: My brother Alan has some additional thoughts about it at theosebes.
UPDATE: It wasn't my intent to indicate that many, or even most, of the Catholic laity hasn't taken this seriously; I know that's not true. I would say that what action we have seen from the CC heirarchy has happened because of the outcry from the membership. I guess what boggles my mind is that the Cathlics as a whole haven't just said, look. We aren't going to stand for this and we're going to do (pick a consequence) until it's fixed.
On the other hand, Fritz Schrank writes to tell me (very kindly, he's always very kind) that I don't know what I'm talking about in terms of the response of Catholics. A Catholic himself, he sent me a series of links from his own blog where he has addressed it: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7. He also called my attention to the blogs of Amy Wellborn and Eve Tushnet; no specific links, but a little digging will find their posts on it. Also, there are additional links in comments.
I admire them for speaking out and taking a stand. My problem is, I get the feeling from the Catholics I know or know of, that while the disgust and anger is widespread, the willingness to call the Church to task severely is not widespread enough to force the changes needed to clean up the problem. It's a difficult issue, because of its religious context - it would appear to me that some of the needed changes would require a shift in how the priesthood is approached. That's not a matter that is solely business pragmatism as it might be in other contexts - how the priesthood is configured is a matter of doctrine to at least some degree.
But I freely admit that I'm not the one to make those decisions or really make reasonable specific recommendations. The church I attend has no formal clergy, even the preachers are not "called" in the way they are in some groups, and there's no central organization that makes decisions for the body of believers as a whole. It's pretty much all about local autonomy. That makes changes much easier when problems occur, but that's not to say it's always done properly either. I have personally known preachers who have behaved very badly, and while they were dismissed from their positions the churches haven't always been assidious in informing the next church of his behavior, or really the next church to ask about it. So no group is perfect or even approximating it.
The deepest pain for me is the total evil and godlessness of men who claim to serve God but either use their position of trust to violate others or hide the behavior for reasons having nothing to do with spirituality. It shows a heart more concerned with earthly position and wealth than with God's law or his children. The behavior is not exclusive to the Catholic church, but the hierarchical structure and pervasive nature of their priesthood leaves them at greater risk of this kind of abuse. I do admire the devotion and spirituality of many Catholics. I hope they persevere and bring about the changes that will foster even greater spirituality in the future.
Just heard a commercial where a obviously elderly man was talking about having cardiac surgery, using a new method with minimal scarring. He says,
I can still wear my bikini bathing suit!
Ok, I know it was clever. But I didn't need that imagery while I'm still waking up.
Quote from Bill Clinton about the fall election, via a radio news blurb:
Voters would rather have strong and wrong, than weak and right.
He meant, of course, that the Republicans were strong and wrong, and that's a lesson for the Dems in the next election. But we know that they are actually strong and right, and the Dems weak and wrong. I will hasten to note that I didn't say the GOP is strong and always right. Nope, just look at Henry K's recent appointment. However, I would say definitely more often right than the Dems.
It's quite a dilemma for the Dems. The anti-war beatniks are a strong part of their constituency, so they can't come out for it gangbusters, but they're going to be perceived as weak as long as they vacillate and whine. Which in the case of their leaders will be forever.
I confess I'm enjoying this immensely.
Editors of The New York Times killed a column by Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Anderson that disagreed with an editorial about Tiger Woods and Augusta National's refusal to admit women as members.
A column by sportswriter Harvey Araton also was zapped, sources said, because it differed with the paper's editorial opinion about the golf club standoff.
Remind me again about journalistic objectivity, freedom of speech, protecting the right to have varying opinion, all the news that's fit to print...? About how the editorial position of a paper doesn't have an impact on its news content? Interesting.
"That's right, my column didn't run," Anderson told the Daily News last night. "It was decided by the editors that we should not argue with the editorial page."
What horrible thing did Anderson espouse? Maybe that the NY Times is an idiot?
A Nov. 18 editorial said Woods "could simply choose to stay home in April," instead of competing at the Masters. "And a tournament without Mr. Woods would send a powerful message that discrimination isn't good for the golfing business."
Anderson recalled he wrote a column afterward saying, as he put it last night, "let Tiger play golf. It's not his fight, or any golfer's fight."
That's subversive, isn't it?
And what about Araton?
It was said that Araton's column focused on the dispute between Augusta National chairman William (Hootie) Johnson and Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations on allowing women to join to exclusive club.
Araton is believed to have written women face bigger issues than whether they can become members of a ritzy golf club.
No, no, that's the most important thing. These guys, always thinking they know what's important to women! Of course the editorial board of the NY Times knows better! We're just thankful they're there to hold the feminist line.
Here's the real shocker:
The Times editors' decisions reinforce a growing sense in journalistic circles that the paper under Raines looks for conformity in its news and opinion columns.
I like to see that (seriously) - a newspaper being held up for its hypocrisy. It needs to happen. To be honest, I don't really care what Raines does - it's his paper, if he wants to pack it with his pet projects, be my guest. What bothers me is the NY Times' snooty "We're the gold standard of journalistic objectivity and responsibility" attitude when it's patently obvious that's off the table these days. I don't mind bias, I just want fairness and honesty along with it. The NY Times wouldn't know the latter two if they bit Raines on the butt.
[Link via Romenesko]
Alex Whitlock finished his novel!
This is overdue, since he finished a few days ago, but I was just on his site, RAWbservations, and remembered I hadn't congratulated him. He participated in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, an online writers project where, you guessed it, writers are challenged to write an entire novel of not less than 50,000 words (175 pages) in 30 days. Whew. Talk about typist's cramp! I was tempted to try it myself, but sanity intervened. Maybe next year.
Alex, being the fine man and writer that he is, wrote not just 50,000 words, but 113,675. Wow. And if you're interested, you can actually read it online here. But our Alex is not just a one-note writer. No, he's also an excellent blogger who brings to you posts on things like the red-caped protector of women in NYC, and the startling fact that art isn't, in fact, free.
I'm proud of you, Alex!
Scott Ott at Scrappleface continues to post superb satires daily. The man is a blog-treasure. The one about why some stores suffered shopper-slump over the big-shopping weekend is priceless.
I think I've been to that store...
Last month, five University of Pennsylvania students apparently woke up a visiting Princeton student in the middle of the night, poured motor oil over his head and flicked a cigarette at him. All five have turned themselves in and been released on bail.
The article I link is to the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. University of Pennsylvania is considered Ivy League, at least by some, and the forum comments have degenerated into a class warfare after one person made fun of the private prep school one of the arrested PS students attended. Here's a few excerpts (remember most of these are 18-22 year olds):
how the hell did hochfelder get into Penn???
i went to school with that boy years ago in NYC (dalton) before i left for boarding school...nobody even thought he'd graduate (penn frosh girl)
THAT'S WHY HE WENT TO DALTON. Dalton, Choate, Andover, etc. all are rumored to educate better than say, suburban high schools. I have been completely unimpressed by every prep school person I met at Penn. I'm sure there are some are actually some smart ones (like frosh girl, I'm sure) that come to Penn, but I think the smart ones parlay their connections and intelligence into spots at Harv, Yale, Prince, etc, and the not so talented shoot for Penn, Cornell, Duke. (TT, Finance, Chicago)
Ha. I find the last comment from Mr. "I Am an Authority on Prep Schools" amusing. Yes, of course, the 'dumb' prep school students shoot for the ivy league slums, apparently also known as those schools ranked below #5. As for the 'not-so-talented,' I believe they never made it past the admissions desk at any respectable private institution...
I am fed up with the highbrow, narrow-minded generalizations of the so-called "educational elite" of this country. Whatever led our society to a place where one would even think that the dumb kids go to Penn or Cornell or Duke? I give credit to anyone, anywhere, working hard for their undergraduate degree. Let's get off the highhorse, folks. (A.L., Cornell '05, PEA '01)
Clearly those who have problems with prep schools are too ignorant and biased in their own right to realize that these institutions give their students the best educations available. (Preppie)
...The pathetic belief that an ivy-education entitles one to things needs to end. (An Embarrassed Alumn)
As for the critics of prep-schools, the fact that they feel the need to attack the upper echelons of American high school education with vitriolic screed is outrageous. They are clearly jealous that their respective schools could not offer them as much as the hallowed halls of Andover, Deerfield and Exeter offer their own students. (Andover)
"Anti-Elitist" is just another term for being bitter and too stupid to get into a good college. Go home. (R)
R--Do you understand that comments like that merely perpetuate the notion of elitism? (Dalton Student, NYC)
...And what's all this ... about bright productive young minds? What kind of bright productive young mind walks into a quad, pours motor oil on somebody and flicks a cigarette at them? These kids should have been abortion prospects and you act like just because they come from the same place you do their actions are defensible. Your lack of touch with the world outside your bubble is pathetic, and worse, self enforced. Obviously Andover/Exeter/Deerfield/wherever gave you the resources, but failed to drill into you the principles behind the education and the responsibilities of the elite. (Stephen, Oberlin, OH)
and my personal favorite:
...remember that although you might have been top of your class at some broke public high, you are still JV for life. (ivy grad, Fla.)
Tom at Just One Minute takes time from his busy schedule to offer some column ideas for Maureen Dowd, after she (again) fails to impress this past Sunday. And because he's good, Tom also gives us some other views on the 9/11 - Kissinger
The American Enterprise has a collection of articles about the relationship between America and Europe. Not surprisingly, they tend to highlight a deterioration that, while worse for the Europeans, would not be best for the US either. Interesting perspectives, from good writers: Jeffrey Gedmin, Andrew Sullivan, Jonathan Rauch, Mark Steyn, Michael Kelly, Jonah Goldberg, and John O'Sullivan.
One phrase in the last one, by UPI Washington editor in chief John O'Sullivan, caught my attention:
...the Democrats, the academy, the foreign policy establishment, and the media have already bought into much of the utopian internationalist view, as the Iraq debate has revealed.
Telling from a professional journalist, with a major news agency: The media is right on board with the rest of the leftists/progressives. It's not a revelation, but just the fact that he stated it in passing with no caveats shows how real and pervasive he thinks it is. And he should know.
[Link via Watch]
Ted Rall shows his general idiocy and continued disconnection with reality in this interview in the Columbia (University) Spectator. It's rife with his peculiar worldview and trademark arrogance, from the "despicable" conditions he had to put up with in Afghanistan, to his claims that "It's a conspiracy theory to say that this [the war in the Middle East] is [about] anything but a pipeline". Don't read it until you've taken your blood pressure pill. Here's a little excerpt from the end of it:
"The Pentagon literally wanted us all to die. That's not hyperbole. That's a fact. They would have liked every journalist in Afghanistan to die. To go away is not enough. Without journalists reporting from war zones you would never know about all the atrocities that go on. If it was a secret affair you would have a lot more dead. Look at the first Gulf War [where there were fewer journalists], where there were an estimated one to four hundred thousand civilian casualties. That's because of the lack of coverage. Journalists reduce civilian casualties severely. If the Pentagon can do things without anyone knowing about it, they would just drop everything they had."
I guess my question is, if journalists lower casualties, why didn't he stay over there doing his part for humanity, dodging the murder attempts on him by his own country, instead of coming home to be lionized by student journalists?
And you know, somehow I'm thinking that if the military had really wanted them dead, Rall wouldn't have come home ever. I don't quite know what he attributes his continued health to, if the military is that vicious, powerful and single-minded.
[Link via The Corner]
Apparently Thomas H. Wyman, former CBS chief executive, has been asleep for the past 25 years. That's how long he's been a member of Augusta National golf club, where to his surprise women are not admitted. At least, it must be a surprise to him, since he's now resigned from the club because of it.
Protesting Augusta National Golf Club's refusal to admit a female member, Thomas H. Wyman, a former chief executive of CBS and a 25-year Augusta National member, has resigned from the club. Wyman is the only member of the exclusive club to resign since Augusta National's all-male makeup became a public issue last June.
In an interview yesterday, Wyman called the position taken by the club's leadership in recent months unacceptable and "pigheaded," ...In a Nov. 27 letter to the club's chairman, William Johnson, Wyman wrote that he hoped his resignation would spur others inside and outside the club to speak out in favor of a woman joining Augusta National.
Now, Augusta National doesn't sound like a place I'd want to be a member of, even if I did play golf. But this whole "woman member" thing is just silly. Sure, I think it'd be cool if women were members too. But to force the organization to admit them? Bad move. The implications go far beyond the Augusta National, which the agitators know and intend to happen. I hope the club will stand firm against this pressure.
Wyman amuses me. His behavior is so clearly a "statement", and a hypocritical one at that. He knew when he became a member that it had no women members, I'm sure he's not been oblivious to the fact in the intervening years, but when the media and feminist groups get their panties all in a wad about it and decide this year we're going after Augusta National - well, Wyman has a crisis of conscience and dashes off incensed letters to the head guy at AN.
It's nice to see that Wyman also is supporting CBS approaching this in an objective, disinterested way, which is of course the ideal model of journalism:
Wyman also said he believed his former employer, CBS, should be supporting the effort to admit a woman.
"CBS could at least come out in favor of a commitment from Augusta National on the admission of a woman," Wyman said. "They have a constituency that cares about this issue, and I was disappointed CBS didn't do more. They should say it is inevitable and it should happen sooner rather than later. People say that if CBS takes on Hootie they'll lose the tournament. I don't think that is so..."
It seems to me that if Rip Van Wyman was all that hot to change the situation, he could have been working on it internally for the past 25 years. I really dislike this kind of public breast-beating, especially in the wash of hypocrisy it represents, and most especially when it's trying to take away a freedom to associate. Wyman is also pressuring Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, both members, to publically agree with him. Just ridiculous.
UPDATE: Just a quick media bias alert. Notice that The NY Times article identifies the "keeping women out" issue as something that became a public issue of dispute in June. Not quite; it's been an issue for years. The media (and the NY Times) have just adopted it as their next cause this time around. And even more fun is the fact that they don't ask Wyman just what he was doing for the 25 years he was a member and women weren't there. It seems the immediate question to me. But then maybe that's why I'm a lowly blogger, not a Howell Raines. The NY Times: All the news that fits Raines' views.
UPDATE: Fritz Schranck has a masterful little post about the issue too, where he points out that while it's not unprecedented for newspapers to pick up a cause and campaign for it, the Augusta National matter seems more of a NY Times tantrum than a matter of social importance. He and others have suggested that the NY Times eschew any profit from the Masters (what would that entail? refusing ads that feature product endorsements involving it? no coverage of it?) and show a little consistency. We'll hold our breath, but will be happy to be a part of his "New York Times-Masters Tournament Insincerity Watch", to see if they find some small vestige of primordial cartilage that could pass for a backbone.
Two women debated the Augusta National issue on Sean Hannity's radio show today. When someone asked why the left was all aflutter about this, the woman who argued that women should be allowed as members said that it was a feminist issue, not a left issue, and as far as she knew there were feminists who were conservatives who also supported her cause. I had to laugh. I'm sorry, I have never met a conservative woman who ever used "feminist" and "conservative" in the same sentence without the word "not" between them. She actually maintained her temper quite well, and I thought handled a difficult situation with grace. The woman arguing that Augusta should make up its own mind did an excellent job. I did get annoyed at one woman caller, who opened her comments to the "for women membership" debater with "Why do you hate men?" Off topic and unnecessary.
I'm waiting for the first snow of the season. I've been teased a couple of times by the Weather Channel that three to six inches will be laid down while I sleep, but each time I've woken to black asphalt streets and, at the most, gently white-kissed grass. Now they're predicting "if conditions are right" (isn't that always the case?) we could get up to six inches of snow on Thursday. This makes me happy.
In the "winter storm outlook" section on www.weather.com, someone got a bit carried away in their description of how the tides may behave in response to this weather front:
IN ADDITION...TIDES WILL BE RUNNING ASTRONOMICALLY HIGH DURING THE TIME THIS NOR'EASTER IS EXPECTED TO APPROACH AND PASS BY. AS SUCH THERE MAY BE MINOR COASTAL FLOODING DURING THE HIGH TIDE CYCLES ON THURSDAY.
It's always in all caps, I'm not quite sure why. Anyway, note that the tides will be "astronomically high" yet will cause only "minor coastal flooding". Now, it seems to me that "astronomically" is one of those words that colloquially indicates magnitude similar to "huge", "extreme", "massive" - something that would be a outlier on the right side of that tide level bell curve. And it's going to cause "minor" flooding? No, no, that's not right. I think some weather person is writing a purple-prose-y Great American Novel in her or his spare time, and got caught up in the drama of it all. I think we could change "astronomically" to "unusually" and get the meaning we need.
Maybe we should do a "if this, then this" list of words for weather types to use. It would improve the logic of their predictions astronomically.
William Burton posted an excellent discussion of defense spending last week; it explores ways the military wastes money that could be spent to support our soldiers more effectively. CPO Sparkey, a former military man who now works for a defense contractor, responds with agreements and disagreements.
I think it's important to consider defense spending in the way these two men do. Those of us who are solidly behind the military sometimes push for more spending there without sufficient insistence that the military show they're making the best decisions on where that money goes. For example, Burton says that top brass in the military make spending decisions based on their job aspirations after leaving the military - they support big defense contracts to get big defense jobs in the civilian sector. While Sparkey does not agree with this precise construction, he does say, "I can't go into details, but I've disagreed with several DoD procurement decisions lately, one I disagree with is a system my company won - a true waste to satisfy the ego of a 4-star." So whether the decision is made to buttress aspirations or satisfy ego, the end result is that the soldiers on the field are not getting what's best for them. And that's wrong.
The military is a bureaucracy, which is a system that lends itself to these kinds of problems. But there aren't any other bureaucracies that have the lives of thousands and the safety of our country directly at stake. I'm all for spending all that needs spending to do the job we need to do militarily, but it needs to be with the equipment needs and safety of our soldiers as the top priority.
In this post I quoted part of a post by John Scalzi about the Big Bang theory and Christians. It's a brief but strong indictment of both Christianity as an ideology and anyone who would question the Big Bang theory as "the answer" to the origin of the earth. In my commentary, I wondered if Scalzi had talked to actual Christians about this.
Today I received the following email from him:
"Nice. I wonder if Mr. Scalzi has ever had a conversation with a real live Christian about this issue, where he hasn't brought to it this attitude?"
Well, first, of course, not all Christians are Creationists, as I'm sure you know. Second, I tend to be polite and engaging in personal conversation. You make the error of assuming that my rhetorical style in print is a direct analog to my personal conversational style, which is only natural, I suppose, since you have never had a conversation with me. I've had a number of conversations with Creationists; they usually go pretty well, with hardly any bloodshed.
In any event, I have several creationists among my friends, just as I have several Republicans among my friends, and I tend to think the GOP is pure, unadulterated evil. I don't make any bones about that opinion, either. But when [one] does not identify one's personality or social group merely by religion or ideology, one tends to have friends of many religions and ideologies, even those which one has conflicts with. People are more than the sum of their opinions.
So there you have it. The answer to my wondering is "yes". I agree with Scalzi that for the most part our opinions don't - or shouldn't - heavily limit those we seek as or consider friends. I think it's important for everyone to have their ideas and viewpoints challenged by someone who is articulate and passionate about the opposing side, and I try to challenge myself as well. While it may surprise some readers here, I have even stripped down my belief in God to test it against the evidence. I asked myself the question, is there a God? And do I believe in one because I want so much for it to be true? Obviously I concluded there is, but it was a genuine searching and one I think every religious person needs to go through at some point. In other arenas, I sometimes give mixed messages - for instance, politically some have called me squishy, others hard-nosed. I guess it depends on the issue. I have strong views on cities, okra, weather and rudeness. And I have had friends who are on the opposite side of me on all those. Even okra (shudder).
I do have two caveats. There are some viewpoints I cannot abide and will not befriend, as I'm sure is true of Scalzi; in fact, I would be surprised if we didn't share a number of the same aversions, although it's likely we differ on a few. I also think that the moment harsh words and sweeping generalizations come in the door, the opportunity for useful discussion goes out the window. People's opinion of "harsh" differs, and I'm consistently amazed by the amount of what I see as venom that others can absorb with good humor (or at least a reasonable facsimile). I enjoy rampaging rhetoric as well as the next person, but that's usually to shore up the faithful, not bring in the lost. (Yes, I know I'm mixing metaphors here but I think you'll live to see the light of another day despite that.) So, yes, my tolerance both for differing viewpoints/behaviors and for rampaging rhetoric have their limits.
Someday maybe Scalzi and I can have that conversation about Christianity and the Big Bang, in a personable tone. I'll even pay attention - as long as he doesn't order okra.
UPDATE: I sent the link to this post to Scalzi, and this part of his response seemed pertinent to the discussion:
The only comment I would have is that I wouldn't personally characterize the column in question as an indictment of Christianity in a general sense, since in a general sense I harbor no ill will toward the love of Christ. Although not a Christian myself, I find there's much to admire in His message. This is why I took care to write "Creationists" rather than "Christians," because while almost all Creationists would profess to be Christians, not all Christians would profess to be Creationists (nor do all Creationists want their creation story taught in science class; I have no problems with these Creationists at all).
Since I don't distinguish Christian from Creationist, I didn't hear the distinction when I read his post, so I wanted to pull that comment from his email in case others did not either.
I fear he would find me at least a partial Creationist, but I haven't time to get into that whole discussion again so I won't go there. (And yes, Tony, I'm going right now to study. I promise!)
Thanks to Scalzi for his cordial emails. I guess one doesn't always have to wear flame-retardent materials around him.
Not, you understand, that I agree. She also posts some letters on obesity from NY Times readers that show just how dedicated to a nanny state they are.
Senator Jim Jeffords, whose defection to the Dems after his constituents elected him as a Republican gave the Dems the Senate for the first two years of Bush's administration, is trying to ride a moral high horse about Bush's environmental policies.
Jim, that horse has already escaped the barn. You have no claim to him anymore. Every pronouncement you make is tainted.
This last bit in the FoxNews article was amusing:
Although an Independent, Jeffords was chosen to give Saturday's Democratic radio address by Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate's Democratic leader.
"For him, it's an honor," said Jeffords' spokesman, Eric Smulson...
Uh huh. Toss the traitor a bone, why don't you. It's the only kind of honor left in his life.
[Link from Kevin McGehee at blogoSFERICS]
Reason magazine has an interesting editor's note from Nick Gillespie about anti-defamation groups grasping at straws of prejudice:
Grippo, like many anti-defamation activists, seems almost desperate to keep the bad old days of ethnic and religious enmity alive. For him, unmistakable progress is a warrant for heightened sensitivity and legal action, not evidence of waning levels of prejudice and discrimination. Last year he brought a lawsuit (eventually dismissed) against Time Warner Entertainment, alleging that the hit HBO show The Sopranos ran afoul of the Illinois state constitutionâ€™s anti-discrimination clause.
It's a nice lead-in to Reason web editor Tim Cavanaugh's piece titled: E Pluribus Umbrage - The long, happy life of Americaâ€™s anti-defamation industry.
Fun reading for the first Monday in December. Now go out there and quit defaming!
If you want to start your morning out with a chuckle and a shake of your head, check out the Fox News article on holiday PCism. However, there is some sanity out there, as this man clearly shows:
...Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress calls it all over-the-top.
"There seems to be a fear within certain circles in Canada that people are going to react to Christmas in a negative way. But it's not the case," he said. "It's time to sort of get on with life, accept everybody for who they are and revel in their holidays as opposed to look for ways to deny people's holidays. It's just plain silly."
And he's Canadian yet! Is there still hope for our north of the border friends?
Arthur Silberâ€™s lengthy post about me and my â€śrudenessâ€ť requires an answer; you can find it by clicking on â€śMOREâ€ť. I wonâ€™t inflict it on those of you who donâ€™t care.
The first thing I would like to address is Arthurâ€™s statement that this began because he did me the â€ścourtesyâ€ť of sending me a notice about his post on religion because â€śâ€¦I think that is only good manners, and I always do that as a matter of course, particularly when I offer a view which I know is strongly contrary to the view held by another blogger, and to which he or she may wish to respond.â€ť The term â€ścourtesyâ€ť here is fairly loosely used. I havenâ€™t read Arthurâ€™s blog very frequently, commented even less frequently, and linked, I believe, only once before this weekend. He and I have not been discussing the issues in his blog via private email, nor have I posted about them on my own blog, or commented about them on someone elseâ€™s blog. Therefore the â€ścourtesyâ€ť could only be that he knew me to be a Christian and thus possibly someone who would answer his questions, not because there was any obligation. To then say that he had shown me a â€ścourtesyâ€ť which I failed to show him is quite a little stretch. Here, btw, is his actual email (please note that he of course had no thought that his post could be considered rude to a Christian):
Hi there, Happy Thanksgiving! And I hope you're having a wonderful weekend. Well, I added even more thoughts about reason vs. faith, capitalism, religion and altruism -- and some questions, about which I would truly love to hear your thoughts, whenever you might have time and/or interest: http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P87_0_1_0 Ack, it's probably incredibly rude of me to bring up subjects like this on a holiday weekend and all, but...heck, that's just how I am. (Well, that's an atheist for you. No respect for nuttin'.) All my best, Arthur
I donâ€™t as a rule notify everyone I link, mainly because I donâ€™t want them to feel that they have an obligation to be thankful or to link me back on something. If I post something referring to their work specifically with additional comments from me, I will tell them of that, especially if the comments are in some fashion critical. However, I donâ€™t notify people I link briefly in the â€śwalk through the blogosphereâ€ť kind of index posts that I do, because theyâ€™re typically one- or two-liner pointers, not commentary. This is a standard practice, so you can ask anyone Iâ€™ve linked in one of those posts if Iâ€™ve contacted them. If I have, that would prove that, yes, I was deliberately discourteous to Arthur.
Another point that Arthur makes is that I â€śinsultedâ€ť him by comparing him to a â€śfundamentalist Christianâ€ť, a knowing slur. He says, specifically, â€śAnd it's also startling and intriguing that Susanna, as a religious person, chooses "fundamentalist Christian" as her insult of choice. I'm an atheist, and I don't use that phrase as an insult in this form.â€ť The last shall be first, so take a look at that last phrase â€“ is he saying he does use that phrase as an insult in other forms? I wonâ€™t draw a conclusion as I donâ€™t want to be seen as â€śpsychologizingâ€ť Arthur, which I have been informed in no uncertain terms is not allowed.
As for using â€śfundamentalist Christianâ€ť as an insult, well, as it so happens, I am about as fundamentalist as you can get, in pure terms â€“ that is to say, Iâ€™m not a member of the evangelical denominations that have to some degree co-opted the term to designate a specific array of beliefs and behaviors. Rather, I believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that all I need to know about living my life according to his will is in those pages, and I make a concerted effort to order my life along those principles (the degree I have succeeded is a matter of my own will and conscience, not a commentary on whether the Bible is right). The dictionary definition also says that a fundamentalist is â€śrigidâ€ť in her adherence, and â€śintolerantâ€ť of secularism. I could give you a nice list of people who would be more than willing to say I am both, so I must be one o' them.
And I think the analogy still holds. Arthur himself says that he is an advocate of Ayn Randâ€™s â€“ I would say a disciple of hers, and that is a term not exclusive to religious circles â€“ and the purpose of his blog is to further knowledge about her writings and philosophy. If you put â€śJesusâ€ť in place of â€śAynâ€ť in Arthurâ€™s pronouncements, it sounds pretty much like a fundamentalist Christian. Letâ€™s try it:
â€¦this blog is explicitly written from an
ObjectivistChristian perspective, i.e., from the perspective of Ayn Rand'sJesus Christâ€™s philosophy. I announced that on our very first day, back at the beginning of September.
And I make no apology whatsoever for quoting liberally from
Ayn Rand's writingsthe Bible. I think that, for many reasons, Ayn Rand'sJesusâ€™s ideas are critical to salvaging our culture, and restoring our government to one based on the sanctity of individual rightscaring for others above all else. I also know that many people are not familiar with many of Rand'sthe Bibleâ€™s writings -- and one of my explicit purposes here is to increase that familiarity in any way that I can. Moreover, and I have indicated this in a number of posts which Susanna clearly has not read, I take great pains to distinguish myself from those I describe as "doctrinaire" ObjectivistsChristians: those who apply Rand'sJesusâ€™s ideas in an unthinking, largely mechanistic manner. I think they do a great disservice to the true meaning of Rand'sJesusâ€™s enormously valuable identifications, and I do not share their perspective at all. I have also indicated that I think there are a number of areas in which Rand'smanâ€™s ideas (about God) need a great deal of further work, amplification and clarification. In short, I have hardly demonstrated an unthinking adherence to Rand'snon-Biblical religious writings.
Well, I had to fudge a little at the end, because I donâ€™t have the same problems with the Bible that Arthur has with Randâ€™s writings, although I do share his problems with â€śunthinkingâ€ť adherence by anyone to anything. But I think you see my point. It was not a slur, or a deliberate insult. It was an observation, which has only been strengthened by his response.
Now, the first section of my earlier post that Arthur highlighted basically referred to his propensity to frame the discussion by defining the terms, then asking questions designed to put Christians on the defensive. Drawing from this post, this post, and this post, let me show you an example (Aaron, AC, this is for you too). Let me add, as a note, that one of my areas of academic study is media bias, which has to do a great deal with how the news is framed to create specific impressions; those of you who are interested in political discourse will be familiar with the charge on both sides regarding how the other side is attempting to â€śframe the debateâ€ť so as to shore up their own side by painting a specific image of the opponentâ€™s views without allowing the opponent to do so for him or herself. Iâ€™m not plowing new ground here.
Arthur spends a lot of time in those three posts discussing altruism. He begins by defining it, quoting from an article by Barbara Branden entitled "Benevolence versus Altruism" in The Objectivist Newsletter. It says, in part:
The literal philosophical meaning of altruism is: placing others above selfâ€¦
The essence of altruism is the concept of self-sacrifice. It is the self that altruism regards as evil: selflessness is its moral ideal. Thus, it is an anti-self ethics--and this means: anti-man, anti-personal happiness, anti-individual rights.
A morality that tells man that he is to regard himself as a sacrificial animal, is not an expression of benevolence or good willâ€¦.
So altruism is set up as absolute sacrifice of self to the extent that it is actually actively harmful to the person expressing it. Arthur then has this to say:
With regard to my post about capitalism and religion and why they are incompatible, I repeat this sentence of Branden's: "[Altruism] is an anti-self ethics -- and this means: anti-man, anti-personal happiness, anti-individual rights." (Emphasis added.) This is why any religion which relies on an ethics of altruism is incompatible with capitalism -- and to my knowledge, every religion (certainly, every major religion) depends on an ethics of altruism.
So therefore, Arthur defines altruism and moves on to say that the backbone of all major religions is altruism. Next he defines capitalism and sets the two at odds:
Now, in this post from yesterday, I talked about the incompatibility of capitalism and religion -- specifically, the incompatibility of the ethics which capitalism embodies (an ethics of rational self-interest) and the ethics which lies at the core of every major religion: altruism.
He makes his position very clear:
And finally, I say to those people who believe they can reconcile their religious beliefs with their advocacy of capitalism, including a number of bloggers who I believe attempt to maintain this contradiction: you can't do it.
Then in a later post prefaces a series of questions to Christians about capitalism in this manner:
I mean these questions sincerely: I am genuinely interested in your answers, and would like to find out in more detail how you reconcile what I view as profoundly contradictory views.
Note: In case you didnâ€™t notice, heâ€™s already answered it for you - it canâ€™t be done.
I consider that whole series to be an example of framing an issue. Itâ€™s his blog, itâ€™s his prerogative. Itâ€™s also framing. I will note, by the way, that while the â€śreligious writingsâ€ť he quotes indicate a focus on altruism, itâ€™s a big stretch to pull that lip over the head of all Christians. I am not a Catholic, have never been and do not adhere to their teachings. In fact, neither do a lot of Catholics. But I digress. Whatâ€™s important here is what the Bible says:
Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.[My emphasis - ed.]
Thatâ€™s not the pernicious altruism defined by Branden; a close study of Scripture will make that much clearer. However, I do cry guilty to a Biblical precept that says we should at the very least put the welfare of others on par with our own. Certainly Jesus did far more.
But letâ€™s move on to the issue of an ad hominem attack. Remember when Arthur said he sent me an email as a â€ścourtesyâ€ť? He knows I am a Christian, and I can think of no other reason for why he sent it to me. And what does the post he sent me the link to say about Christians, about â€śpeople of faithâ€ť?
Faith, or mysticism, is only one of the forms in which irrationality can manifest itselfâ€¦
â€¦Mysticism is the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one's senses and one's reason. Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as "instinct," "intuition," "revelation," or any form of "just knowing.â€ť [Quote from Rand â€“ ed]
â€¦those who describe themselves as religious to whatever degree, and thereby endorse irrationalityâ€¦
â€¦doesn't it bother you that you can't defend your belief in God on rational grounds? If not, why not?
He then quotes approvingly a post by Diana Hsieh (you can go to his site for the link):
â€¦beliefs have effects upon a person's life. Belief in God is no exception. It can result in undervaluing the livingâ€¦ It can result in an indifference towards evilâ€¦ It can encourage superficial and magical thinkingâ€¦ Those who believe in God on faith alone may object that their belief in God has no such effects on their life. In the unlikely event that such is true, then what is the point of belief at all?
Now, as a Christian I apparently not only endorse irrationality but am myself irrational; I hold to mysticism which I like to call â€śfaithâ€ť, which is clearly â€śagainstâ€¦oneâ€™s reasonâ€ť; I cannot defend my belief in God rationally; and my belief system tends to make me undervalue the living, have an indifference toward evil, and engage in superficial and magical thinking. I ask you, if Arthur did not think these things of me, a Christian, why did he send me the link to the post as a â€ścourtesyâ€ť? And if he does think these things of me, who embarked on an ad hominem attack â€“ me or Arthur? Certainly his post that focused solely on me and my â€śrudenessâ€ť was an unequivocal attack.
I've addressed the "process" issues that Arthur raised. Thereâ€™s a lot that could be said in response to the specific ideas espoused by Arthur and his apologists, but Iâ€™ve not tried to address them and wonâ€™t. This whole exchange has left a pretty bad taste with me - quite the little tempest in a teapot - and Iâ€™ve said all Iâ€™m going to say on this topic. Arthur, RadCap, Aaron, AC et al can do as they will. I just wish one of them had tried to answer the actual questions that I asked in the comment on Arthurâ€™s site that started all this.