Friday, March 26, 2010

The Democrats’ Free Press Nazi

So, if we’re going to be killing journalists like Chavez, can we start with Robert McChesney?

But most galling in light of Free Press’ assurances that we have nothing to worry about by inviting the feds into the media business, is McChesney’s defense of Chavez’s crackdown on opposition media in Venezuela. Regarding Venezuelan broadcaster RCTV, a persistent Chavez critic whose license was revoked by the president himself, McChesney suggests that if the station were broadcasting in the United States, “its license would have been revoked years ago,” and that “its owners would likely have been tried for criminal offenses, including treason.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Davey Crockett answers a hard one

No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?

Not Yours To Give,” Col. David Crockett, Rep. (D-TN)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Public pensions: “The $2 Trillion Hole”

Jonathon R. Laing writes at Barron’s:
Making the state and local pension problem all the more trying is that government entities can do little to wriggle out of their exposure, even if spending on essential services is threatened. The constitutions of nine states, including beleaguered California and Illinois, guarantee public-pension payments. And most other states have strong statutory or case-law protections for these obligations. “One shouldn’t be surprised by this, since state legislators, state and local judges and the state attorneys general are beneficiaries of the self-same public pension funds that they’ve done so much to promote and protect,” Orin Kramer notes wryly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A distant mirror?

Doctor Zero at Hot Air forwards a challenging theory in Obama by proxy:

They dismiss Going Rogue as “ghost written” while ignoring the specter of Bill Ayers plodding through Obama’s books, a sputtering bomb clutched in its skeletal fingers. A few lines scribbled on Palin’s palm glow more brightly in their imaginations than terabytes of data flowing across the screen of Obama’s teleprompter. They accuse Palin of being a “divisive” and “polarizing” figure, while Obama launches Taxi Driver rants against evil insurance companies, cops acting stupidly, tonsil-stealing doctors, and everyone else who crosses his path.

I used to dismiss these contradictions as simply hypocrisy, but perhaps these people are angry at Palin because of her perceived similarities to Barack Obama, not in spite of them. They need someplace to ground the lightning of their frustration and disappointment, and they’re not allowed to be angry at Obama.

Or maybe it isn’t unconscious at all, it’s intentional: accuse the other guy of a history of lying just as you’re laying down your biggest whopper.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you

Oh, all right:
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
What Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow tried to be, Dhalgren simply was. Circular, impressionistic, post-modern, but what the book did best was convey a world without time. I have read too many books to ignore the creaking of sets and plot behind the curtains, and I hate them. Dhalgren creates a real world where things just happen, on their own time, for reasons you may never know, yet is utterly gripping. The space and freedom in this book is so massive it may have inspired Grand Theft Auto 3.
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
His juveniles are often more direct and vivid (see the marvelous Tunnel in the Sky for seat-of-your-pants adventure and angst) but SiaSL is where The Mighty Bob (gentile twin of that other, equally mighty Bob, Dylan) pulled theology, science and philosophy right into the heart of the sphere of the man of action.
A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle
Not as mature nor as expansive as his Folk of the Air, nor as purely inventive as The Last Unicorn, both great reads full of careful intelligence, this book was written when he was only 19 years old. It reads far more maturely than you would think (as you mentally handicap it). The raven is my personal hero: “There are people who give, and people who take. There are people who create, people who destroy, and people who don't do anything and drive the other two kinds crazy. It's born in you, whether you give or take, and that's the way you are.” Chilling.
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Once you read this you can never be satisfied simply with more (not even with more pointless self-sacrifice, an idea that would have disgusted Thoreau). You will weigh your life and analyze it to see how you are being wasteful, or profligate, or simply not thinking things through. Thoreau was a product of Harvard before the demise of that institution; his intelligence, his awareness of his own marginality, is immense. He critiques his neighbors the local farmers, but I think he was never quite unaware of what they thought of him, and I think he took their opinions seriously. Did you know he ran the family business purifying graphite to sell to pencil makers, building and improving the machinery?
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
The New York Times called her “no mere romantic twirling a buttercup,” which is hilarious and wrong both ways. First off, she is a romantic twirling a buttercup, and apparently no one at the Times knows just how dangerous they can be. Put this next to Walden and it will happily share the shelf, both alike and utterly different. There is no higher praise.
Tao Te Ching, Lao Tsu, trans. Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English
Memory fails. I may have read The Tao of Pooh first, but this book cemented itself on my mind. Clear, spare, profound in its silence lest it stutter, this is honestly the only book in the world I would stand next to the Bible. Chuang Tsu's Inner Chapters is subtle comedic relief compared to the first.
Engine Summer, John Crowley
Yes, I read Little, Big first, and again, more expansive, more mature, more everything, but Engine Summer stood me on my head. Some reviewer said he wrote “as if the author had never read science fiction, but had only had it described to him.” Yes. Elegiac as only science fiction can be, as only it and high fantasy can compass the death of civilizations, and sad, and so carefully written you will have no idea how bold this book is.
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
What could I say about this book? Tolkien, who created his own languages for fun, never wrote an ugly sentence. Ever. Read the chapter in the Mines of Moria again. See how quiet everything becomes? Some post-modernist cheesehead would have repeated “dark” and “grave-like” thinking himself an impressionist; Tolkien simply writes dark and quietly. Amazing. Actually, the series has three ugly sentences, all in the mouths of his irredeemable villains. The man, a World War I veteran, had no understanding of evil because he had none in him. For more on the Oxford don's morality, I turn to Spengler: “The Ring and the Remnants of the West” and “Tolkien's Christianity and the pagan tragedy.”
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
Again, I could choose the more expansive Chronicles of Amber (first five only, please) or an eclectic short story collection such as The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth. But Lord of Light is the one book I returned to again and again. Zelazny was a poet writing prose and, similarly yet so different from Heinlein, the man of thought bringing to life the man of action. Bring your demon repellent.
Okay, nine (Princes in Amber) is all I have time for tonight. This morning. Six more later.

ETA: Okay, I ended up with five-six, no-yes, more later.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Walter Russell Mead on Israel and lobbies

Walter Russell Mead, author of the best essay on American foreign policy as an offshoot of domestic policies, "The Jacksonian Tradition" of 1999, confronts many of the misguided critics of "the Israel Lobby" in his blog at The American Interest.
In "Don’t Blame The Jews":
A conspiratorial-minded and paranoid Jew could come up with a description of the modern Zionist movement as a gentile plot against the Jews: to push them all into a narrow, inhospitable strip of desert land entirely surrounded by people who hate them. This in fact is one reason so many American Jewish leaders opposed the Zionist movement in the early years. They saw it as a kind of “Jewish Liberia”; just as whites once hoped to recolonize African-Americans in Africa they might want to send the Jews ‘back’ to their ‘home.’
In "The Israel Lobby and Gentile Power":
Politicians don’t fear the loss of National Rifle Association PAC money nearly as much as they fear the loss of millions of pro-gun votes at the next election. This, I think is why AIPAC is so powerful. To be convincingly labeled an anti-Israel politician is the kiss of death almost everywhere in the United States — just as to be anti-gun is the kiss of death.
And finally, "Is This Lobby Different From All Others?":
What the Zionist movement asked from Americans at this time, and what it got, was pretty much what the other nationalities got: Sympathy and good offices before World War One, American support at Versailles. You could argue that this was exceptional treatment; unlike the other ethnic minorities, Jews did not have a large national terrain where they were in the majority. Persecuted almost everywhere, they needed a state more than anybody else, but scattered across Europe and the Middle East it was harder to find one for them.

"Masters of the possible, simply because they had to be."

Richard Fernandez, formerly known as The Belmont Club, is depressed that the U.S. military may have gotten too good for its own good:

What America has gotten, Kaplan says, is a quasi-imperial corps. Ironically, what brought about the revival of the imperial capability was the disinterest of the intellectual elite, who were too good to devote much time to the problems of failed beyond uttering banal generalities. So they left it to the men on the spot and forgot about them. That cut-off may have been just as well because George Orwell claimed that the British Empire had been ‘killed by the telegraph’.

Obama’s neglect may have been a blessing... which brings its own dangers:

This show of organizational dynamism points to a ground truth: despite the awful toll of casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, American ground troops are emerging nearly a decade after 9/11 as a force that is even more organizationally and intellectually formidable than it was after the Berlin Wall collapsed, when the United States was the lone superpower. Army and Marine Corps company commanders, for example, can lead in a conventional fight and, as Kolenda’s experience showed, also bring order to chaotic tribal and ethnic messes, all while they communicate effectively up the bureaucratic chain (a skill they began to hone before 9/11, in the Balkans). And these officers have mastered what is, in fact, the colonial technique of partnering with indigenous forces molded in their own image. Rodriguez’s command is a culmination of this whole experience.

But the very dominance of the U.S. military can lead to a dangerous delusion.

Robert D. Kaplan also shares some of his memories of Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion:

Afghanistan is not some barbaric back-of-beyond, but the heart of a cultural continuum connecting the cosmopolitan centers of Persia and India. In fact, Afghanistan has been governed from the center since the 18th century: Kabul, if not always a point of authority, has been at least a point of arbitration. Especially between the early 1930s and the early 1970s, Afghanistan experienced moderate and constructive government under the constitutional monarchy of Zahir Shah. A highway system on which it was safe to travel united the major cities, while estimable health and development programs were on the verge of eradicating malaria. Toward the end of this period, I hitchhiked and rode buses across Afghanistan. I never felt threatened, and I was able to send books and clothes back home through functioning post offices.

There was, too, a strong Afghan national identity distinct from that of Iran or Pakistan or the Soviet Union. Pashtunistan might be a real enough geographic construct, but so, very definitely, is Afghanistan. As Ismail Akbar, a writer and analyst in Kabul, told me: “Thirty years of war and Pakistani interference have weakened Afghan national identity from the heights of the Zahir Shah period. But even the mujahideen civil war of the early 1990s, in which the groups were split along ethnic lines, could not break up Afghanistan. And if that couldn’t, nothing will.”

Afghans were so desperate for a reunited country after the internecine fighting of the mujahideen era that they welcomed the Taliban in Kandahar in 1994 and in Kabul in 1996, as a bulwark against anarchy and dissolution. Afghanistan, frail and battered over the years, is nevertheless surprisingly sturdy as a concept and as a cynosure of identity.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

68% now oppose passing ObamaCare without Republican support

Allahpundit, via Instapundit, notes:
More than four in five Americans say it’s important that any health care plan have support from both parties. And 68 percent say the president and congressional Democrats should keep trying to cut a deal with Republicans rather than pass a bill with no GOP support…

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Have you bribed your doctor today?

James Lewis of Pajamas Media, discusses the importance of socialized medicine to our new All-American nomenklatura.

Dafydd ab Hugh examined the corruption inherent in a system divorced from the idea of an honest price; quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, but in this article Japan.

National Journal's "The Health Care Whip Count"

Oh, look! A list of people to call! By Reid Wilson! Let's just list the Michigan folks, 'kay?

Dem Targets: No On Reform, No On Stupak (15)
Member District Comments

Dem Long Shots: No On Reform, Yes On Stupak (21)

GOP Targets: Yes On Reform, Yes On Stupak (40)
Dale Kildee MI05
Bart Stupak MI01 Abortion concerns

GOP Long Shots: Dem Freshmen (16)
Gary Peters MI09
Mark Schauer MI07

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Economist, “The worldwide war on baby girls”

A terrifying story, but one with a surprise twist.
The use of sex-selective abortion was banned in India in 1994 and in China in 1995. It is illegal in most countries (though Sweden legalised the practice in 2009). But since it is almost impossible to prove that an abortion has been carried out for reasons of sex selection, the practice remains widespread. An ultrasound scan costs about $12, which is within the scope of many—perhaps most—Chinese and Indian families. In one hospital in Punjab, in northern India, the only girls born after a round of ultrasound scans had been mistakenly identified as boys, or else had a male twin.

Instapundit quoted by Rush

Not a few minutes ago, I was listening to my mom listening to Rush Limbaugh when he announced that Glenn Reynolds had written a great article and quoted it extensively.

But now things are looking a bit dicey. According to a recent Rasmussen Poll , only 21 percent of American voters believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed. On the other hand, Rasmussen notes, a full 63 percent of the "political class" believe that the government enjoys the consent of the governed.

Kudos to the mighty Instapundit, in whose beneficent shadow we serve. ;-)

Diana West: The heir of Pym Fortuyn at the House of Lords

Overcoming the filthy Labour move to declare him persona non grata, Geert Wilders addresses the House of Lords:
Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t have a problem and my party does not have a problem with Muslims as such. There are many moderate Muslims. The majority of Muslims are law-abiding citizens and want to live a peaceful life as you and I do. I know that. That is why I always make a clear distinction between the people, the Muslims, and the ideology, between Islam and Muslims. There are many moderate Muslims, but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.

No wonder that Winston Churchill called Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf “the new Quran of faith and war, turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.” As you know, Churchill made this comparison, between the Koran and Mein Kampf, in his book ‘The Second World War’, a master piece, for which, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Churchill’s comparison of the Quran and Mein Kampf is absolutely spot on. The core of the Quran is the call to jihad. Jihad means a lot of things and is Arabic for battle. Kampf is German for battle. Jihad and kampf mean exactly the same.

I ♥ feminism…

I ♥ watching it burn.

Dr. Judy Kuriansky has a kindlier perspective on the emo boy. “This is the type of man that women have been screaming and begging for for years,” she said a bit reprovingly. “I’ve done innumerable research studies about this: after 20 years of asking what are the top three qualities that women want in a man, what comes out overwhelmingly from women is that they want the more communicative man, the sensitive and romantic man. That is overwhelming. They want the cluster of qualities that goes along with a more communicative man who speaks his feelings more, who is more intimate, more open.”

But Dr. Anna Fels comes down more on the ladies’ side. “I would say that historically, and right up through the present, one of the things that defined femininity — especially in the white, middle-class culture — is women listening to men and being their audience, their support system, and really asking for relatively little of that in return,” she said. “There’s been a really disproportionate share of attention of all kinds that men demand and assume as their due.”

Stuff It, Emo Boy!” by Rachel Donadio, Sheelah Kolhatkar & Anna Schneider-Mayerson in July 2004.

By the way, I should be neglecting if I did not point to the website and gorgeous photographs by Ryan McGinley mentioned (negatively) in the story above.

Senatorial Budget Reconciliation is not “simple majority rule,” Obama

National Review outdoes itself, again, with Myths about Reconciliation, using reconciliation to pass Obamacare would be inappropriate and unprecedented. Here’s why by Daniel Foster & Stephen Spruiell.
The truth is that every single piece of successful legislation to emerge from the Senate — via reconciliation or otherwise — has done so via a final, up-or-down vote with a 50-plus-one threshold. The debate about reconciliation is a debate about the path to that vote. It’s about whether the Senate is and ought to be something more than a slightly smaller, slightly crustier House of Representatives.

When Harry Reid took over the majority leadership of the Senate, he vowed that “as our founding fathers intended, the Senate will perform its role as the ‘cooling saucer’ where debate and amendments play a role in forging consensus and compromise.”

Would that he lived up to those words.

Drop the Hammer in 2012

I'm posting this to remind myself to buy one once I have the spare dough:

Friday, March 05, 2010

Your taxes will go up: the trap has sprung

The neo-fascist lie appears:
European governments have typically seen VAT hikes as an easy way to raise revenues [taxes] during a recession. In some countries, government spending is more than 50% of national income. The results have been fiscal stability, but lackluster growth and a dearth of dynamism and entrepreneurship.

Given the budget numbers, the United States has already chosen a path of far bigger government. The trap has been set. It's unlikely America can escape without a VAT.
Did you get your marching orders from Il Douche yet?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Roger L. Simon: Criminal Fortney “Pete” Stark to replace more corrupt Rangel

Has the Universe gone insane? Roger L. Simon asks, “[D]id Nancy Pelosi’s plastic surgeon misfire and accidentally inject the Botox into her brain?
In 1995, during a private meeting with Congresswoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, he called Johnson a “whore for the insurance industry” and suggested that her knowledge of health care came solely from “pillow talk” with her husband, a physician. His press secretary, Caleb Marshall, defended him in saying, “He didn’t call her a ‘whore,’ he called her a ‘whore of the insurance industry.’”
More Pete-foolery on Wikipedia. This must be Nancy Pelosi’s idea of feminism.

Modern Grotesque

Stephen Green compares, properly, San Francisco's Planning Commission to the Red Guards : “In a 5–0 vote, it ordered Johnston to build a...