Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Swings

Saddam Hussein was hanged. (The right word is hanged. Hung is something else entirely, something good for porn stars.) He deserved to die. Justice was served -- but was it delayed?

To me the most interesting questions are: Is it necessary and proper to have a courtroom trial of a dictator whose country we invade? Was the rule of law strengthened in Iraq by a Iraqi trial of their former dictator? Did America buy goodwill and respect from muslims by allowing Iraq to try Saddam or did we look weak and lose respect? Would America be better off establishing the principle that we will summarily execute any dictator who initiates force against us?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I would be interested in reading the opinions of experts in international law, war and foreign policy.

Josh Trevino rounds up the reaction on the left side of the blogosphere to Saddam’s execution. One might regret their moral equivalence, but I think their reactions are mostly colored by their hatred of Bush. Bush’s Middle East policy must lead to nothing good in their minds, not even the death of a sadistic monster like Saddam Hussein. If a Democrat were President, all but the most recalcitrant anti-American leftists would be cheering. America would be better off if Democrat and Republican partisans could think a little more deeply than my gang vs. your gang.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Lakers: 30 Games In

19-11. They just went 3-3 on a road trip without Lamar Odom. Could be worse. They must improve their defense if they want to compete with San Antonio, Dallas and Utah.

Tonight they lost a triple overtime game to a bad team, the Charlotte Bobcats, 133-124. Bad teams seem to get up for the Lakers. It was the Lakers' first triple overtime since 1980. There was too much Kobe like last year. The superstar tried to win it himself and scored 58 points. His energy sapped by the long road trip and the flu, Kobe's body was exhausted by the third overtime.

Will Chris Mihm come back from his injury this year? They could use him.

UPDATE: Mihm underwent ankle surgery on December 7 and will take 6-8 months to recover. He is out for the season.

Gerald Ford, RIP

Gerald Ford was the best President of the 1970’s. That’s not saying a lot, but he was better than Carter and Nixon. (Nixon I hold as the worst President in history – but that’s a whole other blog post.) He was a decent man and not a religious conservative. Since he was a Republican he was smeared by the MSM (which was the only media back then) as stupid and ineffectual. When an Al Gore says a leopard can’t change its stripes, his gaff is ignored; let a Republican make such a dumb misstatement and it becomes central to his story.

Given Ford’s decisive reaction to the Mayaguez and Carter’s feckless response to the Iran hostage crisis, one has to wonder how history would have been different had Ford beat Carter in 1976. Might we have supported the Shah and stopped the Mullahs from taking power in Iran? Would the hostage crisis have happened? Would Ford have responded more forcefully than Carter to the hostage crisis? Would the Soviet Union have invaded Afghanistan? Would domestic policy have been as bad? Would Ford have created the Departments of Energy and Education? We’ll never know the answers to these questions, but it’s safe to say Ford would have been a better President than Carter. Chevy Chase would have been a better President than Carter.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Listen to the Future

Recently I listened to three lecture series, The Rise of Totalitarian Islam by Yaron Brook, Defensor Patriae: The Homeland Defense in History by John Lewis and Postmodernism by Robert Garmong. The three series can be thought of as a trilogy. The Rise of Totalitarian Islam describes the enemy with whom we are at war. Defensor Patriae instructs us on what we need to do to win the war. And Postmodernism shows us why we are not winning the war. It is an illuminating overview of our current crisis.

Since 2001, like many Americans, I have learned more about the Middle East than I wanted to know. Before the first Gulf War I think I could have spotted Mesopotamia on the map faster than Iraq. I would have been happy to remain ignorant about a backward region that makes women cover their faces. I would have been happy to ignore a culture with music that sounds like a cross between a squeaky door hinge and a cat in heat. Let them exist in their oriental strangeness; I have more important things to think about. However, this culture has forced itself upon our attention.

As much as I have learned in the last five years, nothing I have read has been as instructive as The Rise of Totalitarian Islam. You hear a lot of confusing BS on TV about why terrorists are attacking us: they’re poor, they’re angry about colonialism, they’re angry because we supported dictators, they’re angry because we take their oil, they’re angry about "Baywatch" and Madonna. They’re always angry about something. Dr. Brook shows that the fundamental reason they are at war with the west is the spread since the 1920’s of an ideology. Everything they do – suicide bombing, attacking the west to establish a caliphate, killing Americans and even killing innocent Muslims if necessary – has been urged on them in books written in large part by the Muslim Brotherhood. Understand their ideas and you understand the enemy.

Dr. Brook actually apologizes at the end for being so depressing. The lecture series is not called The Rise and Fall of Totalitarian Islam. The movement is still on the rise and things will get worse before they get better. For all of that, his talks inspired me with more optimism than anything I have heard lately because they show how quickly ideas can move history. Some mystic in an Egyptian jail cell would write an idiotic book and within decades the Middle East would be changed as Muslims set about putting ideas into action. In this lecture course you see in concrete, trucklike fashion how ideas move history. It’s not just an abstraction that happens over centuries, but a process that can be seen in the course of a lifetime. I believe that a rational philosophy, even one at odds with 2,000 years of mysticism and altruism, can spread rapidly and transform (and save) Western Civilization.

John Lewis’s Defensor Patriae uses four famous wars, the Persian War, the Peloponnesian War, the Second Punic War and the American Civil War to support in an inductive fashion his thesis that war must be won by destroying the enemy society’s will to wage it. As he shows, defeating an enemy’s army is not the end, but a means to the end of defeating the enemy. He is not afraid to take the controversial stand that a civilian society that supports a war cannot complain if the war is brought to it. Indeed, he shows quite convincingly that the only way to win a war is take the war to the civilians so that they too know defeat. If a people is not defeated and demoralized, then like the Germans after WWI and the Carthaginians after the First Punic War and the Spartans until Epaminondas of Thebes brought war to their gates, a people will long for another war against an enemy that has been merciful or inept in a previous war.

Robert Garmong’s Postmodernism takes on a philosophical movement that is maddeningly difficult to analyze and understand. Unlike Marxism for instance, Postmodernism does not have a grand, unified vision. Instead it is disintegrated and ad hoc. Worse, it is illogical, incoherent and inconsistent, so if you try to pin them down or abstract their principles, Postmodernists can always obfuscate, talk nonsense or just plain lie. And they have no problem lying; when there is no objective truth, only “narratives,” a lie is equal to the truth and even better if it serves the end of establishing power over evil capitalists. All the ideologies of the New Left – feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, animal rights, whatever – are species of Postmodernism.

As I heard Dr. Garmong explain this philosophy, I was struck by two things. First, there is not much to Postmodernism. It is flimsy and slight, like a cream puff that you bite into to find it is mostly air. (Well, to complete the analogy, it is a cream puff that tastes bad and lacks nutritional content – which makes no sense, but neither does the philosophy.) Take the idea that there is no truth. You respond, “Is that true?” As Aristotle showed, skepticism is self-refuting. Second, the philosophy is dishonest. Such a ramshackle house of contradictions has to be dishonest, otherwise no one would bother with it.

Postmodernism is a philosophy built on obscure jargon and arguments from intimidation. It is a movement that depends on students whose minds have been crippled by progressive education so that they cannot think independently and will respond to vague nonsense because those in authority glow with a smug air of moral superiority when they mouth it. Such a philosophy is, as Gary Hull put it, a black hole of nihilism. I don’t see how it can last. It should collapse quickly once a rational alternative spreads.

Unfortunately, this black hole dominates the west today and it has done tremendous damage in the last half century. It is the reason we have not confronted the enemy in our war with totalitarian Islam. In WWII we fought the enemy, defeated it and imposed our way of life upon it. Such a war depends on the confidence that America is moral and that we have a selfish right to exist and that our values are better than the enemy’s. Multiculturalism, a product of Postmodernism, undermines all those premises. America cannot fight a war if its predominant intellectuals do not think it deserves to win. Without moral confidence, no nation can wage a war.

If you want to understand today’s world with a clarity provided by no other movement, listen to the lectures by these three Objectivists, Yaron Brook, John Lewis and Robert Garmong. Listen to the future.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Just Put Me Out Of My Misery

As Ace of Polipundit puts it, “a four day gala for the new queen”:

All will converge on Washington in early January to take part in four days of events surrounding the swearing-in of Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who will be elected the new speaker of the House and the first woman and first Californian to occupy the post.

After running through a long list of planned events designed to highlight different phases of 66-year-old Pelosi’s life, her spokesman Brendan Daly said, “Overall this is who Nancy Pelosi is. And this is a chance for people to meet Nancy Pelosi and see who she is.'’

Events designed to highlight different phases of Nancy Pelosi’s life? I think I’d rather listen to a Yoko Ono CD during a root canal by a dentist who sticks four implements in my mouth then asks, "So, how's work going," while Oprah plays silently on a TV screen in the dentist’s office.

A Few Notes

1. The light blogging will continue. I’m working hard again this week, trying to finish up for the year. If I see some interesting, I might post about it, but nothing big.

2. I’m a wiggly worm in that ecosystem of Truth Laid Bear. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be a microbe soon. Devolution in action! But fear not, this worm is no whiner. My readers are few, but they are of extraordinarily high quality. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

3. George Reisman has an interesting post on Pinochet. The dictator must be kept in context, which the MSM never do because Pinochet was anti-communist. Nice Mises quote at the end of the post.

4. Charlotte Capitalist observes what might be the start of a trend: a war by the left on cows?! But it makes sense that they would go after cows, since humans enjoy the products of cows so much. I might note that the best way to make bos taurus an endangered species is to render it useless to man, but... never mind. My irony would be lost on all but the choir.

5. Read on the internet: "u need to like me for my persanality and not for wut i look like."

Would it be shallow to judge you by your spelling? One sees a lot of writing like this, especially at the big brain drain, Myspace. Is it the internet or government schools or something else?

6. Here’s a parting thought. All the New Left’s arguments for environmental and health regulations are just rationalizations in their quest to destroy capitalism and reshape the west by the standards of altruism-collectivism-statism. And if they have to fudge a few facts or monger a little fear along the way, the end justifies the means. Their goal is too important and capitalists are too evil to play nice by the old rules. (Moreover, capitalism is a system of justice. In a free country, statist mediocrities have no one but themselves to blame for their inadequacies. So you see, their mission is of absolute importance to statists; without it, they would have to look in the mirror.)

UPDATE: As I work I'm writing a post on Liberaltarians that I hope to put up today. Stay tuned!

FURTHER UPDATE: No, that post won't happen today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Light Blogging

1. Swamped at work. I have some 20-24 hours of work to do in the next 28 hours. Plus I have to hassle with year-end performance review. For someone who supports capitalism, I do poorly with corporate BS. I quit my last job when they started scheduling “diversity training.” There were other factors involved in my decision, but that was one consideration. I didn’t need the job that much. Light blogging this week.

2. Hugh Laurie, the actor who plays House, also played Bertie Wooster on the BBC Jeeves and Wooster series. Talk about range! Can you think of two characters less similar than House and Bertie Wooster?

3. What's worse, Britney Spears not wearing underpants in a dress or a radio morning show that talks about it for half an hour?

4. "It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income." -- Benjamin Franklin

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." -- Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's America is long gone.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Iraq Study Group Report

I’m not impressed by the Iraq Study Group Report. I’m not alone. As Jack Kelly writes,


After reviewing the report of the Iraq Study Group, released Wednesday, New York Post editorial page editor John Podhoretz declared: "The nation's capital hasn't seen such concentrated wisdom in one place since Paris Hilton dined alone at the Hooters on Connecticut Avenue."

Stratfor, a private intelligence service, said the ISG report was "underwhelming." Retired Army intelligence officer Ralph Peters called it a "muddle of truisms and bad ideas." The conservative National Review called it "an analytic embarrassment." Fred Kaplan, military writer for the liberal Webzine Slate, said its recommendations were "a useless grab bag." T. F. Boggs, an Army sergeant recently returned from his second tour in Iraq, said the recommendations were a "joke" that "could only have come from a group of old people who have been stuck in Washington for too long."

The always entertaining Mark Steyn focuses on how the document screws Israel:


Oh, but lest you think there are no minimum admission criteria to James Baker's "Support Group," relax, it's a very restricted membership: Arabs, Persians, Chinese commies, French obstructionists, Russian assassination squads. But no Jews. Even though Israel is the only country to be required to make specific concessions -- return the Golan Heights, etc. Indeed, insofar as this document has any novelty value, it's in the Frankenstein-meets-the-Wolfman sense of a boffo convergence of hit franchises: a Vietnam bug-out, but with the Jews as the designated fall guys. Wow. That's what Hollywood would call "high concept."

Robert Tracinski says the recommendations are vague aspirations:


What the ISG offers us are mere aspirations, with no serious consideration of the concrete means required to fulfill those aspirations.



A real change in policy for Iraq wouldn't start and end with a collection of vague aspirations. It would start with a clear-eyed, realistic assessment of the facts that explain the chaos in Iraq--the facts that explain why all of the aspirations stated by the Iraq Study Group have not yet been met.

The basic fact is that the conflict in Iraq, from the very beginning, has been stoked by Syria and Iran. These dictatorial regimes are stoking the conflict because the success of the American mission in Iraq is an obvious threat to their very existence. They can't afford the example of a free nation in the region, nor can they afford the example of a successful exertion of American power on their doorsteps.


Elan Journo points out that the report misses the essential:


The Iraq Study Group has issued many specific recommendations, but the options boil down to a maddeningly limited range: pull out or send more troops to do democracy-building and, either way, "engage" the hostile regimes in Iran and Syria. Missing from the list is the one option our self-defense demands: a war to defeat the enemy. If you think we've already tried this option and failed, think again. Washington's campaign in Iraq looks nothing like the war necessary for our self-defense.

As Andy at Charlotte Capitalist notes, the purpose of the report is to nation-build a secure Iraq. Both Bush and the report focus on America sacrificing for a better Iraq. This is the wrong purpose, the wrong expenditure of taxpayers’ money and the wrong reason to send men and women in the military to die. Our purpose should be to destroy the enemy and make America safe. We are not doing this and the ISG Report will not advance the cause of American security.

The Iraq Study Group is not a group of wise men (and one woman); it is a group of politicians who cannot think in principle. People like James Baker and Lee Hamilton really know about one thing: how to succeed in Washington, D.C. They know the ins and outs of government, bureaucracy, media and so on. They know how to do the things necessary for a long career in government: getting past the daily crisis with minimum damage, shmoozing, brown nosing, getting good press and speaking in banalities that will anger as few people as possible. These are people who have spent decades watching the government grow and our freedoms erode; they didn't just watch, they caused it. Judged by the standard of liberty, their lives are miserable failures. Does anyone think they will suddenly become wise and noble?

I’d like to note just a few passages in the report. From p. 23:


There are proposals to redistribute a portion of oil revenues directly to the population on a per capita basis. These proposals have the potential to give all Iraqi citizens a stake in the nation’s chief natural resource, but it would take time to develop a fair distribution system. Oil revenues have been incorporated into state budget projections for the next several years. There is no institution in Iraq at present that could properly implement such a distribution system. It would take substantial time to establish, and would have to be based on a well-developed state census and income tax system, which Iraq currently lacks.

Did it not occur to anyone on the ISG that this is communism? It's not Stalinism, but redistribution of wealth is basically communism. Is this how to run an oil company? Did anyone think to consult a good economist on this scheme?

Are Americans dying to bring communism to Iraq? I guess it really is Vietnam -- 58,000 Americans died there and it ended up communist, too.

How about this from p. 58:


RECOMMENDATION 66: The United States should take the lead in funding assistance requests from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and other humanitarian agencies.

Take the lead? Who already has the lead? Let me rewrite this recommendation so that it makes sense.

RECOMMENDATION 66: The United States should continue its altruistic policy of the last 50 years of taking money from American taxpayers and throwing it down the sewer that is the United Nations. It won’t do a damned bit of good, but it might appease the hell-holes of the world until tomorrow afternoon.

I hope the ISG Report was printed on soft paper. They can ship it to the Middle East and the people there can use it as toilet paper.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lakers: 20 Games In

Charles Barkley said the Clippers are still the best team in LA. Charles Barkley is WRONG. The Lakers are 14-6 (.700) and the Clippers are 10-9 (.526). The Lakers have a balanced attack, a good bench, a great coaching staff, they’re getting healthy and they are improving on defense and turnovers. On top of all this they have the greatest player in the game today, Kobe Bryant.

Can we say with confidence they are among the elite in the NBA? Not quite. They still have to go through a long road trip, which they will do later this month. After that, we’ll know.

How about that Atlantic Division?

New Jersey 7-12 (.368)
New York 8-14 (.364)
Toronto 7-13 (.350)
Boston 6-13 (.312)
Philadelphia 5-14 (.263)

Philadelphia, at 5-14, is only 2 games out of first place.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rock Star








Rock Star
You scored 98%!
You damn rock star. You know all the basics, and if you got any wrong, I bet it was that stupid Traveling Wilburys question. Your friends are probably intimidated by your knowledge of classic rock and envy your impressive collection. When a classic rock song comes on the radio, you can probably identify it before the vocals kick in most of the time. You probably get good scores on the "maiden name of Clapton's mom" tests, too.







My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:










free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 64% on notes
Link: The BASIC classic rock Test written by allmydays on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
Well, I scored higher than Grant Jones. But it said I got 51 out of 51. Shouldn't my score by 100%, not 98%?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Random Notes

1. I got cast in “Witness For the Prosecution” by Agatha Christie, being produced by this company. I got the part of Myers, the prosecutor, one of the two parts I wanted. I guess that fits my “hang the bastard” mentality. When I see a defense attorney on TV I assume he is a liar and probably an America-hating hippie to boot. Rehearsals begin in January. This will slow down my blogging some, but won’t stop it.

2. I am 156 pages into R.R. Bolgar’s The Classical Heritage. It is great. I would call it a history of education from late Rome through the Renaissance. Even the chapter on Byzantium was fascinating. Now, history of education and Byzantium are not two topics that make my blood race. Put them together and you’ve got a soporific cocktail, right? No, Bolgar makes essential identifications; he pulls the empirical facts of history together to find the principles and trends.

This book is not for everyone. It is learned and advanced, written in a dense style with long paragraphs. 25 years ago it would have bored me to tears, but now I’ve read enough about the history of philosophy to get something out of Bolgar. It is thrilling to see a brilliant mind with a first-rate understanding of the material induce the essential and the important from the facts of history.

3. When I watch the Lakers I see a TV commercial for a WWE (professional wrestling) video game. This might be the only sports related video game that is actually more realistic than the sport. At least the outcome of the video game is in doubt.

4. If you want to hear a good pop song, check out this Christmas video by Heidi Klum on Trey Givens’s blog. The melody is catchy and Heidi Klum is easy on the eyes. She is married to someone called Seal. What does Seal have that I don’t have? I mean, other than talent, wealth, fame and sex appeal. Those things are so shallow.

Warning: This video is pure, happy pop. It will nauseate hard rockers and send Metallica fans and Gwar fans into convulsions. Fans of Slayer risk an agonizing death, which come to think of it, might turn them on.

Sherlock Holmes

I read my first Sherlock Holmes story, “A Scandal in Bohemia.” It is brilliantly written with an excellent plot and it shows Holmes as a repressed valuer. (To be accurate, I read a Sherlock Holmes story when I was young, but have forgotten it.)

My only problems are with Holmes’s character. I have a hard time believing that someone who spends his off-time in a cocaine-induced daze could be so brilliant. The cocaine users I have known have not exactly been Sherlock Holmeses. This is, well, elementary.

Holmes’s epistemology is unrealistic. His remarkable power of observation provides the stories with much of their delight, but in reality observation must serve purpose. Holmes knows how many stairs lead to his apartment, but what purpose does this serve? Someone who went around noticing these things every day would have a strange mind cluttered with unimportant facts, like an autistic savant.

Another problem is his reason-emotion dichotomy. Watson the narrator says,

It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer – excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his.

In reality emotions can be tools to help one know what is important if one contemplates their meaning. Emotions are psychosomatic responses to values; a threat to values causes fear, injustice causes anger, etc. Emotions are essential to evaluating reality. Someone like Holmes would have a hard time functioning successfully because he would not have his own emotions to use as clues for understanding. He would be a detective cut off from some of the most important clues humans can use!

Setting aside psychological realism, or lack thereof, Holmes’s epistemology does provide tremendous drama for the stories. Falling in love would be the most disastrous thing that could happen to him; this sets up a value-conflict between love and crime-fighting, and value-conflict is the stuff of drama. (I would expect to see Miss Irene Adler return in other stories, but I don’t know.)

With the value-conflict and the plot, “A Scandal in Bohemia” is superb romantic fiction. We’ll see if the other stories are this good.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

No Hope

One brave Muslim has spoken up, and that is always good, but it does not give me hope for his religion. Frankly, I think Islam is hopeless. Totalitarian politics is too much a part of the religion for it to reform itself. It must be utterly defeated and then Islamic countries must have individual rights imposed upon them as we did to Japan after WWII.

The most important question is: do we have the will to do what is necessary or has multiculturalism crippled the west? I asked myself this question in the days following September 11, 2001 and I concluded that we do not have what it takes to win. I still see no cause for hoping that we can impose our way of life on Islam, not with the New Left’s stranglehold on our culture. I see a long, drawn out war of half measures looming before us, punctuated by Islamic atrocities on American soil to which we respond with a burst of force then lapse back into our self-induced helplessness. Our half measures will only reinforce radical Islam’s conviction that morality is on their side.

The worst scenario: Islam provokes us so greatly and our outrage is so intense that... who knows what might happen. Multiculturalism fosters a "my gang vs. your gang" mentality because, although it pretends to be about tolerance, it encourages people to think of themselves as members of a collective, not as individuals. Multiculturalism can lead to rivers of blood, but not to liberty. Multiculturalism will stop us from imposing capitalism and individual rights on Islam, but our desire for justice will drive us to kill the enemy. Woe unto Islam if it comes to this.

Whatever happens, I believe things will get much worse before they get better.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

Shotgun Fits Me Best

You scored as Shotgun. Bang! You need shotgun, because it can transform enemy into bloody spaghetti in no time. Maybe you played DOOM too much...

Shotgun

75%

SMG

75%

Machinegun

75%

Assault Rifle

63%

Sniper Rifle

56%

Revolver

38%

Pistol

19%

What Firearm Fits You Best?
created with QuizFarm.com

If it's good enough for the Vice-President...

(HT: Rule of Reason)

Mind-Boggling

Daily Pundit quotes an MSNBC.com piece:

Anytime an American fires a weapon there has to be an investigation into why there was an escalation of force.

I wonder what General Sherman or General Patton would have thought of this policy? As Bill Quick writes:

This is not how to fight a war. This is not how a military fights a war. This is how a military fights a war under politically correct, politically generated rules that guarantee disaster and defeat.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hey, Al!

Al Davis might want to sign this guy to coach the Oakland Raiders. If he can do all that from his basement, he should be able to do better than 2-10.

Just Had to Post This Cartoon

Found at the Steel Deal:


Monday, December 04, 2006

Random Notes

1. Jeff Jacoby reminds us how disastrous Bush 41’s foreign policy was. Bush the Elder’s Presidency was maddening. I can’t remember the specifics, but I remember one day when Bush said something in the morning, then received a flurry of criticism on talk radio and said the exact opposite that afternoon. It was a Heraclitean Presidency -- you couldn't stick your foot in the same principles twice. Bush’s pragmatic foreign policy was short-term fixes and evading problems in hopes that they will go away now, and we’ll deal with tomorrow’s crisis when it arises.

(HT: Forum)

2. I auditioned today for “Witness For the Prosecution.” There are two good roles I could play. I hope I get one. I’ll let you know.

3. McDonald’s coffee is better than Starbucks. I am confident that if Starbucks made hamburgers, they would be better than McDonald’s.

4. If you have ever read a play by August Strindberg, check out these cartoons. Okay, check them out even if you have not read Strindberg. They excerpt passages from the loony Swedish playwright at his most pessimistic, lines like, "We are already in hell." And then this balloon thing repeats various words and... trust me, it's hilarious.

As an actor I find Strindberg interesting because his characters are complex and challenging; at the same time, he makes me giggle because he is weird and has no self-awareness of his weirdness. He is sincerely weird, as no post-modern could be. Best taken in small doses.

A Myrhaf Stewart Moment

I once wrote an email to a coworker complaining at length about the inadequacies of our boss. My critique was withering; I pulled no punches. As I reached for my mouse to click send, I noticed the email was addressed to... our boss! Yes, I was one mouse click away from a VERY embarrassing moment.

My mother would say the moral of this story is if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all. Obviously, I didn't listen to my mother. The moral I draw is check twice before you click send, because once you do, you can't get it back.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Chairman Mehlman Speaks

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said this in a speech:

Any government that is as big as ours, as powerful as ours, that controls so much of our lives, will always be susceptible to corruption.

Because power does corrupt.

But we can reduce the temptation by taking power out of Washington and putting it back into the hands of the American people.

It has to be us.

It has to be our Party.

Because the Democrat Party sure won't do it.

They're the party of government.

They believe it has the answer to every question, the solution to every problem.

We Republicans don't believe that . . . but sometimes, over the last few years, we've behaved as if we do.


Sometimes over the last few years? As Neal Boortz writes:

In the 12 years since Republicans took over the House of Representatives, the size of the federal government has doubled. That's right...it's now twice the size of what it was in January of 1995. And it's not hard to see why. Look at all of the new agencies that have been created and/or expanded. The Department of Homeland Security? That was a Republican idea. No Child Left Behind? So much for getting rid of the Education Department...the Republicans expanded it.

Prescription drug coverage for Medicare...that's another one. The list goes on and on. Then there were the endless pork projects the GOP was pushing...the bridge to nowhere among them. There is no question that the Republican Party became the party of big government. The only difference between them and the Democrats is they like to borrow money instead of raise it through taxation.

You know what Alcoholics Anonymous teaches. You must admit you have a problem before you begin to treat it. Repeat after me, Ken, “I am a Republican. I am a big spender. Like the Democrat Party, my party is a party of big government.”

And what about this line from Chairman Mehlman's speech?

I'm talking about expanding the role of faith in the public square for people who need not just a hot meal, but sustenance for the soul.

What th…? Government should be providing people sustenance for the soul? Is that what the Republican Party stands for now?

Sustenance for the soul comes from ideas, values and art. I don’t want the government deciding what ideas, values and art my soul should be fed. That’s what totalitarian states do. That’s what the Inquisition did.

Smug fools like Ken Mehlman will march this country to hell, preening every step of the way about how they’re not as bad as the Democrats.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fantasy By Force

George Reisman looks at a new rule being considered in New York City. From the New York Times:

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate even if they have not had sex-change surgery.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent.

Applicants would have to have changed their name and shown that they had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years, but there would be no explicit medical requirements.

Dr. Reisman goes beyond politics and ethics to examine the epistemological meaning of this law. Among the points he makes:

What is present in the rule being considered by New York City’s Board of Health is an attempt to forcibly impose the fantasy of some people on everyone else. It is an attempt to elevate fantasy to the level of actual reality and to compel everyone else to accept it as though it were reality.

In this rule New York City will force people to recognize A as non-A.

This is the logical end of the premise of egalitarianism. Fantasy is inherent in egalitarianism, which wipes out distinctions and treats all people as if they were metaphysically equal. If a man wants to call himself a woman, who are we to deny him that right? Who are we to say, “No, that is false”?

A generation ago this ruling would have been a reductio ad absurdum argument against egalitarianism and multiculturalism. People would have responded, “Oh, come on -- the New Left will never take it to that extreme.” Yesterday’s absurdities are becoming today’s laws in New York City.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Recent Acquisitions

I received a used book bought through amazon, R.R. Bolgar’s The Classical Heritage and Its Beneficiaries: From the Carolingian Age to the End of the Renaissance, a Harper Torchbook published in 1964. It looks promising. The book is about the good effects of classical civilization on western civilization. Bolgar wrote before the rise of the New Left, so I don’t think I’ll come across the words “dead white males” in this book.

The cover features a poor black and white reproduction of the inevitable, Raphael’s School of Athens. You know the painting: Plato is pointing up, Aristotle is gesturing out at the world. On how many philosophy book covers has this painting been used?

I also received the December 2006 Commentary, which has a review of Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope. I won’t be buying his book, as I like to say that anyone who buys a book written by a politician deserves to read it. But I must ask, what is it with Democrats and hope? The word makes their knees weak, and yet, if they really gave a good goddamn about hope, then they would not be socialists. Socialism destroys hope for everyone, even those weak and needy ones it purports to help. Capitalism provides opportunity, raises the general standard of living, advances technology and everything else and creates wealth. Without capitalism there is no hope. Liberals use the word hope to expand the state and destroy the real cause of hope – another example of the parasitic nature of evil.

Any big government liberal who writes a book called The Audacity of Hope is saying to me, “I am a mediocrity who cannot think in anything but the treacliest of bromides and I expect to appeal to ignoramuses who respond emotionally to fuzzy words but do not think critically.” Yes, he is a politician for our time. I expect him to go far.

Good Line

Found at Cassandra Page:

“Six imams removed from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix are calling on Muslims to boycott the airline. If only we could get Muslims to boycott all airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether.” – Ann Coulter

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Nancy He Knew

Ethan Wallison has given us an insider’s look at Nancy Pelosi in “The Nancy I Knew.” He paints a portrait of the liberal mindset. Because Pelosi is certain that her motives are pure, she can break rules and scheme against others. Anyone who opposes her, she believes is motivated by “malice.” Also of interest is how important her sex was in her climb to the leadership. Being “the first woman such-and-such” is essential to feminists. New Leftists go through life judging people not as individuals, but as members of a group. It is hard to overstate how collectivism warps leftist thinking.

But... if we bomb them, they will get mad

Dr. Hurd quotes this:

MSNBC: You don’t think Bush will attack Iran in the end?

Biden: I don’t think so … The reason being, we have no capacity to do that. Even with airstrikes, now that you’ve energized the Iranian population, what do you do then? (Senator Joe Biden, Democrat, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the new Congress)

We don’t have the capacity to bomb Iran because that will “energize” the Iranian population. And what do you do then?

How about this? We light a cigar, pour some champagne and laugh at the energized Iranians. Not only will this feel good, but we’ll get the additional pleasure of pissing off the French.

Senator Biden needs to think outside the appeasement box. Stopping the Islamofascist regime of the mullahs from getting nuclear weapons is a good thing. If it angers the Iranian people, then they deserve to be provoked.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Practical or the Moral?

Paul Mirengoff writes:

Republicans concluded that pure government bashing won't work politically during the Clinton years. Hence President Bush's "compassionate" or "big government" conservatism.

Is that right? Were Republicans for smaller government, but then they saw that it didn’t work politically so they threw out their principles and proceeded to expand the state even greater than Clinton did and with the drug prescription program passed the biggest welfare state program since LBJ’s Great Society? If that is so, then the Republicans are cowards without integrity.

I don’t think Mr. Mirengoff is right. I think Bush and many if not most Republicans are ideologically committed to big government. You don’t come up with a theory of government like “compassionate conservatism” solely as a cynical ploy to win votes. Bush’s favorite political philosopher was an altruist. Bush might be the most idealistic President since Woodrow Wilson. He is committed to doing what he thinks is right, both at home and abroad.

The Republicans must look deeper than political tactics and “what works”; they must examine their ideals.

Sandra Shaw's Art History I

I listened to the first hour of Sandra Shaw’s course, Art History I, which is available online for free. This hour is on prehistoric art. I was surprised by how interesting it was. Sandra Shaw makes some essential identifications on Cro-Magnon art and culture, explains how it is superior to other stone-age art and even suggests a connection with Western Civilization. It is a breathtaking synthesis, although the connection with later European culture, which she makes only in one brief sentence, remains speculative and maybe I misunderstood her point on one listening.

I will pay to hear the rest of the course.

Casino Royale

I enjoyed Casino Royale immensely. The Bond franchise lost its confidence during the Roger Moore era due to what Ayn Rand called “bootleg romanticism.” The filmmakers didn’t take the series seriously and as a result the movies became campy and utterly unrealistic. Some things such as the opening sequences were there just because people expect a Bond film to follow a certain formula, and these sequences became outrageously over the top and unintegrated with a coherent plot.

The new Bond takes itself seriously. Every action sequence is integrated into the plot. The movie has an excellent script; it is thrilling and romantic, with some first-rate plot twists. I would say Daniel Craig's Bond is second only to Sean Connery. He is a more naturalistic Bond who gets cut up and bleeds and he is quite intense. He has a little Mike Hammer in him; he seems to be on a moral mission and, with his license to kill, willing to be judge, jury and hangman.

SPOILER IN THIS PARAGRAPH. The story even has a theme -- when was the last time you could say that about a Bond film? The theme is tragic: one must lose one's humanity and any chance at a normal, happy life to become a 00 agent. I believe the tragedy comes with taking a story seriously these days. Today's filmmakers cannot put happiness and seriousness together. Unalloyed value-achievement leads them to the campiness and comedy.

Unlike some, I thought the Bond girl, Eva Green, was fine. Granted, she is not an exotic type and not a supermodel, but, as a friend of mine used to say, I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers. She can act. You can’t say that about all the Bond girls over the decades.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Who Was Wrong?

Was your first reaction to the story about the police shooting 92-year old Kathryn Johnston what is wrong with the police or what is wrong with the woman?

I suppose libertarians and leftists would say what is wrong with the police.

My reaction was what is wrong with the woman. The police did their job right. They identified themselves as police, she shot three of them and they killed her. Any investigation or restrictions on the police will just make it harder for them to do their job. Cops have to be able to shoot back when someone shoots at them.

Those who hate America and want to break down the objective rule of law love this kind of case because the weak (92-year old woman) was killed by the strong (police). They hope to paint the woman as a victim out of context of the facts in order to further hamper the police. They do what altruists always do: appeal to out of focus emotions.

Of course, the case is complicated by the fact that the raid was unjust and tragically wrong because drugs should be legal. The police should not be busting down doors to search for drugs. And if they do bust down doors, they should damn well do their homework and not just raid a house from one anonymous tip. However, the existence of bad laws in a mixed economy does not change the fact that if we’re going to have police, they must be able to do their job and to protect themselves from gunfire.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What McCain Wants

Matt Welch’s examination of John McCain’s ideas is a must-read. Many politicians show aspects of fascism, but McCain, with his militarism, national greatness, government regulation of business, calls for self-sacrifice and militaristic view of citizenry, is the purest fascist among prominent politicians. Can anyone doubt that a Democrat Presidency (especially with a Republican Congress) would do less harm to freedom than a McCain Presidency?

Do you want to wake up one day between the years 2009-2113 to an America in which every young person must do two years of mandatory service to the state as a "rite of passage"? Is that what Jefferson, Madison and friends had in mind when they founded this country?

Hugh Hewitt's Next Book


The evangelical Christian Hugh Hewitt thinks it is important to sell Mitt Romney to the religious right. He wants to stop any anti-Mormon talk now. Romney is obviously the early candidate of the social/religious right.

Watching how Romney, McCain and Giuliani fare in the next two years might be a good indicator of where the power is in the Republican Party. We should be able to see what the soul of the party is, unless everything gets muddied and complicated (as pragmatists love to make it).

My reading at the moment is that Romney has the social/religious conservatives; McCain has the pro-war, anti-corruption and independent voters; and Giuliani has socially liberal Republicans. All three candidates are mixed bags, and the task will be sorting through the positions to find the most important. My early preference is none of them, but gridlock with a Democrat President and a Republican Congress.

(HT: Andrew Sullivan)

Business As Usual

The Democrats are being cautious:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three Democratic congressmen who are about to take important leadership posts said on Sunday they plan to pass popular legislation blocked by Republicans but would refrain from pushing some of the most controversial elements on the liberal agenda.

Why are they being cautious?

"Democrats like winning elections," said Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the longest serving member of the House.

"We want to win elections and we're going to do our best to do so," he said. "This doesn't mean to get into any extreme positions on any matter. We'll do what makes good sense."

Okay, but look at what they do not consider controversial or extreme:

Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who will take over the U.S. House of Representatives committee that covers banking and other financial institutions, mentioned raising the minimum wage, providing cheaper drug coverage for the elderly and providing more affordable housing and help with college tuition as the focus of Democratic legislation.

Throwing more money down the sewer of the welfare state and expanding government power into every aspect of our lives is just business as usual to these people.

I draw two conclusions offhand from all this. (If you have better conclusions, feel free to comment.)

1. Whatever the Democrats do in the next two years, they would do even more if they were not afraid of the American voters. That’s a good sign, isn’t it? They still have to walk on eggshells. Liberal still has negative connotations in America.

2. The welfare state is the status quo, the given, the non-extreme. Dismantling it will be the mother of all challenges. Forget the Augean stables, cleaning up the welfare state would kick Hercules’s ass. Every step of the way, statists in both parties will lie, fear-monger and demonize the reformers as “right-wing extremists.” It will be ugly. It will take politicians of unbreached integrity and courage.

[Blink]

Did I just write “politicians of unbreached integrity and courage”?

The welfare state will be with us for a loooong time.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Women Want II

In my last post I discussed what women want for America, which is to turn it into Canada. Now let’s look at what women want in a man.

If you ask women what they want in a man, they will say things like, “I want a man who is tender, who listens to me and is attentive, who communicates. I want a man who isn’t afraid to show his feelings. I want a man who can cry.”

It’s BS. Women are so messed up by feminism that they don’t know what they want.

Women want to be seduced by a strong, confident man. They want to be turned on, thrilled, romanced, swept off their feet and conquered.

If you give a woman what she says she wants, you will become the male equivalent of Canada – pleasant but dull.

If you give a woman what she says she wants, you will become her friend. This is good if you’re gay. You can go shopping together and talk about shoes and Louis Vuitton handbags.

If you’re straight, you do NOT want to become a woman’s friend. Friends end up moving a woman’s furniture while the lout down the street screws her brains out. (I'm writing about the early stages of a relationship here. Long-term, things change. And in marriage, well, the men WILL be moving the furniture.)

Nothing kills sexual passion faster than altruism. Women don’t want men who are groveling and obedient and willing to do whatever they want. That’s selfless. A selfless man does not exchange value for value, he exchanges pity for pity, sacrifice for sacrifice. A selfless man is not pursuing a value, he is doing his politically correct duty. Women don’t want to feel like a duty, they want to feel like a value. They want a selfish man who wants to possess a woman’s body with passion.

A woman wants a man who lusts for her so much that he will throw her across a bed and take her without following the feminist rules and asking permission every step of the way. A man who asks permission is not a confident man.

Now, on the subject of sexual technique: men have to walk a tightrope here. They have to selfishly pursue their own pleasure because they want it and the woman wants it to see her value to the man. But men also have to give women sexual pleasure – and that is more complicated for women than men. Men are microwaves, women are crock pots. They must be romanced. They must be excited one step at a time. It’s called foreplay. Most of the time women need it.

If you want to know what women expect in bed, read a romance novel. Not the Barbara Cartland or Georgette Heyer ones, but the modern ones. They are sexual manuals in fiction form. Really. I was shocked when I first read one, and I’m not a puritan. It was like something out of Penthouse Magazine but from a woman’s point of view. I kept thinking, “This is what women expect in bed? This is like, um… a lot of work.”

It is a lot of work, but you have to make it look like you really want to do it, otherwise she becomes a duty instead of a value. It’s best if you really want to do it; and there is a certain pleasure in taking it slow and exploring the less interesting parts of a woman’s body like her earlobe or the small of her back. If you’re not really interested in foreplay, remember the old line: sincerity is everything; if you can fake that, you’ve got it made. Also remember, the payoff is worth the trouble it takes to get a woman hot and bothered. If you look at the big picture, foreplay is also selfish for a man.

UPDATE: Slight revisions.

Friday, November 24, 2006

What Women Want

I hereby pledge to write nothing mean-spirited in this post. I like women. I love women. I lust for women. I respect women. My Mother is a woman. Margaret Thatcher is a woman. I study the philosophy of a woman, Ayn Rand.

(After a start like that, you know I’m heading for major trouble in this post.)

Ellen Goodman writes about how women voted in 2006.

This was… the year women provided the Democratic margin of victory. If men had been the only voters in Missouri, Montana or Virginia, we'd have a Republican Senate. This is also the year in which women drove the agenda.

All right. That’s no crime. Many intelligent people voted Democrat. Let’s go a little deeper into Ms. Goodman’s analysis. (See how I used the feminist neologism Ms.? This caveman is on his best behavior here.)

So if women drove the agenda, what will make things "better"?

I was wondering that myself. What do women want?

Women worrying about a diminished future for the next generation are looking for a broad, overlapping domestic agenda. Some pieces can be found in the to-do list assembled for the Democrats' "First 100 Hours": raise the minimum wage, fix the Medicare prescription drug program, halve interest rates for student loans and bury the dead horse of Social Security privatization.

Oh, I see. Women want more socialism.

So for many, the biggest concern still is health care. As Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, one of the new breed of young moms in Congress, says, "I don't want the next generation of moms hand-wringing over how to deal with the sniffles and waiting until it turns into pneumonia." It's past time to make health care available to all kids.

Well, if the ladies want it for the kids, I guess it’s okay if we TURN AMERICA INTO A SOCIALIST HELL. Let’s make doctors slaves of the state because women are wringing their hands over the sniffles. No problem!

Sorry. That was mean-spirited.

As for education, especially early education and child care? The desire to truly "leave no child behind" tops terrorism on the female list. And for women who share a family-table view of the world, economic security includes the increasingly elusive retirement security.

Cradle to grave nanny state. Thanks, ladies.

It's been a long time since Americans have looked to the government with expectations. Now, we're making a list. And checking it twice.

While the men slip out the back door to have a drink at the corner bar. “The ol’ lady’s making a list,” one mutters, then knocks down his rum and coke. The other men nod in silent commiseration. They know. Women don't make lists that say, “watch football, drink beer, golf with your buddies, sit around in your underwear scratching your ass, watch me clean the house.”

They're making a list. Will America survive? Will we march into a fascist tyranny because a preponderance of women just are not motivated to study economics and politics and philosophy?

In my day job, I listen to FM radio stations. The hard rock stations targeted toward young men are obsessed with sex because young men are obsessed with sex. (Old men are too, he says after two seconds of introspection.) Go to the station web sites and you’ll find “Babe of the Day” – pictures of hot young girls in bikinis. It is horrible how men objectify women. Certainly, women are right to condemn such adolescent behavior.

You know what they have on stations targeted toward young women?

Daily horoscopes.

Daily horoscopes.

Draw your own mean-spirited conclusion.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving went well. No stress, no arguments. We played a movie trivia game called scene it? that was a lot of fun. The great thing is that you use a DVD and watch movie scenes on TV in the game, then you answer a question about the scene. Watching famous scenes everyone knows adds to the festive holiday atmosphere. When you divide up the teams, try to get different generations on every team. One question asked who was the leading lady in the Hope-Crosby “Road to” movies. No one under 40 knew who Dorothy Lamour is. Likewise, the kids knew about the modern teen movies. It’s a good game for our functionally illiterate video culture. Everyone had fun.

My Top 11 Favorite Rock Guitarists

11. Chuck Berry. Bill Haley was fast, but his sound is a little pre-rock. With Berry, you hear where it started. Instead of Haley’s clean scale-type riffs, Berry would play two strings at once, putting some texture and crunch into his lead. Big influence on Keith Richards. And everyone else.

10. Tony Iommi. An interesting figure because he is Classic Rock but also the Godfather of Heavy Metal. But if you listen to those early Black Sabbath songs, they are quite different from today’s metal. They have a horror-movie moodiness and tremendous imagination. Unlike today’s metal, Iommi was firmly connected to the blues.

9. Richie Blackmore. I call Blackmore the architect. By that I mean that no one structures a lead more intelligently. Exhibit A: “Highway Star.” Blackmore is all rationality and planning – and he had a great Strat sound.

8. David Gilmour. Epic sound, which is exactly what Pink Floyd needed. (Chicken and egg question: Was it because he was in Pink Floyd that he developed an epic sound?) Listen to the long, soaring notes in “Time.” It’s like Lord of the Rings in a rock lead guitar.

7. Duane Allman. To me, Allman defines the Gibson sound. Those Humbucker pick-ups have a kind of horn-like sound to my ears that can sound cheesy when played by your average guitarist. Using his slide he could be graceful and energetic at the same time. Too bad he ate a peach.

UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, I fell for an urban legend.

There is a widely believed urban legend that Eat a Peach was a reference to the type of truck that killed Duane, however that is not true; though the cover art of the album does a depict a truck underneath a giant peach, and whether or not it is a reference to Duane's accident or not is unknown.

6. Johnny Winter. He smokes. Listen to “Be Careful With A Fool.” He is unbelievably fast. And the great thing is that, unlike the post-new wave/punk/metal revolution guitarists, Winter never loses the emotion. He never sounds mechanical and alienating.

5. Jeff Beck. I can’t play as well as anyone on this list, but I can understand what most of the others are doing. I mean, they sound rational. With Beck, I think, “What th… WHAT DID HE JUST DO?!” He is the most imaginative lead guitarist. He does things with his whammy bar most people would never dream of.

4. Neil Young. No, really – he’s good. I’ve heard guitarists laugh at him because in some of his leads he plays one note over and over. Yes, but what a note! Nobody else sounds like Young. I get the impression that he never copied anyone else, he just sat down and worked to make the sounds in his head reality. The result is quirky, sometimes naïve and straight from the heart.

3. Alvin Lee. Fluid. No one comes close to his fluidity. He moves his fingers over a fretboard with astonishing ease. He gets from note to note the way Muhammad Ali moved in a ring, the way Fred Astaire danced. I think the new wave/punk/metal revolution of the late ‘70s was particularly hard on him and Winter, both blues rockers, whose careers went into decline after the deluge.

2. Jimmy Page. Defined hard rock lead guitar. He puts a bite into every note that energizes his leads. His style is the opposite of Alvin Lee’s because every note is distinct, like he had to work for it, but he’s also fast. There is one amazing moment in the lead of “Dazed and Confused,” where his lead is working and working, building to a frenzy, and then he hits a pick squeal – a mistake or was it planned? I don’t know, but it is the perfect variation from the flurry of notes that makes the lead both exciting and moving, and then it climaxes in power chords with Bonham wailing on his drums.

1. Jimi Hendrix. The sorcerer. Before him rock leads were black and white; he showed us color. Before him, Newton; he was Einstein. The opposite of Blackmore, in that I don’t think he really planned it out, but was all improvisation of the moment. At his worst he is unfocused and dull (read: stoned out of his gourd); at his best he is the best. “Voodoo Child” walks the edge of anarchy and chaos, exploring how far one can go with an electric guitar, but never quite falls over the edge. Like all of hard rock, I can only take him in small doses (I listen to classical music more now), but when I was a child, he was the man.

Why 11 instead of 10? Hey, haven’t you seen Spinal Tap?

(My thanks to Billy Beck of Two-Four for his insights that sparked my thinking on rock guitarists.)

UPDATE: Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists list puts Neil Young at 83, after such guitarists as Joni Mitchell, Steven Stills, Johnny Ramone, Jack White and Lou Reed. Please. That is just idiotic.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Did My Part

In preparation for the feast tomorrow, I went to Marie Callendar's and bought a banana cream pie and a chocolate cream pie.

It's a little known fact of American history that when the Indians were en route to the first Thanksgiving they stopped at Marie Callendar's to buy banana cream and chocolate cream pies. They presented the pies to the pilgrims, which made the recipients lower their muskets. Both red and white man ate the desserts in the spirit of brotherhood. One pilgrim exclaimed, "Verily, savage -- thy cream pies are most delectable!" The pilgrims were so impressed by the pies that they presented the Indians with a gift of blankets that had been used in their small pox ward. I will add this knowledge to the Wikipedia entry on Thanksgiving after I have had more to drink.

American Accents Quiz

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
Boston
North Central
The Inland North
The South
Philadelphia
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

I was born in Kansas but have lived in California most of my life. I have no idea how they can figure out my accent from those questions they asked.

(HT: Born Again Redneck)

Grover Cleveland

Found at Cassandra Page:

"Though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people."

Democrat President Grover Cleveland - 1887 - vetoing a bill that would have provided $10,000.00 in aid for drought stricken farmers.

And he was a Democrat! From Wikipedia:

His admirers praise him for his bedrock honesty, independence, integrity and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. As a leader of the Bourbon Democrats he opposed imperialism, taxes, corruption, patronage, subsidies and
inflationary policies. His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 in order to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions. His support for the gold standard and opposition to free silver angered the agrarian wing of the party.

Without question, he was one of the greatest US Presidents ever. But not everyone loved him. There were no-nothing statists back then, too:

Critics complained that he had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation's economic disasters--depressions and strikes--in his second term. He lost control of his party to the agrarians and silverites in 1896.

And it’s been downhill ever since. I rather suspect that what his critics meant by “imagination” was the willingness to use the power of the state to force citizens to do what the state wants. Leave imagination to the poets.

Yet One More Problem to Evade

From Western Resistance we find:

MARKA, Somalia Nov 21 (Garowe Online) - More than 100 people, including children, were arrested Tuesday by Islamic Courts militia in Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia after Islamists stormed into a movie cinema.

The arrested people did not include the cinema-owners but the Islamists took away all the equipment the cinema had, witnesses reported.

The Islamist administration in Marka, the regional capital, had been undertaking steps to combat “un-Islamic practices,” including shutting down cinemas and banning khat, a leafy narcotic popular throughout Somalia.

Movie cinemas in other Islamist-held regions of Somalia have also been shut down in recent months as the Islamists gradually consolidate their power in the country.

The Islamists are locked in a power struggle with the Baidoa-based interim Somali government, which has been trying to assert its power since late 2004.

So if some hellhole like Somalia becomes a breeding ground for terrorists, if it isn't already, what do we do? Look the other way because bombing will generate bad pictures on CNN? Give them more foreign aid? Make them the 51st state? I’m sure with geniuses like James Baker and George McGovern around we’ll think of something.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gridlock in '08

Mitt Romney attacks McCain on gay marriage:

Eager to position himself as the most conservative GOP presidential hopeful, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accused Sen. John McCain Monday of being “disingenuous” on gay marriage.

In an interview with The Examiner, Romney described himself as more conservative than Republican rivals McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on a variety of issues. “We’re in a different place on immigration; we’re in a different place on campaign reform; we’re in a different place on same–sex marriage; we’re in a different place on the president’s policy on interrogation of detainees,” Romney said.

So in his first move in the 2008 campaign Romney uses homosexuals as a wedge issue against McCain. This validates the left’s worst fears of Republicans, doesn’t it?

I support gay marriage. What do I care if two men get married? Granted, there are complications involving business. Companies will be forced not to discriminate against homosexual spouses getting benefits, but this comes from a wider problem of government interfering with the economy and regulating business. The answer is not to make gay marriage illegal, but to free the economy.

On the other issues Romney brought up, I probably agree with him on campaign reform and interrogation of detainees.

Michael Medved said today on the radio that Romney will get the nomination easily because he is the only real conservative. I don’t see any evidence that Romney is a free market conservative. He is a social and religious conservative.

It’s way too early to endorse yet -- the primaries are still a year and a half away -- but I’m leaning toward a vote for Hillary for President and Republicans for Congress. Gridlock in ’08, that’s my bumper sticker. You heard it here first.

Spotted on a Bumper Sticker

To err is human
To forgive is divine
Neither is Marine Corps policy

We Get What We Deserve

Dr. Hurd writes:

Enjoy your moment of glory, Ms. Pelosi. Your time to be thrown out will come as well -- as it necessarily must in a country that isn't truly free, but still, somehow deep down, wants to be.

Ayn Rand wrote something to the effect that in a country with free elections people get the politicians they deserve. (Can anyone find the exact quote?)

My greatest fear is that someday the American people will be ground down by bad philosophy, weariness and bad education and will like being parasites on the welfare state so much that they will no longer want to be free. We will become like Europeans. Then it will be over. We will get the dictatorship we deserve.

Vive le Voltaire!

Following up on my last post on a great French writer, I read somewhere that Voltaire drank 60 cups of coffee a day. No wonder he had such a bitchy wit!

But I give him credit for writing a play called Mohamet. In the 18th century that play could be performed in Paris. Today it cannot.

Ego Hugo

Here’s a Victor Hugo anecdote you might not know. When Hugo was over 80 he spent the night in someone’s house. He awoke before dawn and walked in his nightshirt through the halls to the maid’s room to have sex with her. He could do this because he was Victor Hugo and he was French.

As he was on his way to the maid’s room, he came across a little boy who would tell this story for the rest of his life.

The boy looked at Hugo in awe. The boy thought this old man with white hair and beard was God.

Hugo pointed to his erect penis and told the boy that it was rare in someone his age. Then he took the boy’s hand and put it on his penis and said, “When you grow up, tell people you held Victor Hugo’s machine.” (I hope my translation of the French is accurate.)

The man was amazing.

UPDATE: I checked Paul Johnson’s Creators to see if I got the story right. I got a few details wrong. In the interest of accuracy, I quote Paul Johnson at length:

When I was a young man living in Paris in the early 1950’s, I was given an unforgettable picture of the elderly Hugo’s sexuality by an old society gentleman who, as a small boy, had been a visitor at a chateau, along with Hugo, in 1884. In those days, children and women servants had rooms on the attic floor, which was uncarpeted and Spartan (the male servants slept in the basement). He said he got up very early one summer morning, being bored, and went out into the corridor, the unvarnished boards under his feet, the strong sunlight slanting through the windows at a low angle, picking out the motes of dust. He was, perhaps, four. Suddenly an old man hove into sight, striding purposefully along, white-bearded, eyes penetrating and fierce, wearing a nightshirt. The boy did not know at the time, but surmised later, thinking of the episode, that Victor Hugo had risen early too, having noted a pretty serving girl handing plates at dinner the night before; had, possibly, made an assignation with her; and anyway was now in search of her bedroom. The old man, whom the boy thought was possibly God, paused in his stride, seized the boy’s hand, and, lifting his nightshirt, placed the hand on his large, rampant member and said: “Tiens, mon petit. Il parait que c’est tres rare a mon age. Alors, en temps d’avenir tu auras le droit a dire a tes petits-enfants, que tu a tenu en ton p’tit main, le machin de Victor Hugo, poete!” Then he lowered his nightshirt and strode off down the corridor, in search of his prey.

In a footnote Johnson adds:

The story may be bien trouve rather than exact. When I lived in Paris, there were still people who had know acquaintances of Hugo and his family, and such stories abounded. I have forgotten the name of my informant, but he had held a high post in the administration of the former royal palaces of France.

(I'm sorry I don't know how to do the diacritical marks in the french. Anyone who can give me a literal translation of the french, I would appreciate it.)

I believe the story because I want to believe it. It’s too great not to be true!

Incidentally, before I remembered where I read that story, I searched my books looking for it. One book I looked in was The Essential Victor Hugo. This book has selections of Hugo’s poetry and essays, but none of his plays and no passages from his fiction that show his greatest talent, his plot writing. It is remarkable that a book called The Essential Victor Hugo has everything except the essential Victor Hugo.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lakers: 10 Games In

While Blair crows about his Buckeyes, let me write about the Lakers.

The Lakers are 7-3. Will they remain a .700 team throughout the season? No, but they will make the playoffs. They made the playoffs last year when they were a worse team.

Three players have improved markedly since last year: Lamar Odom, Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum. Bynum, their 19-year old 7-foot center, is in his second year, so one would expect him to improve over his rookie year, when he was an 18-year old out of high school. This kid is showing excellent footwork, a lot of heart, hustle and courage. Yesterday he went up against the great Ben Wallace and outscored him, outrebounded him and blocked more shots. As one announcer said, someone forgot to tell Bynum he was supposed to be afraid of Wallace. In a few years Bynum will be the best center in the NBA. (It probably does not hurt that he is being tutored by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

Odom and Walton are more surprising, especially Walton. Both men have decided to be aggressive, to attack the basket and get their shots instead of always thinking pass first.

The best thing about the Lakers is that they have other scorers now instead of just Kobe Bryant. Radmanovic, Odom, Walton and Cook can all put the ball in the basket. Last year the team stood around and watched Kobe; if an opponent could shut Kobe down, the Lakers were dead. This year when Kobe gets the ball the other guys are moving, cutting to the basket and giving Kobe someone to pass to. They have a balanced attack, with more guys who deserve playing minutes than there are minutes to give. (Coaches LOVE that problem.)

The worst things about the Lakers so far are defense, turnovers and off-season injuries that have kept them from playing at 100% and finding their rhythm. When they start clicking on all cylinders, watch out. Come to think of it, they might end up playing .700 ball all season.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Poem by John Keats

SONNET

WRITTEN IN DISGUST OF VULGAR SUPERSTITION

The church bells toll a melancholy round,
Calling the people to some other prayers,
Some other gloominess, more dreadful cares,
More hearkening to the sermon's horrid sound.
Surely the mind of man is closely bound
In some black spell; seeing that each one tears
Himself from fireside joys, and Lydian airs,
And converse high of those with glory crown'd,
Still, still they toll, and I should feel a damp, --
A chill as from a tomb, did I not know
That they are dying like an outburnt lamp;
That 'tis their sighing, wailing ere they go
Into oblivion; -- that fresh flowers will grow,
And many glories of immortal stamp.

(Keats wrote this poem in 15 minutes. In other poems he was capable of conventional religious views, but he's great here. Is he saying that religion is dying in this poem? I share his disgust; would that I shared his talent!)

Worth Checking Out

From Medworth:

Rob Tracinski’s “Pajama Epistemology”

Have I Got A Girl For You

Found at Tim Blair:

San Francisco designer Rachel Pearson, 33, owns a successful line of children’s clothing made of organic cotton that also meets international fair-trade rules. For herself she favors clothing from thrift stores—“Not buying new,” she says, “eases the toll on the earth.” A vegetarian, she recycles religiously [ed: of course] and loves to pamper herself with yoga and meditation.

There’s another arena in which Pearson upholds green values, and it can create a bit of an etiquette problem. “I won’t date a guy who doesn’t recycle,” she says. “He doesn’t have to wear nonleather shoes, but he has to get it.” And woe betide the guy who doesn’t.

For a while she was happily dating a film producer from Los Angeles who, she thought, was definitely on her eco-wavelength. But one morning they went out for breakfast, and Mr. Right ordered an all-meat meal and doused his coffee with several packets of Equal. “I was dumbstruck,” says Pearson. “I think I ate my entire meal in silence. Pork plus NutraSweet? That was definitely our last date.”

I thought he was the perfect man, Mr. Right, my soulmate… until (sob) he tore open an Equal!

Give me a gun-totin’, meat-eatin’ mama any day.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Net Neutrality?

The people at Democratic Underground are excited about something called “net neutrality.”

Internet neutrality proponents believe that the recent change in Congress is likely to boost their efforts to push legislation that would prohibit tiered access to the Internet.

SaveTheInternet lobbied to stop telecommunications and cable companies from setting higher prices for improved speed and access to some customers. The group said election results have catapulted their efforts forward.

"The outlook for better, more public-spirited Internet legislation is now quite good," the group said through a prepared statement.

In fact, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who proposed legislation supporting their cause, is set to lead telecommunications policy for the House majority in 2007. So is U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, who said he would propose a telecommunications reform bill with public interest and net neutrality in mind.

And:

The House Judiciary Committee's Task Force on Telecommunications and Antitrust is holding a hearing Tuesday on whether the Internet should operate like a utility, with equal service, or whether providers should be able to provided tiered access and pricing.

Over in the Senate:

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Thursday unveiled a bill that would prohibit telephone and cable companies from charging others businesses for faster delivery of content to consumers over the Internet.

The bill to ensure so-called 'Net neutrality' would also prohibit network operators from favoring content over others, such as their own video services over those of Internet companies.

In unveiling the Internet Nondiscrimination Act of 2006, Wyden said in a statement that allowing cable and telephone companies to create a two-tiered system for distributing content over their networks would "have a chilling effect on small mom and pop businesses that can't afford the priority lane, leaving these smaller businesses no hope of competing against the Wal-Marts of the world."

To read some of the comments, you would think the Democrats are striking a blow to protect truth, justice and the American way:

The Tubes are safe!

YES ... we get to keep the Internets!!!

They should make it an Amendment to the Constitution that no one can ever take our tubes away from us. The Intenets are the only true democracy!

Kerry's heading the Senate Committee and he's a firm believer in MORE ACCESS to citizens not less, with restrictions only for serious matters like child porn.

Just reading the legislative initiatives that our Dem representatives have put out in the past week makes me want to sob in relief. And I have a feeling they're just getting started--they aren't even in power yet!

Speaking only as an individual, I am telling you that if I hadn't had the net these past few years, I wouldn't have known of many of the incredible rip-offs, crimes, boondoggles, and other Abramoff-esque antics of the repukes. I certainly wouldn't have learned of them from cable news, nor from our pathetic local newspaper. You, unlike the repukes, seem not to be afraid of an informed public. The free net is the best news ever for those of us who want to hear something besides the ol' Mighty Wurlitzer blasting in our ears.

In the Democrat imagination, were it not for the legislation passed by brave Democrats regulating the internet, the repukes would shut it down because they can’t tolerate an informed public.

Such an innocuous name: net neutrality. Who could be against that? And the Internet Nondiscrimination Act of 2006 sounds so fair! What bigot would dare oppose nondiscrimination?

Under the cover of these happy fuzzy words the Democrats are about to slap price controls on internet providers. Americans should be happy, as the consumers in the Soviet Union were under price controls. Oh, wait -- there were long lines and empty shelves? Scratch that.

Americans should be happy, as drivers in the 1970’s were under price controls. Oh, wait -- there were long lines and gasoline shortages? Scratch that.

Price controls cause shortages. Internet service will suffer somehow under this law. Internet providers will not continue to improve service as much as they would without this law.

But making the internet better is not really the point of all this legislation. Giving the state power over the internet is the point. Socialists simply cannot stand free Americans having power over their own lives. They must stick the state’s gun in the ribs of the internet and say, “Listen, Bud -- we’re taking over now. Just do as we say and you won’t get hurt.”

As one commenter above noted, "they're just getting started--they aren't even in power yet!"