Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Domestic Disputes

Check out this headline and story:  "Man in Virginia uses cable to decapitate self after argument with ex-wife"

Frankly, I'm sceptical.  I mean after an argument with his wife, maybe, but with his ex-wife?  C'mom.

Just kidding ladies.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chinese Checker

The title, the subtitle actually, of this piece from The Daily Beast is one I found irresistible:  "The City, Beijing: Ai Weiwei finds China's capital is a prison where people go mad."

Yea, and one of them is the New York Times columnist, Tom Freidman.

If you don't know or can't recall what it is I'm referring to, try just this one piece by the Gray Lady's sino-savant for a representative sample:  "Our One-Party Democracy"

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend"

That's actually a telling line from one of my all-time favorite films, John Ford's, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

With it in mind, consider this latest from Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr.: "Let's honor the real Dr. King"

Are you sure you want to open that can of worms, E.J.?

California, To Go, Please

"Calif. could be first state to ban foam containers"

Well, at least their legislature isn't focused on silly sideshows like tackling the state's crippling debt.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fade Away, General, Fade Away

"Powell: Cheney Take 'Cheap Shots At Me in New Book"

For a guy, a very prominent guy, who not only didn't vote for his party's nominee for president in 2008, but publicly endorsed its opponent, charging others with hitting below the belt is a bit much, don't you think?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Do You "Believe" in Evolution?

This seems to be the question du jour from elite media pundits and reporters eager to discredit GOP candidates just by the asking of it.

Well, Ann Coulter, for one, doesn't believe in it and will say as much, out loud and unapologetically.  (Whatever else you think of her, you have to admit, this woman is fearless.)  But before, in this week's column, she gives you a few reasons for scepticism, she first suggests turning the table on the press and their favorites, similarly liberal Democrats:
Evolution is the only subject that is discussed exclusively as a "Do you believe?" question with yes-or-no answers. How about conservative journalists start putting mikes in front of liberal candidates and demanding, "Do you believe in the Bible -- yes or no?" "Is an unborn baby human -- yes or no?" and "Do you believe teenagers should have sex -- yes or no?"
I love it.

Anyway, the subject of evolution animates mightily many who come from my little cross-section of American culture known as evangelical Christianity.  While I'm a card-carrying member, debating the question over whether and how we are descended from apes (why not "ascended"?) has never held my attention in the same way it does for so many others of my ilk.  Nevertheless, Coulter's column made me feel as though I really ought to lay at least some of my cards on the table.  (I say "some" because the post would be too long if I tried to lay all of them out.  I know, I know, "It's too long already Sage."  Yea, yea, yea.)

I, too, do not "believe" in evolution.  At best, I'm sceptical, extremely so, and always have been.  In the first instance because of that very word "believe".  Coulter calls Darwinian evolution the "liberals' creation myth", a "mystery religion from the Victorian age."  I have to agree because to me it's always had that feel of religion about it and not science.  I recall watching many years ago an episode of the PBS series Cosmos hosted by the late Carl Sagan. (Remember it?)  Anyway, while I only watched the one piece, I remember commenting at the time that this guy was no scientist, he was a preacher.  Everything about that show made me feel as though I was sitting in church listening to a sermon.

Which leads to another reason for my scepticism.  Experience has taught me that far too many of the champions of the theory of Darwinian evolution seem impervious, and increasingly so, to the acceptance of counter-factual evidence.  In that respect, they're much like "climate change" enthusiasts.  It's getting colder--climate change.  It's getting hotter--climate change.  It's staying the same...well, you take my point.  Similarly, Darwinian evolutionists will argue that the principle of the survival of the fittest explains, for example, not only selfishness, but altruism as well.  A theory that explains everything, actually explains nothing.  When I encounter this in argument, over any subject, I always stop and ask my antagonists what kind of evidence they would be willing to accept in order to dis-prove their contentions.  With evolutionists, one is usually met with silence.  Evolution just is, you see.  Um, no, I don't see.  Help me out, please?

Another reason: The process of natural selection is really no insight at all.  That a black bug has an advantage in surviving over a white bug because a hungry bird in a dark forest can see the white bug more easily is really no different than a black horse's advantage over a white one if the breeder prefers a darker colored animal.  One mechanism is natural, the other artificial, but things become extinct just the same.  When's the last time you saw anyone wearing bell-bottom pants?

Yet another reason:  Darwinian evolution looks to me very much like a return to a belief in spontaneous generation, that discredited medieval superstition explained to me by the same tenth-grade biology teacher who first introduced me, formally, to Darwinian evolution.  Darwinists insist that if you were to mix up a brew of carbon and hydrogen and oxygen and then step back and stare at it long enough, then not only a fly, but a full-grown man will eventually rise up out of that puddle.  Oh, they'll gussy it up a bit with talk of  random mutations and punctuated equilibriums and such, but at the end of the day, or, rather, at the end of untold billions of years, homo-sapien himself will evolve, emerge, stand erect, hunt and gather, construct huts then cathedrals, debate philosophy, compose sonatas, and finally argue, with a straight face, that he's essentially no different than any other living thing despite the fact that no other living thing can do anything even remotely approaching what he does as a matter of course.

(By the way, "billions and billions of years" is one the evolutionist's trump cards.  I find it much too often a convenient dodge.  It's hard to argue against the "mists of time" as an explanatory factor.  "How long does it take for something, for anything, to evolve?", you ask.  "Why, billions and billions of years", they respond.  It's kind of like the US debt, huge numbers with which, conveniently, no one can possibly be intimately familiar and, therefore, in a position to judge.)

Which leads to yet another reason, which is actually a moral objection as well:  Insofar as evolutionists maintain that all living things descend (that word again) from a common ancestor, and are therefore essentially the same, I think they are being willfully ignorant.  Imagine some Martian, some objective Martian scientist, that is, observing the planet earth.  While I can agree that he might conclude that among the many living things that inhabit the planet, they share many, very many, in fact, characteristics that distinguish them from the inanimate rocks.  But beyond those elementary distinctions, the differences get larger, not smaller.  That which distinguishes, for example, flora from fauna is huge.  The distinctives among fauna are greater still, the fish from the fowl from the amphibians from the mammals.  But among the mammals one species stands out, stands out so much that it simply must be of a different order altogether.  That species is of course man.  I cannot believe that any scientist could fail to notice the difference, any scientist, that is, who is not already committed to some other paradigm, a paradigm that begins with a conclusion, a conclusion that the differences are not really remarkable at all and, as a result, must be explained away.

There are more reasons, many more in fact, but this is a blog after all.

Bottom line:  Don't let the fact that because much of what passes for the contemporary intelligentsia has swallowed Darwinian evolution hook, line, and sinker make you feel stupid for refusing the bait yourself.  You're not only not alone, you're actually in pretty good company, pretty smart company as well.

Notice that I never once invoked God, Jesus, the Bible, the Church, the Virgin Mary, or any of that Christian stuff that drives liberals and secularists nuts.  Hmm, maybe I should have?


Why So Few Terrorists?

With a billion Muslims worldwide, Charles Kurzman wonders why, after 9/11especially, but even before, there are so relatively few Islamist terrorists?

He proffers five reasons, mostly sound, that boil down to the fact that your average Muhammad, just like your average Joe, is willing neither to kill nor die for someone else's overheated passions, even if the source of that passion is a common faith.

He omits, however, one very important, and obvious, reason (I'll leave it for you to decide why):  After 9/11 there arose in the West, among a majority at least, the will to strike back and strike back we did.  As a result the cost for Muhammad of signing up with his otherwise terrorist buddies went up, and more than just a bit.

Your average Muhammad, again, just like your average Joe, is no fool.

Class Struggles

Do check out Mark Steyn again.  On the mark (sorry) as ever, but I especially appreciated this turn of phrase:  The "malign alliance of the statism class and the dependency class currently crushing the Western world."

It occurs to me that the old labels, i.e., the poor, the working class, the middle class (lower and upper), and the wealthy, don't seem to fit anymore.  And especially so in America where everyone fashions themselves middle class or are called as much even if they don't.

So how about, as Steyn suggests, the government (statism) class and the dependency class, who mostly vote the same ("malign alliance") and the productive class?

Works for me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Day the Music Died

Might we find a better use for limited Department of Justice funds?

Cheney Unplugged

That's silly.  Dick Cheney was never "plugged" in the first place. 

By almost all accounts, and this one from POLITICO is no exception, the former vice president's new memoir is as forthright as the man himself.

When President Reagan passed away in 2004, my favorite of all the many speeches delivered in his honor was the one given by Dick Cheney.  I said as much at the time to a friend, but she didn't understand.  It was too clipped, too understated, she objected.  I disagreed.  I argued that it sang Reagan's praises at a pace as deliberate as a lone drummer marking time for a column of veteran soldiers.  While the tempo did not vary, it grew to a crescendo nevertheless.  And the crescendo said this:  "This was the Ronald Reagan I knew and I dare you to disagree with me."

That was and still is Dick Cheney.  We were blessed to have him as our Vice President.

Gay Like Me, cont.

As anyone with a half a brain could see coming, sexual orientation has moved from "suspect class" to "privileged class".

It seems Elmhurst College will break new ground by being the first-in-the-nation school to ask future applicants to reveal their sexual orientation.  It's all about diversity and equality, you know?  (By the way, stop and think about the incoherence of that notion for just one moment.)

Anyway, for the time being at least, answering the question is optional.  But, as I've argued before, I think every prospective student should eagerly mark the form and do so with any available option other than "heterosexual".  No doubt the school's admissions department will become suspicious when on every application received, the applicant identifies him or herself as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. 

But if the school investigates and protests that, in a particular case, there is no evidence of homosexuality, the all-too-easy response is, "Well, I'm repressed."

"It's Over"

I've recommended National Review's James Lileks to you before and in the latest edition he does not disappoint:
...During the debt-ceiling festival of joy, former Speaker Pelosi summed up the progressive intention quite succinctly: "We're trying to save the world."  Oh, is that all.  By "the world" she means everything and everyone in the United States whose continued happiness is predicated on increasing transfer payments from their modern shameful levels.  Never again shall we revisit the dark days of, say, 2007, when skeletal armies thronged the White House gates banging empty bowls on the fence; and the less said about the horrors of 1999, when federal spending was 50 percent less than today, the better.  We still remember the heart-rending pictures of congresspeople with their empty eyes and swollen bellies, too weak to bat away the flies, barely able to muster the strength to increase the marginal rates.  For heaven's sake, we hardly spend anything on general welfare now--only 66.13 percent of the budget is spent on payments to individuals--and we're talking about going down to 66.02 percent?  Just so a handful of people can continue to sail on private gravy-lakes towed around by low-flying corporate jets?
Yes.  Because the old world is over.  The old world where a mysterious, secretive priesthood called "business" conjured wealth out of the ether so the governing class could strain it through a hundred institutions: done.  The idea that no child will be educated if the Department of Education shutters its doors: nonsense.  Uterus-to-quietus welfare: sorry.  Ever-escalating benefits, paid for by magic sacks of money: impossible.
A half-century experiment in draping steamship anchors around the necks of the productive class and expecting them to run a four-minute mile has ended in failure.  The confiscation of rights and property, the moral impoverishment of generations caused by the state's usurpation of parental obligations, the elevation of a credentialed elite that believes academia's fashions are a worthy substitute for knowledge of history and human nature, and above all the faith in a weightless cipher whose oratorical panache now consists of looking from one teleprompter screen to the other with the enthusiasm of a man watching someone else's kids play tennis--it's over, whether you believe it or not.  It cannot be sustained without reducing everyone to penurious equality, crippling the power of the United States, and subsuming the economy to a no-growth future that rations energy. (my italics)
To which some progressives respond: You say that like it's a bad thing.
"It's over", by the way, is just another way of saying the Great Reckoning continues.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just Joe Bein' Joe

From the White House yesterday : "The Obama Administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization."

It's been awhile since the Vice President has publicly stuck his foot in his mouth, so his comments from China expressing "understanding" for the regime's one-child policy were a useful reminder that doing so is, after all, his penchant.  It must get old cleaning up after this guy.

For the record, I don't think the VP, if he stopped to think about, would find anything acceptable about China's population control policies.

But then that's the problem, isn't it?  The guy rarely stops to think about it.

As long as I've been aware of Joe Biden as a public figure, I've found him not just an empty suit, but an insufferable buffoon as well.  He's one of those loud talking, glad-handers with which we're all familiar, a man more than a bit too eager to ingratiate himself with whomever he's talking, whatever audience he's addressing.  As a result, he'll say just about anything even if it contradicts something he said only a minute before.  Other than his membership in the Democrat Party, a man like Biden is incapable of consistency, much less coherence.

So, will Biden, the president who chose him, or the party that supports him suffer for this latest episode of his of opening his mouth before engaging his brain?  Not likely.  Unfortunately, he, and they, are the beneficiaries of a public that for the most part already discounts such buffoonery on his part.  It's similar to the discounting afforded former President Clinton when he was discovered in the Oval Office with his pants down around his knees. "Oh, for heaven's sake, that's just Bill being Bill."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

East-Coast Earthquake!

Standby for Al Gore press release explaining connection to global warming.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Good fences make good neighbors"

So, why's the euro collapsing and, maybe, the European Union along with it?

NRO's Rich Lowry has a notion, and to set it up, he first asks a few key questions:
What if we were governed by a sophisticated transnational elite that operated outside of normal political channels as much as possible and, sharing similar values, forged compromises relatively easily? What if the elite were high-minded and visionary? What if they succeeded in doing “big things”? 
In Europe for the past couple of decades, this hasn’t been a fanciful hope, it’s been a reality. A political and financial overclass engineered the adoption of the euro, based on one of the world’s most foolhardy delusions since the fall of the Berlin Wall: that you can have a common currency without a common country.
For a whole host of reasons, and despite the best hopes of those same "sophisticated transnational elites", the United States of Europe as a common country was an unlikely outcome from the very beginning.  (I might explore some of those reasons in another post.)  But it's worse than that.

Before the institution of the euro, Greece and the other southern European countries more inclined to pursue, shall we say, la dolce vita, than put their noses to the proverbial grindstone, were objects of light-hearted derision by your average German.  But now, as the Germans, principally, along with the other more or less fiscally sound European countries must literally carry them financially, they will soon become objects of public contempt.

This is not good.  In fact, it could be dangerous.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Holiday Road

Let's get something straight, shall we?

The problem many have with President Obama's vacation has nothing to do with him taking a vacation, or taking a vacation in the midst of the nation's economic hard times, or even him taking a vacation in the midst of those hard times on Martha's Vineyard.

The problem is with him taking that vacation in the wake of his incessant whining and demagoguing
about the unfair advantage "millionaires and billionaires and corporate jet owners" have over us the rest of us.  You know, the same millionaires and billionaires and corporate jet owners who will be vacationing with him on Martha's Vineyard?

But then the charge of hypocrisy has never stopped, nor even effected a liberal Democrat's behaviour before, has it?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stimulating Ideas

Just the other day, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, significantly, an economist with this Administration's ear, had this to say:
“If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack, and we needed a massive build-up to counter the space alien threat, and inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months.”

Before you laugh, first couple that intriguing notion with this headline from today's news:  "Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists:  Rising greenhouse emissions could tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report"

A massive international military buildup to defeat the invading aliens or a massive international effort to solve global warming before they launch their attack?  Either way the economy is revived and both Medicare and Social Security are saved.

Al Gore was unavailable for comment.

OK, you can laugh now.

Where Health Care is Free

Cuba, that is.  Cuba Libre!

Cuba is the American Left's vision of the future and also what they steadfastly refuse to see about it.  "None so blind..."

Anyway, consider this short reminder about another of their dreams "that will never die."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Surprises

Norm and I agree.  Norman Podhoretz, that is, one of the godfathers of neoconservatism.  (See my That "Vision Thing" Again post from a couple of days ago.)

Podhoretz insists that Obama hasn't changed at all while in office, that he is exactly who and what he revealed himself to be during the '08 campaign, and even before then.  That is, he's your garden variety 1960s leftist, or at least a product thereof since he's a generation removed.

Anyway, don't you just love it when heavy hitters like Podhoretz see it the same as you?

You will forgive my vanity, won't you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Worth Fightin' For

Both these two pieces deserve reading, one and then the other.

Read first this review by Brian Stewart of Niall Ferguson's forthcoming, Civilization: The West and the Rest, a book about what is distinctive and, are you ready?, better about Western civilization than the rest of the world's.

Then read Jim Lacey's commentary on what the recent London riots demonstrate about Western resolve, or rather Western elite resolve.

While many factors can lead to the decline and fall of a civilization, no single factor, alone, is determinative.  Save one, that is.  A civilization will surely fall, no matter how superior it may be, and no matter how inferior its enemies, when it is no longer believed to be worth fighting, and dying, for.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All Things Being Equal

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a Sarah Palin fan, but I am a Sarah Palin supporter.  Chiefly because she's steadfastly on our side, but also because of that quality about her that is oh so refreshing, i.e., she's willing to fight back.

I am also very much aware that she has become a divisive political figure...among Republicans and conservatives, that is.  That fact always puzzles me and sometimes angers me.  I mean, for heaven's sake, is there suddenly some shortage of loony liberal Democrats at which one can vent their frustrations?

Nevertheless, all things being equal, I am willing to concede that this piece by Quin Hillyer in the American Spectator, no liberal rag, which takes a very hard shot at Mrs. Palin for her rudeness and petulance toward a reporter is fair.  Hillyer summarizes:  "If Palin wants to get rid of the image of being a difficult diva with a rude streak, she needs to stop acting like a difficult diva with a rude streak."  (Read the piece to get the details.)

That being said, can you ever imagine a similar piece being written by a liberal pundit or an elite media reporter (but I repeat myself) about Hillary Clinton, for example, for some similar act of rudeness and petulance? 

I cannot.

That fact is now and has been for sometime to the Left's great political advantage.  However unscrupulous liberals might otherwise be, they never shoot their own, at least not publicly.

All things being equal rarely happens in real life.

Bumper Snicker

That's what the late "Paul Harvey...Good day!"  used to call'em.

Anyway, in case you missed it, on Monday's show, Rush Limbaugh was commenting on the Obama bus tour and quiped that on the side or back of the bus there should be posted a sticker that said:


Love it.

"Big" Government vs. "Strong" Government

This is a very important distinction to make, to explain, and to insist upon when arguing not just with liberals, but with fellow conservatives as well.

Because our national government has grown malignantly over the past 75-80 years, constitutionally-minded Americans strenuously, and rightly, oppose any further metastasis.  In fact, we prescribe--STAT!--radiation treatment, chemo-therapy, and radical surgery, all three at once if necessary.  The patient's very life is at stake.

The problem with this position, however, is that it can appear to be, and often is caricatured as such by political opponents, if not outright anarchist, at least fundamentally libertarian in nature, a not-so-secret desire for the withering away altogether of Washington D.C.  (Stop licking your lips, you know what I mean.)

A strong central government is both necessary and good for the health and welfare of these United States.  That which it is constitutionally authorized to do, as originally understood, it should do both well and vigorously.

Big government has little to do with strong government, however.  In fact, one might argue, and I often do, that the bigger a government becomes, the weaker it gets.  The more it promises to be all things to all people, the less it possibly can deliver.  As a result, respect for it weakens and, therefore, it weakens as well.

Anyway, this is all a long way around to recommending a piece by Jeffrey Lord in which he asks, "What is a Republican President?"  His answer, with a lot of good history thrown in, arrives at this, as I say, very important distinction.

Monday, August 15, 2011

That "Vision Thing" Again

POLITICO seriously thinks that President Obama is suffering from the same problem that vexed former President George H.W. Bush.  That is, he has yet to articulate clearly his vision for America.  They even quote presidential historian Douglas Brinkley to that effect: “Americans aren’t quite sure what the grand vision of Barack Obama really is. … His chess pieces are really scattered around the board.”


Let me help'em out.

All hypocrisies aside (that's something you must always say first when describing the vision of anyone on the left side of our political spectrum), Barack Obama is a unapologetic champion of big, no, make that huge, omnicompetent, welfare-state liberalism.  To that end, he values equality over liberty and pursues leveling policies whenever possible.  Like most liberals, not all, he fashions himself a cosmopolite, a citizen of the world, first, and an American second.  Like many liberals, too many, his identity as an American is a source of genuine personal embarrassment.  His audacious hope is that he can make America over again into an idealized version of almost any (you pick) European country.

The reason Obama's "chess pieces are really scattered around the board", or at least appear so, is because he came along at a time, in point of fact to a large extent he helped precipitate that time, when we simply ran out of money and credit.  Moreover, he came up against, finally, a citizenry who, unlike him, remain passionately patriotic and who also still, thank God, value liberty and property more than they do equality.

Oh, he has a vision alright.  It's just that more and more Americans have emerged from the feel-good fog of voting for the first black president and don't like what they see.  They have a vision too.

You Don't Say?

British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledges the obvious about the riots that have troubled London the past week.  They are, he says, a product of a "slow-motion moral collapse."

Here, as there, the countless roads to hell that have always accompanied whatever good intentions were present at the creation and many re-creations of the nanny state have finally been exposed in all their un-photoshopped ugliness.  The looming collapse of the nanny state is not for a lack of adequate funding.  In fact, a surfeit of funds (or of credit) in the past has served chiefly to pay for the cleanup of the many messes caused by its creation in the first place.

As I've explained before, the Great Reckoning is not simply about balancing the books if by that one means reconciling income with expenses.  The balancing is fundamentally moral in nature.  The bill is due and the Reckoning continues 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Darkseekers of London


Almost as if on cue, Mark Steyn picks up the monster movie analogue in order to better describe what has transpired this past week in the United Kingdom's capital.  Steyn on contemporary Britain where: of children are raised in homes in which no adult works — in which the weekday ritual of rising, dressing, and leaving for gainful employment is entirely unknown. One tenth of the adult population has done not a day’s work since Tony Blair took office on May 1, 1997. 
If you were born into such a household, you’ve been comprehensively “stimulated” into the dead-eyed zombies staggering about the streets this last week: pathetic inarticulate sub-humans unable even to grunt the minimal monosyllables to BBC interviewers desperate to appease their pathologies. C’mon, we’re not asking much: just a word or two about how it’s all the fault of government “cuts” like the leftie columnists argue. And yet even that is beyond these baying beasts. The great-grandparents of these brutes stood alone against a Fascist Europe in that dark year after the fall of France in 1940. Their grandparents were raised in one of the most peaceful and crime-free nations on the planet. Were those Englishmen of the mid-20th century to be magically transplanted to London today, they’d assume they were in some fantastical remote galaxy. If Charlton Heston was horrified to discover the Planet of the Apes was his own, Britons are beginning to realize that the remote desert island of Lord of the Flies is, in fact, located just off the coast of Europe in the north-east Atlantic. Within two generations of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, a significant proportion of the once-free British people entrusted themselves to social rewiring by liberal compassionate Big Government and thereby rendered themselves paralytic and unemployable save for non-speaking parts in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And even that would likely be too much like hard work.
For perhaps too long in our disagreements with liberals, we conservatives have emphasized chiefly the theft, the unapologetic taking of the fruit of another's labor, the outright denial of the right to property that is BIG GOVERNMENT.  When we weren't focusing on that we had much to say about how it's all a waste, how it just doesn't work.  Both arguments remain true and should be enough, more than enough, in fact, to convince anyone possessing even the semblance of an open mind about the dangers of the modern leviathan.

But sadly, we don't live in such a world and arguing in this fashion can sound to the few who may still be listening querulous and self-serving.  Perhaps a more convincing conservatism, a more compassionate conservatism (oh how I despise that phrase), might be to emphasize instead the human costs of the nanny state, what it actually does to people, how it degrades and dehumanizes them.  Witness the city of London just this past week.

In the most recent film version of I Am Legend, Will Smith plays the lone healthy survivor in a quarantined New York City.  We learn that in what was at first a well-intentioned attempt to uncover a cure for cancer, a man-made variant virus has been released, a virus that in short order kills most of the humans on the planet.  The few survivors include those who, like Smith, are for some reason immune to the virus, and others who are turned by it into marauding, menacing, gangs of what Smith's character calls "Darkseekers", subhuman creatures who can no longer bear the sunlight, who emerge only at night in order to feed their otherwise inchoate and insatiable appetites.

Sound familiar?

In a telling line from the picture, Smith intones: "God didn't do this, we did."   

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Werewolves of London

This analysis by Max Hastings of the "root causes" of the London riots has been making the rounds, and well it should.

The question is, is this our future as well?

Offhand, one very important difference I can see between here and there is that unlike the victims of the violence, vandalism, and theft in London, people who had no choice but to meekly, pathetically actually, endure their victimhood, we are armed.

For now anyway.

Instead of buying gold, perhaps we should be stocking up on silver bullets.

Men are from Mars, Women are...Mothers

Kay S. Hymowitz takes apart the misleading data (comparing apples with oranges, often deliberately so) that is supposed to prove the enduring, and enduringly unjust, gender gap: American women still earn only 75 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Her conclusion is not shocking (see my title), but a peek inside the data is revealing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This is all there is?

If you're up for it (and to it), you might try this essay by way of book review by The New Yorker's literary critic, James Woods.  His title is "Secularism and Its Discontents", a review of the The Joy of Secularism: 11 Essays for How We Live Now, edited by George Levine.  In it Woods wonders about, among other things, the relative consequences of a live lived as an atheist/secularist versus one lived as a believer in God and the hereafter.

As much as Woods reveals himself to be a communing member of the secularist sect, he's too honest to find much "joy" in either it or its apostles.
I have a friend, an analytic philosopher and convinced atheist, who told me that she sometimes wakes in the middle of the night, anxiously turning over a series of ultimate questions: “How can it be that this world is the result of an accidental big bang? How could there be no design, no metaphysical purpose? Can it be that every life—beginning with my own, my husband’s, my child’s, and spreading outward—is cosmically irrelevant?” In the current intellectual climate, atheists are not supposed to have such thoughts. We are locked into our rival certainties—religiosity on one side, secularism on the other—and to confess to weakness on this order is like a registered Democrat wondering if she is really a Republican, or vice versa. 
These are theological questions without theological answers, and, if the atheist is not supposed to entertain them, then, for slightly different reasons, neither is the religious believer. Religion assumes that they are not valid questions because it has already answered them; atheism assumes that they are not valid questions because it cannot answer them. But as one gets older, and parents and peers begin to die, and the obituaries in the newspaper are no longer missives from a faraway place but local letters, and one’s own projects seem ever more pointless and ephemeral, such moments of terror and incomprehension seem more frequent and more piercing, and, I find, as likely to arise in the middle of the day as the night.
I suspect Woods knows, or at least senses, something of the abyss that Nietzsche had previously identified and leaned out over about as far as anyone can.
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market-place, and cried incessantly: "I am looking for God! I am looking for God!"
As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there, he excited considerable laughter. Have you lost him, then? said one. Did he lose his way like a child? said another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated? Thus they shouted and laughed. The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances. 
"Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God's decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us - for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto."
Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time has not come yet. The tremendous event is still on its way, still travelling- it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars- and yet they have done it themselves."
It has been further related that on that same day the madman entered divers churches and there sang a requiem. Led out and quietened, he is said to have retorted each time: "what are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchres of God?" (from The Gay Science)
Whoa!  Heavier stuff even than a Double A bond rating, ain't it?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kerry Downgrade

A couple of days after admonishing the media for failing to perform its solemn duty to ignore the Tea Party and its influence on American politics, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) let loose with this on  Sunday's Meet The Press:
"Well, it's a partial wake-up call. I believe this is, without question, the Tea Party downgrade. This is the Tea Party downgrade because a minority of people in the House of Representatives countered the will of many Republicans in the United States Senate who were prepared to do a bigger deal,..."
(I'll let others comment on the head-shaking chutzpah displayed this weekend, here by Kerry,  elsewhere by many others, apologizing for the congressional Democrats' and the Obama Administration's performance in the debt-ceiling debate by attacking the Tea Party.  I'll giv'em this, however.  "Tea Party downgrade" was in the talking-points memo and they all adhered strictly to the script.)

Anyway, back to Kerry.

Uh, Senator, no minority in the House of Representatives has the power to do anything other than try to persuade a majority in the House of Representatives.  It's only in the Senate, where you hold office Sir, that a minority can wield such power.

I know Senator, the Constitution's a bitch sometimes.   Maybe you and Cokie Roberts could do lunch and figure out some useful ways around it.  Make sure she doesn't mention the Tea Party, however.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Memory Shutdown

I can't stand it anymore!

Virtually everyone, pundit and pol, left and right, insists on invoking the memory of the "disastrous" results for the GOP of the, brief, government shutdowns that occurred in 1995 and 1996.  Remembering  them is, of course, supposed to scare the GOP and us conservatives into not repeating that same mistake again as we confront this fiscally incontinent Administration and Democrat Party.

The facts, THE FACTS, however, tell a different story.

The party composition of the US Congress in 1995 before the government shutdowns:

Senate:  52 Republicans, 48 Democrats
House:  230 Republicans, 204 Democrats, 1 Independent/Other

The party composition of the US Congress in 1997 after the government shutdowns:

Senate:  55 Republicans, 45 Democrats
House:  226 Republicans, 207 Democrats, 2 Independent/Other

Can we stop the hand-wringing already and at least remember correctly that in the 1996 general election, the GOP lost only 4 seats to the Democrats in the House and actually gained 3 in the Senate?

"S&P Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating"

One more time: I thought the "Deal" was supposed to forestall this?

The Great Reckoning continues

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beat'em First

Charles Krauthammer proposes what he thinks just might be "The Solution" to the debt crisis.

As he envisions it, his proposal would proceeds in three stages, the first and most important of which is "Tax Reform":
True tax reform that removes loopholes while lowering tax rates is the Holy Grail of social policy. It appeals equally to Left and Right because, almost uniquely, it promotes both economic efficiency and fairness. Economic efficiency — because it removes tax dodges that distort capital flows (and thereby diminish productivity) while cutting marginal tax rates (thereby spurring growth). Fairness — because a corrupted tax code with myriad breaks grants deeply unfair advantage to the rich who buy the lobbyists who create the loopholes and buy the lawyers who exploit them. Which is why the 1986 Reagan-Bradley tax reform was such a historic success. It satisfied Left and Right, promoted efficiency and fairness, and helped launch two decades of almost uninterrupted economic expansion.
I'm afraid his premises here are seriously flawed.

To begin, removing "loopholes" has only lately, and conveniently, become a demand of the American Left.  The fact is, various loopholes, alongside a progressive income tax scheme with multiple and increasing marginal rates have historically been the bedrock of liberal tax policy.  (By the way, the definition of a "loophole":  Any legal tax deduction or subsidy with which I disagree.)

The desire by the Left for progressive rates should be obvious.  The rich, who have benefited most (and probably unfairly, i.e., at the expense of others), should pay more taxes and at higher rates than those with fewer advantages in life's lottery.  But loopholes, too, have always been championed more by liberals than by conservatives, much more.  The meddling Left is forever striving to encourage one behaviour, installing solar panels, for example, while discouraging others, using tobacco products.  The provision in the tax code for  deductions and subsidies that try to accomplish just that is an all-too-easy avenue for social engineering that the Left, and the Democrat Party that represents it, will not abandon easily.

Moreover, and almost as important, loopholes reliably create constituencies that become increasingly dependent upon them, constituencies that are thereby extremely loyal to the political party that promises to secure them.  Think labor unions, think "green" anything, etc.

As a result, the Left has little to no interest in making grand, or even small, bargains exchanging flatter income tax rates for fewer tax loopholes.

So, you might ask, why did they agree to just such a bargain in 1986?

First, the Left didn't, the Democrats did.  They did so because Reagan, not Obama, was president.  They did so because the GOP, not the Democrats, controlled the Senate.  They did so because there were still enough truly conservative, mostly southern, "Blue Dawg" Democrats in the House to give Reagan and the Republicans a working majority.

With all due respect to Dr. Krauthammer, the only sure solution to the debt crisis is the very real prospect of electoral defeat by the Democrats, not contracting clever deals with them.

And even after we beat'em, we had better keep the Republicans on a very short leash as well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DOW Drops 500+

I thought the "Deal" was supposed to forestall this?

The Great Reckoning continues.

Out of Ammo?, cont.

Oh yea!   How could I forget?

How about repealing Obamacare?

Out of Ammo?

Check out this Reuters' headline: "Analysis: Obama, Bernanke out of ammo to boost jobs, growth"

Are you kidding me?

How about a moratorium on new regulations for, I don't know, five least?

How about further reducing the capital gains tax rate?

How about reducing and standardizing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements?

How about making the income tax rates flatter and lower?

How about seriously tackling deficit spending?

How about approving off-shore and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) oil drilling?

How about...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guess Who Fires Back?

If you're anywhere on the political right, hard or squishy, you simply have to concede the appeal of this woman, whether you like her or not.  (If you can't, then, frankly, I don't think you're really interested in defeating the other side.)  No "with all due respect", "on the other hand", "as my good friend from California knows..." from her.

It may not win a national election, but it is so very refreshing.

Teed Off But Teed Up Too

I listened to Rush Limbaugh's opening-hour monologue yesterday and the Great One had this to say:
Well, the Senate is prepared to vote on the bill. It's a fait accompli. It is going to happen, and depending on where you look, everybody's claiming to be winners, and in other places you look everybody's claiming to be losers. If everybody lost, it means it's probably a pretty good deal. If everybody's unhappy, it's that line of thinking. I look at this, ladies and gentlemen, and I see an absolute, total waste of effort, a total waste of time. It's gonna come down now to how dispirited people are and just how much they want to continue to fight for this, because what happened here is typical Washington. It's the same old, same old. There's nothing really new in this in the way it all happened when you boil it all down.
Pretty much my sentiments exactly, save for one thing:

If no GOP candidate, presidential or otherwise, is able to make serious poltiical hay out of what just happened, if the American people's attention span is shorter than the mere 16 months left until the next election, then the Republic's long and proud run deserves to end.

It's in our hands it should be.

"It's the pictures that got small"

If you want to know both why and how the Sage enjoys old movies (almost precisely), then check out this piece by Gerald Nachman.   Amazing!  I could have written it myself, although not so well as he.

Jonah's Had It!

The NRO's Jonah Goldberg notices the elite media's non-reaction to the Vice President calling the Tea Party "terrorists" and, well, explodes.

I love this guy.  His commentary is invariably on the mark and also very witty.  But unlike many in this business, he's kind and typically pulls his punches just a bit, usually with self-effacing humor.  Not this time.  Read.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It Poisons Everything

Our debt, that is.

There's an old saying:  If you borrow a thousand dollars, the bank owns you.  But if you borrow a million dollars, you own the bank.

It seems that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, for one, has awoken to the fact that as his bank, i.e., his country, has lent the US a whole lot more than a mere million dollars and, therefore, in that twisted way, the US owns his country.  Needless to say, he doesn't like it.

While I don't appreciate being lectured to by a ruthless quasi-dictator, he an his country are still significant world players whether I like it or not.  More importantly, his reaction makes me wonder just how many of our other foreign relations will suffer a similar fate?

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Time for Choosing Indeed

This from The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol last week when it looked like an insufficient number of conservative House Republicans would rally in order to pass the Boehner plan:
To vote against John Boehner on the House floor this week in the biggest showdown of the current Congress is to choose to vote with Nancy Pelosi. To vote against Boehner is to choose to support Barack Obama. It is to choose to increase the chances that worse legislation than Boehner’s passes.
Then this from him this evening when the compromise bill that emerged over the weekend passed easily in the same House of Representatives:
But as the vote wound down on the House floor, I received an email from a friend and political comrade-in-arms that captured my sentiments almost exactly:
I must say I have a somewhat sinking feeling in my stomach about this agreement. The message to Americans seems to be that we have a (defense) spending problem—and the addition of that parenthetical substantially changes the whole sentence. I have a hard time saying what we really even got out of this deal. I suspect, however, that Obama is satisfied and will sleep well tonight, having gotten the one thing I think he really cared about: to be free of having to do this again before next November...       
This whole experience—especially the default to defense cuts—is a further reminder that we'll never get anywhere without a Republican leader who can make the case for real entitlement reform (Obamacare repeal, Medicare reform)
These two posts, the one demeaning those who would dare to oppose the Boehner plan last week, the other demeaning those who followed through with the logic of, as well as the inexorable momentum created by, their first vote, mystifies me.

Perhaps it's not just new Republican leadership that is needed, but a new conservative commentariat as well.

Biden Speaks! (Not really news, is it?)

If it was a conservative Republican who said this about any Democrat, you might say he'd just put his foot in his mouth, big time.  But for Vice President Biden, for any Democrat, to call his political foes terrorists, or Nazis, or fascists, or racists, or sexists, fill in the blank, is pretty much par for the course.

What's also par for the course is that he will pay absolutely no price for it.  They never do.