Thursday, December 29, 2005

Atheistic Religious Fervor

The popular belief today, fostered by many in the scientific community who have a vested interest in bolstering their prestige, is that scientists are purely rational, following the empirical facts wherever they might lead, while religious people are irrational fanatics who persist in believing in a creator God despite the evidence.

But is that really the case? Even a cursory look at the actual practice of the scientific community shows us that the answer is emphatically "no." Scientists show every bit the tendency toward faith commitments as anyone else, and nobody more than the atheistic, naturalistic ones.

A prime example of this was brought up by an atheistic commenter in the discussion section of a recent post.

After trying to escape the obvious non-naturalistic implications of a universe that has clearly had a beginning in time by positing that it was self-caused (thus committing rational suicide), he then tries to escape by offering up what is known as the multiple universe (or "multiverse") theory. This is fortunate, because there may be no better example of "empirical scientists" coming up with something that is completely unempirical in order to explain away implications they find uncomfortable and which they have ruled out on philosophical grounds.

Leonard Susskind, the widely revered Stanford physicist who has had a major role in formulating string theory, essentially admits in an interview in this month's New Scientist that the "multiverse" theory (which says there are theoretically millions--or more--of other unobserved universes in existence) is necessary to explain why our universe seems so finely tuned for life.

The introduction to the piece, written by Amanda Gefter, is shockingly telling:
But the inventor of string theory, physicist Leonard Susskind, sees this "landscape" of universes as a solution rather than a problem. He says it could answer the most perplexing question in physics: why the value of the cosmological constant, which describes the expansion rate of the universe, appears improbably fine-tuned for life. A little bigger or smaller and life could not exist. With an infinite number of universes, says Susskind, there is bound to be one with a cosmological constant like ours.
So we see the problem we're dealing with (which is described as "the most perplexing question in physics"): the universe is very fine-tuned for intelligent life, and it's very, very difficult to explain that naturalistically. So a theory has to be devised, no matter how non-empirical, to explain the evidence in naturalistic terms. What we come out with is the "multiverse," which is essentially nothing more than a variation on the old idea that if you put an infinite number of monkeys in a room typing on an infinite number of typewriters, every possibility will eventually be realized and one of them will type the complete works of Shakespeare. Because our universe is clearly showing us design far beyond the complete works of Shakespeare, multiversalists simply theorize an infinite number of universes to explain it. None of this is observable, of course, but that really isn't what this is about anyway.

And here's an even more telling section from the Q&A. Keep in mind, this is from the man who is one of the most respected naturalistic scientists in the world and is hostile enough to ID to have written a book called Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design:
If we do not accept the landscape idea are we stuck with intelligent design?

I doubt that physicists will see it that way. If, for some unforeseen reason, the landscape turns out to be inconsistent - maybe for mathematical reasons, or because it disagrees with observation - I am pretty sure that physicists will go on searching for natural explanations of the world. But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature's fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics. One might argue that the hope that a mathematically unique solution will emerge is as faith-based as ID.
In one fell swoop, one of the most eminent physicists in the world confirms everything we've been saying: the universe strongly hints at having been designed; that ID presents an argument that is weighty and has strong evidence on its side; that this conclusion is philosophically unacceptable to the naturalist, necessitating that he dispose of the vast weight of the evidence; and that the naturalistic scientist currently stands in a "very awkward position" in relationship to the criticisms leveled by Intelligent Design.

Not exactly the picture you'd get from all the triumphalistic blather from evolutionists surrounding the Dover case, is it? Which do you find to be more faith-based: the notion that a universe which shows extremely strong evidence of having been designed actually was designed? Or the notion that it must be one of an infinite number of other universes which popped into being out of nothing, none of which we can see, measure, or even detect? Purely rational scientists indeed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Circle of Life

Attacks on Intelligent Design often charge that the theory is "unfalsifiable" and thus unscientific. Aside from the fact that this is simply incorrect--ID does put forth a falsifiable hypothesis (see William Dembski's explanatory filter, for example)--it is yet another area in which Darwinian theory actually fails the very test it would impose on everyone else.

If ever a "scientific" theory was unfalsifiable, Darwinian evolution is it. Think about it. Using the most popular current definition of "science," Darwinian macroevolution cannot be proved false.

As you’ll recall, the judge in the Dover ID case ruled (and it has been argued here by some commenters) that science by definition must be naturalistic. Naturalism assumes (note that it doesn't, nor can it, prove; rather, it assumes) that the physical world is all that is real, and thus all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.

Once this is assumed, there is no evidence that can disprove Darwinian macroevolution. Something like Darwinian evolution has to be true, because we are at that point dealing with two "facts":

1). There is a great deal of diversity and complexity among living things
2). That diversity and complexity has to have arisen by blind, purposeless, naturalistic chance

Any evidence which would seem contrary to the notion that all the diversity and complexity of life arose naturally and purposelessly must be reinterpreted, discounted, or completely put aside because we’ve already decided that "science" demands that it arose and diversified naturally and purposelessly.

This is how we end up with statements like the one I previously cited from the atheistic Darwinist Richard Dawkins (who is a passionate opponent of ID, I might add): "Biology is the study of complicated things which give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."

Dawkins concludes, of course, that this is merely an illusion, because it has been decided at the outset that these complicated things have to have arisen by blind, purposeless, naturalistic chance. Evidence which would seem to falsify this cannot be what it seems to be, because we’ve decided a priori that all life must be explained naturalistically.

This is, of course, perfectly circular. It goes something like this: we know that all life arose and diversified through blind natural processes, so Darwinian evolution is true. And we know that Darwinian evolution is true because life arose and diversified through blind, natural processes. Since it reasons in a circle, it cannot be falsified. Yet the evolutionist attacks ID because it's supposedly unfalsifiable. So why does the evolutionist have the right to violate his own standard while ruling everyone else out of court on the grounds they violate it?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Oh Yeah...

...and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Unintelligent Designs

A lot is being made about the recent intelligent design (ID) case in Dover, PA, where a federal judge ruled that including intelligent design in the curriculum would be tantamount to the state sponsoring a religion.

At issue is what constitutes science itself, with the court deciding that:
...[R]igorous attachment to "natural" explanations is an essential attribute to science by definition and by convention. We are in agreement with Plaintiffs’ lead expert Dr. Miller, that from a practical perspective, attributing unsolved problems about nature to causes and forces that lie outside the natural world is a "science stopper."
Of course, what the ruling doesn't mention (nor do atheistic scientists often mention) is that this "rigorous attachment to natural explanations"--otherwise known as methodological naturalism--is itself a presupposition based on a particular kind of faith, and is neither empirical nor testable. Thus, as an arbitrary rule placed on science, it actually violates itself, though we are all expected to pay it unquestioning fealty or else be labeled flat-earthers (or worse).

Incidentally, this view of science would have been completely alien to all scientists before the 20th century, most of whom believed the science was only possible because a creator God had made an orderly world. Absolute naturalism is not the sine qua non of science, but is rather an untestable philosophy smuggled relatively recently into science by those with a particular metaphysical agenda.

In reality, a reasonable mind can see the silliness of this without the benefit of years of training designed to drum out common sense. Say you put a deck of cards on the coffee table and walk out of the room. Later you return to the room and the cards are scattered haphazardly all over the floor. What do you conclude? The anti-ID zealots would caracature ID by claming ID-ists would look at a scenario and say "Well, angels must have done it." This kind of portrait earns big points with their fellow atheists who find it quite clever (and with more than a few dim judges, too), but it utterly fails to address what ID actually says. Just as anyone else, the ID theorist would conclude that something knocked the cards off the table (not necessarily intelligent; it could have been the cat) and then gravity caused the cards to fall and land randomly.

Now let's suppose an alternate scenario. You put the cards on the coffee table, walk out of the room, and when you return, they are lying on the floor in a pattern that spells out "We fell down." In order to remain "scientific," would you apply your "methodological naturalism" and conclude that no intelligent force had acted on the cards? Or, without having to give it more than a nanosecond of thought, would you conclude that your spouse (or someone else with intelligence) was having some fun with you?

We know the answer intuitively, and the fact is that "science" makes these kinds of obvious conclusions every day. Perhaps the most popular science there is (if television ratings are any indication)--forensic science--deals with only discerning intelligent design in the natural realm. It's an entire science based on the clear fact that if two metal bullet-shaped objects with a spiral pattern are found in someone's head, they are not natural deposits produced by the brain, nor are they things that the wind put there.

What ID is trying to explain, and what naturalistic science is utterly at a loss to explain, is that the scattered deck of cards from the analogy is most emphatically not what we find in nature. What we find is the cards arranged into a message--only it's a message far more complex than "we fell down."

The atheist has gotten around this by jiggering the definition of science so that anything "scientific" (by which he means, and means us to mean, "true") has to have a natural, purposeless, undirected cause as an explanation. So when he finds the message spelled out by the cards, he concludes with absolute certainty--scientifically--that they got that way on accident. As the eminent atheistic Darwinist Richard Dawkins once wrote, "Biology is the study of complicated things which give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." They appear to have been designed, but ultimately they cannot have, because we've already decided that any recourse to an intelligent cause cannot be true because it violates our definition of science. Any other explanation wouldn't be scientific, you see.

And so the methodological naturalist stands inside a wonderfully comfortable little circle he's drawn for himself, where he knows the answers to all of life's questions because he's decided beforehand what he's willing to allow those answers to be. None of this, of course, has anything to do with pursuing actual truth, but he's not too concerned with that anymore because he's published a lot of papers and has a lifetime of hypotheses to defend and social respectability to protect and tenure to gain.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Late Show Lunatics

I've written here in the past about my belief in the obvious superiority of David Letterman over Jay Leno. To my mind, there's just no contest.

However, I realize that reasonable people can disagree on this. There's a time when Letterman has led the ratings, and more recently Leno has. Leno was essentially discovered on Letterman's show. Letterman made his original mark on the "Tonight Show" which Leno now occupies. So there are plenty of similarities between the two, and presumably some overlapping audience.

So my question today is: Why do you think Letterman proves to be so overpoweringly appealing to the criminally insane? He's like catnip to them.

In the past, Letterman had a demented woman who claimed to be his wife steal his car and repeatedly break into his homes until one day committing suicide.

More recently, he had a house painter who conspired to kidnap his toddler son.

And just today, I see that another insane woman in New Mexico has filed for a restraining order against Letterman. According to
[Colleen] Nestler's application for a restraining order was accompanied by a six-page typed letter in which she said Letterman used code words, gestures and "eye expressions" to convey his desires for her.

She wrote that she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after his "Late Show" began in 1993, and that he responded in code words and gestures, asking her to come East.

She said he asked her to be his wife during a televised "teaser" for his show by saying, "Marry me, Oprah." Her letter said Oprah was the first of many code names for her and that the coded vocabulary increased and changed with time.
So why doesn't this ever happen to Leno? Why does Letterman draw so many obvious psychos? And does my clear preference for Letterman over Leno place me among them?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Taking Stock

I've been sick for much of the week with a fever and sore throat, which is why I've been scarce around here the last few days.

While recuperating, I've been watching a bit more television than I normally do (since I find it hard to read while I can actually hear blood throbbing through my head), and I happened upon one of the oddest things I've ever seen. Has anybody else seen this thing?

I flip on CNBC, and there's this guy (it turns out his name is Jim Cramer) who is in a studio going absolutely bonkers, screaming his head off and throwing chairs, biting the heads off dolls, and sweating like a mental patient...about stocks. The guy is giving stock advice on a financial network, and he's like a mix between an over-caffeinated sports talk host and Bobcat Goldthwait. He makes Howard Beale from "Network" look like Ben Stein.

Not being a big stock market guy, I have almost no idea what he's talking about at any given moment. But as I watch, I realize that it's quite feasible that this guy could keel over dead of a heart attack right here on national television. So I've been tuning in for a few days now, because I have to admit that I find that prospect quite compelling.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Kwanzaa Sham-aa

As faithful reader Plumtree points out to me by email, this is about the time each year when I like to take the opportunity to observe that Kwanzaa is an utterly fake sham of a "holiday."

Kwanzaa is all over the place nowadays, and you may perhaps be under the impression that it's some sort of authentic African celebration. It's not. Kwanzaa was only invented in America in the 1960's--by a thug named Ron Karenga, who aside from Kwanzaa may be best remembered for his conviction on charges of torturing two women in the early 1970's.

Front Page magazine quotes a Los Angeles Times article from May 14, 1971 that describes one woman's testimony of what Karenga (who was convicted) did to her:
Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said.
Some time back, LaShawn Barber wrote an excellent piece on this whole sham-holiday issue that everyone ought to read. You should also check out the links she provides at the end of it.

If someone--anyone--dares to wish you a "Happy Kwanzaa" during this Christmas season, you should whip him with an electrical cord and shove a red-hot soldering iron into his mouth the way Ron Karenga does with his victims. In doing so, you'll be sharing with the the true meaning of Kwanzaa at this holiday time of year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm Gonna Wait 'Til The Midnight Hour

The events of the other day have raised a question in my mind that I'm surprised I haven't had before: Why do we execute people in this country at 12:01 am?

I'm sure there's a good reason, but I've never heard it. Are they trying to make it extra creepy by only doing it in the midnight hour, hoping maybe some wolves will be baying outside? Are they trying to catch the prisoner when he's extra tired so they can save money on tranquilizers? Are they giving the last dinner time to digest?

I'd really like to know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Helping Widows In Need

After several false starts with skittish scammers who got scared and ran, Brian at Terrible Swift Word finally has some African email scammers on the hook bigtime.

The saga begins here (though you'll want to go to his December archive to catch all the subsequent action).

Among the highlights: when the scammers repeatedly demand a phone number from "Avery Lunch" (Brian's alter-ego), he sends them John Kerry's Washington office number and says:
I'll have to apologize in advance for my secretary. She has a heart of gold, but she comes off as a little gruff at times. Don't take it personally, that's just her way. She's a little hard of hearing so talk loud and if she gives you a hard time just tell her you need to talk to me about "Swiftboat." That's my code for our project. She doesn't know what it is just that it's important to me. If Herve answers the phone, he doesnt know much English so talk slow and loud. Same deal, though. Just tell him, "Swiftboat" and hell put you right through.
The scammers called the number. Repeatedly. They write:
The people were very furious with me when i started calling persistently and i had to tender my apology
Nobody on the web jerks these guys around more amusingly than does Brian. It's pure entertainment.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Load Of Crip

My television was out for over a month after Hurricane Wilma (because of a blown-over dish), so I hadn't seen much of the news until vacation last week. The big cause célèbre (literally) seems to be that of one Stanley "Tookie" Williams, quadruple (at least) murderer and co-founder of the deadly Crips street gang, who is due to be executed by lethal injection tomorrow in California.

When I first saw the veritable who's who of leftist talent lined up in support of "Tookie," including usual suspects Mike Farrell, Martin Sheen, Ed Asner, Tom Hayden, and Bianca Jagger, I thought "Wow, with a lineup like that behind him, he must've killed a cop or something."

Imagine my surprise to find out that they're supporting him even though he didn't kill a cop--only four regular people, including one motel-owning couple and their daughter. Other than the fact that he failed to kill a cop, he's just the kind of felon the Left loves (see Jack Henry Abbott, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Huey Newton, etc., etc., ad nauseum), wildly violent but dangerous and attractive for a crowd that sees common street thuggery as "authentic" compared to their own lives of plastic hypocrisy.

The celebrities who are supporting "Tookie" say he has been rehabilitated (despite the fact that he still denies the crimes to begin with), as evidenced by the fact that....he writes children's books against violence. That's nice and all, and I'm sure Tookie is a real wordsmith. But this view overlooks the simple fact that it's not about rehabilitation. The Left loves its romantic notions of rehabilitating and redeeming hardened criminals, but it ignores the harsh reality, which is that the vast majority of these guys don't change. And even if they did, it doesn't alter the legal situation, because the death penalty serves a valuable punitive function and is perfectly legitimate regardless of supposed deterrent value, subjective change in the accused, or any other ancillary benefit.

Karla Faye Tucker was put to death in Texas in 1998 for a grisly pickax double murder--despite a jailhouse conversion that led her to deep remorse and repentance for her crimes. Her internal change was heartwarming and (to my eyes, at least) authentic. But it didn't spare her from the just penalty for her crime, nor should it have (misguided appeals from the likes of Pat Robertson aside). Then-governor George W. Bush rightly allowed Tucker's justly-imposed sentence to be carried out, because her subsequent remorse (something Williams lacks, incidentally) did not change the fact of what she had done, nor did it bring her victims back.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger does the right thing and does not allow himself to be cowed by the veiled threats of rioting that leaders of the black community are putting out there (a fact that ought to infuriate black people against their supposed leaders--I mean, think about that--it's assumed that they'll riot in the streets if the governor doesn't grant clemency to a convicted murderer, and rather than being horrified, many actually seem to embrace that implication!) justice will be served sometime tomorrow when the poison begins to flow into the veins of Stanley Williams--though his death will be much more peacful and pain-free than that of his known victims.

(UPDATE: Gov. Schwarzenegger [that's still the oddest thing I ever find myself writing] has denied clemency, and Williams will likely be executed in a few hours. We'll see what happens after that. The fact that rioting can even be reasonably anticipated ought to be an intense embarassment for all involved--though it's not, oddly enough.)

Happy Holidays. So There.

I love Christmas as much as anyone. And I've always made it a point to specifically wish people "Merry Christmas." I think the Christian bent of our culture is exceedingly important (since, fading though it is, it's actually responsible for whatever success this nation has enjoyed). I think the tie between Christ and Christmas needs to always be made more explicit, not less. Furthermore, I think attempts to banish any and all Christian references from Christmas are ridiculous, misguided, and harmful to religious freedom.

That having been said, I have to admit I'm starting to get a little creeped out by the ferocity of the Christmas-mongers this holiday season. Somewhere along the line, it seems to have gone from "putting Christ back into Christmas" to an absolute shibboleth by which every individual and corporation will be judged. "You will acknowledge Christmas" seems to be the cry. Boycotts, pickets, and recriminations are now as Christmas as candy canes and holly.

The White House is the most recent target for failing to mention Christmas specifically in its "holiday" cards. George Bush professes to be a Christian, and yes, he ought to have the guts that all previous presidents (save Clinton) showed in wishing their constituents merry Christmas. But is it really our goal to force people to express what we want them too? Have we crossed a line from making it safe to wish people a Merry Christmas again to requiring them to do it?

Of course it is stupid for corporations to suddenly stop mentioning Christmas out of some misguided sense of political correctness (especially considering that it ain't Hanukkah gifts that are raking in all that money for them). And it's ridiculous for schools to change the words of "Silent Night" to "Cold in the Night." But as I recall, even back in the "good old days" 25 years ago, people still occasionally used the phrase "Happy Holidays." I mean, it wasn't just invented this year as part of the drive to destroy Christmas, and everyone who uses it oughtn't automatically become a heresy suspect.

Why, I'd venture to confess (though I may have my Religious Right membership card revoked) that even I on occasion have wished someone "happy holidays." I didn't do it to snuff Christ out of Christmas so much as to include Thanksgiving and New Year's in what I was saying, and fortunately nobody stoned me for it.

So yes, we should recognize that this nation is culturally Christian and that there's nothing wrong with that. We should be free to acknowledge Christmas in the public square however we like. But we also ought to lighten up a little where appropriate. I mean, after all, it's Christmas.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Silence of the Blogger

I should've mentioned that we're on vacation this week, which means things will continue to be pretty quiet here until next Monday. I'm always kind of reluctant to announce something like that, since I'm pretty firmly on record as being disgusted at narcissistic bloggers who imagine that millions are hanging on their every post.

But just so you don't think I'm trapped under something, there it is. And if you do happen to hang on my every word, well God bless you. Please tell my family about it. There'd be a huge "I-told-you-so" factor involved there.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

When Talent Gets Left Behind

Slate magazine takes a withering, hilarious look at the putrid "Left Behind" straight-to-video films. The sad thing is, the article pretty much nails it on the head:
The new "Left Behind" movie disturbs me—not because thousands of people are watching a movie that proclaims non-Christians will burn in hell for all eternity—but rather because thousands of people are watching a movie where Toronto stands in for New York, Chicago, and Israel. Also, Washington, D.C. And Egypt. London, too.

The "apocalypse on a shoestring" aesthetic has become the hallmark of the "Left Behind" series.
Though unfortunately many don't know it, the premillenial "rapture" version of end times history represented by the "Left Behind" series is a relatively recent innovation in church history (not making it's appearance until the mid-1800's) and was not the view of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and the giants of the Bible-believing church. It's seen now as one of the baseline beliefs of "fundamentalist Christianity," but historically that's just not the case.

And that's important to point out, because when one sees movies of this caliber, one can unfortunately feel the need to distance oneself from them. Continues Slate's Grady Hendrix:
While each installment's budget is estimated to be around $17.4 million, I think that number might be off by $16 million or so. In Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force, for example, Kirk Cameron has to take Ben Judah, a respected rabbi, to the Wailing Wall so that he can tell Jews everywhere that Jesus Christ is Lord. Israel is represented by a few stone walls obviously made of plywood, some Christmas-tree lights, and 500 volunteer extras wearing leftover costumes from a Nativity pageant. The Wailing Wall is patrolled by soldiers dressed in World War II army uniforms. The producers have also dubbed in the sound of goats during scenes set in downtown Jerusalem, which leads to the unusual notion that modern-day Israel is populated by WWII re-enactors, nervous-looking people in bathrobes, and goats.
The shame of it is, the church used to produce all the great art. Now it produces movies like "Left Behind." Something got lost along the way, as a sense of form and beauty was replaced by a utilitarian didacticism. Which is a twenty dollar way of saying we once had Michelangelo, and now we have Kirk Cameron movies.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Right-Wing Star

The fever-Left Mother Jones magazine has carefully charted the constellations of the ominous and dark-hearted universe of the "religious right" in America.

Their map seems to have two centers: James Dobson's Focus on the Family empire and...the Chalcedon Foundation. Or something. It's all pretty confusing even for me, and I'm part of this religious right cabal.

You may want to print out the map, frame it, and hang it in your room. It also makes a lovely place mat. I'll be keeping it nearby so I can try to plot my own place in the conspiracy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Overrater, That's Not The Way It Feels

Joe Carter over at the evangelical outpost has been discussing the most overrated films of all time. While I'm not equipped to make the sort of judgements Joe has (such as the "most overrated and underrated German films"--I think I saw "Das Boot" once, and that was about it), I've seen more than my share of American movies in my lifetime.

And for my money, the most overrated film of all time, nonpareil, is "Chinatown."

About every five years I think "My goodness, everyone keeps writing about what a masterpiece 'Chinatown' is. I must have missed something. Surely I'm older and more mature now than the last time I saw it. I'll rent it and finally understand what I was missing."

But the same thing pours out of my TV set each time: a turgid, talky, incomprehensible, plotless period piece about irrigation.

Critics can't stop slobbering all over themselves about this film even thirty years later. Entertainment Weekly ranks it as the fourth greatest film of all time. And I'm here to tell you that it stinks. On ice.

Here are a few of my other personal, annotated selections for Most Overrated:

Actor: Marlon Brando. I understand that in the early 50's, his approach was new and different. But in "The Godfather," his whole schtick was to stuff cotton wads in his mouth. He wasn't bad, but c'mon, a few balls of cotton and a lot of mumbling make him great?

Runner-Up Actor: Michael Caine. Has this guy ever turned down a script? He was recently knighted "Sir Michael" by the Queen of England. Hmmm. I can't figure out what he got it for. Was it "Jaws: The Revenge" or was it "Blame it on Rio"? What it's all about, Alfie, is doing anything that shows up in the mailbox.

Actress: Meryl Streep. She does accents. Great. So did every girl in the drama department at my high school. Quick! Name two Meryl Streep movies you own on DVD. . . . I didn't think so.

Runner-Up Actress: Audrey Hepburn. You're delicate and foreign. We get it. Eat something.

Director: Robert Altman. Give me a plot. Any plot. Ten people talking at once while the camera meanders around aimlessly might impress the film students at NYU, but for the rest of us it's just boring. Which is why each of Altman's critically-lavished films grosses about $22.50.

Sex Symbol: Jean Harlow. Granted, tastes change over a hundred years (or however long ago she was popular), but I still just can't see this. She always looks vaguely like a guy to me. And were people really into dark circles around the eyes back then, or was that just a quirk? She died when she was ten years younger than I am, yet she always looks so old to me. I think back in the 1930's, everybody looked like they were 47 no matter how old they actually were.

Died-Too-Young-Star: James Dean. Did you realize that James Dean made three films? A lot of people think it was a tragedy Dean went out so young. I think it was great for his career. If he'd stayed alive, he'd have been doing "Love Boat" by the 70's. Just because nobody had ever seen a guy act like a hysterical girl on film before didn't make him great.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Deck The Halls

Doug Wilson has a pungent, counterintuitive take on celebrating Christmas:
...[D]o not fall for the lie that the spirit of Christmas is an ethereal kind of thing. This is the celebration of the Incarnation, when the eternal Logos of God took on a material body, which He still has. Do not, therefore, join in the general lamentations about "materialism." This is a celebration of God taking on a material body. It is therefore a holiday that should focus on stuff.

By stuff, I mean ribbons, decorations, fudge, wreaths, cider, presents, feasting, toasts, shopping with joy, putting up a tree, sending cards, learning a Christmas piece on the piano, and more fudge.

Of course, we all know how to sin with stuff--we were living in a pretty earthy state of sin before Christ came. But He did not come to whisk us out of this world in order that we might go celebrate some kind of Gnostic holiday in heaven. We are to honor the Lord Jesus with our stuff...
Of course materialism is a bad thing. But material is good. In its proper place, it's a gift from God.

Every new Christian (and many an old one) goes through a stage of reflective anguish where he reevaluates timeworn traditions. "Should I put a tree up? Is it pagan? Should I still give gifts?" Such reflection isn't bad--we ought to always evaluate our traditions. But don't throw away perfectly good traditions based on some hyperspiritual (and unbiblical) notion that disembodied spirituality brings us nearer to God. It doesn't. God called his creation good, and we honor him when we properly enjoy it.

This Land Is Your Land

It has recently occured to me that the notion of "owning property" in America is now largely an illusion.

I have to replace a fence in my backyard that was blown down by Hurricane Wilma last month. But in order to put a new fence up in my own backyard, I have to first submit a building plan to the city, aquire a set of instructions and codes to which my fence must conform, possibly get another survey done on my property, have the fence inspected, and if the inspector doesn't like it, he can make me tear the whole thing out and start over. This applies to anything I want to build on my "own" property--a shed, a doghouse, whatever.

Also, if the government decides that my trees are a threat (or are near trees that are a threat) to the local citrus business, they can come on my property over my objections and cut them down.

And, if the government decides that it would be better to have a Wal-Mart, or a gas station, or a Sears, or a parking lot on my property, it can force me to sell it to them even if I don't want to.

Somewhere along the line, Americans ceded control of their property over to the government (whether local, state, or federal). It happened easily enough that most people didn't even notice. The result was that you no longer own your own property. You simply posess it at the government's pleasure (though you still have to buy it and pay taxes on it, of course), and when the government's pleasure changes, your title won't be worth the paper it's written on.

It seems to me that the founders of this country really cared about two things: religious freedom and property rights. But it's 2005, so make sure you have your government permit before you display your Diversity Tree in the front window this Celebration Season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Uh, Yeah...That Is What I Was Doing. Right.

Only a college professor could write something this pretentiously ridiculous: Star Wars Episodes I-VI--the greatest postmodern art film ever.

Quoth the scholar:
Everything about the films, from the opening text crawls to the out-of-order production of the two trilogies, foregrounds the question of plot. As an audience, we grapple with not just the intricate clockwork of a complex and interwoven narrative, but, in postmodern fashion, with the fundamental mechanics of storytelling itself.

As Star Wars works to make us aware of its own narrative structure, other odd things about the films start to come into focus. Most significantly, we start to notice that the films are an elaborate meditation on the dialectic between chance and order. They all depend upon absurd coincidence to propel the story forward. Just what are the odds, in just one of near-infinite examples, that of all the planets in that galaxy far, far away, the droids should end up back on Tatooine, in the home of the son of the sweet (if annoying) boy who had built C-3PO decades before? Throughout all six films there are scenes of crucial serendipity.
Yeah, I suppose all this could be a massively layered, intricate work of planned postmodern genius. Or it could be a guy trying to retroactively fit five other movies around the only one he originally got a chance to make. You be the judge. Just how subtle and crafty an intellect is it who gives his evil characters names like "General Grievous" and "Darth Sidious"?

And millions of tuition-paying parents are shelling out beaucoup greenbacks for this kind of crapola.

Monday, November 21, 2005

This Is Why It's Called "Ramblings"...

  • Fortunately, the tropical storm took a turn away from South Florida late Saturday night, leaving us in the clear. After last month, people were taking it very seriously. A friend of mine even saw a gas station with lines.
  • I looked in today on the progress of the demolition of Busch Stadium in St. Louis. They've made substantial strides in the last week and a half, but it's still no less depressing:

    (Photo courtesy of KMOV-TV)

    Some would say the stadium's only half demolished, but I'm an optimist. I like to think of it as half standing.
  • The Springsteen show Saturday night was quite an experience. I was one of the younger people there, so I felt a little less foolish about being at a rock concert. And it's always a treat to see old guys with headbands on their gray, thinning pates, sporting tank tops under the impression that it's still 1978, escorting their wives who are now old ladies wearing outfits that you just know they changed into in the car on the way over because if they had put them on at home their college-aged kids would've said "Ewww, gross! Mom, put something on, that's disgusting! Look at yourself!"

    But I digress.

    It was hard to enjoy the show at first because there were a lot of rules, which you don't generally expect at these kinds of things. Nobody could be seated during songs and no whistling or applause or noise of any kind was allowed during the songs. At one point, Bruce actually scolded the crowd for being too noisy, which put me out a little bit, seeing as though tickets cost like $75. I felt like I was getting in trouble with dad, and that he might blow any minute. He seemed moody and peevish, which ain't exactly what I'm looking for at those rates.

    However, all of that melted away about halfway through. For those who are not Boss fans (which is probably most of you), this won't mean anything, but this is an acoustic, completely solo tour. Nobody is on stage except Springsteen himself. But halfway through the program, he calls two special guests to come out on stage: Steve Van Zandt and Clarence Clemons. It was a Big Deal, and this is the only show of the eight month tour it's happened on. They did two songs together, and another during the encore.

    At 55 (which is hard to believe), The Boss looked and sounded great. If he takes the band out again next year, I'm there.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Now I Think They're Just Goofing On Us

In the latest forecast track for the newly-(re) minted Tropical Storm Gamma, it appears that the dead center of the projection cone runs roughly across my backyard fence (which I don't have anymore because of the last one of these).

They've got to be kidding.

(UPDATE Saturday, 2pm--The latest forecast now shows the center of the storm probably passing to the south of Florida, which is good news. We are, however, expected to receive tropical storm force winds and a ton of rain--both of which are bad news for the thousands of folks with blue tarps on their roofs right now.)

Growin' Up

One of the things that happens when you finally become a real adult is that you stop going to rock concerts. There's no ceremony, and you never realize when you've finally attended your last one, but at some point in life, it just becomes obvious that you're not going to paint a radio station slogan on a sheet and hoist it down at the local arena because Sammy Hagar or Foghat is in town.

Occasionally, though, something will still bring you back into that world, such as when The Boss rolls into town, as he will here tommorrow night.

Pedantic politics aside, nobody in history has ever put on a better live show than The Boss, which is why I can still be pursuaded to go to a concert. No sheet, though, and I won't be buying one of those black concert t-shirts either. I'm told that on this particular tour, Mr. Springsteen won't even let anyone applaud, so it should be the perfect concert for someone my age--I can sit there and watch it as if it were on TV.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Arising From The Ashes

The inscrutable Discoshaman, now stateside, makes an ambitious return to the blogosphere. Not only has he revived the late, lamented Le Sabot Post-Moderne, but he has launched a second blog, Religion of Peace, dealing with the hilarious antics of the adherents of fundamentalist Islam as they (literally) explode across the globe.

It's good to have him back (hopefully) for good this time. So good, in fact, that Phil Johnson practically proposes to him today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oh, I See

Madonna, in an AP story, explains a recent career slump:
Her last effort, 2003's "American Life," trumpeted the star's opposition to the Iraq war, complete with a violent video that included a spoof of President Bush. It drew the usual cries of outrage from her detractors, but for the first time in her two-decade career, sales were lackluster.

"Of course I was disappointed," she says, the bitterness still present in her voice and her eyes. "I sort of knew it already, but if you're an entertainer, you're not allowed to have an opinion. ... if you go against the grain, you will be punished. I thought there would be a lot of people who agreed with me."
Right, that was the problem. Madonna was being punished for going "against the grain." The formerly uncontroversial pop star got pummelled for daring to step out of line.

It's the same anti-war stance that crushed the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Michael Moore (whose anti-war film was the hightest-grossing documentary of all time), Jennifer Aniston (on the cover of every magazine in Christendom), Al Franken (#4 on the New York Times Bestseller list this week), Jimmy Carter (#1 on the NYT list), and dozens of others.

Could it be that Madonna's album Nah, couldn't be that. If there's one thing the people have always demanded from Madonna, it's that she stay in line.

Most Valuable Pujols

The National League's Most Valuable Player award will be handed out today, and if the sportswriters weren't too drunk when they voted (a 50-50 proposition at best), Albert Pujols ought to be the winner.

But for some reason, the Cardinals, despite being the most successful NL franchise in history, often fall short of the big awards. Chris Carpenter's Cy Young award was the first of the major awards for the Redbirds since Willie McGee in 1985. If Albert Pujols played in New York, they'd have given him DiMaggio's old number and a plaque in the outfield already.

Regardless of the vote, however, there's little doubt that Pujols was the MVP of the league this year. He led his team to its second straight 100 win regular season, despite the fact that, including injuries and personnel moves, they only carried over two regular starters from the previous year. What was the one constant between both of those excellent teams? Albert Pujols.

He's the best player in baseball to never have won the award. His statistics after the first five years of his career exceed the first five years of almost any player in history--including DiMaggio, Williams, and Mays. He's the first player in history to hit over 30 homers in each of his first five seasons. And he's done that without ever hitting below .314. He's driven in over 115 runs every year of his career. He's the only player ever to hit .300 with 30 homers, 100 runs and 100 RBI in each of his first five seasons. Granted, career stats do not apply to the MVP award, but they do at least give us a look at the type of player we're talking about.

His closest competition for the award this year comes from Andruw Jones and Derek Lee. Jones ought not to get serious consideration for first place. He had big homer and RBI totals (51 and 128 respectively). But his batting average was putrid (.263, not even in the league's top 50), his on-base percentage a mediocre .347 (41st in the league), and he won a division title on a team that's won it for the last 15 straight seasons.

Lee presents a more formidable obstacle. His numbers are comparable to Pujols'. He led Pujols by a hit or two in batting average (.335 to .330), and bested him in HR's, 46 to 41. But baseball is about runs, and Pujols drove in 10 more runs, scored 9 more, and had 12 more points of on-base percentage than Jones, all statistics that are at least equally important in run production.

The stats between Lee and Pujols are essentially a wash, taken individually. But Pujols was the only player in the NL (as far as I can tell) to be among the top five in batting average, HR's, RBI, runs scored, and on-base percentage. And he's been the one big constant on two 100 win teams. Without Pujols, the Cardinals may well be a .500 team. Without Lee, the Cubs still probably could have found their way to finishing more than 20 games out of first place and below .500.

If that's not the ultimate measure of value (and it is the Most Valuable Player award), I don't know what is. We'll see what the writers have to say later today.

UPDATE-2:11PM: Pujols wins it, as well he should have. Glad the writers sobered up for a few hours. Suprisingly (to me, at least), Jones actually finished second, and Lee is said to have finished a distant third, according to those who've seen the balloting (to be released shortly).

Monday, November 14, 2005

Smokey And The Speed Limit

Do you suppose cops ever get annoyed that everyone on the road slows down when they're around?

You've seen it happen (or done it yourself) a thousand times: everyone's cruising along comfortably on a major throughfare doing 10-15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit when suddenly they see a police cruiser on the road either in front or behind. Immediately, everyone hits the brakes and slows down to exactly the speed limit, which, let's face it, is probably a lot slower than it ought to be anyway.

I'm wondering if cops ever think to themselves "Oh, c'mon people, I'm on my way home just like you! I'm off duty. This is a big road, and we don't really need to do 40. Can't we pick it up to 50 or so? I've got things I need to do!" The officers know it goes on, because they themselves witness the sudden "oops, there's a cop" slowdown when they're out driving as civilians.

They'd never be able to admit it, which is probably why they don't honk and yell when you actually slow down to the speed limit. If you asked them, I'm sure they'd have to stick to the just-the-speed-limit-ma'am story. But I'll bet at times they secretly hate it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away

After three days of swinging the wrecking ball against my beloved Busch Stadium, here's what they've got so far:

(Photo courtesy of KMOV-TV)

It's just so pitiful. As I said to a friend the other day, the difference between this and what they should have done is like the difference between going out in a blazing, full-gasoline-tanker-involved, 15-car pile-up and dying of Alzheimer's, where there's just a little less there today than yesterday until everything's gone.

Hot Gas

I see that Congress is boldly taking on the major oil companies that posted record profits last quarter, bravely risking the wrath of all Americans who enjoy high gas prices.

What the politicans haven't mentioned so far in their heroic hearings is that, while a company such as Conoco Philips netted about 9 cents per gallon in profit on gasoline sold last quarter, the federal tax on each of those gallons was 18 cents. To put it another way, the federal government made twice the profit on Conoco Philips gasoline as Conoco Philips did.

The states did even better. On top of the federal government's enormous profit, here's how a few states did on each gallon of gas sold:

  • Wisconsin: 32.1 cents/gallon
  • New York: 31.9 cents/gallon
  • Pennsylvania: 31.1 cents/gallon
  • Montana: 27.75 cents/gallon
  • North Carolina: 26.6 cents/gallon
  • Nebraska: 25.4 cents/gallon
That means that, in addition to the federal goverment making twice the profit off each gallon of gas as the actual oil company, a state such as Wisconsin is making another 3 1/2 times the oil company's profit.

Think we'll see any bold congressional investigations into government profiteering on gas? Think any substantial number of people will turn their high-gas-price wrath away from oil companies that actually do the discovering, drilling, and refining of oil, and instead redirect that wrath towards government, which hauls in much higher profits for doing nothing?

Me either.

(Hat tip to Sam Kastensmidt for the info.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Honey, I Shrunk The Constitution

Much has (justifiably) been made about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' recent decision that parents have no rights over the information their children are force-fed in school, based on a case in which a California school district quizzed seven-year-olds about their sexual feelings.

The decision was authored by Stephen Reinhardt, the most overturned judge in the country on the most overturned court in the country. Many people know that the Ninth Circuit is the most radically liberal court in America and that they're the ones who brought us such hits as the Pledge of Allegiance "under God" ruling in 2002 (with Reinhardt being part of the three-member panel that issued it).

What most people don't know, however (and what the media inexplicably fails to report), is that Judge Reinhardt just happens to be married to Ramona Ripston, the executive director of the Southern California ACLU. I'm sure he's completely objective, though. After all, aren't federal judges imbued with unbiased, divine wisdom which qualifies them to determine the way things ought to be for all of us?

Back To Life, Back To Reality

Yesterday was the first day since Hurricane Wilma that I didn't feel like I live in a third world country. The schools opened again (despite serious damage), most (though not all) of the traffic lights are now somewhat functional, and we had to leave my office out the back door last night because a crazed gunman was firing a high-powered rifle from a nearby high-rise condominium.

All in all, a pretty typical South Florida day.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Farewell To A Friend

The wrecking ball swings on an old friend today, as the demolition of Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis gets underway at 3pm CT.

Some of the most enjoyable days of my life were spent in that building. One time my wife and I even skipped a Lamaze class to go down there, figuring that when the baby was born there'd be a lot of doctors in the room who'd know what they were doing anyway, and hey, the Phillies are in town with John Kruk and Darren Daulton.

It seems to me that the least she (the stadium, not my wife) deserved was a good, spectacular implosion. Instead, she'll die the death of a thousand blows, pulled apart bit by bit in plodding anticlimax.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Is There Anybody Out There?

Back at work this week talking with people around the country, an odd fact has dawned on me: people have no idea what's going on down here in South Florida. They saw something about a hurricane approaching a few weeks ago, but that was about the last they heard of it. They didn't realize there was anything still wrong.

Many people (in the thousands) have been left homeless by Hurricane Wilma. The schools have been shut down now for over two full weeks. Sizeable portions of Broward County (where Ft. Lauderdale is) Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach County are still without power after twelve days--tens of thousands of people. Workers are regularly facing hours-long commutes. Tons of businesses are still unable to open. The roadsides are piled feet high with debris, downed trees, fallen streetlights, and heaven knows what else. Many of the major intersections have no working stoplights; as of 72 hours ago, 87% of the traffic signals in Broward County were non-functional. The court system has ground to a halt as the Broward County courts building suffered significant damage. Thousands of insurance adjusters have poured into the area to distribute billions of dollars of benefits. FEMA is writing checks that would make your head spin. For several days, we had gasoline lines that streched on for four or five hours and longer.

And yet nobody outside of South Florida seems to have any idea about it.

I have to admit I find this odd. I'm certainly not looking for any sympathy (since my damage was relatively minor, and I've had my electricity back for a week), but I'm shocked that what's happening here is being entirely ignored by the national media. The Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market is one of the top dozen in the nation (and Palm Beach is number 30-something). It's one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. It's a major metro area (bigger than New Orleans, I might add) that has been in full crisis mode for much of the last two weeks. I just can't imagine an area of this size going through what has happened (and to some degree is continuing to happen) without anybody knowing about it. They're certainly going to be donating billions of tax dollars to this area--I'd think they'd want somebody to clue them in.

Granted, most people here are calmly going about their business, and there have been no riots in the streets. Nobody has eaten anyone else as far as I know. And things are becoming closer to normal each day. So why do you think it's been entirely ignored? Is the country so burned out on Katrina that it doesn't want to hear about hurricanes anymore? Did you know these things had happened/were happening down here?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Is He Or Isn't He?

Many conservates understandably want some idea of how Alito might rule on abortion-related issues.

The liberal Slate magazine has an excellent piece analyzing this question. They're not happy about it, but they demonstrate beyond dispute that Alito is a pro-life judge to the nth degree.

The ominous conclusion reached by the piece's author, University of Virginia law professor Richard Schragger:
If Alito replaces O'Connor, both of his crucial abortion opinions in the 3rd Circuit indicate that he will not take her centrist path. But this time, there will be no moderate Supreme Court above him to put on the brakes.
This is a must-read article for anyone concerned about Sam Alito's abortion jurisprudence, especially in light of concerns raised by the Planned Parenthood v. Farmer partial birth case.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

But There's Only One Saxby

Did you know that there are three Chucks in the United States Senate? That seems like a lot. I have a cousin named Chuck, and one of my college roomates was named that. But there are only a hundred people in the entire Senate, so it strikes me as a disproportionate amount of Chucks.

There are also three Dicks. That actually seems a little low. I would've guessed more.

Monday, October 31, 2005

They're Not Supposed To Be Pleased

Though some self-styled conservatives recently forgot this, it's important to note that the Left really shouldn't be thrilled with your Supreme Court nominations. It's part of how you know you're getting it right.

Harry Reid and other Dems were thrilled with Harriet Miers, which should've been the first alarm bell. All is now right with the world, because they hate Sam Alito.

A sampling:

Reid has changed his tune a little:
This appointment ignores the value of diverse backgrounds and perspectives on the Supreme Court. The president has chosen a man to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, one of only two women on the court. For the third time, he has declined to make history by nominating the first Hispanic to the court.
Yes, it took some reminding, but President Bush today remembered that he's a Republican, Harry. With the exception of a disturbing three week period in October, conservatives don't play affirmative action identity politics.

The ever-vacuous Dahlia Lithwick from Slate magazine fumes:
In the true spirit of Halloween, a month of vicious attacks from the right has been papered over, and this nomination is dressed up as if the last one never occurred.

So rededicated is President Bush to keeping his promise to elevate a Clarence Thomas or an Antonin Scalia to the high court, that he picked the guy in the Scalia costume. Alito offers no surprises to anyone.
No suprises. Yes! Somebody finally gets it. Meanwhile, Chucky Schumer says:
It is sad that the president felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America instead of choosing a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who would unify us.
Oops, Planned Parenthood doesn't like him either. Says interim president Karen Pearl:
Judge Alito would undermine basic reproductive rights, and Planned Parenthood will oppose his confirmation. It is outrageous that President Bush would replace a moderate conservative like Justice O'Connor with a conservative hardliner.
Am I the only one glad to see that the president has gone back to the much more successful political tactic of outraging his political enemies?

But has Alito ever been associated with the dastardly (gasp!) Federalist Society? Yup--he's a member. It just doesn't get any better than this.


Elated. Overjoyed. Euphoric.

Better to do the right thing late than never. Samuel Alito is among the very finest candidates the president could have nominated to the Supreme Court, for which the president deserves a great deal of credit. And Alito is confirmable too, as the pantywaist appeasement wing of the Republican Party will soon discover.

On this Reformation Day, the president has taken the first step towards re-forming his base and thus the conservative movement. I'm energized and ready to fight any and all who attempt to derail this nomination. This one is worth going to the wall for. It's nice to finally wake up to some good news. Let's finally put that governing majority to some conservative use.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Our power was restored at about 7pm this evening. I want to find the nearest Florida Power and Light employee and give him a big, wet kiss on the lips.

Thus ends one of the strangest weeks of my life.

The Quagmier Ends

Judging by the irate emails being received over at National Review Online, it looks like the conservative movement could be undergoing a much needed pruning, with the real conservatives reasserting themselves in the party and the swooning "Bush is so handsome and strong" crowd sputtering off into incoherency.

This is not a conservative president. I'm a Christian first, and a conservative second. Somewhere down around 53rd on the list is "Republicans Uber Alles cheerleader." I feel no obligation to support a liberal president just because he has an "R" after his name. I'm not interested in participating in some sort of cult of personality. I support Bush insofar as he's conservative, which is to say not much these days. And any real conservative worth his salt ought to feel the same way.

If President Bush's legendary arrogance gets the best of him, he will use the Miers withdrawal as a reason to permanently estrange himself from the conservative base of the Republican Party. If, on the other hand, this incident knocks some sense into him and he begins to realize that the conservative voters who elected him would like to see him include some actual conservatism in his governing, it could be a truly vital boost to the Republican Party.

We'll see. But mark this: Bush has nobody to blame for his sputtering presidency but himself. What kind of fool uses the lowest ebb of his popularity as a launching point for attacking his base? If the next pick stinks as badly as this one did, true conservatives will scream just as loud, and Bush will again be left in the smoldering wreckage. If he sulks (as he is said to be capable of), his presidency will be effectively over. But if he embraces the fight and names a truly conservative star to the Supreme Court, his presidency can be revitalized. The choice is his. Past history tells me not to be too optimistic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


We're coming to the end of our third day without electricity. If you have to be without power, you couldn't ask for better weather to do it in. It's been about 75 in the daytime and in the upper 50's at night. We haven't even missed the power that much, except for the few moments of my cold water shower, which were among the most unpleasant moments of my adult life.

I find myself becoming annoyed with some of my fellow Broward citizens. The radio is full of residents complaining about FEMA and some apparent botching of water and ice deliveries yesterday. My reaction to that is: Hey, idiot! Had you done even a minimal amount of preparation, you wouldn't have anything to complain about. You were complaining about FEMA's inability to deliver water less than 24 hours after the hurricane left! With a major hurricane approaching and something like six days of notice, if you didn't have enough water to last you for a day, you deserve to pass out from dehydration. I'm no fan of federal agencies, but it's not FEMA's fault that you are too stupid to even stock up on two or three days worth of supplies after all the hurricane problems we've had in the last two years.

Ranting aside, I got out of my neighborhood for the first time today and explored some of our area trailer parks to check up on some folks from church we hadn't been able to reach by phone. The parks, as is usually the case in these storms, looked like war zones, though the people there mostly seemed positive and helpful. Noticably absent was the brittle tension of New Orleans in the days immediately following Katrina.

After getting a look around today, I realized how fortunate we were. Our house sustained very minimal damage and we have enough supplies to get us through the next week or two. We also filled up the cars with gas right before the storm hit. Today out on the road, I passed gas lines several miles long at the few open stations. I'm also told that the few open supermarkets are quite chaotic.

Fortunately we have a working phone line, and I've been able to jump on the Internet to gather information occasionally from my battery-powered laptop computer. Until yesterday, most people didn't even have working phone lines. I appreciate your prayers and expressions of concern. So far, we're in good shape. All of our church members are accounted for and well, though some sustained major damage.

It's overall very strange here right now. We are under a 7pm-7am curfew, and over 90% of the Broward County is still without electricity. Sitting out on my back patio at night, it's suprising how much it reminds me of Tanzania. It's absolutely dark, there are open flames in backyards all over the place where people are cooking dinner, and the stars are visible in the night sky in a way they never are here. It's downright pleasant--though my opinion will likely change when the temperatures begin to rise again this weekend.

Monday, October 24, 2005

After The Storm

The storm is gone and there's a lot left to clean up. According to the news reports, there are 3.2 million people without power in South Florida, which is pretty much everyone. Unfortunately, they are warning us to think in terms of weeks rather than days for having our power restored. I'm set up for days without power, but not weeks.

In my neighborhood, most of the damage is tree damage, with some of the older roofs also taking a beating. We're closed into our subdivision by fallen trees. The wind snapped the basketball hoop next to our driveway in half; evidently it caught the backboard like a sail. It toppled over onto the top of one of our cars. Other parts of Broward had it worse, including downtown where skyscrapers had a bunch of windows blown out. The helicopters are only finally getting into the air right now to survey the damage.

It's hard to know what the coming days and weeks might hold.

Well, At Least It's A New Experience...

As I write this, we are in the midst of a direct hit by Hurricane Wilma here in Broward County. We're at the edge of the eyewall and hopeful that the eye itself will pass over sometime in the next few minutes. We'd be at the southern portion of the eye if we get it at all. It would be nice to have the break. But it appears that the border of the eye itself is just north of I-595, about three miles north of us.

For the last couple of hours, we've had winds blowing through here that have reached over 100 mph at some points. A few minutes ago, I watched a portion of my neighbor's roofing blowing down the street. There appear to be as many trees toppled in my neighborhood as still standing. I'm frightened to look at my own roof once it's safe to go out and have a look. The wooden fence in our back yard has completely blown over, and the screen enclosure over our swimming pool is being lifted by one corner. My wife can feel the house vibrating when she leans against the wall.

I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through a category four or five storm. We've had a lot of hurricane scares here in South Florida, and Katrina even crossed into Florida right at the Broward county line. But I've never experienced anything even close to this. According to the radio (our electricity has been out for several hours), this is the hardest hit to Broward County in over 50 years.

I'm finding it not to be much fun, and looking forward to the end of it in a few hours. Fortunately, I believe our lives are safe, but there's going to be a fair deal of property damage.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

All Is Vanity

Sometimes you get lifted up just to get smacked down again. It's cruel, but that's sports, I guess.

Still, those 48 hours were among the best I've ever had as a sports fan.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I Am Blogger, Hear Me Roar

Hey, did you hear about the big GodBlog Conference this past weekend? Thousands of bloggers from across the nation attended, and the blogosphere is abuzz with rep....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Ah, sorry, dozed off there for a minute. It turns out that mind has not yet conceived anything more boring than pontificating about blogging as a medium.

Join me tommorrow as I begin my 42-part series on why I blog, what blogging means to me, what I hope to accomplish through it, and the highly imporant place I occupy in the universe as a blogger. If there's one thing I've intuited over the last few years, it's that people are hungry for lots of blog theory!

How Was The Play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Today's stupidest newspaper story comes from my hometown St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

They sent a reporter out in Houston to discover that most of the thousands of hurricane refugees temporarily in that city are not all that caught up in the Astros post-season run at the National League pennant.

Reporter Jake Wagman makes a non-story up in his head, and then reports it ominously:
In the storybook world that baseball can evoke, it would be easy to imagine the scores of displaced people in Houston adopting the hometown team as their own, rallying around the Astros during otherwise turbulent times.
Hmmm. Can't really say I was imagining that. My guess would have been that out-of-towners living as refugees wouldn't give a hoot about the baseball playoffs, considering that New Orleans doesn't even have a baseball team. But imagination is all this story has, so let's go with it a minute.
Left out of the fun are many of the thousands of transplants from two devastating storms, still trying to put their lives back together as the rest of Houston is consumed by 18-inning games, Roger Clemens and the Killer B's.

"I've got way more important things than a game," said Lloyd Chapman, 27, who left New Orleans for Houston after Hurricane Katrina hit. "I'm trying to survive and live."

The fan gap is a subtle but telling sign of the growing divide between hurricane evacuees and the rest of Houston.
Those evil, selfish Houstonians. Why, they're leaving the refugees out of their fun! These hurricane victims are being excluded.

The amazing thing about this story, keep in mind, is that the entire sum and substance of it is merely some idiot reporter wandering around shelters asking displaced homeless people "How 'bout those baseball playoffs?"

When they correctly respond "We couldn't give a flying rip about the baseball playoffs, you moron," it's seen as a "rift" developing between citizens of Houston and the refugees. Whereas I see it as a "rift" developing between reporter Jake Wagman and his dignity.

Perhaps there could be a huge, roiling "rift" between Houstonians and hurricane evacuees. But it seems like it could also simply be that the locals are really into their baseball team while the out-of-towners are not. Maybe it's not a "rift" at all. If I suddenly lost my home and had to move to Indianapolis, I can't imagine my first concern would be cheering on the undefeated Colts, to which I've never devoted more than 20 seconds of total thought. But my indifferent reaction would be no reflection on the fine people of Indianapolis.

For Jake Wagman's next story, I hear he's going to wander through a children's cancer ward asking the kids what they think of the ABC hit "Desperate Housewives."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Go Crazy, Folks, Go Crazy!"

My heart sinks as Lance Berkman hits a three-run homer in the seventh inning to put the Astros on top 4-2. The Cardinals don't come back from that. Not in this series. Not the way they've been hitting. Not against Brad Lidge.

I was 13 when the Cardinals won their only World Series title of my lifetime in 1982. It was a landmark event in my life. There's nothing quite like your team winning the World Series when you're 13. My son is 13 now, and possibly a bigger Cardinals fan than I was.

"It's not over yet," he says as the game heads into the top of the ninth. Poor kid, I think. He really believes that. He just doesn't understand how it works.

One strikeout. Two strikeouts. One ball, two strikes on David Eckstein. "They still could do it. If Eckstein got on, Edmonds would be up next. And you'd have Pujols on deck," my son observes.

Right. I've seen teams come back in the ninth inning. With two outs even. But you don't come back when you're one strike away from elimination. Especially when you're down two runs, nobody's on base, your team is having trouble scoring two runs in nine innings, and the team you're playing against has gone 136-1 since June 2004 in games in which they took a lead into the ninth. He just doesn't understand how this works.

"I'm so sick of this," I think. "I'm sick of the Cardinals having a great regular season only to embarrass themselves in the playoffs. I'm sick of defending them. I'm sick of having a whole season amount to nothing. I'm sick of these stupid wild card teams going to the World Series when they can't even win their own divisions." I'm in a foul mood, to say the least.

"The city of Houston has been waiting for this moment for 45 years," says FOX announcer Thom Brennaman. Minute Maid Park is going nuts. The grounds crew is finishing putting the plastic up in the Astros locker room for the champagne that will be spraying minutes from now.

But plucky David Eckstein momentarily delays the celebration by poking a single through the infield on 1-2. That brings the tying run to the plate in the form of Jim Edmonds. But Edmonds is a strikeout machine and Lidge is known for making the Cardinals look foolish swinging the bat. You just don't come back from being one strike from elimination.

But Lidge is pitching Edmonds gingerly. His blazing fastball keeps missing inside. Edmonds walks, bringing Albert Pujols to the plate with the go-ahead run.

My son is getting excited now. Pujols is the guy you want batting in this situation, he tells me. But my son doesn't understand how this works--even Pujols, the Cards' greatest hitter since Stan Musial, bats only in the low .200's against Lidge. He takes an anemic swing at the first pitch (way low) and misses. I chuckle ruefully--this is what the Cardinals look like against Lidge.

The next pitch appears to be a slider (as Pujols would remember it later). A hanging one.


We're standing up in the living room. Screaming. Shouting. Jumping. It's nearly midnight, and the neighbors must be wondering what in the world is going on at the Rabe house. All the frustration of the last four games instantly melts away, replaced by utter euphoria. We were one strike away from elimination. The Cardinals lead 5-4, and finishing the final three outs is merely academic. The Astros are crushed.

If any of the last few pitches is a quarter inch another way, everything is different. But it happened. Maybe I'm the one who doesn't understand how this works.

For two hours we stay up and just bask in it. Whatever ends up happening in the series, we have almost 48 hours to enjoy this. We get another game at the soon-to-be-no-more Busch Stadium.

I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a baseball moment this much. Probably about when I was my son's age. With one strike left, things looked hopeless. But now everything has changed. The momentum has shifted--radically. Historically, teams don't come back from what just happened to the Astros. Think Neidenfuer against the Cardinals, Eckersley against Kirk Gibson, Mitch Williams against Toronto, Donnie Moore against the Red Sox.

I'm not a cynic anymore. Not this year. Not with this team. My son still thinks they have a good shot to win the whole thing. I'm going to start listening to him. He understands how this works.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Against The Wall

In a comment over at Brian's blog, under a post wherein he points my attention to the Cardinals' three-game collapse, I ask whether anyone else has noticed that Tony LaRussa, Super Genius, has been swept in two World Series' and just watched his team drop three straight in the NLCS.

Well, Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has noticed it:
The theories are plentiful why the Cards have up until now played this NLCS as though it were a joyless burden, rather than a carefree pleasure, much of it hinging on the maddening overthinking and uptight postseason managerial style of one of baseball's sharpest thinkers, Redbirds skipper Tony La Russa.

La Russa is one of the sharpest tacticians in the history of the game, and will one day have his bronzed bust in Cooperstown. But so many baseball insiders wonder why La Russa's teams thrive in the heat of the summer, yet struggle mightily in the cool of autumn.

What happens to his teams in October can best be epitomized by the way the Cards have been playing since the momentum-shifting Game 2 loss back at Busch. Over the past few days, you could see it in the body language of their biggest star and likely National League MVP, Albert Pujols. He has spent most of the NLCS snarling at reporters and sending off an uneasy, tense vibe in the clubhouse.
LaRussa's overmanaging is always annoying, but in the post-season it becomes positively infuriating. Is he to blame for the Cardinals' bats falling asleep? Considering he insists on hitting Larry ".095" Walker cleanup, yes he is.

If there's any good news, it's that Burwell reports there's been a turn in attitude in the Cardinal clubhouse:
Yet about a half-hour after this difficult loss, just when you expected to see the players as uptight and edgy as their boss, there was a much-needed personality shift that began with the most important guy in the clubhouse - Pujols.

If you're looking for a sign that this series is not over, that this team has not emotionally packed it in, that tonight might be a free-and-easy bit of postseason enjoyment, not a panicky walk off the edge of a plank, perhaps the sight of a smiling Albert Pujols was it.
On another note, what is the deal with Major League umpiring? This is getting embarassing. Everyone has seen the umpires' travails in the ALCS, and in yesterday's NLCS the home plate ump tossed out LaRussa and center fielder Jim Edmonds (which, frankly, may have been the best thing that happened to the Cardinals yesterday. It was at least one less crucial strikeout, and one less boneheaded one-pitch pitching change).

Don't get me wrong. Umpiring is not the Cardinals' problem. But Bernie Miklasz provides some interesting history on home plate ump Phil Cuzzi:
Cuzzi has an odd history. He failed to get a minor-league job three times after attending umpire school. He finally got a shot at the big leagues as a fill-in ump, ironically working his first major-league game at Busch Stadium on June 4, 1991. But in 1993, the National League fired Cuzzi.

And Cuzzi stayed out of umpiring for nearly three years, until knocking on the hotel-room door of then-NL President Leonard Coleman in 1996 to beg Coleman for another shot at umpiring. Cuzzi navigated through the minors again, then was hired by Major League Baseball in 1999 after more than 20 regular umps were replaced after resigning during contentious labor negotiations.
These are the kinds of umps MLB wants to put on display in its fall showcase?

Friday, October 14, 2005

October Suprise

I interrupt the Harriet Miers furor for a couple of quick baseball observations.

I notice that the vaunted American League East playoff teams are both currently watching the League Championship Series' on television. All year I heard about how much better they were than everybody else, yet they were each eliminated from the playoffs (the Red Sox via a humiliating sweep) by teams from "inferior" divisions.

And, of course, in the National League, the only teams remaining are the two teams from the "inferior" National League Central. If the post-season is going to be the only real measure of success (as has been argued by many), then the teams remaining in the playoffs are clearly better than the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Oh, and another quick open letter to Tony LaRussa:
Dear Mr. LaRussa, Esq.,

It was ugly and violent, but I'm a man of my word. I hope you enjoyed Julian Taverez and the two runs he gave up last night. Just as a side note, have you ever seen a game where Julian Tavarez came in and didn't give up runs? Me neither. That's why it's so strange that you'd keep doing it. But they keep telling me you're a genius, so what do I know?

Anyway, we still have a couple of cats left, and they look pretty scared. They're starting to think you don't love animals as much as you really claim to. Please prove them wrong.

Your fan,
John Rabe

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Let Me Take You Down, 'Cause I'm Going...

Peggy Noonan, sexist-elitist snob who graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University, calls for the "Miers withdrawal/removal/disappearance."

Says Noonan:
An essential White House mistake--really a key and historic one--was in turning on its critics with such idiotic ferocity. "My way or the highway" is getting old. "Please listen to us and try to see it our way or we'll have to kill you," is getting old. Sending Laura Bush out to make her first mistake as first lady, agreeing with Matt Lauer that sexism is probably part of the reason for opposition to Ms. Miers, was embarrassingly inept and only served to dim some of the power of this extraordinary resource.

As for Ed Gillespie and his famous charge of sexism and elitism, I don't think serious conservatives believe Ed is up nights pondering whiffs and emanations of class tension and gender bias in modern America. It was the ignorant verbal lurch of a K Street behemoth who has perhaps forgotten that conservatives are not merely a bloc, a part of the base, a group that must be handled, but individuals who are and have been in it for serious reasons, for the long haul, and often at considerable sacrifice. They don't deserve to be patronized by people they've long strained to defend.
Noonan does, however, give the administration a sane, sensible way out. They'd be well-advised to listen to her.

Meanwhile, the elitist sexists at Concerned Women for America have refused to endorse the Miers nomination. Jan LaRue (J.D., Trinity International University School of Law) writes:
We do not agree that conservative "activists" care only about how a judge will vote on issues but only conservative "intellectuals" care about the rationale and process by which a judge arrives at a decision. CWA opposes judicial activism whether it is liberal or conservative. No one should use the position of a judge to advance a personal policy preference. To do so disrespects the separation of powers mandated by the Constitution and the role of the judiciary.

A qualified nominee for the Supreme Court must have more than intellectual ability and legal competence. It requires a deep knowledge of and experience in constitutional law. That must be coupled with the ability to stand one's ground as a stalwart and persuasive voice for interpretation of the Constitution faithful to its text and the Founders' intent. We believe the best evidence of that is a record of having done so.

White House representatives and other supporters of Miss Miers immediately announced that she is an evangelical Christian. There is continual emphasis on her faith and the advantage of having an evangelical Christian on the Supreme Court. We do not doubt Miss Miers' faith in Christ--we share it.

Like CWA, most of those emphasizing Miss Miers' faith have resisted any attempt to impose a religious test on any person seeking public office. The Constitution forbids it. We find it patronizing and hypocritical to focus on her faith in order to gain support for Miss Miers.
(Hat tip: Michael Spencer)

LaRue follows with a list of 17 unanswered questions that Hugh Hewitt ought to put down the Schlitz bottle and read.

And finally, did you see the other day that Miers, when asked her favorite Supreme Court justice in history, cited Warren Burger? That in and of itself ought to be grounds for scuttling her nomination. It's like Howard Dean citing Job as his favorite book of the New Testament. It has the more-than-faint whiff of somebody who doesn't know what they're talking about. It's doubtful that Warren Burger was even Mrs. Burger's favorite justice, let alone that of anyone who's ever taken even a passing interest in the Court. Burger (who, incidentally, voted in the majority on Roe v. Wade) was known as a dim bulb and a paper-pusher even by his friends.

For the first time, today I am finally convinced that this nomination is (deservedly) going down one way or the other.

The defenses have been unsatisfactory. The justifications have been risible. After ten days, the explanations are serving to increasingly inflame the base rather than soothe it. If President Bush is smart (a proposition called into question by the nomination itself), he'll get out in front of the process so he can get some credit for doing the right thing. But given the White House's dubious political instincts, I'm not holding my breath.

Masters Of The Realm

According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, President Bush's approval ratings have dropped to an all-time low of 39%. Only 28% of the people polled feel the country is moving in the right direction, and 29% think that Harriet Miers is qualified for the Supreme Court.

Looks like that revolutionary screw-the-base strategy is really paying off. The White House has already accused actual conservatives of being sexists and elitists. If they can toss out a "Neanderthal" in the next day or two, I think they could have a shot at hitting the 20's by the end of the month.

Those Machiavellian geniuses.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Choking On The Dom

This is a must-read. Mark Levin absolutely disembowels Hugh Hewitt over the Miers nomination on Hewitt's radio show. It's a near-perfect summary of both sides of the entire discussion.

The best part:
HH: But Mark, what I'm saying is that the conservative critics, not only will they not wait for the arguments to be made...

ML: Well, we have to wait.

HH: the hearings, they are denying all the other traditional evidences of acceptability. For example, Judge Ken Starr calls her terrific.

ML: Look, I'm not taking a popularity contest. If we want to go down the list of conservatives, Bob Bork says she's a disaster. Okay?

HH: Again, it's not a popularity contest. It's a question about why are, all of a sudden, the rules of evidence about people we do not know suspended?

ML: Where do I have to go to find her judicial philosophy? To a Chinese restaurant and crack open a fortune cookie? Where am I going to find her judicial philosophy?
And a moment or two later:
HH: So O'Connor came out of the box. No one opposed her. Eight years later...

ML: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You just cited Ken Starr on Harriet Miers. It was Ken Starr who vetted Sandra Day O'Connor.

HH: Yes, I know. He was a young man, and he made a big mistake.
When you filter through all the haze, Levin directly asks Hewitt one simple question at least a half a dozen times: "What's her judicial philosophy?" And Hewitt has no answer to the question. He ducks, he obfuscates, he throws out names of people who might possibly know her judicial philosophy. What he doesn't do (and indeed what he can't do) is actually tell us what her judicial philosphy is or where we can find it.

Republicans have put seven of the nine current justices on this disasterous Supreme Court. So no, "trust me" doesn't cut it. There's been too much trust. It's now time for some evidence.

Keeping A Sister Down

Former Bush appointee Linda Chavez on the Miers nomination:
I want to know how she forms her views. I want to know what she thinks the role of the courts is -- and why. I want to know her intellectual habits. What does she read? Has she spent time grappling with ideas? When confronted with unfamiliar territory, how does she prepare herself to learn what she needs to know in her professional life? Is she a curious person by nature? What does she expect of her subordinates when they are briefing her on an important matter? Is she good at playing devil's advocate? Is she a student of history? In the long run, answers to questions like these will be a more reliable barometer of her performance on the court than her current opinion on any given issue.
But Chavez is a Hispanic woman who graduated from the University of Colorado, so she's obviously a sexist elitist.

Affirmative Actions

"[Rove] also made it clear that the president was looking for a certain kind of candidate, namely a woman to replace Justice O'Connor. And you can imagine what that did to the short list. That cut it . . . "

--James Dobson, describing his much-speculated-on conversation with Karl Rove just before the Miers nomination was made public
So there's your conservative, anti-affirmative action "soft bigotry of low expectations" president. Luttig, Alito, neither McConnell, nor the rest of the qualified men never even had a shot.

Listen to the White House over the next few days. Listen to how often they hail Harriet Miers for "breaking through the glass ceiling" while simultaneously accusing their conservative critics of sexism. Then ask yourself if you've ever heard real conservatives use such ridiculous, politically correct language.

They walk like Hillary and talk like Hillary, but at least they're not Hillary. We can still tell them apart because they're not as tough on border security as she is.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Harriet Miers O'Connor?

While the Bush Administration continues to pursue the mystifying course of attacking the motives of the very base of conservatives that put them in the White House, thoughtful analysis from real conservatives (including those who have worked for this very president) continues to roll in.

Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online offers an analysis that ought to chill the blood of every conservative. He's talking about a feminist lecture series Miers has enthusiastically participated in. If he's right, Harriet Miers is a feminist who will at best be another Sandra Day O'Connor:
That [lecture] series is named after Louise Raggio, a prominent feminist lawyer from Dallas. Raggio and her fellow Texas feminists supported Miers in her bid to become head of the Texas Bar Association. They knew that Miers was anti-abortion, yet also knew that Miers was sympathetic to liberal feminism in other respects. In the very conservative Texas Bar Association, Miers was the most like-minded female president the feminists could get.

...The most telling thing about Miers is that she sees membership in the Federalist Society as excessively “political,” yet doesn’t think twice about associating herself with a lecture series that invites the likes of Gloria Steinem, Pat Schroeder, and Susan Faludi. That’s because Miers’ political career is based on being the one member of the conservative Texas establishment that liberal feminists can best work with. Miers has spent a lifetime being the sort of conservative who tries to swim within the “mainstream.” Miers would rather make a partnership with the far left, than risk being called an outsider on the right. Her almost obsessive silence about her political views probably derives in part from the fact that her own support base comprehends everyone from pro-life evangelical conservatives to Susan Faludi-like feminists.

...Whatever her personal views, Miers doesn’t feel comfortable openly positioning herself to the right of what liberals call the “mainstream” on social issues. My sense is that this makes Miers into something of a Sandra Day O’Connor figure–someone who could go either way on the big social issues. On the one hand, Miers’s personal instincts are conservative. On the other hand, she is used to working in coalition with, making concessions to, and often sympathizing with, feminist liberals. (David Frum's excerpts from Miers's writings broadly support this point.)
Meanwhile, Ned Ryun, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, tells of Miers' involvement in killing a Christmas speech he had written for the president because it was too Christ-y:
In 2001, I was given the task of writing the President’s Christmas message to the nation. After researching Reagan, Bush, and Clinton’s previous Christmas messages, I wrote something that was well within the bounds of what had been previously written (and in case you are wondering, Clinton’s messages were far more evangelical than the elder Bush’s).

The director of correspondence and the deputy of correspondence edited and approved the message and it was sent to the Staff Secretary’s office for the final vetting. Miers emailed me and told me that the message might offend people of other faiths, i.e., that the message was too Christian. She wanted me to change it. I refused to change the message (In my poor benighted reasoning, I actually think that Christmas is an overtly Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ and the beginning of the redemption of man.).

The director and deputy of correspondence supported me. I even emailed Ken Mehlman (then the Political Director at the White House, now the Republican National Committee Chairman), to see what he thought about the message. He was not offended by it in the least. Miers insisted that I change the tone of the message. I again refused, and after several weeks, the assignment was taken out of my hands. I was later encouraged to apologize to Miers. I did not apologize.

That is my one personal anecdote about Harriet Miers. Some will probably write that incident off as an insignificant, almost meaningless, occurrence. And perhaps it is. But Miers purposefully sought to dilute the Christianity of the message, thus revealing to me at least a willingness to compromise unnecessarily without outside pressure. That is my opinion based off that experience and I would be more than happy to be proved wrong.
(Hat tip: Amy Ridenour.)

And did you notice Antonin Scalia's veiled shot at the nomination over the weekend? According to
Questioned about Harriet Miers, Bush's nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Scalia said he had never met her.

"Never having met her, I have no impression of her," he said.
Of course, as expected from Scalia, this is precisely the right response. Since personal, firsthand knowledge is the only justification or defense President Bush has given for this nomination (because she has no legal writings to commend her), everyone who has not personally met her has no real basis for supporting her nomination. The president banked on a criterion for approval that can only be met by a few hundred people.

Meanwhile, Hugh Hewitt continues guzzling the Dom Perignon.