Friday, June 29, 2007

From Whittaker Chambers to George W. Bush

From Whittaker Chambers to George W. Bush: "His heirs had settled on an immovably absolutist course, inspired by the dark vision projected in Witness: 'In this century, within the next decades, will be decided for generations whether all mankind is to become Communist, whether the whole world is to become free, or whether, in the struggle, civilization as we know it is to be completely destroyed or completely changed. It is our fate to live upon that turning point in history.' Substitute 'Islamo-fascist' for 'Communist' and it is depressingly clear how little has changed."


The result was that the actual dangers we faced from militant Islam were blurred into a generalized atmosphere of apocalyptic crisis. Essential distinctions, and the wisdom with which they were made, were lost. Yes, we are now in conflict with a grim adversary, but not with an opponent superpower, nor with anything resembling an empire, and it does no good to pretend otherwise. Not every good fight is a millennial fight. George W. Bush's worldview is precisely the one that Whittaker Chambers outgrew. It is a punishing irony, and one can imagine all too easily how Chambers himself would have greeted it: with the sly half-smile of a melancholy man who knows better.

Ann Coulter v. Elizabeth Edwards

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reason Magazine - The Aquarians and the Evangelicals

Reason Magazine - The Aquarians and the Evangelicals: "That split pits one set of half-truths against another. On the left gathered those who were most alive to the new possibilities created by the unprecedented mass affluence of the postwar years but at the same time were hostile to the social institutions—namely, the market and the middle-class work ethic—that created those possibilities. On the right rallied those who staunchly supported the institutions that created prosperity but who shrank from the social dynamism they were unleashing. One side denounced capitalism but gobbled its fruits; the other cursed the fruits while defending the system that bore them."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Nanny government

On Fringe of Forests, Homes and Wildfires Meet - New York Times: "“The federal government is there to protect the community from disasters,” said Ron Ehli, 50, a volunteer fire chief in Hamilton, Mont., an increasingly popular getaway in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula.

“Where Florida might have hurricanes, or California earthquakes, we have wildfires,” Mr. Ehli said. “And the federal government should be there to protect us.”"

Bush and Wilson

Rolling Stone: National Affairs Daily » Blog Archive » Matt Taibbi Answers Your Questions: "Bush was really not much of a Republican at all – more like a retarded Christian AA version of Woodrow Wilson. He spent like crazy and he got America involved in these crazy “let’s export the wonderfulness of us” adventures. Because America these days has a cultural memory of about four seconds no one remembers that this is not the way Republicans used to act"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

States and nations with similar GDP's

Monday, June 18, 2007

Loving v. Virginia

"I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

-- Mildred Loving, plaintiff in Loving v. Virginia, which 40 years ago struck down race restrictions on the freedom to marry.

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the Tonys

Saturday, June 16, 2007

white trash

National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC) -- Article: "The term white trash dates back not to the 1950s but to the 1820s. It arises not in Mississippi or Alabama, but in and around Baltimore, Maryland. And best guess is that it was invented not by whites, but by African Americans. As a term of abuse, white trash was used by blacks—both free and enslaved—to disparage local poor whites. Some of these poor whites would have been newly arrived Irish immigrants, others semiskilled workers drawn to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. in the postrevolutionary building boom, and others still may have been white servants, waged or indentured, working in the homes and estates of area elites. The term registered contempt and disgust, as it does today, and suggests sharp hostilities between social groups who were essentially competing for the same resources—the same jobs, the same opportunities, and even the same marriage partners."

Robert Byrd

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Quiet Gay Revolution | TIME

The Quiet Gay Revolution | TIME: "The notion that gays must be segregated out of the military for the sake of our national security must strike Americans younger than, say, 40 as simply weird, just as we of the previous generation find the rules of racial segregation weird. (O.K., run that by me again: they needed separate drinking fountains because ... why?)"


And yet not one, I suspect, has any doubt about where this issue is going. When opponents of gay rights talk ominously about a "gay agenda," they are not completely wrong. There has been an agenda in the sense of a long-term strategy, not unlike the carefully plotted strategy of Thurgood Marshall and others in the civil rights movement that ended formal racial segregation. It was a brilliant decision to start with the military rather than attempt to outlaw discrimination generally or push right away for gay marriage. Twenty years from now, maybe sooner, gays will have it all.

It really wasn't a decision. Ultimately, the national gay groups and the media are forced the deal with the facts on the ground. In reality, gays want to serve and to marry, not to sue for job discrimination or seek enhanced prosecution under hate crimes laws. In fact, the latter were the preferred "agenda" and events pulled the gay bureaucracy from them kicking and screaming.

Mass legislature kills repeal of same-sex marriage

One lawmaker, in her own words, who changed her vote on same-sex marriage - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe: "Despite dire predictions, there has been no adverse societal impact from this decision and most people now express little concern about same gender marriage."

book notes

The Age of Abundance by Brink Lindsey

The Age of Abundance - Brink Lindsey - Books - Review - New York Times: "Lindsey rightly says that “today’s typical red-state conservative is considerably bluer on race relations, the role of women and sexual morality than his predecessor of a generation ago.” And “the typical bluestate liberal is considerably redder than his predecessor when it comes to the importance of markets to economic growth, the virtues of the two-parent family and the morality of American geopolitical power.” In “the bell curve of ideological allegiance,” the large bulging center has settled, for now, on an “implicit libertarian synthesis, one which reaffirms the core disciplines that underlie and sustain the modern lifestyle while making much greater allowances for variations within that lifestyle.”"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bob Barr, of all people, now opposes "don't ask, don't tell"

Don't Ask, Who Cares - "Asked about reconsideration of the don't ask, don't tell policy in favor of a more open and honest approach, the simplistic responses by several Republican presidential candidates left me -- and I suspect many others -- questioning whether those candidates really even understood the issue, or were simply pandering to the perceived 'conservative base.' The fact is, equal treatment of gay and lesbian service members is about as conservative a position as one cares to articulate."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gay bigots

Will jailbird Paris campaign for chickens? - Gossip: The Scoop - "John Travolta is starring in an update of the 1988 camp classic which is due to come out next month, and some gay leaders are calling for a boycott of the film because Travolta’s religion has a tough stand on homosexuality.

“Travolta, a prominent Scientologist, has no business reprising an iconic gay role, given his [religion’s] stance on gay issues,” notes Kevin Naff, managing editor of the gay-oriented Washington Blade. “It’s well known that Scientology rejects gays and lesbians as members and even operates reparative therapy clinics to ‘cure’ homosexuality.”"

Sopranos "Made in America"

Joshua Treviño on The Sopranos on National Review Online:

"Plenty of viewers have commented that Tony Soprano’s death is implied: Chase stated that the cardinal clue to the series finale could be found in the first episode of this season; and in that, the now-deceased (as of the penultimate episode) Bobby Bacala remarked that when death comes, “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens.” We didn’t hear it, and Tony didn’t hear it — and when he ended, so did his universe. In this sense, the close of The Sopranos is wholly fitting. It was his tale, and there is nothing to see once he departs from it."

Or we, the viewers, got whacked. The Journey song that Tony looks at on the juke box is "Anyway You Want It," although the Song playing is "Don't Stop Believing" -- the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on.

"Explaining to him her decision to abandon medical school and enter law, she says, “The state can crush the people — the government, specifically the Federal government. . . . You know what really turned me? Seeing the way Italians are treated. It’s like mom says, and if we can have our rights trampled like that, imagine what it’s like for recent arrivals. . . . If I hadn’t seen you dragged away all those times by the FBI, then I’d probably be a boring suburban doctor.” Incredibly, she believes her father a victim — perhaps influenced by her mother, Carmela, who long ago wailed at FBI agents visiting Tony in the hospital, “When will you stop persecuting him?” Even Tony Soprano, a man who could rationalize any crime, and justify any action to sate any desire, is reduced to speechlessness at his daughter’s proclamation. Meadow Soprano is a thoroughly ordinary leftist professional, convinced of her crusade to save the downtrodden from the institutions of her own country, and utterly oblivious to the reality before her. Here, the end of the Soprano line as a moral force in America. Here, the end of his last hope for redemption by proxy."

At end of season 1, Tony raised his glass: “I’d like to propose a toast, to my family. Someday soon, you’re gonna have families of your own. And if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments, like this. That were good. Cheers!”

In final scene, "the family gathered once again for a meal, A.J. harks back to what used to be, saying “You once told us to try to focus on the things that are good.” But this final scene has none of the earlier’s warmth, no sense of shelter. Instead, we see a family of bad guys—dim, dwindled, corrupted, contentedly sharing a plate of onion rings. And then the door slams shut."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Paris Hilton on prison

Paris Hilton: 'I used to act dumb. No more.'-News-World-US & Americas-TimesOnline: "“I was not eating or sleeping. I was severely depressed and felt as if I was in a cage"

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Peter Pace's "morals"

Maureen Dowd: Peter Pace, whose job as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff became a casualty of Iraq on Friday, asserted in March that homosexual acts “are immoral.” Yet in May, he wrote a letter to the judge in the Scooter Libby case, pleading for leniency for the Cheney aide. Scooter always looked for “the right way to proceed — both legally and morally,” General Pace wrote of the man who lied to a grand jury about the outing of a spy, after he pumped up the fake case for the war that has claimed the lives of 3,500 young men and women serving under the general.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Are we torturing 7 year olds?

The Daily Dish: "I tend to think that even Bush's CIA would not abuse children, apart from imprisoning them for the crimes of their father. But I have learned the bad way that Bush and Cheney cannot be trusted with the humane tradition of American warfare. These children belong, like many others, in the black hole of the Bush-Cheney torture and detention regime, beyond the reach of the law, treaties or civilization. Just as Cheney likes it."

Sopranos spoiler

Lisa de Moraes - Hey, Don't Whack the Messenger - "AJ forgets how to breathe and dies. Carmella gets a diamond ring so big it crushes her to death. Meadow hooks up with OJ Simpson and dies. OJ is charged but has a get-out-of-jail-free card . . . [Tony] relaxes by his pool and the bear comes back and eats him."

Hitchens on Fox

So much for tort reform

The Chronicle: Daily News Blog: Robert Bork Cites 'Wanton' Negligence in Suing Yale Club for $1-Million: "Irving Kristol once defined a neoconservative as a liberal who had been mugged by reality. By the same token, can a liberal be defined as a neoconservative who had suddenly found a need for the tort bar?

We may find that out in a Manhattan court, where Robert H. Bork — the Supreme Court nominee rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1987 — filed a $1-million lawsuit today against the Yale Club of New York City, whose negligence, he says, was to blame for injuries he suffered in a fall at the club a year ago.

Mr. Bork, who is 80, said in the lawsuit that he had suffered injuries to his left leg and his head when he tripped while stepping onto a dais at the club"

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stop all energy!

Dam the Salmon - "Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club's deputy executive director and a longtime proponent of such a mandate, refuses to even acknowledge that there is any conflict in closing hydro dams while fighting global warming. All California needs to do to square these twin objectives, he maintains, is become more energy efficient while embracing alternative fuels. 'We don't need to accept a Faustian bargain with hydropower to cut emissions,' he says.

Would the Sierra Club and its eco-warriors actually embrace the fuels that Mr. Hamilton advocates? Not if their track record is any indication. Indeed, environmental groups have a history of opposing just about every energy source.

Their opposition to nuclear energy is well known. Wind power? Two years ago the Center for Biological Diversity sued California's Altamont Pass Wind Farm for obstructing and shredding migrating birds. ("Cuisinarts of the sky" is what many greens call wind farms.) Solar? Worldwatch Institute's Christopher Flavin has been decidedly lukewarm about solar farms because they involve placing acres of mirrors in pristine desert habitat. The Sierra Club and Wilderness Society once testified before Congress to keep California's Mojave Desert -- one of the prime solar sites in the country -- off limits to all development. Geothermal energy? They are unlikely to get enviro blessings, because some of the best sites are located on protected federal lands.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bible drawn into Hong Kong sex publication row - Yahoo! News

Bible drawn into Hong Kong sex publication row - Yahoo! News:
More than 800 Hong Kong residents have called on authorities to reclassify the Bible as "indecent" due to its sexual and violent content, following an uproar over a sex column in a university student journal.

The complaints follow the launch of an anonymous Web site -- -- which said the holy book "made one tremble" given its sexual and violent content, including rape and incest.

"If the Bible is similarly classified as 'indecent' by authorities, only those over 18 could buy the holy book and it would need to be sealed in a wrapper with a statutory warning notice."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Professional homosexuals for Hillary

The Daily Dish: HRC and HRC: "I feared there had to be a catch - and there is. The Human Rights Campaign may have rigged that candidates' report-card to cater to the Clinton campaign:

Your criticism of HRC and HRC omitted one very important piece of evidence regards to their mutual fellatio. They have re-worded 'Repeal of DOMA' into several different categories: 1. Domestic Partner Benefits for Federal Employees, 2. Equal Tax Treatment for Same Sex Couples, 3. Access to Survivor Benefits, 4. Coverage under FMLA, 5. Federal Benefits for Same-Sex Couples, 6. Federal Recognition of State Level Same Sex Unions. All this because Edwards and Obama are for the repeal of DOMA but Hillary isn't!"

Saturday, June 02, 2007

book notes

God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

Religion is -- because it claims a special divine exemption for its practices and beliefs -- not just amoral but immoral

G.K. Chesterton: if people cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing but in anything.

George Orwell: a totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible

In The Future of the Illusion, Freud describes the religious impulse as essentially ineradicable until or unless the human species can conquer its fear of death and its tendency to wish-thinking. All that the totalitarians have demonstrated is that the religious impulse -- the need to worship -- can take an even more monstrous forms if it is repressed.

North Korea is a debased form of Confucianism and ancestor worship.

PETER BERKOWITZ: Mr. Hitchens mocks the crudity of the biblical principle known in Latin as lex talionis, or an "eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot." But suppose, as Jewish teaching suggests, that the biblical principle put an end to the practice of taking a leg for a foot and a life for an eye, and in its place established a principle that, though differently interpreted today, remains a cornerstone of our notion of justice -- that the punishment should fit the crime.

Similarly, Mr. Hitchens heaps scorn on the biblical story of Abraham's binding of Isaac, in which, at the last moment, an angel stays Abraham's hand. What kind of barbarian, wonders Mr. Hitchens, would prepare to sacrifice his son at God's command, and what kind of morally stunted individuals would honor such a man, or the deity who made the demand? Yet Mr. Hitchens's categorical claim that religion poisons everything is undermined by the common interpretation according to which God's testing of Abraham taught, among other things, that the then widespread practice of child-sacrifice was contrary to God's will, and must be put to an end forever.

At the same time, Mr. Hitchens has next to nothing to say about the historical role of religion, particularly Christianity, particularly in America, in nourishing the soil in which our widely and deeply shared beliefs in liberty, democracy and equality took root and grew strong -- a subject dealt with perceptively by Yale professor of computer science David Gelernter in his recent book "Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion."

Mr. Hitchens anticipates that critics will point to those crimes against humanity, dwarfing religion's sins, committed in the name of secular ideas in the 20th century. He attempts to deflect the challenge with sophistry: "It is interesting to find that people of faith now seek defensively to say that they are no worse than fascists or Nazis or Stalinists." But who is behaving defensively here? Mr. Hitchens is the one who unequivocally insists that religion poisons everything, and it is Mr. Hitchens who holds out the utopian hope that eradicating it will subdue humanity's evil propensities and resolve its enduring questions.

Nor is his case bolstered by his observation that 20th-century totalitarianism took on many features of religion. That only brings home the need to distinguish, as Mr. Hitchens resolutely refuses to do, between authentic and corrupt, and just and unjust, religious teachings. And it begs the question of why the 20th-century embrace of secularism unleashed human depravity of unprecedented proportions.