Day By Day

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Time for a Change -- The Anchoress on our Political/Media Elite

The Anchoress has a nice post on the axis of inanity -- Katie, Al, and the Clintons -- that is trying to set the political agenda for the coming election. She writes:

We need new names in both our politics and our news broadcasts. The same damn people have held sway over everything for too damn long.

Amen!

Regarding the mendacious absurdity that is Katie Couric she writes:

I never thought I would say it, but I miss Dan Rather. I may not have agreed with him much of the time toward the end, but he had a curious mind, a willingness to ask questions and he possessed a voice and presence that conveyed…oh…gravitas. Seriousness of purpose. Substance.
She also exposes the serial lies told by Couric regarding President Bush's environmental awareness.

She also takes a hard look at those "magical" offsets that Al Gore claims excuse his profligate energy use.

And she notes the Clintons' penchant for using their positions for personal gain.

Wrapping up:

These people all make me tired. I’m tired of looking at them, reading about them, listening to them blab on and on. I’m tired of their tired excuse-making and double-talk. I’m tired of hearing that these people are greatest of people and that only haters could not absolutely adore them, at all times.

I can’t be the only one out there who has had enough of the whole boiling of them. When do they go away? Do they ever retire? Do they ever stop promoting themselves?

To which I can only say -- AMEN!!!

Read it here.



Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Republican Voters Back Bush, and the War

Richard Benedetto in USA Today notes that President Bush's support among Republicans remains high, around 75% approval, much higher than support for Republican Congresscritters. About the same proportion [72%] approve the decision to invade Iraq.

Benedetto suggests that this means that Bush is far from being a lame duck and that Republican legislators should think twice before abandoning him.

Let us hope so. McCain, I'm talkin' to you!

The poll suggests what I've always suspected -- that this last election was less about Bush and the war than the Democrats would have you believe. There was massive disenchantment in Republican ranks with the Party's Congressional and State leadership and disaffected voters simply stayed home, handing Democrats an easy, if narrow, win. The war may have energized Democrats, but it had little effect on the Republican vote. Republicans who run against Bush and the war will find, to their regret, that it is never safe to accept the Democrats' interpretation of events.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Tells It Like It Is

Here's a clip of Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Real Time with Bill Mahar setting the record straight about Dhimmitude:




What a brave and sensible woman!

George Bush -- Green?


Treehugger writes:

Only your dispassionate Canadian correspondent could write this without colour or favour, but is it possible that George Bush is a secret Green? Evidently his Crawford Winter White House has 25,000 gallons of rainwater storage, gray water collection from sinks and showers for irrigation, passive solar, geothermal heating and cooling. “By marketplace standards, the house is startlingly small,” says David Heymann, the architect of the 4,000-square-foot home. “Clients of similar ilk are building 16-to-20,000-square-foot houses.” Furthermore for thermal mass the walls are clad in "discards of a local stone called Leuders limestone, which is quarried in the area. The 12-to-18-inch-thick stone has a mix of colors on the top and bottom, with a cream- colored center that most people want. “They cut the top and bottom of it off because nobody really wants it,” Heymann says. “So we bought all this throwaway stone. It’s fabulous. It’s got great color and it is relatively inexpensive.”
Read it here.

So Bush, without any fanfare, has built himself a "green" place to live. By contrast John Edwards has built a house with close to 30,000 sq ft. The Carolina Journal reports:

RALEIGH — Presidential candidate John Edwards and his family recently moved into what county tax officials say is the most valuable home in Orange County. The house, which includes a recreational building attached to the main living quarters, also is probably the largest in the county.

Read it here.

And regarding eco-warrior Al Gore, Drudge reports:

Gore’s mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES). In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home. The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average. Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.
Read it here.

No report on Hillary's multiple houses yet.

These bozos are quick to talk the talk, but only President Bush actually walks the walk.

UPDATE:

Toby, the Bilious Young Fogey, is a bit upset at Saint Al:

Al Gore is a Class A Hypocrite and Arseclown and Bush runs an enviro-friendly house. Hmmmm...
He fantasizes about using Al Gore's skull as a champagne goblet.

And he's not the only one. Read about it here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Multi-Tasking on Oscar Night

"She Who Must Not Be Named" decided that we should watch the Oscar awards show together, and so we did. It wasn't too bad. I kept a computer screen between me and the TV for most of it and made several long trips to the bathroom [where I keep an ample supply of reading material] or to the kitchen.

There really was nothing in the whole evening's program worth blogging. Roger Simon, who has been there -- done that, explains why. He writes:

Of course they're dull. They're supposed to be. They're an awards ceremony, for crissakes. ... Of course they are not nearly as dull as the tedious critics... who take them seriously enough to write a full scale review of them. Nevertheless some people watched. But anyone who didn't multi-task should be as ashamed of him/herself. Even the nominees were multi-tasking, schmoozing up their next jobs, if I remember the scene from when I was nominated ages ago (1989). Also, as I recall, the parties afterwards were also deadly dull - no matter what the hyperventilating TV commentators make you want to think - though I was never invited to the vaunted Vanity Fair extravaganza, so perhaps I missed something (free drinks).
Read him here.

It is amazing just how much of our time is taken up in such trivial pursuits. Who, outside the industry, really gives a r*ts *ss about this stuff, and why?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Take That, Food Nazis!!!


Through the long history of our republic when tyranny has raised its malevolent head, the common people of Pennsylvania have stood strong and stalwart in defense of their liberties. Once again they take to the barricades to oppose those who would define eating as a health hazard.

A Pennsylvania restaurant thinks it has a winner. A Guinness World Record winner, that is.

Chefs at the Clearfield eatery said they've created the world's largest hamburger, all ready to order right off the menu.

Weighing in at 123 pounds, this giant burger features an 80-pound beef patty, a 30-pound bun, 12 tomatoes and 160 slices of cheese. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub also throws on a pound each of lettuce, ketchup, mustard and mayo -- and up to five onions.

The menu price for the Beer Barrel Main Event Charity Burger comes to $379.

Read about it here.

Does that come with fries?

Check out the menu here. If you don't want to go whole hog for the Charity Burger, you can try out their Beer Barrel Belly Buster, their previous record holder.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Redating Human Origins

Through the Twentieth Century the general trend in human evolutionary studies was to extend estimated dates for important developments farther into the distant past. This was in large part due to the continued discovery of ever-more-ancient remains, but there was a built-in assumption that dates would continue to be pushed back indefinitely and a related competition among scholars to find the earliest or the first evidence of human characteristics in ancient fossils.

By the end of the last century there was broad agreement that the evolutionary line leading to humans had diverged from that leading to modern chimpanzees around seven million years ago while our most significant progenitor, Homo Erectus, had emerged in East Africa about two million years ago and had colonized the rest of Eurasia from there, and that "anatomically modern" humans had emerged somewhere in Africa around 200,000 years ago.

Recently, however, a number of scholars have reversed the trend of earlier studies and have suggested much later dates for some of these developments.

Perhaps the most significant revision came last year with the redating of East African Homo Erectus remains, showing them to be about a quarter of a million years later than had previously been thought. What is more, the redating showed that the African fossils were significantly younger than other Homo Erectus remains found in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Read a technical analysis of the redating here and a more speculative piece here.

Now comes a couple of studies that significantly reduce the estimate of when the human lineage diverged from that of chimpanzees. One found that the divergence took place no more than 5.4 million years ago, the other estimated four million years for the divergence. Read about it here.

And finally, there has been a redating of Clovis artifacts, long thought to be fashioned by the first humans to enter the Americas, showing that they are younger than some other assemblages. Read about it here.

The point of all this is that for several decades a scientific consensus existed in favor of ever older dates for human remains and this expectation biased the scientists who reported evidence. They weren't dishonest, simply biased in favor of the consensual position. Now that the consensus has been broken, evidence is being re-evaluated and new positions are emerging.

Could it be that a similar bias might be operating in the field of environmental studies?

Just asking.

Friday, February 23, 2007

On Ignoring the Oscars

People keep asking me what I think of the Oscar nominated films. I usually decline to comment because:

1) I haven't seen them all, and won't see some of them until they are free on TV.

2) The whole thing is a crock. I'm with Stanley Kauffman on this. He writes:

I simply can't take seriously an affair that is presented as an artistic evaluation of the past year but is principally a commercial enterprise which deliberately disregards films, however good, that are not exploitable. Besides, who are the judges who make the selections? And who are the voters other than every Tom, Dick and Harriet who happens to have a job in the movie business?
Read his comments here.

Killer Apes

Primatologists report observing chimpanzees living in an area with limited food resources have adapted to their situation by fashioning spears and using these tools to kill and eat other primates.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chimpanzees have been seen using spears to hunt bush babies, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a study that demonstrates a whole new level of tool use and planning by our closest living relatives.
And a couple of other theoretical distinctions between humans and their nearest animal relatives crumble. Chimpanzees, like humans, are tool-making creatures with the capacity to visualize the future use of tools, and they also are "killer apes." Leaving aside the vacuous arguments of the animal rights advocates that will ensue from this discovery, these observations make it quite likely that tool use, planning for the future, and hunting behavior were part of the makeup of the common ancestor of humans and chimps. That, for evolutionary biologists, is a very interesting piece of information.
Perhaps even more intriguing, it was only the females who fashioned and used the wooden spears, Jill Pruetz and Paco Bertolani of Iowa State University reported.

Bertolani saw an adolescent female chimp use a spear to stab a bush baby as it slept in a tree hollow, pull it out and eat it.

This, too, is interesting. It shows that the hunting behavior and propensity for tool-making, usually attributed exclusively to males, was also shared by females. The researchers attribute the fact that only females have been observed making and using spears to the fact that they lack the unassisted physical prowess of males and are merely compensating for that deficiency in a resource scarce environment. But, I predict, feminists (like the animal rights crowd) are going to have a field day with this one.

Read the whole article here.

Kipling, of course, was way out ahead of the curve on this one when he wrote:

...when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other's tale -- The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Read the whole poem here.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Attack on the Colossal Squid!!!



Forget those giant squids, they're so Twentieth Century. Now we have COLOSSAL Squids. Some Kiwi fishermen just caught one. BBC reports:

New Zealand fishermen have caught what is expected to be a world-record-breaking colossal squid.

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said the squid, weighing an estimated 450kg (990lb),took two hours to land in Antarctic waters.

Local news said the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni was about 10m (33ft) long, and was the first adult colossal squid landed intact.

One expert said calamari rings made from it would be like tractor tyres.


Read about it here.



Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Offshoring -- The Crisis That Wasn't

Remember all that hysteria back in 2004 about offshoring -- outsourcing American jobs to other countries? Of course you do! Well..., never mind.

More than anything else, the crisis was an election year gimmick ginned up by the Democrats to scare voters. Andrew Cassell, writing in the Inky, explains:

Democrats went ballistic - it was an election year, after all.

Most famously, then-candidate John Kerry issued a statement denouncing what he called "Benedict Arnold CEOs" who shipped U.S. jobs overseas. The airwaves and cables fairly hummed with angry talk about offshoring.

And what happened next? Nothing.

Nothing, that is, like the massive outflow of jobs that many feared. Employment growth, which had been notably slow after the 2001 recession, picked up in the United States. (We've gained more than five million jobs since early 2004.) Recruiters who specialize in information-technology workers say they have more openings than they can fill.

And as a hot-button headline issue, offshoring appears to have gone the way of Y2K and the Red Menace. File it under N, for Not as Big a Deal as We Thought.

...

[M]ost economists who've looked at the issue rate the long-run economic impact of offshoring as either (1) minimal, or (2) positive. Using overseas workers to save money or boost productivity generally results in better or cheaper services, which in turn leads to more competition, more innovation, and growth.

Read it here:

I wonder what the Dems have in mind for the next election cycle? Oh yeah! Global warming.

A World Without America?

Not everyone on the other side of the Atlantic hates us. Heres the latest from Doughty Street.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Academic Censorship in Arizona

The insufferable arrogance and stupendous irresponsibility of the academic left has long threatened to marginalize our institutions of higher learning and to invite outside interference in their operations. The storm clouds have been gathering for a long time, and now the hard rain is beginning to fall in Arizona.

A State Senate committee last Thursday approved a bill that would:

ban professors at public colleges and universities, while working, from:

  • Endorsing, supporting or opposing any candidate for local, state or national office.

  • Endorsing, supporting or opposing any pending legislation, regulation or rule under consideration by local, state or federal agencies.

  • Endorsing, supporting or opposing any litigation in any court.

  • Advocating “one side of a social, political, or cultural issue that is a matter of partisan controversy.”

  • Hindering military recruiting on campus or endorsing the activities of those who do.

Under the legislation, the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the state’s public universities, and the individual boards of community colleges would be responsible for setting guidelines for the law and for requiring all faculty members to participate in three hours of training annually on their responsibilities under the law.

Punishments could come in two forms. The governing boards’ guidelines would need to develop procedures, including suspensions and terminations in some cases, according to the bill. In addition, the state attorney general and county prosecutors could sue violators, and state courts could impose fines of up to $500. The legislation would bar colleges or their insurance policies from paying the fines — money would need to be paid directly by the professors found guilty.

Read it here. [hat tip John Miller, here]

Critics like Miller argue that such measures would stifle free speech, impede the free exchange of ideas, and drive "good professors" away from Arizona, but in response I would raise two objections:

1) On many campuses and in many classrooms, free speech is already stifled and the range of ideas permitted to be expressed is already severely constrained. Education, especially in the liberal arts, has in recent decades come more to resemble indoctrination than informed inquiry.

2) The rationale for academic freedom lies not with freedom of speech, which is a general right to be exercised by anyone, but rather in the presumed existence of a responsible, self-regulating, "community of competence" which can be trusted to render objective, informed, and disinterested information and opinion upon specific subjects. But experience has shown that such communities of competence, an expression of late nineteenth-century Progressive thought, are chimera. There is no such thing as a disinterested authority, and the academic institutions and professional associations that are supposed to represent such authority have long since ceased to function, if they ever did, as such.

I think this bill is a bad idea, but rather than seeing it as an expression of overweening government power, or populist fallacy, I think it is a clear warning that the deep rot that has afflicted our institutions of higher learning and professional associations has raised a stench that is no longer tolerable to the general public.

A warning: The public will be served! If the professors cannot reform themselves, they will be reformed and our national academic culture will be impoverished even more so than it already has been.

UPDATE:

David French puts the situation this way:

For many years, university professors have enjoyed a measure of academic freedom that is actually greater in scope than the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Persistent and arrogant abuse of that freedom is going to invariably lead legislatures and universities themselves to begin to roll back professors’ expressive autonomy. Sadly, the university establishment seems oblivious to the fact that their own abuses are leading them down the road of regulation, and they seem blissfully unaware that their employers have far more power over their expression than they dare to think.
Read his whole comment here.

Zimbabwe Heats Up

The collapse of Zimbabwe's economy has at long last spurred significant protest against Bobby Mugabe's insane regime. The Telegraph reports:

President Robert Mugabe's regime tried to suppress rising discontent across Zimbabwe yesterday by banning all opposition political gatherings.

Heavily armed riot police enforced this edict by preventing one rally from taking place in the capital, Harare, and breaking up another in Bulawayo on Saturday.

Although the law had previously forced the opposition to seek police permission for any gathering, an outright ban has never been imposed before.

Kembo Mohadi, the home affairs minister, verbally informed an opposition politician that the cabinet had decided to proscribe all rallies last week.

What is more the proscription was enforced brutally:

They prevented Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of one faction of the divided Movement for Democratic Change, from telling his supporters that he would contest the next presidential elections, supposedly due in March 2008 but likely to be postponed.

Riot police assaulted several people and arrested others when they tried to gather for the meeting.

Police set up roadblocks and fired Israeli-made water canons at the crowd. In Bulawayo, another faction of the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara defied a police ban and marched through the city. Scores of people were arrested and assaulted.

Read about it here.

In the past Mad Bobby has been able to respond quickly, efficiently, and brutally to any emerging protest, but this time, as his personal support within ZANU-PF [his political faction] disintegrates, things might be different.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Kurosawa Revisited -- "Yojimbo" and "Rashomon"


Michael Wood has a nice review of Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo" in the London Review of Books [here].

What's that you say? You've never heard of Kurosawa? I'm sure you've seen his films, if only in remakes. "Yojimbo" was remade by Sergio Leone as "A Fistful of Dollars", the movie that made Clint Eastwood famous. It was later remade as "Last Man Standing" starring Bruce Willis. Kurosawa also made the "Seven Samurai" which was remade by Hollywood as "The Magnificent Seven." If you watch the attack on the second fortress in "Ran" [Kurosawa's reimagining of "King Lear" as a samurai epic] you will see where Spielberg got his inspiration for the first segment of "Saving Private Ryan". And, of course, as everyone knows, George Lucas' "Star Wars" is a retelling of Kurosawa's "Hidden Castle." The point is that American and European film makers have been plundering Kurosawa's films for decades.

Wood is celebrating the Criterion release of "Yojimbo". More important is the fact that Kurosawa's greatest film, "Rashomon"is now in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from Google Video here. Like almost everything else Kurosawa did, "Rashomon" was remade by Hollywood. It appeared as "The Outrage" starring Paul Newman and a very young Captain Kirk, directed by Martin Ritt and photographed by James Wong Howe. [and that's as good as it gets, kids].

If you have some free time, by all means download "Rashomon" and watch it. The film regularly appears on ten best of all time lists and for good reason. I think you'll enjoy it. I certainly did. And, next time you hear someone say they had a "Rashomon moment" you'll know exactly what they are talking about.

Carnival in Deutschland



It's Carnival season in Germany and Der Spiegel has a photo gallery highlighting festivities in Cologne, Aachen and Dusseldorf. Check out the pictures here.

Warning -- not work safe, may offend ethnic sensibilities and Nazis.

Brings back memories.

I remember going to Carnival in Cologne many, many years ago. I was told that it was shameful to leave the festivities with your own wife. I couldn't say -- wasn't married at the time, neither was the woman I left with.

Another Myth Exploded -- Organic Farming is Bad for the Environment

The Independent reports:

Organic food may be no better for the environment than conventional produce and in some cases is contributing more to global warming than intensive agriculture, according to a government report.

The first comprehensive study of the environmental impact of food production found there was "insufficient evidence" to say organic produce has fewer ecological side-effects than other farming methods.


Verrrry interrresting!

Read it here. Hat tip Jonah Goldberg

Of course the greenies aren't buying it. They are addicted to the sense of moral superiority they get from shopping at Whole Foods and paying exorbitant prices for produce.

I must admit that I, too, shop at Whole Foods occasionally, but that is just because it's the only market in reasonable walking distance. I much prefer to climb into my gas-guzzling, pollution spewing SUV and drive ten miles to a Wegman's where I can shop with normal people.

Yes, of course, it's inverse snobbery -- but more, I just don't feel comfortable in the company of urban environmentalists.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Slammin' Murtha

Instapundit writes:

Murtha is the face of today's Democratic Party on the war. This is bad for the country, and likely to prove unwise politically.

To say the least. Read it here.

He links to a WaPo piece slamming my former Congresscritter. It reads in part:

Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq "would be more stable with us out of there," in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce "massive civilian casualties." He says he wants to force the administration to "bulldoze" the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to "get our troops out of the Green Zone" because "they are living in Saddam Hussein's palace"; could he be unaware that the zone's primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?

Read the whole thing here.

If anyone in that misbegotten mess that Congress has become deserves the slams, it's Jack Murtha. Unfortunately the people of his district haven't seen fit to send him home yet. He's an embarrassment to his district, his Party, and the entire Congress. Somebody please shut him up! I'm talkin' to you, Nancy.


Our Northbound Odyssey

You may have heard of the horrendous traffic tieup in Pennsylvania this past Thursday. [NYT writeup here] Thousands of motorists were stranded on Rte I-78 in the middle of a snow storm, some of them for as much as eighteen hours. Well, "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I followed the story closely because we had some business to attend to in Pennsylvania on Friday and would have to travel north of I-78 to do so.

We plotted our course carefully -- up through Pennsylvania Dutch country by way of York, Lancaster and Reading, then north along State Rte #61 into the mountains. That way we would cross I-78 at a heavily traveled point that was likely to be cleared and after that..., well the road crews would have had a full day to clear things up. We anticipated no trouble. After conducting our business we planned to drive up to our mountain retreat to spend the night before heading back to Charm City.

Things didn't work out quite as we planned.

As we headed north we heard from the radio that large stretches of I-78 and I-81 and the turnpike were closed to traffic and motorists were urged to seek an alternate route. It turned out that, for many, many drivers, the alternate route was the one we were taking. Traffic was heavy on Rtes 30 and 222. East of Lancaster everything slowed to a crawl. About an hour later, as we neared Denver we saw the reason why. Thousands of cars were trying to squeeze onto the ramp leading to the turnpike and were blocking both lanes. It was a huge mess. That sort of thing may be common in Massachusetts, but we rarely see it in Pennsylvania. I took some pictures of the countryside while we sat, and sat, and sat.




Eventually we got past the tieup and resumed our northbound journey. Everything was fine until we got up to I-78 at the Cabela's crossing. The highway, of course, was closed and our fine young men and women in uniform were there to enforce the closure. It's probably better duty than Iraq -- at least nobody's shooting at you, but it sure is c-c-c-cold!




I-78 -- cold and bare and lonely, but well-protected.




Something we hadn't counted on -- the emergency on the interstate had drawn all the road crews out of the surrounding countryside. That means that the secondary roads had been completely unplowed and were hard going. This is what it was like in late afternoon on State Rte 61 near Port Clinton.




Eventually we managed to get to our first destination and were able to take care of business. We picked up our mail, lots of it, and headed home.

Stopping by the P. O. parking lot on a snowy evening [sincere apologies to Eudora Welty and Robert Frost].



Then things got hairy. The State road leading up toward our place was closed to traffic. So, too, was the township road. That wouldn't a problem for the snowmobilers up where we live, but for us..., well, it was a problem..., a big one.

We called one of our neighbors up in the high country. She said that the drive was unplowed and impassible and would be a problem even for our Land Rover. There had been no mail delivery for a week. From what she could tell the power was still on everywhere and so far as she could see everything looked fine up at our place.

We thought about it for a while and decided to retreat. We were both hungry, so we drove down to Reading and had dinner. Then, refreshed, we made the long drive back to the Inner Harbor.

To quote a famous musclehead politician, "I'll be back" [and so will "She"] -- but not for a few days at least.

It's Up! Check It Out

The latest History Carnival is up at Aardvarchaeology.

This is interesting: the History Carnival is being hosted by a "scienceblog." Sounds like there's some cross-pollination going on. May the results prove fruitful.

Check it out here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Surber Talks Sense on Bush

Don Surber comments on David Broder's WaPo column [here] in which Broder argues that Bush is beginning to regain his footing. Surber feels Broder may be right, but for the wrong reasons.

Broder saw Bush's Wednesday press conference as a masterly political performance in which he insulated himself from criticism while placing pressure on the Democrats in Congress. He also notes Bush's superb performances in recent interviews and concludes that Bush, like Clinton before him, is rebounding from his troubles although his ultimate fate will be decided in Iraq, not in the American political forum.

Surber agrees that Bush is indeed on a rebound, but attributes it to entirely different causes.

First, Bush, as he so often has done in recent years, is engaging in superb political strategery.

Bush gave Democrats enough rope and they are hanging themselves on this non-binding resolution, which opposes the surge.

The Democratic position is We Support The Troops But Hope They Fail.


Ah, yes! The old Rope-a-Dope. The Democrats fall for it every time -- they just can't help themselves.

More importantly, the loss in the mid-term elections has allowed Bush to finally cut his ties to the lunatic fringe in his own party.

The election freed Bush in several ways. Like Clinton, things Bush could not get through a Congress run by his party are suddenly possible.

Just as Republican senators and congressors are now free to speak their minds about him, Bush is free of them.

Bush also can take down the fa├žade of perfection in Iraq. Dumping Rumsfeld allowed him to bring in Petraeus and win the war.

Bush also dumped Bolton, whom I liked, but who is showing a rather disturbing pigheadedness for a diplomat.

And...:

[B]eing shed of a Republican Congress also does away with all the Terri Schiavo-style legislation and may move attention in the Republican Big Tent from the Creationist Clowns and back to the main event: Fixing the courts, balancing the budget and winning the war.

Read it here.

I agree. The Republican majority in Congress was getting to be a real problem for the administration. Bush was forced time and again to choose between dividing the Party or trying to support problematic, and occasionally indefensible, positions taken by factions within the Party. Now Bush is free to campaign against Congress and the current crop of Democrat clowns is even more ridiculous than the Republicans who afflicted him prior to the elections.

I have said it time and again and events keep bearing me out -- Bush is a far better man than his critics in either party.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Birds


Rick Lee has been taking pictures of gulls in flight [here]. He went all the way to San Francisco to find them. Well, we have gulls in the east too. Here are some we saw last August up in Port Clyde, Maine during our downeast trip. It was a bit like being in a Hitchcock flick.

For that matter, we've got plenty of the nasty little critters here at the Inner Harbor.

What with the cold and the precip and my bum leg, I've been pretty much confined to the building and have not been able to get around much. Yesterday, though, I did hobble downstairs with my new toy to take some pictures of the new-lain snow. I took more than a hundred pictures [thanks to the wonders of digital photography]. These are the ones I'm keeping.





A Word From Our Next President [and Veep]

From Fox's new show.

Check it out here.

Progress in Iraq

One of the main objections raised by opponents of efforts to democratize Iraq is the assumption that the Iraqi people just aren't ready for democracy (and won't be for many generations). It is certainly true that simply holding elections will not magically transform a culture, but that was never the administration's position -- simply a travesty of their thinking constructed by critics. President Bush has always made it quite clear that building democracy in the Middle East would be a long, hard, dangerous slog, but that it was an effort worth undertaking, indeed it was necessary to the broader fight against the Islamist radicals.

Clifford May recently noted a University of Michigan Institute for Social Research study of attitudes among Iraqis that shows marked shifts in perspective between 2004 and 2006. Although negative feelings toward America increased [a point that was emphasized in news coverage] there were several more positive results found in the survey data. Most important,

significantly more Iraqis support democratic values, including the separation of religion and politics.

In 2004, 27 percent of the 2,325 Iraqi adults surveyed strongly agreed that Iraq would be a better place if religion and politics were separated. In 2006, 41 percent of 2,701 adults surveyed strongly agreed.

"The findings of this second survey show that even though Iraqis have a more negative attitude to foreigners, especially Americans, they are moving closer to American values and are developing a much stronger sense of national identity," said Mansoor Moaddel, a sociologist at Eastern Michigan University and at the ISR.

What is more:

In one indication of a possible lessening of sectarian conflict, the proportion of Iraqis who identified themselves as Muslim Arabs rather than as Shi'a or Sunni Arabs increased from 6 percent in 2004 to 14 percent in 2006.

The percentage of those surveyed who agreed with the statement "I am an Iraqi above all" rose from 23 percent in 2004 to 28 percent in 2006 in the country as a whole, from 23 percent to 33 percent in urban areas, and from 30 percent to 62 percent among Baghdad residents.

Read it here.

This is significant. Nationalism, secularism, and respect for democratic values are on the rise in Iraq. Religious fundamentalists are being marginalized. Couple this with the recent collapse of the Sunni insurgency, the new willingness of Shiite leaders to crack down on militias such as the Mahdi "Army", and economic statistics showing a broad and deep recovery throughout Iraq and the prospects for a good outcome there are actually quite good. Good, that is, if the US effort can be sustained.

Read May's article here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

But Baby It's Cold Outside

What do you do when the snow falls? Head for the pool!

Mookie Bugs Out

Time reports:

WASHINGTON — Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled Iraq for Iran ahead of a security crackdown in Baghdad and the arrival of 21,500 U.S. troops sent by President Bush to quell sectarian violence, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

Al-Sadr left his Baghdad stronghold some weeks ago, the official said, and is believed to be in Tehran, where he has family. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. monitoring activities, said fractures in al-Sadr's political and militia operations may be part of the reason for his departure. The move is not believed to be permanent, the official said.

Now that's interesting. Mookie decides he wants to spend more time with his family and leaves the building. This is a very good thing.

al-Sadr set up the Mahdi Army militia in 2003. It is suspected of being behind the abduction and murder of thousands of Sunnis in what are known as death squad killings.
The implication in most broadcasts has been that al-Sadr is fleeing in advance of the American/Iraqi surge to impose order on Baghdad, but that's not necessarily the case.

Two key members of al-Sadr's political and military organization were gunned down last week, the latest of as many as seven key figures in the al-Sadr organization killed or captured in the past two months.

The deaths and captures came after al-Maliki, also a Shiite, dropped his protection for the organization.

And that is verrrry interesting. Maliki is finally showing some guts. Is this due to American pressure? Congresscritters will say that it is the threat to cut off funds that has made him act, but there is this.

Shiite leaders insist that the Shiite militias flourished because the U.S. and its allies could not protect civilians. They say if the Sunni insurgents were crushed, the threat from Shiite hard-liners would go away.
And in one of the under-reported stories of the past few months -- that is just what has happened.

There have been consistent reports out of Iraq for several months now that the Sunni insurgency has collapsed and its leaders are frantically trying to make deals for American protection. The collapse of the Sunni terror campaign has removed the justification for al-Sadr's organization and has freed more established Shiite leaders to take reprisals against it.

Mookie is wise to seek the protection of his Iranian overlords. He doesn't have much of a future in Iraq.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

History Teacher -- Bikini Model


A high school history teacher in South Florida was forced to resign after pictures of her modeling a bikini were brought to the attention of the school district. She now has modeled for Playboy and is on the same fast track Anna Nicole was.

Now if she can only find a lonely billionaire....

This is not..., repeat not, what attracted me into the profession. Musty old archives have their unique attractions.

Read about it [with lots more pictures] here.

The Field is Narrowing

I try to keep an open mind, but this does it for me. John McCain is no longer on my list of potential Presidents. He and Joe Lieberman co-authored an opinion piece in the Boston Globe that…, well…, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

THERE IS NOW a broad consensus in this country, and indeed in the world, that global warming is happening, that it is a serious problem, and that humans are causing it. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded there is a greater than 90 percent chance that greenhouse gases released by human activities like burning oil in cars and coal in power plants are causing most of the observed global warming. This report puts the final nail in denial’s coffin about the problem of global warming.

That’s right…, they actually used the “D” word, “DENIAL”!

To confront this challenge, we have reintroduced the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. The bill, which has growing bipartisan support, would harness the power of the free market and the engine of American innovation to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough and quickly enough to forestall catastrophic global warming.

They conclude:

The debate has ended over whether global warming is a problem caused by human activity. Consequently, we can and must act now to solve the problem, or else we will bequeath a dangerous and diminished world to our children and grandchildren.

Read it here.

I’ve met with Joe Lieberman in the past and always found him impressive, but this stuff pushes my buttons in oh so many ways. It saddens me to see Joe embracing it. McCain I’ve never trusted on anything, but was willing to give him a shot. The best light I can put on this is that they do emphasize the need to consult with the business community and to consider the economic impact of environmental measures. That’s something. Maybe they see some legislative action on the environment as inevitable in the coming election season and are seeking to forestall more drastic, economically destructive actions.

That, I emphasize, is the most charitable interpretation I can put on this thing. But even if that is the case, I still cannot support a candidate for President who does not have the sense and courage to stand up to the eco-hysterics.

UPDATE:

Giuliani just blew it too. He thinks Gore doesn’t go far enough!!! [here] Romney’s starting to look better and better. At least he had the guts to make his announcement standing in front of an SUV.

VDH on the Emmys

Victor Davis Hanson reacts to the Dixie Chicks' Emmy sweep by noting something that has been bothering me a lot lately. The persistent leftist bias of many elite institutions has created a rewards system that validates political opinions rather than actual accomplishments. The result is to gradually erode the legitimacy of those awards and the institutions that grant them.

He writes:

In the short-term, all this posturing brings advantage, but in the long-term, Samson-like it is bringing down the temple of our basic institutions....

Read him here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Much Ado About Very Little

One of my inside the beltway correspondents tells me that the technology involved in what are alleged to be Iranian super weapons that have been deployed against US troops in Iraq is not very impressive. The same technology has been used in the US mining industry since the 1920's, the bombs are not very difficult to make, and the knowledge of how to make them is widespread.

I trust this guy's opinion. He's one of the top experts on military technology in the world and knows a lot about the mining industry too.

The opposition press is right to be suspicious of all the hype about these bombs but by no means justified in assuming that these are the drums of war we are hearing.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Relique Revisited





Last week archaeologists digging near Mantua announced a remarkable discovery, the skeletons of a neolithic man and woman entwined in a lovers' embrace [story here]. This immediately brought to mind John Donne's great metaphysical poem, "The Relique," in which lovers are interred together, the burial testifying to a Platonic love that transcends even death.






When my grave is broke up againe
Some second ghest to entertaine1,
(For graves have learn’d that woman-head
To be to more then one a Bed)
And he that digs it, spies
A bracelet of bright haire about the bone,
Will he not let’us alone,
And thinke that there a loving couple lies,
Who thought that this device might be some way
To make their soules, at the last busie day2,
Meet at this grave, and make a little stay?

A bit more thought brought to mind Andrew Marvell's Petrarchian response to Donne idealism in his "To a Coy Mistress":

Thy Beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound
My echoing Song: then Worms shall try
That long preserv'd Virginity:
And you quaint Honour turns to dust;
And into ashes all my Lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.
Obviously, they do. The circumstances of their burial, however, may have been quite different from the philosophical maundering of poets. Some reports had it that both bodies bore signs of having been murdered.

Norwegian Humor -- Introducing the Book

Wonderful..., just wonderful!



Enjoy!

Another Dent In the Scientific Consensus

The "consensus" position on anthropogenic global warming has been based primarily on computer simulation models. Such models are notoriously imprecise, especially in attempting to predict the future behavior of complex systems like a national economy or the environment. They are only as good as the data fed into them and the equations they use to organize that data. Now comes a claim, presented in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society, that one of the key equations used in these models is wrong.
Scientists say that cosmic rays from outer space play a far greater role in changing the Earth's climate than global warming experts previously thought.... Henrik Svensmark, a weather scientist at the Danish National Space Centre who led the team behind the research, believes that the planet is experiencing a natural period of low cloud cover due to fewer cosmic rays entering the atmosphere.

This, he says, is responsible for much of the global warming we are experiencing.
Here's the kicker:

He said: "It was long thought that clouds were caused by climate change, but now we see that climate change is driven by clouds.

"This has not been taken into account in the models used to work out the effect carbon dioxide has had.

"We may see CO2 is responsible for much less warming than we thought and if this is the case the predictions of warming due to human activity will need to be adjusted...."

"Humans are having an effect on climate change, but by not including the cosmic ray effect in models it means the results are inaccurate. The size of man's impact may be much smaller and so the man-made change is happening slower than predicted."

Read it here.

This is serious stuff. The scientists and the organizations conducting this research are real heavyweights, and they must be taken seriously. They are saying that one of the fundamental assumptions underlying the current climate models is wrong, seriously so. This, if borne out by research, could result in discrediting or at least seriously modifying the models upon which current environmental activism is based.

And here we get to the real problem with using scientific opinion, even consensus opinion, to guide public policy. Scientific opinion shifts, frequently and sometimes radially, and when it does policies based on earlier assumptions are invalidated. But policies have consequences, and often those cannot be undone. I'm not saying we should ignore scientific opinion in the crafting of public policy, but it should be balanced by other considerations, political, economic, and even moral.

UPDATE:

Don Boudreaux makes the point that even if the scientific consensus is correct, the environmentalists are by no mean qualified to judge what might be an appropriate response. He writes:

[S]omeone with no firm grasp of economic principles can be as right as right can be about global warming and its causes while simultaneously being utterly benighted about what to do about it and even whether or not something should be done about it.

Read him here.

AND THIS:

From the Times [of London]

Nigel Calder, former editor of the New Scientist, writes:

When politicians and journalists declare that the science of global warming is settled, they show a regrettable ignorance about how science works.

Read the whole thing here.




I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days. I took a nasty fall on Friday morning and was laid up for a while. Nothing serious. The X-rays show no fractures and it's all soft tissue damage which is healing well. One good thing, though, it gives me an excuse to spend an inordinate amount of time in the whirlpool down at the health club.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Iowahawk on Edwards

Iowahawk, the Edwards campaign "official bloggers," need I say more? It's priceless! Warning, extremely foul language.

Read it here.

Truth Teller

Wretchard writes:
Once a "Peace Process" becomes an end in itself, no treachery however vile, should ever persuade the "peacemakers" that their "friend" is actually their enemy.
How true..., how sad but true.

Read his whole post here.

Lebanon Update

In case you were wondering about what is happening in Lebanon, Michael Totten has a fascinating and informative interview with Eli Khoury, who is one of the most perceptive observers of the current situation.

I had wondered who had the brilliant inspiration to feature hot, hot, hot babes in the forefront of the democracy demonstrations during the Cedar Revolution movement. This just might be the guy. It sounds like something he would do.

The First Americans?

National Geographic reports that DNA analysis on a tooth found in a cave on an Alaskan island suggests that humans arrived in the New World relatively recently, about 15,000 years ago. Gee, seems like yesterday!

Read about it here.

Actually this is much earlier than Clovis culture, which until recently was considered to represent the "First Americans," appearing about 11,000 ybp (that's "years before present").

You always have to suspect anything that appears in National Geographic -- they always go for the most dramatic interpretation possible [sells magazines] -- but this seems solid, at least for now. There are many competing perspectives.

Actually, behind this is a major reappraisal, going on for some years now, not only of the timing of human settlement of the New World, but also how humans traveled, how they lived, and where they came from. It used to be assumed that the first humans to enter the Americas were big game hunters who pursued their prey across a temporary land bridge. Now it is generally understood that these new settlers in the Americas were coastal peoples in eastern Asia who pursued maritime prey and were capable of crossing broad stretches of water. The first migration into the Americas was thus not a land migration, but a coastal one that proceeded rapidly north to south, with inland settlement occurring much later.

Here we have yet another example of scientific paradigms shifting -- it happens all the time. Just a few years ago the Berengian Land Walk/Clovis theory was the almost unanimous consensus position among prehistorians and all claims for other interpretations were dismissed out of hand. Scholars tied themselves into conceptual knots trying to find ways to discount contrary evidence. Now, however, a new consensus has emerged, and evidence once conventionally dismissed is now considered to be not only legitimate, but important, while other evidence, once cited as confirming the old paradigm, is now subject to critical scrutiny it had earlier escaped. In other words, what we thought we knew before the shift is quite different from what we now think we know after the shift.

As Thomas Kuhn explained in his enormously important Structure of Scientific Revolutions science normally progresses, not through the gradual accumulation on knowledge, but through periodic radical changes in interpretation [paradigm shifts]. A scientific consensus is thus not something written in stone, but a commonly agreed set of interpretations that is stubbornly defended by the scientific establishment, but can be radically changed once that establishment changes its mind and begins to accept rather than dismiss contrary evidence.

All this has some implications for the current policy debate over the environment. A consensus can change, sometimes radically and quickly. The rapid and radical nature of paradigm shifts, such as is currently taking place in the study of prehistory, should serve to caution those who would base public policy on scientific consensus.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Zimbabwe Update -- Is This the End of Bobby?

Bobby Mugabe's malignantly insane witches brew of racism, Maoism, and anti-colonialism has damaged Zimbabwe to the point where even ZANU-PF is starting to disobey the old monster.

Michael Wines in the NYT reports:

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 6 — For close to seven years Zimbabwe’s economy and quality of life have been in slow, uninterrupted decline. They are still declining this year, people there say, with one notable difference: the pace is no longer so slow.

Indeed, Zimbabwe’s economic descent has picked up so much speed that President Robert G. Mugabe. the nation’s leader for 27 years, is starting to lose support from parts of his own party.

In recent weeks, the national power authority has warned of a collapse of electrical service. A breakdown in water treatment has set off a new outbreak of cholera in the capital, Harare. All public services were cut off in Marondera, a regional capital of 50,000 in eastern Zimbabwe, after the city ran out of money to fix broken equipment. In Chitungwiza, just south of Harare, electricity is supplied only four days a week.

The government awarded all civil servants a 300 percent raise two weeks ago. But the increase is only a fraction of the inflation rate, so the nation’s 110,000 teachers are staging a work slowdown for more money. Measured by the black-market value of Zimbabwe’s ragtag currency, even their new salaries total less than 60 American dollars a month.

Doctors and nurses have been on strike for five weeks, seeking a pay increase of nearly 9,000 percent, and health care is all but nonexistent. Harare’s police chief warned in a recently leaked memo that if rank-and-file officers did not get a substantial raise, they might riot.


Read it here.

The situation is actually much worse than the Times reports. See here, here, here, here, here, oh Hell, just search my blog for "Zimbabwe" -- there are dozens of posts.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Crumbling Internationalist Consensus

Ross Douthat, over at The American Scene, riffs on David Brooks' recent column in the NYT in which Brooks argues:

Today, Americans are disillusioned with the war in Iraq, and many around the world predict that an exhausted America will turn inward again . . .

Forget about it. Americans are having a debate about how to proceed in Iraq, but we are not having a strategic debate about retracting American power and influence. What’s most important about this debate is what doesn’t need to be said. No major American leader doubts that America must remain, as Dean Acheson put it, the locomotive of the world . . .

[T]he next president’s big efforts will not be about retrenchment, but about expansion. They’ll be about expanding the U.S. military, expanding the diplomatic corps, asking for more shared sacrifice, creating new interagency bureaus that will give America more nation-building capacity.
Douthat then surveys other expressions of elite opinion from both Democrat and Republican sources and concludes, rightly I think, that there exists in this country a "neoconservative/neoliberal" elite consensus that is both moralistic and internationalist. From this he reasons, as does Brooks, that the end of the Bush presidency will not signal a retreat from America's global obligations and involvements, including military ones.

But then Douthat suggests that the elite internationalism that characterized most of the Twentieth Century may not survive long into the Twenty-First. He notes among younger pundits and political activists, those under thirty, a marked preference for extreme and irresponsible ideological positions -- libertarianism, isolationism, and McGovernish liberalism.

I have noted this too, as have some of my correspondents, and the neo-isolationist impulse seems to be not just an elite phenomenon. American workers are reacting viscerally against globalization, preferring against all evidence to the contrary to believe that they are suffering from it. And, as technological change begins to churn the middle class job markets, we see similar fears being expressed by non-working class Americans.

Douthat seems to feel that only elite opinion matters, and that is true with regard to the permanent government of professionals who are shielded from the political process, but in a semi-democratic system like our own, voters do matter, and as pressure from below mounts on the nation's political class change will follow. Maybe we won't have to wait three more decades for the next generation of leaders to emerge before the internationalist consensus crumbles. It already has for many, many American voters.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Will on Kyoto

George Will has an eminently sensible article on the global warming brouhaha. He writes:

Climate Cassandras say the facts are clear and the case is closed. (Sen. Barbara Boxer: "We're not going to take a lot of time debating this anymore.") The consensus catechism about global warming has six tenets: 1. Global warming is happening. 2. It is our (humanity's, but especially America's) fault. 3. It will continue unless we mend our ways. 4. If it continues we are in grave danger. 5. We know how to slow or even reverse the warming. 6. The benefits from doing that will far exceed the costs.

Only the first tenet is clearly true, and only in the sense that the Earth warmed about 0.7 degrees Celsius in the 20th century. We do not know the extent to which human activity caused this. The activity is economic growth, the wealth-creation that makes possible improved well-being—better nutrition, medicine, education, etc. How much reduction of such social goods are we willing to accept by slowing economic activity in order to (try to) regulate the planet's climate?

Read it here.

I once read that the essential difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals like to propose "solutions" to problems, while conservatives remind us that there are always trade-offs. As Will points out it is not clear at this point whether or not global warming is a bad thing; nor is it clear that even our most strenuous efforts will make much difference. What is clear, however, is that proposed solutions like Kyoto can be achieved only at tremendous cost to our lives, our economy, and the environment.

UPDATE:

Check out Lorrie Goldstein's response to the political cynicism and mass hysteria that has characterized the environmental movement to date [here].


Tempest in a Teapot -- AEI and Global Warming

Environmentalist lefties are all excited about a recent article in the Guardian claiming that the American Enterprise Institute has been paying scientists to write articles criticizing global warming. This, they argue, is proof that critics of the environmentalist movement are simply paid stooges for corporate America. [read it here]

Well, Jonathan Adler, over at the Volokh Conspiracy, has looked into the matter and finds that there is a lot less fire than smoke here. What has happened is that the AEI, which has regularly criticized the IPCC, is assembling a critical review of its latest report and has issued a call for submissions. That's all. Adler makes the obvious point that, while the AEI volume will certainly be selective and biased, so too is the IPCC report it critiques.

He writes:

If there were evidence that AEI was trying to get individual scientists to change their tune in return for large honoraria, there would undoubtedly be a story here. But there is no evidence this occurred. The general views of Professors Schroeder and North are well knowm to those who work in this area, and were unlikely to be swayed by ths offer (and they were not). More broadly, just as there may be financial incentives to write analyses desired by corporate funders, there are also financial incentives to tailor research projects and findings to increase the likelihood of receiving government grants. This is why I believe scientific studies should be analyzed on their merits, not the source of funding.
Amen [emphasis mine]. This kind of ad hominem attack is all too common.

Read Adler's commentary here.

David Frum expands on the matter:

1) AEI is not, as the enviros claim, a "lobbying group."

2) AEI compensates its contributors; so does the Guardian; so does the UN; so do left wing think tanks; so does the Kennedy School. What is more, the UN pays its contributors a lot more than does the AEI.

3) It is dishonest to portray, as the activists do, the struggle as being between "Big Oil" and the "environment." Oil companies will not pay the costs associated with the reforms; the public will.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Hating Modern Art

Do you hate modern "non-objectivist" art? Do ya? Do ya? C'mon, you do, dontcha? What about atonal music [not the stuff you hum in the morning, the kind presented in concert halls]? Well, you are in good company.

"Spengler" at Asia Times Online shares your contempt. Read his take on modernism in art and music here. He writes:

There are esthetes who appreciate the cross-eyed cartoons of Pablo Picasso, the random dribbles of Jackson Pollock, and even the pickled pigs of Damien Hirst. Some of my best friends are modern artists. You, however, hate and detest the 20th century's entire output in the plastic arts, as do I.

"I don't know much about art," you aver, "but I know what I like." Actually you don't. You have been browbeaten into feigning pleasure at the sight of so-called art that actually makes your skin crawl, and you are afraid to admit it for fear of seeming dull. This has gone on for so long that you have forgotten your own mind. Do not fear: in a few minutes' reading I can break the spell and liberate you from this unseemly condition.

Check it out, you won't be sorry.

I particularly like his last sentence -- so malicious and so deservedly so.

Friday, February 02, 2007

How to Deal with William Arkin -- Iowahawk Has a Few Ideas

Iowahawk debates an appropriate response to William Arkin's repulsive views on the American military. [For Arkin's views on the military go here, and here]

The debate resolution is:

"Should Washington Post Military Analyst William Arkin Be Beaten Like the Repulsive Sack of Shit He Is?"

Read it here. Go ahead..., you'll enjoy it, especially if you know anyone who has served in Iraq.

Remember, this creep writes on military affairs for the Washington Post!

ps: I actually agree with some of what he says. Asking a four-star general what to do about Iraq is like asking the CEO of Enron what to do about the energy crisis, or the CEO of Exxon/Mobil what to do about oil dependency. The point being that none of these are objective, disinterested sources. [For that matter neither are the activist critics] To this extent Arkin is right, but he goes far, far beyond that and I cannot agree with, indeed I condemn, the rest of his commentary.

Academic Censorship

It's not news to anyone who has been paying attention, but John Leo does an excellent job of describing one of the most important problems afflicting America's intellectual institutions; censorship of free thought and expression.

[T]he champions of censorship are mostly on the left. And they are thickest on the ground in our colleges and universities. Since the late 1980s, what should be the most open, debate-driven, and tolerant sector of society has been in thrall to the diversity and political correctness that now form the aggressive secular religion of America’s elites.

The censors have only grown in power, elevating antidiscrimination rules above “absolutist” free-speech principles, silencing dissent with antiharassment policies, and looking away when students bar or disrupt conservative speakers or steal conservative newspapers. Operating under the tacit principle that “error has no rights,” an ancient Catholic theological rule, the new censors aren’t interested in debates or open forums. They want to shut up dissenters.

Read it here.

The problem is serious and is rapidly growing and is something that should concern everyone, students, parents, and the general public. As leftist indoctrination more and more replaces education on American campuses the quality of our national intellectual culture declines rapidly. And, since academic institutions demonstrably are unable resist the Left's attempt to achieve intellectual hegemony, pressure for reform must come from outside academia. The insidious squelching of free thought, described by Leo, is real, it is pervasive, and it invites outside interference in the sacred groves of academe.

A hard rain's a'gonna fall -- and academic radicals have only themselves to blame.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Herouxville Takes a Stand

At last, some sense from North of the Border:

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Immigrants wishing to live in the small Canadian town of Herouxville, Quebec, must not stone women to death in public, burn them alive or throw acid on them, according to an extraordinary set of rules released by the local council.

The declaration, published on the town's Web site, has deepened tensions in the predominantly French-speaking province over how tolerant Quebecers should be toward the customs and traditions of immigrants.

"We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here," said the declaration, which makes clear women are allowed to drive, vote, dance, write checks, dress how they want, work and own property.

"Therefore we consider it completely outside these norms to ... kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc."

Read it here.

Imagine that, not allowing immigrants to stone, burn, or mutilate women! Next thing you know they will be saying you can't rape, strangle, enslave, or cripple them. What's this world coming to? Have they no respect for the hallowed traditions of Islam?

And then this! Women driving, voting, dancing (!), writing checks, dressing as they want, working, owning property. Wow! Keep that up and they will start to question that bit about women being "deficient" compared to men. Can't have that now, can we?

And to top it off, children are no longer allowed to take weapons to school! Imagine that!!!

In the face of provocations like this you can see the need for jihad. Well..., can't you?

These guys sure can:

Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said the declaration had "set the clock back for decades" as far as race relations were concerned.
I'm not sure that's really a complaint. These guys want to set race and gender relations back several centuries, and to them this might be a promising start. To be fair, President Elmenyawi's point is that such laws are based on stereotypes; that most Muslims do not engage in honor killings, mutilations, rapes, etc. But these laws are not aimed at moderate, honorable Muslims. Rather they are aimed at the lunatic fringe that does engage in such barbarity.

One question, though. The story doesn't make it clear. Can they stone women to death in private?

The Perils of Principles

Charles Kessler, writing in the WSJ, notes one of the follies of today’s conservative movement:

Conservatives are offering a curious explanation for the drubbing they took at the polls: they blame the Republicans. The 2006 elections were not a conservative defeat, you see; they were a Republican one, a rejection of a party that had strayed too far from the conservative path.

Read the whole thing here.

Kessler treats this lunacy with far more respect than it deserves. I call it lunacy for two main reasons. First, it assumes that mainstream voters punished Republicans for being too liberal. That is sheer nonsense. What really happened is that die-hard conservatives stayed home in droves in order to teach the party leadership “a lesson”. Afterwards they crowed about the “thumping” they had administered to the party. It was the movement conservatives, not moderates and mainstream voters, who cost the Republicans control of Congress in 2006.

Secondly, as Kessler notes, there is no agreement as to what constitutes “conservatism” these days. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union conservatives of various stripes have been charting independent courses while hurling occasional broadsides at those who they see as abandoning the faith. There cannot be a return to conservative principles until there is some agreement as to what those principles are.

In his article Kessler identifies the following denizens of the conservative menagerie:

1) “Civil Society conservatism” – an anticipation of what Bush calls, “Compassionate Conservatism,” that recognizes an obligation for the government to act to meliorate social injustices.

2) "Third Wave" conservatism – that placed its faith in technological solutions to current problems.

3) National Greatness conservatism – which sees a dominant role for the United States in shaping the emerging world order.

4) Libertarianism – solipsistic conservativism.

To these we can add:

5) Small government conservatism on the Reaganite model that has as its major concern shrinking the size and scope of government.

6) Fiscal conservatism – deficit hawkishness.

7) And of course “social conservatism” that sees an active role for government in sustaining traditional institutions and promoting traditional values.

8) And in the field of foreign policy you have “neo-conservatism” that advocates the use of American power to promote classical liberal political and economic doctrines and institutions throughout the world.

9) And countering them are a conservative “realists,” “protectionists,” and “isolationists” who see a much more constrained role for the United States in world affairs and who view globalization with fear and loathing.

10) And then there are the various philosophical schools of conservatism – Straussians, Oakeshottians, Burkeans, and the like.

I could go on, but these are sufficient to illustrate the problem. Not all of these "conservative" positions are mutually exclusive, but enough of them are so to make it impossible to carve out a clear and broadly inclusive conservative program.

The Republican Party is a “big-tent” institution, what political scientists used to call an “umbrella party,” that can ideally accommodate a number of differing points of view within its ranks. All too many conservatives, however, would like to turn it into an ideological party more concerned with virtue than winning elections. But to focus on one, or a few, of these positions runs the risk of alienating a significant number of “conservative” voters.

The problem is not apostacy – it is infantile truculence dressed up in fancy terms such as the "politics of principle." Conservative temper tantrums cost the party dearly in the last elections, and a similar outburst could do the same in 2008 and beyond. By all means conservatives should have vigorous and robust debate over principles and programs. But at some point in the coming year, the ideologues are going to have to accept the need to compromise their principles and to unify behind a single candidate who will imperfectly represent their ideas. In other words they will have to grow up. If they do not, the Republican Party will be doomed to decades of defeat and conservatives will be consigned to the margins of American political culture.