Our buddy Patrick Hynes weighed in today against Jim Antle and his piece on Mitt Romney by casting doubt on Romney’s conservative bona fides — just the sort of thing one might expect from someone now working for John McCain and evidently worried that Romney is outflanking McCain on the right.
To answer a few of Patrick’s specific complaints: I would bet McCain is effectively more pro-choice than Romney these days, and that McCain’s suppression of the First Amendment via McCain-Feingold incumbent protection dwarfs any of the coerciveness in Romney’s health-care reform. As for who Romney is surrounding himself with — the puny-minded article Patrick links to tells us nothing on that score — I think a bigger worry should be McCain, whose current brain trust includes such conservative stalwarts as Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and Gerry Parsky.
But you know Patrick’s really ready to throw mud for his man when he for all intents blames Romney for the recent Big Dig tragedy. I was wondering who’d be the first to take that route.
(For a much more thoughtful and informed response to Patrick Hynes, see Jim Antle’s post here.)
Ms.Alliott-Marie, the French Defense Ministress, has proclaimed a new French strategy for the Son of UNIFIL force the French are finally going to “man.” According to that Wall St. Journal report, Ms. Minister said, “”I don’t want to send men so that they can be humiliated on the ground.” Which, since the death of Napoleon, has been the almost-unvaried situation of the French forces.
She also criticised those who are denigrating the French effort. Ma’am, we only aim to please.
NEW YORK - Jackie Mason is suing Jews for Jesus, claiming the missionary group damaged him by using his name and likeness in a pamphlet.
“While I have the utmost respect for people who practice the Christian faith, the fact is, as everyone knows, I am as Jewish as a matzo ball or kosher salami,” the 75-year-old comedian said in documents filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan….
The pamphlets feature an image of Mason next to the words “Jackie Mason … A Jew for Jesus!?” with information inside that outlines the similarities between Jews and Christians.
“The pamphlet uses my name, my likeness, my ‘shtick’ (if you will), and my very act, which is derived from my personality, to attract attention and converts,” Mason said in an affidavit.
Can you imagine seeing that go to trial?
The Jerusalem Post reports that if a new election were held today, the right-wing parties would take control of the Israeli government:
A Ma'agar Mohot poll, broadcast on Channel 2 on Thursday evening found that if the election was held today, the Likud and Israel Beiteinu would each win 24 seats, Kadima would fall from 29 to 14, and Labor would fall from 19 to only 9.
Meanwhile, another poll, reported in the Guardian, shows that a majority of Israelis want Olmert to go:
A poll in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper showed 63% want Mr Olmert to go. The defence minister, Amir Peretz, appears even more vulnerable with 74% calling for his resignation, while 54% want the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, to resign as well.
I predict that a new election will be called by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan stand-in David Weigel, pointing to that poll, contrasts the willingness of Israelis to criticize their government with the
James Antle’s piece today makes a good case for how Romney could appeal to evangelicals in 2008, despite his Mormonism. While he may not be the ideal choice for evangelicals, given his previous pro-choice stances, I think he may be able to market himself as a born again pro-lifer like Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush before him— especially against Giuliani, given his liberal social views, and McCain, who just makes conservatives’ skin crawl.
The problem for Romney—and I think this is a huge problem—is that he doesn’t have any credentials on national security. I’m sure he’ll say all the right things, but I don’t think that will be enough. People may argue that President Bush came into office without national security credentials. However, he was elected prior to 9/11, and 2008 will be the first contested primary since that fateful day. Fighting terrorism is the defining issue of our time, and while I think that merely saying the right things was good enough in past elections, I don’t think that will work anymore. You need a real record. Romney doesn’t have it. It’s for this very reason that I consider Giuliani to be the actual frontrunner.
And, moving beyond national security, Romney’s universal healthcare plan makes me worry that he would try to be the torch bearer for Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” that has given us the Medicare prescription drug plan and No Child Left Behind. David Hogberg has been keeping tabs on how RomneyCare isn’t working out, recently here.
Those insensitive astronomers are at it again, writes the New York Times:
Nothing is safe from liberalism’s speech codes. When is someone on 43rd Street going to realize that Gail Collins is a enormous embarrassment?
I’m subbing for Bill Bennett again today (6-9 am on Salem Radio Net). We have a heavy-duty show lined up. Guests include Cong. Pete Hoekstra - House Intel Chairman - to talk about the report they released yesterday, probably also have Barham Salih, Iraq’s Deputy PM and my pal John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics.com. Hope you can tune in. Call in number is 866-680-6464.
In the press release for its new study on so-called voter supression, People for the American Way (sic) uses the term “felon disenfranchisement policies.” As a friend of mine puts it, that’s so much better than saying “We want violent thugs and rapists to vote.”
And of course, PFAW has to whine about “Overly strict voter identification requirements that make it harder for the up to 10 percent of Americans who do not have government-issued photo IDs to cast a vote.” Requiring a drivers license to vote is “overly strict”? Next time I try to cash a check at a bank, I’ll try that “overly strict” complaint when they ask for ID, just to see how it goes over.
There is one reason and one reason only for not requiring ID to vote: making it easier to cheat.
Shawn: Megadeath? I thought that was Ahmadinejad’s career objective. Tell ya what: I’ll buy you and Mustaine lunch. I’d like to hear more from him, and you need to be there for any number of reasons. Not the least of which is to translate between Heavy Metal and Grumpy Old Guy.
Jed Babbin and heavy metal guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine of Megadeth probably don’t have too many overlapping areas of interest, but an abiding disgust for the United Nations is apparently one of them. Here’s Mustaine explaining to Billboard how his band’s upcoming opus came to be titled United Abominations:
“I was watching TV and saw the trucks that said ‘UN’ on them and said, ‘Man, you are so uncool, ineffective, anything,” Mustaine said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve got to run with this. I got it — United Abominations, ‘cause it’s an abomination what they’re doing!’”
But in my debate with the lady from the French Foreign Office on BBC last night, I said that France’s refusal to contribute more than 200 troops to the UN force for Lebanon — after crafting and negotiating and getting us to cave in to their demands - was just a study in French political science. I compared it to the results on the decade-long drafting of the EUnuch constitution led by a former French president, contrived and negotiated to France’s demands and then rejected by the French, the mess left for others to repair.
Today, Chirac announced they’d contribute 2,000 not 200 troops. A coincidence? Maybe. On the other hand, I’ve not accepted their surrender. Yet.
The Baton Rouge Advocate is no bastion of the liberal media, but instead boasts center to slightly center-right editorial stances. Here it talks about the recovery plan boosted by conservative U.S. Rep. Richard Baker that President Bush killed, for no good reason and without even much of an attempt at explanation. Let me just say that the BR Advocate is right on target here.
As the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, it is Bush’s mishandling of the long-term recovery efforts, not the much-hyped tragedy of the immediate post-storm relief problems, that deserves to go down as the single worst part of his legacy as president. Just as liberals like to ignore the very real local and state (and thus mostly Democratic) culpability in turning a horrible disaster into an even more horrible catastrophe, and just as ALL political camps ignore the 40 years of fumbling at all three levels of government, conservatives are guilty of being willfully blind to the errors of the Bushies.
Every time I blog on this topic, I am inundated with angry responses from people who don’t even bother to learn the facts enough to know the difference between a floodwall and a levee, or the difference between what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for and what the local Levee Board is responsible for, or the difference between a federal grant and a revolving loan fund, much less the differences AMONG various Democratic dynasties in New Orleans and their inter-reactions with Republicans through the years. The reality is that there is plenty of blame to go around for the multiple sorrows of New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast, for which the biggest culprit is cruel Nature herself.
But anybody who wants to see better responses in the future to disasters natural and otherwise should be willing to look at the whole picture and to let his own “side” take an appropriate share of responsibility, lest another major city or region be sentenced to the human misery that still is a matter of daily life in New Orleans and on the Mississippi Coast.
Just finished the article “The Music of America” by Roger Scruton, who is a great favorite of mine. Two comments, coming from me, some authority, too, as author of The Rock and Roll Songwriter’s Handbook (Scholastics, 1972).
1. What he said. Yeah.
2. Scruton uses the phrase “The great American songbook,” seeming to attribute its origin to Terry Teachout. The citation isn’t precise; perhaps Teachout makes no such claim. But I point out that Boston DJ Ron Della Chiessa used it as the title of a regular radio broadcast going back nearly two decades.
But, hey, Pennsylvania appears posed to jump right in.
The Massachusetts Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, which is overseeing the implementation of Romney’s plan, has decided how much poor people should pay for their health insurance. For some, it could be as much as 6.6% of their income. Naturally, that has the so-called poverty advocates up in arms:
John McDonough, executive director of Health Care For All, said, “The concern is that lots and lots of people under 300% of the poverty level are not walking around with extra money in their pockets.”
“Not only are they not walking around with extra money, they are walking around under the crushing burden of debt. They’re living paycheck to paycheck.”
This, of course, will lead to more pressure for more taxpayer funds for health insurance for the poor.
During all of the debate over health insurance, I never heard anyone talk about the effect of government subsidies. If government’s subsidize something like a person’s health insurance, then demand for it will increase. When demand increases, well, you know what happens to the price.
As I noted before, it is at least a bit ironic that Romney intended this reform to make insurance more affordable.
Charley Reese is a fool.
According to the Jerusalem Post:
Israel is carefully watching the world’s reaction to Iran’s continued refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, with some high-level officials arguing it is now clear that when it comes to stopping Iran, Israel “may have to go it alone,” The Jerusalem Post has learned.
If it comes to this, let’s hope that the Olmert government can do a better job than it did against Hezbollah.
Philip, you are correct that it is a slur previously unknown. In that Washington Post story you linked to, the photo caption drops any nuance about the word: “Sen. George Allen had called S.R. Sidarth, a staffer of foe James Webb’s, a ‘macaca,’ a racial slur.” If you have to look up the word to determine if it is a racial slur in some parts of the world, it probably isn’t that offensive.
What has struck me about this incident is that on the one hand we’re to believe that the word “macaca” (which nobody heard of before this month) is a deeply offensive racial slur, yet newspapers have had no trouble using the slur in headlines.
If Allen used a term that was actually known as offensive to the general public, I don’t think it would be plastered all over the headlines. I can’t imagine headlines like: “Allen lead evaporates after ‘kike’ flap” or, “Senator to ‘Kike’: Sorry.”
I’ve never been much of a fan of George Allen, because I’ve generally perceived him as a cookie-cutter politician, and this whole macaca incident reaffirms my view that he isn’t ready for prime time. My sense is that Sidarth was sent by Webb to follow Allen around with a video camera in the hopes that he would do something stupid—which he did.
With that said, this whole controversy was clearly blown out of proportion, with the Washington Post having an A1 story today about Allen’s apology to Sidarth.
Peter Schweizer has a devastating piece up at the San Francisco Chronicle about Al Gore’s purportedly carbon-neutral lifestyle.
Here are a couple of revealing sections:
Public records reveal that as Gore lectures Americans on excessive consumption, he and wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself.
Then there is the troubling matter of his energy use. In the Washington, D.C., area, utility companies offer wind energy as an alternative to traditional energy. In Nashville, similar programs exist. Utility customers must simply pay a few extra pennies per kilowatt hour, and they can continue living their carbon-neutral lifestyles knowing that they are supporting wind energy. Plenty of businesses and institutions have signed up. Even the Bush administration is using green energy for some federal office buildings, as are thousands of area residents. But according to public records, there is no evidence that Gore has signed up to use green energy in either of his large residences. When contacted recently, Gore’s office confirmed as much but said the Gores were looking into making the switch at both homes. Talk about inconvenient truths.
Okay, he’s been a little slack, but it’s not like Gore actually makes money BOTH from slamming oil and mining companies AND from owning them … right?
Gore has held these apocalyptic views about the environment for some time. So why, then, didn’t Gore dump his family’s large stock holdings in Occidental Petroleum? As executor of his family’s trust, over the years Gore has controlled hundreds of thousands of dollars in Oxy stock. Oxy has been mired in controversy over oil drilling in ecologically sensitive areas. Living carbon-free apparently doesn’t mean living oil-stock-free. Nor does it necessarily mean forgoing a mining royalty, either.
Humanity might be “sitting on a ticking time bomb,” but Gore’s home in Carthage is sitting on a zinc mine. Gore received $20,000 a year in royalties from Pasminco Zinc, which operated a zinc concession on his property at least until late 2003. Tennessee has cited the company for adding large quantities of barium, iron and zinc to the nearby Caney Fork.
Wlady, you are quite right that Christians would have a different view of historical fact than somebody like Heather Mac Donald has. If not, there would be no such thing as a non-Christian.
However, if I understand her correctly, her key complaint is that Christians make debate and discussion impossible by involving theological ultimacies. I simply think she is wrong about that.
I can talk about the Virgin Birth and she can make the case against it and I can respond. The fact that we can’t wrap up a nice agreement in a paper bag doesn’t mean this type of dispute is uniquely intractable. I imagine I could have a similarly unresolvable debate with certain people over affirmative action!
I suppose the bottom-line for me is that some people want to divide knowledge into religious knowledge and secular knowledge and argue the religious stuff isn’t fit for public consumption. I think that’s quite wrong. There is scientific knowledge, which I think we are bound to accept when it has good provenance. Then, there is everything else and that is where we get into justice, compassion, mercy, equality, utopian aspiration, and yes, religion. Most of politics actually takes place in this latter, non-scientific area. It really makes no sense to excise the religious and act like we are now only talking about stuff that is REAL. We live and breathe non-empirical concepts. We just pretend the religious folks are the only ones out on a limb.
Hunter: When I read this in your latest, “The church has always understood itself to be making a case on evidence that if not true, should result in abandonment of the faith,” my mind immediately leapt back to something Ms. Mac Donald recently, though politely, took us to task for. Last Friday, at NRO’s Corner, she included this:
A recent article on The Da Vinci Code in The American Spectator stated that it was a matter of “historical fact” that Jesus was born of a virgin and ascended to heaven after the crucifixion. I simply don’t know what to make of that statement or its appearance in a powerful, justly respected journal of conservative opinion. It does not conform to what I thought was a common understanding of “historical facts.”
Without knowing the context, the unsuspecting reader might indeed conclude that TAS had gone mystical. But read the paragraph in which the “historical fact” appears, and it seems rather clear that genuine, traditional religious belief does involve acceptance of facts that the nonbeliever can only roll his eyes over. Here’s some of the context missing from Ms. Mac Donald’s account. It’s from the final paragraph of Gregory Alan Thornbury’s 3,000 word essay, “The Da Vinci Distraction,” which ran in our July/August issue:
The popularity of The Da Vinci Code shows us that people are open to accepting quite incredible claims. While people may be open to faith, it remains to be seen whether or not they will be open to the Faith. That Faith, of course, makes claims on people’s lives. Those claims are rooted in the historical fact that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, was crucified, died, and was buried; He rose again in the body on the third day and ascended into heaven, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. The Church has confessed him as both Lord and God ever since….[Emphasis added.]
Perhaps a nonbeliever could have written, “Those claims are rooted in the belief that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, was crucified, died, and was buried….” But the author in this case wasn’t pulling punches, given that the belief in question has to be in the virgin birth, resurrection and ascension as historical facts. If those didn’t actually occur, then believing Catholics and Christians really are the biggest fools who ever lived, as Father Blaise in his matter-of-fact way once told my high school religion class some forty years ago. Needless to say, ever since then I’ve noticed that’s been the “common understanding” most smart people have settled on.
I don’t want to attempt to settle the atheist/believer problem once and for all. I know I can’t.
My main point in addressing Mac Donald’s “bad things” argument was to show that it is not any kind of slam dunk that should end the argument for anyone.
What IS my main point is that non-believers/secularists/whatever you call them, have been rather insistent that they are being abused or presumed upon by God-talk in the public square. Considering the rather large number of people who do hold such beliefs, I think it actually quite impolite to insist that these people construct some alternative justification just to please the non-theological sensibilities of others. This is particularly true if we agree the issue is not conclusively won by either group.
In addition, Mac Donald’s argument is based on a straw man. How often do believers argue “God sayeth” and then leave it at that? They don’t. In fact, one of the common critiques of conservative Christians is that they argue too much via a political mindset (like for tax cuts!) and not enough from a prophetic biblical stance!
Christianity, at least, is drenched in rational justification. I understand that the various proofs of something like the resurrection of Christ are not convincing to all, but one would have to be quite churlish to argue that the points made in that case have no evidential value at all. Certainly, we see Paul insisting that many people saw Christ after his death. We also have the puzzle of why the disciples went from running scared to willing to die martyr’s deaths as missionaries for the early church. The church has always understood itself to be making a case on evidence that if not true, should result in abandonment of the faith.
Likewise, when Christians argue politics they virtually always bring something other than “God says” to the table. They say God is against abortion, but they also talk a lot about things like DNA, brain waves, the beating heart, and other developmental and psychological points. The same is true of other issues in which Christians engage the public square.
As far as Mr. Klein’s point that certain values simply work and that it is enough to establish them, I respectfully disagree. I am quite sure there are some persons who would argue that values like justice, compassion, etc. do not “work” for them and that they wish they would not be imposed upon by some community vision of the good.
defiler, in three years, of two unquestionably legitimate expressions of global will — unanimous Security Council resolutions crafted to maintain, and enforce, international peace and security in the Middle East. Zut!
Let’s not also forget that religiosity isn’t quite an on/off switch. The range of attitudes — and political postures of appeal to a divine order or to spiritually ideal propriety — reaches broadly from exclusive faith to more general faith to particular belief (that may not command particular imperatives) to blanket or case-specific agnosticisms and finally the anti-theism that is directly hostile to religious conviction and intolerant of persuasion predicated on God.
In other words, neither conservatives nor conservatism can be neatly cleft into “pro-God” and “anti-God” camps. Or, to be more precise, the “pro-God” tent encompasses — and has encompassed throughout key sequences of American political history — a vast territory of the spirit, from Madison to Jefferson to Lincoln and, of course, beyond. There are plenty of issue-points even within its ambit for generations of political conflict, and this is proof that a conservative’s stance toward God does not solve or resolve in advance the questions of economics, politics, and culture that stand at a degree of remove from questions of religion.
Mac Donald insists, I think, that either this is a fact objectively or should be kept custom in argument — and that those who think economic, political, and cultural questions are bifurcated by faith into correct and incorrect answers needlessly manage at once to complicate and constrain our discourse.
Hunter, I have a few beefs with your beef with Heather Mac Donald. Let me say right off the bat that in my view, believing in God is a matter of faith, and some people simply aren’t ready or willing to take that leap of faith. Saying that we cannot understand the ways of God well enough to explain why bad things happen in the world is not a very useful way to assuage the skepticism of a nonbeliever. While the existence of Nazis does not automatically disprove the existence of God, arguing that the ways of God are sometimes incomprehensible does not prove God’s existence.
You write, “Mac Donald is a conservative with very definite ideas about freedom, justice, etc. Where do those ideas come from? She seems to expect that we would be persuaded to do things that are right and to abstain from things that are wrong. If there is no God, why care about any of that?”
This is the argument that was famously raised by Dostoyevsky through the character Ivan Karamazov, who postulated that if there is no God, all things are lawful. While it is undeniable that religion has made a major contribution to our concept of morality, it doesn’t mean that there is no justification for morality in the absence of religion. Morality is a guide for human action within a social setting. The secular defense of concepts such as freedom, justice, etc. is that they work. They maximize the ability of human beings to prosper and pursue happiness without impairing other people’s ability to do the same. A lawless society in which people lie, cheat, steal and kill doesn’t have much hope for long-term success.
You write, “She complains that someone kills a conversation when they say God wants something. But is it any different to say Justice requires it? She would complain about the first, but not the second. Why? The truth is that saying God wants something is not so different from saying Justice requires something.”
There is a difference between making an argument rooted in justice and making an argument rooted in God. The difference is that if a person doesn’t believe in God, or has religious beliefs that are fundamentally at odds with your own, making a God-based argument is a lost cause. However, by making an argument based on justice, you can still persuade those who believe in God, but also can gain the ear of nonbelievers as well people whose religious views are different than your own.
There’s a lot to say and I’ll be saying as much as I can Thursday and Friday subbing for Bill Bennett on his Bennett Mornings radio show. Tune in 0600- 0900 EDT on the Salem Radio Network. John McCain, media bias, the Iran/UN mess and all the rest.
(Thank heaven for caffeine. Coffee is, of course, an essential element of talk radio.)
BBC invited me on tonight for Newsnight (about 1730 our time, 2230 Brit time) to beat up on the French. It took several picoseconds to decide to do it. See ya on the Beeb.
WUSA Channel 9 has apparently created a special graphic for every George Allen story, whether or not it is related to his “macaca” incident. For a story about President Bush campaigning for the Senator in Virginia Wednesday, WUSA includes Allen’s picture next to a “Decision ‘06” logo and the words, “Controversial Remarks.”
When Israeli soldiers were kidnapped recently, so-called human rights activists such as Jimmy Carter pinned the blame on the Jewish state, the idea being that the kidnapping was merely a reaction to Israel holding Palestinian and Hezbollah prisoners.
A Palestinian terrorist group identifying itself as “Holy Jihad Brigades” has just released this video of kidnapped Fox News journalists Olaf Wiig and Steve Centanni. The terrorist group is giving the U.S. 72 hours to release Muslim prisoners being held in America, or else…well, that’s not clear now, but you can use your imagination.
In the case of the two seperate kidnappings of Israeli soldiers, at least one could argue that the kidnapped Israelis were soldiers rather than civilians. But the two Fox News journalists currently being held in captivity are clearly civilians and Wiig is a citizen neither of the U.S. nor Israel, but of New Zealand. This demonstrates that the real aim is to use the tactic of kidnapping to gain media attention (hence kidnapping journalists), get the sympathy of the world community, and earn a place at the international bargaining table. Stay tuned for a Jimmy Carter statement blaming the kidnappings on the U.S. prison system.
Heather Mac Donald has made it her business to complain about theological impositions upon the conservative movement of late. After a go-round with Michael Novak, she just wants us Christian types to know that the faith is quite unreasonable given the bad things that happen to good people in this world.
Well, thank you, Voltaire. The Christians, Jews, etc. may as well hang it up.
Mac Donald can’t understand how there can be a God when people die and suffer, not only from the actions of other people, but also because of natural catastrophes. God looks like a very delinquent daddy in her eyes. The idea is less ridiculous than thinking there is no God at all.
There are many problems with Mac Donald’s approach. For example, if it is the case that there is a God and He is essentially infinite compared to our finitude, then it stands to reason that we would not be able to fully comprehend Him and why His universe acts as it does. Mac Donald can’t understand God and thus writes him off. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist and doesn’t have reasons we cannot currently comprehend. “Who has known the mind of God and who has been his counselor?”
She can then say, yes, but it’s simpler to think he doesn’t exist and that we are in contention with the apparent randomness of natural events. It isn’t that simple, though. Mac Donald is a conservative with very definite ideas about freedom, justice, etc. Where do those ideas come from? She seems to expect that we would be persuaded to do things that are right and to abstain from things that are wrong. If there is no God, why care about any of that? Why not dismiss it all as sentimentality, find a group of intelligent and strong fellow travelers, and impose our own vision of self-gratification on others unable to resist?
She complains that someone kills a conversation when they say God wants something. But is it any different to say Justice requires it? She would complain about the first, but not the second. Why? The truth is that saying God wants something is not so different from saying Justice requires something. You can still argue. You can dispute the theology, the reasoning, the evidence, etc. just as you do with any other debate.
In short, there is no great imposition on the unbeliever when the believer enters the debate. Christianity, at least, almost always reasons from evidence rather than brute revelation. The parts that are brute revelation, like that every person matters and enjoys an equality before God, is not the part anyone should want us to give up or stop bringing up.
Apparently, these are not merely hypotheticals. This morning’s Washington Post Express (PDF) has a brief bit on page 24 about an upcoming CNN special on Osama bin Laden. Here’s the money paragraph:
One reporter remembers coming upon bin Laden in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet Union. They politely discussed politics and religion for a half hour, and then he was dismissed with the warning, “If I see you again, I will kill you.”
Jonah Goldberg has an
column out today accusing liberals of a double standard for
arguing for a flexible, living constitution that evolves with the
times while supporting a narrow reading when it comes to the War on
While I can understand the temptation to make such an argument, it can also be turned around. Liberals can argue that conservatives are always fussing about appointing judges that strictly interpret the constitution, while during the War on Terror they have been willing to allow for a broader definition of the document when it comes to executive power during wartime.
In an article about his next Fauxumentary, “Sicko”, Michael Moore states, “I’d like to show you some things you don’t know. So stay tuned for where this movie has led me. I think you might enjoy it.”
Um, I don’t know, but I can venture a pretty good guess as to where his Fauxumentary had “led” him based on another comment in the article:
On his website, Mr. Moore offered a snapshot of what the documentary entails. “Back in February, I asked if people would send me letters describing their experiences with our health-care system, and I received over 19,000 of them,” he wrote. “To read about the misery people are put through on a daily basis by our profit-based system was both moving and revolting. We’ve spent the better part of this year shooting our next movie, ‘Sicko.’ As we’ve done with our other films, we don’t discuss them while we are making them. If people ask, we tell them ‘Sicko’ is a comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on Earth.”Moore makes a mistake so typical of those on the left, confusing health care with health insurance. 45 million (actually much lower than that) people lack health insurance. But they have access to health care. There are free clinics, people can pay health care professionals directly, and emergency rooms are required to give anyone who shows up treatment.
Furthermore, the problem with our health care system isn’t that it is profit based. It’s the third-party payer system, which I’ve written about elsewhere. What Moore will almost surely omit from his Fauxumentary is the non-profit based often result in a near guarantee that you will be denied access to health care. For example, in Britain the National Health Service rations care in such a way that over 700,000 people end up on waiting lists for surgery, 61,000 people have surgeries cancelled, and children with heart defects can wait up to two years to see a specialist.
I’m not worried that Moore’s Fauxumentary will lead people to things they don’t know. I’m far more worried that it will lead them to things that just ain’t so.
Interesting that Tehran is now saying they’re willing to enter serious negotiations now. What should the EUnuchs learn from that about what they’ve been doing for the past three years?
How to negotiate with terrorists:
Terrorism Advocate: “I would like for you to be dead….and your children….and your wife will be stoned to death.”Read it all over at Tusk and Talon.
Diologue Advocate: “I understand your feelings. But we can’t really have people going around killing others. Can we agree on that?”
Terrorism Advocate: “No. You are an infidel. Your words are spoken with a devil tongue. You must die. You, your children, your wife, and your neighbors.”
Did you know that economics is just a “belief system”?
That, and other gems, from Jonathan Rowe.
This was the headline in the DC Examiner today:
Groups call for Legislature to cut spending
Any mention of the Americans for Prosperity’s campaign to put a lid on Virginia’s spending orgy in the Washington Post? Nope.
And proving that politicians in state legislatures are not much different than ones in DC:
“Eighty percent of the budget is comprised of education, health care, debt service on funding prison construction, car tax rebate and the rainy day fund. If they are proposing cuts in any of those five, I’d be interested to hear what they are,” said Del. Brian Moran, D-Alexandria.If Moran thinks those things can’t change, just keep on spending.
He said the commonwealth has been named the best-managed state by the Government Performance Project, the best place to do business by Forbes, and ranks 41st highest in the nation for its state- and local-tax burden on citizens, according to the Tax Foundation.
So, Iran is saying that they are ready for “serious talks.” More information will come out, no doubt, but this strikes me as just another stalling technique that does nothing to change the main issues, especially because they will reportedly continue enriching uranium. I don’t see what more there is to negotiate, given that Iran has already been offered light-water reactors and support to join the World Trade Organization. Should Iran continue to enrich uranium past the Aug. 31 deadline and prevent inspectors from investigating their nuclear program, will the UN Security Council actually impose sanctions, or will it hold off on such actions now that Iran wants “serious talks.”
If this new Website, paid for by the DSCC, is any indication of how the Democrats will campaign this fall, Republicans can rest easy.
While on the subject, I have to say that I find the whole Snakes on a Plane phenomenon pretty lame. In my view, stupid movies should only become campy, cult classics accidentally. Having a Hollywood PR department market a movie as such ruins it for me. I see no way that it could ever reach the cinematic heights of a movie such as Howard the Duck.
It turns out that DailyKos, in addition to serving as the headquarters of the liberal Netroots movement, offers weather reports to its readers. For instance, if you go over there now, you’ll find a post on a tropical depression off the coast of Africa, which closes with:
Even a modest hurricane or tropical storm near NOLA at this point could be devastating, in part thanks to the woefully managed reconstruction and clean-up effort courtesy of the Bush-Cheney cabal, who seem obsessed with pissing away more resources—of both the flesh and monetary kind—into Iraq than our own freakin cities and people.
I think they’re on to something. Maybe they can try traffic and weather together. “Expect 30 minute delays heading into to Lincoln Tunnel during rush hour today. For the frickin’ money spent on Iraq, we could have built more tunnels, which would mean less traffic, but Bush is too stupid to realize that and Cheney, the real Decider, is too interested in killing people in Iraq so that he can give contracts to Halliburton.”
New Guardian poll shows the Tories with a 9-point lead and support for Labour at the lowest point since 1987.
Is poised to reject calls to stop enriching uranium.
How can anybody believe that we can deal with Iran through diplomacy?
Still no signs of an apocalypse.
There’s a story over at LA’s tony Hillcrest Country Club that some say is apocryphal but I suspect is true. About a decade ago, I discussed the episode with an octogenarian member, but even then the episode was apparently still too raw, too personal, for him to give me a straight answer.
p> Seems that, a while back, the club decided that one of their members, known to the public as Bugsy Siegel, should no longer be a member. The sticky question was “who’s gonna tell Ben?” The story goes that they recruited the oldest member of the club on the theory that he had the fewest years to lose.
Watching Mike Wallace interview Iranian President Ahmadinejad last week, I thought of the Bugsy story and the opportunity missed. What if, instead of doing the kind of celebrity suck-up interviews on which he built his career, Mike had instead dropped into his mid-career bunco squad prosecutorial mode. You know, how with dripping condescension he asks “Mr. Phillips, are we to believe that this white colored water your dairy has been selling to the government is really low fat milk??”
What if the 88-year-old Wallace had really gone on the attack, with surprise evidence, personal questions, and a second hidden film crew to record the President stalking off the set?
Sure, the interview might have devolved into the first celebrity snuff film. But, hey, Mike would have earned himself a statue at the Museum of Broadcasting. And he would have been bigger than Morrow.
Blame George Allen. Blame Jim Webb’s campaign. Blame the Washington Post. But any way you look at it, “macaca” has legs in the polling. A new SurveyUSA poll finds Allen edging Webb by 48 to 45 percent if the election were held today. Allen’s support is particularly low even among those who support the state’s marriage amendment.
The bright side for you Allen supporters: the election is still months away. Hopefully Senator Allen can avoid stepping into any more caca between now and then.
To: Attorney General, City of Chicago
As I recall, I shot a man named John Dillinger to death in your city in the summer of 1934.
It was outside a movie theatre and I could name the movie that was showing and a woman named Anna who accompanied him, along with a woman of lesser repute.
I can recite numerous details of this event if you will reserve for me First Class flight accommodations from Washington, D.C. to your city. A champagne flight, please. Large prawns for lunch would be nice.
Wlady, of course you’re right. But what is there to say? As entertainment, the last round of the PGA didn’t amount to much. The third round was terrific. I may watch that again. But I erased the final round recording the moment it reached its inevitable confusion.
Interesting thing. I save recordings of choice golf and tennis tourneys, and, while I have saved a number of recordings of Pete Sampras’s victories, I have saved very few of Tiger’s because they’re usually pretty dull.
Quin, Larry, I’m surprised (i.e. sad) I haven’t seen anything from you on Tiger Woods’ ultimate stinger in not only winning the PGA yesterday but re-establishing himself as the most phenomenal golfer/athlete/competitor/sportsman imaginable. Apart from his super-human excellence, most interesting to me is how his competitors respond to him.
Take, for instance, his playing partner yesterday, Luke Donald. Before Sunday, Donald’s play was superb. His drives straight and true, his irons right on target, his puts deadly accurate. If you’d never seen him before, you’d have concluded he was one of the best. He started off yesterday in much the same form. But after a few putts that just missed and a bad break on the fifth hole, suddenly his edge was gone. From that point on it was clear as day that he knew there was no way he could compete with Woods. Having started the day even with him, he ended six strokes behind.
Now you also know why a tournament lasts four days. At one point on Saturday a dozen or so players were in the hunt, either tied for the lead or within a stroke or two of it. On Sunday, all but one of them faded, as Woods for all intents lapped them, left them in the dust, moved on to another planet — all in the space of the front nine. On the back nine he was competing only against himself, giving new definition to what it must mean to feel lonely at the top.
I just noticed that Julian Sanchez responded to a post I had last week in which I argued that the revelation that Pakistani authorities may have used torture to expose the British airplane terror plot, if proven true, pokes holes in the argument that torture isn't an effective means to extract information from terrorists. Sanchez says I miss the point:
But the argument was not that genuine terrorists who have useful information will never disclose it under torture. The problem is that people who aren't terrorists, or terrorists who don't know much of importance, will offer up plenty of bogus stuff as well. Since the media don't tend to run a whole lot of stories on every wild goose intelligence analysts chase and every dead end they run into, though, this cost tends to be invisible if you're just following the papers. If torture were the only way to extract the necessary information, it might be worth it in strict cost-benefit terms despite producing a lot of hay for every needle it elicited. But I haven't seen any evidence offered for that thesis, and it doesn't seem to be the conclusion the old hands have come to.
Firstly, I think that Sanchez is reframing the torture debate that peaked late last year with the passage of the McCain Ammendment. At the time, the debate was between those who thought torture should be outlawed in all circumstances and those who thought it should be allowed in limited cases in which the detainee is a terrorist with knowledge of a impending attack (see Charles Krauthammer's Weekly Standard piece for an example). I can't speak for all conservative bloggers and columnists, but I don't recall many serious conservatives arguing in favor of torturing detainees who "aren't terrorists" or are "terrorists who don't know much of importance." It was within the context of a debate about limiting torture vs. banning torture that proponents of an outright ban argued that torture was not effective.
Secondly, while there may not be articles on "every wild goose intelligence analysts chase and every dead end they run into," I think, in general, there has been a lot of reporting on intelligence failures and on counterterrorists getting bum steers. I think it's only fair to point out that in this case torturing a suspect may have been effective.
But let’s say it’s true that in many instances torture produces unreliable intelligence. In my view of the cost-benefit analysis that Sanchez sets up, it's worth tossing around a lot of hay to expose a needle that represents a terrorist plot that threatens thousands of innocent people. However, he adds the caveat that this may be true only if "torture were the only way to extract the necessary information." I cannot respond to this 1) because Sanchez does not explain what other methods of extracting information he has in mind (I don’t mean this as a jibe because I know blog posts are often written in haste) and 2) because we have limited information of what actually happened in
As I said in my initial post, the new revelation, even if confirmed to be true, does not change the moral debate over torture. I can totally sympathize with somebody who argues that the
Proponents of an outright ban on torture tend to view the world much like a Laffer-type curve. The Laffer Curve postulates that, at a certain level, raising taxes actually reduces tax revenue. Viewed in terms of the War on Terror, this would mean that if the war is fought too aggressively, at some point there is a backlash in which the Muslim world becomes more inflamed,
Imagine a curve in which on one end
Michael Totten reports that Israelis generally scoff at worries about tomorrow.
Speaking of which, Andrew Sullivan is on vacation and his blog is, as usual, better than when he’s in town. Totten’s fellow guestblogger Dave Weigel has even managed, while standing on Andrew’s own platform, to sneak in some subversive teasing about the “Christianist” tick (“I am under contract to use this term at least twice a day.”)
The Guardian reports:
The Foreign Office today confirmed it was investigating claims that British military equipment sent to Iran in the fight against international drug smuggling had ended up in the hands of Hizbullah fighters in Lebanon.
I am skeptical that anything big will happen tomorrow, for no other reason that it seems nothing happens when we are expecting it to (whether it's July 4th, the anniversary of Sept. 11th, etc.). What was most remarkable about 9/11 was that it happened on a completely normal day— a sunny Tuesday in New York and DC.
Here is Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis writing in the WSJ a few weeks ago on the significance of 8/22:
This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of
Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.
The Website of the Nation republishes an anti-Israel letter that has been reprinted in newspapers such as Le Monde, El Pais, The Independent and La Repubblica. Signed by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Toni Morrison and Harold Pinter it says that Israel’s secret aim is the “liquidation of the Palestinian nation.” That’s a rather odd charge considering that the Palestinian government is the one that’s run by a group that was founded on the stated goal of destroying Israel. Furthermore, the Palestinian population is growing at a faster rate than the Israeli population, so if there is a liquidation project going on, the Israelis haven’t been doing a very good job.
Two days from now the Axis of Evil has the chance to really show its stuff. August 22 is the now much-gossipped-about date when Iran’s “reply” to the nuclear demand/bribe package comes due. Military exercises far southeast of Tehran proceed apace. Another North Korean missile test may be in the batter’s circle, too. And what — now that perfidious France has defaulted on its promise to enforce its own Hezbollah resolution — does fate have in store for Lebanon?
Provocation of some sort is a possibility live as a wire. But although some overt act — proving its intentions by non-negotiable fact — would make the great powers a offer of stern unity they may not be able to refuse, we should hew close to prudence instead of passion when it comes to prospects for the now much-gossipped-about World War Three. I, for one, don’t quite buy the rhetoric. And this does not mean things aren’t deadly serious. Further weekend thoughts here.
Oy, that brings back memories. James Taranto is incorrect to imply that Ben Cohen stole the idea for his BB demonstration from the 2004 documentary Paper Clips, since it was part of Ben’s schtick before that movie came out; he included it when he spoke at the Ithaca College commencement in 2003, the year my wife (then my girlfriend) graduated. I picked apart the whole speech at the time, and explained how Ben’s BB demonstration is a big pile of something you wouldn’t want in your ice cream.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online