Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of the most bizarre news items I've ever seen. Whoever edited the video did an excellently witty job. (Via Nothing To Do With Arbroath.)

 

Michael Ledeen: "The Iranian Death Spiral Speeds Up."
If only there were a Western leader with the prescience and courage to support the Greens, we would find many terrible problems a lot easier to manage: Iraq and Afghanistan would go better, the tyrant Chavez and his “Bolivarian” Axis of Latin Evildoers would be weakened, and the misnamed “peace process” might even have a chance.

But no. This is an era of weak Western leadership, as we all know. We’ll get there eventually, but it’s going to be a lot slower and a great deal tougher than necessary.

UPDATE: As advertised, the regime executed eleven prisoners in Zahedan on Monday the 20th. And those are just the ones they told us about…

SORRY, make it twelve.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice. . . ." Forgive the expression? Sheesh. The world of public broadcasting, I guess. No bias there.

Later: Totenberg now says she was "tweaking the Department of Justice" for its "holiday" party. I've watched the original video. She doesn't look like she's joking. But truthfully, I don't care much either way. (Via Instapundit.)

 

Craig Newmark: "The most astonishing thing I've read about government in California." And he reads a lot about government in California, so that's saying something.

 

Very impressive marching-band maneuver.

 

If only my high-school chem classes had been so interesting. (No offense, Mr. C!)



(Via Bits and Pieces.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I bet Peter Gabriel could make a song out of this. (Via Dark Roasted Blend.)

 

At Letters of Note, a touching farewell from Robert Baden-Powell, the central figure in the creation of the Scout Movement; the message "was read for the first time after he passed away in 1941."

Friday, December 17, 2010

At the Marrakech Film Festival, a chilling glimpse into the Muslim world. Ruth Franklin, a senior editor at The New Republic, describes watching a 1989 movie by a Moroccan director:
When the men awaken to discover the women missing, the entire village is mobilized to hunt them down. Their escape route, which runs along the beach, is entirely exposed, and they are brought back in a fishing boat. Watching the men of the village gather around the two women in a circle on the beach, I ought to have realized what was about to happen, but somehow it did not process. Not until the first stone was raised did I understand. The stoning of the women was staged tastefully, without excessive gore, but it was among the most shocking things I have ever seen on a movie screen. As the scene ended and I sat back in my seat, shaken, something even more astonishing occurred. From the audience around me there came a smattering of applause.

Until that moment, really, I had forgotten where I was.
(Via Contentions.)

(Edited since originally posted.)

 

Today's safety tip: Never fry gnocchi.



(Via The Presurfer.)

 

Weirdest workout ever? I hope so.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What if Rudolph's nose were just like any other reindeer's? (Skip ahead to 1:47, which is when the song starts.)

 

Annoying orange. Annoying orange continued.

(They've been viewed tens of millions of times, but I only just found them.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"I would like to write for the New York Times." (Via the Daily Caller newsletter.)

 

Sentence of the day (actually yesterday), on Elizabeth Hurley:
She has concluded the filming of a Living TV fly-on-the-wall documentary about her particularly glammed up version of country life, and recently launched her own range of snack bars and beef jerky.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I find myself thinking of this, which Charles Murray wrote 100 days into Obama's presidency:
Down the road, the president’s economic policy will engender a new crisis that, to be met, will require him to reassess his assumptions and to defy his political base — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do either of those things. Down the road, a hostile world will require him to make a foreign-policy decision with no good option, only a choice among bad options, in the face of horrific consequences if he is wrong — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do that. Worst of all, he will come to those pivotal moments serenely confident that whatever he decides will work out.

How do I think about the Obama presidency as I look ahead? I’m scared stiff.

 

John Steele Gordon relates a conversation he once had with a "very liberal" friend:
I proposed a thought experiment. “Suppose,” I said, “there were an economic magic bullet — that if Congress would pass the necessary legislation and the president were to sign it, the effect would be to double everyone’s real take-home income. If you were living on $50,000 this year, you’d have $100,000 to spend next year.”

“Sounds great,” she said.

“But there’s a catch,” I answered. “The effect of the magic bullet would not double the take-home income of those earning over $1 million — it would quintuple it. In other words, the rich would make out far, far better than the average Joe. But there’s no way out, it’s all or nothing. Would you vote for the magic bullet if you were a member of Congress?”

“Certainly not!” she indignantly replied.

“Fine,” I said. “Now it’s six months later and you’re running for re-election. A constituent comes up to you and says, ‘I’m an English teacher at the local high school. I take home $50,000 a year. I have a daughter who needs serious orthodontics that’s not covered by insurance, my son has learning disabilities and has to be tutored, I’m driving a 10-year-old Buick that will have to be replaced very soon, and my mother-in-law will not be able to live on her own much longer. We never go away on vacation and seldom eat out. You voted against my earning an additional $50,000 a year because you objected to Mr. Bigbucks getting $5 million a year instead of $1 million. I don’t give a damn what the Rockefellers earn. I care about what I earn so I can take care of my family.’ What do you tell him, in order to win his vote?”

Her response: “It’s time for dinner.”
Gordon's conclusion: that "high tax rates on the rich is a religious principle with the left. If the poor have to suffer because of it, so be it."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A short word puzzle.

 

A charming rendition of one of the best pop Christmas songs:



In 2008 Mark Steyn wrote about the song's transformation into a standard:
Frank Sinatra decided he was going to make a Yuletide LP and decided to do "Merry Little". There was just one problem. He wasn't happy with one particular line:
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow...
"Muddling through" didn't seem quite right to Frank. So he called up [the song's composer] Hugh Martin. "The name of my album is A Jolly Christmas," he said. "Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?"

"You don't say no to Sinatra if you've got any brains," figured Martin. So it was back to the old drawing board. And, instead of "muddling through", he substituted:
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Now.
"I was relieved when I came up with 'bough'," said Martin, "because, if you're rhyming with 'now', there weren't many options left other than 'cow'."
Martin, now 96, just published his autobiography.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Craig Ferguson notes the obvious:



Nice to see from a major-network talk-show host, and nice to hear the audience laugh. (Via Mediaite, via Contentions.)

Later: Well, the clip's no longer available, but you can read a transcript at the Newsbusters link.

 

Lawrence Solomon:
Scam artists from around the world, capitalizing on lax regulations at the Danish emissions trading registry, have made off with an estimated $7-billion over the last two years, according to Europol.
It's as if the whole emissions-trading thing is one big fraud. Best detail: the bureaucrat who presided over the mess “has since been promoted to the post of EU Climate Commissioner” and is now in Cancun, “arguing for steps that the global community needs to take for the carbon industry to regain credibility.” Mais oui! (Or whatever the Danish equivalent is.)

(Via Planet Gore.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Awful but funny, from The Onion: "Excitement Growing Among Beatles Fans For Paul McCartney's Funeral."

 

John Podhoretz Tuesday, summing up Obama's press conference:
Well…that was interesting…he spent the first half insulting Republicans and the conclusion screaming at Democrats and left-liberals…All in all, one of the strangest political events of my lifetime.

 

Following on this post, more good links courtesy of Neatorama (plus one from another bookmark-worthy source):
Awesome indeed.

A strange hobby, and she's good at it.

A clever math-related video from a versatile young woman.

Unglamorous competition, nice bunch of people.

Kitten and teddy.

"Birth to 10 years old in 1 minute 25 sec."

Funny ad.

He’s awfully nonchalant about the fate of the regular anchor.

Q&A on the Butterball turkey help line.

Maybe he's dreaming he's Superman.

Arriving train, high-speed camera.

And finally, a Christmas classic creatively compiled. (Via TechBite.)

 

Yuval Levin:
State bonds—including those of the states confronting the very worst fiscal crises—are remarkably strong today because the market implicitly assumes that states will not default on them because Washington would step in if a default were near. Maybe that assumption is unreasonable, but it is certainly widespread. If a state in fact neared or reached default and Washington declined to help, the value not only of that state’s bonds but of all state bonds (and with them a lot of municipal bonds and probably the bond market more generally) would likely plummet, and the consequences would be grave. . . .

It seems to me that Republicans in Washington are not prepared for this scenario. If they want to make the case in the midst of such a panic that a bailout would be worse than a bond-market crisis, they need at least to be thinking through those arguments now, and getting ready for the intense pressure they will face if the worst does happen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A good post from Charles Murray on TSA. He concludes,
When the Department of Homeland Security was created, the very name was unsettling. “Homeland” sounded vaguely totalitarian, a word that the Third Reich or USSR propagandists might use, not a word in the American lexicon. In the wake of 9/11, a lot of us swallowed our objections and muttered, “Well, okay, but be careful how far you take this stuff.” What’s happening at the TSA is why we were apprehensive.

 

Abe Greenwald on a poll showing George W. Bush’s approval rating at 47 percent, a point above Obama’s:
The new poll means that Bush is not some dark deviation from the tradition of American leadership; he’s an American president who will be judged as having gotten some things wrong and others right while trying to do a very hard job. What it also demonstrates is that the hysterical critics of yesteryear lost all perspective on policy and history. In 2008, during a debate on the matter, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg cavalierly pronounced that “Bush was obviously the worst president of the past 50 years.” Yes, so obviously that two years later most Americans don’t consider him to be the worst president of the last three years.

 

It really kind of works: “Rudolph (You Don't Have To Put On The Red Light).” (Via Neatorama.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In a poll by ConservativeHome.com, "Republican activists" were asked to name their favorite conservative commentators. The top five: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity. And as ConservativeHome's editor Ryan Streeter notes, Krauthammer's strong showing "is likely owing to his regular Fox appearances," rather than to his weekly syndicated column. The spoken word has more direct power than the written word, even if the latter is more eloquent—something intellectuals (I'm defining the term loosely enough to include me) need to remember.

 

The Flying Geese Paradigm in action: India is outsourcing to the Philippines.

 

A powerful image from Thanksgiving.

 

An excellent post from Yuval Levin on the importance of political parties.

 

Jonah Goldberg:
When activists say we need to move past the partisan divide, what they mean is: Shut up and get with my program. Have you ever heard anyone say, "We need to get past all of this partisan squabbling and name-calling. That's why I'm going to abandon all my objections and agree with you["?] I haven't.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

From Max Boot, a challenge to the New York Times: "Publish Your Internal Correspondence."
My suspicion — call it a hunch — is that the Times won’t accept my modest suggestion. Their position, in effect, is “secrecy for me but not for thee.” But why? Can the Times editors possibly argue with a straight face that their deliberations are more important and more privileged than the work of our soldiers and diplomats? No doubt the editors can see all the damage that releasing their own documents would do — it would have a chilling effect on internal discourse and on the willingness of sources to share information with Times reporters. But they seem blind to the fact that precisely the same damage is being done to the United States government with consequences potentially far more momentous.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nice anecdote from Jay Nordlinger, about a friend of his:
Not long ago, he caddied for [baseball great] Lou Brock. Said what a gentleman he is, in addition to a tremendous athlete. (Brock, by the way, is new to golf. Took it up at about 70.) An illustration of Brock’s apparent character? At the end of the round, my friend asked, “Would you autograph my cap?” Replied the Hall of Famer, “Sure — but only if you autograph mine. It will be a keepsake from this day.”

 

In a piece from 1995, Dave Barry describes what started as a terrifying experience (and ended well).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

James Lileks in the current* National Review:
Mayor Mike Bloomberg, leader of the Bloomberg faction of the Bloomberg party, was interviewed en route to China, where he was seeking to open diplomatic ties between Cathay and the colorful principality he governs. A quote: “If you look at the U.S., you look at who we’re electing to Congress, to the Senate — they can’t read. I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports.”

Brace yourselves! We’re about to be governed by provincial illiterates. For folk like Mike, the Magic Passport possesses liberating qualities; running your fingers over its stiff blue cover makes you think of stepping off a plane, shorn of the thick sopping wool of America, ready for an experience that will add depthless wisdom to your perception of the world. They drive on the other side of the road! They have tiny cups of coffee! Salad comes after the main meal! These globe hoppers believe that someone who’s been to all 50 states is less informed than someone who lives on the Upper East Side all year except for a trip to Cannes. If a passport were required to go west of the Hudson, these people would be proud they didn’t have one.
*(added later) I.e., current print edition.

 

The Onion: "Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan." Great visuals.

 

Good movie at Hulu: Rock My World.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jeff Jacoby: Abolish the TSA.

 

At CNET, a primer on rare earth metals.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two items on the Internet and geopolitics, one welcome, one worrisome. Welcome: Stuxnet has Iran anxious. [Later: The New York Times (via AmSpecBlog) had a story on Stuxnet yesterday.] Worrisome:
For about 18 minutes in April, a Chinese telecommunications company hijacked 15 percent of the Internet, redirecting U.S. government and military traffic through Chinese servers. The misdirection affected NASA, all four branches of the military, the office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Senate.
I don't know how thoroughly the US can secure the Internet from attack, but to the extent that we can, we should, even if doing so riles other countries.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Michael Knox Beran in the current National Review:
The creation of the constitutional state has undoubtedly been the greatest political achievement in history: It has made life, liberty, and property more secure than they ever were before, and through the mechanism of national markets has wrought a material prosperity that would not so very long ago have seemed a whimsical dream. But the cultural achievement of the nation-state may be doubted.

If we gain where politics and commerce have (in large measure) been nationalized, we lose where culture is made coterminous with so enlarged a civic sphere. It is the paradox of Western civilization that the work of its universal culture was for centuries carried on exclusively in local settings, in the small enclaves and intimate communal life of towns and city-states, aristocratic courts and monastic centers. These cultural sanctuaries have since disappeared, or have lost their old virtue and dignity. The destruction of their local influences, and the replacement of their deep yet idiosyncratic culture by the shallow, uniform, and monotonous culture of the nation-state, have impoverished us in ways we every day feel.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Theodore Dalrymple on why Pinochet was so hated: "Hell hath no fury like an intellectual proved wrong."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two unrelated good lines. George Neumayr: "Had Joy Behar lived a century ago, she would have been a lewd barmaid somewhere." Jonah Goldberg (on David Greenberg): "[H]e demonstrates the snooty guild mentality of establishment historians who feel offended that anyone would re-open questions they consider closed."

 

Somewhere a mother is proud. (Warning: rude gestures.)

 

Election shenanigans in Alaska.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Helps explain why politicians fight so hard to stay in office: "Insider Trading is Legal for Congressional Insiders."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For the "Hey, who doesn't?" file, from Tyler Cowen: "When I look at the Miami Heat, I think of Bengt Holmstrom, and his models of why the input suppliers in a firm require strong external constraint."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Claire Berlinski argues that Western societies should ban the burqa:
Let’s be perfectly frank. These bans are outrages against religious freedom and freedom of expression. They stigmatize Muslims. No modern state should be in the business of dictating what women should wear. The security arguments are spurious; there are a million ways to hide a bomb, and one hardly need wear a burqa to do so. It is not necessarily the case that the burqa is imposed upon women against their will; when it is the case, there are already laws on the books against physical coercion.

The argument that the garment is not a religious obligation under Islam is well-founded but irrelevant; millions of Muslims the world around believe that it is, and the state is not qualified to be in the business of Koranic exegesis. The choice to cover one’s face is for many women a genuine expression of the most private kind of religious sentiment. To prevent them from doing so is discriminatory, persecutory, and incompatible with the Enlightenment traditions of the West. It is, moreover, cruel to demand of a woman that she reveal parts of her body that her sense of modesty compels her to cover; to such a woman, the demand is as tyrannical, humiliating, and arbitrary as the passage of a law dictating that women bare their breasts.

All true. And yet the burqa must be banned. All forms of veiling must be, if not banned, strongly discouraged and stigmatized. The arguments against a ban are coherent and principled. They are also shallow and insufficient. They fail to take something crucial into account, and that thing is this: If Europe does not stand up now against veiling — and the conception of women and their place in society that it represents — within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely.

Recently, on a New York Times blog, the philosopher Martha Nussbaum not only argued against the ban, but proposed that those who wear the burqa be protected from “subtle forms of discrimination.” It was a perfect example of a philosopher at the peak of her powers operating in a cultural and historical vacuum. “My judgment about Turkey in the past,” Nussbaum writes, "was that the ban on veiling was justified, in those days, by a compelling state interest — derived from the belief that women were at risk of physical violence if they went unveiled, unless the government intervened to make the veil illegal for all. Today in Europe the situation is utterly different, and no physical violence will greet the woman who wears even scanty clothing."

Nussbaum is absolutely wrong. There are already many neighborhoods in Europe where scantily dressed women are not safe. . . .

According to French-government statistics, rapes in the housing projects have risen between 15 and 20 percent every year since 1999. In these neighborhoods, women have indeed begun veiling only to escape harassment and violence. In the suburb of La Courneuve, 77 percent of veiled women report that they wear the veil to avoid the wrath of Islamic morality patrols. We are talking about France, not Iran.

The association of Islam and crime against women is seen throughout Europe: “The police in the Norwegian capital Oslo revealed that 2009 set yet another record: compared to 2008, there were twice as many cases of assault rapes,” the conservative Brussels Journal noted earlier this year. “In each and every case, not only in 2008 and 2009 but also in 2007, the offender was a non-Western immigrant.” These statistics are rarely discussed; they are too evocative of ancient racist tropes for anyone’s comfort. But they are facts. . . .

While it is true that some women adopt the veil voluntarily, it is also true that most veiling is forced. It is nearly impossible for the state to ascertain who is veiled by choice and who has been coerced. A woman who has been forced to veil is hardly likely to volunteer this information to authorities. Our responsibility to protect these women from coercion is greater than our responsibility to protect the freedom of those who choose to veil. Why? Because this is our culture, and in our culture, we do not veil. We do not veil because we do not believe that God demands this of women or even desires it; nor do we believe that unveiled women are whores, nor do we believe they deserve social censure, harassment, or rape. Our culture’s position on these questions is morally superior. We have every right, indeed an obligation, to ensure that our more enlightened conception of women and their proper role in society prevails in any cultural conflict, particularly one on Western soil. . . .

Banning the burqa is without doubt a terrible assault on the ideal of religious liberty. It is the sign of a desperate society. No one wishes for things to have come so far that it is necessary.

But they have, and it is.

 

Not that anyone asked, but I've found my favorite track of 2010: "Belinda," lyrics by Nick Hornby, music by Ben Folds, recorded by Ben Folds.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Christopher Caldwell:
Of the 20 richest ZIP codes in America, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, 19 gave the bulk of their money to Democrats in the last election, in most cases the vast bulk — 86 percent in 10024 on the Upper West Side. [. . .] The Democrats’ overlap with elites leaves each party with a distinctive liability. The Democrats appear sincerely deluded about whom they actually represent. Democrats — who would have no trouble discerning elite solidarity in the datum that, say, in the 1930s the upper ranks of Britain’s media, church, business and political institutions were dominated by Tories — somehow think their own predominance in similar precincts is . . . what? Coincidence? Irony?

Republicans, meanwhile, do not recognize the liability that their repudiation by elites represents in an age of expertise and specialization — even in the eyes of the non-elite center of the country. Like a European workingman’s party at the turn of the last century, the Republican Party today inspires doubts that it has the expertise required to run a large government bureaucracy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dave Barry (8/30): "As you are no doubt aware, a Bengal tiger got loose on Jungle Island over the weekend. Tragically, the tiger did not eat a single member of the cast of 'Jersey Shore.'"

 

Why I don't trust libertarians: "I wouldn't vote for Angle (or Reid) if I lived in Nevada[.]" That's Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason. Evidently he's above it all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jim Geraghty in today's Morning Jolt:
I've mentioned earlier the notion that we don't have a news media, we have a narrative-reinforcement media, and once the narrative is set, it is very hard to alter. The fish-mailing, table-stabbing stories about Rahm Emanuel could easily have been used to paint Rahm as a raving maniac; instead, the dominant theme in countless profiles of Emanuel was that while he was foul-mouthed and gruff, his hard-nosed aggressiveness made him just the kind of tough ally a president needs.

It's been remarked in the Corner, among other places, that every prominent Republican is [classified] as either dumb or evil. Dumb: George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford (or at least bumbling). Evil: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Newt Gingrich. (I suppose there's a third, "old fossil," which was applied to Bob Dole and John McCain.) The phenomenon is most often seen in the monologues of Leno and Letterman and the imitations on
Saturday Night Live.

Sarah Palin, as we all know, must be stupid in the eyes of the media. She has five kids and a strange accent. And once a public official labeled "dumb" says something, it must be dumb. If she says gravity pulls objects towards the earth, the lazy who are convinced they are clever will claim she denies the existence of human flight.

As
Newsbusters noted, "Conservative filmmaker John Zieglerhas previously demonstrated that some voters mistakenly believe that Palin actually said the words from the Saturday Night Live skit, as shown by his interviews with some Obama voters last year."

So when Palin says to a crowd, "Don't party like it's 1773 yet," of course she must have meant 1776 and is such a phenomenally gaffe-prone dunce that she botched a date almost every grade-schooler knows.


Cuffy Meigs spotlights it, and basically the entire right half of the blogosphere had a good laugh at the expense of the left half, which failed to grasp that Palin was referring to the year of the Boston Tea Party.
Other links via Geraghty: Michelle Malkin (plus these), Moe Lane and Neo-Neocon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Evelyn Gordon on how the obsession with Israel has damaged Europe.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Human beings are not the only animals that appreciate variety. The Coolidge effect ostensibly got its name when President Calvin Coolidge and his wife were touring a farm. The foreman noted the sexual prowess of his prize rooster: "This rooster can have sex all day without stopping," he said. "Really?" said Mrs. Coolidge. "Please tell that to my husband." The president turned to the foreman and asked, "Does the rooster mate with the same chicken each time?" "No," said the foreman, "always with a different chicken." To which the president replied, "Really? Please tell that to my wife." The story is probably apocryphal, but the phenomenon is not: Male mammals who have mated to exhaustion can usually be induced to mate again with a novel female. . . . In fact, even breeding bulls whose sperm is collected by a machine show a greatly reduced time to ejaculation when the machine to which they've become habituated is moved to a novel location.
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling On Happiness

 

Accusations that an academic is colluding with CAIR to boost sales of his book. (Via Phi Beta Cons.)

 

Is Barney Frank capable of shame, do you think? Greg Mankiw posts excerpts from two news stories, one from this week, the other from 2003. Frank now:
Low-income home ownership has been a mistake, and I have been a consistent critic of it[.]
Frank then:
These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis. . . . The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.
Possibly the most inappropriately-surnamed public figure in the country.

 

Andrew C. McCarthy, in a column prompted by the Wilders trial:
[I]t would have been hard to conjure words more frightening than the ones that tripped off the Dutch prosecutor’s lips: “It is irrelevant whether Wilders’ witnesses might prove Wilders’ observations to be correct. What’s relevant is that his observations are illegal.”

* * *

In the new West, we are unconcerned with the pathologies that besiege us. But those who call our attention to the pathologies — who dare to puncture our “religion of peace” fantasy — must be quelled.

* * *

[W]hen Iraq’s Ayatollah Ali Sistani says Islam requires the killing of homosexuals, it is considered preaching; when Geert Wilders says it, it is a hate crime.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago Jonah Goldberg discussed the "excruciatingly inappropriate spectacle" of Stephen Colbert's testimony, in his Colbert Report persona, before Congress. Below is the text of a response I sent Goldberg. I've posted on this subject before, and though I've never seen anyone else make a similar point, I can't believe I'm the only person who feels this way.

About the salutation and signature: Goldberg and I haven't met, but informality seemed appropriate to me at the time. In retrospect, maybe not so much.

Mr G,

Naturally Congress invited Colbert to testify in character. Why wouldn't they take him seriously? Look at some of the people who've given him their imprimatur by gracing his stage:

John Kasich
Harvey Mansfield (!)
Hugh Hewitt
William Kristol (!)
Ramesh Ponnuru (!!)
Dinesh D'Souza
Jed Babbin
Frank Gaffney
Richard Brookhiser (three times!)
George Will (!)
Rich Lowry (!!)
Stephen Moore
Christopher Caldwell
Laura Ingraham

A list of otherwise-admirable conservatives who've guested on The Daily Show would of course be far longer and would, as you know, contain your name.

I'm a big fan of yours and NR/NRO's, but you and your colleagues who appear on these shows helped make possible Colbert's testimony before Congress, as well as the "ironic rot" his testimony both exemplifies and deepens. I hope something wakes you guys up. Really -- and I take no pleasure in writing this -- you should all be ashamed.

Sadly, but with best wishes,
Michael G

Friday, October 15, 2010

One letter can make a big difference.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Heather Mac Donald: "The studied silence in Chicago about the massive reality that underlies that city’s youth-violence epidemic—black family breakdown—is so complete as to border on perverse."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

James Taranto on Helen Thomas, "the living icon of journalism whose admirers cannot be reached for comment."

 

Obama's economic role models stumble.

 

Jonah Goldberg on Congress and the Constitution. I'm glad he mentioned Bush's failure to veto McCain-Feingold. That abdication of responsibility still angers me.

 

Laying it on a bit thick, I'd say.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jonathan Last explains the threat of Stuxnet. (Great graphic.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"A Plea to the New Republican Majority."

 

Wildlife documentaries: routinely faked?
Fred Kaufman, executive producer of the esteemed PBS program "Nature," said the goal has always been to do "something that moves the bar scientifically." He condones the occasional use of captive animals when a filmmaker can't get the shot naturally.

"Whether it's a captive animal or a wild animal, it's an animal. It's unpredictable," he said. "I draw the line at putting someone in a gorilla suit."
(Via Paul Chesser.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thomas Sowell in an interview: "Community organizers don't unify. They divide, they polarize. That's how they get what they want."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Demonstrating leftist academics' double standards on Israel and the Muslim world.

 

Very clever song: "Cheer Up, Hamlet," from the Canadian tv series Slings & Arrows. According to this page the lyrics are by Lisa Lambert and Bob Martin, the music by Greg Morrison; "the trio would later team with Don McKellar to create 'The Drowsy Chaperone' for Broadway."
Cheer up, Hamlet
Chin up, Hamlet
Buck up, you melancholy Dane
So your uncle is a cad who murdered Dad and married Mum
That's really no excuse to be as glum as you've become
So wise up, Hamlet
Rise up, Hamlet
Perk up and sing a new refrain
Your incessant monologizing fills the castle with ennui
Your antic disposition is embarrassing to see
And by the way, you sulky brat, the answer is "To be"
You're driving poor Ophelia insane
So shut up, you rogue and peasant
Grow up, it's most unpleasant
Cheer up, you melancholy Dane

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Theodore Dalrymple on resentment's satisfactions.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

While Congress fiddles, Mexican drug cartels are bringing their violence to our Southwest.

 

A glimpse of Europe's future.

 

Glenn Reynolds:
I was on Hugh Hewitt’s show last night, and he said that when he talks to Beltway GOP insiders he’s amazed at how out of touch they are. They’re not even sure about passing a ban on earmarks if they take the majority, much less more significant change. If they get the majority back, and blow it, they’ll be looking at a third-party challenge in 2012, and not just at the Presidential level.

 

StrategyPage:
Pakistanis are perplexed at how slow the world is to provide aid for victims of the huge floods of the last month. With nearly 2,000 dead and six million homeless, Pakistan is receiving less money than it did for the earthquakes that hit the northern part of the country five years ago. But some Pakistanis remember, and acknowledge that, in the wake of the earthquake relief effort if was found that most of the relief aid was stolen (as much as 70 percent by some estimates) and some of it was diverted to Islamic terrorist groups. The donors have not forgotten, although many Pakistanis would like to. Another factor dissuading many Western donors is the very anti-Western tone of the Pakistani media. The U.S. is a particularly popular target, even though the United States is the largest donor to the flood relief effort. In the last few weeks, for example, the U.S. has moved over 30 helicopters to Pakistan, for relief work. The choppers came from Afghanistan, and an amphibious ship off the Pakistani coast. Meanwhile, Islamic radical groups, especially the Taliban, have threatened to kidnap or kill Western aid workers. Some of the people left homeless by the floods, angered by the lack of government aid, have taken their frustrations out on foreign aid workers struggling to do whatever they can.

The flood damage has been devastating to the economy, causing, by one estimate, losses of over $40 billion (a quarter of last year's GDP, a similar disaster in the U.S. would have to cause $3,700 billion in losses). Pakistan is being offered large loans to recover from the damage, and assistance in spending the money most efficiently. The government has an incentive to do this right. If the aid does not enable the six million displaced to return to their farms, rebuild and replant, there will instead be millions of internal refugees. This kind of population just produces a lot of crime and easy recruiting for terrorists.

 

John Derbyshire on "Europe’s gypsy problem" (about halfway down).

 

From Sesame Street, a 1988 visit to the Crayola factory. One commenter wrote, "0:42 to 0:46 rules," which strikes me as very funny. (Via Jonah Goldberg.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Passing some tax breaks for business won't save the Dems this year. First, the changes won't have much effect pre-elections. Second, they'll be seen, correctly, as an anomalous flail toward the free market. Real recovery will start only when employers feel confident that those in power aren't their enemies and are unlikely to become so. (Via Jim Geraghty.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A report on China from James Dunnigan at StrategyPage.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Or my mother is a Jew": Really funny, from The Onion, on Twilight.

 

A bunch of links (mostly via Neatorama, a few via BuzzFeed) I've liked lately:
Google Street View reveals a gruesome discovery. No, wait . . .

Why we dislike modern classical music. The bit involving "Smoke on the Water" is interesting too.

A great man's historically significant dentures.

Only a guy would come up with this: "Washing Machine Self Destructs." (I recommend starting at about :45, shortly before the rock goes in.)

"Mystery man keeps appearing on live news reports"

Explicating a famous hip-hop track. (Recording, lyrics.)

A rather good baseball catch from Japan.

Is there a point at which musical ineptitude crosses over into polyrhythmic genius?

A vivid series of memos from a former oil-company executive. (Sample quote: "Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don't want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-bitches.")

"Awkward Family Portraits With Pets." I'm guessing they're culled from here.

Inexplicably mesmerizing, occasionally disturbing: "cows & cows & cows"

This has me channeling Rupert Giles: "The Earth is doomed."

Cute animation.

Another.

Roger Federer reinterprets William Tell. (Action starts at about 1:00.)

French fathers are mean, and they love flan.

And last but definitely not least, a three-year-old boy recites a poem by Billy Collins. (Text below the video, or here.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

At the Financial Times's site, a slanted but interesting report on Sarkozy's response to a "rampage" by "dozens of youths of north African descent."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

 

I won't grow up
I don't want to wear a tie
Or a serious expression
In the middle of July
And if it means I must prepare
To shoulder burdens with a worried air
I'll never grow up
Won't grow up
Never wanna grow up
So there
From "I Won't Grow Up" (as recorded by Rickie Lee Jones), music by Mark Charlap, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

 

I imagine that Michael Bellesiles feels toward Jim Lindgren pretty much what Jean Valjean feels toward Inspector Javert.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The craving for continued prominence is generally pathetic. From a story about LeBron James's planned move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat (emphasis added):
Shortly after James’ announcement, [Cavaliers owner Dan] Gilbert fired off an incendiary letter to Cavs fans, vilifying the 25-year-old and calling his decision to bolt Cleveland as “narcissistic” and “cowardly behavior.” He also guaranteed his team would win an NBA title “BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.”

Gilbert took it a step further when he later told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he felt the NBA’s two-time MVP quit on the Cavs during the playoffs the past two years, and that James “has gotten a free pass.” He also said James should be held accountable for his actions.

[Jesse] Jackson responded to Gilbert’s remarks on Sunday by saying the Cavs owner sees James as a “runaway slave” and that Gilbert’s comments put the player in danger.

He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Jackson said in a release from his Chicago-based civil-rights group. “His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship—between business partners—and LeBron honored his contract.”
(Via Mary Katharine Ham.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Letters of Note" (sorry, unavoidable pun) from a young David Bowie and a kind (though profane) Iggy Pop.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Maybe in the hip-hop market this is a valuable endorsement: "I ordered it for my boyfriend in prison and he absolutely loved it!!"

I feel unutterably lucky not to be enmeshed in that bleak, hard world.

 

Anthony Daniels on Thomas Sowell on intellectuals.

 

Following a suggestion in Justin Krebs's book 538 Ways to Live, Work, and Play Like a Liberal, Matt Labash of The Weekly Standard establishes a virtual suggestion box:
I email colleagues that I will collect their important feedback and send it to our boss, Bill Kristol. . . . Here are just some of the things my colleagues are convinced they need to make The Weekly Standard a more positive work experience:
More key parties .  .  . institute a ‘buddy system’ for all lavatory use .  .  . group showers, so we can save water and go easier on our earth mother .  .  . more irony in staff meetings .  .  . fewer first-person insertions into magazine pieces .  .  . prepare for Y2K .  .  . pension off Labash .  .  . change our name to ‘US News & Weekly Standard Report’ .  .  . institute an open-door trust-tree policy for managers so that employees understand that they are in a safe space to seek counsel for personal/emotional problems/issues.
I forward the results to Kristol, who seems fairly amenable. He agrees to the first three demands, and regarding group showers, vows to go “the extra mile by ending gender segregation and don’t ask, don’t tell.” Regarding many of the suggestions from our literary editor, Phil Terzian, Kristol promises to “check on whether Terzian has too much free time.”

. . . Many of Krebs’s other liberalizing-the-workplace suggestions I skip, because we already do them. We already recycle. We don’t have a plastic-tank water cooler. We already have environmentally friendly toilets. (One feedback complaint, on account of our low-flush urinals, was, “Any chance we can get the toilets to flush properly around here?” Kristol’s response: “I’m working with technicians from BP.”) Krebs says to relax the office dress code. But if our dress code was any more relaxed, we’d be wearing cutoffs and half-shirts to work, making us look like some sort of neocon Mountain Dew commercial. Nobody wants to see that. Trust me.

Ticking down Krebs’s laundry list, seeing how many requirements our office already fulfills, I’m left with one irrefutable conclusion: Bill Kristol is a liberal.

 

A lovely short poem, part of Poetry 180.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Do you remember the promise I gave you
The one I swore I would hold to
Well, you're there
I'm here
And everything I said was wrong
Marshall Crenshaw, "Our Town"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Very happy Independence Day: "Playboy's America The Beautiful Gallery." NSFW, bless 'em. (Mom, don't click.)

 

Happy Independence Day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

From Eric Burdon, a glimpse of late-Sixties London (Rolling Stone, 9/14/68): "The whole city has gone homosexual. All me friends have gone bent. They're freaking out . . . looking for something to do, I guess."

Later: These old Rolling Stones are fascinating. From the "Musicians' Free Classified" ads in the same issue:
SINGER / SONGWRITER, tenor voice, seeks work with rock group that has chick singer. Call Tom, 648-2193, Boston.
Any singer-songwriter today who expressed the desire to work with a "chick singer" would have his acoustic guitar confiscated and be enjoined for at least a year from listening to James Taylor, Joni Mitchell or Cat Stevens.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

 

An obvious comparison that for some reason I haven't seen elsewhere: Dave Weigel is a male, sixty-or-so-years-younger version of Helen Thomas, a leftist who concealed his/her biases well enough to get a job in mainstream journalism, and whose own words cost him/her that job. We'll be hearing more from both of them, I expect.

(A small roundup of posts from the right: Jonah Goldberg writes that "Weigel's real sin was getting caught," Philip Klein defends Weigel, a conservative in the MSM cheers Weigel's fall, and the Daily Caller posts a telling photo.) (Last link via Instapundit.)

Later: From "The Scrapbook" at the Weekly Standard:
Unfortunately for Weigel, the Post believed he was a diversity hire, someone they could point to whenever conservatives complained about ideological imbalance at the paper. . . . They wanted a reporter who would allow them to maintain the fiction that they run a balanced newsroom. He embarrassed them by holding opinions indistinguishable from their own.

. . . The editors of the
Post may have some hard questions to ask Ezra Klein, who had been reading Weigel’s anti-conservative tirades for some time before telling his editors that Weigel would be “the best reporter” on the conservative beat. But The Scrapbook hopes they’ll show a little understanding. From Klein’s end of the political spectrum, pretty much everyone else looks conservative.

Friday, June 25, 2010

 

Sign of the times:
VuvuX is a free AudioUnit plug in that suppresses the noise created by the South African trumpet called "Vuvuzela" in realtime without affecting the audio commentary or the stadium atmosphere, allowing you to enjoy a noise-free World Cup 2010.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

 

Don't know how old these are, but some of them made me laugh a lot: "How To Tick People Off."

 

We are in some ways a ridiculous culture.

Monday, June 14, 2010

 

Jay Nordlinger:
In Impromptus and elsewhere, I have griped and griped about a certain inhospitableness in America. You may remember this tale: One day, I went to the Sears Tower, to meet a friend of mine. We were going to go out — go back to his place, actually. He worked in the building, and I wanted to meet him in the lobby. I had been traveling for a long time — I think from the Middle East, for some reason. I was tired.

In the vast lobby, there were no chairs, no benches — no places to sit at all. Where I had just come from, they might kill you, but you would have a place to sit, and they would likely offer you a cup of tea and a cake. In the Sears Tower lobby, I went to sit on my suitcase — a suitcase that had gone through security screening. The guards forbade it. You could not sit on your own suitcase in the lobby. And they offered you no place to sit.

I went outside, muttering, “Is this the most inhospitable, rules-insane country on the planet, or what?” I know, I know: They don’t want bums camping out in the lobby. But they don’t have the nerve, because of political correctness, to keep the bums out and let others sit.

With Norwegian friends, I bring up this general subject: of ease and informality versus difficulty and rules, etc. They love the Anglo world, and they hesitate to criticize: but they tell me that, when they’ve traveled in Britain and the U.S., they’ve been amazed at the red tape. All the red tape to untangle, all the hoops to jump through.

And the Continent is supposed to be the place where you’re regulated to death!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

 

From John Derbyshire, a lovely tribute to writer Martin Gardner, who died a few weeks ago.

 

I wouldn't display the message—no obscenity where kids might see/hear it—but I'd give this driver (scroll down a bit) a thumbs-up.

 

From Christopher Hitchens's new memoir, a grimly funny anecdote of a POW camp during World War II. There must be someone else who read it and thought of this, which until now I found as preposterous as every other gag in that shamefully underappreciated movie.

(Wikipedia: "Tonbridge School is a British boys' independent school for both boarding and some day pupils in Tonbridge, Kent.")

 

Daniel Gilbert, in Stumbling On Happiness:
And it isn't just the subtle changes we miss. Even dramatic changes to the appearance of a scene are sometimes overlooked. In an experiment taken straight from the pages of Candid Camera, researchers arranged for a researcher to approach pedestrians on a college campus and ask for directions to a particular building. While the pedestrian and the researcher conferred over the researcher's map, two construction workers, each holding one end of a large door, rudely cut between them, temporarily obstructing the pedestrian's view of the researcher. As the construction workers passed, the original researcher crouched down behind the door and walked off with the construction workers, while a new researcher, who had been hiding behind the door all along, took his place and picked up the conversation. The original and substitute researchers were of different heights and builds and had noticeably different voices, haircuts, and clothing. You would have no trouble telling them apart if they were standing side by side. So what did the Good Samaritans who had stopped to help a lost tourist make of this switcheroo? Not much. In fact, most of the pedestrians failed to notice—failed to notice that the person to whom they were talking had suddenly been transformed into an entirely new individual.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

 

"You don’t understand 'ordinary people'": Richard Feynman advises Stephen Wolfram.

Also, a charming letter from director Pete Docter to a fan.

 

Astounding ignorance:
With three shuttered oil rigs preparing to leave the Gulf of Mexico for foreign waters, Gov. Bobby Jindal ratcheted up the rhetoric Thursday against the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling, saying the White House still doesn't understand the economic pain the forced stoppage is causing Louisiana workers.

Jindal said he had a conference call with President Barack Obama's senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and appealed to her to shorten the six-month moratorium, arguing that a half-year pause would force oil companies to move drilling operations overseas for years and that the federal government could easily impose new safety standards and monitoring in a shorter time frame.

"She asked again why the rigs simply wouldn't come back after six months," Jindal said. "What worries me is I fear they think these rigs can just flip a switch on and off."
(Emphasis added.) Not that I'm expert on the oil industry, but nor am I senior advisor to the president. (Via Jim Geraghty.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

 

While there's good reason to hope (and excellent reason to believe) that Saddam Hussein didn't ship WMD to Syria, I hope we can prove he did, because then the yammerers who ignore the rest of our casus belli might finally, finally, shut up.

 

Charles Krauthammer:
The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel's possession of nuclear weapons -- thus de-legitimizing Israel's very last line of defense: deterrence.

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.

 

Mark Steyn on Turkey's demographics:
As the think-tankers like to say: “Who lost Turkey?” In a nutshell: Kemal Ataturk. Since he founded post-Ottoman Turkey in his own image nearly nine decades ago, the population has increased from 14 million to over 70 million. But that five-fold increase is not evenly distributed. The short version of Turkish demographics in the 20th century is that Rumelian Turkey — i.e., western, European, secular, Kemalist Turkey — has been outbred by Anatolian Turkey — i.e., eastern, rural, traditionalist, Islamic Turkey. Ataturk and most of his supporters were from Rumelia, and they imposed the modern Turkish republic on a reluctant Anatolia, where Ataturk’s distinction between the state and Islam was never accepted. Now they don’t have to accept it. The swelling population has spilled out of its rural hinterland and into the once solidly Kemalist cities. . . .

Today’s young Turks are men who think as Erdogan does. . . . As Erdogan’s most famous sound bite puts it: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.”

 

Jay Nordlinger:
People say, with increasing frequency, “Why should there be a Jewish state? Isn’t that kind of racist — undemocratic?” There are 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference — almost 60 states that identify themselves specifically as Muslim. The world has no problem with them: only with the tiny, dusty sliver that identifies itself as Jewish. The Jews were storm-tossed, homeless, for 2,000 years — dependent on the goodwill of host nations, dependent on the kindness of strangers. And yet the world begrudges their one dinky state.

We have no problem with Thais in Thailand; we have no problem with Senegalese in Senegal; we have a problem with Jews in Israel — never mind the 1.5 million Arabs who live there, enjoying rights that are unknown to most Arabs elsewhere.

If the world lets Israel go under, a mere two or three generations after the Holocaust, we will have learned a sick, sick thing about the world.
Time magazine, I think it was, once had a very dramatic, hard-to-forget cover: “Thinking the Unthinkable.” It was about nuclear armageddon. (Remember when people worried about that stuff? Then Reagan came . . .) Events large and small — Iran’s nuclear drive, the Helen Thomas outburst — have led me to think about the unthinkable: the loss of Israel. They won’t go without a fight, I feel sure. And I know which side I’m on.

 

George Will:
We are witnessing a familiar government dance, the Prosperity-to-Hysteria Two-Step: When revenue grows, governments put in place permanent spending streams; when revenue falls, governments exclaim that any retrenchment, even back to spending levels of a few years ago, is a "catastrophe."

 

“All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest.”

F.A. Hayek (quoted by Don Boudreaux)

 

That's just weird.

 

David Pryce-Jones:
In the tried and tested Palestinian style, the flotilla’s organizers made sure to have on board children, elderly people, and Europeans, whose possible injury would certainly make the Israelis look bad. They couldn’t have cared less about that. They anticipated correctly that Israel was certain to inspect the ships for possible smuggling of armaments and ferrying in gunmen, that casualties were likely, and that the world would condemn Israel for defending itself. Easy, once you have the template for it.

Turkish sponsorship of this stunt is the one thing that matters. Whipping up anti-Israeli hysterics, the Turkish prime minister and his government openly declare that Turkey now opts for a Muslim and not a secular or Western identity. The consequences of losing Turkey are going to cause a lot of grief to a lot of people.

 

Cynical but plausible:
I hate to be a cynic, but have you looked at how the affected states have voted? How many of them did Obama carry? Also, at least 3 of the 4 governors are Republicans, although Charlie Crist is questionable.

I bet if it was California it would be all hands on deck from day 1.
Nonsense. If that cynical analysis were correct, we’d have seen Obama ignoring the Nashville flood, Kentucky ice storms, etc.

 

Obama and the Jewish Vote:* Roger L. Simon reports from the California Summer Bash (I think that's really what it's called) of the Republican Jewish Coalition:
I have been attending this annual RJC event for three years now. . . . I always asked essentially the same question: What’s the climate with your friends and relatives? Is everyone in your world (mishpocheh, in the parlance) still a knee-jerk liberal? Can you even speak to each other at the dinner table?

I always got basically the same response — a cynical shrug that signaled the old Yiddish expression “
Vat den?” (’twas ever thus).

But not last night. Almost uniformly the attendees to whom I asked this question responded differently. Yes, they said, things were changing. Their
mishpocheh – in the smaller and larger senses — were listening to them, not getting angry or walking away. Sometimes they just remained silent, but it was a thoughtful, worried silence. From what I could tell at the Beverly Hilton last night, the polls showing Jews deserting Obama were evidently not entirely apocryphal.

Most surprising to me were some words I exchanged with
Rep. Dan Lederman of the South Dakota House of Representatives. (I didn’t even know there were Jews in South Dakota.) Lederman told me of his recently making a speech strongly attacking Obama policies to an audience of seventy or so B’nai B’rith members in his neighboring Nebraska and not getting a peep of objection. This would have been unheard of a year ago.
Simon also spoke with Karl Rove, who "was more than guardedly optimistic, seeing the situation at this moment as a great opportunity for Jewish Republicans."

*Remind anyone else of the title of a Harry Potter book? Probably not.

 

Jonah Goldberg:
Obama talks as if the president really is in charge of things, both when he's grandiose and when he's self-pitying and thin skinned. When he's grandiose, he can do it all. When he's self-pitying, Obama would do it all except for the sad fact that George W. Bush used his presidential powers to thwart the forces of progress. And that raises a much lower standard than Messiah for Obama to contend with. Forget whether he can make the oceans recede, the relevant question is whether Obama is simply not up to the job of fixing Bush's mistakes. That's a question he raises every day.

 

How dare they? Why the hell do we allow it? (The second question contains the answer to the first, dammit.)

 

I'd never heard about Australia's 1993 plague of mice, which threatened to ravage the country and provoked a massive program of extermination that produced, in the words of this video's narrator, "more than one hundred million corpses." Gruesomely fascinating, but not for the musophobic or otherwise squeamish.

(Apparently it's small-mammal day here.)

 

Jay Nordlinger on one of mankind's greatest benefactors, Norman Borlaug.

 

I'd visited the blog called "Breath of the Beast" before Mark Steyn linked to it last week, but I'd never read the first post there. Powerful stuff.

 

An epiphany that will fade over time.

 

He seems a completely nice guy, and I hope the video brings him good things.

 

I think the Left just doesn't care what the truth is. To condemn Israel is to show one's virtue.

 

Jeepers creepers: "Lil Hobson remains baffled as to why raccoons targeted her house in the first place."

 

An Israeli flotilla to Turkey is a horrendous idea. I appreciate the intent, and nothing would please me more at this foreign-policy moment than to see Turkey's leaders revealed as the deceitful, oppressive hypocrites they are, but once again Israelis and their supporters are inexplicably projecting onto their enemies their own decency and sense of fair play. Boats filled with unarmed Jews challenging a Muslim nation, and by extension all Muslim nations? At best they'd be hostages-in-waiting, at worst targets in a terrorist shooting gallery, and most likely both. What compunction does anyone believe would prevent jihadists from using force against them? What retaliation would the attackers have to fear from the world? People, your intentions are good, but you'd be delivering yourselves into the hands of those who hate you more than you can evidently imagine and who would revel in your capture, humiliation and torment. For your own sake and that of your country, don't do it.

 

"What iPads Did To My Family." Semi-ominous title, funny/interesting post (no doubt funny/exciting to Apple shareholders). (Via Newmark's Door.)

 

Glad to see this from Glenn Reynolds (not that it's surprising from him): "Public employees — who function without the discipline of markets, and apparently, politics — should not be allowed to unionize."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

 

Marc Thiessen: "Why No One Wants to Be Director of National Intelligence Under Obama." Another good argument for eliminating the position.

 

Via Instapundit, an email from "Engineering Prof Chris Kobus" (I'm guessing this is he):
Diesel technology is inherently more efficient [than gasoline-engine technology]. . . . If all spark-ignition engines were replaced with diesel, we’d reduce our dependence on foreign oil by almost 50%. As good as hybrids are in terms of fuel economy, hybrid diesels would blow them all away. Locomotives have been hybrid diesels for some time now.

 

Stephen Spruiell:
William Galston has written an excellent piece for TNR asking an important question that I haven't heard the Keynesians answer: If the U.S. is more like Japan circa 1992 than Greece circa 2009, and Japan is still mired in a recessionary funk after a decade of low-quality growth, then why are we using the same policy tools that Japan used to fight the recession?

 

From Stephen Moore, a nice tribute to Art Linkletter:
He hosted a series of daily TV shows that were all hits, the most enduring of which was the wildly popular "Kids Say the Darndest Things."

Linkletter could go on for hours telling hilarious stories from that show. One of his favorites was of the 7-year-old boy whose dog died. He told the teary-eyed lad, "Don't be sad because your dog is up in heaven with God." The boy responded, "Mr. Linkletter, what would God want with a dead dog?"

A staunch political conservative, he told me he'd tried to talk his friend Ronald Reagan out of running for the White House because "an actor will never be president . . . Thank God he ignored my advice, because Ronnie really turned this country around."

 

Terry Teachout:
A critic should always strive to recapture the sense of wonder and surprise with which he first beheld a now-familiar work of art. . . . For most of us, however, that means taking an occasional vacation from even the greatest of paintings, and this recommendation is truer still in the case of artworks that, like novels or films or pieces of music, can be consumed at home and at will. In the age of mechanical reproduction, it has become too easy to experience them too often for our own good.

To this end, I propose a thought experiment: a "masterpiece moratorium" in which the participants agree not to view, listen to, read about, discuss or take part in performances of certain selected masterpieces for a full year.

 

From Ralph Peters, "five areas in which our troops deserve better. And we’re going to give politicians and generals letter grades."

(One note: Peters praises a particular report as "[t]he most-important article written about our military this year." The report's author: Peters's wife. I don't hold his possible uxoriousness against him, but he should've mentioned the connection.)

 

"The Cuban government likes to bring the violence that is its very nature to other countries."

 

Useful data via George Will:
Barack Obama, an unbeliever genuflecting before the altar of frugality, is asking Congress, as presidents do, to give him something like a line-item veto. Coming in today's context of his unrelenting agenda of expanding government, his proposal constitutes a counterfeit promise to get serious about controlling spending and the deficit. . . .

Today, 62 percent of federal spending goes to entitlements (56) and debt service (6). Both will be growing portions of budgets, and both are immune to any vetoes. Defense and homeland security are 21 percent of the budget and will be almost entirely immune. So the line-item veto's target would be at most 17 percent of the budget.

What about earmarks? If all 9,499 of last year's had been vetoed, this would have saved $15.9 billion, or a risible 0.45 percent of spending. . . .

Last year, Obama ordered 15 department heads to find economies totaling $100 million, which was then 13 minutes (0.0029 percent) of federal spending. His new rescission proposal also is frugality theater and is similarly frivolous.

 

Not my style, but I'm sympathetic:
To look upon this beauty in the western U.S. state of Oregon is to understand what people mean when they say this is God's country, and that's exactly why Brother Gregory lives here.

He is part of a wider movement of conservative Christians who are choosing to live their lives on the edge of society, unplugged from civilization as much as they can, living under basic biblical principles. . . .

"Christians should be looking for a way to take care of one another without forcing their neighbor to contribute to their welfare. In essence that's coveting your neighbor's goods through the agency of the governments you create."

And that is a sin.

 

Heather Mac Donald on "the increasingly surreal hysteria over the Arizona immigration law":
The two main lines of attack against SB 1070 — that it is preempted by federal immigration laws and that it will lead to racial profiling — make sense only if you believe that we should not be enforcing our immigration laws.

Putting state resources behind immigration enforcement interferes with federal enforcement only if it is federal policy not to enforce the immigration laws. Without question, more people will be picked up in Arizona for being in the country illegally with SB 1070 than would have been picked up without SB 1070. . . .

That is SB 1070’s only effect. Opponents of SB 1070 can argue that a state’s detection of illegal aliens conflicts with federal policy only if it is federal policy that those illegal aliens never be subjected to the immigration laws in the first place. . . .
As to the second objection:
There is a greater chance that a legal-alien Hispanic in Arizona driving without his license could have a question asked of him regarding his immigration status during a stop than a native-born Anglo driving without his license. According to the illegal-alien lobby, that possibility renders the law unconstitutional and a fundamental assault on human rights. . . .

[I]f the possibility that a lawfully resident alien or person of ethnic ancestry may be asked a question about his status is unconstitutional, then we can’t have any immigration enforcement at all.
Which is, I gather, the goal of SB 1070's opponents.