Saturday, April 21, 2007

Global Warming Killing Environmentalism

There's an interesting piece in the LATimes (courtesy of RCP):

Traditional environmental concerns have been trumped by a single, overriding problem: global climate change. Henry David Thoreau asked, "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"

Environmentalists today face a similar question. Why fight for a local or even national cause when a global change could erase any victory? Preserving a beach ecosystem becomes meaningless if the coast is obliterated by a rising sea. Putting polar bears on the endangered species list is risible if the Arctic ice cap melts away to nothing each summer.

If you are a dyed-in-the-wool environmental activist, that funny feeling you have is the ground shifting beneath your feet.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes building two new dams in the Sierra, as he did in January, and argues that if California is going to have enough water, they are necessary to compensate for an expected reduction in the state's winter snowpack, how is a good green to respond...

Already, old-school environmentalists Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, and Stewart Brand, who created the Whole Earth Catalog, have embraced nuclear power as a lesser evil than climate change. Are environmentalists entering an era of wrenching hand-wringing as they choose among evils?

I hope not. Instead of triage, the right response is to accept the hard truth that the only thing that matters is controlling global warming and preventing catastrophic climate change — and then to fight like never before to do that. The dedicated, single-focus activists who make up so much of the environmental movement may, in the future, still be able to save the redwoods, or the Mexican gray wolf, or the whales — but only if we save ourselves first...

As I say, an interesting piece. The most significant effect of this might well be for nuclear power. Rendered 'radioactive' (so to speak) after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, it becomes almost essential to our energy strategy if you accept that the generation of CO2 is slowly destroying our world. Those most worried about global climate change ought to be most receptive to the idea of revival of nuclear power. We've already seen presidential candidates talk about the potential return of nuclear power.

Further, Republicans who have complained for years about environmental extremism are seeing less attention to measures such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, which were once the primary foci of the environmental debate.

And the new focus on global warming also differs from the old debate in that it is largely international and multilateral. The old discussions about water, air, and wildlife was susceptible of an 'environmentalism in one country' approach, while the climate change discussion is almost irrelevant if we are speaking of the United States only. It must be tackled by a host of nations. One can expect that under a Democratic President, the war on CO2 might take an equal footing with the war on terror. I'll be interested to see if the Democratic candidates (in particular) are required to give much attention to global climate change as a dimension of foreign policy.

CNN Can't Write Truthful Headlines

CNN reports that "Administration officials say Gonzales should step down." The only thing is, they don't quote any administration officials - named or unnamed - saying that. I've lifted the entire text, and highlighted the portion that represents the statements of administration officials and sources:

Several administration officials and the House Republican Conference chairman said Friday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should step down, following the harsh response to his Senate testimony on last year's firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Gonzales for hours Thursday about the dismissals.

The attorney general has been roundly criticized for his handling of the shakeup and for the shifting explanations Justice Department officials have given for the changes.

Gonzales said more than 60 times that he "couldn't recall" certain incidents. His former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, used that explanation 122 times during his testimony weeks ago.

Detractors say the Justice Department has not been straightforward about the reasons the attorneys were dismissed. The controversy has led to allegations of political interference with pending investigations.

"He did not distinguish himself in the hearing," said Rep. Adam Putnam, House GOP conference chairman. "There remains a cloud over the department."

"I think that they would be well-served by fresh leadership," said Putnam, who is often a spokesman for House Republicans. He said no one was doing "high fives" after the testimony.

During the hearings Thursday, while Democratic senators criticized Gonzales' leadership, some of the sharpest criticism came from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including one who called for his resignation.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, said Gonzales should resign.

"The communication was atrocious. It was inconsistent -- it's generous to say that there were misstatements; it's a generous statement. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered," Coburn said, adding, "I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation."

On Friday, another Republican, Sen Jeff Sessions of Alabama, told CNN that Gonzales should consider leaving office.

"I think the attorney general ought to take the weekend and think about this and ask himself whether he can effectively reconstitute the attorney general's office," Sessions said, "and I'll be thinking about the same thing.

"If he feels like he cannot, then it would be best for the president and the country to resign."

According to a senior Justice Department official, Gonzales spoke to some senators Friday. The official would only say they included Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, "and others" and was not sure whether he spoke to any Democrats. "The conversations went well," the official said but provided no details.

The official also said, "Attorney General Gonzales is in good spirits. He's optimistic, feeling good." "He is eager to get on with the other important work of the department," the official added.

The attorney general plans to participate in private and public events in the coming week in Washington.

After Gonzales' testimony Thursday, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said Gonzales has the full backing of the president:

"President Bush was pleased with the attorney general's testimony today. After hours of testimony in which he answered all of the senators' questions and provided thousands of pages of documents, he again showed that nothing improper occurred. He admitted the matter could have been handled much better, and he apologized for the disruption to the lives of the U.S. attorneys involved, as well as for the lack of clarity in his initial responses," Perino said.

But White House insiders told CNN after the testimony that Gonzales hurt himself during his testimony.

The sources, involved in administration discussions about Gonzales, said two senior level White House aides who heard the testimony described Gonzales as "going down in flames," "not doing himself any favors," and "predictable."

"Everyone's putting their best public face on," one source said, "but everyone is discouraged. Everyone is disappointed."

And the administration officials who talked to CNN on Friday agreed that Gonzales' statements did little to help him regain credibility on Capitol Hill and, in fact, may have lost him the few supporters he had left.

One official, who works closely with Gonzales, described him as "out of touch" with the political pulse in Washington. The official said the attorney general is still optimistic that he can remedy the situation.

The White House sources acknowledge that no one knows what the president will do. No one is looking for a replacement yet, sources said, and the White House is waiting to see how this plays out with the public and members of Congress over the next couple of days.

Another White House insider said it's up to the president to save him.

"He and Al have to work this out ..." he said. "There is no indication that Gonzales thinks he needs to leave."

Former solicitor general mentioned as possible replacement

Several other officials said Republicans have begun discussing a possible replacement.

One name that consistently comes up is Ted Olson, former solicitor general. Olson is seen as having the experience, reputation and credibility needed to steer the department for the next year and a half, through the end of Bush's term.

However, officials note that Bush has been a longtime defender of Gonzales, whom he hired as his general counsel in 1994 when he was elected Texas governor.

He may not be willing to give in to congressional demands to remove him, unless he becomes convinced that keeping Gonzales will hinder his agenda, they said.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, indicated to CNN that he is ambivalent about the possibility that Gonzales might leave.

"If Al Gonzales were to quit tomorrow, it wouldn't end it. It would just, I think, add fuel to the fire, especially with Democrats controlling the Senate," he said.

"We'd have a confirmation hearing with the new attorney general, with a year and half left to serve in President Bush's second term in office. I think it would be more chaotic than it would if he were to stay and try to do the best job he can under very difficult circumstances."

While no one has anything nice to say, and no one is willing to predict that Gonzales will survive, there's also no one saying he should go. Another example of the vaunted power of the MSM to get stories right that bloggers such as myself might mess up.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dems Turn to 'Micro-Funding' to End Iraq War

Read it over at the Standard.

China: The More Things Change...

Read it over at the Standard.

Vermont Senate Demonstrates Ignorance of the Constitution

Read it at the Standard.


Harry Reid says the war is lost. What more is there to say? If he really believes that the war is lost; if he really believes it's not worth one more drop of American blood, then how can he allow the Senate to fund the mission?

Mike Goldfarb notes
that while Lieberman gets it, Reid does not. Perhaps it's time to ask Lieberman again whether it's time to switch parties.

Michelle offers letters to Harry Reid.

Regarding Virginia Tech, Peggy Noonan offers a good piece on the coldness of our therapized society. The last bit:

The last testament Cho sent to NBC seemed more clear evidence of mental illness--posing with his pistols, big tough gangsta gonna take you out. What is it evidence of when NBC News, a great pillar of the mainstream media, runs the videos and pictures on the nightly news? Brian Williams introduced the Cho collection as "what can only be described as a multi-media manifesto." But it can be described in other ways. "The self-serving meanderings of a crazy, self-indulgent narcissist" is one. But if you called it that, you couldn't lead with it. You couldn't rationalize the decision.

Such pictures are inspiring to the unstable. The minute you saw them, you probably thought what I did: We'll be seeing more of that.

The most common-sensical thing I heard said came Thursday morning, in a hospital interview with a student who'd been shot and was recovering. Garrett Evans said of the man who'd shot him, "An evil spirit was going through that boy, I could feel it." It was one of the few things I heard the past few days that sounded completely true. Whatever else Cho was, he was also a walking infestation of evil. Too bad nobody stopped him. Too bad nobody moved.

A ridiculous response to the VA Tech shooting.

Canada is considering withdrawal from the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

Alec Baldwin demonstrates how not to be a good parent. I believe that comments like this are supposed to be saved for the Festivus airing of the grievances.

A minor slip by the Giuliani campaign.

The ghost yacht. No, it's not this one.

Lamar Alexander is making calls to New Hampshire on behalf of Fred Thompson.

Why Alberto Gonzales has little time left: the loss of GOP support.

Democrats as SuperFriends?

OK, Marcelle left this in the comment section and it's so well done I have to post it. He's clearly got the party's reversed of course, and any thought of Hillary Clinton in a Wonder Woman outfit will be the source of nightmares and scarring for years to come. That said:

The website is here.

My sister and brother-in-law will appreciate Barack as Superman.

CSM: US Pressuring Maliki on Benchmarks

The Christian Science Monitor offers a look this morning at the pace of political reform in Iraq. Everyone seems to agree that it needs to speed up, although there are cautions that the Maliki government may simply not be able to move as quickly as people want:

When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made a surprise stop in Baghdad Thursday, a day after the horrendous car bombings in the city, his message was clear: The US commitment to Iraq is not open-ended – and the Iraqi government had better get busy on its side of the "to do" list.

The nearly three-month-old increase in US troops in Baghdad is still not complete. But US officials are starting to show impatience that a plan designed to give the Iraqi government breathing space for making decisions aimed at addressing sectarian strife is not having much of the desired response.

Indeed, the US "surge" has not been matched by an equal uptick in political action. On key issues like revenue distribution, militias, reconciliation, and constitutional reform, progress appears to be made at an "all the time in the world" pace – even though Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki committed to security steps and political decisions in conversations with President Bush this past January...

Still, some experts say a strict set of demands is too much for Maliki's year-old regime. "We're asking too much of the Iraqi government in too short a time," says Paul Hughes, an Iraq expert at the US Institute of Peace in Washington. "They still have training wheels on their operations."

Instead of focusing on benchmarks for Iraqi action, the US should be focused on getting right civilian aspects such as reconstruction and social development, says Mr. Hughes, a retired Army colonel who worked on disarmament and reintegration issues in the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003.

"Congress would serve the American people better if it tried to fix the civilian element of our involvement," he says.

It's an interesting read. It's also something to remember when you hear Democratic criticisms of the White House's 'open-ended' commitment. It's clear that the administration isn't happy with the pace (how could they be?), and it's good to see reporting of Gates carrying that message - even as real progress continues to go unnoticed.

The current fight over Iraq funding shows that the White House can keep troops in Iraq - as long as Bush is President, and he remains committee to the mission. If Iraq is unable to make sufficient political progress during this breathing space however, then either: 1) Bush won't stay committed; or, 2) Republicans will no longer hold the White House. Either way, the window for the Maliki government is measured in months.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Great Line About John Edwards

Robert Wright captures John Edwards' challenge as a candidate very nicely in this bloggingheads segment: 'would you buy a used car from this guy?'

Pretty much captures it.

Al Gore's Offsets Making Global Warming Worse

Read it at the Standard.

The Wreck of Alberto Gonzales

The legend lives on from Great Falls on down
Of the waters they call Potomaci
The press they all say, never give up their prey
When “I can’t remember” turns gloomy

With a load of legal lore, 26 binders full more
Than Alberto Gonzales knew empty
That Bush pal and true was a bone to be chewed
When the need to remember came early

The staff was the pride of the Republican side
Counsel back from as far as Wisconsin
As the Plum Book staffs go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and the press flack well seasoned

Concluding some terms with silk stocking legal firms
When they left fully loaded from briefing
And later that morn when the gavel rang
Could it be the Ill Wind they’d been feeling?

The lead on the wires made a tattletale sound
And a flash broke over the swearing
And every man knew, as the AG did, too
T’was the witch of Remembrance come stealing

The date came late and the statement had to wait
When the calls to remember came slashing
When afternoon came with freezing refrain
In a mise-en-scene right out of West Wing

When deadline time came the old flack came on deck
Saying fellows it’s too rough to brief you
At 7 PM the main timeline caved in
He said fellows, it’s been good know you.

The AG wired in “There’s subpoenas coming in
And the AG and staff were in peril
And later that night when his lines were lost to sight
Came the wreck of Alberto Gonzales

Does anyone know
where the love of God goes
when the words turn the minutes to hours?
Reporters all say he’d have made Memorial Day
if he’d fifteen more Members behind him.

He might have stepped down
or he might have resigned.
He may have limped out in a totter.
And all that remains are the plans and claims for time spent with his sons and his daughters.

CNN rolls; Katy Couric preens
in a studio in Black Rock Manhattan
Olbermann steams in his Murrowesque dreams
His delivery and style are for sportsmen.

And later at night Colmes will opine
In refute of O’Reilly and Limbaugh
And the focus groups all go
as the politicos all know
With all gaffes from November remembered.

In a musty old hall on First Street they prayed
In an RNC strategy session
The email chimed til it rang 29 times
For each op-ed on A.G. Gonzales.

The legend lives on from Great Falls on down
Of the waters they call Potomaci
The press they all say, never give up their prey
When “I can’t remember” turns gloomy.

With all due apologies to G. Lightfoot:

Sometimes I Wonder

Dick Morris says that the VA Tech shooting and the Supreme Court's decision on Partial Birth Abortion will have the effect of reinjecting those issues front-and-center into the public debate. He predicts that will help Hillary Clinton and hurt Rudy Giuliani.

He also notes another possible effect:

All of this could stimulate an entry into the race by Fred Thompson, whose positions on guns and abortion are more in line with right-wing views.

Hhmmm... Fred Thompson?

What would make Morris think that he's considering getting in?

John Murtha Pushes for a New Draft

Read it over at the Standard.

Democrats Gird for Battle (With White House)

Read it over at the Standard.


Michael Barone writes about the links between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

Carloyn McCarthy promotes a gun control bill that she cannot even pretend to understand. It's also worth noting that she talks about why certain guns were banned - in 1994! Does she think that nothing has changed (in terms of guns, crime, or gangs) since 1994? Wouldn't any serious effort to address the problems of violent crime have to be founded in measures that address the world as we encounter it in 2007?

John McCain announces that he will soon announce:

Is it just me, or is this a little 'Oceans 12'-y?

Hat Tip: Mary Katharine

Fisking Keith Olbermann.

Why is John Kerry hinting at a 2008 Presidential run? Because it's looking like he might have trouble getting re-elected in Massachusetts!

I wonder what Mitt Romney's popularity is like in Massachusetts...

Nebraska's Republican Attorney General is considering a run against Chuck Hagel.

All I've heard the last few days is 'why is the NRA so powerful in blocking gun control legislation?' Well, perhaps because it is very popular - according to Pew Research.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

PBA Foodfight Chez Obama

The Obama-as-social-moderate fiction is getting most of its finish sandblasted off in the aftermath of Obama's NARAL-line-toeing. View the fun on the Obama campaign website--while it lasts.

Democrats Give up on Forced Surrender

In favor of 'suggested surrender.' Read it at the Standard.

Equal Time for Dems on PBA


"This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman's right to choose and recognized the importance of women's health. Today's decision blatantly defies the Court's recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother. As the Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade in 1973, this issue is complex and highly personal; the rights and lives of women must be taken into account. It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when I opposed the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito."

Perhaps unsurprising there is no grassroots response to this on Clinton's campaign blog.

Edwards: (we pause to note that the Edwards campaign has characteristically gone to the maudlin by introducing an entire splash page of condolence to those affected by the Blacksburg massacre)
"I could not disagree more strongly with today's Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose."

The Pandagonians posting on Edwards' site mostly are with him, but he gets some criticism from the Left for speaking out stridently now, but having missed the vote back in 2003.

I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women. As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman’s medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient. I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women.

Blogging reaction on Obama's site is, so far, decidedly against him. Let's see how long it takes for management to clean that up

Will Governor Corzine Face Charges

We know that Governor Corzine's state-owned vehicle was traveling with emergency lights flashing at the time of the accident last week. That apparent abuse might easily have led to the death of another driver. We now know that the vehicle was traveling at 91 miles per hour at the time of the incident - 26 miles per hour above the speed limit.

Philo points out in the comment section of a prior post that the Governor was approximately 86 miles from his destination, about 1 hour prior to the meeting he was hoping to attend (the Don Imus groveling session).

So we have to ask: was it the Governor's intent to drive for an hour at 90 mph - with emergency lights flashing the whole way - in order to make this photo op?

The incident makes you wonder whether anyone remembers the case of Bill Janklow. There's one important difference between these two cases: in that of Janklow, someone died. But it appears that the actions of Corzine (and/or his driver) were comparably reckless.

Will Corzine or his driver face charges?

Reaction to the PBA Decision

From Mayor Giuliani's campaign:

"The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion. I agree with it."

From Romney:

"Today, our nation's highest court reaffirmed the value of life in America by upholding a ban on a practice that offends basic human decency. This decision represents a step forward in protecting the weakest and most innocent among us."

From McCain:

"Today's Supreme Court ruling is a victory for those who cherish the sanctity of life and integrity of the judiciary. The ruling ensures that an unacceptable and unjustifiable practice will not be carried out on our innocent children. It also clearly speaks to the importance of nominating and confirming strict constructionist judges who interpret the law as it is written, and do not usurp the authority of Congress and state legislatures. As we move forward, it is critically important that our party continues to stand on the side of life."

More on Earmark Hypocrisy

Senator DeMint has posted several Youtube videos that give a better idea of the floor debate over earmarks that occurred yesterday. I encourage you to watch the heavy-handed Senator Durbin compliment Mr. DeMint for his victory, and then tell him to quit before anything is actually accomplished. Watch also Senator Coburn's rebuttal.

Red State also gives a great explanation.

Corzine Traveling 25 MPH Above Speed Limit

I wrote the other day that Corzine's irresponsible use of emergency lights was endangering other motorists. Now it becomes even more apparent:

The SUV carrying Gov. Jon S. Corzine was traveling about 91 mph moments before it crashed, Superintendent of State Police Col. Rick Fuentes said Tuesday.

The governor was critically injured when the vehicle crashed into a guardrail on the Garden State Parkway just north of Atlantic City last week. He apparently was not wearing his seat belt as he rode in the front passenger's seat.

The speed limit along that stretch of the parkway is 65 mph.

House Democrats Have No Interest in Petraeus

Read it over at the Standard.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

As Churchill said of El Alamein: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

The first tangible legal reversal of the Sexual Revolution has been achieved with the facial upholding of the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 in the Supreme Court's ruling on Carhart v Gonzales.

National Review has the decision, written by Justice Kennedy.

Now this is a tenuous victory at best, since the Court's finding is mostly procedural, and another suit will presumably be brought as soon as the pro-brain suctioning groups can find a suitably telegenic test case, but it serves as a reminder of the extreme ends and reasoning which the Sexual Revolution ultimately demands in its total rebellion against tradition, biology and philosophy. It also serve to remind us that the commitment of Presidential candidates to the rule of law and faithful interpretation of law as written has life-and-death consequences.


The Supreme Court upholds the federal Partial Birth Abortion ban. Expect this to ratchet up the pressure the next time there's a vacancy at the Court.

On a related note, I'll post the reaction from Mayor Giuliani's campaign.

Dennis Kucinich introduces articles of impeachment against Cheney.

Erick looks at Novak's assessment of how the freshman Democrats are doing.

Buzz Aldrin announces a lottery for a trip into space.

Video: how to rip a phonebook in half. Go ahead and try. When was the last time you used a phonebook anyway?

In the News: Thompson's Visit to Capitol Hill

Today Fred Thompson will meet with House Republicans, as part of what is apparently his pre-announcement tour. At this point it would be very surprising indeed if he chose not to run for President. And as one observer described it, it seems that he is the 'undeclared frontrunner:'

When actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson first said in a television interview March 11 that he was "giving some thought" to running for president, it sounded almost casual.

Since then, however, Thompson and his supporters have conducted a methodical pre-campaign campaign, which continues today with a trip to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican House members who are interested in his potential candidacy.

Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., one of those pushing a Thompson run, arranged for the meeting at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill.

He said 60 Republicans expressed interest in meeting Thompson, and he expects at least 40 will attend.

I'll post any reaction that I see.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stop the Inanity

I am saddened to see purported conservatives dropping like flies before the morally anaesthetic cliche that the Blacksburg massacre represents "the incomprehensibility of evil." I have laid out the reasons why this is flatly contradictory to the conservative mindset in a prior post, and I don't want to belabour the argument in the absence of counterargument, but I feel sickly compelled to compile the moral inanities from conservative opinion-makers:

The premiere offender, of course, is the President, who dipped a toe into moral self-deception with his by-and-large unremarkable message of condolence. One could charitably make the argument that rather than merely saying "It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering," he meant to say something more along the lines of "it's impossible to make human sense of such violence and suffering under the gaze of our infinitely just and loving God." One might have said "it's impossible to believe the killer acted sensibly in meting out such violence and suffering. But the problem with such compromise statements as it seems were hammered out for him by his speechmakers is to wind up saying something flatly false and patronising to an auditorium full of mourners. There is nothing easier to make sense of than human cruelty and the will to dominate; pretending it doesn't exist within us all doesn't help anyone. Indeed it actively makes recurrences of such atrocities more likely by increasing the blinding moral smog that such feigned ignorance and self-deception generate.

National Review actually made the trope in the headline of their symposium of moral analysis of the massacre, although the essays themselves were mercifully free from such moral self-exoneration, and spoke quite strongly to the need to confront the reality of evil unflinchingly. But this was depressingly balanced at the same time by Nancy French's morally naive navel-gazing. John O'Sullivan likewise pleads ignorance, although his essay works all the way around the issue of evil; he cannot bring himself personally to own murderous evil, which he attempts to brand as "radical evil," making it somehow categorically different from any garden variety evil he might admit to harbouring within himself.

Tucker Carlson, unsurprisingly, was 100% on board the move to declare evil something he couldn't be expected to analyse. It is true that evil subsists only as the negation of the good, and therefore right reason precludes willful evil, but to declare that right reason has nothing to say about its negation is to declare right reason powerless before evil. Evil is therefore rationally unaccountable in its particular manifested forms, but to pretend that all knowledge is rational is to subordinate the totality of the soul merely to one of its more useful faculties. Reason cannot account for itself rationally; to declare fundamental moral axioms out of bounds for analysis due to their prerational origin is a shortcut to the most grinding utilitarianism--which, come to think about it, seems to be pretty much where Tucker Carlson spends most of his time these days between tango lessons.

Weekly Standard has yet to step in this canard, and most theocon writers and bloggers have likewise; let's hope that one of them will step up to the plate and make clear for their readers the reasons why understanding evil's place in the scheme of things is essential to any plan to promote the good, and that to deny evil's susceptibility to rightly guided reason, perverse and irrational as evil's manifestations may be, is to empower evil to routine triumph over a willfully naive intellect almost as surely as would be the outright denial of the concept of evil.

Congress Likely to Reject 'Forced Surrender'

Things get difficult after that. Read it over at the Standard.

Senate Democrats Backtrack on Promises

Earlier this year, Jim DeMint embarrassed Senate Democrats into accepting a reform of earmarks as part of the Senate ethics bill. The reform would bring openness to the earmarking process, but the Senate is not following those rules because the leadership shows no interest in actually getting the ethics bill signed into law.

Senator DeMint took to the Senate floor today to ask that the earmark reform be applied to the Senate today, by incorporating it into Senate rules. But the Democrats rejected even that:

It's a shame that the Democrats - who swept into power promising to change the way Washington works - are instead defending the same old abuses.

Update: CQ reports that DeMint's move forced the Appropriations Committee to adopt his rule. But DeMint issued a press release today spelling out the problems with the new rule:

The decision by the Senate Appropriations Committee is not full or enforceable reform. The new Byrd rule:

• Doesn't apply to all earmarks. Many earmarks are contained in authorization bills and authorization committees have not agreed to adhere to the disclosure rule. For example, the infamous Bridge to Nowhere was an authorization earmark and would not be included under the new Byrd policy.

• Has no enforcement. This is a promise with no teeth. There is no recourse for senators – or taxpayers - if the Appropriations committee doesn't live up to their word. If the rule were enacted, Senators could raise a point of order against any appropriations bill that does not meet the disclosure requirements.

• Is the second promise by Democrats on earmark reform. After promising a complete time-out on earmarks for the rest of 2007, Democrats immediately proceeded to add billions in pork to the war supplemental (spinach, peanut storage, Christmas trees, etc.) and at least one clear violation by resurrecting a University of Vermont earmark from 2006.

Congressional Democrats Offer 'Two-for-One' Tax Special

Read it over at the Standard.

Victims Fighting Back Is not Part of the Story Line

The now omnipresent coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre has brought forth various archival footage of shootings at the University of Texas, at Columbine High School, and other, similar atrocities.

One such crime, though, has been significant in its absence from the retrospectives, since the setting and background seem quite similar. If any readers can cite media reference in the current circus to the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law (140 miles from Blacksburg) back in 2002, the Influence Peddlers would be much obliged.

Second Amendment champions will presumably interpret this as simply another example of the mainstream media's hoplophobia, but more generally this seems to me to another case of the medium determining the message. Actual combat situations are almost impossible to photograph or televise honestly, because the situation of opposed wills colliding violently is almost impossible to frame comprehensibly: either one can focus on the activity of the forces friendly to the photographer, the police and fleeing students in this case, making them comprehensible and sympathetic, or one can focus on the enemy--distant and obscured, made powerful by their distance and mystery. This mystification of evil represents perhaps the most common and widespread manifestation of the distorting effect of the coverage, infecting even conservative thought, as explored elsewhere.

In either case, the totality of the situation has been collapsed into the frame of the camera lens, and the reality of the event has been cropped down into the point of view selected by the editor. A situation in which some students flee and some fight back has a visual narrative so confused that even if there are photographers present (at Appalachian Law School the situation was resolved and the shooter apprehended before the media circus could really begin), the likelihood of coherent photography emerging is almost non-existent. Since good photography is understood to be photography which tells the story, a confused narrative situation produces confused photography. In the absence of compelling visuals, the story will die away as the media moves on to cover and comment upon a situation with clear and compelling visuals.

The drawn out drama of a siege scenario with hordes of fleeing students being herded about by armoured SWAT police has compelling visuals and narrative; the chaos of some students fleeing, some fighting back and some still trying to come to grips with what is going on is unlikely to yield simple narrative images. In general storytelling terms, the media is always going to prefer the drawn out siege scenario, with clearly defined heroes, villains and victims to the more chaotic situation where the players do not clearly costume themselves to indicate their roles in the drama. The unfortunate reality is that the media, in these sorts of situations, see the people in civilian clothes as the victims, and the images they select to tell the story are chosen to reinforce that narrative.a>


The Club for Growth is none too impressed with McCain's address on economic policy.

Does your Congressman do his or her own taxes?

How common are mass school shootings? Not very.

Gun control advocates are 'optimistic' about the chance for new legislation in the wake of yesterday's shooting.

Mitch Landrieu takes himself out of the running for Louisiana governor.

Monday, April 16, 2007

How Mayor Giuliani is Like Howard Dean

Earlier today I criticized Mayor Giuliani for his statement that Republicans need to 'get beyond' social issues like abortion. The Mayor's campaign felt that the truncated quote needed to be seen in context to understand its meaning, and they provided the following exchange:

“AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question about the former platform in the Republican Party allowed abortion in the case of rape, incest, and life of the mother. I believe in that and I believe that because of the abortion issue in the Republican Party it is dividing this party so badly that we may not be able to elect a Republican president and I hope-I’d like to hear what your thoughts are on that.”

MAYOR GIULIANI: “What my thoughts are on the big question? I can tell you my thoughts on both.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: “The big question.”

GIULIANI: “On the big question my thoughts are we shouldn’t allow it to do that. Electing a Republican in 2008 is so important to the war on terror, the ability to keep up an economy that’s an economy or growth, or from the point of view of what we believe as Republicans to really set us in the wrong direction. Democrats are entitled to think something different but I think that there will be a major difference in the direction of this country whether we have a Republican or Democrat in 2008 and 2009. On abortion I think we should respect each other. I think that’s what we should do and we should respect the fact that this is a very difficult moral question and a very difficult question and that very good people of equally good conscience could come to different opinions on it. My view of it is I hate abortion. I think abortion is wrong. To someone who I cared about or cared to talk to me about it and wanted my advice, the advice I would give them is not to do it and to have adoption as an option to it. When I was the Mayor adoptions went way up, abortions went down but ultimately I respect that that’s somebody else’s decision and that people of conscience can make that decision either way and you can’t put them in jail for it. (applause) And then I think our party, our party has to get beyond issues like that where we can have people who are very good people who have different views about this, they can all be Republican because our party is going to grow and we’re going to win in 2008 if we’re a party that is characterized for what we are for and not if we’re a party that’s known for what we are against. …” (Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Campaign Event, Des Moines IA, 4/14/07)

The thing is, I feel no better about the Mayor after reading that than I did before. Why? Because he continues to demonstrate that he has no understanding of pro-lifers, and I have to begin to conclude that it's because he has no desire to.

The Mayor contrasts himself with Republicans who want to 'throw women in jail' for having an abortion. Name one mainstream GOP leader who supports that. I know of none. So where does the canard come from? It comes from Democrats who want to paint pro-lifers and the GOP generally as extremists.

Do a google search for 'abortion' and 'throw women in jail,' and see what you come up with: Pandagon, TalkLeft, TPM Cafe, an abortion rights group in Wyoming, Gloria Feldt, some abortion rights proponents...

And Mayor Giuliani, apparently.

Regardless of his assertions to the contrary, the use of such rhetoric suggests that the Mayor thinks of pro-life voters the same way the liberal Democrats do. And this is not an isolated instance; I have pointed it out at least twice before. This is dramatically different from George Bush in 2000 - who knew the importance of language and terminology. He spoke frequently of the 'culture of life,' because he wanted to signal to Catholic voters that he understood them. Giuliani by contrast, asks that his pro-choice position be respected, but caricatures that of his opponents.

The surprising thing to me is that I think the Mayor needs voters like me to win the nomination. I'm conservative on social issues, but not so much that I could not be swayed to support him based on his extraordinary management of New York City and his leadership post 9/11. I wrote enthusiastically about his candidacy and defended him on abortion. But now it's starting to seem like he doesn't even speak my language.

Update: Read Bryan at Hot Air for a decidedly different take on this.

Academic Violence

I see that the President of Virginia Tech has declared the massacre on his campus an "incomprehensible, heinous act."

Now, one can certainly understand that people don't always perform at their best in times of crisis, but this is simple pabulum. If the President of a major university is unacquainted with the bloody stain of violence which permeates human history from its primaeval origins to the current day he is simply not suitable for exposure to the media in times of crisis. On the other hand, if, in view of his presumed familiarity with the human proclivity towards violence and the dehumanisation of others, he has no purchase to analyse it, then his moral immaturity makes him unfit to guide the mental development of young adults.

In fact, every one of us can imagine envy, jealousy or rage sufficient to will the deaths of others; this is an unavoidable part of the human condition. In former times, people were able to speak of this human stain through the mediating institutions of religion and moral convention. The deracinated modernism of today's public university, though, seems to quail before unreconstructed savagery, as though its history department did not have faculty versed in the banal details of the evil of Treblinka, S-21, Nyarubuye and Darfur, even if most such universities have jettisoned the moral ballast to orient their communities to the significance of such evil generally, or this monstrosity in particular. It would be one thing to say the violence shocked the conscience, or that the suffering caused by the violence is incalculable, but to pretend the violence itself is is "incomprehensible" is to hide in mendacious cliche. A nonjudgmental, "I'm o.k.; you're o.k." worldview is exposed in its pathetic desperation in such dishonesty as this flight to the notion of "incomprehensible violence." Monsters of the id exist within all of us; the surprise is that, in some favoured corners of the Earth, the savagery has over the past few centuries been kept on such a short leash. It is this remarkable containment of evil which is far more incomprehensible than the evil unleashed in Blacksburg, which was until today one of those favoured corners.

But the hiding from unpleasant facts about human nature seems to be a significant commitment, not only of the modern university, but of modern mass culture's immature flight from moral seriousness generally. American media (and the global media, as well, which loves to run a story on the violence inherent in the American system) will spend the next week bathing in a tepid pool of similar banal, dishonest cliches. Only hints of detail have escaped the university concerning the identity and motivations of the shooter, but one can confidently predict that the focus of the media investigations will be building a safe distance between the killer and post-industrial, consumerist society which buys the soap which pays for the commercials between the breathless interviews of the witnesses and soft-focus obituaries of the victims. A university or society which cannot explain evil or come to grips with it in general terms is powerless to prevent it in the particular.

But grief counselors will be standing by...

Virginia Tech Shooting

Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the students, faculty, and families of Virginia Tech. We pray for the victims and their loved ones.

If you're interested in learning about what has happened from a Virginia Tech perspective, you may want to visit Planet Blacksburg.

Reid: The President Won't Get a Clean Funding Bill

Read it over at the Standard.

Giuliani's Mistake-Prone Candidacy

It was a mistake for Rudy Giuliani to speak out a few weeks ago - almost haphazardly - in favor of taxpayer funding for abortion. His comments seemed poorly thought out, and they furthered the contradictions in his statements over abortion. Nevertheless, the criticism of those comments died down.

So what did Giuliani do this weekend? He stated that the GOP needs to 'get beyond' issues like abortion:

Giuliani made his sharpest case for moving beyond social issues this weekend in Iowa, telling The Des Moines Register, "Our party is going to grow, and we are going to win in 2008 if we are a party characterized by what we're for, not if we're a party that's known for what we're against."

Asked about abortion, he said, "Our party has to get beyond issues like that."

Giuliani upset conservatives - and surprised supporters - by saying in a CNN interview that he favored public funding for abortion in some cases.

His campaign quickly noted that he wasn't proposing any changes to current federal laws.

It's possible that in the first case, Giuliani was trying to create a 'Sister Soulja' moment. He might have been intentionally picking a fight to demonstrate his maverick views on abortion. But why would he do it again?

I called the earlier instance 'a stick in the eye.' Once delivered, it's best to leave it alone. Instead of doing that however, the Mayor seems to want to convince primary voters not to support him, by reminding them that he really means it.


A brilliant piece on conspiracy theories, and the losers that promote them. Bill Whittle includes a link to this video, which goes a long way to refuting all arguments that the Pentagon was hit by something other than a plane on 9/11. (Hat Tip: Malkin).

The GOP's dream Presidential candidate hints at a run.

Some Members of Congress are upset that federal agencies 'skim' an administrative fee when disbursing earmarked funds.

John Boehner writes: the pork is back with a vengeance.

The British Department of Health is worried because young doctors are refusing to perform abortions.

Frank offers some surprising facts about Fred Thompson

Democrats push for drug price controls.

Dems First 100 Days Leave a Lot to Do

I wrote about this the other day. The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call ($)covers it today as well:

With the House returning from its two-week recess today, the pressure is mounting to start delivering on some of their promises given that many bills — such as one to raise the minimum wage and another to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission — have languished even though both chambers have passed their own versions and there is broad agreement among Democrats on the thrust of the legislation.

The House got off to a fast start, passing its “Six for ’06” campaign agenda items in the first 100 hours, but those bills have since been slowed down in the Senate or in conferences that have yet to occur. While 17 measures have been signed into law this year, the only major piece of legislation to make it to President Bush’s desk was the catch-all spending bill for the leftover fiscal 2007 appropriations.

Even something as basic to running Congress — and to Democrats’ 2006 campaign platform — as lobbying and ethics reform has taken a relative back seat as the debate over the Iraq War has taken up much of leadership’s attention. Still, Democrats in both chambers say they are moving legislation on multiple tracks.

“Certainly Iraq is the priority. It’s the No. 1 issue by far for voters and it’s very important and it deserves a lot of attention,” said Stacey Farnen Bernards, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “But we can walk and chew gum at the same time...”

Perhaps more than any other bill, the minimum-wage hike was seen as a slam dunk for Democrats, particularly since the president is apt to sign it. But the bill has stalled amid bickering between the House and Senate over the size of an accompanying package of business tax breaks. The Senate bill includes $8.3 billion in tax breaks, while the House reluctantly passed a measure with $1.3 billion in breaks following a House Ways and Means hearing in which Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) savaged the Senate bill for not sufficiently targeting small businesses.

But a Ways and Means spokesman said Democrats are hopeful that they can reach a compromise soon.

Leaders in both chambers included versions of the wage hike on the supplemental war spending bill, and as conference talks on the larger bill begin next week, so will discussions about the minimum wage, aides said.

Meanwhile, neither the House nor the Senate have appointed conferees on the 9/11 bill, which is designed to establish more safeguards against terrorism on U.S. soil.

Additionally, Democrats made the GOP’s “culture of corruption” a central tenet of their 2006 campaign message, but the House has yet to pass a bill to require more disclosure of lobbyists’ dealings with Congress. While the Senate passed a bill to both impose those requirements on lobbyists and themselves, the House has passed rules changes only for its Members.

It's surprising that the Democrats did not anticipate that the 100 day mark might be a milestone at which they were 'graded.' If they were thinking ahead, they might have put a priority on at least getting a few more of their priorities to the President's desk.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Janey's Got a Gun

Amusing, irreverent, and vulgar presentation by Penn & Teller in support of the 2nd amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. It's a 28-minute video.

Corzine's Own Car Responsible for Crash

The Newark Star Ledger reports that the SUV in which New Jersey Governor Corzine was driving had its emergency lights flashing when the accident occurred. The driver whose swerving was the proximate cause of the crash was trying to pull over to get out of the way when the crash happened:

About 6 p.m. Thursday, police said, the driver of a red Ford pickup pulled over to the right side of the Garden State Parkway at mile post 43.4 in Galloway Township when he saw a black SUV approaching from behind with its emergency flashers activated.

The driver "was moving over in response to the flashing lights," said Capt. Al Della Fave, a State Police spokesman. "He knew there were emergency vehicles and he needed to get out of the way."

As his right front tire went off the paved shoulder, it hit some soft dirt, jerking the pickup to the right, police said. The driver tugged his wheel to the left but overcompensated, police said, causing the truck to partially enter the right lane.

The driver of the white Dodge, whom police have not identified, pulled sharply to the left to avoid the red pickup, but collided with the passenger-side front fender of the governor's SUV, police said.

Corzine, who was sitting in the front passenger seat -- and apparently not wearing a seat belt, aides said -- took the worst of the impact. The driver, Trooper Robert Rasinski, and an aide sitting in the back seat, Samantha Gordon, were both wearing seat belts and were not badly hurt. They have since been released from the hospital.

We don't know if Corzine was driving with emergency lights flashing, or if they happened to be using them only at this instance. Perhaps they were on only for a moment when another driver acted in a dangerous manner. But the governor's office ought to explain.

As a general rule, only genuine emergency vehicles should use emergency lights. I'm told that in the past at least, some governors have chosen to travel by state police helicopter to avoid difficulties on the highway. Certainly a trip to meet with Don Imus and a university basketball team doesn't meet the test.

While attention is focused on Governor Corzine and the injuries he suffered, it's important to recognize that the driver of the red pickup might just as easily have suffered critical - or even fatal - injuries. While the driver of that vehicle apparently veered onto the road while recovering, what would have happened if he had not been able to steer back onto the highway? If he was as foolish and disrespectful of state law as Corzine apparently is, he could just as easily have been the one to suffer those serious injuries.

Hopefully the governor's office will explain what was going on, and presumably it won't involve some trumped-up statement that saves face by asserting that Corzine's office had no say in what was a long-standing policy of the state troopers. Unfortunately, that's the sort of cop-out you come to expect in arrogance-of-power cases - which I fear this might be.

Better Medicine Through Science

Doctors have created a modified inkjet printer that can 'print' patches for broken bones:

The process will revolutionise bone graft surgery, which currently relies on either bits of bone taken from other parts of the body or ceramic-like substitutes.

Professor Jake Barralet of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, explained: "The "paper" in our printer is a thin bed of cement-like powder. The inkjets spray the cement with an acid which reacts with it and goes hard.

"That deals with one layer. Then new layers of fresh powder are sprayed on top, and the layers build up to the shape we need."

It takes only ten minutes for the printer, which is the size of about three filing cabinets, to print a typical bone graft.

The printed graft acts as a bridge to allow the body to replace the damaged section with new bone. Crucially, the substance created by the printing process contains the same building blocks as real human bone, allowing the graft to eventually dissolve harmlessly into the body.