Author Archive

Guess the Party!

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Hey, gang, let’s play a game. It’s called “Guess the Party!” Oh, come on! It’ll be fun! The rules are simple. You read the story of a politician in legal trouble and try to guess whether said politician is a “culture of corruption” Republican or of some other party that is not the “culture of corruption” Republican Party. Okay, let’s play!

The young mayor of Detroit has been trying hard to take out of the news the sexual pecadillos and subsequent difficulties of New York governors. Apparently, he’s had an affair and he’s been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice regarding it. I am no more concerned about mayor Kilpatrick’s alleged sexual conquests than I’ve been with those of the various governors of New York or past presidents of the United States. My interest here is this: Corey Williams of Associated Press has written a 300 plus word article chronicling the issue and not once mentioned the party affiliation of Mayor Kilpatrick. Has AP ever written a story about a Republican in legal trouble without identifying the party affiliation in the lead paragraph?

Why is it that, when a politician who is not a “culture of corruption” Republican get’s into legal trouble, reporters lose all interest in party affiliation but when “culture of corruption” Republicans do, it is the first and most vital piece of information about which the reader must be informed? I’m stumped.

By the way, mayor Kilpatrick is a member of one of the two major political parties but is not a “culture of corruption” Republican…but you’ll have to look somewhere other than this article to find that out.

Now wasn’t that fun?

What? Nothing yet on the Spitzer scandal? [Edit: I see I’m not the first]

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Very well then, allow me to be the first [Edit: I see someone beat me to posting on this.]. It is being reported that Eliot Spitzer, Democratic Governor of New York, has been ‘caucusing’ with some pretty high class and expensive prostitutes. When I say expensive, I mean in the $1,000 and $5,500 per hour, $50,000 per week-end range. He at least has the decency to avoid the “wide stance” style defense and is considering resigning. He’s made his apologies. Spitzer hasn’t been charged with a crime, yet, although, depending upon how he paid for the services, he could be charged with a crime worth up to five years in prison if he attempted to conceal the source and purpose for the payment, which I think it likely that he almost certainly would have done. The question is, what now?

Can he — should he — stay in office? Of course if he committed a crime, even if he’s not indicted for it, he probably will have to resign. After all, as chief executive for New York, he’s the guy at the head of setting policy for prosecutions and the administration of justice in the state. How would it look to have someone who committed a crime while in that position to stay in office. And, of course, if he’s convicted of a crime, he’ll be forced to resign or be impeached as I doubt he can run the state from his prison cell.

But what if he committed no crime? After all, presidents have engaged in sexual daliances while in office — Kennedy and Clinton spring immediately to mind but they certainly don’t exhaust the list — why should governors resign just because they’ve been caught in extra-curricular activities? Spitzer isn’t even splitting hairs over what the definition of ‘is’ is.

This also raises the question, peripherally, of whether prostitution should be illegal at all? The Libertarian in me says “No” but the Christian moralist in me says “Yes.” The ‘we mustn’t enact Christian morals into law in a secular nation’-ist in me says “I’m not sure that there aren’t sufficient societal harms involved in prostitution to keep it illegal even without questions of religious scruple but it’s possible that those societal harms aren’t mostly the result of its being illegal” so I just don’t know.

Anyway, what do you all think?

Irrational fear of foreign culture or accurate social commentary?

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I report, you decide.

Mark Steyn recently authored the book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, a book which may appear to European multiculturalists and American liberals as the rantings of a hateful, zenophobic rube and to Muslim groups as the textual equivalent of a hate-crime, the mere publication of which constitutes a human rights violation (e. g., Steyn and Maclean’s magazine may have to face investigations by Canadian Human Rights commissions at the instigation of a group of Canadian Muslim law studens at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and the Canadian Islamic Congress; Steyn for having published the book and Maclean’s for having published an extract from the book) for suggesting, as I understand his thesis, that unassimilated Muslims, invited by European nation states to alleviate the problems presented by the demographic declines of their own native populations — populations that are growing older and are demanding to be kept by their bloated welfare states in the fashion in which they’ve become accustomed to demand — are posing a threat to the very democratic institutions and free culture that the Muslims were invited into and this precisely because many of those Muslims refuse to assimilate to their host culture and because their hosts refuse to demand that they do; that the diminishing fertility rate of Western Europeans in these states will eventually see the native Western Europeans be overtaken by the higher fertility rates of those Muslims in their midst; that violent overthrow of these cultures (though violence is already apparent in these countries) will ultimately be unnecessary since, once in the majority, Muslims in Europe will be able to exercise their vote to turn Europe into Eurostan. Indeed, some of these countries have been making said accomodations while Muslims are still minorities, perhaps to stave off violence.

But that’s not what I’m particularly interested in at the moment. What I’d like to focus on is this post by Steyn on The Corner, the group blog at National Review Online because, whatever the merits or demerits of the thesis of his book, I think he makes an interesting point. Quoting from and commenting on a column in the Boston Herald, Steyn writes:

‘A while back I mentioned Harvard’s decision to ban men from its pool and fitness center six times a week in the interests of “accommodating” Muslim women. Our pal Michael Graham picks up the theme:

In the old days, Harvard would have laughed if some Catholic or evangelical mother urged “girls-only” campus workouts in the name of modesty. Today, Harvard happily implements Sharia swim times in the name of Mohammed.

At Harvard, that’s called progress.

‘Well put. And thus “progress” comes full circle. In Minneapolis last year, the airport licensing authority, faced with a mainly Muslim crew of cab drivers refusing to carry the blind, persons with six-packs of Bud, slatternly women, etc, proposed instituting two types of taxis with differently colored lights, one of which would indicate the driver was prepared to carry members of identity groups that offend Islam. Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist. Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist.

‘Every society has culturally self-segregating groups - the Amish and whatnot. But they’re usually in small numbers somewhere out on the edge of the map. In Europe and Canada, the self-segregating group happens to be the principal source of population growth, which presents a profound challenge to societal cohesion. America does not face the same scale of problem, but nevertheless “sharia creep” ought to be resisted before it becomes remorseless. The rest of Michael’s column goes on to explain why that doesn’t happen: at Harvard and elsewhere, bigshot Saudi princes waving gazillion-dollar checks are in effect buying silence about one of the central questions of the day - Islam’s relationship with the west.’

Thus endeth Steyn. This is a good point. Suppose the Phelpses demanded that American universities institute separate exercise and swiming times for gays and straights because they can’t bear the thought of straight Americans sweating or appearing in revealing swimwear in the presence of gays? Oh how the howls would be heard from liberals around the country but how does that substantially differ from Muslims demanding separate exercise and swimming periods for Muslim women over religious and cultural concerns for modesty? Isn’t there a tinge of “separate but equal” here? Sure, granted that we’re not talking about seperate facilities here but merely times when the majority is excluded for the sake of the minority but how is separate for the sake of a minority discriminatory interest any more equal than separate for the sake of a majority discriminatory interest. Doesn’t the evil of discriminatory practices consist in the fact that they are discriminatory? And this is doubly discriminatory in that it tends to (a) perpetuate the Muslim discrimination against women — they’re weak, must be protected by men, cannot be trusted to participate fully in society with men without either drawing to themselves unwanted sexual advances from men or, worse, lasciviously inviting said sexual advances — and (b) it deliberately excludes men during those periods? Or is discrimination that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes of Muslim women for the sake of a minority (Muslims in America) somehow ethically pure while discrimination that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes of gays for the sake a majority (straights in America) or discriminatory stereotypes of women is evil? Or, more succinctly:

Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist. Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist.

I don’t call this progress. I call it capitulation to demands for special treatment based upon religious scruple. If the Phelpses can’t bear the thought of exercising or swiming in the presence of gays, they can damn well stay home or move somewhere where gays are hanged. If Muslims can’t bear the thought of their women showing skin in the presence of men, they can keep them covered head to toe, locked away at home or move somewhere where women are gang-raped for the crime of appearing in public insufficiently covered or imprisoned and beaten for the crime of appearing in public unaccompanied by a family member.

Or am I committing a hate crime for even suggesting this?

Institutions that would not dream of making exclusionary and discriminatory accomodations for the religious scruples of Christians should not be making such accomodations for Muslims.

Apparently it’s not all that difficult to get fiction published as autobiography

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Most recently, Love and Consequences, the “autobiography” of Margaret Seltzer, writing under the name of Margaret B. Jones, was exposed as fiction.

This only a few days after Misha Defonseca’s “autobiographical” Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years was exposed as an alternative account to her actual life experiences. Producing alternate biographies in order to shield one from facing one’s actual past is probably quite common; publishing them as actual history is a no-no.

Several years ago, James Frey rose to fame when Oprah Winfrey touted his A Million Little Pieces and then fell to infamy when it was discovered that many of those pieces were pure inventions.

I’m thinking of writing my memoirs of my life raised by Venusians on the peaks of mount Kilimanjaro. I think Oprah will love it!

WFB; RIP

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

The person who has made the greatest influence upon me, politically and intellectually speaking, passed away today. He is best known, I suppose, for his political magazine, National Review and for hosting of Firing Line but he also authored a number of non-fiction books on political philosophy, lexecography et al. as well as a series of novels about a CIA agent’s adventures. Unknown to me til today, he was also an accomplished pianist and harpsichordist…who knew?

He is in large part, though not single-handedly to be sure, responsible for making conservatism — the ’stupid party’ as it was dubbed by J. S. Mill — intellectually respectable for no one who sat through a segment of Firing Line, particularly after taking a view opposing Bill’s, could, with any intellectual honesty remaining intact, call William F. Buckley, Jr. stupid — more typically they would wish they had an unabridged dictionary of the English Language at hand to understand the full nuance of what he had just said. He is said to be the greatest debater to have graced Yale University — and to have said that the second greatest had been John F. Kerry!

William F. Buckley, Jr. has perhaps had greater influence on conservatism and conservatives in America than any other person.

I think I’ll go order a copy of God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom from Amazon.com, renew my lapsed subscription to National Review Digital and cherish the sense of both gratitude and loss.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Was the single dullest, excruciatingly boring excuse for a move that I have ever sat through. I can’t believe they raised money to make the movie, that the actors consented, half way through the shooting, to continue with the project or that the director didn’t burn the thing once the editing had proven to produce the most slow moving movie ever made. This movie is crap! The ghost of Jesse James should haunt Brad Pitt for the rest of his life.

That is all.

Hitchens Hits Hard

Monday, February 18th, 2008

The punch drunk wimp on the receiving end of his blows is the Western press and their self-censoring cowardice as illustrated by two particular incidents: obituaries of Earl Butz and two rounds of opportunities to run the infamous Muhammad cartoons. Of this latest cowardly cringe of omission, Hitchens writes:

The cowardice of the mainstream American culture was something to see the first time around. The only magazines that bucked the self-censorship trend, or the capitulation to undisguised terror, were the conservative Weekly Standard and the atheist Free Inquiry—two outlets (for both of which I have written) with a rather small combined circulation. Borders thereupon pulled Free Inquiry from its shelves, with the negligible consequence that I will never do a reading or buy a book at any of its sites ever again. (By the way, I urge you to follow suit.) I think it’s pretty safe to say that most Americans never even saw this sellout going on. But that was because their own newspapers were too shamefaced to report a surrender of which they were themselves a part.

In Canada, only two minority papers reprinted the cartoons. The Western Standard, now online only, and the Jewish Free Press were promptly taken before a sort of scrofulous bureaucratic peoples’ court describing itself as the Alberta Human Rights Commission. If you think that’s a funny name, try the title of the complainant: the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. Who knows how long such a stupid “hate speech” case might have dragged on or how much public money and time it might have consumed, but last week the Islamic supremes decided to drop it. “I understand that most Canadians see this as an issue of freedom of speech,” said Syed Soharwardy of the case that he had originated, adding “that principle is sacred and holy in our society.” Soharwardy went on to say, rather condescendingly perhaps, that: “I believe Canadian society is mature enough not to absorb the messages that the cartoons sent. Only a very small fraction of Canadian media decided to publish those cartoons.” Without the word not and without the sinister idea that Soharwardy’s permission is required for anything, that first sentence would have been a perfectly good if banal statement. But with the addition of his remark about the “small fraction” and the concomitant satisfaction about the general reticence, we have no choice but to conclude that Soharwardy is satisfied on the whole with the level of frightened deference to be found north of the U.S. border. I mention this only because the level of frightened deference to be found south of that border is still far in excess of what any censor, or even self-censor, might dare to wish.

I don’t always agree with Hitchens but this here is a knock-out punch to the cowardly lion that is the free (to censor itself) press in much of the West. Kudos to the few outlets that have published the cartoons. To the rest…go kiss the mat and take your 10 count!

What does Jonah Goldberg mean by “Liberal Fascism”?

Friday, February 8th, 2008

This:

‘I promise …’

In the full knowledge of the commitment that I am freely willing to undertake as a student, I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to race, creed, political ideology, lifestyle orientation, gender or social status sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of those I will come in contact with as a member of the college community. I promise to Bergen Community College that I will follow this code of responsibility.

1. Honesty, integrity and respect for all will guide my personal conduct.

2. I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually.

3. I will build an inclusive community enriched by diversity.

4. I am willing to respect and assist those individuals who are less fortunate.

5. I promise my commitment to civic engagement and to serve the needs of the community to the best of my ability.

At least as originally proposed,

“The pledge would not be optional,” Susan Baechtel, a college spokeswoman, said Wednesday. “If you don’t agree, it is President Ryan’s vision that you cannot attend the school.”

She said students who violated the code would be subject to judiciary hearings now reserved for offenses such as assault.

Eugene Volokh, professor of and expert in constitutional law, explains the problems, from a constitutional standpoint, with this here.

Bill Helff, president of the college’s faculty union, explains the problem with it from a slightly different standpoint:

“I’ve been there 38 years and I’ve never sworn to embrace anybody,” said Helff. “Next I’ll have to be nice to administrators?”

Thing is, see, this is America. We dig our freedom…the freedom to not be nice if we don’t fucking feel like it and to think others are bone-headed assholes for trying to take away our freedom in the name of enforced niceness, and to say so without being sent away to the re-education camp or expelled from the community altogether.

In 2008 as in 2007

Friday, January 4th, 2008

it’s gonna be ABAT (All Britney All the Time):

Court awards Spears’ kids to K-Fed.

Just two things to say.

1. About friggin’ time;

and

2. Some people just shouldn’t be parents.

Interestingly enough…

Monday, December 17th, 2007

slavery is still illegal here in America.

Who knew?


Fish.Travel