Friday, December 31, 2004

Year-in-Review 6
Jeff Jacoby offers a round up of the year's liberal hate speech: "Overwhelmingly, though, political hate speech today comes from the left. It has increasingly become a habit of leftist argumentation to simply dismiss conservative ideas as evil or noxious rather than rebut them with facts and evidence."

He points out some staggering quotes, and does a great round-up of the ever-fun Hitler comparisons. Check 'er out.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Made it
Well, I'm safe and sound in California. I'll be running around a bit today, so I probably won't have much time for posting, but I'll try to throw something up later tonight.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Take a breath
I know this may be a heartbreaking thought for you, but I'll be in transit all day today. Yes, that's right, I won't be blogging, as I'm on my way to California to visit the girlfriend.

If she lets me, maybe you'll see a post or two later tonight, but otherwise don't expect it. And blogging will be light (but it'll happen—I did promise you some year-end posts, after all) over the next week or so, as I'll probably be a bit busy. Sorry, but I promise blogging will resume its normal schedule in the new year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Year-in-Review 5
Michael Barone says: "The left is left with nostalgia." What does he mean? That liberals, who used to be all about changing society, are now fighting to remain in the past, sounding identical to their predecessors.

And you'd think this one by Dante Chinni would be right up my alley. It is, after all, titled "New Year's resolutions for the red and blue," and relates the holiday experience of families to political parties. It's interesting, but doesn't offer any amazing insight.

Year-in-Review 4
David Brooks brings us the second installment of his "Hookie" awards. Read on.

Irwin Stelzer gives his take on the last 365 days.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Year-in-Review 3
The Year Of Blogging Dangerously is a great piece by Ed Driscoll, summarizing the top ten blog events of the year. Enjoy it.

Year-in-Review 2
Daniel Drezner's contribution is worthwhile, though a few weeks old.

Year-in-Review 1
(author's note: all posts pointing to external year-end columns will be titled "Year-in-Review" followed by a number for your viewing pleasure, instead of simply updating an older post. My year-end post(s) will be titled "2004 in Review" followed by a number.) Pete DuPont offers a good summary of international changes brought about over the last year. Take a look.

It's that time of year again
Which time? The inter-holiday season—those days between Christmas and New Years.

For many people, this is a time of relaxation, a time for a breath of air after the Christmas madness before students and teachers return to school. For others, today represents a return to the tedium of work before the few days off that come with New Year's. Of course, all of this varies a bit depending upon what day of the week the holidays fall on. For example, this year, New Year's Day is a weekend, and results in no additional days off.

My inter-holiday season, however, is a little different—it consists of reading all of the year end wrap-up columns by every columnist in the country. This is exhausting work. Often, contributions are useless and add nothing substantial to any national intellectual conversation, perhaps because, as Lileks pointed out on Christmas Eve, he had to write his first post-Christmas column almost a week before Christmas. Luckily, I haven't run into any of those as yet.

Many of these columns, however, turn into gems. So far, I've particularly liked two: those by David Brooks with his choices for the best political essays of the year and the hilarious Dave Barry year-in-review. I recommend you check them both out.

At some point, I will endeavor to do my own sum-up. If I find the time (I'll be in transit for a week starting on Wednesday, so that's iffy) I might even break it up into a few posts on different topics. At the very least, I'll try to key you into some of the better year closers.

In the meantime, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and find yourselves stuffed with holiday goodies.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas
This is the first of what I hope will be a long line of Christmas Day blogs. I had a whole essay planned out in my head, thought through in detail over the past few days—but I wanted to save the actual writing for Christmas Day itself. Little did I know that the events of Christmas Eve would completely change what I had to say. Luckily, the new thoughts can still tie into the articles I intended to include, so hopefully this won't be too disjointed. Before you read what I have to say, I want you each to know how grateful I am that you are visiting my site. I don't have nearly the readership of the Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivans of the world, but fundamentally I blog to be read. It is my readership that keeps me coming back, and that encourages me to do better each time (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I often fall short of improvement, but what can you do?). So thank you for your presence—and Merry Christmas to you and all of your loved ones.

When I was a little boy, Christmas Eve did not mean very much in the grand scheme of things. At about 3:00 I had to put on my little khaki pants, my little navy blazer, and a tie, to head over to the church for choir rehearsal. We would rehearse for an hour and a half or so, before singing the choral prelude, followed by the Christmas Service itself. Afterward, we would go to the house of some fellow parishioners and stay until around the time that people started leaving to go to the midnight mass—at which point we would go home, and my brother and I would head to bed.

Most of this, in my mind, simply led up to the next morning. That, of course, was the entire point of the holiday: presents. I was young enough that I didn't really care about the religious aspect of the day. "Sure, baby Jesus was born, and he was God or something, right? Now, what was that about a new computer game?" I was the stereotypical, consumer-driven American automaton.

Over the past four years or so, however, I've grown quite a bit spiritually. I'm still an Episcopalian, as I was raised. I love the tradition, particularly of the high church with its chanting and incense and so on. And I love Christmas for those reasons—because I am back in the church where I was raised, singing the hymns I know, with my family and the people I grew up around. That's comforting. It feels good. Christmas, yes, is a time of love and family. Of showing one another how much we care.

But I love Christmas even more because of itself. I love the way it inspires me to introspective questions of faith. I love the way I am so confident in my belief that millennia ago, a baby was born to a virgin woman—and that baby was fully God and fully man, come to earth to save us from ourselves. This used to be a big sticking point for me, as it really sounds like a science fiction tale. But more and more I find myself unable to accept a world without God. As a fellow Episcopalian put it this week: "Of course, the human mind can be deceived. But there are some matters in which internal human experience can neither be usefully dissected nor practically gainsaid. One may refuse to accept that there is a meaningful concept of God as one may refuse to accept that there is a meaningful concept of beauty or love. But what is such a refusal in balance with the kiss of your soul mate, or the playing of a Bach cantata, or the overwhelming awareness of God's guidance and care?"

And we can debate the usefulness of Christmas in a secular society, as I've done for about two weeks now, or what actually happened over two thousand years ago, or even why we celebrate Christmas when we do, but none of it, none, even approaches that central theme of this date. We are able to spend it in love with family and friends because God has granted us that ability. In His infinite love, we are given leave to love one another, to tolerate those who disagree with us, and to find happiness in the simplest things, be it a holiday snowfall, a warm bed, a kind gift from a loved one, or even just a day off from work. We are free, thanks to His kindness, and we must always remember that the only thing he wishes of us, the only way he expects us to repay him is with peace and goodwill towards men.

I'll leave you with my favorite gospel passage, in my favorite translation. This is Luke, chapter 2, verses 1 through 14, and, as Charlie Brown learns in A Charlie Brown Christmas, it is what Christmas is truly all about. This is how God came into the world, and whether you believe in it or not, this is what the miracle of Christmas is all about:

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Important enough for a Christmas wish
This is something of which I hope to see more.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

This is one of the most adorable things I have ever read.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Dumber than fiction?
Here is a true scan of the New York StateU. S. Electoral College 2004 Certificate. If you can't figure out what's wrong, look closely at the name chosen for President. Apparently, John F. Kerry got 31 fewer electoral votes than we expected. No, wait, 32, thanks to that mystery faithless elector in Minnesota.

Electoral College voters were disenfranchised! Where's Jesse Jackson when you need him?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Another Christmas Round-Up
Don't try to tell me that it's about the commercialization of christmas; it's about much more than that.

Say 'Merry Christmas' while you still can: "In one New Jersey school district, the annual trip to see Dickens's A Christmas Carol has been cancelled after threats of legal action. At another New Jersey school, the policy on not singing any songs mentioning God, Christ, angels, etc, has been expanded to prohibit instrumental performances of music that would mention God if any singers were around to sing the words. So you can't do Silent Night as a piano solo or Handel's Messiah even if you junk the hallelujahs." That's just absurd, and pathetic—and completely unrelated to commercialism.

And EJ Dionne gets his fisking: "But while the old Dionne would have written about the need to make space for the religious in public life, today's column makes only a glancing comment about intolerance among the anti-religious and spends most of its column-inches denouncing those who want to see some mangers, trees, and actual Christmas carols as 'pounding' those of a different tribe."

UPDATE [12/22/2004 - 10:20]: Lileks responds to a fisking of his earlier christmas column. Once again, he does a great job of expressing my interest in the subject: "For that matter I suspect that 98.025 of the population has no trouble with Merry Christmas shouted long and loud and clear this time of the year. Why, then, do the retail giants and big corporations seem to get a frozen Joker-smile when you bring it up? Yes, I know. Macy's says 'Merry Christmas' in tiny type on their website; dandy. But Southdale, the nation's first enclosed shopping mall, hung MERRY CHRISTMAS in six-foot tall letters in 1963. This year? Not a word. Big candles, though. If you don't think that's an interesting development, or wonder why it happened or what it means, fine."

Let me make it clear once and for all: I do not feel in any way threatened by society's current unwillingness to say "Merry Christmas," or by the exclusion of Christmas from public life. Why am I not threatened? Because I am strong enough in my own faith that I don't need everyone around me to share or even recognize it to bolster my self-confidence. Like Lileks, however, I find this evolution of societal rules interesting; and perhaps a little more severely than Lileks, I find it sad. I think it's too bad that so many are disturbed by the traditional public display of the Christmas season. I think it's silly, and ignorant, to pretend that singing a Christmas song in a public school is a dangerous activity. I think we are reaching the point where we so shelter our kids that in a few generations they will be unable to deal with the real world. We are overly protective of every aspect of life now, and so worried about offending other people that we go too far. When you can establish for me that Christmas is a dangerous influence on non-Christians, I'll shut up. But in the meantime, it's silly to be so hyper-sensitive.

I think I've figured it out
Finally, I think I understand why the Left can't figure out how to win elections. Amazingly, the clue came to me from Daily Kos's musings on why the President won reelection: "The left is already working to build it's own version of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy -- the $300 million annual machine that developes the conservative message (think tanks), disseminates it to the public (Fox News, Rush), and trains their leaders in how to wield it."

So, what did I gleam from this? The Left just doesn't get that they already have their own mass-dissemination system—that the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy rose in response to the fact that we were out-messaged at every turn. What develops the liberal message? All of academia. What disseminates it to the public? The entire news media aside from Fox News and conservative talk radio. It's the last step that they never got right: training their leaders how to use it.

As long as they continue to deny their strength, they'll continue to fail to make use of it. Which, of course, is fine with me.

Monday, December 20, 2004

More on Christmas
John Leo: "Some PC people have begun to argue that even 'Jingle Bells' is a church-state no-no. Santa Claus, a totally secular figure, is controversial because he was originally based on St. Nicholas. Horrors . Then let's ban the word goodbye, which evolved from 'God be with you.'"

Right on target. This is going to ridiculous lengths, and we are to the point of protecting the minority at the expense of the VAST majority. 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas in some form or another. Can we get past the 5% and realize that if they are strong enough to insist that we stop celebrating in public, then they are strong enough to deal with that celebration?

I want to get back to the old way of doing things. How would I know what that was like? Well, my standard is pretty low—I just want to get to the point where, in church, on Christmas Eve, the person in front of me turns and says "Merry Christmas." These days, everyone is so conditioned to avoid that awful 'C' word that, even in that context, I am more likely to hear "Happy Holidays."

UPDATE [12/21/2004 - 12:22]: My posting on DailyKos has led more than a few critics of conservative theory to visit my blog, and comment on this post specifically (they're too lazy to scroll down, apparently). This, in turn, has spawned frustrated responses from me. As a result, James has mad a very accurate observation

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Personal Record
According to my Site Meter counter, I'm about to hit 10,000 visitors since this site's inception.

UPDATE [12/19/2004 - 21:43]: I crossed 10,000 at 9:38 PM Eastern. Congratulations to me.

Blue-state Living
It ain't cheap: "One index of cost-of-living differentials shows that an income of $130,000 in Connecticut is equivalent to $90,000 in Oklahoma. That means families at those incomes are equally well-off and under standard tax theories about fairness should pay the same share of their income in taxes. Currently, a family of four making $130,000 pays $20,450 in income taxes, or 15.7%, while the family making $90,000 pays $8,450, or 9.4%. If both families were taxed at the Oklahoma rate, the Connecticut family would pay $8,200 less."

Somehow doesn't sound quite fair to me.

Pretty Cool
Sometimes it feels really good to be an American.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Um, no. - Report: Schwarzenegger urges GOP left turn: "California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested in a German newspaper interview published Saturday that the Republican Party should move 'a little to the left,' a shift that he said would allow it to pick up new voters."

While I generally approve of what Ahnold has acheived in office, I must disagree with him here. As the image at the top of this site suggests, I am slightly opposed to a political left turn. If you haven't picked up on that yet, I apologize — I'll try to be more clear in the future.

Good for them. Really, I mean it. - French spy satellite launched into orbit: "A European rocket roared into space from a pad in South America on Saturday, placing into orbit a surveillance satellite billed as giving France's military new abilities to spy worldwide."

'Thanks to this newest addition to our military arsenal, we will be able to react much more quickly to emerging threats. This will enable us to stop running away, instead trotting, or perhaps even walking, under cover of a white flag.'

And when France, newly inspired by their military prowess, stupidly decides to declare war on the US, we will swat their satellite out of the sky. And whoever our president might be at that time will respond by saying: this.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Revamped Return of the King
I agreed with Jonathan Last's commentary when Return of the King came out last year. So, his new thoughts on the extended version have me excited to see it: "THE FINAL VERDICT on Return of the King: Extended Edition can only be positive. This chapter is still the weakest of the trilogy, but it is a weakling now worthy of celebration in its own right."

Oh. My. God.
This is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I can't help but smile
I'm grateful for her work on the recent campaign, but I must also admit that I'm glad to have Peggy Noonan back, writing at the WSJ. Her first few columns after Election Day failed to wow me, to knock my socks off the way she often does. But today, she's back in her typical style. I'll let you read it for yourself, rather than summarizing it, but suffice it to say, she's close to my own heart on this one.

James Lileks wrote a piece for the Chicago Star Tribune this week, along similar lines.

Read them both. I've got my own story on the topic, but I have an exam in a little over an hour, so I'll save it for another time. Enjoy!

UPDATE [12/17/2004 - 7:43]: Charles Krauthammer adds more on this subject today. Since, we're likely to see much more coverage of these issues over the next few days, I might as well supply my own thoughts on the issue.

The topic, in case you've been too lazy to click-through above, is public display of Christianity, especially as it relates to Christmas. Now, I've written to defend the expression of religion in political beliefs before, so you can probably figure out where I come down on this issue, as well.

I'm with Krauthammer: leave Christmas alone. Do we really need to ban Christmas carols in school performances at this time of year? Honestly? When I was little, we still called them Christmas Concerts. Then they became known as Holiday Concerts, and we made sure to include at least one Hannukah song. Now, they're increasingly referred to as Winter Concerts, and devoid of any religious suggestion whatsoever. You can still sing Christmas songs, of course, so long as they're secular.

But here's the problem with that line of thinking: Christmas isn't secular. Say what you want, but Christmas is about Christ. "Oh, well, still it has a secular side, and you can talk about Rudolph and Santa and so forth without talking about religion." Really? You think? Are you completely unaware that Santa is a derivation of Saint Nicholas? The fact is, if you want to deal with Christmas at all, it's impossible to draw a secular line.

So don't deal with Christmas at all, right? Sing about Frosty instead of Rudolph? My question is: why?

The reasons behind these restrictions are based on protecting the minority from the majority, and not forcing religion on those who would choose against it. Effectively, the same arguments made against school prayer are turned to school concerts and creches on public grounds. The assertion is that God has no place in public, and that those who do believe in Him have no right to show that in public places.

So, there are two issues here. The first is pretty simple: singing about baby Jesus in a school concert is probably inappropriate; singing about Christmas, Santa, Rudolph, whatever other topics are common in holiday kids songs are fine in elementary schools; add that "dreidel dreidel dreidel, I made it out of clay," song too, for good measure. At higher levels (high school and so forth) it is completely appropriate to sing religiously-based music, because the majority of classical music (particularly the canon) falls into the religious category. To sing good choral music, you have to consider religious music, period.

The other issue, public displays of creches or other religious symbols, is the same I've delt with in the past. (Start by reading this.) I maintain that the Establishment Clause is about preventing a state-mandated religion, and preventing Congress from infringing on the public's right to choose its own religions. My personal opinion is that neither a public display of religion, even by a government official, nor a governmental body's recognition of a common religious practice infringes on those who do not share that religion. If you are so insecure in your beliefs that you cannot stand up to the fact that other people believe what they do, then maybe you should be worrying about simpler things.

Anyway, I'm just rambling, so I'll wrap it up: my beliefs have no bearing on yours. Yes, kids are impressionable, but they also don't understand what is being suggested by christmas songs in the first place. Honestly, it's absurd to be so threatened by a holiday celebrated by upwards of 90-95% of American citizens. As long as public displays are open to anyone that wants to set something up (they are - First Amendment), then religious displays should not be an exception. And, if you really think they should, then anyone with a Christmas tree should make sure to keep it out of the window.

UPDATE [12/18/2004 - 21:39]: Still more, from The Weekly Standard.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

GESO Supports Self
Another piece of non-news from the Yale Daily News: "About 60 percent of Yale's graduate teaching assistants who are teaching this semester support graduate student unionization, according to a Graduate Employees and Student Organization membership card count, the results of which were released at GESO's membership meeting Tuesday."

The YDN headline describes this by saying: "Most teaching assistants support unionization."
Ummm. That's like saying "Most working Americans wish they made more money."
A union would help TAs, of course they favor it. Doesn't mean they should get it.

Paging Monsieur Hoover, Monsieur J. Edgar Hoover
Political Wire: The Spies Under Napolean's Tomb: "'A former French spy chief has revealed how a bunker beneath Napoleon's tomb was used by hundreds of secret policemen to monitor the conversations of politicians, writers and celebrities,' the Times of London reports.

'Abusing the near absolute powers of the French presidency,' the late President Francois Mitterrand 'set up a cell of security officials in the Elysee Palace to protect secrets' and 'keep tabs on his enemies.'"

That is just incredible. And strangely reminiscent of a certain FBI Director in American history that is roundly condemned in modern consideration.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Important to Remember
Rowan Atkinson in reference to a proposed British law to forbid criticism of religion (via Andrew Sullivan): "To criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous but to criticise their religion - that is a right. That is a freedom..
The freedom to criticise ideas - any ideas even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society.
And the law which attempts to say you can criticise or ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed.
It all points to the promotion of the idea that there should be a right not to be offended. But in my view the right to offend is far more important than any right not to be offended.
The right to ridicule is far more important to society than any right not to be ridiculed because one in my view represents openness - and the other represents oppression."

True. But this is also precisley the objection I've raised before to condemning a person's contribution to public debate because they are religiously based. The entire idea of freedom is, in fact, the ability to debate ideas free from restraint. Towards that end, it is necessary to include all ideas in the debate. It was Voltaire who said "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I am increasingly bothered by the number of my peers that tell me they think religious beliefs should be banned from public discourse. There is simply no reality in which a secular belief is inherently better than a religious one.

Lileks illustrates this point today as well: "From the most recent Entertainment Weekly, a review of 'Wife Swap': 'Any show could force a vegan mom to live with a gun-toting dad . . . but this one does it with love. Adding to the fun of playing Who's Crazier? (this week it's tattooed punk rockers who take their kids for piercings vs. Southern Baptists who punish their daughter by making her write Bible verses) . . .'

Is it too late for me to vote for the family that takes the kids to a shop to have needles driven through their skin as slightly crazier. The proper response — and by that I mean the one right-thinking moderns are supposed to have, automatically — is that whoo-boy, they're both nuts! Bible verses? Eww. Piercing the kids? Eww too, although, you know, ear piercing used to be considered odd, and, whatever. As if getting Junior an eyebrow ring is somehow as peculiar as making your daughter write 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' a few hundred times."

Liberal popular culture has brought us to the point where hedonism is considered more valuable than moralistic religion. That scares me. No, religion should not be valued above other belief systems, or personal anarchy of thought, but it certainly should not be subjugated to them either. It's all worth considering. Please feel free to comment.

Another stupid law
A fourth-grade girl has been suspended for taking to school something that looked like 'Jell-O shots': "The girl was suspended for violating school rules against possessing or trying to distribute a 'lookalike,' or something that appears to contain drugs or alcohol."

So, um, now are we going to start suspending kids for carrying water bottles? After all, it looks an awful lot like vodka. Or maybe apple-juice bottles—I remember a pirate-themed birthday party when I was little, where we drank mugs of apple juice because it looked like beer.

Put the kid back in school, as this is a stupid rule, and the article implies it's her mother's fault anyway. Why are we punishing kids for stupid infractions based on the actions of stupid parents?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

December 7, 1941
This was a previous generation's 9/11, to frame it crudely. This was the day that the nation woke up and realized that beligerent powers had engaged the entire planet in war, and that the US could no longer afford to be silent. We did not blindly rush off and destroy those who had directly attacked us, then declaring ourselves safe. No, we went to Europe, and defeated Hitler first, recognizing that the true threat was anyone that would seek to control other nations.

There's still a lot of mystery around the attack on Pearl Harbor; some people even wonder if perhaps FDR knew the attack was coming and used it to spurr the American people into war. What is known is that the US did rise to meet the threat, and defeated the German and Japanese war machines, liberating millions along the way.

I won't link this to my generation's awakening, except to say that I hope we can continue to respond as they did. I pray that the people will realize that Al Quaeda may have attacked us, but they are only an example of the threat—an example of a much bigger enemy.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A New Look
It's been a while since I changed the format of the site, and in the midst of my overwhelming amounts of paper-writing, I need breaks. So, I reworked the site pretty extensively.

Your job? I need feedback, so please click the comment link below and let me know what you think. I will not take personal offense to anything said, as long as you contribute something.


Friday, December 03, 2004

Well, we've made the Wall Street Journal again, and for all the wrong reasons: "A recent informal survey at Yale, where students answered questions about academic freedom posed by the Yale Free Press, the conservative/libertarian student paper, also deserves attention. Although the entire first run of its November issue containing the study was stolen on campus, it can be downloaded at To sum up: While some Yalies said that politics either didn't arise in class or caused no problem because they shared the professor's views, others recounted unpleasant experiences. One example:
'My teacher came into class the day after the election proclaiming, "That's it. This is the death of America." The rest of the class was eager to agree, and twenty minutes of Bush-bashing ensued. At one point, one student asked our teacher whether she should be so vocal, lest any students be conservatives. She then asked us whether any of us were Republicans. Naturally, no one volunteered that information, whereupon our teacher turned to the inquisitive student and said, "See? No one in here would be stupid enough to vote for Bush." ' "

Unfortunately, this is all too common, and I know plenty of conservatives who've had similar experiences. I had a class last year that contained so much Bush-bashing from the professor (a lecture class with no response forum available) that once or twice I found myself packing up noisily, standing, making eye contact with the professor, and walking out. Sure, I still got a good grade because he had no idea what my name was, but it was still an extremely awkward environment where I was supposed to be learning something useful about politics and its relation to the media.

Sigh. On the plus side, I find myself more capable of debating the logic behind conservatism thanks to the intolerance found at this school. I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

UPDATE [12/3/2004 - 17:02]: All of this via InstaPundit.

The Boston Globe reports on A left-wing monopoly on campuses: "Today campus leftism is not merely prevalent. It is radical, aggressive, and deeply intolerant, as another newly minted graduate of another prominent university -- Ben Shapiro of UCLA -- shows in 'Brainwashed,' a recent bestseller. 'Under higher education's facade of objectivity,' Shapiro writes, 'lies a grave and overpowering bias' -- a charge he backs up with example after freakish example of academics going to ideological extremes[...]

At about the same time, a poll of Ivy League professors commissioned by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture found that more than 80 percent of those who voted in 2000 had cast their ballots for Democrat Al Gore while just 9 percent backed Republican George W. Bush. While 64 percent said they were "liberal" or "somewhat liberal," only 6 percent described themselves as "somewhat conservative' -- and none at all as 'conservative.'[...]

The New York Times reports that a new national survey of more than 1,000 academics shows Democratic professors outnumbering Republicans by at least 7 to 1 in the humanities and social sciences. At Berkeley and Stanford, according to a separate study that included professors of engineering and the hard sciences, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is even more lopsided: 9 to 1."

As I've pointed to before a great documentary has been made on the subject, viewable for free at

The Economist has a great piece covering a new book by Tom Wolfe, which satirizes (quite accurately, I might add from what I've read) the college life. They also relate it to the classic God and Man at Yale by Willian F. Buckley (both available at Amazon via links below). The main point: "Academia is simultaneously both the part of America that is most obsessed with diversity, and the least diverse part of the country. On the one hand, colleges bend over backwards to hire minority professors and recruit minority students, aided by an ever-burgeoning bureaucracy of 'diversity officers'. Yet, when it comes to politics, they are not just indifferent to diversity, but downright allergic to it."


UPDATE [12/3/2004 - 17:56]: Not everyone accepts the mounting evidence listed above as proof. Today's Yale Daily News offers a guest column by Kanishk Tharoor: "It is undeniable that Democrats disproportionately outnumber Republicans in the halls of higher education, yet this imbalance does not breed an atmosphere of censorship. Most Yalies would be hard-pressed to remember a single occasion of genuine political discrimination by a teacher against a student. Moreover, leftists often feel as embattled on campus as right-wingers."

Maybe he should read a bit more of the news before making his claims. Remember the Yale Free Press article I quoted earlier in this post (via the Wall Street Journal)? Well, here's another quote: "In many cases, I've had professors write on essays that they do not agree with a statement made or the viewpoint of my papers. In terms of analyzing a piece of literature, this may be acceptable. However, I've had this occur when writing on topical issues or opinions. And when asked why I received a certain grade, I've been told, 'I don't agree with your position.'"

And another: "It's not so much that I feel indoctrinated as I feel intimidated. In a small class, English class of 15, current political issues and figures are often discussed, with one side being ridiculed by the prof and students. I am the only one who doesn't share those views, but won't say so."

Mr. Tharoor may be right in his assertion that "Most Yalies would be hard-pressed to remember a single occasion of genuine political discrimination by a teacher against a student" I'll concede that. But maybe that's just an indication that most Yalies are liberal and totally oblivious to the real discrimination conservatives at this institution feel, and the chilling effect it has over us.

All I can hope is that all of this media coverage will eventually result in a less-liberal academic community in this country.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I've always said
...that it's a short step from supporting abortion based on terminal illness, or on the probability of an impoverished life, to saying "hey, this two year-old is terminally ill, so let's just kill him now." Well, the Netherlands has taken a step in that direction: "A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives."

Despicable and sickening. "Mercy killings of... newborns."

UPDATE [12/2/2004 - 21:02]: It's even worse than I thought. According to Hugh Hewitt: "The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12."

This is just disgusting, and Hewitt's analysis is spot-on in my opinion: "This is either a low point, or a point of no return. The establishment of "independent committees" to dispatch non-consenting humans is nothing but a death penalty committee for innocents. Once begun, it is impossible--simply impossible--to limit the concept with any bright line. Abortion, of course, has always been limited by the physical act of birth, and once out of the womb, only the most extreme "reproductive rights" advocates have argued that the baby's natural right to live can be compromised by the mother. But now the Netherlands has gone farther--much, much farther. If the "severely retarded" may be killed upon appropriate motion, second, debate, and majority vote, why not the moderately retarded? Why not the mildly retarded? Why not, in fact, anyone the "independent committee" deems as usefully dispatched."

How can anyone think this is ok? And why isn't it being covered by any of the national media?

What supporting the troops is all about
I wouldn't pretend to be able to explain this the same way as he does, so read what Russ Vaughn, a poet, has to say about supporting the troops: "You see, what I'm wholeheartedly for is the troops, and not in the sense that most liberal Americans profess to be, in that they believe they are demonstrating their support of the troops by calling for them to be brought home and removed from harm's way. If that's what you call supporting the troops, then take it from an old trooper who's been there and done that, the troops don't see you as supportive at all. They see you as undermining their mission, which is to go in harm's way, with deliberate intent to prevail by force of arms.
What the troops perceive as support is hearing you cheering not jeering when they are seriously kicking the butts of jihadi terrorists. So, on behalf of the troops you support, it's with you peace-at-any-price liberals and your synergistic media pals that I have an ax to grind."

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More on the Climate of Fear
The Yale Daily News reports today that copies of the Yale Free Press, a conservative magazine, were stolen. No big deal, right? Well, this was not as simple a theft as I just made it soud: "Approximately 2,400 issues, costing $600, were discarded, Feygin said. The magazine, which had been distributed to all 11 residential colleges and Swing Space, was stolen from all 12 locations."

There are no leads, and no signs of who the perpetrators might be. The only thing that is clear is that someone undertook a large-scale effort to stifle dissent on the Yale campus. Oh, and the ironic part? "Feygin and her staff said they were horrified at the theft of this month's issues, which Feygin said was particularly ironic as the issue addressed academic freedom at Yale. The issue featured a survey conducted by Yale's Students for Academic Freedom asking students whether they considered political freedom in the classroom to be an issue on campus. Feygin said the poll, which quoted anonymously what students had said in their survey replies, had angered some people.

'It's frustrating that the way of countering things that people don't like is to suppress them,' said YFP contributing writer William Britt '06, who discovered the issues missing from Morse College. 'We publish letters to the editor that put anyone who wants to in dialogue with the writers, so there's lots of space for people to disagree in a way that's more helpful.'"

This is a magazine that allows anyone to write in and disagree, with the right to be published in the next issue, writing a feature about the stiffling of dissent on campus. And what happens? The issue is stolen. I tell you, this campus, in some ways, gets worse and worse every day.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Awesome, Simply Awesome
Now there's VIDEO.
(And yes, I know the people who did this, and the majority of the people on the video. Harvard Sucks, Yale Rocks, and, since they were the masterminds behind it, The P is for the P in Pierson College, baby! If you don't go to Yale, or don't know anyone who does, email me if you'd like to know what that means.)

For the full story of what went on (a mere supplement to the video, really), check out the Yale Daily News.

Why we should all be Republicans
Pete DuPont offers a great column about why the Republican Party is growing in strength, and what some of us mean when we say that the Democrats are out of touch with America: "Rather than applauding Hillary Clinton's telling them last summer that their taxes must be raised because 'we're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good,' they prefer Newt Gingrich's observation that the Declaration of Independence's Pursuit of Happiness includes an active verb: 'Not happiness stamps; not a department of happiness; not therapy for happiness. Pursuit.'
If the Democratic Party allows itself to be defined by Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore and the editorial page of the New York Times, while Republicans, their president and their strengthened congressional majorities encourage the pursuit of happiness in an opportunity and ownership society, then Mr. and Mrs. America will make sure conservatives are in power for a great many years to come."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Height of Laziness
And clear evidence once and for all that Maureen Dowd looks at me the same way I look at her.

Her column today discusses her family, and their Thanksgiving interactions. Specifically, she describes them by saying "They're beyond red - more like crimson. My sister flew to West Virginia in October to work a phone bank for W."

God, how awful. Who could do such a thing? Making phone calls for the President's reelection campaign, especially one that won with a majority of votes, is just an absurdity. She must be a part of the lunatic right fringe.

She also reprints a letter written by her brother to family and friends. (This is where the laziness comes in—over half of her column is made up of her brother's words, not her own). The letter is a celebration of the President's reelection victory, and addresses the liberal fringe (including Ms. Dowd though he does not name her specifically), thanking them for their efforts toward that end.

She introduces the letter as if it's a representation of the most reactionary thought in the world, and I was all geared-up to read the words of a Limbaugh nut—in other words, a Republican who cannot express his own views and simply regurgitates the words of Limbaugh, Hannity, and others without a nugget of intelligence. Some nuggets that allegedly prove her point? I thought you'd never ask:

[Despite major media arraying themselves against Bush,] He never complained, just systematically set about delivering the same consistent message.
A very big thank you to Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Rob Reiner, Bill Maher, Barbra Streisand, Alec Baldwin, Al Franken and Jon Stewart for your involvement. You certainly energized the base. Now, please have the courage of your convictions and leave the country.
To Bob Shrum - Cut your fee.
To Mike McCurry, Joe Lockhart and Paul Begala - You don't seem quite as smart without a great candidate.
To The New York Times and The Washington Post - If Bush and Reagan were so stupid, how did they both go four for four in elections involving two of our biggest states and the presidency without your endorsement?
[Describing members of the non-secular community that is the US,] They are not all 'wacky evangelicals.' They are people who don't like Howard Stern piping a hard porn show over the airwaves and wrapping himself in the freedom of the First Amendment. They don't like being told that a young girl does not have to seek her mother's counsel about an abortion. They don't like seeing an eight-month-old fetus having his head punctured and his brains sucked out. They don't like being told the Pledge of Allegiance, a moment of silent prayer and the words 'under God' are offensive to an enlightened few so nobody should be allowed to use them.
To Dan Rather - Good luck in your retirement.
To Gavin Newsom - Thanks for all of the great shots of the San Francisco couples embracing their mates at City Hall in direct defiance of the law.
To P. Diddy - 'Vote or Die' might need a little work.
To John Edwards - Thanks for being there.
With all due respect to Ms. Dowd (not much due), though she may not understand her brother's positions, she is wrong to think them so extreme. Sure, they may not exist among her colleagues at the NYT, among American academia, or among any of several other prominent groups in this country, but that does not make them extreme or wacky. And the fact that she writes this column with the implied assumption that everyone reading her column would agree with her (there's no other way to look at it), just proves how limited, and liberal, the NYT readership has become.

Another pet idea of mine
And another writer who explains it better than I can. Read what George Will wants to tell you.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Stone Cold Politics
Rolling Stone Magazine has a great election review interview with some experts in the field. It repeats some things that I've been saying, which I always like to point out. They are:

They're not all fundies anymore
The Christian Right is gaining in size and strength, if you define it as the number of Christians that vote Republican, but it's not among evangelicals, or "fundies" as the Left have taken to calling them. Rolling Stone bears me out: "We also know that half of all the votes that George Bush got this year came from people who go to religious services on a weekly basis. We're not just talking about fundamentalists -- we're talking about Catholics, Jews, black Baptists, everyone."
Before the election, I said that Catholics would vote increasingly Republican, and afterwards I said they did.

Lawrence v. Texas
It all started with the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision, legalizing sodomy nationwide. The gay rights community saw and opening, and leapt into it with a little too much vigor. I predicted back then that it would come to bite them in the rear. "My impression is that the country was moving toward a much greater tolerance of gays -- and, indeed, an embrace of alternative lifestyles -- that went far beyond what we saw, say, twenty years ago. Many voters were perfectly happy in their communities with gays living next door. Had that been left undisturbed, we would have seen far more support for gay unions ten years from now. But the decisions to approve gay marriages in Massachusetts and San Francisco may have spurred voters to make a decision about the issue before they were ready."

The youth vote did turn out
What I said starting the day after the election. "One of the misperceptions about the election is that young people didn't turn out. In fact, the number of voters under the age of thirty increased substantially."

What's the plan, John?
Throughout the campaign, and especially the debates, I pointed out that Kerry had a plan, or so he told us, but I had no idea what it was. "Ruy is right. Kerry kept talking about the plan, the plan, the plan, the plan -- but the public never knew what the plan was. It would be equivalent to Martin Luther King Jr. saying, 'I have a dream,' but never spelling out the dream that he went on to describe so vividly."

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving
Today is a beautiful day, when you think about it. Across this great country, every citizen (or pretty close to it) is pausing. We all get a day of rest (and stress), a day with family and friends, whose entire purpose is to reflect on the blessings of life. Sure, we eat too much, and we all know the stories about uncles who get too drunk and angry, or about women doing all the work and men passing out on the couch in front of a football game. Family is stressful, as is cooking for 20 people, and when you add alcohol and football, you're sure to have some issues. But when you come right down to it, we are extremely lucky as a nation, and we have a lot for which to be grateful.

I won't turn this into a political message by listing the things that I'm thinking of specifically. But in your thanks today, reflect on the things that you love about this country, and include those. Thank God with all your heart, because by just putting you in this country, He has done you a great service.

At the same time, it's important today to think of those who are not quite as fortunate as Americans. In that spirit, I forward you to Heifer International. This is a spectacular organization that has long been one of my favorite charities. As a poor college student, it's tough to give them much, but I toss a few dollars out when I can, and my parents and church have given to them in the past. So what do they do? They give a goat, or a water buffalo, or rabbits, or whatever livestock the people of a certain region need for self-sustainability. Take a look through their site, and if you've got some extra money you can spare, why not make Thanksgiving a day of charity as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. And remember, among my thanks today, I will include the small but hearty bunch of you that have been loyal readers. So thanks!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Finally, Congress is making itself useful
CNN reports: Foreign aid subject to parking fine deductions: "Frustrated by deadbeat foreign diplomats, the U.S. Congress has voted to cut aid to their countries by about the sum they owe in unpaid parking tickets.
At the urging of New York lawmakers, Congress tucked the measure -- to cut aid to countries next year by 110 percent of the amount their diplomats owe in parking tickets and penalties -- into the huge $388 billion spending bill lawmakers approved over the weekend."

I watched the West Wing episode where this issue came across the President's desk. The end result was his yelling at the Secretary General of the UN's secretary to pay the damn tickets, and that there are big signs pointing out where you can and cannot park.

All I can say is, this is a much better solution. Maybe now they'll start paying the tickets. Oh, and respecting that if it weren't for our permission the UN wouldn't exist.

This is scary stuff has more liveblogging from former Congressman Bob Schaffer in Ukraine. As someone of Hungarian descent who has studied the 1956 uprising extensively, I'm frightened by how similar Russia's assertion of authority seems to be in this case. Just look:
"An Assistant Secretary of State (U.S.) told the Russians the U.S. is upset Putin prematurely congratulated Yanukovich. The Russians responded with a statement the U.S. is out of line in objecting.

The presence of Russian troops here is a very serious international incident. This causes great tension between the U.S. and Russia.

There is simply no way these soldiers should be deployed here[...]

The guards are now being called the "internal army." There are Ukrainians and Russians in the ranks. The Ukrainian soldiers seem sympathetic to the crowd, but the Russians who comprise the third row and others behind, look ready to fight."

Disturbing. Let's hope this is resolved soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

This is not good
According to former Congressman Bob Schaffer, currently in Ukraine to oversee elections there, posted by Clay Calhoun (via InstaPundit): "Russian special forces dressed in Ukrainian Special forces uniforms are in Kyiv. Ukrainian militia have been instructed by the mayor to protect the people from the Russian troops."

Sounds to me like we've got two groups in Ukrainian uniforms standing ready to battle. NOT good.

Is there an echo in here?
I love it when smart people sound like me. Eugene Volokh has a post up on a topic that you'll notice has become a pet interest of mine: "I keep hearing evangelical Christian leaders criticized for 'trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system,' for instance by trying to change the law to ban abortion, or by trying to keep the law from allowing gay marriage. I've blogged about this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again.
I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many -- perhaps most or nearly all -- of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery.
Or what do you think about the civil rights movement?
[...]Or how about religious opponents of the draft, opponents of the death penalty, supporters of labor unions, supporters of welfare programs, who were motivated by their religious beliefs -- because deeply religious people's moral beliefs are generally motivated by their religious beliefs[...]"

Religion cannot be divested from government. There are too many people for whom such a separation is an impossibility. Obviously Volokh says these things much better than I can. Seriously, read the whole thing—it's worth it.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Continuation
My friend Alex challenged me in some comments recently, on the point of abortion. I am opening this thread so the discussion can continue in a dedicated comments section.

Doing the wrong thing with the best intentions
Ironic, isn't it, that a call for greater religious tolerance would result instead in a systematic effort to wipe out religious expression? "Outgoing Air Force Secretary James Roche issued a statement Friday backing the academy's effort. 'Our policy is clear. Tolerance of gender, racial, ethnic and religious diversity is required at our Air Force,' Roche said.
In September, academy officials issued a memo explaining the government's e-mail policy after some staffers put biblical verses at the bottom of their e-mails. Some cadets were admonished in March for using academy e-mail accounts to encourage other people to see 'The Passion of the Christ,' Mel Gibson's movie about the crucifixion."

Basically, they're saying "we want greater tolerance, so we're going to make everyone shut up about religion." Mmmmmm. I love tolerance from the school of Stalin. (Author's note: that last sentence is sarcastic. I am not a Stalinist in any way shape or form. But please feel free to put a hammer and sickle on my window.) (Author's note: please do not put a hammer and sickle on my window, that sentence was also sarcastic.)

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Climate of Fear
Well, I've posted on this before, and now it's official. The climate of fear has come to Yale. I left my room for dinner last night, and came back to notice that something had changed on my common room window.

You can't really tell, but the W '04 sticker is on the inside, and the swastika is on the outside. I'll refrain from further comments, because they will likely boil down to unintelligible ranting. Suffice it to say, I was understandably upset, as was my friend (a Democrat) who was walking with me at the time.

I have since placed signs on the inside of the window stating "I did not place this sticker here. Whoever did should be ashamed." with an arrow pointing to it, and then below it, the word "Fascism," followed by the definition from, notification of the fact that I oppose every tenet listed therein, and an invitation for anyone who thinks otherwise to kindly stop by anytime, or email me. If someone takes me up on it, maybe I can turn hatred into understanding; then at least one person's ignorance can lead to another's education.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "think of what the Marine and Army units just accomplished in Fallujah. In a single week, they killed as many as 1,200 of the enemy and captured 1,000 more. They did this despite forfeiting the element of surprise, so civilians could escape, and while taking precautions to protect Iraqis that no doubt made their own mission more difficult and hazardous. And they did all of this not for personal advantage, and certainly not to get rich, but only out of a sense of duty to their comrades, their mission and their country."

May God bless these men, who sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the world. They are doing good work in hard circumstances over there, and deserve our support. These letters condemning the picture of one soldier because he is smoking a cigarette, of another because of the rosary on his Bushmaster (which, by the way, indicates that the weapon has not been fired for a while) make me sick. When are people going to open their eyes and see what is really at stake in Iraq. I don't care any more if you opposed or supported the war to begin with; none of that matters. What is important now is getting the job done—and these men and women are doing it.

You want to know...
...why we can't discount the opinions of religious people just because they are religious? Because we would lose the valuable voices from people like this woman. Please, if you ever click through on something I post, make sure to read this piece. For you liberals who read this blog, it's NYT, so you're on friendly ground, even if you may not like what you read. Either way, this woman is brilliant, and I'd like to hear more from her.

Which brings me back to the question of why I, an independent-minded woman, bother with Islam. Religion supplies a set of values, including discipline, that serve as a counterweight to the materialism of life in the West. I could have become a runaway materialist, a robotic mall rat who resorts to retail therapy in pursuit of fulfillment. I didn't. That's because religion introduces competing claims. It injects a tension that compels me to think and allows me to avoid fundamentalisms of my own.
Islam today has deep flaws, and I know saying so makes me a blasphemer in the eyes of countless Muslims. C'est la vie. If they move beyond emotion, they'll come to appreciate that for the rationalists among us, religion can be a godsend.

Fllacy to fallacy
A letter appears in today's YDN, criticizing my most recent column. The author is Aryeh Cohen-Wade, whose central argument is that I'm wrong. (Surprise, Suprise). He says: "Cook states that many people use their religious beliefs to determine that life begins at conception, and thus oppose abortion. However, there are also people in the world who use their religious beliefs to determine that it is a sin for a man to view a woman's flesh, and thus force women to wear burkas in public. Why is one religiously defined belief legitimate, while the other is not?"

Cohen-Wade asks the right question, he just comes down at an illogical answer. Why is one religiously defined believe legitmate, while the other is not? Because we are not judging the decision to force women to wear burkas based on the fact that it is religiously-based. We are judging it based on the fact that it is cruel to women. If these fundamentalist regimes were based on a set of beliefs that were non-religious, it would still be cruel to force women to wear burkas, and we would still be trying to do something about it. (Incidentally, I still maintain that a belief that a man seeing a woman's flesh is a sin is reason for men to walk around wearing blindfolds, not for them to cover up the women.)

He also claims that "The problem with legislating based on faith is that all Americans do not share the same faith. This is why we must legislate not on faith but rather on fact -- on verifiable truths that all parties can agree upon."
Ok, Aryeh, I'll make you a deal—from now on, let's just legislate on the issues "that all parties can agree upon." But, you've got a problem. See, I don't support welfare, or affirmative action, or abortion, or environmental regulation, or trade regulation, or farm subsidies, or, or, or...
And there are probably things I want the government to cover, maybe stronger defense, tougher law enforcement, the war in Iraq, etc. that you don't support. So, we're going to have to repeal all of those, too.

The simple fact, my friend, is that there is no such thing as a "verifiable truth," in politics. It's all about interpretation and impressions—compromise and concession. In a climate like Washington, D.C., my point is simple: a reason for a person's beliefs is not enough to condemn them. If you're going to condemn the argument that gay marriage is wrong, then do what you did in this letter: prove that banning it would have negative ramifications for policy, don't tell someone that they are wrong simply because they are religious.

I'll bet you've read Orwell. My friend, telling me I'm wrong because of why I think the things I do is pretty Orwellian to me. The next step on the ladder is banning opinions because they were formulated at Yale.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Here's a thought
Hugh Hewitt has some interesting thoughts on the Gonzales nomination for AG: "The nomination of Alberto Gonzales to become Attorney General has been seen by many as a step for him towards the Supreme Court.
But what if it is a step towards a campaign for Governor or Senator from Texas? Or even a step towards a vice-presidential nomination in four years? Watch his confirmation hearings very closely, because the Dems surely know that they don't get many shots at a rising Republican superstar. And once confirmed, watch how the then AG Gonzales staffs his DOJ. With a savvy group of writers and special assistants, AG Gonzales could become the face of the Administration's war on terror on the home front, as well as a hero to the GOP center-right on a variety of other issues.
In other words, don't put a robe on him yet. He may have other goals in mind."

As he often does, Hewitt seems to have a more creative take on political probabilities—and he's likely to be right.

Read Lileks
'nuff said.

Religion's Place in Politics
My newest column is up at the YDN under the unspectacular headline: The right's rationale for legislating on faith. Oh well, can't win them all.

This column arose out of a blog post that I'm still working on, and may never complete. I was attempting to fisk Maureen Dowd's Sunday column, and wrote two pages on the first paragraph. Obviously, that was too intense for one blog post, so it evolved into a column. Feel free to leave feedback here, or you can submit it to the YDN editorial staff for publication by emailing

The Party of Pessimism
I'm not always pleased with what Brendan Miniter turns out, but today he has a great column on how the Democrat Party has doomed itself as the party of unions and bureaucracy, and how they can pull themselves out of it. While everyone seems to be weighing in with advice for the Dems, this is worth reading as a new perspective.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

An interesting glimpse at the future
Amidst all this bashing of the MSM, it's necessary to acknowledge that sometimes it does it's job right. There is a piece in the Boston Globe that examines exactly what might happen if Roe is overturned?

For the record, I favor the idea of overturning Roe. I do not believe that there is a constitutional protection for abortion, and that the court overreached in placing that protection under the due process/right to privacy protections. I think that because there is no federal constitutional protection, it must be decided on the state legislature level, short of constitutional amendment. That is my legal opinion.

Now, assuming Roe is overturned, and we revert to abortive rights being decided by state legislatures, I will oppose abortion in Connecticut. Based on my faith, I believe that life begins at conception. Even granting that we cannot establish that fact, I must point out that we cannot disprove it either. As such, it is arrogant to assume that you hold all the answers, and that you have the right to take the risk of committing murder to increase your own comfort. Though until just recently I made an absolute exception in the case of rape, I have more trouble doing so now, as our society is not in the habit of visiting the sins of a parent on his child. Similarly, while I understand the case of exception for the life of the mother, again, I have some difficulty because I believe that abortion is murder, and our society is not in the habit of trading one life to save another. So, I'm undecided on those two points, but overall I have to oppose abortion.

So, you may ask, how I can legislate my own articles of faith onto other people. The answer is simple: that's not what I'm doing--in fact, if you try to prevent me from opposing abortion, then you are forcing your beliefs on me. The fact is, if I believe abortion to be murder, then I have to oppose it at all costs, or consider myself an accessory to murder. If you try and tell me that my reason for opposition, because it is based on religious beliefs, disqualifies me from my position, then you are forcing me to accept your views of my religion over my own.

Either way, that was all a tangent. Read the article I linked to above to see why opposition to Roe is not necessarily opposition to abortion, and why the death of Roe could spell the death of the Republican Party.

What 51% of the vote really means
David Broder writes a great piece in the Seattle Times.

And what credibility might that be? - How do bloggers impact political news?: "Mindy McAdams, a University of Florida journalism professor, applauded bloggers' efforts but urged them to adhere to ethical standards held by mainstream journalists.
'Our credibility is suffering with so many people rushing to publish things without checking them out,' McAdams said after Cox's speech."

As I remember it, CBS released the falsified Texas Air National Guard memos, with minimal background checking. And they weren't under any pressure to publish by blogs, that's for sure.

Oh, and then there's the munitions story, set to be released the Sunday before the election by CBS and scooped by the NYT 3 days earlier. Again, this was through no fault of the blogs, but was positioned to try and damage Bush as much as possible.

What's hurting the mainstream media credibility is not blogging. What's hurting MSM is the fact that they have no credibility, and blogs are now here to catch them. When they sit on a story that the public deserves to know, it comes out through blogs. When they release a story that is fraudulent, the blogs catch them. (Imagine if this National Guard memo business had happened 10 years ago--we never would have known they were false, and the media would not have lost any credibility, but they still wouldn't have deserved the credibility they have). So, yes, if you're lying, and there's a network of people poised to catch you in that lie, and they are succeeding with more and more frequency, your credibility will suffer--but going from that to blaming that network for your diminishing credibility is a bit spurious.

Friday, November 12, 2004

All about WaPo
The Washington Post's columnists are on a roll today.

What does 'Moral Values' mean?
A great piece in today's Washington Post, wherein Charles Krauthammer debunks the 'Moral Values' Myth, tying it back to the Angry White Male of the mid-90s. Read it, it's worth your time.

What does Fallujah mean?
The second strong piece is by George Will, explaining what really hinges on Fallujah, and more specifically how that city can determine the fate of a free Iraq. Read it here.

More on Arafat
The Western Standard quotes the following:
"Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on Arafat's death:
'Chairman Arafat personified the Palestinian people's struggle to see their right to self-determination realized. Canada calls on Palestinians, and all peoples of the Middle East, to reflect on the tremendous cost of conflict, and, building on the legacy of their leaders and the guidance of their governments, to renew their commitment to peace.'

Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Arafat's death:
'I think history will judge him very harshly for not having seized the opportunity in the year 2000 to embrace the offer that was very courageously made by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barack [sic], which involved the Israelis agreeing to 90 per cent of what the Palestinians had wanted.'"

We know which one of these two Jacques Chirac would agree with, and we know where George W. Bush stands. The question is: what do you think is the truer representation of the man?

Commentary on Arafat
I've been getting a lot of pressure to post on Arafat's death. The problem is, I don't have much to contribute. I don't know enough about Palestinian politics to comment on what will come of his death. However, the inspiration has finally stuck me, in the form of this page from KSLA, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport, Louisiana: "CBS NEWS interrupted the final minutes of Wednesday night's episode of CSI: NEW YORK in order to air a special report about the death of Yasser Arafat. CBS has apologized and says it will rebroadcast the episode, in its entirety FRIDAY at 9PM CENTRAL TIME."

That's sort of how I feel. This guy was an evil terrorist. The world is better for his passing. And at the same time, it's a non-event. So, so long Arafat. I leave you with these words from Lileks, which pretty nearly approximate my sentiments: "Our paper had this headline: 'Enduring Symbol of Palestine Dies.' Personally, I'm old school. I'd go with something, oh, factual, like 'ARAFAT DEAD.' Hard to argue. Hard to find bias. I don't know what would be satisfying, really. 'Goaty Old Fiend Expires, Loses Power, Fortune, Bowel Control; Fills Room with Odor of Offal and Urine' would put people off their breakfast, I suppose. I am content to know he is not in Hell. Nope. Arafat did not go to Hell. He boards the ferry, yes; he makes it halfway across the River Styx, yes. Then the ferry blows up. Ten times a day for eternity. For a start."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

It keeps coming back to me that the people I accused of arrogance in my last YDN column have in common: they all admit that I probably made my elective choice intelligently, but that the majority who voted for President Bush probably did not. There are some serious flaws behind this logic that I feel compelled to address.

The first is the obvious statement that a majority of red-staters are uninformed. The fact of the matter is, they are informed. They know about the two candidates, and they voted for the candidate that best matches their beliefs. It's simply inaccurate to say they don't know who they were voting for. But that's not what the individuals who've responded to my column are trying to imply—their true opinion is that the reasons why these red-staters knowingly support President Bush are invalid. They believe that voting for a man because his faith matches yours is invalid. They believe that thinking the Iraq War was justified is invalid. They believe that opposing gay marriage is invalid. And what they don't realize is that this is exactly what I'm calling arrogance.

People who lack faith are unable to understand what it is like to live a life based on your beliefs of heaven and hell, God and Satan, good and evil. They say you have to be able to separate that from your relations to government. As John Kerry says "you can't legislate based on your own articles of faith." Now maybe he can make that distinction. If so, I commend him for it. The problem is, everything I do is based on a cost/benefit analysis relating to my faith. Am I doing the right thing? Am I helping people that need help, or hurting innocent people? Are my actions condoning an act I know to be wrong? None of this can be separated from issues like abortion, the environment, welfare/poverty issues, healthcare, foreign policy, etc. And I don't buy it that John Kerry can separate them either. (In other words, I think he likes to call himself pro-life so that he can keep pretending to be a Catholic man of faith, while in reality he is pro-choice, and refuses to follow any of the basic tenets of Roman Catholicism.)

I received a comment just today that listed a bunch of reasons red-staters voted for President Bush which were "clearly false," according to him, but are, in reality, opinions that have not been invalidated as he would like to claim. Saddam was known to have friendly interactions with Al Quaeda. Saddam was known to have WMD whose destruction he never accounted for as the UN told him to. Saddam was known, and has now been shown, to have multiple WMD research programs, which have increased exponentially under the sanctions. Saddam was known to have tortured and killed Iraqi people for opposition to him, and Kurdish Iraqis simply for being Kurdish. Saddam was known to constantly threaten the United States and Israel, including paying the families of murderous Palestinian suicide bombers. The sanctions, which the left now claims were containing him, they opposed at the time, and were crumbling around the world. Under these circumstances, whether he already had WMD or was still pursuing them doesn't matter. He was pursuing them, and the instant he had them, he'd have the capability to release them to Al Quaeda, or any other terrorist network, and we'd never know until they were used. We had to go in, and supporting the man who did isn't an ignorant view. Sure, thinking Saddam ordered 9/11 is misguided. But I promise you, it is a small minority of Bush voters that believe this.

Opposing the "right" to same-sex marriage cannot be shown to be wrong, or uninformed or not. It's easy to claim that homosexuality is a natural aberration from more typical sexuality. I happen to agree with that fact. But to claim that those who think the opposite are wrong, or uninformed, is arrogance, pure and simple. The fact is, we don't know what causes homosexuality, and it's entirely possible that it is some sort of curse, or sign of Satan. I think these ideas are absurd, but that doesn't mean I can treat the people who believe them as such. Liberals, on the other hand, are so certain that they're right, that everyone else must be uninformed.

The simple fact is that, on all of these issues, we don't know. Nothing can be proven one way or the other on any of them. And yet, the liberals that surround me use them as a basis for illustrating that their choice for John Kerry was more valid than the more common choice made for George Bush. There is no room to consider that they are misinformed, of course. Well, sorry guys, but in the words of the great Eric Clapton, "Before your accuse me, take a look at yourself." If people in middle America have been so mislead, how can you be so sure that you are properly informed?

More than that, let's look at the people who voted for John Kerry. Let's look at that county map and see how purple every single county is, and realize that the John Kerry voters live and work right next to the George Bush voters. Then, let's look at the mining towns in the upper Midwest. The ones that are strictly blue. Clearly mining towns are full of highly educated, well-informed voters, right? Must be, since all John Kerry voters validate faith in an informed American public, while George Bush voters are uninformed and destroy the validity of the system.

The simple fact is, neither party's candidate was more qualified to be President, and neither choice represents a larger information set than the other. The only thing we can conclude from this election is that more people chose George Bush.

OH. And if you're planning to point to that IQ study claiming that the blue states have a higher average IQ than the red states, take a look at this (via James), which shows that the idea that blue-staters have higher average IQs is a mere Democratic urban myth.

UPDATE [11/12/2004 - 1:24]: For more on the same topic, you should read this from OpinionJournal's Taste Page.

Life is good
My life is similar to this guy's, except I'm balancing out because my car got broken into over the weekend. And he doesn't count the Red Sox winning the world series.

Well, now
It seems that Ted Rall has never read any Socrates: "So our guy lost the election. Why shouldn't those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what's going on in the world. If you voted for Bush, we accept that we have to share the country with you. We're adjusting to the possibility that there may be more of you than there are of us. But don't demand our respect. You lost it on November 2."

So much for being wise by knowing your ignorance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Where have we heard this before?
In today's Washington Times, Tony Blankley (partially) imitates me: "When we conservatives got shellacked in 1964 -- with Barry Goldwater losing 61percent to 39 percent to Lyndon Johnson -- we knew we had a lot of work ahead if we were going to educate the public to our views. But I can honestly say that, although I remember thinking that the public was misguided in its judgment, I never hated or felt contemptuous of the majority electorate -- of my fellow countrymen."

How similar is that to what I said? Well, I don't have the benefit of experience like Mr. Blankley does, but I hypothesized that I would experience the same sentiment in my most recent column, saying: "If Sen. Kerry had won, I would have put up my own away message about my fear for our safety. But the derision conveyed in these away messages, and in things said to me all day on campus, goes way beyond that idea. I would never have threatened to leave the country, or implied that voting for a certain candidate equated a sin, or said that I had lost faith in the people of this great nation."

Today's NY Post documents a spectacular exchange between Maureen Dowd and Senator Zell Miller (via OxBlog): "SEN. Zell Miller (D- Ga.) laced into New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd yesterday on the 'Imus in the Morning' radio show, saying, 'The more Maureen Loud [sic] gets on 'Meet the Press' and writes those columns, the redder these states get. I mean, they don't want some highbrow hussy from New York City explaining to them that they're idiots and telling them that they're stupid.' Miller also suggested 'that red-headed woman at the New York Times' should not mock anyone's religion: 'You can see horns just sprouting up through that Technicolor hair.' Dowd responds: 'I'm not a highbrow hussy from New York. I'm a highbrow hussy from Washington. Senator, pistols or swords?'"

The OxBlog guys seems to think that Dowd got the best of this exchange. But will Zell leaving the Senate, and having less concern about lawlessness (potentially), he really could take her up on that duel. Of course, as a southern gentleman, he'll choose pistols. Now, thinking about this, do you really think Ms. Dowd has ever fired a gun? Game, set, match: Zell. It might send him to prison, but it may just be worth it.

Just when he was losing me
I've been greatly dissatisfied with Andrew Sullivan of late. I think his full-throated support of the War in Iraq, followed by total condemnation of the way it is carried out at every opportunity he has borders on despicable. I recognize that he is a gay man, dealing with AIDs, and I pray for him regularly, but I get a little tired of his recent two-issue focus (Iraq and gay rights). I've even been considering removing him from my blogroll.

But today, he comes out and wows me with clear logic: "I've long been a huge enthusiast for the reform for a simple reason. Forget about the obvious economic benefits. The political benefits are legion. First, it deals a death blow to the cancer of corporate lobbying in Washington. If you restrict shelters to one or two (charity or home-ownership, but I'd abolish the latter), then the whole Washington game is over. Far, far more effective than campaign finance reform. Second, it upholds an important liberal principle: that the government should be neutral among its citizens. I don't believe in affirmative action, because it means the government discriminates on the basis of race. I oppose heterosexual-exclusive civil marriage, because it means the government discriminates on the basis of emotional/sexual orientation. And I oppose punitive or 'progressive' taxation, because it means the government discriminates on the basis of personal success. If we're all taxed at the same proportionate rate, the successful still pay far more into the public coffers than the unsuccessful. They're just not penalized even further by a higher rate. If you want to help the disadvantaged, and I do, then focus government spending on programs that help the under-privileged. But don't penalize work. And don't defend unequal treatment."

He's absolutely right on every count. And I hope that with Jim DeMint in the Senate now, this movement will get legs. Stay tuned, because this could get interesting.

How often do you hear straight talk from a politician?
Well, Arlen Specter is handing it out in today's WSJ. Take a look and you'll learn something about a man of integrity--all too rare among his colleagues.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Here's some good advice
The Gweilo Diaries offer some key Advice for Our Democrat Friends. My personal favorite is number 3.

George Lucas Strikes Back
Here comes the next big flop of a movie.
Read what Daniel Drezner has to say about it.

Here we go again
[Author's note: this post will likely become the framework for an upcoming column I plan to write over the next week or so. I'll let you know when and if it happens].
The web is currently filled with traditional and pajama-clad pundits who are proclaiming the death of the Democrat Party (Here, for example). I have predicted the same thing, though not necessarily on this page. The problem is that everyone said this after the 2000 election too.

Remember the claims that the Democrats would spin off into obscurity because of their lack of uniting issues? The thought was that Gore's loss to Bush would send the Party into a death spiral that could last a decade or longer. What happened to rejuvenate them instead, surprisingly enough, was September 11, 2001.

Now, I know that everyone says Democrats are weak on National Defense issues. And it's true that after 9/11, when the President's support number soared, it looked like there was nowhere for the Dems to go but into obscurity. We routed the Taliban (or so it seemed at the time) in Afghanistan, and we looked hot on the path to capturing OBL. The Democrats, meanwhile, were busy filibustering perfectly qualified nominees to the judicial branch, and looking stupid doing it. (Remember Tom Daschle? The soon-to-be former Senator?) And then the second wave of 9/11 came along to swing them to the rescue: Iraq.

The Bush Administration's decision to pursue terrorism and terrorist-sponsoring states by focusing next on Iraq had my support at the time, and still does. I think it was the right move, at the right time. (The sanctions were failing, yada yada--I've covered all of this before.) And, though they'll never admit it, the Democrats are grateful for it.

You see, the Dems were floundering. They got trounced in the midterms--that doesn't happen when your Party is out of the White House, for those who don't know. But Iraq gave them an issue to coordinate a large amount of people with a lot of emotion. It recharged their efforts at campaigning, gave them a coherent base, and another shot at the White House. Of course, it's what ended up keeping them out of the White House, but in the meantime it has effectively bought them another two years, and who knows how many more they'll have after this.

But that wasn't supposed to be the point of this post. What I was going to point out is what these columns, while prophetically declaring the death of the Democratic Party, consistently forget is the fact that the Republican Party, though they kept the White House resoundingly, are in trouble just as deep.

The Republican Party today consists of two primary coalitions, and several smaller constituencies. These two controlling groups, to be sure, have several important overlaps that at the moment are holding them together, but they can't last for too long. The overlaps are strong at the moment: hawkish foreign policy, lower taxes, minimal gun control, and a few others. These create for strong uniting issues, and they showed up significantly in this last campaign. Unfortunately, they are supported both by the libertarian conservatives, and the social conservatives, who on some other issues stand at opposition to each other. Gay marriage, which I pointed out would come back to haunt the Democrats in this election, will hurt Republicans in the future.

Let's take me as an example. I am tentatively opposed to gay marriage. My faith tells me that a homosexual marriage does not equal the love between a man and a woman. But I am fervently opposed to a constitutional amendment that restricts marriage to heterosexual cases. The key is that my faith defines marriage, not the government. I'm not opposed, in fact, to eliminating governmental marriage altogether, and issuing civil unions to any and all couples that want them. I haven't yet figured out what that will do to entitlements and the government's ability to pay out what is promised to a recognized marriage if we open the floodgates. But marriage is between two partners and their god, not between them and the government. The social conservatives rapidly amending their state constitutions to forbid same-sex unions will never support this position, and I will never support theirs.

While I'm not a strict libertarian, on this and many other issues, there is a conflict between the more libertarian sects of the Party, and the more socially active members. I think that in the next 10-20 years, this will come to a head, and we will struggle as the Democrats are now.