Saturday, July 02, 2005

Now there's an idea
Instapundit sends us to one blogger who has an interesting proposal for Bush's SCOTUS nomination:

Bush should nominate Ann Coulter. She is constitutional scholar with a J.D. from a respectable law school. That's more than most of our Justices have had, historically.

I'm serious.

Either they confirm her, or they raise hell. Assuming they raise hell enough to block the nomination, anyone else Bush puts up as a replacement looks moderate by comparison.
See, I'm not sure that's a good idea. If you look at it rationally, you can immediately see one clear reason why this might backfire: you could end up with Ann Coulter on the Supreme Court.

And let's be honest—that's just not a risk we should be willing to take.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Darrin McMahon offers us an analysis of the phrase "the pursuit of happiness," for our pondering pleasure over this long Fourth of July weekend.

I suggest you read it, and follow it up with this, a whitepaper concerning happiness. Very interesting stuff.

War of the Worlds=9/11?
John Podhoretz of the New York Post seems to think so:

EVEN though it is nominally a science-fiction film about an alien invasion, Steven Spiel berg's "War of the Worlds" is, in fact, the first Hollywood movie about 9/11. It's all there — an urban landmark (the Outerbridge Crossing) destroyed from the air, New Jerseyites running in terror, Tom Cruise covered in ash after escaping the attack, a wall with "have you seen my missing loved one" posters.

The only real difference — a profound and troubling one — is that Spielberg's movie shows Americans turning on each other as the attack occurs. In real life, the attack on America caused people to band together, to commit extraordinary acts of heroism on a moment-to-moment basis and to join each other in comradeship.
These are some good points, and clearly there is a link between the choices Spielberg made in this movie (the ash, the postered wall)—and, in fact, our current popular culture more broadly—and what happened on 9/11.

I also think Podhoretz takes this too far, however, in saying:
Even so, the first hour of "War of the Worlds" is one of the staggering cinematic accomplishments of our time — in part because it does so meticulously capture the horror and power of that signal day. Think how much more powerful, and meaningful, it might have been had Spielberg actually bit the bullet, ditched the aliens and gone for a movie about 9/11 itself.
I think Spielberg may actually have made a conscious choice to tap into 9/11 images—but I don't think he did it for commentary reasons. I think he wanted images that would instill terror in his audience (hey, maybe that's why they say 9/11 was an act of "terror"ism -ed.), and he used something that would draw those memories out of our minds. Artistically, this is incredibly effective.

That doesn't mean, however, that he intended to deal with the issues raised by that horrific day—and it's unfair to judge his film on that scale.

Right On.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

And how much do cigarette taxes bring in? Tobacco exports?
CDC: Smoking deaths cost $92 billion

True, except that maybe it's not.
From David Ignatius, we get:

The war in Iraq has in fact made America's terrorism problem worse. The CIA reached that judgment in a recent report, and any fair-minded person would come to the same conclusion. By toppling the cruelly repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, the United States turned Iraq into a new breeding ground for jihadists. That doesn't mean the war was wrong, but it does make it hard to justify as an anti-terrorism stratagem.
OK, let's look at this rationally. It was the undisputed policy of the US government to support regime change in Iraq. Presumably, short of invading as we did, we should have hoped for a popular uprising to overthrow Saddam?

What history is there of such revolutions? Hmm... I'm thinking of... Afghanistan—which resulted in? That's right: Al Quaeda, and the initial creation of bin Laden's power. Sounds like something to replicate. Not fair, because it was our actions that created him? OK, let's look at another example...

Iran—certainly no one can accuse us of sponsoring that revolution. And, oh look, it resulted in Terrorist/jihadist training and recruiting grounds as well!

So here's the thing: the MIDDLE EAST is a recruiting ground for jihadists and the only way that's going to change is when its people get to taste and prosper under freedom's reign.

Yes, our action initiated a jihadist revolt—but so would waiting for Saddam's death, or encouraging the Iraqi people to rise up on their own. To suggest otherwise—that the nation would have been just fine on its own—is irresponsible and deceptive.

The Politics of Cynicism
According to many on the left, Bush continues to play the 9/11 card because he has to:

He came back to 9/11 because he always comes back to 9/11. The emotions of that day trump all other emotions - and that's the bet Bush keeps making.
Has anyone considered the possibility that Bush really does believe the war in Iraq to be an extension of our pursuit of international terrorism? That's why I, for one, supported the war from the beginning and continue to do so.

To Democrats the only possible explanation is that Bush mentions 9/11 to drum up emotional responses—it's not possible that he's simply explaining what he believes. Well, here's a more rational analysis of the President's mentions of 9/11 the other night.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I can't either
Ruben Navarrette Jr. can't believe he's defending Tom Cruise, and neither can I—but he's right...

Didn't see the speech
I was on the train last night, but Captain's Quarters seems to have it covered.

The tough question
Asked by Peggy Noonan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Letter-writing time
Everybody write a letter to the City of Weare and promise to visit this hotel.

George Will hits the nail on the head:

Nowadays many people delight in being distressed. They cultivate exquisitely tender sensibilities and practice moral exhibitionism, waxing indignant about minor encounters with thoughts and symbols they dislike. So, just to lower the decibel level of American life, perhaps communities should refrain from religious displays other than in religious contexts.

But this is a merely prudential, not a constitutional consideration. On Monday the justices churned out 140 pages of opinions and dissents about the Texas and Kentucky displays. Here is a one-sentence opinion that should suffice in such cases: 'Because the display on public grounds does not do what the establishment clause was written to prevent -- does not impose a state-sponsored creed or significantly advantage or disadvantage one sect or sects -- the display is constitutional.'
As a Christian, I don't feel the need for displays of my faith on public ground—nor am I threatened by such displays if put on by Jews, Muslims, Atheists, or even Satanists. I. Just. Don't. Care.

But that's not the criteria on which these decisions should have been based. They are supposed to be based on the text of the Constitution, not what we think is best for our communities. And when I read the Constitution and the contemporary writings of the Founders, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that they did not fear public (even governmental) displays of religion—as long as there was no exclusion.

Monday, June 27, 2005

WTF, mate?
I checked back in with Andrew Sulivan because I hadn't been there in a while, and Taranto has been mentioning him a lot lately, and found out that he really has become Mr. Excitable:

"LIBERALS" AND PEDOPHILIA: They're not only traitors, according to Karl Rove, they're also behind the priest abuse scandal. Here's Rick Santorum's analysis of how the church enabled the molestation of minors...
Get that? Rick Santorum's analysis of the Catholic Church scandals imply that Karl Rove thinks liberals are pedophiles.

That's just brilliant logic.

So what are you saying, exactly?
That if George W. Bush just raised taxes he'd be a "King of the Hill" Democrat?


Maybe Rove doesn't want to govern
Political Wire links to a story about how Bush's team, spectacular at winning reelection (a claim that I would dispute in the first place), has failed to govern in its second term. The thought that came to mind for me is in the title of this post. We know thta Rove's long-term goal is building a sustainable Republican majority. Maybe he doesn't think governing effectively is necessary to achieve that? This may be cynical, but maybe he cares more about politics than he does about public policy—and maybe Bush is following his will.

If you think about it, playing for a sustained majority without governing might actually work. If the Democrats continue responding the way they have so far, even with better policies they'll scare away the public. It's like if you poke someone easily excitable: it was wrong to poke him, but when he explodes and overreacts, it's fairly easy to paint him at the villain and yourself as the victim.

UPDATE [6/27/2005 - 12:27]: Michael Barone has more on how the Dems might continue to lose even with GOP approval in the toilet.

Yay for Hollywood?
Neat. And Evan Coyne Maloney even got a mention.

The Supreme Court Bans the Ten Commandments
OK, so they didn't actually—but that's what all of the AP headlines would lead you to believe. Instead of "Court Bans Ten Commandments in 2 Locations," we get the impression that they've gone full steam ahead. That's fine; headlines are rarely as accurate as I'd like.

But this bothers me more:

The decision was the first of two seeking to mediate the bitter culture war over religion's place in public life. In it, the court declined to prohibit all displays in court buildings or on government property.
The decision declined to prohibit all displays? "Declined," to me, implies a missed opportunity, which would in turn imply pretty strongly that the author of this piece expected them to take that step.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this—who knows?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Crime drops despite high prison population
In his Best of the Web pieces, James Taranto has a history of pointing out stupid articles that discuss the fact that crime rates are falling despite a higher conviction rate. His explanation (logical from my perspective) revolves around the idea that maybe, just maybe, more convictions get criminals off the streets and crime rates fall as a result. Well, this post has nothing to do with prisons or crime rates. So why am I telling you all of this?

In a piece, we learn about the record drop in movie ticket sales:

'Batman Begins' took in $26.8 million to remain the top movie for the second straight weekend, but it could not keep Hollywood from sinking to its longest modern box-office slump.

Overall business tumbled despite a rush of familiar new titles -- 'Bewitched,' a 'Love Bug' update and the latest zombie tale from director George Romero. (emphasis added)
Let me get this straight: Hollywood is remaking some of the worst movies and television shows from history and it's surprising that ticket sales are falling?

Sure, there are other explanations (like the fact that I can buy a DVD and watch it a thousand times for the same price as a theater ticket), but I think Herbie the Love Bug might be part of the problem—not a mitigator.