Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Justice empowered

Steven Calabresi and Thomas Sowell both have must-read pieces on the subject of Barack Obama's explicit views of judicial reform, namely:
[W]e need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.
Calabresi points out that such appointments would, then, have to be made on the condition that the given judge take his/her oath of office--i.e. to "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich"--with quantities of salt so vast that a war with Pakistan might very well be in order, if only for the control it would bring an Obama administration of the Khewra mines.

I couldn't help a terrible sinking feeling, however, when I read this (again, from Calabresi):
A whole generation of Americans has come of age since the nation experienced the bad judicial appointments and foolish economic and regulatory policy of the Johnson and Carter administrations. If Mr. Obama wins we could possibly see any or all of the following: a federal constitutional right to welfare; a federal constitutional mandate of affirmative action wherever there are racial disparities, without regard to proof of discriminatory intent; a right for government-financed abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy; the abolition of capital punishment and the mass freeing of criminal defendants; ruinous shareholder suits against corporate officers and directors; and approval of huge punitive damage awards, like those imposed against tobacco companies, against many legitimate businesses such as those selling fattening food.
Alas, that Mr. Calabresi should conclude from this list of 'negative' outcomes that "Nothing less than the very idea of liberty and the rule of law are at stake in this election," is so utterly counter- intuitive in the common reckoning as to make it almost comical. There isn't an item here that even many conservatives don't think necessary and, ahem, just ends. To the extent that the law has failed to prosecute all this 'wickedness', it is proof of the inadequacy of the law, unenlightened apparently by "empathy".

What Mr. Calabresi misses is that bad judicial appointments and foolish economic policy are not the only things a whole generation of Americans has come of age during. Let us add, above all, the alchemical rationality that has somehow turned--in the common mind--all those eventualities from objective negatives (or, in one or two cases, reasonable intractables) to absolute positives, simply by employing the magic (indeed, the now sacred) word: progress.

Yes, indeed, the Obama supporters will say, liberty and the rule of law are at stake in this election. And to the extent that neither have been served perfectly in their current conception, then they must undergo change. Sorry, change.

The problem here, then, is not a lack of foresight on the part of the Obamamob, so much as it is the gaping absence in their understanding of human nature of the concept of limitations. Of the universality of fallibility. (This gaping absence not as a consequence of progress, of enlightenment--but of a savage regress, of demoralization.)

David Warren fairly nails it down thus:
In this climate, people tend to be maniacally opposed to the sin to which they are not tempted: to giving Christ control over the things that are Caesar's. But they are blind to the sin to which they are hugely tempted: giving Caesar control over the things that are Christ's.
Vengeance is Obama's; he will repay.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another brick in the wall

What Barack Obama is to statesmanship ... What Paris Hilton is to beauty ...

Peaches Geldof is to letters:
The sun glows a burned orange as it sinks behind a skyscraper, a car horn screeches irritably, the wind whistles through the acres of willows in Central Park: New York, the most offbeat and eccentric city in America, is my new home.


My days here are spent working on interviews for NYLON TV, writing articles, and listening to Cory regale me with tales of her life in L.A., which are always ludicrous and funny, her high-pitched hyena laugh filling the office as Marvin strums his guitar and dreams up ideas for the next issue. I feel like I’m part of a movement—a magazine that encapsulates everything cool and strange and interesting.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved London, it’s a city where being unusual is accepted-the norm, even. The music scene is so strong that you can’t walk through certain areas without being compelled to duck into some dive bar to see a band playing music unlike anything you’ve heard before. I grew up there, walked its cobbled streets a thousand times, and frequented its infamous haunts. The skies are always gray and the weather is freezing, but the place is alive, an epicentre of art, and vibrant with culture. The decision to leave my homeland was difficult, but I’m happy I made it.

I traveled across America in a cramped, packed U-Haul and experienced parts of the U.S. not many people see unless they go off the beaten path. The days passed by in a haze of truck stops, fast food restaurants, and palm trees. Highlights included buying a sequined flannel shirt in Colorado for a dollar off an old Mexican woman, who told me it was a family heirloom; Max purchasing a James Dean printed metal lunchbox and using it as a makeshift handbag; being chased by a homeless man wearing a Slipknot T-shirt in Iowa; and going vintage shopping in a Pittsburg store where a 10-year-old kid in a 1970s flared pantsuit and fedora sold us the entire stock of clothes for fifty bucks. (Max loved this store and later changed into an ‘80s red silk evening dress to present the American Eagle music festival in Pittsburgh, to my amusement and his Chester French bandmate’s confusion.) In Indiana I joined some locals in a chewing tobacco competition. My Jack Kerouac adventure led me to New York, where I fell in love with the place all over again.


My best friend here is a boy named Bunny. We spend our days traipsing around Manhattan—him in skin-tight plaid trousers, huge geek glasses, and a mass of red hair sticking out haphazardly from beneath an Amish-style hat. We buy pizza from street vendors, run through Times Square marvelling at its energy, and source new vintage boutiques. Nights involve dancing at Beatrice Inn or Lit, watching the Misshapes spin some tunes, or catching one of the amazing bands Brooklyn has to offer.
The end is nigh.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

'Onservative' coined!

Further to my exemplar of the Onservative--what Kathy Shaidle describes as "the cowardly careerist urban latte beta male lawyer class"--Nicholas Packwood (aka Ghost of a Flea) offers this:
Yet another thing I used to wonder at in my 9/10 life was how German conservatives could ever have accommodated themselves to Hitler and the Nazi party. Now I know. They were not conservatives. They did not care about democracy or individual liberty or the free market or authentic German traditions. They saw a strong man on a horse and - being weak - they followed him. They were the Weimar equivalent of today's cowardly, careerist urban latte beta male lawyer class and they could not care less who ran Germany so long as they were still invited to the right parties.
The Flea's is judgement worth trusting. (I'm fairly certain he's from the future!) Further to his thoughts, I recommend this--by a German whose conservatism earned him a bullet in the neck at Dachau.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Dan Gardner on celebrity intellectuals:
If I were to submit slack, lazy writing[*] to the New York Times, I would get an e-mail that would thank me for my submission but regret to inform me that the New York Times will not publish my slack, lazy writing. So would anyone not in line for a Nobel. But she's Margaret F***ing Atwood! No one tells Margaret Atwood her writing is slack and lazy and please try again.

Without criticism, slack and lazy writing inevitably gets slacker and lazier. Which explains much about Margaret Atwood's publicly expressed opinions.

Consider her attack on Stephen Harper's cuts to arts funding. Maybe he did it because "he likes punishing," Ms. Atwood wrote during the campaign. "Or is it even worse? Every budding dictatorship begins by muzzling the artists, because they're a mouthy lot and they don't line up and salute very easily."

This is the sort of bilious emission one expects to read in blogs written by people who believe 9/11 was an inside job but rather than treat it accordingly, the media, politicians and the rest of the chattering class saw it as a powerful attack on the prime minister. She's no blogger! She's Margaret Atwood!

h/t Megapundit

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Worse than Hitler? Worse than Goebbels?

I'm trying to figure out which is worse: that this (admittedly heart-wrenching) footage might actually win John McCain votes, or that (as Sky News contends) it will lose him votes "as he is filmed smoking a cigarette."

The future of the free world: your choice of cynical or fatuous.

Islam's looking better and better these days.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dawgs and their vawmit

Hey! You know what I really hate about the Other? His Otherness! God, it makes me sick! In fact, the next time I see an Other Othering around me--'damned if there isn't gonna be trouble! ...

Just wanted to point out that, for the second time now, Dr. Dawg has accused me of racism.

This would hurt, I confess, only it's Dr. Dawg we're talking about. As I said the first time this happened: coming from him, it may as well be an accusation of anti-dentism.

Oh, the acrimony!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Murray and Peter Corren

If human rights can be said truly to exist, then they have no greater enemies in this country than Murray and Peter Corren ... Or, as I like to think of them, Gaius and Titius:
The very power of Gaius and Titius depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy; a boy who thinks he is 'doing' his 'prep' and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all. The authors themselves, I suspect, hardly know what they are doing to the boy, and he cannot know what is being done to him.

... Gaius and Titius, while teaching him nothing about letters, have cut out of his soul, long before he is old enough to choose, the possibility of having certain experiences which thinkers of more authority than they have held to be generous, fruitful, and humane.
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

(For background, here.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So small c they should be called the Onservative Party of Canada

On an eleven by four inch piece of cardstock that I received in the mail last week, I learned the following (and only the following) about the CPC candidate in my riding:
Raised and educated in North Toronto, Heather [Jewell] is married to Tom Rudman, an award-winning Canadian designer.

Heather earned a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology, at Glendon College, the French-language campus of York University.

A vegetarian and long-time supporter of certified organic farming practices, Heather is passionate about the promise of health-promoting practices such as naturopathy and homeopathy.

In a leadership role at Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting, Heather cultivated commercial partnerships with business throughout Canada. She is proud of her accomplishments as the Director of the Closed Captioning Department, where she managed the CRTC closed captioning license requirements for 13 different specialty television channels. Heather's job was to ensure full accessibility and the highest possible level of service to hearing-impaired viewers.

Heather has been a Conservative activist since her youth and served as a Conservative candidate in the 2004 federal election. She is a compassionate and knowledgeable person who is determined to help people and encourage opportunity throughout St. Paul's and Canada.
Them's some progressivist bona fides, what? Right down to the Conservative activism ... Not certain why Ms. Jewell didn't spare the ink and dead trees and just print "Don't worry, I'm not really a conservative!"

So I will be spoiling my ballot today, I'm afraid. I shall do so by printing the following across it: End 13(1).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sowell on Bailouts

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not deserve to be bailed out, but neither do workers, families and businesses deserve to be put through the economic wringer by a collapse of credit markets, such as occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Neither do the voters deserve to be deceived on the eve of an election by the notion that this is a failure of free markets that should be replaced by political micro-managing.

If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were free market institutions they could not have gotten away with their risky financial practices because no one would have bought their securities without the implicit assumption that the politicians would bail them out.

It would be better if no such government-supported enterprises had been created in the first place and mortgages were in fact left to the free market. This bailout creates the expectation of future bailouts.

Phasing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would make much more sense than letting politicians play politics with them again, with the risk and expense being again loaded onto the taxpayers.

Thomas Sowell, "Bailout Politics"


ADDENDUM (Oct. 15th)

Terence Corcoran on bank "rescue":

So this is the new bold shift in the boundaries between state and markets. Governments force banks to take up new capital, including government as investors, under mandatory instructions to deploy money to borrowers, especially borrowers with riskier profiles.

This is how the United States got into this mess in the first place. It sent the world financial markets reeling through trillion-dollar subprime mortgage lending schemes, mandated by Congress, funded by government agencies and allowed to spin out of control by politicians and regulators who knew what was happening all through the last five years.

Is it possible to bail a financial system out of crisis using the same policies that created the crisis? A lot of people seem to think so, so then I guess we are, indeed, all home free. A new economic order has been created, the state is in control, and the crisis is over.


ADDENDUM 2 (Oct. 16th)

And Peter Foster on "The Nudge Doctrine":
With panicky governments jerking the levers of macroeconomic control and finding that they are not connected to anything, the notion that policymakers might expand their role by delivering gentle, benevolent, psychologically-savvy "nudges" seems less frightening than hilarious.


There is no doubt that a better understanding of human nature would improve policymaking, but among the most dangerous and underexamined aspects of the human psyche are the will to rule and to seek power and status by political posturing "on behalf of" others. That is the chimpanzee in the room that the Nudge Doctrine misses.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The procedure that dares not speak its name

Henry Morgentaler, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario

Henry Morgentaler has had a major impact on Canadian public policy. A Holocaust survivor, he has not hesitated to put himself at risk in his determined drive to increase health care options for Canadian women. He has been a catalyst for change and important debate, influencing public policy nationwide. He has heightened awareness of women’s reproductive health issues among medical professionals and the Canadian public. He is a respected volunteer who has held leadership roles in humanist and civil liberties organizations, and is the recipient of a number of national and international awards.

So we've got "Holocaust survivor," and a willingness "to put himself at risk." Even a mention of his "heightened awareness of women's reproductive health issues"--it's a superpower, in case you were wondering ... But nowhere any clue as to what it is the man does.

Curious. I would've thought we'd be shouting it from the rooftops along with the rest of our creed. Beauty! L'espoir! Vérité! Trust! Joy! 'Bortion!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Terminal Progress

Unlike many other genetic anomalies, such as Tay-Sachs and anencephaly, Down Syndrome (also known as Down's Syndrome or Trisomy 21) is not a terminal disorder. Children born with Down Syndrome are not vegetables, nor are their lives demonstrably not worth living. Indeed, advances in science and changes in public perception have combined to make Down Syndrome a relatively mild birth defect: The average child born with Down Syndrome in America today can expect to reside at home, go to school, learn to read, hold a job, and live to the age of 55. He will grow up cognizant of ethics and events, and will be mildly to moderately retarded, with an IQ of between 55 and 70. It is one of the triumphs of modern society that the life of the average person with Down Syndrome has become strikingly normal. Except that, unlike normal people, people with Down Syndrome have been targeted for elimination.
Easy there, ya big silly. A decline in the number of Down's babies means that we've cured Down's, obviously. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Right?
In 1978, the Delaware chapter of the Association for Retarded Citizens did take a position [on abortion]: It passed a resolution demanding that the federal government pay for abortions for poor women who learn they are carrying potential retarded citizens. The resolution prompted The Arc's national organization to convene a task force on the issue. After months of work, the group produced a 60-page report declaring that, although a majority of its members supported government funding for the abortion of retarded children, a unanimous decision could not be reached. And that, says lobbyist Marchand, was that: "I don't think anything on abortion has crossed my desk in the last ten years." The only comparable issue today, he says, is the debate within the "disability community" over whether it is valid to search for a cure for mental retardation. "It can be a touchy subject," he explains without a hint of irony, because when you seek a cure, "what you're doing de facto is devaluing people with mental retardation."
Oh, so ... Oh.


Monday, October 06, 2008

The Acceptable Usage

An off-colour story requires of EMG that he explain (to EMG) why it is that he is allowed to indulge in political impieties with impunity, but that others do so at their peril. (Click the image, press play)

(Incidentals: 1. Two f-bombs at the very end. 2. A copy of the song in full can be found here.)

Run time is just under 8 minutes.

Friday, October 03, 2008

"I already shot my wad at a Protestant."

Salad days ...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The word is spelled "ridiculous", guys

Speaking as someone who considers Larry Charles' contributions to Seinfeld to be among the very best of an already flawless lot, I find it difficult to believe that the same man could have said the following about his latest creative endeavour:
The greatest controversy that could happen is that the people who are initially outraged and offended by the movie actually go see it and wind up being disarmed by it, laughing and enjoying it, and maybe end up asking a few questions themselves.
Jesus Christ, Larry! Did you lift this directly from Imagine? Talk about credulity! (Or should that be creligulity?) ... I mean: why stop there? Maybe, after forcing themselves to watch Religulous, all the fundamentalist militants will hammer their swords into ploughshares too! Maybe the world will finally be persuaded to sing in perfect harmony! Wouldn't that be the greatest conceivable, erm, controversy? (Or maybe I'm getting it confused with that controversy than which no greater controversy can be conceived. 'Really must bone up on my Anselm.)

He continues:
...[T]his movie could plant a seed, an idea, that might shift the current paradigm. Think about it -- we've been inundated for 2,000 years with one point of view, the pro-religious point of view, and it's now at the stage where you feel guilty and reticent about expressing an opinion that's against this. We've been preached to in one direction for 2,000 years, and here's just one little movie preaching the other way, pushing in the other direction. It's really a modest thing; we're just saying, here's another voice.
Man, I never thought of it that way! And it's just so true: not a single person has ever dared to question the, erm, "pro-religious" point of view! Ever! ... Well, no one in recent memory anyway. Move over single-direction preaching; there's a new paradigm in town!

Bill Maher chimes in:
What bothers me, is that there's so much selfishness masquerading as altruism. Any Christian will tell you, right to your face, that it's not about altruism, it's about personal salvation, and the good works and ethical aspects of religion are just an afterthought.
If Christians are admitting this to you, Bill, then their selfishness is self-evidently not masquerading as altruism. (Altruism, incidentally, is not a religious concept. It was developed by atheist sociologist Auguste Comte to describe something that (for, perhaps, obvious reasons) he was incapable of understanding.)
It's really about believing in this imaginary friend who'll save you when your life on Earth ends.
... How will religion ever recover from the acid tongue of this profound and learned man?