Archive for November, 2007
30 Nov 2007

Use of Racist Pejorative Punished in Wales

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Daily Mail:

A grandfather has been given a prison sentence for racial harassment after calling a Welsh woman “English”.

Mick Forsythe used the term during an argument over a scratched car in his Welsh home town.

He called the vehicle’s owner, Lorna Steele, an “English bitch”.

She and her husband took great offence at the jibe and decided to take him to court.

The 55-year-old former lorry driver was found guilty of racially aggravated disorderly behaviour, and received a ten-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Yesterday Mr Forsythe attacked the prosecution as a waste of time and money.

“I find it unbelievable that I’ve been prosecuted for this,” he said.

“I’m originally from Northern Ireland so I’m an adoptive Welshman.

“I’ve travelled all over Europe as a lorry driver and never had any problems with anybody and now they’re officially calling me a racist.

“It’s political correctness gone mad.

30 Nov 2007

Democrats’ Franchise Agenda

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Roger Clegg, at PJM, describes how ideology enables cynical efforts by democrats to expand their voting base.

The other day I read a couple of letters to the editor of the New York Times, from people who were sincerely offended that, as had been discussed in a recent Times article, mentally deranged people are often not allowed to vote.

Here’s part of one letter: “I am very troubled by [your article], which reports political efforts to prevent people with mental disorders and elderly people with dementia from voting. Our constitutional right to vote does not require that any one of us make a rational choice. …”

Here’s part of the other: “I was appalled to learn that the mentally ill can be kept from voting, and that some are trying to make it even harder for them to participate in the democratic process….Our government’s just powers must be derived from the consent of all the governed, not merely an elite comprised of mentally sound elders.”

The former letter, by the way, is from a doctor; the latter letter also cites with approval the lowering of the voting age in Austria to 16. I should add that the American Bar Association voted favorably at its annual convention this summer on a resolution that will urge jurisdictions to make it easier for mentally incompetent people to vote. And there is a much-publicized, multifront effort to curtail the practice in many states of disenfranchising felons, and there are even activists who think that noncitizens should be allowed to vote.

It is a pretty basic question for our system of government, isn’t it: Who should be allowed to vote?

There are only four groups of people who are generally not allowed to vote in the U.S. now, and the Left wants to enfranchise more of all of them: children, criminals, noncitizens, and the mentally ill.

30 Nov 2007

Republican Conflicts Within the Big Tent


David Horsey - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Eric Earling responds to David Horsey’s cartoon with a perceptive analysis of the tensions within the GOP.

David Horsey’s latest takes a stab at understanding the latest twist in the horserace of the Republican nominating contest. Horsey’s simplification of Rudy Giuliani as the candidate of national security conservatives, Mitt Romney for “business conservatives,” and Mike Huckabee for social conservatives doesn’t quite hold true in reality but it makes for a nice cartoon.

My hunch, however, is that observers with little more than indirect experience with social conservatives may be a bit miffed in full at how Huckabee can be rising in Iowa and in the South given his well-documented problems with economic/small government conservatives. For one, Huckabee’s rise isn’t merely a product of social conservatives, it’s specifically a product of Evangelicals (as the links in the section on Huckabee at this post describe). That’s an important point to understand even in the context of politics around here and the local GOP.

To understand what that means, take a step back from Mike Huckabee for a minute. Consider someone like him, without the baggage of a Presidential race: current Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. Since taking that gig earlier this year, Gerson has spent a good deal of time talking about the issues of the day in a manner quite similar to Huckabee (Gerson spent a full column praising him). As Ross Douthat notes in his broader critique of Gerson, many of those columns have served to make Gerson’s fellow conservatives more than a bit angry at him. More importantly, Douthat identifies one of the serious deviations from the conservative mainstream by many Evangelicals like Gerson (and thus Huckabee):

    As the world understood the term conservative in, say, 1965, Gerson isn’t one. Like many Americans who’ve crowded into the GOP over the last four decades–blue-collar Catholics and Jewish neoconservatives as well as evangelicals–the militantly libertarian spirit of the midcentury Right is largely foreign to him. But on the road from Goldwater to Reagan, and thence to George W. Bush, the conservative movement transformed itself from a narrow claque into a broad church, embracing anyone and everyone who called themselves an enemy of liberalism, whether they were New York intellectuals or Orange County housewives. This “here comes everybody” quality has been the American Right’s great strength over the past three decades, and a Republican Party that aspires to govern America can ill afford to read the Gersons of the world–social conservatives with moderate-to-liberal sympathies on economics–out of its coalition.

Not only do many Evangelicals not truly embrace the more libertarian aspects of conservative thought, they outright disagree.

Read the whole thing.

30 Nov 2007

Shootout in Baghdad

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The London Times describes how one Sunni insurgent changing sides marked a turning point in the Amariyah neighborhood of Western Baghdad.

One morning in late May, a former Iraqi military intelligence officer working as an American double agent walked up to the al-Qaeda ruler of west Baghdad. The exchange of words, then bullets, that followed has transformed the most volatile neighbourhood of Baghdad into an unexpected haven of calm.

It may, according to US officers, be one of the most significant gunfights since the 2003 invasion, and its ripples across Baghdad are bringing local Sunni and Shia men together to fight terrorists and militia in other neighbourhoods.

The showdown went like this: “Hajji Sabah, isn’t it time you stopped already?” Abu Abed al-Obeidi, a diminutive 37-year-old with a drooping moustache, tired eyes and a ready smile, said. “You have destroyed Amariyah,” he added, referring to the neighbourhood.

“Who are you?” Sabah, the Islamist emir, sneered. “We’re al-Qaeda. I’ll kill you all and raze your homes.”

“You can try,” Mr al-Obeidi said.

The emir reached for his pistol. He was faster than Mr al-Obeidi, but his Glock 9mm jammed. As he turned to run, Mr al-Obeidi emptied his pistol into his back. His assault on al-Qaeda had begun.

29 Nov 2007

Speaking of Scary Women


Carey Roberts describes a moment in which the veil slips:

Usually Hillary Clinton keeps her dagger stare under wraps. But the past Monday CBS News anchor Katie Couric talked to Hillary Clinton about the tightening race for the Democratic nomination.

Straining to keep her anger under control, Clinton complained, “I have absorbed a lot of attacks for several months now,” and vowed to counter her opponents’ criticisms.

Then Couric asked, “If it’s not you, how disappointed will you be?” That’s when the fixed smile disappeared. Hillary firmly replied, “Well, it will be me.”

But Couric persisted: “I know that you’re confident it’s going to be you, but there is a possibility it won’t be. And clearly you have considered that possibility.”

Mrs. Clinton gave a curt three-word reply: “No I haven’t.”

In that fleeting nanosecond, Hillary’s expression went from incredulous, to ice cold, to scary-condescending. You’ve got to see this to believe it.

0:20 video linked at the Huffington Post.

29 Nov 2007

Name Those Whales!

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Greenpeace thinks it has found the way to defeat the clever Japanese, who manage to harvest hump-backed whales in defiance of an international ban on whaling… “for research.” After they’ve been “researched,” you see, Japan’s harvested whales are not simply discarded, but instead manage to find their way to Japanese dining tables.

This year Greenpeace (couch-Eco-warriors that they are) is following the humpback whales by satellite, and proposes to save them by asking its website’s bleating moonbat readers to select a name. Once they’ve named the puppy, the theory is that presumably it will be that much easier to guilt the Japanese about eating it.

And what a choice of names!


Again, from Karen L. Myers.

29 Nov 2007

Beowulf Meets the 21st-Century Guilt Trip

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Stephen T. Asma provides an agreeably erudite assessment of the new Robert Zemeckis film Beowulf in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Beowulf seems to join the ranks of other recent films that champion pre-Christian masculine virtues. History-based blockbuster hits like Zach Snyder and Frank Miller’s film 300 (about the battle of Thermopylae) or HBO’s series Rome, are unapologetic celebrations of macho competence. The popularity of these pseudohistorical films took many media pundits by surprise, but the audiences who felt the testosterone buzz from the hero stories (myself included) were not surprised in the least. And the experience is not just the visceral Freudian holiday of aggression that one finds in inferior action and slasher pictures. Rather, there is a distinct sympathy for honor culture in these films — brute strength, tribal loyalty, and stoic courage actually get things done.

Academe finds all this loathsome and backward, and, of course, our liberal culture is ostensibly opposed to the social hierarchies, patriarchy, and chauvinism of older honor cultures. But narratives and representations about heroic strength (even flawed and misdirected) remain deeply satisfying for many people. …

the Zemeckis film has found a way to have its cake and eat it too. At one level, our reptilian brain gets to thoroughly enjoy the triumphant ass-kicking of a take-charge hero, but up in our neocortex we pay our penance for this thrill by morally condemning the protagonist — scolding Beowulf and ourselves for the momentary power trip.

Beowulf might survive Grendel. But in going up against the 21st-century guilt trip, he may have met his match.

One observation: Asma does notes that:

The film cleverly ties Beowulf’s final monster fight to the earlier episodes with Grendel and his mother (something the original fails to do). By transforming Grendel’s mother into a femme fatale seductress, they’ve found a way simultaneously to further demonstrate Beowulf’s flaws, give the female lead more dimensionality (albeit uncharitably), and connect the denouement to the earlier story.

But Asma fails to observe that Christian and medieval myth elements have been, in the film, skillfully interwoven to fill out the original poem’s plot. Grendel’s mother has been made into an aquatic faery, a treacherous and seductive Melusine, bent upon tricking the mortal hero into a degrading intercourse productive of his own flawed offspring and Nemesis. The human hero is thus forced, in the end, to fight against (and inevitably to be destroyed by) his own sin.


Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

28 Nov 2007

Pundits Speculate on Hillary’s Moves

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Dick Morris predicts that Hillary will respond to Obama’s Iowa challenge with the Clinton machine’s traditional no-holds-barred attack dog politics.

As her once-formidable lead in national polls dwindles and Barack Obama moves ahead of her in the all-important Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton will likely intensify her negative campaign against her rivals.

The Clintons’ political MO has always had a good dose of negative campaigning, especially when the going gets rough. There’s no reason to assume that they will alter their game plan now. …

Their favored method of getting out negative material about their foes is to hire private investigators to dig up dirt, which they then release through feeds to friendly journalists.

Consider the Lewinsky scandal. When Linda Tripp got to be a danger, the Clinton people released her Pentagon personnel file to Jane Mayer (then a reporter for The New Yorker). A federal judge later reprimanded two Clinton operatives for this violation, and the government had to pay Tripp more than $600,000 – but the damage was still done.

Meanwhile, Clinton staffer (and Hillary favorite) Sidney Blumenthal peddled the line that Monica was a stalker to journalist Christopher Hitchens. And White House operatives told ABC News’ Linda Douglas of incoming House Speaker Bob Livingstone’s infidelity scandal before it was made public.

In the ’92 presidential campaign, the Clintons openly disclosed their use of private detectives to dig up ammunition on women who had accused the presidential candidate of having affairs with them, disclosing that they paid detective Richard Palladino over $100,000 in campaign funds. But, of late, they avoid such embarrassing disclosures by hiding their detective bills in their legal expenses.


Meanwhile, James Lewis, at American Thinker, suggests that Hillary is so downright nefarious that she planted the press rumors of a lesbian affair as a diabolically clever means of self-immunization.

So you’re Hillary Clinton, and your past can’t withstand examination. What do you do? Well, try a little Black PR operation.

Call it a pre-emptive self-inflicted smear. Because you know your shady past is bound to come up, and a lot of that stuff happens to be verifiable. (Who does Norman Hsu remind you of?)

So you need to discredit so-called “Swift Boating” — which actually means telling the truth about you.

You plant in the London Times a truly outrageous and false rumor about your relationship with Huma, your young and beautiful Saudi aide. Along with a picture of you two walking side by side. Then you discredit the Huma Ruma. That’s pretty easy, because it’s false.

Huma Abedin relationship rumor postings


Hillary is clearly inspiring fear of just what she might be capable of in some quarters.

27 Nov 2007

The So-Called American Empire

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Jonah Goldberg, in the LA Times (now asking for registration), demolishes the leftwing fantasy of the American Empire.

Critics of American foreign policy point to the fact that the U.S. does many things that empires once did — police the seas, deploy militaries abroad, provide a lingua franca and a global currency — and then rest their case. But noting that X does many of the same things as Y does not mean that X and Y are the same thing. The police provide protection, and so does the Mafia. Orphanages raise children, but they aren’t parents. If your wife cleans your home, tell her she’s the maid because maids also clean homes. See how well that logic works.

When they speak of the American empire, critics fall back on cartoonish notions, invoking Hollywoodized versions of ancient Rome or mothballed Marxist caricatures of the British Raj. But unlike the Romans or even the British, our garrisons can be ejected without firing a shot. We left the Philippines when asked. We may split from South Korea in the next few years under similar circumstances. Poland wants our military bases; Germany is grumpy about losing them. When Turkey, a U.S. ally and member of NATO, refused to let American troops invade Iraq from its territory, the U.S. government said “fine.” We didn’t invade Iraq for oil (all we needed to do to buy it was lift the embargo), and we’ve made it clear that we’ll leave Iraq if the Iraqis ask.

The second verse of the anti-imperial lament, sung in unison by liberals and libertarians, goes like this: Expansion of the military-industrial complex leads to contraction of freedom at home. But historically, this is a hard sell. Women got the vote largely thanks to World War I. President Truman, that consummate Cold Warrior, integrated the Army, and the civil rights movement escalated its successes even as we escalated the Cold War and our presence in Vietnam. President Reagan built up the military even as he liberalized the economy.

Sure Naomi Wolfe, Frank Rich and other leftists believe that the imperialistic war on terror has turned America into a police state. But if they were right, they wouldn’t be allowed to say that.

27 Nov 2007


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Gorman Beauchamp demolishes, and then dances over the corpse of, one of principal idiocies of our time.

Fifty years ago, New American Library published the Mentor Philosophers series, each with a title beginning The Age of . . . Belief, Ideology, Reason, and so on; the 20th-century selections bore the title The Age of Analysis. Had the series continued to the end of that century and into this, the volume should no doubt be The Age of Apology. Our postmodern ethos seems to hold that if anything can be proved to have happened, then surely someone needs to apologize for it.

We live amid a veritable tsunami of apology. The Catholic Church, which, of course, has much to apologize for, has, of late, offered mea culpas to Galileo, the Jews, the gypsies, Jan Hus, whom it burned at the stake in 1415, even to Constantinople (now Istanbul) for its sacking 800 years ago by the knights of the Fourth Crusade, an event for which the late John Paul II expressed “deep regret.” No wonder that a group in England, claiming descent from the medieval Knights Templars, is asking the Vatican to apologize for the violent suppression of the order and for torturing to death its Grand Master Jacques de Molay in 1314, an apology timed to commemorate the 700th anniversary of that fell deed. In America, the National Council of Churches apologized to Native Americans for Europeans’ discovering their continent and appropriating their land (but did not return any church’s specific holdings to any specific tribe). The United Church of Canada followed suit, officially apologizing to Canada’s native peoples for wrongs inflicted by the church; the native peoples, however, officially rejected the apology.

The current lieutenant governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, personally presented the leaders of the Mormon church with a copy of his state legislature’s House Resolution 793, expressing “official regret” for the 1844 murder of Joseph Smith and the expulsion of his followers, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The language asking for “pardon and forgiveness” was toned down when certain lawmakers protested that they could not ask for forgiveness for acts that they had not personally committed — a retrograde notion, apparently, of individual responsibility. Tony Blair, as British prime minister, apologized to the Irish for his nation’s insensitivity to the plight of the victims of the Potato Famine in the 1840s. A hundred years after the event, the U.S. Congress offered a formal apology to the Hawaiians for the overthrow of their monarchy in 1893. The French parlement unanimously adopted a law stating that “the trans-Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trade, perpetuated from the 15th century against Africans, Amerindians, Malagasies and Indians, constitutes a crime against humanity”: the centuries of slavery before the 15th and the slavery of other peoples do not, apparently, constitute such a crime, at least in France.

In 2005 the U.S. Senate formally apologized for something that it had not done: make lynching a federal crime. Such a record of inaction, claimed one of the resolution’s sponsors, constituted a “stain on the United States Senate.” True enough, no doubt, but one of how many? Imagine if the United States or any other government began apologizing not only for sins of commission but for those of omission: an infinite regress of culpability.

My favorite apology so far, however, appeared in a brief Reuters account. “Villagers of the tiny settlement of Nubutautau [Fiji] wept as they apologized to the descendants of a British missionary killed and eaten by their ancestors 136 years ago,” the news agency reported. “The villagers and the relatives of the missionary, the Rev. Thomas Baker, were taking part in a complex ritual intended to lift a curse the locals say has caused an extended run of bad luck.” A cow was slaughtered and kisses given to the 11 relatives of the missionary by the village chief, Ratu Filimoni Nawawabalavu, “a descendant of the chief who cooked the missionary.” No word on whether the curse lifted. …

Our mania for apology stems from a radical sort of “presentism”: the belief, in practice, if not fully articulated, that the actions and actors of the past should be evaluated, and usually condemned, by present-day standards. In our relativistic age in which advanced opinion notoriously eschews universals and absolutes, the criteria obtaining at the moment in Cambridge and Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor and Palo Alto, Austin and Madison seem to have more than contingent status. The criteria appear perilously close to absolutes, the sort of absolutes obeisance to which allows moderately competent graduate students in sociology or culture studies to relish their moral superiority to almost any denizen of the benighted pre-Foucault past. One has only to listen to the incredulous-to-hostile laughter that, at academic conferences, greets the opinions of, say, Henry Adams or Thomas Carlyle on the mental capacities of women, or of Hegel or Hume on Africans, commonplace a century or two ago, to understand how relative our relativism really is.

Presentism wants not only to judge the past by the criteria of the present, but, in a complete failure of historical imagination, can’t conceive of the criteria of the future being radically different from today’s.

Don’t miss the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Nov 2007

The Unpopularity of the US Abroad

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Dennis Praeger explains the fundamental, underlying dynamic:

One of the most widely held beliefs in the contemporary world — so widely held it is not disputed — is that, with few exceptions, the world hates America. One of the Democrats’ major accusations against the Bush administration is that it has increased hatred of America to unprecedented levels. And in many polls, the United States is held to be among the greatest obstacles to world peace and harmony.

But it is not true that the world hates America. It is the world’s left that hates America. However, because the left dominates the world’s news media and because most people, understandably, believe what the news media report, many people, including Americans, believe that the world hates America.

26 Nov 2007

Screenwriters on Strike

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There is something inevitably risible about millionaire Hollywood writers leaving their Malibu mansions and climbing into their Bentleys and Ferraris to play “striking worker” and walk the picket line. Even the liberal New York Times was moved to report sardonically on what it described as the “curious spectacle of a glamour strike.”

Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jane Hamsher approvingly reports, was stung by the Times’ condescension. After all, the workers’ land and bread are at stake.

We’re talking about the stories that define our nation’s popular culture – a huge part of its identity. These are the people that think those up. Working writers.

“The trappings of a union protest…” You see how that works? Since we aren’t real workers, this isn’t a real union issue. (We’re just a guild!) And that’s where all my ‘what is a writer’ rambling becomes important. Because this IS a union issue, one that will affect not just artists but every member of a community that could find itself at the mercy of a machine that absolutely and unhesitatingly would dismantle every union, remove every benefit, turn every worker into a cowed wage-slave in the singular pursuit of profit. (There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.) This is about a fair wage for our work. No different than any other union. The teamsters have recognized the importance of this strike, for which I’m deeply grateful. Hopefully the Times will too.

Joss Whedon, and some of the compatriots in the writing trade he mentioned, are a spectacularly talented bunch of people who have provided some very admirable entertainment. In the nature of things, these people individually possess extraordinary and highly negotiable talents, which are not easily replaced. People like Joss Whedon, when corporations fail to cooperate, can readily turn producer and become corporations themselves at will.

Fox mistreated Whedon’s Firefly Sci Fi series, and Whedon responded with a hit movie demonstrating just how stupid Fox Television executives really were. Presumably the guy who decided to drop Firefly and kill Angel is now selling insurance in Omaha.

Successful screenwriters are not in the least short of leverage in negotiating with the studios, and it is all just business anyway. The appropriate deal is just a matter for negotiation. There is no such thing as an abstractly “fair wage.” Multi-millionaires squabbling over shares of remote residual marketing rights are a long, long way from working for wages, and no amount of rhetoric will elicit a lot of sympathy from the rest of us.

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