Thursday, July 31, 2003

Okay, folks, it was fun while it lasted, but I've decided we've reached the end of the paleocon invasion, and I'm pulling the plug on it. Thanks for stopping by, and take it somewhere else now. Blogs are free at, and you don't need mine in order to be able to post your defenses of racial separation and the good side of the Klan. You can set up your own and spew until your dark little hearts are content.

Read all you like, and feel free to post on other topics. But all posts from here on out regarding any of this paleo crapola will be summarily deleted.

Thanks for visiting, and buh-bye.
The good folks at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have just informed me, I'm pleased to say, that Al Mohler has entered the blogosphere. There are few people I admire more than Dr. Mohler. This will be a worthwhile daily stop in your blog surfing.
To judge by the "comments" box in one of my recent entries, the controversy continues about paleoconservative racism.

If your appetite has been piqued, you can see some paleo minds wrestle with this question by visiting a forum thread devoted to this latest brouhaha. Among the gems you'll find there (along with plenty of "what's the big deal?" comments regarding the Holocaust) is this perplexed observation:
I'm still trying to figure out how calling the former Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee "Jew Lieberman" is demeaning.
And the similarly perplexed response:
There's nothing about "Jew Lieberman" that's in the slightest sense demeaning. It's just considered rude to point out that someone is a Jew, unless you're praising them. Space is at a premium on your front page, requiring an economy of words. "Jew Lieberman" gets the essential points across a lot faster than "Joseph Lieberman, Democratic candidate for president, and proud person of Jewish descent".
You see, it's actually just a helpful shorthand. For the millions of paleconservative readers who weren't aware that Joe Lieberman is Jewish, we'll call him "Jew Lieberman" in a merely objective attempt to impart information.

These guys are entertaining, you have to give them that. I would only ask that if you happen to own a Ryder truck rental shop and these guys come in for a rental, make sure you get a big deposit. Because the truck ain't comin' back in one piece.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Welcome to all my new visitors, who have apparently been brought this way through links that have been emailed to them (I presume as part of the recent trans-blog kerfuffle regarding paleoconservative antisemitism and racism). Feel free to look around and put in your two cents worth. Just be aware that anything I perceive as being racist will be deleted. My judgement will be final and unappealable. I've never had to delete any post before, but I've also never had a lot of racist comments posted here before by paleoconservatives. So we'll see how it goes.

Is it an arbitrary standard? You bet! What fun is it to be the king of your own little webpage if you cannot wield arbitrary power?
Discoshaman's site seems to be down for the moment. A note comes up saying that he has exceeded his alotted bandwidth. I'll be curious to see if it has anything to do with a sudden influx of antisemitic paleoconservatives who've taken umbrage with his disapproval of their Jew-baiting.

While we wait for Discoshaman's site to come back up to see where things stand, you may want to take a look at the site that concerned him, and which published a "defense" saying, among other things:
I don't understand the barrage of information about the German Holocaust if the numbers killed are equal to or less than what we saw in other wars during the 20th century, and even today.
Oh, and this one. It's becoming clear why these guys think the wrong side won the Civil War:
It's interesting that in the book Gone With The Wind, a black man attempts to rape Scarlett in Shantytown, and the Klu Klux Klan is given proper respect as defenders of civilization during Reconstruction. But when Louis Mayer and David O. Selznick, who were Jews, turned the book into a film, they designated a white man as the attempted rapist and downplayed the significance of the Klan.
Nice, huh? This, folks, is "Reformed" paleoconservatism. Enjoy.
On my way into work this morning, the gal on the news radio station here headlined a story this way: "A bill which would have made cars go a lot further on a lot less is shot down in the Senate."

Now aside from the annoying propensity to phrase everything in the present tense no matter how convoluted, which is now the norm in radio news, this is far from an objective way to headline this story. In reality, the bill that was "shot down" would have essentially forced automakers to begin phasing out enormously popular SUV's and other low-mileage vehicles over the next 12 years.

Though the American people have clearly stated at the gas pump and in their automobile choices that they are not unduly burdened by the cost of gas or our "dependence" on foreign oil (and in fact are willing to pay quite a bit for the convienience of an SUV or a minivan), Sen. Dick Durbin and his fellow do-gooders wanted to engineer a nation in which everyone is forced to drive Hyundais. I wonder why the newscaster didn't say "A bill which would have drastically cut down your choices in choosing a car is vanquished in the Senate." It would have been just as objective and quite a bit more accurate.

Am I the only one who finds it odd that the left, which describes itself as "pro-choice," is not pro-choice when it comes to cars, guns, schools, religious speech, the right of association, or indeed most of things which real people make real decisions on every day?

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

These are the times in which we live: Telemarketers have sued two federal agencies over the government's new do-not-call list. The reason? Because of the huge numbers of Americans (an estimated 60 million) who are sick of being bothered on the phone by telemarketers and have signed up to be on the list, telemarketers stand to lose as many as two million jobs when it goes into effect this fall.

Try to get your mind around this logic: telemarketers are suing because they will lose their jobs doing what their own "customers" have told them in no uncertain terms they don't want them to do. It would be as if you decide that your new job will be to dance naked in your neighbor's yard every day. Then, when he calls the police to come get you, you file suit against the police saying, "You can't do this! It's my job to dance naked in his front yard!!"
There is another round of voting in the Senate this week as the Republicans try to break the longstanding Democratic judicial filibusters while also drawing attention to the Democrats' obstructionism. Without a doubt, the Democrats will also filibuster Bill Pryor and Carolyn Kuhl when they come up for confirmation later in the week.

With the Senate heading into summer recess, there will never be a better time to beat the drum on this and put political pressure on the obstructionists. The time is now to push these nominees through. The President needs to get off his duff and start making some noise about this if he's going to have any chance of receiving my Broward County, Florida vote in 2004. There's no point in having good poll numbers and control of both houses if you can't get any of your stinkin' nominees confirmed.
In Oberlin, Ohio, a battle is brewing over whether or not white teachers can adequately teach black history at the local high school.

Leaving aside the fact that such classes are of extremely dubious educational value to begin with (motivated not by a desire to impart knowledge but rather a desire to impart a point of view and to heighten "self-esteem"), there is much to be troubled about here. Seeds are being sown even now which will produce their poisened harvest in future years.

If you wonder why race-relations in the country are often still tense, look no further than this snippet, from the story printed on a local TV station's website:
Phyllis Yarber Hogan, a member of the Oberlin Black Alliance for Progress, said a white teacher wouldn't be well-suited to teaching students about subjects like slavery.

"When you talk about slavery, students need to understand it is not our fault," she said. "Our ancestors did nothing wrong to be enslaved.

"How do you work through that when the person teaching it is the same type of person who did the enslaving?"

Monday, July 28, 2003

The tears are now pouring forth for Uday and Qusay. It might be a nice time for a pop quiz.

Who wrote the following?:
There are several questions that American journalists should there be asking, supposing there are any who have not been enlisted in the ranks of the embedded reporters. The first and most obvious is “Why?” Why did we kill these criminals, when they might have been arrested and put on trial in front of the Iraqi people?
Notwithstanding the answer to the question, which is "They weren't exactly inclined to throw down their weapons and wave the white flag--they kept firing actual bullets at actual American troops," was this paragraph written by:

A). Al Jazeera's Iraq correspondent

B). Reuters

C). Maureen Dowd

D). The paleoconservative Bible, Chronicles Magazine

Click here for the fevered and hysterical answer.

(By the way, its amusing to note that in the patented style of Howard Dean and John Kerry, the article grudgingly admits that " is probably also a good thing for the people of Iraq that his sons can no longer symbolize the hope of restoring his regime." --empahsis mine.)

Incidentally, my man Discoshaman has the laugh-out-loud line of the day in observation of the recent behavior of the "paleocons":
For several years now the so-called Paleo-Conservatives have drifted farther and farther away from what the rest of us refer to quaintly as "reality." They seem to have woken up still slightly drunk, and in bed naked next to Noam Chomsky.
When I read something as beautiful as that, I almost lose my will to continue scrawling these entries. "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"
I tried to refrain, but I just can't help myself. The temptation is too strong. Please forgive me:

According to Newsweek magazine, among the stuff found in Uday and Qusay's belongings after the deadly firefight last week was a stash of Viagra. Apparently it worked. The boys are plenty stiff now....
According to a bulletin running on right now, Bob Hope has died at 100. It's hard to be shocked, considering that when one thought of Bob Hope in recent days, one mostly thought "Wow, it's amazing that Bob Hope is still alive." Nonetheless, he was a guy who served his country in an inestimably important way.

One thing is for sure--you will see the most well-produced tribute shows imaginable in the next few days...because the networks have had such shows sitting on their shelves awaiting this moment for years now.

Friday, July 25, 2003

I wonder if Schnieder from "One Day at a Time" is jealous that the similarly simian Matt LeBlanc got his own spinoff series? What about Gopher from "The Love Boat?" Or Chachi from Hap....oh yeah, they did give him a spin-off.

Maybe since they're moving Joey to L.A., they could have him run for governor.
In 1998, I read Hugh Hewitt's book "The Embarrassed Believer," and it was something of a turning point for me. In the midst of a career crisis, doing a radio program that I was not entirely comfortable doing, Hewitt's book was one of several factors that pushed me towards making substantial changes in my life as a Christian.

Though he has a well-repected radio program in California, I've never had the chance to hear it. But I'm pleased to say that I've discovered (through Tim Berglund, who's turning up on my blog these days as much as his own) that Hewitt is an upstanding citizen of the blogosphere, and I've added his excellent blog to the roll, primarily based on the strength of these two paragraphs (about the upcoming gubernatorial recall election in California), which made me laugh out loud:
Who else could win? Anyone with pre-existing name i.d. and an energized base of support. That's why Bill Simon is formidable, why Jack Kemp is tempted, and why it wouldn't surprise me to see Jerry Brown jump in. If Charlton Heston wasn't ill, he could have run and won. Johnny Carson could be governor if so inclined. Only Arianna's and Michael Savage's trial balloons are filled with lead. (On the other hand, my friend Dennis Prager could run a very, very respectable race. Dennis? Oh, Dennis?)

Benny Hinn has a shot. Kareem could make a play. Don't tell me it hasn't crossed Barbra's mind, or Tom Selleck's. Tom Hanks is America's favorite guy-next-door, you don't think he'd poll in double digits?
The idea of Benny Hinn as the governor of California is amusing enough to keep me coming back to Hewitt's blog on a daily basis. You'll find good, incisive, witty stuff there from an explicitly Christian worldview.
Alright, you wisenheimers. I just got a Yahoo referral for "john rabe gay".
You may have heard of the recent study done by UC Berkeley on the psycology of conservatism. According to the "study":
...some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

*Fear and aggression

*Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity

*Uncertainty avoidance

*Need for cognitive closure

*Terror management
I suppose its not suprising that UC Berkeley needs to see conservatism as some sort of pathology. There's probably an entire Ann Coulter book in there somewhere.

Fortunately, the enterprising folks at ScrappleFace have broken the story that Medicare will soon cover conservatism:
Medicare to Cover Conservatism Prevention Measures

(2003-07-23) -- Now that a report in Psychological Bulletin has identified the causes of political conservatism, Medicare and most private health plans will soon cover experimental preventative regimens for the syndrome.

According to the study, conservatism is brought on by several psychological factors including fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, and uncertainty avoidance. Researchers emphasized that it is not an ideology arrived at by study, rational discourse and life experience.

"Conservatives should not be debated, anymore than you would try to talk someone out of schizophrenia," said the lead researcher who wrote the journal article. "They are to be pitied, medicated and confined to institutions when necessary."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the plight of America's conservatives. He called on his colleagues to be "tolerant, patient, but never patronizing to those sick individuals on the other side of the aisle."

While there is no cure for conservatism, early intervention by public schools and welfare agencies offers the best hope for prevention.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I have two words for you, Matt LeBlanc: "After M*A*S*H."
Sometimes I find the coolest stuff over at Tim Berglund's blog. You ought to check this out.

It's a great demonstration of the enormity and complexity of the universe, and it's also just plain cool.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I love this reader's note that Jay Nordlinger printed in his "Impromtus" today:
Dear Jay: Obviously, the problem in Iraq with the attacks on our soldiers is not the diehard Saddamite guerrilla army. The problem is illegal guns. Let the new governing council pass some tough gun-control legislation and watch these attacks subside.
Though these sorts of statistics are thrown around frequently, every now and again one jumps out and slaps me in the face with reality.

It is not news to me that money is not our primary problem public education these days. Still, sometimes you just need to see the numbers to drive the point home. (I found these in Rebecca Hagelin's column today, which in turn came from the Heritage Foundation.)

If you ever needed any more proof that education spending does not equate to a good education, this is it: the Washington D.C. school system is the worst school system in the country by any measure you want to use. And the Washington D.C. school system spends $11,009 per pupil per year. $11,009.

If you can't properly educate a kid on half that, you simply can't educate. And all the money in the world isn't going to make you a better educator.
The seals have finally had enough, and they're now clubbing us back.
Another One Bites The Dust: Be sure to welcome Pastor Bret McAtee to the blogosphere. There's a lot on which I disagree with Bret, sometimes even violently, but he's got oodles of brains and passion, he's a Calvinist, and this will be a blog worth reading regularly.
I was flabbergasted watching the shows on the cable news channels last night. In trying to decide what was the headline story of the night, they honestly seemed torn between the killings of Uday and Qusay Hussein--two of the three highest-ranked targets in the entire Iraq war--and the latest developments in the Kobe Bryant rape case.

On Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" of the day's top news stories on MSNBC, he ranked the elimination of the Hussein boys fifth.

You have to love where television news has gone in these modern times. "In Iraq today, U.S. troops found an enormous stockpile of active nuclear missiles. But first, breaking news on the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez engagement!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I think that Mike Celezik, columnist for, mostly gets it wrong in this recent column about the sport of baseball living in the past. The crux of Celezik's point is that Barry Bonds might be better than Babe Ruth--a point worth arguing, as Bonds is certainly the greatest player of my lifetime.

But where Celezik goes wrong is in misunderstanding baseball's attachment to and veneration for its past. He sees is as some sort of antiquarian sentimentalism, like parents who are always complaining about "the music these kids are listening to these days." He says:
It is the only sport that keeps telling its fans that, yes, this fellow is pretty good, but another guy who played 40 years ago was better. Why bother going to the park if the best has already happened? Why bother paying attention if the great players of today are but shadows of those who went before?
In contrast to the stuck-in-the-past traditionalism of baseball, Celezik celebrates the modernity of the other major sports, which recognize that their players keep getting better and better:
The one thing that is certain is that 40 years from now, [Michael] Jordan will not be the greatest player ever. That’s because basketball celebrates the present and recognizes that the game and the skills involved in it evolve; that the competition gets tougher; that the athletes are bigger and stronger and faster with each passing year.

It’s the same with football. The NFL doesn’t try to sell you a game that was played 50 years ago. It sells the game and the players who you are watching now. Jim Brown is still to many the greatest running back ever, but he’s not football’s Babe Ruth; you won’t be grilled for breakfast for saying Walter Payton or even Emmitt Smith was better.
Celezik, like all non-baseball fans who attempt to write about the sport, misses the point entirely. Because he doesn't understand what baseball or its appeal is, he simply sees its historical sense as a backward-looking inferiority to the other major sports.

However, baseball fans have long recognized a basic fact that Celezik fails to see, and it accounts for much of the popularity of baseball as well as its historical sense: one does not have to be a physical freak to play the game of baseball at its highest level. Shaquille O'Neal, at 7 foot 3, is a physical freak. He's a genetic anomaly. Even Michael Jordan at 6'6" is a relative freak. How many people do you know who are 6'6"? Yes, this generation of basketball players is better than any in history. But they are also much larger and taller on average than their counterparts of 40 years ago in a game that is designed to favor the large and the tall.

Same with football. Yes, the football players of today are probably the best ever, overall. But it was not even 20 years ago that William "The Refrigerator" Perry, defensive tackle for the NFL's Chicago Bears, was considered to be a freak at around 350 lbs. He got entire endorsement deals just based on his size. Now, college football players routinely weigh in at that level, and even some high school players tilt the scales at a similar heft.

In the early 80's, Heismann trophy winner Doug Flutie was widely considered way too small to be an effective NFL quarterback at 5'10", and was only the 285th player drafted in 1985. Yet only a generation before, Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgenson was 5'11". Hall of Famers Y.A. Tittle and Fran Tarkenton were only 6'0". The difference was that the players have since gotten demonstrably bigger in a game which favors the exceedingly large.

Yet in baseball, Barry Bonds is no bigger physically (at least framewise--the girth is another issue) than Babe Ruth was 70 years ago. Sure, the players are in better shape now due to modern training techniques, but they are not bringing any different raw materials with them then they were a century ago. A 6'5" player in baseball has no inherent advantage over a 5'6" player. Which is precisely why history is so venerated in baseball: you can compare players now with players from other generations. The other sports, lacking this, are forced to divorce themselves from their past. How do you compare Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to George Mikan? Michael Jordan to Bob Cousy? Orlando Pace to Dan Dierdorf?

Baseball's connection with its own history is a large part of its appeal. In baseball, you can compare Barry Bonds to Babe Ruth. You can get a decent idea of what Christy Mathewson would do now if he were pitching in this era, and what Albert Pujols would do if he were playing against the '27 Yankees. It's the continuity of the game over time, using skills that don't depend on physical size, that makes baseball a game of historical perspective. Those who are only interested in the here-and-now should confine themselves to the 30-second-attention-span world of the NFL and stop trying to turn baseball into something it isn't.

Could baseball improve its appeal to the current generation of fans? Absolutely--but not by becoming a slower version of the NFL or the NBA. Instead, it ought to do everything it can to encourage comparisons between Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth, between the Greats of Baseball Past and the Greats of Baseball Present. It's the comparison to Ruth that gives Barry Bonds some of his greatness. Why would anyone want to reject that for the today-is-all-that-matters world of professional basketball?
I almost missed it while traveling, but my man Dennis Miller did another hilarious op-ed in the Wall Street Journal the other day, this one dealing with Jerry Springer's possible Senate run.

Says Miller:
It's no secret that the gene pool, in addition to being a tad brackish as of late, is also so shallow now there doesn't even need to be a lifeguard on duty. Springer has stood astride that pool like a latter day Colossus Ignoramus of Rhodes for well over a decade now.

Now that's not to say I don't periodically find the "The Jerry Springer Show" intellectually stimulating. Indeed, how many times have I been walking through the parking lot of a laundromat and seen two obese women in halter tops slap fighting and thought, Wow . . . I wonder what the back story is on that?
Miller then suggests instituting a current-events quiz where you have to get seven out of 10 questions correct before being allowed to vote. Recognizing the furor such a test would cause, he suggests a more amenable revision:
All right, settle down, liberals. Make that four out of 10.

Monday, July 21, 2003

I think we at least need to be honest: if the roles were reversed and a Democrat president were still looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Republicans would be crucifying him (or her) right now.
Frank J. has given us an inside look at new White House press secretary Scott McClellan's first day. After introductions, as is his habit, the President immediately gives McClellan a nickname:
"I'm your new White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan."

"Oh yeah," Bush said, slapping his forehead, "Anyway, I'm going to give you a nickname so we'll all feel like friends. Your nickname will be... uh... Ari."

"Uh, okay," Scott answered dubiously.
Just before we left for North Carolina, I co-hosted a question and answer session with the youth group in our church. It was an open forum where several of the church leaders fielded questions on any topic the teens wanted information on.

I learned something that I didn't know and would not have expected. The number one topic they had questions on, with nothing even close for second place: end times theology.

Our church doesn't spend a lot of time on eschatology or prophecy. That's not to say we never touch it, but it is not central by any stretch of the imagination (except for, of course, the resurrection of the dead and the future state of glory). But these kids had tons of questions on issues like the Rapture, the anti-Christ, the Beast, etc.

I knew that the LaHaye books were making an impact and selling in the tens of millions, but I still was not prepared for the influence I saw them having over our young people. Because LaHaye's dispensational premillenialism is essentially the default position in evangelicalism, I don't think any of these kids had ever even heard that there were other Christian end-times scenarios, nor that the "Left Behind" view is a relative novelty in Christianity. To even suggest that the Antichrist may not be some European leader in a nice suit, but rather a spirit of unbelief, is to invite more than a few raised eyebrows. It's interesting to then see the lightbulb going on as one reads them the actual Scriptures which refer to "antichrist."

I know Gary DeMar did a book debunking the "Left Behind" rapture view. It would be nice to see more evangelicals writing for a broad audience to show that there are other, better-attested options in conservative biblical theology. Our kids are drinking LaHaye-ism up by default.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

My apologies for the inactivity this week. I've been traveling (currently in the mountains just outside of Asheville, N.C.), but I hope to post again as soon as possible--Monday at the absolute latest.

Took a group from my church to Sliding Rock today, a natural water slide in the Pisgah National Forest. The kids love it, though for the first time, I couldn't bring myself to go down the slide this year--the water is breathtakingly, astonishingly cold. Still, it's a beautiful area.

An oddity like that has to be owned by the government, because if it were a privately owned park, it would probably have been sued out of existence years ago. There's a lot of potential there for broken bones and skinned knees, which would draw lawyers like a Liza Minelli concert draws flamboyant interior decorators if the park belonged to anyone but the behemoth federal government.

Friday, July 11, 2003

I've said it before, but I'll say it again--simply because I enjoy the way it sounds: "gelatinous, polyester-straining flab protrusions."
I'm getting worried about the Inscrutible Discoshaman. Has anyone seen him lately?

Thursday, July 10, 2003

From the Impossible to Parody department: The New York Times, that champion of the underdog and hater of big, evil corporations (except its own), today refers in an editorial headline to Kraft, McDonald's, and other food companies as "Big Food." You know, like "Big Oil." As Dave Barry would say, we are not making this up.

"'Big Food' Gets the Obesity Message," the Times headline triumphantly blares. Apparently, in response to the lawsuits of meddlesome lard-butts everywhere, some major food companies are now making noises about producing foods that are less fattening. You see, Junior Samples in the airline seat next to you whose love handles are spilling out over into your lap while he attempts to connect the extra seatbelt extention around his bib overalls is a victim of "Big Food." As opposed to "big appetite," and "no self-control" which have also frequently been shown to lead to gelatinous, polyester-straining flab protrusions.

As it turns out, the problem is not that Michael Moore is a pig, but rather the evil folks at Hostess who keep cranking out those delicious Ding Dongs, despite knowing that Michael is powerless to stop himself from shoveling another boxfull down his gullet. (Wait a second, what does "Big Food" have to do with this, anyway? Isn't all of this supposed to be a "gland problem"?)

The Times can barely restrain it's jubilation at seeing the American people once again successfully protected from themselves, with those who don't have to buy their trousers at a Billy Bob's Tent and Awning now having their food choices determined for them by that guy on Jerry Springer in the mumu who has to be rescued by having a wall torn out of his house so they can hydraulicly winch him to freedom.

However, the Times is not yet satisfied, since nothing has actually been outlawed yet. They will not rest until Twinkies are relegated to the black market:
The Food and Drug Adminstration has not yet determined how much trans fat is acceptable, but yesterday the agency said it would require food makers to start listing the amount in their products on the labels. That is the least that can be done to help consumers avoid some particularly unhealthy fats that are ubiquitous in snack foods, baked goods and many offerings at fast-food outlets and family-style restaurants.
It is the least they can do...which means they ought to be doing more. The same pillow-biters who lose sleep over how Muslim terrorists are being treated at Guantanamo Bay apparently want to round up and exterminate convenience store clerks who furtively peddle non-approved beef jerky.

Help, Uncle Sam! Stop me before I eat again!
Perhaps to the suprise of some, National Review has come out and said that it might be time for conservatives to declare their independence from the Republican Party. Mind you, they don't go so far as to advocate abandoning it, but rather suggest asserting a willingness to leave if necessary while trying to steer it back on course.

While some on the right will say "Big deal, we've been telling people to get out for years," it's no small thing for National Review to make such a statement. There are few organizations that have been more consistently Republican than the National Review, and it seems to me highly significant for them to make such a statement at such a time.

The article, attributed to the "NR Editors," crystalizes a frustration with the G.O.P. and the Bush administration which is growing daily among conservatives:

The defeats on racial preferences, gay rights, and the role of the courts generally reflect a conservative political failure that predates this administration. Republican politicians have never been comfortable talking about moral or race-related issues, and have been eager to slough off these responsibilities to the courts. Their silence is not, however, only an abdication of responsibility; it is also politically foolish. Opposition to racial preferences and gay marriage is popular in every state of the Union. And if the courts are going to block social conservatives from ever achieving legislative victories — and Republicans will not even try to do anything about it — social conservatives may well conclude that there is no point to participating in normal politics. There goes the Republican majority.
The piece ends with a subtle call to arms which conservatives who are not ready to entirely abandon the Republican Party would do well to heed:
The Pennsylvania Senate primary offers a choice between a candidate who is conservative on both economics and social issues, Pat Toomey, and one who is conservative on neither, the incumbent, Arlen Specter. The White House and the party establishment has rallied behind Specter. But President Bush's goals would be better served by a Senator Toomey. And as recent events underscore, this is not a bad time for conservatives to declare their independence from the GOP establishment.
Hopefully the White House will recognize the National Review as something of a barometer of conservative opinion. Otherwise, they may well guarantee a Democrat president in 2004.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

It appears that a lot of folks (especially sports-talk radio hosts, a species of which I am a recovering member) have their shorts in a wad over the recent comments made by Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker. To recap in case you have not heard about the controversy, Baker on Sunday was talking to some reporters and began musing about what he believes is the superior ability of black and Latin players to perform under hotter summer conditions.

"It's easier for most Latin guys and it's easier for most minority people because most of us come from heat. You don't find too many brothers in New Hampshire and Maine. Right? We were brought over here for the heat. Isn't that history? Your skin color is more conducive to heat than it is to the lighter-skinned people. I don't see brothers running around burnt," said Baker, who will be managing the National League team in next week's Major League Baseball All-Star game. He added, "That's a fact. I'm not making this up. I'm not seeing some brothers walking around with some white stuff on their ears and noses."

Now, I happen to be a white person. And according to the outraged mic-jockeys, I'm supposed to be apoplectic about this. The problem is, I'm just not. And for the life of me, I can't understand how people get so ratcheted up over stuff like this.

There are a couple of issues to examine here.

First, regardless of the dubious truth value of these statements, is it so outrageous to even talk about such a thing? My experience has been that it's generally only newspaper guys and those who have a stake in race-baiting who get overly excited about these types of comments. In real America, conversations take place along these lines between regular black and white folks every day without anyone blowing a gasket. Why is it considered so far beyond the pale to even discuss the question? I mean, even if it turns out that there's no real difference, does one have to be a raving racist to notice the simple fact that there aren't many black people in Minnesota and not many white people in Haiti? Is it really so ghastly to suggest the mere possibility that light skinned people live in cold northern nations while dark skin people live in warm southern nations for some reason other than sheer coincidence? Even if it is merely coincidence, is the pure, empirical evidence even beyond discussion?

The fact is, out of curiosity, I've asked a particular question to nearly every African-American friend I've ever had: Why aren't there any black people in hockey? Each of them to a one has answered the question in the exact same way: "It's too damn cold out there." Of course, the answer comes with a laugh, and I know that every black person reading this right now is laughing as well. Which I think is why I haven't been hearing too many African-American who have been outraged by Dusty Baker's comments. To many folks of all races, the fact that some groups seem to do better than others in certain weather is simply seen (rightly or wrongly) as self-evident.

The people who are outraged, it appears, are some white folks. Most of whom have microphones or newspaper columns. Which brings me to my second observation: Most of these guys are feigning outrage, not because their racial sensibilities have been grievously offended, but because they feel like they wouldn't be able to get away with saying the same kind of thing. There is some merit to this objection. It's nearly undeniable that a white manager who said the exact same thing as Dusty Baker would already have been fired, no questions asked.

But where the outraged chuckleheads have gone wrong is in their proposed solution to the situation. Most of them want to see Dusty Baker either disciplined or fired in order to rectify the "double-standard" they see being practiced. Because Jimmy "the Greek" lost his job years ago over some comments about how slaves were bred, they see the potential here for some kind of payback. Of course, the situation with "the Greek" was way overblown, which many reasonable people on both sides recognized at the time, though they were drowned out by the shrill caterwauling of the Racism Police. So it seems to me that the idiot talk-show hosts would realize that the solution to the problem is not more political correctness, with every side tiptoeing around in fear of saying anything slightly wrong, but rather less political correctness. If these guys had any brains at all (which they don't--trust me, I've worked with most of them), they'd realize that it would be better for someone like Jimmy "the Greek" to not get fired than for Dusty Baker to get fired. It would give all of us a little more freedom and a little less fear of running afoul of the Tolerance and Diversity Nazis.

To Dusty Baker's credit, he hasn't been cowed a bit by the controversy. I wish there were a hundred more like him in this country, so that we might finally be able to get back to actually talking about things, rather than burying our heads in euphemism and over-circumspection, trying so hard not to bruise anyone's feelings that we end up not saying anything.

Monday, July 07, 2003

They say there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Allow me to add a third: sportswriters' annual carping about the players chosen for Major League Baseball's All-Star game by the "ignorant fans."

Only hours after the teams were named, there is already the predictable flurry of columns (including this, this, and this), chiding the fans because their benighted choices do not accord with the great wisdom of sportswriters who, after all, really know the game. They talk about the "mistakes" that the fans made in voting. This gives them a reason to think of themselves as an elite group which is able to see the dunce fans for what they are, rather than to think of themselves as drunk, overweight slobs, which is what they really are.

What they don't understand is that the All-Star game may be the one thing in all of God-forsaken baseballdom that the game actually does right (except, of course, when its moronic commissioner decides to allow the game to end in a tie so that no players have to get tired). In a game that has largely left its fans behind (as proven by the horrendous attendance figures and television ratings), there is still one place where Major League Baseball actually gives off the appearance of something less than disdain for its fans: the selection of the starting All-Star rosters.

The sportswriters fail to understand one thing: there is no set criteria for All-Star voting. Thus, the fans' supposed "mistakes" are not mistakes at all. You can't make a mistake without a standard of correctness in place. The assumption that sportswriters operate on is that the All-Star teams are supposed to be exclusively composed of players who are having the best year. But their fundamental assumption is flawed. That's not what the teams are supposed to be made up of. The All-Star teams are supposed to be made up of the players that the fans most want to see. That's the way the system is designed, and it works every time--the starting lineups are always made up of the players the fans most want to see.

Yet every year, one columnist after another whines about how Harvey Tobaccojuice really deserved to be on the All-Star team but was aced out simply because the fans have no earthly idea who he is. Well excuse me, but what exactly would be the point of playing an exhibition game with players that the fans have never heard of?

These were largely the same chuckleheads who twenty years ago were writing about what robbery it was that Mike Schmidt was elected to the All-Star team when those "in the know" recognized that Terry Pendleton was having a superior year. Well you know what? Mike Schmidt is in the Hall of Fame now, and there's not one single person in the universe (aside from Terry Pendleton) who now thinks "Man, I wish I had seen Terry Pendleton instead." Who cares if Ozzie Smith wasn't the best shortstop in the National League in a particular year? Would anyone really have cared to see Royce Clayton in his place?

So the sports writers can carp all they want about how the All-Star game is really just a "popularity contest." I say, Amen to that! It's about time Major League Baseball tried to do something popular with its own fans.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Have you ever felt like God was toying with you a little? Arlen Specter was sitting there, too. Oh, it would have been so easy...I feel like I've just received a divine wink.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Anyone who has ever seen the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery knows what an extraordinarily moving event it is. However, not everyone realizes that there is always a guard on duty and that they do that changing ceremony no less than once per hour, seven days a week, 365 days per year.

There's something about that formality and ritual and honor which appeals to something very basic within most of us, though I'm not sure what it is. From a pragmatic standpoint, one could easily view such a thing as silly sentimentality, or even an excercise in pointless tradition.

But I know that it's not. There's something deeper to it than that. Tradition and formality mean something. When in my mind I imagine that ceremony taking place during a driving rain storm at 3 am with not a sole civilian onlooker in the cemetery, my eyes fill with tears.

It's only by God's grace that I was born in this country. While some who hate their country (whether their hatred stems from a belief that it is not socialistic enough on the one side, or because they still lament the way the Constitutional Convention went on the other) will be mourning tommorrow, my family and I will be celebrating God's grace in allowing us to live in the greatest nation on earth.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

In the aftermath of the horrendous, Constitution-shredding decisions of the Supreme Court this past week, I've been reflecting on how we have come to where we find ourselves. How is it possible that we could have an interpretive body reading a document to mean the exact opposite of what it actually says?

Besides all the usual complaints about postmodernism and relativism, I think there is also a more simple explanation, which has proved itself in fact over and over again: When an interpretive body is invested with the power of infallible interpretation of a document, the interpretive body always, always, ALWAYS ends up trumping the document which it was merely supposed to interpret.

For another current example of this, one might look to the Magesterium of the Roman Catholic Church. This is ironic since many Roman Catholics (including my favorite justice, Antonin Scalia) are vehemently (and rightly) opposed to the recent Court decisions.

The Church claims the power to authoritatively interpret the revelation of God as given in the Bible. According to the Church, its powers do not stand above the revelation of the Bible, but are instead merely "equal." In practice, however, when you are dealing with the "dead letter" of a text and the "living interpretation" of an authoritative body, the text doesn't stand a chance once the authoritative interpreter decides to refuse to be subordinate to the text and instead sets out to find things that are not actually there. Of course, no interpretive body ever openly usurps its vested authority. It's decisions are always couched in terms that give the pretense of proceeding from the document which endows it with its power, while actually moving further and further away from the text.

Thus, the Supreme Court can look at the Fourteenth Amendment, the express purpose of which was to outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, and find in it the right to discriminate on the basis of race. They can read the First Amendment which states that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof, and find in it the opportunity to prohibit the free exercise of religion by students in government schools. And the Roman Catholic Church can read a Bible that says "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..." and find in it warrant for many mediators between God and men along with Jesus Christ. The plain meaning of the text cannot be the real meaning, because the infallible interpretive body says it's not.

As a result, I see the Supreme Court as being directly analogous to the Roman Catholic Church magesterium. By moving further away from the "dead letter," each has essentially trashed their foundational document, substituting for it an anything-goes wind-of-the-moment magesterium. One might object to the analogy by saying that the Supreme Court is not invested with divine authority, and thus is naturally fallible. However, since no check exists for a runaway court, its actions take on all the certainty and authority of one claiming to act on divine authority. And while the Church remains theoretically subject to the text of Scripture (as the Court remains theoretically subject to the text of the Constitution), in practice there are no checks for its pronouncements either.

The solution to the runaway magesterium was the Protestant Reformation which split the Church in the 16th century. Unfortunately, the only remaining solution to the Divine Magesterium of the Supreme Court might be similar.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum commented a few months ago that if the Supreme Court manufactured a constitutional right to consentual sodomy in overturning Texas' sodomy laws, "then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery."

Of course, he was widely pilloried as an ignorant bigot. However, Jonah Goldberg's column today (which is a mixed bag of some excellent and some not-so-excellent stuff) provides a link to a fascinating column by Slate's William Saletan. I had not previously seen Saletan's piece, which was published in April, in which he desperately tries to get a straight answer (no pun intended) from the Human Rights Campaign to Santorum's charge, to no avail.

Keep in mind, Saletan is no raving conservative. In fact, he generally believes that homosexual marriage is appropriate. But the question that Santorum was addressing (as well as the Supreme Court) was whether there was a Constitutional right to such behavior.

Saletan says:
Let's leave adultery and polygamy out of it for the moment. Let's set aside morality and stick to law. And let's grant that being attracted to a gender is more fundamental than being attracted to a family member. Santorum sees no reason why, if gay sex is too private to be banned, the same can't be said of incest. Can you give him a reason?
And as it turns out, the answer (at least for the Human Rights Campaign) is "no." The first-blush answers do not provide any solace for those who claim to see a legal difference between one consensual sexual practice and another. Says Saletan:

The easy answer—that incest causes birth defects—won't cut it. Birth defects could be prevented by extending to sibling marriage the rule that five states already apply to cousin marriage: You can do it if you furnish proof of infertility or are presumptively too old to procreate. If you're in one of those categories, why should the state prohibit you from marrying your sibling?
Why, indeed? Many, if not most, of us assume incest laws are based on concerns for offspring. But if there are no offspring, what then is the "compelling state interest" for keeping a brother and sister unmarried? Saletan didn't have much luck finding out from the Human Rights Campaign, though they insist that there is a difference:
On Wednesday, I asked [David] Smith [communications director of the HRC] that question. "We're talking about people; they're talking about specific acts," he said. "It has nothing to do with these other situations that are largely frowned upon by the vast majority of Americans." Is being frowned upon by the vast majority of Americans an acceptable standard for deciding which practices shouldn't be constitutionally protected? "It's not part of the discussion," Smith replied. I asked whether it was constitutionally OK for states to ban incest. "Yes," he said. Why? "There's a compelling interest for the state to ban that practice," he said. What's the compelling interest? For that, Smith referred me to HRC General Counsel Kevin Layton.
The HRC is on the horns of a dilemma here. If they were to just come out and say that no, there would be no compelling state interest in preventing such incest, they will have proven Santorum's exact point. Their entire attack on Santorum was based on his supposedly "ignorant" statements which supposedly "equated" homosexuality with incest.

But Santorum's point was a legal one. And when asked for a legal differentiation between homosexuality and consentual incest, even the communications director for the Human Rights Campaign is spectacularly unable to provide one, instead shuffling Saletan off to talk to the lawyers. But the lawyers proved as unable to provide a distinction as David Smith was. After some back and forth,
Essentially, Layton reasoned that it isn't his job to explain why incest and gay sex are different. It's Santorum's job to explain why they're similar.
And yet again, Santorum, the guy who seemed so obviously wrong, turns out to be the guy who was exactly right.
A quote from AARP president John Rother, on ABC News this past weekend:
"These bills will offer some partial relief, but for most people they will find that they will still be faced with paying for a majority of the costs of prescription drugs themselves."
(gasp) Why, that's horrible! The people who actually take the medications having to pay for them themselves! The nerve of working Americans to place such a burden on them.