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.

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.)