Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Lyin' Of The Senate

There is a natural and proper tendency, following someone's death, to speak words of grace and admiration. Even if the deceased was an opponent, death tends to evoke a natural bonhomie that calls for at least muted words of praise.

For the past day, we've been inundated with tributes to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Perhaps more than anything, it has been noted how grief-stricken his senatorial colleagues across the aisle are at his passing, since Kennedy was of the old school where "you could fight like dogs by day and then at 5 o'clock go have a drink together." In the clubby atmosphere of the Senate, conviviality is prized above all other attributes, and by all accounts, Ted Kennedy had that in spades.

I've tried to join in the eulogizing. After all, a man has just died. But after a day and a half of trying, I must finally admit: I just cannot do it.

Ted Kennedy was deeply harmful to the country. He espoused policies that have been damaging in so many ways that a full-length book could only begin to scratch the surface.

"But that's the 'before 5pm' stuff! You're supposed to let that go, Rabe."

Okay, let's do that for a moment. The problem is, Ted Kennedy was a terrible person after 5pm too. I do not doubt that he was fun to be around and friendly to his colleagues. But as old-fashioned as it may be, I have a sticking point: I just can't seem to get beyond that dead girl in the car.

"Oh, good grief. Chappaquiddick? Are you still on that? That was 40 years ago. Can't you just let it go?"

Well, no. From the time that Sen. Kennedy careened off the bridge on that fateful night in 1969 to the moment he arrived back at his cottage, 40 minutes elapsed. Kennedy reported the accident the next morning--after the car had already been fished out and the license plate identified. Authorities believe that Mary Jo may have lived for two hours in the car after it plunged into the water. In other words, to put a finer point on it, while Senator Kennedy was back in his cabin making calls to his advisers and plotting his next move, Mary Jo Kopechne was still possibly fighting for her life inside that sunken car, watching it gradually fill with the murky water that would finally drown her.

Through the rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, we discovered that Ted Kennedy had not become any better a person in the 22 years following Chappaquiddick, either. The indelible image presented at the trial of the then-59-year-old senator heading out to Au Bar with his son and nephew, followed by his infamous pants-less appearance before the ladies in his living room later that evening, conclusively demonstrated that Kennedy's lifelong dissipation continued.

Expelled from Harvard for cheating; culpable in the death of a 28-year old girl; parading around in front of women without pants on; notoriously drunken womanizer...sorry to be so out of touch with the zeitgeist, but this was not a good man. The fact is, he got 40 extra years of life that he didn't allow Mary Jo Kopechne, so I have no mournful feeling that somehow his time was cut too short.

It's not simply political or ideological. I could find complimentary things to say about lots of people whose policies I abhor: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and hundreds of others. In Ted Kennedy's case, I've tried to join the national mourning. But when I dig down for something complimentary to say about this guy, I'm afraid I find there's just nothing there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wilsonian Wisdom

Doug Wilson ably dissects the liberal jokers who justify abortion by claiming the body's freedom from government interference on the one hand while supporting state-run health care on the other:
This is just like that other popular saying on the Left -- keep the government out of bedrooms. Okay, I'm for that. Currently the government tells us how far apart the sheetrock screws have to be, how big the windows have to be for egress in case of fire, how far apart the electric outlets have to be, what kind of chemicals can be in the paint, and whether or not we can cut that tag off the mattress without getting the FBI involved. Sure, let's get government out of our bedrooms. Oh, you didn't mean that? You just meant you wanted them to be mute where God actually revealed something to us (as in, no, you can't marry your sister), and having begun the disobedience there, to legislate endlessly and like crazy about everything else, dictating the most minute details about your bedroom?
For nanny-staters, "freedom" is merely a slogan used to gain control. (Remember the "Employee Free Choice Act" that would've stripped workers of the secret ballot regarding unionization, and instead expose them to threats and intimidation? That's "freedom" to a liberal.) When liberals start talking about "freedom," always rest assured that they are getting ready to rob you of a heaping dollop of it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You'd Have To Be A Rock Not To See It

I came across an interesting story earlier today. A 9-year-old Florida boy at summer camp discovered an unusual rock on July 31st. He took it to a camp leader, who then took it to an amateur archaeologist friend, who then took it to some experts. According to the story, archaeologists at St. Leo University:
confirmed that the small piece of worked rock was a [6000 year old] Newnan spear point. It dates to the middle Archaic period when humans, who had been previously nomadic, started to settle in larger groups in various regional areas of Florida.
All of this raises an interesting question. The artifact was found on a wilderness trail among many other rocks. What made this boy think this particular rock was different from the others? And what makes archeologists believe, as one of them said, that “[p]eople took a lot of time to make these”? The answer is obvious: it shows all the marks of having been designed. Indeed, recognition of design and purpose is at the center of sciences like archaeology and forensics.

It’s also intuitive. This young boy isn't a scientist; he simply recognized that this rock bore the evidence of having been acted upon by an intelligent force where the other rocks did not. When we come home to an empty house, we know that note on the kitchen counter is not the product of blind chance and the continuous laws of nature. We know--and are held legally accountable for knowing--that a stop sign is not a random product of nature, but something designed to convey a message.

However, when it comes to biology, we're expected to ignore clear evidence of design. In fact, militant atheistic evolutionists have argued against Intelligent Design theory (ID) on the grounds that it is "unscientific" because it infers a designer from the appearance of design and fails to rely purely on naturalistic, undirected processes for explaining biological complexity. This was exactly the argument they made in the infamous Dover case, which a federal judge endorsed. Yet Richard Dawkins, strident atheist and author of The God Delusion, defines biology as “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” That's a very telling definition. Dawkins insists, however, that such things must not have been designed, trying his hardest to make the evidence fit his preconceived conclusion.By defining "science" as "explaining things in purely naturalistic terms with no recourse to design or purpose," they try to rule ID out by defintion rather than on the evidence.

Though clear evidence of design is an obvious scientific principle in archaeology and forensics, when it comes to biology the design inference is suddenly and inexplicably considered to be “unscientific.” Despite the existence of a universe that is almost inconceivably fine-tuned to support human life, the properties of language and information found in the tiniest cells, and the irreducible complexity of numerous biological structures, all life, the militant atheistic scientists say, must be the accidental product of blind, purposeless forces.

For them, every rock is just a rock--including those meticulously cut into the shape of arrowheads.

Friday, August 07, 2009

John Hughes, R.I.P.

[I never do this, but with the passing of John Hughes yesterday, it seemed appropriate to re-post some thoughts I had on him back in 2006. I had always hoped he'd make a comeback, but in the words of Del Griffith, one of Hughes' more endearing creations, "I guess that's not gonna happen. Not now, anyway." If you were, as I was, a teenager in the mid '80's there's a pretty good chance that this guy was your Shakespeare.]

I've lately been pondering the career of John Hughes. (And yes, I'm aware of how sad that is.)

My recollections were occasioned by a Weekly review of a new DVD version of "Ferris Bueller" that's coming out.

I don't know that there's ever been a bigger seven or eight year streak in the history of movies. From 1983 to 1990, he either wrote or directed (and in some cases both) the following films:
Mr. Mom (1983)
Vacation (1983)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Weird Science (1985)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
She's Having a Baby (1988)
Uncle Buck (1989)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Home Alone (1990)
I haven't even included some others during that period that stunk, like "European Vacation" and "The Great Outdoors."

Isolate only at the ones he directed. In one six year period as a writer/director, he cranked out:
Sixteen Candles
The Breakfast Club
Weird Science
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
She's Having a Baby
Uncle Buck
I think that's virtually unprecedented. These films might not be to everyone's taste (and with the exception of “Ferris” and “Uncle Buck,” none of them pushed the $80 million box office mark), but for people of my generation, these are seminal pictures. There's not a clunker in the bunch (though I know some might quibble with one here or there). There's not one on there I don't stop to watch when I pass by it flipping through channels.

Who has ever put a list together like that in that amount of time? Granted, he wasn't doing gritty, edgy stuff like Scorsese or something, but this guy was the Frank Capra of his time. "Home Alone" is the highest-grossing live-action comedy of all time, for goodness sakes.

And yet the guy hasn't directed a movie since "Curly Sue" in 1991--15 years ago. It's Jim Brown. It's Barry Sanders. It's Jordan, if he had stayed retired the first time. How do you put together that career in six years and then disappear? Where is he? At IMDB (which is where I got all this info), he appears to only be cranking out lousy, straight-to-video sequels of "Home Alone" and "Beethoven" as a writer anymore. Under a pseudonym, no less.

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