Thursday, January 31, 2008

That Kennedy Cache

Whatever your estimation of the political powers of Ted Kennedy you cannot say he isn't in some ways potent. On the day he endorses Barack Obama a poll is released in Massachusetts showing Hillary Clinton with a six point lead.

But that poll was before the full effect of the Kennedy magic could be felt! Yesterday the first poll after the Kennedy announcement showed Clinton with a 24 point lead. Yikes!! And they say McCain's New York Times endorsement was the kiss of death!

Hmm...maybe the claim that you represent "change" gets undermined when you embrace the oldest of the old guard.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How Very 19th Century Of Obama

I'm not sure how this isn't treading on thin ice: Obama Says Clinton Would Be a Step Back

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said Wednesday a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency would be a step back to the past, turning her husband's image of a bridge to the future against her. The former first lady decried the tenor of his comments in an interview with The Associated Press.

"I know it is tempting -- after another presidency by a man named George Bush -- to simply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th century," the Illinois senator said in Denver.

"... It's not enough to say you'll be ready from Day One -- you have to be right from Day One," he added in unmistakable criticisms of Clinton, who often claims Other Top Headlines Photos she's better prepared to govern, and her husband, who pledged during his own presidency to build a bridge to the 21st century.

So, Sen. Clinton is simply an extension of her husband? Nice.

Funny...I thought we did away with these views when we passed the 19th amendment. I guess I was wrong.

The MSM = Obama Water Carriers

I said the spin wrote itself, still it is amusing to see it parroted back in such a naive manner: Much Ado About Not Much

Cheering supporters? Check. Election returns on the projection screen? Check. Andrea Mitchell and Candy Crowley doing stand-ups? Check and check. In fact, the only piece missing from Hillary Clinton's Florida victory party here Tuesday night was a victory.

Yes, Clinton, as expected, beat Barack Obama by a wide margin in the Florida primary. But all the Democratic candidates had agreed months ago to boycott the contest after the Democratic National Committee stripped Florida of its delegates to punish the state for moving up its primary date. The result was a primary without purpose, a show about nothing.

But in a political stunt worthy of the late Evel Knievel, the Clinton campaign decided to put on an ersatz victory party that, it hoped, would erase memories of Obama's actual victory Saturday night in South Carolina's Democratic primary.

"Yeah!! Clinton's a fraud!! Woo Hoo!!! But...Hmm...why did more voters come out and vote in the Democratic primary than in a contested Republican primary? Well, it would be too hard to think of a real answer to that, whatever....Obama rules!!!!"

"There are more voters in Florida alone than there are in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined," Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle argued in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. This was the same Solis Doyle who last summer committed Clinton to signing the Florida boycott pledge, saying, "We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process, and we believe the DNC's rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role."

"Yeah...this is...umm...what's that thing called again?????? Oh yeah, a non sequitur...but hey...who needs logic???? I totally hated that philosophy class I had as a frosh!! Obama's a God!!!! Woo hoo!!!"

Five minutes after Solis Doyle's call, Obama's campaign retaliated with its own conference call, featuring Obama backer John Kerry. "It is not a legitimate race, it should not become a spin race, it should not become a fabricated race," he protested.

Reporters on the Clinton conference call seemed to share that view. "The timing seems a little curious," said one. "A little desperate?" asked another. "Trying to have it both ways?" inquired a third.

"It is hard to know exactly what to say sometimes...but the Obama camp is totally cool about things like that. I wonder if next time they could just fax me a little earlier before my next deadline. I gotta retype and edit the SOB!! HA HA!! Just kidding guys!! I wouldn't edit you!! OBAMA!! OBAMA!!! OBAMA!! Ooohhh...I'm feeling faint."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Obama "Experience"

Tully over at Stubborn Facts sure is dedicated. He is also willing to suffer fools gladly:

Fresh back from the Yellow Brick Road tour, wherein the Faithful gathered to hear Obama stump and Sebelius endorse. My notepad was trampled, left behind in the crush, and my camera did its very best to be uncooperative, with foggy lens and short-lived battery. Maybe standing outside in a howling blizzard for an hour first had something to do with it. Haven't checked the cell-phone pics yet. May be some good crowd shots on it, or press gaggle.

The short report: Obama will give you everything you ever want or need. And a pony! Unless you're rich or Bush, then we're going to eat you because you're evil.

I feel so....united for hope and change???....nah, that's not it.

Clinton Crushes Obama In Florida. (Yes, It Matters)

The spin writes itself. "There were no delegates at stake! There was no campaigning going on!! No advertising!! Hell, only Hillary went to the state!! It doesn't matter!! Barack is so damn dreamy!!!"

However, just because something is easy to write doesn't make it true. The thing is, Florida was a perfect test case of the Clinton's assertion that Obama will not translate nationally. Here is a state that has played a pivotal role in national elections; here is a state that isn't being bombarded with campaign ads so it is a measure of the people without (as much) outside influence; here is a state where the "evil campaign strategies" of the Clinton's couldn't be put into practice; in a very real sense here is a state that offers a purer measure of public support because voters know they are not voting for anything tangible, but only as a measure of support for their preferred candidate.

Obviously, Clinton matters a hell of a lot more to Florida voters than Obama whose performance at the polls, in spite of the MSM carrying his water for weeks, was pathetic.

I wouldn't be surprised if this vote doesn't represent a certain amount of backlash against the treatment of Clinton in the press.

I also wouldn't be surprised if the backlash doesn't carry on into Super Tuesday.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Anti-Hillary Craziness

Any long time reader of this blog probably knows I'm a right of center kinda guy. When it comes to presidential candidates I'm, for the most part, interested in Republicans, although I'll make an exception for a Democrat who I really believe is fiscally responsible. (I still miss Paul Tsongas for example.)

As none of the current batch of Democrats running for the White House could be considered fiscally sound (hell, they all want the Federal government to take over health care for 300+ million people one way or another), I haven't given them much thought. But I've kept an eye on developments, which isn't hard to do as they get about twice the coverage of the Republicans in the MSM. I have to say, the rather vicious turn against Clinton by the media has me a little unnerved. It is unhinged and definitely far removed from reality, and it has taken hold in the blogs as well. Basically the imputation is that anyone who tries to run against Obama is a racist, Bill and Hillary Clinton included. (It had already been announced by some that John Edwards was a racist cracker for even being in the race against the anointed one.)

The media is consumed in their quest to cram Obama down all of our throats by telling us over and over that his empty platitudes are in reality the wisdom of JFK, RFK, and MLK rollled into one. Bullshit. Obama is a politician, and from what I can see a pretty shallow and useless one at that.

I may not care for the Clinton's politics, but the character assassination is completely uncalled for.

Friday, January 25, 2008

So This Is Great Britain?

Come May it will have been 11 years of Labour party rule in the UK. It has been a good run for Labour even if they haven't yet matched the 18 year run of the Tories before them. But I wonder if the inevitable cracks are beginning to show.

First you have the creep of moronic silliness well documented by the BBC:

A story based on the Three Little Pigs fairy tale has been turned down by a government agency's awards panel as the subject matter could offend Muslims.
The digital book, re-telling the classic story, was rejected by judges who warned that "the use of pigs raises cultural issues".

Becta, the government's educational technology agency, is a leading partner in the annual Bett Award for schools.

The judges also attacked Three Little Cowboy Builders for offending builders.

The book's creative director, Anne Curtis, said the idea that including pigs in a story could be interpreted as racism was "like a slap in the face".

The CD-Rom digital version of the traditional story of the three little pigs, called Three Little Cowboy Builders, is aimed at primary school children.

But judges at this year's Bett Award said that they had "concerns about the Asian community and the use of pigs raises cultural issues".

The Three Little Cowboy Builders has already been a prize winner at the recent Education Resource Award - but its Newcastle-based publishers, Shoo-fly, were turned down by the Bett Award panel.

The feedback from the judges explaining why they had rejected the CD-Rom highlighted that they "could not recommend this product to the Muslim community".

They also warned that the story might "alienate parts of the workforce (building trade)".

The judges criticised the stereotyping in the story of the unfortunate pigs: "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?"

Ms Curtis said that rather than preventing the spread of racism, such an attitude was likely to inflame ill-feeling. As another example, she says would that mean that secondary schools could not teach Animal Farm because it features pigs?

Welcome to Labour's Britain, where the "feely-crats" rule. For a country with the intellectual history it has the pervasiveness of such nonsense is simply shocking. We expect to encounter a bit of this sort of stupidity in the United States because we have such a long history of letting nut jobs do what they want as long as they don't bother other people too much. But in today's England they are institutionalizing this feeble mindedness, and letting the loons set governmental policy to the point of regulating content in children's literature.

It's a joke.

And it seems to be the kind of joke that is causing reactions.

I recently picked up a CD by a British band that came as a huge shock to me. The band is called The Holloways and their album is called So This Is Great Britain? When I first listened to it I thought it fell into the usual left of center point of view that you simply come to expect from English music groups, but on closer inspection it actually represents a deeply conservative reaction to the state of the UK today.

The title track offers this:

So this is Great Britain? Welcome aboard
a sinking ship that's full of shit and someone's nicked the oars
With failing false economies and anti-punk autonomy
our once unique identity's been washed from our shores.

Right off the bat you have a call to recover identity in the ideas of Britishness that has somehow been lost.

But it doesn't end there, the song continues to castigate the country for its seeming meaninglessness:

Yeah this is Great Britain, so lets raise a jar
Just look at Georgie Best and how it got him so far
the prince of pleasure lost his crown for getting high and getting down
The alcoholic anti-hero's visibly scarred

Come on Great Britain, lets sleep around
sex is so much fun we better spread it around
It really is infectious and your soul is nothing precious
so grab some meat and treat your loins to that by which they're bound

Whatever I was expecting from them, I certainly wasn't expecting the Holloways to be worried about the state of peoples souls. However, it is a recurring theme on the album. On the track "What's The Difference?" we hear:

What's the difference between you and me?
You've got no mercy, you've got no sympathy.
You're soul is trapped, mine is free
That's the difference between you and me.

Or this from the track "Fuck Ups":

Well a thirty three year old grandma comes up to me and says
'My family's gonna take over this council estate if we keep on giving birth
at this rate.
I'm gonna be a great, great, great grandma by the age of 75,
and I will be clad in fake Burberry, I don't care if I'm dead or alive.'

All the fucked up fuck ups fucking me up with their stories and their tears
and their cigarettes and beers.
I think they're killing me with their grim reality,
If your life is going wrong you better sing along.

I cannot think of a view that has less sympathy with the leftist orthodoxy on the "victim hood" of the poor, or a view that screams more for an ethic of personal responsibility and accountability.

The track "Reinvent Myself?" sums up a Labour weary viewpoint nicely with lines like:

I can't follow ideology,
I'm proud of my identity.


I can't follow our 'democracy'
they don't practice but I tell you they preach
they don't learn but they think they can teach
and I think Mr. Blair is causing anarchy
you can hear him singing God Save The Queen
with The Pistols like a sex machine.

The entire albums reads like a litany of the failures of the left in Britain, and as such it is a breath of very fresh air.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Good Lord

On Monday I asked rhetorically, "Is it just me, or does a large portion of the academic establishment often come across as dim witted?" Well, today I see an affirmative answer to that question, at least as far as some university administrators are concerned.

From FIRE:

As we report in today's press release, Brandeis University declared a professor guilty of racial harassment and placed a monitor in his classes after he discussed the use of the word "wetbacks" in his Latin American Politics course. Professor Donald Hindley, who has been teaching at Brandeis for nearly 50 years, had never faced a student complaint until fall 2007. But a deeply flawed investigation-proceeding in violation of Brandeis's own policies-has deeply violated Hindley's rights, misinterpreted the definition of harassment, and misinterpreted Hindley's own statements in class.

Despite Hindley's repeated requests to Brandeis administrators to disclose in writing precisely what offended some students in his class, they have refused to do so. According to Hindley, he explained to his class that Mexican migrants in the United States are sometimes referred to pejoratively as "wetbacks." That's actually a statement against an ethnocentric use of the term. But according to Brandeis's Provost, Marty Krauss, even the use of such an epithet in this context constitutes racial harassment. This unreasonable definition of harassment would ban such language as jokes and epithets even when the basic elements of harassment are not present. Furthermore, Krauss has suggested that the burden is on Hindley to prove that his statements in class were relevant to his teaching.

These are serious abuses of Hindley's academic freedom, and Brandeis should be ashamed.

This is so egregious and, frankly, stupid on Krauss' part that it beggars belief. There is no way Brandeis can be considered an institution committed to academic freedom while it still employs Krauss.

Luckily, it seems the Brandeis faculty at large can see this as the attack on academic freedom that it undoubtedly is. Although you can detect a little hemming and hawing from folks who understandably fear the witch hunt will come after them if they protest too loudly. Just the atmosphere we need in academia, right?

Power mad bureaucrats need to be put in their place.

Franken: Worthless Jerk

I cannot say this comes as a surprise: Franken didn't exactly leave 'em laughing in Northfield

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Al Franken didn't exactly leave 'em laughing in Northfield.

Earlier this month Franken was at Carleton College, where the late Sen. Paul Wellstone was a professor, for a student rally related to a special election in the state Senate District 25. After the rally in the great space of Sayles-Hill some students crowded around to take photos with the "Saturday Night Live" alum, author, satirist and celebrity.

Franken's spokesman Andy Barr said via e-mail Tuesday that Al "remembers having a spirited convo w/ College GOPer at the urging of some of the kid's College Dem pals. Seemed like everyone was having a good time, or as good a time as you can have debating Reaganomics."

Franken apparently had more fun than senior history major Peter Fritz.

According to Fritz, things started out fine with him taking photos of fellow Carls (that's what students call themselves) with Franken. Then Franken's curiosity was raised about why Fritz didn't want to be in a pic.

He's a conservative, another Carl yelled out by way of explanation.

At that point, Franken reportedly began peppering Fritz with questions about supporting President George W. Bush and former President Ronald Reagan's tax hikes. Fritz told me he got tense and, as he does in those situations, started chewing the inside of his mouth, a gesture he said was mimicked by Franken; Fritz also thought his style of speech was mocked by Franken.

An aide eventually interrupted Franken's act, Fritz said, by announcing to the candidate that it was time to go.

Fritz told me Monday that he then stuck out his hand to shake Franken's. "Well, at least it's nice to meet you," the GOPer said he told Franken, who reportedly replied, I can't say the same.

There was no handshake, said Fritz.

Sounds about par for the course. And this is a man anyone in their right mind wants to send to the most deliberative body in the world?

It doesn't strike me as very Minnesotan somehow. I'm glad I live on this side of the St. Croix.

(Gleaned from Captain's Quarters)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Are We Supposed To Think?

You try to be open minded and level headed about things, but when you read crap like this its an effort.

An Afghan journalist has been sentenced to death by a provincial court for distributing "blasphemous" material.

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested in 2007 after downloading material from the internet relating to the role of women in Islamic societies.

A primary court in Balkh province said that Kambakhsh had confessed to blasphemy and had to be punished.

The court also threatened to arrest any reporters who protested against Kambakhsh's sentence.

Kambakhsh, a student at Balkh University and a journalist for Jahan-e Naw (New World), was arrested in October 2007 after material he downloaded was deemed to be offensive to Islam.

Shamsur Rahman, the head of the court, told Reuters news agency: "According to... the Islamic law, Sayed Perwiz is sentenced to death at the first court.

"However, he will go through three more courts to declare his last punishment," he said.

Balkh province's deputy attorney general, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, warned other journalists that they would be arrested if they attempted to support Kambakhsh.

If this is acceptable, then there is no question that Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy. If this is acceptable, then there is no question but western nations should restrict Muslim immigration into their societies. If this is acceptable, then everything is acceptable.

If this is UNacceptable, then Muslims everywhere should get off their asses and do something about it.

If they don't they have no complaint when the West considers Islam nothing more than an excuse to repress women.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Horse's Mouth?

Info you need to know:

Paris Hilton is rooting for Britney Spears.

"I wish the best for her and I just wish everyone would leave her alone so she could live her life," the 26-year-old hotel heiress-actress tells E! News. "She's a great mother..."

Well thank God. I was beginning to worry.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Know You Generally Shouldn't Eat Blue Food...

...but I want by Blue Crab!!

When I try to visit Blue Crab Boulevard I see this:

This Account Has Exceeded Its CPU Quota

Which isn't nearly so tasty.

What's Your Definition Of "Is" Again?

Could someone tell me if this is supposed to be ironic? From Timothy Noah in Slate: Is Obama Winning?

Who's the front-runner in the Democratic primaries? Obviously it's too early to say, but if forced to designate one candidate in the lead, most people would name Hillary Clinton on the strength of her victories in New Hampshire and Nevada. Obama won the Iowa caucus, but he hasn't won anything since then. According to the Associated Press, Clinton has 236 delegates to Obama's 136. That means Hillary's winning, right?

That's one way to look at it. In a properly-ordered universe, there would be only one way to look at something as seemingly straightforward as a delegate count. But that's not the universe we live in. As I explained in an earlier column, presidential nominations are won through the acquisition not of delegates but of momentum, as interpreted by the momentucracy, a loosely-defined group of political reporters and TV talking heads who step in at some point to render a collective and somewhat unscientific opinion about who will acquire the necessary number of delegates some time in the near future. Simple delegate-counting is for pathetic nerds.

But if I may be permitted a moment to hitch up my trousers and insert a plastic pocket protector into my front shirt, in counting up delegates awarded thus far in primaries and caucuses my inescapable conclusion is that as of Jan. 21, Obama is ever-so-slightly in the lead!

Yeah, right.

I'll repeat here what I tell my American Government students, from a Political Science point of view, there is no such thing as "momentum." In this day and age "momentum" is simply the name given to the justification for the media to stop covering other candidates, or at least to stop covering them fairly. Under that definition Obama has had "momentum" for months as the media has gone all gooey for Barack. ("But, he is so dreamy!")

As a result you get you get people like Noah at Slate presenting arguments so specious they make Bill Clinton's testimony on Monica Lewinsky look like an oration by Cicero. In this atmosphere of media given "momentum" every Clinton victory must be tarnished by the media and every Obama misstep forgiven or ignored. If Obama wins South Carolina do you think the media will point out the unusually large black vote in the state makes it a not very good barometer for possible results elsewhere? Of course not. The media has decided who has "momentum" and they will not let pesky things like democratic votes or political realities get in the way of their favored storyline.

I have no dog in this Democratic free for all. Given this singularly uninspiring group of candidates I wouldn't even call the ASPCA to stop the carnage. But I have been shocked at the lack of scruples shown by the press in their effort to denigrate Clinton and champion Obama. And the media wonders why the public views them as no better than used car salesmen...and my apologies to them for lumping the auto folks in with the 21st century press corp(se). [Note: I'm copyrighting "press corp(se)".]

Its enough to drive me to drink.

As usual, Iowahawk makes it all better.

Consistency: It Isn't For Academics Anymore

Roger Pielke is being befuddled by his Chancellor:

Last week I received an email from our Chancellor, Bud Peterson, warning me and my CU colleagues of the perils of engaging in political advocacy activities as a university employee. Here is an excerpt:

Dear Colleagues:

In light of the many political campaigns currently, or soon to be, underway at the national, state and local levels, I would like to provide you with a set of guidelines we, as members of the University community, should keep in mind as we consider our own activities and level of involvement....


* Engage in any activity during working hours designed to urge electors to vote for or against any campaign issues, which include campaigns for public office, state-wide campaign issues or referred measures, and local campaign issues or levies.

* Employees wishing to participate in a campaign activity should take personal leave.

* Use office supplies or equipment, including computers, telephones, printers or facsimile machines to create materials urging electors to vote for or against a campaign issue.

* Use their University email accounts to urge electors to vote for or against a campaign issue, or to forward materials that urge electors to vote for or against a campaign issue.

* Use University-hosted websites to urge electors to vote for or against a campaign issue.

At the same time Chancellor Peterson has endorsed faculty participation in a January 31 political advocacy effort called "Focus the Nation," which seeks to motivate action on climate change.

Here is how The Colorado Daily
describes the activity:

There's also a hint of politics involved: the teach-in is scheduled for Jan. 31, shortly before statewide primaries and caucuses, and is timed to place pressure on political candidates. [Colorado's caucus is Feb. 5].

"We wanted to do it right in the height of the early primaries to ensure that climate change is at the forefront of the issues," [Garrett] Brennan [media director for Focus the Nation] said.

The website for Focus the Nation lists the policy actions that it wishes to focus our nation's attention on and for me to discuss in the classroom ...
[emphasis added]

Last time I checked, the time spent in front of your class is usually counted as "working hours" as far as a university is concerned. So why is issue advocacy for climate change given a special dispensation? The stated goal of the "Focus The Nation" effort is political and, as such, clearly prohibited by the Unversity's own policies. There is no other way to view it.

When rules are applied to some groups but not to others based solely upon the whim and favorable disposition of the powers that be, then the rules become illegitimate. As a result, any professor would be morally justified, in the face of this "Focus The Nation" affront, to use their classroom to advocate for any cause they see fit without restriction.

Is it just me, or does a large portion of the academic establishment often come across as dim witted?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Anyone In Key West Want To Offer Me A Job? Anyone?

In the last hour the temperature has dipped below zero with wind chills hitting -21 degrees. If we are lucky we should climb above zero sometime Monday afternoon.

And there are some idiots who are going to go out this weekend to play pond hockey.

If you'll excuse me I have to go put on a sweater now.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Admit It

You want & need to read the story that goes along with a graphic like this one:

I'll give you a tag line though:

Treacher believes there is a strong correlation between journalism and sociopathy, but he has his own theory.

"Actually, I think the effect is in the opposite direction," explains Treacher. "Journalism doesn't always cause stupid, but stupid sure causes journalism."

When "Getting Real" Means Getting Nowhere

Nathaniel Peters has an interesting post over at the First Things Blog: (Sorry, the direct link to the post itself is not working. You can find it by clicking the above link and looking for an entry titled "Why The 'Nostalgia'?"

As many have heard, the former papal Master of Ceremonies (the man who organizes and runs the masses at which the pope presides) Archbishop Piero Marini has just published a book, in English, called A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal, 1963-1975. The book recounts Marini’s time and service on the committees dealing with the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. While First Things hopes to review Marini’s book in a future issue, I found an interview he did with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter on the occasion of the book’s publication worthy of comment. Allen asks the Archbishop about his book’s concern “about the current liturgical direction of the church, warning of a return to a ‘pre-conciliar mindset.’” Marini says that we should always be concerned about upholding the faith of the Bible and the Fathers in every age. Then the interview begins to address this “nostalgia:”

That said, I have to add that today I’m a bit more concerned than in the past, because I see a certain nostalgia for the past. What concerns me in particular is that this nostalgia seems especially strong among some young priests. How is it possible to be nostalgic for an era they didn’t experience? I actually remember this period. From the age of six until I was 23, in other words for 18 years, I lived with the Mass of Pius V. I grew up in this rite, and I was formed by it. I saw the necessity of the changes of Vatican II, and personally I don’t have any nostalgia for this older rite, because it was the same rite that had to be adapted to changing times. I don’t see any step backward, any loss. I’m always surprised to see young people who feel this nostalgia for something they never lived with. ‘Nostalgia for what?’ I find myself asking.

John Allen: How do you explain this nostalgia?

In part, I suppose, because implementation of the liturgy of the council has been difficult. It’s true that many times there were exaggerations, which happened for the most part in a time when we could say there was disorder in the church. This was the period of great debates over new Eucharistic prayers, private adaptations, and so on. The danger today, on the other hand, is a ‘neo-ritualism,’ meaning a sort of exhaustion that one sees in many priests who celebrate the rite almost as if it’s a magical formula rather than a real participation of life. I see, therefore, a certain separation between celebration and life. Obviously, this separation can induce nostalgia for the past, for a time when everything was easier . . . when we used a language that no one understood, the rites were often incomprehensible, there were signs of the Cross everywhere, and so on. There wasn’t the same expectation that liturgy should speak to life. If one doesn’t insist on the link, it’s easy to see the liturgy more in terms of theatre. I believe this, to some extent, is the basis of the nostalgia we see today.

Archbishop Marini wonders why so many, especially so many young people, have nostalgia for an era that many of them never saw. I’ve heard his arguments before too. Young people today didn’t live in the fifties. We didn’t hear Masses mumbled by a priest in a language we never understood. We never saw how the church of that decade was driving people away from the faith and how the reforms of Vatican II brought the liturgy back to relevance for the changing times.

All this is true, of course. Those of us with more traditional liturgical tastes never did live in the fifties, and certainly there were reforms that needed to be made; I am grateful to have more Scripture read and to hear the Eucharistic prayer when it is said.

The problem, as many have noted, is that changes made in the name of reform have turned the beauty of the Church into spiritual drivel. The language of the Mass is debased. It’s as if the powers that be did not believe that the laity could handle the full beauty of the Roman Rite and the full power of its theological messages, and so brought the mass down to their level the way one condescends to a child. The architecture, the vestments, the rituals, the whole Mass became more banal and mundane. The plenitude of Scripture and Tradition was not truly passed down, and relevance replaced reverence with unfortunate consequences.

Peters has this exactly right and Archbishop Marini has it exactly wrong. The "nostalgia" is not for a rite that people my age or younger have never experienced, but for a liturgy that holds the real promise of transcendence as something vital and sacred. All too often the modern rite has equated "speaking to life" with being almost entirely mundane. Too many Catholics today have grown up with no sense that anything special is supposed to be going on in the liturgy. In its worst excesses the modern service is almost entirely devoid of transcendence. In such a view a church becomes merely a building, an altar becomes a table, and the liturgy itself becomes a script.

This was brought forcefully into focus for me many years ago when I attended mass at a new Catholic Church in Maryland with some friends I was visiting. It was a completely depressing experience. The recently built church looked like a barn. If you didn't know already what it was supposed to be you would have never guessed it had a religious purpose. There was even a pamphlet that explained how the folks in the parish didn't wish to be "intrusive" by having things like steeples or a visible cross. The entire church was meant, in effect, to be an apology for its own existence. I couldn't help but think back to the churches in my home town of St. Louis. When I was in high school we went on a church tour and learned about the communities that built these beautiful structures: how the Irish in one neighborhood would try to outdo the Italians a few blocks away (and vice versa) by having a taller steeple or a larger church bell. Sure, taken to an extreme it could lead to a false sense of pride, but their confident religious expression was infinitely superior to the cringing I saw in Maryland.

Inside the barn/church things were little better. It was a church "in the round." (Which in itself tells the lie about the older liturgical forms being the only ones prone to "theater.") As I looked around there was no tabernacle visible, or even an alcove chapel where I could assume the consecrated host was being kept. So, I went in and sat down in a pew. I noticed that everyone else was genuflecting towards the altar as they entered the pew, and I asked my friend why they were doing this. There was nothing there to be venerated. Catholic are supposed to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but it seems clear that these folks didn't know exactly why one should genuflect in the first place. It had become an empty formalism not because the act of genuflecting is of necessity empty but because the modern liturgy has removed the very thing that gives it meaning.

This lack of meaning infuses the worst aspects of the modern liturgy. Symbols have been decried as not being "real" and have been systematically removed, but this impulse is completely wrong-headed. The meaning of symbols is that they point to something outside of themselves. The truth of the matter is that we live our lives completely in the mundane world, so we need and use symbols that direct us to something beyond our earthly experience. So the desire to "get real" in the liturgy has the effect of making the Eucharistic service just another mundane thing.

We all deserve better than that, and some are clamoring for it. Folks of the old guard like Archbishop Marini would be better served by listening to the spiritual needs of today's congregations rather than decrying their "nostalgia." Since when is a desire to experience things sacred and holy a bad thing?

Benedict Triumphant

It seems lots of people are making a habit of underestimating Pope Benedict, although no one seems to be profiting from it. From the BBC: Pope publishes cancelled speech

The Vatican has released the text of a speech the Pope was due to have given during a visit to Rome University, that was cancelled due to protests.

While some Rome students and faculty members have been crying victory, others have rallied around the pontiff. At Wednesday's general audience, students turned up with banners of support for the Pope.

A senior Vatican cardinal has urged Romans to turn out for next Sunday's Angelus blessing in St Peter's Square.

In the speech that Pope Benedict wrote himself for delivery at the start of the academic year in Rome, he acknowledges that some of the things said by theologians over the centuries have been proven false by history.

But he insists that the search for truth cannot be divorced from the traditional fields of study at universities since the Middle Ages, namely philosophy and Christian theology.

The BBC reporter doesn't quite get it, but this isn't surprising as the Pope's talk touched upon a number of thinkers from Socrates to John Rawls and is pregnant with undercurrents. Indeed, it seems obvious that either the Pope was aware of the possibility of the protests or that the speech was altered to highlight the intellectual vacuousness of his critics.

At one point Benedict even invokes the neo-Marxist school known as "Critical Theory": (The Pope's address, in Italian, can be found here)

Jürgen Habermas esprime, a mio parere, un vasto consenso del pensiero attuale, quando dice che la legittimità di una carta costituzionale, quale presupposto della legalità, deriverebbe da due fonti: dalla partecipazione politica egualitaria di tutti i cittadini e dalla forma ragionevole in cui i contrasti politici vengono risolti. Riguardo a questa "forma ragionevole" egli annota che essa non può essere solo una lotta per maggioranze aritmetiche, ma che deve caratterizzarsi come un "processo di argomentazione sensibile alla verità" (wahrheitssensibles Argumentationsverfahren). È detto bene, ma è cosa molto difficile da trasformare in una prassi politica.

For those whose Italian isn't what it could be, I'll translate:

Jürgen Habermas represents, in my opinion, a vast consensus of current thinking when he says that the legitimacy of a constitutional charter, in its legality, derives from two sources: from the equal political participation of all the citizens and from the reasonable manner in which political disputes are resolved. Concerning this "reasonable manner" he notes it may not be only a matter of arithmetic majorities, but it should be characterized as a "process of argumentation sensitive to the truth." It is well said, but it is a difficult thing to transform into political practice.

Indeed, that difficulty is spelled out by the knee-jerk reaction of the critics at La Sapienza, who represent less a moment of progress as compared to the Church's medieval obscurantism, than a return to such obscurantism. They certainly failed to live up to any Liberal idea of what a University should be. They even failed to live up to the politics of mediation favored by leftists like Habermas. Indeed, all they managed to do is look foolish, boorish and downright uncivilized.

It is heartening that some are recognizing this in Italy itself. From the BBC again:

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the Rector of Rome University, after students threatened to disrupt the Pope's visit, that the Pontiff would no longer be "guaranteed a dignified and tranquil welcome".

What is interesting is that the anti-Pope protests seem, in some ways, to have backfired. One leading Italian newspaper the Corriere della Sera ran a front page editorial headlined "A defeat for the country", while President Napolitano and politicians of both the right and left have been condemning demonstrations of intolerance towards the Pope.

Even when this Pope loses, he wins

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Don't Make fun Of Our Murderous Jackass!"

Stupidity never takes a holiday: Citroen regrets Mao ad 'insult'

French carmaker Citroen has withdrawn an ad featuring a doctored portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, after complaints it was an insult.

In the ad, carried in Spanish newspaper El Pais, Mao scowls at a hatchback.

"It's true, we are leaders, but at Citroen the revolution never stops," reads the text below the portrait.

Citroen apologised for the "inappropriate" ad, which Chinese chatroom users had complained "hurts our national pride".

"This is no small thing," said one visitor to a chatroom about the ad - based on the famous portrait of Mao which hangs in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"It has an influence on the whole country. It damages the whole Chinese people."

Whatever "damage" this ad does is about 1/10,000,000th the damage done to the Chinese people by Mao himself.

Republicans Not Cause Of Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

Must be a cover up: Plates focus of Minn. bridge collapse probe

Federal investigators have concluded that steel plates on the interstate bridge that collapsed last summer in Minneapolis were inadequate to hold the structure together and appear to have been what allowed it to fail, killing 13 people, two officials familiar with the investigation said Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plans to call Tuesday for states to perform safety assessments on the so-called gusset plates in steel girder bridges any time they add weight to a bridge, the sources said. Design changes in 1977 and 1998 added additional pavement and concrete barriers that increased the weight of the Interstate 35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis.

A design flaw?? That is impossible! It is a well known law of physics that things fall to the earth because of Republican tax cuts!

It's science!!!!!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Hey! It's Libertie, Equalitie, & Fraternitie, Dickwad!"

Those crazy, drunk Missourians: Do liquor rules violate free speech rights?

A city councilman and a local bar owner said today they'll ask Attorney General Jay Nixon whether state liquor regulations barring "indecent, profane or obscene" language or song in bars across Missouri violate constitutional free speech rights.

I'm of two minds here. I mean, I'm generally a free speech advocate, but if we can agree on a definition of "obscene" that would ban the Eagles song "Take it to the Limit" I could be persuaded to go along with this.

Councilman Richard Veit and Marc Rousseau, who runs R.T. Weiler's - a bar in St. Charles' North Main Street entertainment area - said they wanted Nixon to issue an advisory opinion detailing whether the provision bars performers at establishments serving liquor from using certain language and if so, what language. The state regulations also refer to entertainment, literature and advertising material.

Hell, isn't this restraint of trade as well? A solid 30% of comedians have acts that revolve entirely around female body parts and the word "fuck." (Not to mention that this blog would now be strictly forbidden! But this is my virtual livelihood!)

The two spoke at a City Hall news conference after a public hearing on proposed changes in St. Charles' local liquor control rules.

Last month Rousseau had complained...

By the by...have I mentioned how much I love the fact that one of the guys complaining is named Rousseau?? You better watch out or he will drop some serious Social Contract on your ass.

Anyway... the council that the city proposal, sponsored by Veit, included such language. The council last week deleted the specific reference to bad words from its proposal, but the city bill still refers to it indirectly by saying that violations of state regulations could lead to city penalties.

Veit said he didn't intend to violate people's free speech rights and was trying to deal with situations such as bar patrons yelling obscenities at people walking outside an establishment.

Next thing you know they will be telling me I cannot yell at my TV during the hockey game.

Who do they think they are? My wife?

Save The Kitties

Yeah, I like my cats.

Sue me.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another Reason For The Lefty Love Of Chavez?

Seems Uncle Hugo is planning a pogrom: There is a new fear among Jews in Venezuela

Venezuelan Jews, long uneasy with the Chávez government's alliances with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries that espouse anti-Israel views, are concerned that the government is sponsoring anti-Semitism in this hemisphere, a prominent journalist said Tuesday.

''The situation we have now in Venezuela is that for the first time in modern history we have government-sponsored anti-Semitism in a Western country,'' said Sammy Eppel. ``That is why this is very dangerous, not just for the Jewish community in Venezuela but for the Jewish community as a whole.''

Among the examples offered by Eppel:

Venezuelan government intelligence services twice have raided the country's most important Jewish center in a vague, ultimately unsuccessful search for weapons. Publications of the government's cultural ministry run articles entitled ''the Jewish Question,'' along with a Jewish star superimposed over a swastika.

These examples, according to Eppel, an analyst and journalist who has written for El Universal and El Mundo, among other publications, are evidence of a pattern of official intimidation against the country's fast-dwindling Jewish population. Many of them have resettled in South Florida since President Hugo Chávez's rise.

About 30 people attended Eppel's presentation Tuesday, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League at the Aventura Chabad. Many of the examples were excerpts from government-linked media.

One 2006 article in El Diario de Caracas debates whether it will be necessary to ''expel [the Jews] from the country.'' Another article in the Diario VEA accuses Jews of being involved in the murder of a government prosecutor.

I guess Chavez's supposed love of "the people" doesn't extend to Jewish people.

(Gleaned from QandO)

Verification?? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Verification!

Roger Pilke catches "Real" Climate talking out of both sides of their mouth (again):

Real Climate has been speaking with two voices on how to compare observations of climate with models. Last August they asserted that one-year's sea ice extent could be compared with models:

A few people have already remarked on some pretty surprising numbers in Arctic sea ice extent this year (the New York Times has also noticed). The minimum extent is usually in early to mid September, but this year, conditions by Aug 9 had already beaten all previous record minima. Given that there is at least a few more weeks of melting to go, it looks like the record set in 2005 will be unequivocally surpassed. It could be interesting to follow especially in light of model predictions discussed previously.

Today, they say that looking at 8 years of temperature records is misguided:

John Tierney and Roger Pielke Jr. have recently discussed attempts to validate (or falsify) IPCC projections of global temperature change over the period 2000-2007. Others have attempted to show that last year's numbers imply that 'Global Warming has stopped' or that it is 'taking a break' (Uli Kulke, Die Welt)). However, as most of our readers will realise, these comparisons are flawed since they basically compare long term climate change to short term weather variability.

So according to Real Climate one-year's ice extent data can be compared to climate models, but 8 years of temperature data cannot.


This of course causes the folks at "Real" Climate to call Pielke a holocaust...I mean AGW denier.

It is amazing that the desire to verify scientific theories and models, which in the end is all Pielke is advocating, is in itself a cause of controversy. Verification is a basic building block of science, not some extravagant luxury that can be dispensed with on a whim.

I guess only those with the true calling get to have anecdotal evidence treated as anything but anecdotal. So when it snows in Baghdad for the first time in 100 years, why that must be "proof" of AGW too, right?

More Left Wing Anti-Semitism

When are women holding prominent political positions not to be looked up to and admired for those on the left? When those women are Jews. (From First Things.)

I can’t remember Ms. magazine receiving this much attention since about 1978, but the magazine is back in the news—this time for turning down an ad from the American Jewish Congress.

You can see the
pro-woman ad here. It shows photographs of Tzipi Livni (Israel’s foreign minister), Dorit Beinish (Supreme Court), and Dalia Itzik (speaker of the Knesset). Underneath the photos, the ad declares: “This is Israel.”

According to the AJC, Ms. magazine explained that the ad was too controversial and “will set off a firestorm,” merely for daring to say anything positive about Israel. Not that it really needed any more proof, but here’s one more bit that shows the old-line feminist organizations aren’t really about women. They’re wholly owned subsidiaries of the left—and if the left rejects Israel, then Ms. magazine must reject Israel’s women.

Despicable. Sadly typical in this day and age, but still despicable.

Don't believe me?

A Ms. Magazine representative, Susie Gilligan, whom the Ms. Magazine masthead lists under the publisher's office, told Ms. Kurlander that the magazine "would love to have an ad from you on women's empowerment, or reproductive freedom, but not on this." Ms. Gilligan failed to elaborate what "this" is.

You know!! It's "those" people!! Didn't your mama ever warn you about "those" people?

The left in this country give me the screaming heebie jeebies.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

So When Exactly Did Ron Paul Have His "Come To Jesus" Moment?

It certainly seems that Ron Paul shall I put it...a racist a**hole.

This "Special Issue on Racial Terrorism" was hardly the first time one of Paul's publications had raised these topics. As early as December 1989, a section of his Investment Letter, titled "What To Expect for the 1990s," predicted that "Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities" because "mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white 'haves.'" Two months later, a newsletter warned of "The Coming Race War," and, in November 1990, an item advised readers, "If you live in a major city, and can leave, do so. If not, but you can have a rural retreat, for investment and refuge, buy it." In June 1991, an entry on racial disturbances in Washington, DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood was titled, "Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo." "This is only the first skirmish in the race war of the 1990s," the newsletter predicted. In an October 1992 item about urban crime, the newsletter's author—presumably Paul—wrote, "I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming." That same year, a newsletter described the aftermath of a basketball game in which "blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot." The newsletter inveighed against liberals who "want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare," adding, "Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems."

Before I'd let Ron Paul clean my gutters he would have to repudiate almost everything he has ever stood for. And some people want him to be President?

Grow up and get a conscience.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sucker Born Every Minute Time?

The average Obama voter?
I'll admit it. The allure of Barack Obama escapes me. Sure he isn't a bad looking guy, and, when he isn't indulging his inner Jesse Jackson, he can be an effective speaker. But his campaign has had all the content of a soggy piece of toast.

This is all it takes to get liberals (and others) falling all over themselves?

In many ways the "Obama experience" is Zelig in reverse. It isn't Obama that is changing chameleon like to suit various interests, but people themselves who view Obama through various lenses. (Such as young people who see in Obama someone they can vote for AND someone who allows them to pat themselves on the back about what good and moral young people they are.)

Obama can be seen in any number of ways exactly because he is so vacuous and content-less. He is the presidential candidate version of abstract art, spouting platitudes about "the future" and "hope" that would have the New York Times set laughing up their sleeves if they had come from the mouth of George Bush.

This reaction is not confined to yours truly. Stubborn Facts has been working on the "Obama as Rorschach test" meme for awhile. But, the Rorscach test analogy is in one sense inexact. It isn't just that Obama is the subject upon which people project their own emotional needs, it is that Obama's campaign is exactly like the Seinfeld show. It is about nothing, except maybe political power and America's gullibility...willful gullibility at that. How else do you explain drivel like this:

Simply put, will America be willing to walk away from what some say is a sure thing of a Clinton in the White House and embrace a man who says we can do all things if we just believe enough in ourselves?

It all might sound like New Age mumbo jumbo.

Sound like? It is exactly the "new age mumbo jumbo" it sounds like.

Somewhere P.T. Barnum is saying "I told you so."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's 8:17 PM & Ron Paul Is In 6th Place

Oh God, how I hope it stays this way. Right now Paul is behind even Giuliani who didn't even try in Iowa.


It's 8:40 and Paul is up to 5th. Shoot.