Thursday, August 25, 2005

Letter to Cindy Sheehan

I generally love scrappleface for the humor, but this isn't particularly funny. Still a good read, though:

The running story on the news networks should be the valiant efforts of our troops -- the merchants of mercy who export freedom and import honor. They trade their own lives for the sake of others.

As a result, we live in a nation where a woman can camp outside of the president's house and verbally attack the president for weeks on end without fear of prison, torture or death. And the number of nations where such protest is possible has multiplied thanks to the work of our military.

(Via Instapundit)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Opposite of Chivalry

Pastorius sends this via email:

Reports abound that pop super diva Mariah Carey is furious with Eminem for playing intimate phone messages she left him to massive audiences during his Anger Management tour.

Carey left the messages for the rapper during his work on her 2001 album Charmbracelet. reports the messages featured Carey begging, "I heard you're getting back with your ex-wife. Why don't you see me? You're not calling me."

As the tape plays, Eminem pretends to throw up into a prop toilet on stage, after which he segues into his track "Puke," which features the line, "you make me sick."
One is tempted to be somewhat unsympathetic to anyone who would call Eminem in the first place, but this does strike me as a new low, even for him.

Incidentally, Pastorius has an even more extreme example of the opposite of chivalry here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Paving Mecca

Kathy Shaidle comments that we may not have to nuke Muslim holy sites after all:

Historic Mecca, the cradle of Islam, is being buried in an unprecedented onslaught by religious zealots.

Almost all of the rich and multi-layered history of the holy city is gone. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades.


The driving force behind the demolition campaign that has transformed these cities is Wahhabism. This, the austere state faith of Saudi Arabia, was imported by the al-Saud tribal chieftains when they conquered the region in the 1920s.

The motive behind the destruction is the Wahhabists' fanatical fear that places of historical and religious interest could give rise to idolatry or polytheism, the worship of multiple and potentially equal gods.
I had actually been wondering recently if these fanatics wouldn't eventually turn on their own holy sites, since they don't seem to have much compunction about blowing up their own people if the latter are judged to be impure. This pretty much answers the question.

Talkin' Trash

Looks like keeping things out of landfills is not as big a crisis as previously predicted:

Workers at a landfill in Orange County, Calif. - as if tamping down the contents of a wastebasket - regularly pile one million cubic yards of dirt atop a football field-size section of the giant dump. Six months later, the workers scrape the dirt aside and the dump's surface has fallen 30 to 40 feet, making space for yet more trash.


Simply put, operators of garbage dumps are stuffing more waste than anyone expected into the giant plastic-lined holes, keeping disposal prices down and making the construction of new landfills largely unnecessary.

(Via: Instapundit)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Roberts and the Right

I haven't had much to say about the Roberts confirmation process for two reasons: 1) I don't think past performance in lower courts is an accurate predictor of what a justice will do when he/she gets onto the Supreme Court; 2) Even if we manage to get a conservative on the bench, or even a bench-full of conservatives, many of the decisions that we want overturned will not be, precisely because the court is conservative (and therefore will respect precedent and exercise restraint -- see this exellent post by Todd Zywicki for a discussion of this factor). In short, I look at aiming for a conservative SCOTUS as a delaying action at best, counter productive at worst, and in either case a crap-shoot.

But this article in the Washington Times is intriguing:

As special assistant to the attorney general in the Reagan administration, John G. Roberts Jr. urged the Justice Department to keep its distance from an eager and demanding "new right," even characterizing one of the giants of the conservative movement as "no friend of ours."

Judge Roberts, then a special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, wrote several memos in 1981 and 1982 giving advice to his boss on handling pressure from conservative groups elated by ideological soul mate Ronald Reagan's winning the White House.
If they are not careful, some conservatives may take this as a signal that Roberts is on the other side. But this is not necessarily the case. Note the following comments:
Judge Roberts suggested that the department "keep as low a profile as possible" concerning a book titled "A Blueprint for Judicial Reform" put out by the conservative Free Congress Foundation, an organization founded in 1974 by Paul Weyrich, who remains one of the leading conservative intellectuals.

The liberal-leaning American Bar Association (ABA) had inquired about Mr. Smith's opinions on some of the ideas in Mr. Weyrich's book.

Judge Roberts did not paint a flattering portrait of Mr. Weyrich or his ideas, even misspelling the man's name.

"I suggest we keep as low a profile on this as possible," Judge Roberts wrote. "Weyerich is of course no friend of ours, but it won't help to stir up the influential contributors to his volume, and any comment by the AG will simply highlight the fact that we have yet to take a position" on some hot-button issues.
This sounds to me like typical political bunker-building and is nothing to worry about, execept in the general sense that it is always something to worry about. All politicians are conservative in the sense that their primary aim is to conserve their own hold on power. We shouldn't be surprised that such considerations were present during the administration of Ronald Reagan, whom many see as an idealistic conservative, any more than we would be if they surfaced during the administration of his more realpolitik successor. And it is undoubtedly a consideration in the current administration, as well. People who love freedom (meaning "conservatives" in the more popular sense) ought not to forget this.

That said, I do think Roberts shows a fair amount of adherence to the principle of judicial restraint, which is really the best we can hope for. His final comments in the post linked above are worth noting:
The "new right" was attacking Justice on personnel matters, with Human Events sharply criticizing "Carter holdovers [that] are thwarting implementation of conservative policy by presenting only established liberal legal dogma to their superiors, who are ill-equipped to refute the analyses presented to them," he wrote.

Judge Roberts wrote that some of the attacks were "completely unfounded," and advised Mr. Smith to aggressively rebut the criticism.

"Invariably when the new right disagrees with Department policy, the attack is quickly converted into an ad hominem assault on the ideological credentials of the responsible appointee," Judge Roberts wrote. "Since this is the central critique of the management of the Department, it merits a substantial and considered refutation."
I don't know if his claim that the attacks were completely unfounded is accurate, but I think we are all too familiar with the kind of ad hominem attacks he is talking about. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: we shouldn't need to resort to personal attacks on liberals since their ideas are so easy to refute on the merits. Resorting to such tactics weakens our case, it doesn't help it.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sexualizing Chivalry

This is the kind of thing that bugs me. CNN Money starts off with a reasonable sounding question: "Does it Pay to Flirt at Work"

Women who cross their legs provocatively, wear short skirts or massage a man's shoulders at work get fewer pay raises and promotions, according to Friday's USA Today.

The newspaper, citing a Tulane University study, said 49 percent of MBA graduates polled admitted that they have tried to advance in their careers by sometimes engaging in certain sexual behaviors, including sending flirty e-mails and wearing revealing clothing.

The respondents who said they never engaged in such activity earned an average of three promotions, versus two for the group that had employed sexuality. Those who said they never used sexuality were, on average, in the $75,000-$100,000 income range; the other group fell, on average, into the next range, $50,000 to $75,000.
Fine. This is a perfectly legitimate concern and even shows signs of validating the conservative position that women don't have to lower their moral standards to succeed in the world of business. But then comes the twist:
Tulane professor Arthur Brief said the study suggests that women should be careful about letting men open doors or lift boxes that aren't particularly heavy, because chivalry is "benevolent sexism."

"We argue that there are negative consequences for women who use sexuality in the workplace," Brief told the newspaper.
This is a complete non-sequitur. Did the study include such behavior as allowing men to open doors? It isn't in the original list. Only someone who starts witht the premise that treating women with respect is necessarily motivated by sexual attraction could jump from flirting to chivalry in this way.

What is worse, such a reductionistic, which can conceive of only base motives, view tends to make women suspicious of the kindness of men. Is it any wonder that the prevalence of such views tends to produce a coarsening of culture?

This kind of tripe was popular in the 70s. Really, I had thought we were getting beyond all of this, but evidently it still pervades academia. You've come a long way, baby.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

China Conversion?

According to the Washington Times, millions of Chinese are converting to Christianity:

Chinese are embracing Christianity in a social revolution that is spreading through town and countryside to the point where Christians already may outnumber members of the Communist Party of China.

Visits to villages in backward rural provinces or to urban churches in Beijing, where even on weekdays the young and middle-aged gather to proclaim their faith, confirm the ease with which conversions can be won.
No doubt the Zionists are behind this, too.

The Complexity of the Mauritanian Coup

We were thrilled at the democratic revolutions in Lebanon and the Ukraine. We look upon the civil unrest in Iran with hope for regime change. But what to make of the coup in Mauritania?

Mauritania's armed forces have set up a military council to rule the country and put an end to the "totalitarian regime" of President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, a statement on the state news agency said on Wednesday.

The statement, signed by a so-called Military Council for Justice and Democracy, said the council would rule the Islamic republic for two years:
"The armed forces and security forces have unanimously decided to put a definitive end to the totalitarian activities of the defunct regime under which our people have suffered so much over recent years," the statement said.

"This council pledges before the Mauritanian people to create favorable conditions for an open and transparent democracy" it said.
On the one hand, Taya's administration was an "ally" of the US in the War on Terror.

More here.

Snuppy Love

Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul National University (SNU) has succeeded in cloning a dog:

In the new study, a team led by Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul National University fused cells from an adult hound's ear to eggs obtained from fertile female dogs. Within hours after a blood test confirmed that ripe eggs had been released from a dog's ovaries, Korean veterinarians anesthetized the dog, surgically exposed her reproductive tract, and flushed the barely visible eggs into laboratory dishes.

Of about 1,400 embryos created by fusing those eggs to skin cells with an electrical shock, 1,095 were deemed healthy enough to be transferred to the reproductive tracts of surrogate mother dogs -- each of which also had to be in heat, to support the growth of those embryos into fetuses. That required more surgeries, with five to 12 embryos transferred to each of 123 surrogates.

Follow-up sonograms indicated that three of the 123 surrogate mothers were pregnant. One miscarried, and the other two gave birth. One newborn died from pneumonia after 22 days. The survivor is Snuppy, for ''Seoul National University puppy."