Archive for May, 2006
27 May 2006

The Blue States Need a Song

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Digby admires a country western song. He thinks that “Gretchen Wilson and Merle Haggard’s song “Politically Uncorrect” perfectly captures the sense of exceptionalism and specialness of southern culture.”

I’m for the low man on the totem pole
And I’m for the underdog God bless his soul
And I’m for the guys still pulling third shift
And the single mom raisin’ her kids
I’m for the preachers who stay on their knees
And I’m for the sinner who finally believes
And I’m for the farmer with dirt on his hands
And the soldiers who fight for this land

Chorus:

And I’m for the Bible and I’m for the flag
And I’m for the working man, me and ol’ hag
I’m just one of many
Who can’t get no respect
Politically uncorrect

(Merle Haggard)
I guess my opinion is all out of style

(Gretchen Wilson)
Aw, but don’t get me started cause I can get riled
And I’ll make a fight for the forefathers plan

(Merle Haggard)
And the world already knows where I stand

Repeat Chorus

(Merle Haggard)
Nothing wrong with the Bible, nothing wrong with the flag

(Gretchen Wilson)
Nothing wrong with the working man me & ol’ hag
We’re just some of many who can’t get no respect
Politically uncorrect

And Digby wishes his own camp enjoyed an equivalently strong cultural identity:

The non-southern Party appears to exist mainly as a repository of opposition to conservative policies. Is that true?

Perhaps the big question is this: If you could write a country song about Blue State identity, what would the lyrics say?

That sounds like an invitation, doesn’t it?

27 May 2006

Register Canines (and Handguns), Says the Left

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Walter Olson (at Overlawyered) links Steve Bodio on simply astonishing new forms of pet ownership regulation adopted, at the behest of a sinister new alliance of NIMBY liberals and Animal Rights activist groups.

In the case of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Steve Bodio quotes the following membership alert received from a dog group he belongs to:

City Councilor Sally Mayer is again proposing sweeping changes that would drastically limit fanciers’ ability to breed and own dogs, while doing little to address the city’s problems with irresponsible ownership. The proposal is currently set for a vote at the May 1st city council meeting. Fanciers are encouraged to attend the meeting, which will be held in the Council Chambers on the basement level of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center building at One Civic Plaza NW, Albuquerque. The meeting beings at 5pm.

“The proposal, known as the HEART ordinance (Humane and Ethical Animal Regulations and Treatment), contains draconian regulations, oppressive fees, and allows the government unfettered access to animal owner’s homes and personal information. Worse, the measure was put forth based on “findings” that were established without any studies being conducted and without any input from responsible dog owners and breeders.

“The measure’s restrictive provisions include:

* An annual $150 permit for each unaltered dog or cat over six months old.

* A $150 litter permit, which expires six months after the date of issue. Breeders would be limited to four litters per year.

* A limit of four dogs and two cats per household (or six cats) unless residents purchase a $50 multiple companion animal site permit.

* Allows one adjoining property owner to petition for the revocation of a multiple companion animal site permit. (I will come back to this one)

* Prohibits anyone with an intact animal permit from having a multiple companion animal site permit. [WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??]

* Requirements that owners microchip or tattoo their dogs and cats.

* Prohibiting crating of dogs outdoors and tethering for more than 1 hour per day.

* Mandates owners provide “environmental enrichment” defined as “toys and other safe products.that will stimulate mental, physical and grooming activities.”

* Requires any animal that is picked up by animal control to be spayed/neutered, even if the owner has an intact animal permit and immediately reclaims the animal.

“In applying for any permit, dog owners would be forced to comply with a long list of provisions, including submitting to property and record-keeping inspections.

“The proposal would also put severe restrictions on animal service businesses such as dog groomers and doggie daycares. Of interest to all dog owners, these businesses would be required to provide a list of all their clients and their contact information to the city. Generally the government must get a subpoena from a judge for client lists and company records.

“It is critical that local fanciers immediately contact Albuquerque’s city officials and convey their strong opposition to this ordinance. Area purebred dog owners, including members of the Rio Grande Kennel Club, are working to oppose the ordinance and to support fair and reasonable animal control legislation that does not penalize responsible owners and breeders. However, more help is urgently needed!

“What You Can Do:
AKC encourages dog owners to contact their city council member and express your opposition. To find out who represents you on the Albuquerque City Council tp://www.cabq.gov/council/ccmaps.html. It is extremely important that council members hear from their constituents!

“For more information, contact:

Patte Klecan
Rio Grande Kennel Club”

IT PASSED.

As Steve reports in the same posting, he had already run into the same thing in Bozeman, Montana.

And Los Angeles, he also reports in another posting, has passed a draconian dog ordinance:

Los Angeles County has passed an ordinance that requires all dogs to be sterilized and microchipped, effective June 3, 2006. It applies only to those dogs kept in unincorporated areas, but cities such as Los Angeles are being urged to enact similar requirements. Should the cities follow suit, 10 million people will be soon be so regulated, more than the population in *forty-four* states. Dogs may be exempt from this requirement if they are registered with an approved registry and are either titled, entered in an approved competition annually, or owned by an individual belonging to a dog club with *enforced breeding restrictions*. Animal rightists are currently fighting to further tighten these exemptions’ details. Required intact licenses for breedable dogs cost $60 per year; altered ones cost $20. Litters must be reported to the county, as must every puppy buyer’s identity. Additional requirements and penalties of this sterilize and track program may be found at http://animalcontrol.co.la.ca.us/html/Main1.htm. LA County says it’s hiring additional animal control officers to go door to door to enforce this anti-breeder ordinance.

And Chicago is proposing the same thing, says the Sun-Times:

Owners of Chicago’s estimated 600,000 dogs would be required to microchip their pets, limit tethering, pay stiff fines for letting them roam free and choose between neutering and sharply higher license fees, under a sweeping crackdown proposed by an influential alderman.

Grooming, boarding and doggie day-care facilities would be licensed and subject to strict operating standards under the legislative package championed by License Committee Chairman Eugene Schulter (47th).

A lifelong dog lover whose deceased Irish terriers Kerry and Conner were “part of the family,” Schulter said he’s driven by a desire to “create a safer and better environment” for Chicago’s dogs.

This alliance between the Aninal Rights extremist groups and conventional liberal politicians to microchip, sterilize and regulate out of existence the family dog is cause for real alarm. What if, for reasons of your own, you wanted to breed your mixed breed animal? What if you raise dogs, as Steve Bodio does, from an exotic foreign breed, not yet recognized by the AKC?

Steve Bodio identified one Sportsman’s Group trying to fight them on this: the Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance.

26 May 2006

Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs

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John J. Miller, in National Review, offers a list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs.

No Zappa? (There’s a reason they put up statues of him in Vilnius and Prague.) No Zevon? (Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner will be annoyed.) No Randy Newman? (Not even Political Science?) This list could be much improved.

—————–

Hat tip to Brice Peyre.

26 May 2006

Pre-WWI Russian Color Photographs

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Jewish children with teacher, 1911

The Library of Congress is exhibiting the photography of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944). These remarkable images were made as magic lanterns slides, and were displayed in color using a set of red, green, blue filters. The LOC has been able to produce new digital colored images by a process they are calling digichromatography, and their results are very impressive.

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Hat tip to Chuck.

26 May 2006

Marine Corps Humor

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SandRat on Free Republic has posted the following alleged item of military correspondence. I suspect that this is just a joke, but the slogans are good.

Subject: U.S. Navy Directive 16134

The following directive was issued by the commanding officer of a naval installation somewhere in the Middle East, and it was obviously directed at the Marines.

To: All Commands
Subject: Inappropriate T-Shirts
Ref: ComMidEastFor Inst 16134//24 K

All commanders promulgate upon receipt.

The following T-shirts are no longer to be worn on or off base by any military or civilian personnel serving in the Middle East:

“Eat Pork Or Die” [both English and Arabic versions]

“Shrine Busters” [Various. Show burning minarets or bomb/artillery shells impacting Islamic shrines. Some with unit logos.]

“Napalm, Sticks Like Crazy” [Both English and Arabic versions]

“Goat – it isn’t just for breakfast any more.” [Both English and Arabic versions]

“The road to Paradise begins with me.” [Mostly Arabic versions but some in English. Some show sniper scope cross-hairs]

“Guns don’t kill people. I kill people.” [Both Arabic and English versions]

“Pork. The other white meat.” [Arabic version]

“Infidel” [English, Arabic and other coalition force languages.]

The above T-shirts are to be removed from Post Exchanges upon receipt of this directive.

The following signs are to be removed upon receipt of this message:

“Islamic Religious Services Will Be Held at the Firing Range At 0800 Daily.”

“Do we really need ‘smart bombs’ to drop on these dumb bastards?”

All commands are instructed to implement sensitivity training upon receipt.

25 May 2006

Joseph Story on Congressional Immunity

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President Bush intervened in the conflict between the Justice Department and Congress, ordering the material taken from Rep. William Jefferson’s office sealed for 45 days, obviously in order to provide time for judicial review.

The president deserves commendation for acting responsibly on the occasion of a conflict in the Constitutional balance between federal branches. I think myself that a number of usually extremely perspicacious commentators on the Right went off half-cocked on this one.

Readers will recall that the FBI searched Rep. Jefferson’s office on Saturday and Sunday, and that the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 6, says:

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

————

In evaluating these kinds of issue, I think that a good starting point is always Justice Joseph Story (Y 1798)’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833).

On Article 1, Section 6, Justice Story decidedly notes the importance of legislative immunity :

§ 856. The next part of the clause regards the privilege of the members from arrest, except for crimes, during their attendance at the sessions of congress, and their going to, and returning from them. This privilege is conceded by law to the humblest suitor and witness in a court of justice; and it would be strange, indeed, if it were denied to the highest functionaries of the state in the discharge of their public duties. It belongs to congress in common with all other legislative bodies, which exist, or have existed in America, since its first settlement, under every variety of government; and it has immemorially constituted a privilege of both houses of the British parliament.

It seems absolutely indispensable for the just exercise of the legislative power in every nation, purporting to possess a free constitution of government; and it cannot be surrendered without endangering the public liberties, as well as the private independence of the members.

§ 857. This privilege from arrest, privileges them of course against all process, the disobedience to which is punishable by attachment of the person, such as a subpoena ad respondendum, aut testificandum, or a summons to serve on a jury; and (as has been justly observed) with reason, because a member has superior duties to perform in another place. When a representative is withdrawn from his seat by a summons, the people, whom he represents, lose their voice in debate and vote, as they do in his voluntary absence.

The legislative immunity in Britain, Story notes, was confined to intervals only modestly longer than the actual sessions of Parliament.

§ 858. The privilege of the peers of the British parliament to be free from arrest, in civil cases, is for ever sacred and inviolable. For other purposes, (as for common process,) it seems, that their privilege did not extend, but from the teste of the summons to parliament, and for twenty days before and after the session. But that period has now, as to all common process but arrest, been taken away by statute.

The privilege of the members of the house of commons from arrest is for forty days after every prorogation, and for forty days before the next appointed meeting, which in effect is as long, as the parliament lasts, it seldom being prorogued for more than four score days, at a time.

In case of a dissolution of parliament, it does not appear, that the privilege is confined to any precise time; the rule being, that the party is entitled to it for a convenient time, redeundo.

In today’s United States, when it ordinarily takes a year or more to go to trial, one would expect legislators to be able to claim very long intervals of immunity.

Even in Britain, Story notes, that Spirit of Modernity has tended to curtail the principle of legislative immunity short of the point where it might benefit the contents of Rep. Jefferson’s office.

§ 859. The privilege of members of parliament formerly extended also to their servants and goods, so that they could not be arrested. But so far, as it went to obstruct the ordinary course of justice in the British courts, it has since been restrained.

In the members of congress, the privilege is strictly personal, and does not extend to their servants or property.

Note that Justice Story accords Congress only a lower case “c.” The American principle of Republicanism was decidedly stronger and more keenly felt in 1833 than it is today, when presidents are accompanied routinely by a complement of bodyguards and functionaries the Sultan of Byzantium might envy. I think Justice Story’s observations are informative, as always, but I think an able attorney would not have the least difficulty in arguing either side of Rep. Jeffeson’s claim to the application of Article 1, Section 6 privileges to his office papers (and bags of currency).

25 May 2006

Visual Complexity

My wife sent this link to me, describing the site as her “equivalent of an intellectual chew toy.”

25 May 2006

Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain

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performs Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. That’s pretty bent.

4:54 minute video

25 May 2006

The MSM on The DaVinci Code and The Passion of the Christ

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Tim Graham compares the MSM’s treatment of Ron Howard’s The DaVinci Code (2006) — and its treatment of the Danish cartoons– to its treatment of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004).

âu2013 The DaVinci Code received more of a publicity push from the networks than The Passion of the Christ. The number of segments devoted to the movies in the year before their cinematic release was 99 for The DaVinci Code to 66 for The Passion. Most of those came on morning shows. By far, the biggest Code promoter was NBC’s Today, which more provided more stories (38) than the other two network morning shows combined (29). By contrast, NBC was in third-place in Passion segments (11).

âu2013 The Passion of the Christ was treated as a social problem — the biggest TV anti-Semitism story of that year — while The DaVinci Code was presented more often as an “intriguing” theory rather than threatening or offensive to Christians. Nearly every one of the 66 network segments on The Passion on ABC, CBS, and NBC touched on those complaints. But only 27 of the 99 Code segments focused on Christian and Catholic protests.

âu2013 While the faith of millions of Americans, Christianity, is singled out for criticism, with one “fascinating” fictional detail after another, the networks either refused to air or barely aired mild Mohammed cartoons out of great sensitivity to American Muslims. At the same time that Christianity is questioned as a false religion in The DaVinci Code, the networks demonstrated an exquisite sensitivity to American Muslims on the sensitive subject of threatened violence against mostly mild Danish cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad. ABC aired a glance at one cartoon on two programs. CBS and NBC declared they would censor the images.

âu2013 In their push to promote The DaVinci Code, the networks routinely failed to address how the book most offended Christian sensitivities: that Christianity itself is a lie. The networks showed their lack of belief or interest in religion as they almost always failed to examine Brown’s most contentious charge: that Jesus was not the Son of God. While many noted the scandalous claim of a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, only six stories explained the Code’s denial of the divinity of Jesus.

âu2013 While Mel Gibson was attacked and even psychoanalyzed for his religious beliefs, DaVinci Code author Dan Brown and filmmakers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer were never personally examined or challenged about their personal religious beliefs, their willingness to milk controversy, play fast and loose with facts, and offend Christians for personal gain. Whenever the networks decided to address fact and fiction in The DaVinci Code, they almost always found it was stuffed with falsehoods. But they never focused on the idea that Brown, Grazer, or Howard should be criticized for being too casual with the truth.

âu2013 The networks also bought into the DaVinci Code craze by picking up and publicizing other Code-related books attacking Christianity and the Catholic Church, but their standard of evidence was hardly an example of what a skeptical journalist would apply. Authors of new books like The Jesus Papers and The Jesus Dynasty were offered publicity forums, even though the network journalists pronounced the evidence behind the claims was flimsy, even non-existent. So why did the networks promote them?

25 May 2006

The Myth of Addiction

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In the waning decades of the 19th century, Western societies experienced a wave of panic over the idea that various intoxicating substances offered pleasures so exquisite and seductive as to overcome the will and corrupt and enslave their users. One intoxicant after another became the target for prohibition efforts by ameliorist do-gooders.

All forms of prohibition make whatever is banned more desirable, and result in black markets. Black markets provide an opportunity for large profits by criminals, and typically lead to violence as rival gangsters fight over territories. The association of large profits with victimless forms of crime commonly results in the corruption of law enforcement.

Theodore Dalrymple draws on his medical experience as usual, in today’s Wall Street Journal, to debunk opiate addiction.

In 1822, Thomas De Quincey published a short book, “The Confessions of an English Opium Eater.” The nature of addiction to opiates has been misunderstood ever since.

De Quincey took opiates in the form of laudanum, which was tincture of opium in alcohol. He claimed that special philosophical insights and emotional states were available to opium-eaters, as they were then called, that were not available to abstainers; but he also claimed that the effort to stop taking opium involved a titanic struggle of almost superhuman misery. Thus, those who wanted to know the heights had also to plumb the depths.

This romantic nonsense has been accepted wholesale by doctors and litterateurs for nearly two centuries. It has given rise to an orthodoxy about opiate addiction, including heroin addiction, that the general public likewise takes for granted: To wit, a person takes a little of a drug, and is hooked; the drug renders him incapable of work, but since withdrawal from the drug is such a terrible experience, and since the drug is expensive, the addict is virtually forced into criminal activity to fund his habit. He cannot abandon the habit except under medical supervision, often by means of a substitute drug.

In each and every particular, this picture is not only mistaken, but obviously mistaken. It actually takes some considerable effort to addict oneself to opiates: The average heroin addict has been taking it for a year before he develops an addiction. Like many people who are able to take opiates intermittently, De Quincey took opium every week for several years before becoming habituated to it. William Burroughs, who lied about many things, admitted truthfully that you may take heroin many times, and for quite a long period, before becoming addicted…

Why has the orthodox view swept all before it? First, the literary tradition sustains it: Works that deal with the subject continue to disregard pharmacological reality, from De Quincey and Coleridge through Baudelaire, Aleister Crowley, Bulgakov, Cocteau, Nelson Algren, Burroughs and others. Second, addicts and therapists have a vested interest in the orthodox view. Addicts want to place the responsibility for their plight elsewhere, and the orthodox view is the very raison d’être of the therapists. Finally, as a society, we are always on the lookout for a category of victims upon whom to expend our virtuous, which is to say conspicuous, compassion.

The myth of addiction has a powerful appeal to the human imagination, and is enormously useful in exculpating personal misbehavior. But a society which holds more than a million people in prison for victimless crimes is paying a terrible price in order to cling to its illusions.

24 May 2006

40 Climb Past Dying Climber on Everest

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The 2006 climbing season on Mount Everest, with 9 dead already, seems likely to overtake the previous 1996 record of 12 fatalities. This climbing season featured a new kind of record as well, however, with reports of 40 climbers proceeding past a dying British climber on their way up.

Washington Times:

Mark Inglis, an amputee who conquered Mount Everest on artificial legs last week, yesterday defended his party’s decision to carry on to the summit despite coming across a dying climber.
As his team climbed through the “death zone,” the area above 26,000 feet where the body begins to shut down, they passed David Sharp, 34, a stricken British climber who later died. His body remained on the mountain.
Mr. Inglis, 47, a New Zealander, said: “At 28,000 feet it’s hard to stay alive yourself. He was in a very poor condition, near death. We talked about [what to do for him] for quite a lot at the time and it was a very hard decision.
“About 40 people passed him that day, and no one else helped him apart from our expedition. Our Sherpas (guides) gave him oxygen. He wasn’t a member of our expedition, he was a member of another, far less professional one.”..

About 200 people have died on Everest since the first expeditions in the 1920s. The corpses are stepped over by climbers traveling the most popular routes.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to summit Everest and a representative of a different era, condemned their action.

The New Zealand Press Association reports that Edmund Hillary has questioned the actions of Mark Inglis and others on the night British David Sharp, 34, died. “In our expedition there was never any likelihood whatsoever if one member of the party was incapacitated that we would just leave him to die,” Hillary, told the Otago Daily Times today.

Hillary said people have completely lost sight of what’s important and that the difficulties posed by operating at high altitude is no excuse. “I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mt Everest has become rather horrifying…people just want to get to the top, they don’t give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn’t impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die.”

24 May 2006

Apple G4 Blown Up

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Vinnie makes videos, and decided he needed an Apple G5. He couldn’t afford the $5000 price tag for the machine plus bells and whistles, but reasoned that perhaps he could persuade 20,000 strangers to part with $.25 each, in return for a promise that if the goal was achieved he’d blow up his old Mac.

He fulfills his promise in this 4:48 minute video.

24 May 2006

Liberal Thought an Oxymoron?

The bill making English “the official language” of the United States was a meaningless piece of political puffery designed to appease voters, but Dennis Prager’s comments on the liberal method of argument are dead on.

The highest-ranking Democrat in America, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, described the Senate bill making English the national language of the American people as “racist.” And the New York Times editorial page labeled the bill “xenophobic.”

Welcome to the thoughtless world of contemporary liberalism. Beginning in the 1960s, liberalism, once the home of many deep thinkers, began to substitute feeling for thought and descended into superficiality.

One-word put-downs of opponents’ ideas and motives were substituted for thoughtful rebuttal. Though liberals regard themselves as intellectual — their views, after all, are those of nearly all university professors — liberal thought has almost died. Instead of feeling the need to thoughtfully consider an idea, most liberal minds today work on automatic. One-word reactions to most issues are the liberal norm.

This is easy to demonstrate.

Here is a list of terms liberals apply to virtually every idea or action with which they differ:

Racist
Sexist
Homophobic
Islamophobic
Imperialist
Bigoted
Intolerant

And here is the list of one-word descriptions of what liberals are for:

Peace
Fairness
Tolerance
The poor
The disenfranchised
The environment

These two lists serve contemporary liberals in at least three ways.

First, they attack the motives of non-liberals and thereby morally dismiss the non-liberal person.

Second, these words make it easy to be a liberal — essentially all one needs to do is to memorize this brief list and apply the right term to any idea or policy.

24 May 2006

Ads Reply to Gore

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute has produced three amusing 60 second television ads responding to Al Gore’s about-to-be-released Global Warming agitprop motion picture. link

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