"With radical immanentization the dream world has blended into the real world terminologically; the obsession of replacing the world of reality by the transfigured dream world has become the obsession of the one world in which the dreamers adopt the vocabulary of reality, while changing its meaning, as if the dream were reality."
--Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, 1952
Dutch pedophiles have launched their very own political party (You knew this was coming, right?). The Charity, Freedom and Diversity Party aims to lower the Netherlands' age of consent laws from 16 to 12. "A ban just makes children curious," maintained Ad van den Berg, a Charity, Freedom, and Diversity Party founding father. Lest the Charity, Freedom, and Diversity followers be accused of single-issue voting, party leaders also note that they advocate sex education for toddlers, free train travel, and bestiality legalization. Save the Netherlands from Muslim immigrants? How about, save the Netherlands from the Dutch?
If you don't do what I want, then the world will end. Even a child would balk at such a silly threat. But some adults are more gullible than children. So the act-now-or-the-world-will-end schtick gets used and reused. It's a sales pitch, not unlike those one sees on late-night 1-800 television advertisements. "Act now and John Basedow will include a bonus Fitness Made Simple DVD that will give you rock-hard abs!" Only the environmentalist sales pitch is more crude and exaggerated: do what I tell you to do, or you, and everyone you know, will die. The promise of losing a pot-belly might not be enough to compel action, but the threat of mankind disappearing--that's enough to make one act. But it shouldn't be. Claiming a differing political path leads to the worst disaster imaginable is the oldest trick in the book.
In a speech in England, Al Gore warned of "planetary emergency" that "could bring the end of civilization." And what might that planetary emergency be? DDT? Acid rain? Nuclear power? The ozone hole? No, global warming. Please move on to the next ecological scare story, Mr. Gore. The sell-by date on this one is about 1998. In 1992, when Al Gore released Earth in the Balance, the Tennessee Senator could be found on the ascendent side of this fad. But it's 2006, and the global warming fad, like all fads, has run its course. Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is like a grown man dressed in parachute pants and sporting a flock-of-seagulls haircut: it's out of step with the times. The film's premise is also out of step with reality. The noble lie often disguises itself as an inconvenient truth.
Meteorologists occassionally have trouble telling us what tomorrow's weather will be. How is Al Gore able to accurately predict what ten-years-from-now's weather will be? And how is he able to tell us why ten-years-from-now's weather will be the way it will be?
Scaring someone is fun. Trying to scare someone, and failing, is boring. Global warming is boring. Like Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, and the New Jersey Devil, what we don't believe doesn't scare us.
This is not to say that the Earth isn't getting warmer. It is to say that the notion that humans have much to do with any global temperature increase is unproven, and probably, unprovable. Did humans cause the temperature increase that resulted in alligators and snakes living within the Arctic Circle 55 million years ago? Are humans causing the climate change on Mars and Jupiter? How about the change in temperature that occurs pretty much everyday between 6 a.m. and noon?
And if the ever-changing climate on our living planet, and other planets, is not enough to inject a dose of skepticism into the global-warming claims of Al Gore, the words of Al Gore should be enough to do this.
"In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality," Gore told David Roberts of Grist.org in an interview posted earlier this month. "And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it [global warming] is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis."
Might threats of "the end of civilization" be one of those over-representations Mr. Gore refers to?
Last week, roughly forty climbers left a man to die so that they could summit Mount Everest. Few even offered help. Could there be a more fitting symbol of our paradoxical age than man reaching to new heights as he sinks to new depths? As Sir Edmund Hillary observed: "Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain." One doesn't reach the top of the world by slumping to the bottom.
Something is happening. Ultimate Fighting is that something.
Spike TV's Ultimate Fighter reality show regularly outdraws college football, the NBA playoffs, boxing, and other television sporting events. Among coveted 18-34 male viewers, the first two season's finales actually outdrew the viewership of the broadcast networks. The show, which airs Thursday nights, is Spike TV's highest rated program. Marc Ratner, the ubiquitous ringside presence in Vegas, will now be the ubiquitous octagon presence for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Ratner, perhaps knowing when one ship is sinking and another is launching, resigned from the Nevada State Athletic Commission to take a position with the UFC. Last weekend, HBO-televised boxing at the Staples Center in Los Angeles drew just 10,000 fans to the 20,000-capacity arena. Tickets to this Saturday's UFC card at the Staples Center, headlined by Royce Gracie and Matt Hughes, are close to being sold out.
This weekend is the Ultimate Fighting Championship's coming out party.
I first heard the name Royce Gracie (some reader please tell me why "Royce" is pronounced "Hoyce") a decade or so ago when I was in the Marines. A fellow Marine ordered UFC pay-per-views, and told tales of a 175-pound man defeating 250-pound men. How? Something called Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a fighting style that Gracie's father invented. In fact, the Gracies also invented the UFC. They hoped to prove the superiority of their fighting style by inviting boxers, wrestlers, karate experts, and others to go at it in a no-rules tournament. The no-rules part left promoters squeamish, and surprisingly, fans bored. So the sport reestablished itself by adding weight divisions, referee stoppages, rounds, a number of proscribed strikes, and other niceties. As the sport went mainstream, Royce Gracie went underground. He was a man much discussed but seldom seen.
Now, at 39 years old, Gracie is back. He takes on Matt Hughes, a freakishly strong 170-pound farm-boy, this weekend at UFC 60. Gracie brings an undefeated UFC record to the octagon. Most fans don't believe that he'll leave the octagon with that unbeaten record intact. Gracie hasn't fought in the UFC since 1995, and some believe that the sport has passed him by. When Gracie ruled the UFC, fighters traditionally pursued one style. Now, UFC fighters are hybrids of multiple fighting styles. For example, Matt Hughes, Gracie's Saturday-night opponent, is a wrestler who incorporates boxing and submission techniques. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, too, is no longer the Gracie family secret. The secret is out. Mixed-martial-arts fighters know how to use it, and, of greater importance, know how to defend against it.
The UFC was started to settle such age-old controversies as boxer v. wrestler, judo expert v. karate expert, street-brawler v. shoot fighter. Saturday night's fight settles a different controversy: past v. present. In other sports, this is the stuff of bar-stool debates. Shaq can't post up on Bill Russell, Barry Bonds can't compete in a home-run derby with Babe Ruth, and Mike Tyson can't go toe-to-toe with Jack Johnson. Sports legends are usually dead or old. But the UFC is young, and so are its legends.
"Where once Americans cheered for people who represented character traits they would like to embody and who had acheived greatness they would like to rival, we now cheer mainly for people who amuse us. Being entertained is plainly a shallower pursuit than being inspired."
--William A. Henry III, In Defense of Elitism, 1994
I don't know if the FBI's raid on Democratic Rep. William Jefferson's Capitol office violates the Constitution's separation of powers clause or not. Majority Leader John Boehner calls the search an "invasion of the legislative branch," while House Speaker Dennis Hastert maintains that it violated "the independence of the Legislative Branch." And that's just the reaction from the Republican side of the aisle. Democrat Congressmen are, naturally, even more outraged.
This issue unites Democrat and Republican officeholders. Ironically, as Democrats and Republicans unite on the Hill, Democrats and Republicans off the Hill unite against them. This is not a partisan divide, but a divide between lawmakers and constituents. Americans are outraged that congressmen commit crimes with impunity. In recent weeks, America has been witness to one congressman allegedly striking a police officer and another driving under the influence. The message? Lawmakers are above the law. The message of the FBI's raid on Congressman Jefferson's office? No, lawmakers are not above the law.
Leaving aside the matter of the legality of the FBI's raid for more astute legal minds, the political judgment in condemning the raid in such stark terms seems, particularly in light of the Cynthia McKinney and "Patches" Kennedy cases, questionable at best. But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised at such a reaction from people who aren't held accountable, in courthouses or at the ballot box.
Richard Viguerie wrote a column, Bush's Base Betrayal, in Sunday's Washington Post that calls on conservatives to withhold support from the Republican National Committee. The direct-mail guru and conservative activist Viguerie argues that President Bush has betrayed his base. Well, President Bush certainly reversed promises and positions of candidate Bush on McCain-Feingold and nation-building. But Bush openly campaigned in 2000 for an expensive prescription-drug plan, identified education as his number one priority, and made no secret of his open-borders sympathies. Might it be more accurate to say that Bush's conservative base betrayed itself? Viguerie flirts with this perspective several times in his piece, but ultimately puts the blame at Bush's feet.
The argument over whether Bush betrayed conservatives or conservatives betrayed conservatism by fawning over Bush suggests more agreement than disagreement. Both positions, after all, take it for granted that Bush has proved himself no conservative. More interesting than Viguerie's history of the last six years is his roadmap for the the coming years. "If conservatives accept the idea that we must support Republicans no matter what they do, we give up our bargaining position and any chance at getting things done," he writes. "We're like a union that agrees never to strike, no matter how badly its members are treated." Put another way, "Because I'm not John Kerry" should never again be enough of a reason for a conservative to support a politician.
Viguerie's article has irked the White House and its court scribblers. The White House sent out a release of six, golden-oldie Viguerie quotes criticizing Ronald Reagan. John Podhoretz picked up on this theme at National Review's Corner. "This whole thing is absurd," reacts Podhoretz. "I remember Richard Viguerie telling me, at a party in 1984, that Ronald Reagan was not a conservative and that Reagan better watch out or people were going to vote for Howard Phillips (a third-party candidate on the Right) and hand the election over to the Democrats—and Reagan would deserve it too."
What kind of drinks were they serving at that party? Howard Phillips, at times a critic of Reagan, didn't run for president in 1984. He first ran eight years later, when George H. W. Bush sought reelection. Might Podhoretz be confusing Bush for Reagan? Might he be confusing this Bush for Reagan too?
And isn't that the problem? Republicans defending any Republican president as though that president were Ronald Reagan. As Viguerie pointed out to one of the White House's attack dogs, "I knew Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush is no Ronald Reagan."
Montenegrins have voted to secede from Serbia. Serbia will let them go. Serbian President Boris Tadic explains, "I supported the preservation of a joint state, but as a democratic president of a democratic republic, I recognize the expression of the free will of the Montenegrin citizens."
"War is the health of the state," Randolph Bourne noted. Bourne, being a statist, would have known such things. The state's domestic power increased because of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and now, Iraq. Much of the spending and usurpation has nothing to do with conducting war. But it gets wrapped in the flag, and it's hard to take on the flag. Currently, unscrupulous politicians have successfully wrapped spending earmarks for their districts into bills relating to the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq.
As RedState details, limited-government Republicans (they may be endangered, but yes, they exist) are fighting to expose the big-spending masked as patriotism. Last week, these congressmen, particularly Texan Jeb Hensarling, got an earfull from GOP big-spenders.
"Does the gentleman not understand that we are at war?" Congressman James Walsh asked of Hensarling. "Does he not understand that we have people in harm's way across the entire southern tier of Asia, that are being fired upon as we speak; that these funds are essential to fight the global war on terror, to bring democracy to these scattered points around the world, that these are soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are in dire need of this support, of these expenditures?"
The expenditures Walsh referred to include money for a gym, day-care centers, an animal clinic, and a parking garage. What does any of that have to do with "people in harm's way" and "the global war on terror"? A M1 tank? Sure. New kevlar body-armor? Yeah. A military pay raise? I guess. But veterinary clinics and parking garages? C'mon.
"Please do not tell us you support the troops," an angry Illinois Republican Ray LaHood proclaimed. "Please do not tell us you support the war. When you came out here and X'd out all of these important projects that help our troops, help us win the war, help the administration fight the war on terror. Pick another bill, not this one, and then try to lecture all of us on the idea that you support all of this."
"Pick another bill" sounds like good advice for LaHood and company. Pick another bill, not a military appropriations bill, to tack on pork-barrell projects to. Don't get mad at colleagues for removing a half-billion dollars worth of inappropriately placed appropriations. And please don't impugn their patriotism when you've attempted to loot military funds for your home districts in order not to defeat al Qaeda, but to defeat whatever Democrat you're up against.
Madonna appears on a disco-ball cross on her new concert tour. Haven't we seen this movie before? Madonna attempting to shock through Christian imagery is so unshocking. Remember the burning crosses, the stigmata, the church scenes of her "Like a Prayer" video? You can't blame Madonna for her name, but you can blame her for acting the whore in spite of it. She has made a career out of controversy, and she figures to resurrect that career with stunts like this crucifixion.
Madonna has never had talent as a singer. Marketing is her schtick. She knows that sex sells. Though she is still, at 59-years-old, an attractive woman, her competition of pop-tarts gets younger as she gets older. She can't compete with Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, or Britney Spears. So, what, besides sex, sells? Controversy. What sparks the most controversy? Religion. And so even though Madonna reportedly won't perform on Friday nights because of her Kabbalah convictions, she will stage a disco-ball crucifixion.
Apart from being tired and stale, Madonna's attacks on Christianity aren't particularly brave. It's not as though the New York Times, MTV, or Rolling Stone are going to excommunicate her. If Madonna wants to push buttons, make an artistic statement, and earn the inevitable designations of "bravery" and "courage," why not display the cartoon Muhammads on stage or perform in a burkha? Why not? Because it takes mere "courage" to offend the likes of Bill Donahue; it takes real courage to offend the likes of Muhammad Atta. The former hurls outrage; the latter, bombs. Criticism sells concert tickets. Bombs do not.
Not to say that offending Muslims for the sake of offending them has any merit either. It's just that Madonna chooses a safe target, Christians, who, if they are serious about their faith, aren't going to be too interested in concerts with effeminate men and topless women cavorting on stage, songs detailing S&M activities, or a book featuring a certain songstress caught in flagrante delicto with Big Daddy Kane.
At least the Dixie Chicks had guts enough to challenge the views of their core audience. Madonna will never risk alienating gays or grown-up mall rats. It just wouldn't be good for ticket sales or chart placement. Just as she knows how to market, she knows whom it's safe to offend and whom it's not safe to offend. She's talentless, boring, and cowardly.
The Church of England asks: "Why would someone with so much talent seem to feel the need to promote herself by offending so many people?" It is because Madonna lacks talent that she feels the need to promote herself by offending so many people. But that's no revelation to anyone who has been listening.
The Democrats' charge of a "culture of corruption" in Washington is not off base. It's just off base to scoff at the idea that corruption affects this party but not that party, your friends but not my friends. The federal government is huge--$2.7 trillion huge--and anytime there is that much money to be had, shady people are going to go after it, and shady guardians of the public's coffers are going to help them for a price. Shadiness is a bipartisan affliction.
FBI agents claim that they found $90,000 in Rep. William Jefferson's freezer in a search last year. Popsicles in a freezer? Sure. Vegetables in the freezer? Yeah. $90,000 in the freezer? I don't think so. Not that it's illegal or anything--but $90,000 in the freezer? That's a little strange. No, that's a lot strange.
The FBI alleges that Congressman Jefferson took things of value--such as the cold, hard cash in his ice box--in exchange for granting official favors on at least eight occasions. Should Jefferson find the case against him insurmountable, he might want to plead guilty by reason of being from New Orleans.
How to minimize corruption in government? Minimize government to its Constitutionally prescribed limits. "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men," Federalist 51 notes, "the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." Government is out of control. The Constitution allows the federal government to become involved in a few, defined matters. But the government has become corrupted. Officeholders ignore the constitutional limits on them. Presidents launch wars. Judges legislate from the bench. Congressmen award money to artists, grade schools, and foreign despots, while they forbid citizens from awarding a few thousand dollars to the political candidate of their choice. The Constitution doesn't allow for any of this, but government has become so corrupted that it no longer abides by the Constitution. If it did, government would be smaller. Rogues would have less opportunity, and less incentive, to rob the government. What self-respecting thief would rather stick-up Baily Building & Loan than land a score at Fort Knox?
"I wish to say emphatically that in all of my actions that are here under scrutiny, that I have never intended to dishonor my office, or you, the public," Rep. Jefferson maintains, "and I certainly did not sell my office." No, he just rented it out from time to time.
Senator John McCain spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. This doesn't entitle him to an audience that agrees with him. It does entitle him to an audience that will listen to what he has to say. Leave aside his service, simply by virtue of McCain being an American speaking by invitation in America, McCain warrants a respectful listen. He didn't get that at the New School in New York City. Instead, students and faculty turned their backs. They booed. They shouted, "Sit down!" and "It's not about you!"
I attended, in protest, the Antioch College graduation ceremonies several years ago when Daniel Faulkner's murderer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, delivered, via audio-tape, the school's commencement address. Two students--two students!--turned their backs. Along with about a thousand other protestors, I listened in silence. Abu-Jamal, and the other, less controversial commencement speaker, transsexual Leslie Feinberg, got heard. Although the school pulled the plug on a Mumia Abu-Jamal teach-in that I had reserved space for, neither I, nor anyone else, interrupted their indoctrination-in.
But the mental wiring of the academic Left short-circuits when an outsider airs views not popular on the inside of the campus gates. This is because the typical campus is an insular, ideological ghetto where leftists proclaim their views without rebuttal, debate, or interruption. Who is John McCain to come into their world and say things that they disagree with?
Colleges and universities should be the places where speech is the freest. John McCain could have walked from the New School to the closest barroom and had an easier time getting heard. So much for "tolerance," "diversity," "sensitivity," and other such hypocritical nonsense preached on campus.
Republicans in Pennsylvania have the right idea: replace liberal Republicans with conservative Republicans. Don't replace them with Democrats. Outraged GOP primary voters ousted fourteen Republican state legislators earlier this week. In several instances, a conservative Republican replaced a moderate or liberal Republican. This follows a Herndon, Virginia election where voters, angered by taxdollars subsidizing an illegal-alien job center, threw out the mayor and installed four new city councilors. Americans are outraged at runaway spending, an anarchic southern border, corruption, and, yes, a deadly nation-building exercise in Iraq. The outrage will hurt incumbants. The outrage doesn't have to, even if it most certainly will, hurt Republicans. The upcoming 2006 mid-term elections are frequently juxtaposed with the 1994 mid-term elections. What plays in the Democrats' favor is that voters want to take their displeasure out on officeholders, just as they did in 1994, and this time around Republicans hold most of the offices. What plays against the Democrats is that the same voters who were outraged in 1994 are outraged again in 2006.
Ali needed Frazier before he could become Muhammed Ali. Takeru Kobayashi may need Joey Chestnut before the Japanese hot-dog eating champion truly realizes his destiny. The food phenom Chestnut downed 50 hot dogs yesterday in twelve minutes to qualify the Fourth of July showdown at Coney Island. Chestnut set the American record, and came within three-and-a-half hot dogs of breaking Kobayashi's world record. In recent years, Kobayashi has crushed the competition at Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. But the one-man Empire of the Bun faces his greatest challenge in 22-year-old, red, white, and blue Joey Chestnut. George Shea, chairman of the International Federation of Competitive Eating, explains the significance of Chestnut's out-of-nowhere, amazing, eating performance: "The Fourth of July has been stolen from Americans because of Kobayashi's dominance and now America has someone who they can get excited about."
We all know that members of the Duke lacrosse team gang-raped a single-mom working to put food on the table.
We all know that Duke lacrosse captain David Evans has a fake mustache that he ceremonially wears whenever he rapes a stripper. We all know that if your own DNA is found in your own trashcan in your own house alongside a fake fingernail belonging to a stripper, it's conclusive proof that you're a rapist. We all know that running from the police after throwing a loud and raucous party with underage drinking isn't the normal response of a college student. We all know that it means that you're a rapist. We all know that Evans demanding, and passing, a polygraph test means nothing. We all know that the victim's "ninety-percent sure" identification of Evans as a rapist passes the "reasonable doubt" test.
We all know that calling 6' 3'', 195-pound Colin Finnerty the "little skinny one" is an accurate description. We all know Reade Seligmann has the ability to make eight phone calls, ride in a taxi, withdraw money from an ATM, order and eat take out, and sign into his dorm at the same time that he raped a stripper.
We all know that the taxi driver lied to give Seligmann an alibi. We all know that the taxi driver's computer record is a forgery, as is Seligmann's ATM receipt. We all know that the ATM surveillance picture of Seligmann is trick photography. We all know that his cell phone records are fakes. We all know that the witnesses who place him away from the party are all liars, and probably hate black people, as well as women, and especially black women.
We all know that the voluntary handover of DNA samples from every white member of the Duke lacrosse team was really a public relations stunt. We all know that the racist police in Durham removed the real DNA evidence in order to exonerate the white lacrosse players, just as we know that the racist police in LA planted the fake evidence in order to frame the black football player.
We all know that the pictures showing the Duke rape accuser in a disheveled and bruised state upon arriving at the lacrosse party are doctored. We all know that initially claiming to be the victim of twenty rapists, and then remembering it was only three, is quite normal in such cases. We all know that the word of one accuser beats the word of dozens of other witnesses. We all know that it's really easy for dozens of college-aged men to keep a secret and really hard for the police to get just one of them to crack and admit the truth.
We all know that the employees of escort agencies aren't prostitutes, especially ones who work for an outfit called Bunnyhole Entertainment. We all know that someone who is a convicted car thief and works as an escort isn't capable of lying. We all know that a woman who made one groundless rape accusation would never make another. We all know that someone on parole has no reason to concoct a fantastic rape allegation to avoid arrest for public intoxication.
We all know that Wendy Murphy, Nancy Grace, and district attorney Mike Nifong all have open minds about this case. We all know that the defenders of the Duke players are rich, white, and male. We all know that if being rich, white, and male aren't crimes yet, they should be.
We all know that the arrest of the taxi driver on a three-year-old case, where he helped store security identify a shoplifter he had driven home, is totally unrelated to the Duke rape investigation and bears no resemblance to witness intimidation. We all know that the arrest of the second stripper, Kim Roberts, on a probation violation, and his subsequent lessening of a penalty against Roberts, has nothing to do with Roberts change-of-opinion from disbelieving the accuser's story to now believing it possible. We all know that offering the accuser a photographic line-up composed exclusively of Duke lacrosse players didn't rig the process.
We all know that the people most convinced of the players' guilt would also be the most bothered by a fallacious rape claim, just as they were in the Tawana Brawley case. We all know that the Duke lacrosse players deserve neither their $800 nor their reputations back.
"Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a federal, and not a national constitution."
--James Madison, Federalist #39, 1788
File this one under: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In the mid-1990s, the United States promised North Korea two nuclear reactors in exchange for the Stalinist regime's promise to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. But a promise from a Stalinist regime isn't worth a half-eaten Twinkie, so in addition to the two nuclear-power plants American taxpayers built them, North Korea now has nuclear weapons as well. More than a decade after America's colossal blunder, engineered by blunderer extraordinaire Jimmy Carter and okayed by blunderer ordinaire Bill Clinton, some Europeans wants to build Iran a nuclear power plant in exchange for the evilocracy's promise not to pursue nuclear weapons. The West may be neither willing nor able to block Islamic dictatorships from obtaining nuclear weapons. But this doesn't mean that the West should help them. If Iran, Iraq, and North Korea constituted the axis of evil, might we say, in light of the latest doomed reactor-for-nonproliferation trade, that Great Britain, Germany, and France constitute the axis of stupid?
More than three out of four Georgia voters approved a ban on homosexual marriages. The will of the people clashes with the will of a person, who happens to be a judge, so the law has been declared null and void.
Abraham Lincoln liked to place this hypothetical before audiences: if you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have. "Five," his listeners would invariably respond. No. Calling a dog's tail a leg doesn't make it so, Lincoln would retort. A dog has four legs. President 43 would be wise to brush up on President 16. No matter how many times President Bush says his amnesty program isn't amnesty, it's still amnesty. Rewarding lawbreakers with citizenship is actually worse than amnesty. Not only does it absolve the criminal of the crime, but it awards a bonus--citizenship--to the criminal that he would not have received had he obeyed the law and waited in line.
The United States restored diplomatic relations with Libya on Monday. Good. Sticks, like the bombs Ronald Reagan dropped on Tripoli and Benghazi, can work. Carrots, like the dimplomatic recognition the Bush Administration awarded, can work too. By awarding this carrot, the Bush administration gives notice to other outlaw regimes: you can come home again. Time won't tell whether the stick in Iraq or the carrot in Libya proves more effective in reigning in rogue regimes. But proponents of one approach over the other certainly will tell which method proved more effective.
"Throw me the idol, I'll give you the whip." That's the gist of President Bush's speech on illegal immigration. He wants Americans fed up with illegal immigration to look the other way as he looks the other way at the law-breaking of several million immigrants. He wants amnesty--by whatever name he calls it--and in exchange, he says he will attempt to secure the border through a temporary deployment of the National Guard.
Why should anyone believe that he'll make good on his end of the deal? Why should anyone believe that his proposal will significantly impede illegal immigration?
He's been president for more than five years and he hasn't enforced the immigration laws already on the books. The National Guard, as he admits in his speech, cannot (and should not) be involved in enforcing the laws. The Guard is not a police agency, after all. The Guard will be assisting the Border Patrol, and that won't hurt. But sending them seems an act more concerned with fooling the public than alleviating the problem. To borrow a phrase many Guard members are undoubtedly familiar with, it's a big dog and pony show.
More substantive is the plan to add 6,000 actual Border Patrol agents. Hopefully, this will clog up many of the pores in the border. But why should President Bush get a temporary guest worker program for current law breakers in exchange for a promise to try to stop future lawbreakers. Trading an actuality for a hope is not a fair trade.
The Da Vinci Code is fiction, but its supporters and detractors act as if it's worth debating as fact. It's not. It is a novel, and now a movie. Novelists are allowed to invent fantastic tales. Nay, novelists are required to invent fantastic tales.
Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is fantastic. In other words, it's the work of fantasy. That's okay. What's not okay is the suggestion that the Da Vinci Code is something more than imagination on paper. This tactic has allowed the book's author to make inferences about historical events without taking responsibility for those inferences. Dan Brown gets to have his cake and eat it too. He gets to make outrageous claims, and then when critics mock those outrageous claims he gets to respond: loosen up, it's only a novel. It is just that, and nothing more. It's not worth debating, just as Journey to the Center of the Earth isn't worth debating as science. Sorry, but fact and fiction don't hang out on the same block. Praise Dan Brown the novelist if you like. Praise Dan Brown the historian only to damn yourself.
Do novels. Do history. Don't do both at the same time.
Like the films National Treasure and Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Da Vinci Code takes an actual event in history and spins a wild conspiracy tale around it. This generally makes for a good movie but a bad history lesson. Perhaps filmmakers don't intend to act as teacher, but theatre-goers, who enter the theatre with hopes of suspending reality, occasionally act as students, very good students, and absorb all that's offered. That these same people were generally poor students in actual classrooms has a great deal to do with their gullibility. Empty minds get filled somewhere.
And perhaps this is what all the fuss is about. Unable to study The Bible in public schools, and unwilling to read it elsewhere, many people get their religious instruction from sources interested in religious destruction. Unscrupulous people attempt to goad dim people into believing that Jesus and his apostles were gay, or that Jesus slept with Mary Magdalen, or that Jesus was a Roman agent. And the inclined believe it so--even if they tell you in the next breath that they don't believe that Jesus ever existed. People will believe all sorts of crazy stories about Jesus without actually believing there was such a person as Jesus. Talk about blind faith!
I probably won't go see The Da Vinci Code. This is not based on any outrage. It just doesn't beckon me forcefully enough to cough up nine bucks. Few movies do. Maybe I'll see it when HBO runs it. Though my disinterest doesn't stem from moral qualms, the descriptions of it--the book, and the movie--suggest that The Da Vinci Code is based on a blasphemy. And that's hardly groundbreaking in the current age. What would be truly revolutionary is if Hollywood released art more in the style of the Da Vinci of fact rather than the Da Vinci of fiction.
Leonardo Da Vinci, among many other titles, was an artist. The subjects of his paintings include the Last Supper, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist. In other words, he was one of those God-fearing rubes, albeit one prone to skepticism of miracles and not averse to taking money from the Borgias, that Hollywood tries so hard to offend. He'd have beed horrified to have his name attached to a work of art that debases God. And this horror would have been only in part because the Church often bankrolled him!
Hollywood doesn't produce art that glorifies God, and when renegade filmmakers do this, and do this well, they transcend Hollywood. The Passion of the Christ proved this. And perhaps Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ offers the best lesson to those outraged at The Da Vinci Code. Its critics, who generally didn't take the time to see the actual film (perhaps, like The Da Vinci Code, the book upon which The Passion of the Christ was based soured them on the film), protested, questioned its creator's sanity, and, in extreme cases, called for its ban. Rather than silence Mel Gibson, they amplified his voice. People wanted to see what all the commotion was about. They found that the actual movie differed from the movie imagined by critics unwilling to see it. Those offended by The Da Vinci Code could do no better service for it than to tell others not to see it.
See the movie if you're going to condemn it. Stay home if you think it's silly. And if you start to find yourself among those who view The Da Vinci Code as something more than fiction, also check out what four contemporaries of Jesus wrote before falling for a yarn spun twenty centuries after the fact.
I blog from Boston, where I am to attend the Ricky Hatton-Luis Collazo 147-pound fight at the new Boston Garden tonight. Despite being one of America's best sports towns, Boston hasn't hosted such a marquee fight since the days of Marvelous Marvin Hagler and the old Boston Garden. Perhaps this has a lot to do with boxing falling off the marquee in recent years. Multiple "champions" at each weight class, the alphabet soup of sanctioning organizations impeding titlist vs. titlist fights, a redirection of would-be American boxers into football, basketball, and other sports, the once-a-year fighter replacing the fighting champion, the emergence of mixed-martial arts, and elite fighters increasingly coming from abroad all combine to diminish the American public's interest in boxing. I'm still interested enough to fork over $115 to watch the fights live, though. Apparently, several thousand Englishmen are too. And since the invading horde is more soccer-hooligan Englishman than Prince-Charles Englishman, some of the best fights might neither be on the scheduled card, nor in the ring. Boxing's decline has come in spite of some great boxing in recent years: the Mickey Ward-Arturo Gatti trilogy and the Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo fight-of-the-millenium prove that great fights, and not necessarily great fighters, put people in the seats. A great fighter, undefeated Ricky Hatton, motivated me to buy a ticket. Great fights will determine whether my money was well spent.
Things that are less popular than President Bush.
Sorry to go $25,000 Pyramid on you. It's just really hard to clue in the true believers to how unpopular the president has become. It's also hard to impress upon the president's fans that, historically speaking, when presidents dip into the low '30s for approval ratings, it's catastrophic. They don't recover. President Bush's 50 percent approval ratings are long gone, and they're not coming back. Not now. Not ever.
A new Harris Interactive poll puts President Bush's job approval ratings at 29 percent. What explains? George W. Bush supports amnesty for illegal aliens and nation-building in Iraq. The American people are against illegal immigration and the president's war of choice. And it's not just a policy disagreement. It's the obstinacy. As the American people demand an end-game to America's experiment in democracy amongst the Muhammedans, President Bush defiantly proclaims that withdrawal is a project for some future administration. As the American people get so fed up with immigration lawlessness that they form posses and secure the border themselves, President Bush trudges on with his amnesty proposal. Sure, oil prices are high and the president has been especially inept the last year. But it's George W. Bush's steadfast refusal to abandon failed and foolish policies, in the face of public demands to do so, that pushed him below the Political Mendoza Line. Barring some national tragedy, he's there to stay. Not even the boogeymen of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, or Nancy Pelosi can scare the American people into looking favorably upon George W. Bush again.
A troubled Brooklyn teenager sent to a reform school...saved from a life of crime by boxing trainer Cus D'Amato...the youngest heavyweight champion in history. If Floyd Patterson's life story sounds familiar, it's because it repeated itself, at least the first act, in Mike Tyson. But upon acheiving the most coveted title in sports, Patterson and Tyson's lives diverged. Tyson ended up in prison on a rape conviction. Patterson ended up helping juvenile delinquents reform themselves. Patterson even adopted one troubled youth, Tracy Harris Patterson, who became a boxing champion himself. And it is these years after boxing that made Patterson a real champion. "They said I was the fighter who got knocked down the most, but I also got up the most," Patterson once remarked on his boxing career. One could apply the same words to Patterson's life: he got knocked down, but he got up--got up to win a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics, got up to become heavyweight champion, got up to become a gentleman. Circumstances defeat some men. Better men defeat circumstances. Floyd Patterson, who started life in a bad place but ended it somewhere far better, rest in peace.
Mark Kilmer at Red State says this is the year of the black Republican. Every election, Republican die-hards promise that this is the year that African Americans return to the party that first won the allegiance of African Americans. And every time they are proved wrong. They are wrong again this year. Not only is this the year of the black Republican, according to Kilmer, it's also "the year of the Republican." Year of the Republican what? The Republican Little Big Horn?
Thirty-three percent of America are minorities. What happens when minorities constitute fifty-one percent of the population? Do they still get called minorities? Do I get affirmative action? Will multicultural college courses then study the folkways of suburban white guys? These questions, and other ones more serious, will be answered sooner than you think.
"No orthodox Marxist, from Marx himself through the latest apologist for the Soviet state, has ever grasped the implications of the universality of man's desire for power, nor ever stopped to observe or imagine the changes that can come over even the noblest members of the race when power without restraint or responsibility is placed in their hands. Marx's prescription for the dictatorship of the proletariat, like the dictatorship that has actually emerged in one Communist country after another, is based on the assumption that some men can be trusted to wield absolute power over other men without succumbing to the corruptions of greed or ambition or pride or even spite. To us this assumption, whether it be made out of indifference or conviction, appears absurd and dangerous. We are not yet prepared to base our own prescriptions for good government on the notion that all men are perfectible and a few men, whether Communists or Republicans or professors of political science or graduates of West Point, already perfect."
--Clinton Rossiter, Marxism: The View from America, 1960
Doctors in New Zealand fear that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards might suffer permanent brain damage. I'm afraid it's a little too late for that. Perhaps what the doctors, and Keith's fans, are worried about is that the brain bleed from falling out of a coconut tree, and the subsequent surgery (surgeries?), will impair Richards so much that he won't be able to continue playing music. The Rolling Stones can go on without Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones can roll without Bill Wyman. But Keith Richards?
And the fans don't want Keith Richards to go out like that. Choke on your own vomit. Let acid melt your brain. Overdose on heroin after killing your girlfriend. But just don't fall out of a coconut tree. That's not rock.
Why is that? Why is the slow road to brain damage (or death) through chemicals somehow cool, but a split-second fall from the coconut tree uncool. Paradoxically, a stuttering Keith Richards, an incoherent Ozzy Osbourne, a burned-out Papa John Phillips are comic, but a cartoonish fall from the coconut tree is tragic. They are, of course, all terrible. Seeing a sixtysomething man unable to verbalize a thought is sad whatever the cause. But if you arrive at that sorry state through years of alcohol and drug abuse the public will venerate you, give you a reality show, and splice together your more discombobulated attempts at speech to use as radio filler. To borrow a phrase from rap, chemical self-abuse is seen as keeping it real.
Keeping it real, true, has led to some great music: Appetite for Destruction, Back in Black, and Quadrophenia couldn't have been created by people who hadn't lived it. And Dark Side of the Moon? It certainly took a loss of brain cells to make that album. Perhaps the rock gods require some sacrifice to place their blessings upon good music.
Though keeping it real has resulted in some awesome albums, it has also taken members of just about every major rock act: The Who, Nirvana, The Doors, AC/DC, The Band, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Pretenders, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Led Zeppelin, et cetera, et cetera. And how many bands have drugs and alcohol broken up? Yet the rock fan wants his rock star drunk, or stoned, or best of all, dead. Jim Morrison would be fat and pathetic had Jim Morrison lived. Keith Moon stays forever young. Death saved Janis Joplin from becoming a bloated Stevie Nicks, an aging Grace Slick, a grandmotherly Tina Turner. Thank you, rock stars, for dying before you reminded your fans that they've aged too. Death brings rock fans the lesson in reverse: in mortality rock stars become immortal. The rock gods demand the ultimate sacrifice every so often.
I prefer my rock stars mortal but alive. I don't care that much if they're old, or fat, or wrinkled. Yes, rock is the music of youth. But no corpse is youthful. I want my rock stars playing. I want to hear Keith Richards sing "Happy" and "Salt of the Earth" and most especially "Memory Motel." I want him playing that unmistakable riff opening "Brown Sugar." Whether heroin, or vodka, or a fall stops him, Keith Richards will be done all the same. Death by coconut tree isn't Stones cool, but is death ever cool?
Call up the American Civil Liberties Union. The U.S. government is informing a foreign government of the location, and activities, of U.S. citizens. Alas, it's the anti-illegal-immigration Minutemen who the government tracks. Alas, it's the Mexican government that the U.S. government supplies this intelligence to. On second thought, don't call the ACLU.
Tammy Skinner shot herself in the stomach in February. Ms. Skinner lived. Her baby girl wasn't so lucky. Skinner was due to give birth that day. Instead of bringing life into the world, she took a life out of it. A Virginia judge has dropped charges against the woman regarding the death of her baby, and has even suspended her 30-day sentence for initially lying to the cops about the shooting. If the self-taught abortionist had killed her baby later that day it might have been a capital crime. Because she shot her daughter mere hours before she was to give birth, Ms. Skinner is scot free. Legally, a fine line separates abortion and murder. Ethically, no such line exists.
The state of Massachusetts recently forced the Catholic Church out of the business of placing children in the homes of couples seeking to adopt. Maggie Gallagher writes about the ramifications of gay "marriage," and so-called anti-discrimination laws (which always seem to end up discriminating against someone), in the new issue of the Weekly Standard. Scary stuff!
To comply with state law, Catholic Charities of Boston would have to violate church law. Catholic Charities refuses to place children in homes without both a mother and a father. The state demands that they do this, by allowing homosexuals to use their services to adopt children. The state won't allow for a religious exemption to its anti-discrimination statutes, so now Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the oldest and largest providers of adoption services in the Bay State, cannot get licensed to provide adoptions in Massachusetts. Religious liberty suffers. Children suffer. Adult babies, who place their own selfish desires ahead of children in need of normal families, win. Adoption thus becomes about the "rights" of adults to experience parenthood, and not about the needs of children to parents--mother and father.
Gallagher writes: "a mere two years after the introduction of gay marriage in America, a number of latent concerns about the impact of this innovation on religious freedom ceased to be theoretical. How could Adam and Steve's marriage possibly hurt anyone else? When religious-right leaders prophesy negative consequences from gay marriage, they are often seen as overwrought. The First Amendment, we are told, will protect religious groups from persecution for their views about marriage." But gay marriage in Massachusetts tells a different story. The introduction of state-endorsed homosexual unions, forced on the commonwealth by four judges, resulted in the curtailment of the religious liberties of Catholics.
Will the state compel churches to perform same-sex marriages? Will the state shut down private schools that have codes of conduct offensive to homosexuals? Will one man's freedom of speech become cause for another man's harassment lawsuit?
Perhaps, and the prospect doesn't seem to bother Georgetown Law professor Chai Feldblum: "Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner." Don't religious people have dignity worth affirming, or at least tolerating?
Congressman Patrick Kennedy called a press conference to announce his entry into a rehabilitation center for drug addiction. I hope he gets better. I also hope he resigns. People who are addicted to drugs and mentally ill are poor choices for public office.
At this afternoon's press event, Kennedy lauded himself for his "openness" and announced that he was "taking full responsibility" for an "incident" on Wednesday night. What "incident"? "I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions," Kennedy claims. Kennedy maintains a "lack of knowledge of the accident that evening." He refused to take questions from the media. What "openness"? What "responsibility"?
Patrick Kennedy is taking a page out of the playbook of Jimmy Swaggart, Bill Clinton, Dan White, and yes, his father (Remember: "When I fully realized what had happened this morning, I immediately contacted the police"?). Pat Kennedy postures as not the beneficiary of favorable treatment, but rather a victim. "I struggle every day with this disease," the representative claimed. A disease that makes you lie? A disease that makes you obstruct justice?
Pat Kennedy didn't kill anyone. He broke a law--driving under the influence--that lots of people break. But he did something few people suspected of drunk driving get to do: pull rank, lie with impunity, and get the police to drive him home. Pat Kennedy wasn't rushing to a vote. The Rhode Island congressman was, according to witnesses, drinking in bars. Lying to the police is serious. Lying to the people who elected you is too. Pat Kennedy is a rogue not a victim. And during an election cycle when so many of the rogues have been Republicans, Pat Kennedy the rogue, Cynthia McKinney the rogue, and William Jefferson the rogue do not come at an opportune time for the Democrats. Democrats wanted to debilitate Republicans, not rehabilitate themselves. But before they can do the former, they will have to do the latter.
Pat Kennedy needs help, political and personal. Whether retreating to a rehabilitation center is another lame way of avoiding responsibility for his actions Thursday morning, or, like his less-publicized trips to rehabilitation centers in the past, an attempt to take responsibility and get his life together, one can only speculate. I'm speculating a little bit of both.
There's climate change on Jupiter. The planet has witnessed wild fluctuations in temperature and the formation of a "Red Spot, Jr." atmospheric storm. When will the Jupiterians learn that driving SUVs, cutting down the giant planet's rainforest, and selfishly using toilet paper are destructive to the ecosystem? When? When will they learn?
Live Free or Die is the motto of the Granite State. Every so often, the citizens of New Hampshire show why they have earned the right to display such a brash, in-your-face saying on their license plates. Now is one of those times.
The free and independent state of New Hampshire (That is the descriptive phrase the Declaration of Independence uses, isn't it?) will exercise its freedom from federal interference and independence from national trends by rejecting federal requirements on state-issued driver's licenses. The issue at hand is the Real ID Act, which in the name of inconveniencing illegal aliens inconveniences citizens. The state's lower body, and committee of the senate, have rejected the Real ID Act, and the governor is on record as saying that he will sign the bill if it crosses his desk.
Compliance with the law means states placing your social security number on your license, eliminating Massachusetts' sensible "lifetime licenses," sharing individual driver information with the states and the federal government, and burdening states with expensive mandates, such as unfunded computer databases. New Hampshire correctly views this as a National ID Card by another name. The state's legislature, and its governor, seem poised to defy the law. Failure to comply means, among other things, that federal airport screeners will no longer accept licenses from non-compliant states as identification. A citizen from a non-complying state will have to bring federal identification, such as a passport, to board a plane. It's an inconvenience, but one that the people won't stand for long (just as their elected officials won't stand for the provisions of Real ID). To buck the law is to challenge it, something that the federal government wasn't counting on. One tiny David may inspire many Davids to take on Goliath. If that happens, it will be Goliath, and not the Davids, who backs down.
The federal government refuses to secure our borders. Now they want to force the states to do this for them. Only the Real ID Act won't do this. In the name of making life harder for illegal aliens, the federal government makes life harder for citizens. The Real ID Act is phony immigration reform, and real Big Brotherism.
But little New Hampshire is standing up to Big Brother the bully. The citizens of New Hampshire choose to live free. The consequence won't be death. Just a greater hassle at airports, and other places, which are numerous, that the federal government has taken over.
Can you believe the nerve of the Capitol Police? First they make Cynthia McKinney assault one of their officers, and now they cause Rep. Patrick Kennedy to run his car into a security barrier. After taking evasive action following a near collision by a police cruiser, Rep. Kennedy smashed his car up at 2:45 this morning. The representative's attempt to avoid the reckless cops by driving with his lights off, like his quick driving reflexes after the police officer nearly killed him, was to no avail. Kennedy's driving skills probably saved the officer's life, but now the ingrate claims, get this, that Kennedy was drunk! Not only that, but the police have cast aspersions on the congressman's explanation that he was in a hurry to make a floor vote. The man was just trying to do his job, and the thanks he gets is all this negative publicity. What was he supposed to do, miss the early-morning floor vote? No way, no how. He's a Kennedy, and he takes his job as a public servant seriously. Apparently, C-SPAN has joined the Capitol Police in the conspiracy as well. Curiously, the network has no video of the House of Representatives vote at quarter of three this morning that Congressman Kennedy heroically rushed to make. Gone, as well, is the bill to be voted on. The entire Republican caucus, too, conveniently decided to miss the vote, lending credence to this Internet conspiracy theory that there was never a vote at 2:45 a.m. in the first place. Where did they dream up that wild idea? Some people will believe anything, I guess.
Is orange the new pink? Is 35 the new 25? Is conservative the new liberal?
More than a decade ago, conservatives would have called the Massachusetts health-care plan "socialized medicine." But conservatives have, em, "matured." This occasionally happens when Republicans with presidential aspirations promote liberal policies. Conservatives more attracted to power than to conservatism sell-out principles in the hopes of tethering themselves to a rising star. A Heritage Foundation policy wonk, who, in fairness, seems more motivated by his involvement in drafting this legislation, took to the pages of the Washington Post today to praise the Massachusetts universal health-care plan. The plan forces individuals to buy health insurance and confiscates money from businessmen to pay for the insurance of strangers.
For a conservative, what's there to like?
"Certainly, it would be wrong and counterproductive to force individuals to buy coverage in today's fragmented and overly-expensive health insurance market," Heritage's Edmund F. Haislmaier, who authored one of the less offensive of the plan's provisions, writes. "But the Massachusetts plan fundamentally changes the existing market, partially deregulating it to make coverage more affordable while providing subsidies to ensure low-income residents can afford coverage."
The government doesn't know best. If a healthy, 24-year-old man wants to spend his money on a car, or a gym membership, or cigarettes even, instead of health insurance (which he probably won't use), who is the governor of Massachusetts to tell him that he can't instead of he shouldn't? Who is the governor of Massachusetts to make decisions regarding the personal finances of his constituents? Who is the governor of Massachusetts to say he has a more compelling interest in an individual's health than the individual?
Freedom involves choice, which allows for bad choice. A society of millions means one man's bad decision is another man's wise decision. One way to ensure bad decisions is for the government to make everyone's decisions for them in the same manner. Not everyone does, or should, make the same health-care decisions. I am not talking about decisions of whether to choose this coverage or that coverage. I am talking about whether to choose any coverage. "But, but, but what if something happens?" But what if something doesn't happen? The insured man pours money down a rat hole. The uninsured man saves thousands of dollars. Insurance is a type of gambling (you're betting on yourself to lose), and for a small percentage of the population--young, healthy--it may make sense to pocket the money, particularly when you don't have a lot of money in your pocket, instead of hand it over to a health-insurance company. Reject this decision? Think it's reckless? Then don't make it.
And the provision taxing employers to pay for the people who won't pay for their own insurance? The Heritage wonk assures us that's "all symbolism without real substance." Sorry, but I don't believe you. It's in the bill. Why should we assume that lawmakers will pass a law generating revenue that they have no intention of collecting? When new tax laws go into effect, does government generally react: "You know what, just keep it. You don't need to pay me. I have more money anyhow." A response I'm more familiar with is: "Give me the money we say that you owe us, or we'll send armed men to confiscate your business and throw you in jail." Of course, they don't use those exact words. They prefer euphemism. But you get the point.
"Rather than focus on the bill's politically galvanizing 'mandates,' policymakers and pundits should step back and look at the big picture of this landmark reform," Haislmaier advises. But does the bill contain mandates or just "mandates"? It contains real mandates. It forces individuals and businesses to do things they wouldn't normally do. Why use scare quotes, or in this case, more accurately, mock quotes? The law uses state compulsion to engineer private behavior. Period. It mandates.
This is corporate welfare masquerading as human welfare. Government is forcing individuals to pay thousands of dollars in tribute to corporations. State guarantees of customers to health-care conglomerates will result in worse care and higher prices. It is a generational scam that forces healthy young people to pay for insurance that they won't use to subsidize unhealthy old people who rely on insurance quite a bit. Worse than all this, the bill erodes liberty.
Busybodies support this bill. Health-care corporations support this bill. People who don't like work but do like free health care support this bill. But conservatives?
I guess you could say I'm pro-choice on health insurance.
A jury sentenced al Qaeda member Zacharias Moussaoui to life in prison Tuesday. Formal imposition of the sentence occurs today. A majority of jurors were swayed to spare Moussaoui's life because of such mitigating factors as his father's "violent temper" and his "unstable childhood and dysfunctional family." True, Moussaoui never killed anyone (that we know of), and, yes, he had a bad life. But how many unstable childhoods and dysfunctional families did he help create by shutting his mouth (which he couldn't keep closed yesterday) and remaining true to the murderous conspiracy he participated in? Moussaoui may not have had too many breaks in life, but he caught one yesterday. And who knows, perhaps the life sentence is the ultimate insult to this wannabe martyr who eludes execution because success as a terrorist eluded him. In Moussaoui's business "life" means "you failed" and "death" means "congratulations." Who wants to make a bet that twenty, thirty years from now, when 9/11 becomes a distant memory, liberals will speak, when remembering our times, of a witchunt against Muslims in a fevered age and seek clemency for Moussaoui? "He never killed anyone." "He came from a broken home." "He's sorry." "He's been a model prisoner and brought many wayward fellow inmates into a life of faith." "He doesn't pose a threat to anyone anymore." "He was jailed for being Muslim." I can hear the whining already.
Herndon, Virginia's mayor set up a tax-funded employment hall for illegal aliens to replace the congrested 7/11 parking lot that had previously served this illegal purpose. Soon, Mr. Mayor may need to visit the employment hall he created. He's out of a job as of July 1. A thirtysomething, health-club owner, political novice defeated the mayor on a single issue: illegal immigration. Herndon voters ejected two city council members who supported the day-laborer site, and a Salvadoran candidate who also supported it. Voters installed four new council members--all opponents of the tax-funded illegal-immigrant center--to join the single sitting member of the council who opposed the subsidized illegality.
I lived in Herndon, off and on for a few years, when I worked at Young America's Foundation. The place has changed, dramatically, in the eleven years since I lived there. Once a sleepy suburb, Herndon has been victimized by crass strip malls, town-house developments, and an influx of residents who don't speak Herndonese. I noticed this latter transformation after I moved from Herndon to a townhouse owned, ironically, by a Moroccan immigrant in Chantilly, a more outlying suburb barely within DC's gravitational pull. Once, when my car was in the shop, I bummed a ride to work from my immigrant friend/landlord. We stopped to pick up some of his co-workers who lived in Herndon. I looked up from reading, and thought I was in the Twilight Zone. "What's going on? Why are all these cars parked in the street?"
It was surreal. Cars were triple-parked in the street. The townhouse complex's lot looked like it had been valet-parked, bumper-to-bumper, door-to-door to conserve space. Cars were everywhere. "You don't know? Hispanics live here," my landlord increduously responded. "So. What does that have to do with anything? Why are all these cars here?" He exlained that Hispanic immigrants lived fifteen to a three-bedroom townhouse, sleeping in shifts. My brain started to make sense of the situation. If just a few residents per unit owned cars, then that would explain the used-car-lot feel to the area.
That was my introduction to illegal immigration. It wasn't a concern in Massachusetts in the early '90s. I had never even eaten in a Mexican restaurant until I moved to Virginia. But in Herndon, in the mid-'90s, the genesis of the problem revealed itself: non-First-World living conditions, underpaid and mistreated immigrant workers, rising crime, depressed wages for blue-collar work, etc.
Now, more than a decade later, folks in Herndon have had enough. They're not the only ones.
"[Bush] isn't my idea of a conservative, but he's the conservative liberals deserve; they've brought him on themselves, and I have no pity for them. Without them, he wouldn't have been possible. For them to complain he's violating the Constitution is a joke for the gods; whom do they think he learned from? Who has been teaching us that the Constitution is a 'living document' that keeps 'evolving'?"
--Joe Sobran, "War and Faith," 2006
Illegal immigrants walked off the job on Monday. Today, they return to work. Or so they think. Illegal aliens will find that their jobs have been taken by opportunistic super-illegal aliens.
Just who are these super-illegal aliens?
They are properly known as Morlocks, and they do the jobs that illegal aliens won't do. What? Illegal aliens will do any legitimate job for the right price. Well, super-illegal aliens will do it for cheaper. Super-illegal aliens are the people who mow your lawns, nanny your kids, wash your car, and paint your house. They are the backbone of this country.
But for the crime of dreaming the American dream, super-illegals face detention and deportation at the instigation of illegals. That's draconian.
The super-illegal alien can be found in 7-11 parking lots attempting to "undercut" the job-seeking illegal aliens who congregate there. If an illegal alien offers to paint your house for $6.50 an hour, a super-illegal alien will offer to pay you $6.50 an hour to paint your house. As a result, illegal aliens no longer will mow your lawn, nanny your kids, wash your car, or paint your house. There are some jobs that illegal-immigrants just won't do. It's great for our nation that super-illegal aliens are willing to do them. That's good-old American capitalism and hard work. Don't let any disgruntled illegal alien tell you different.
Illegal aliens accuse super-illegal aliens of cheating "the system" to enter the United States. True, they never had to hop fences, elude the border patrol, cross rivers, suffer long desert rides in Ryder trucks stuffed with people, or suffer any other such barriers to migrate that "the system" imposes. But the super-illegal alien has to travel to this country from below. That's right, they are subterranean dwellers. The Morlocks are lower than dirt--literally--and are treated that way by frustrated illegals who can't adjust to the new economy. But all the super-illegals want to do is feed their families by throwing whatever money they earn down a hole. They have an underground economy, yes, but it drives the overall economy. America would collapse without the super-illegal immigrants propping it up. And since the Morlocks have been below America for God knows how long, they are truly the original Americans. They have more of a right to America than anyone. Why, I would even say that we, and not the Morlocks, are the true immigrants if I did not view the term as such a complement.
But not everyone agrees. Some people want the Morlocks to actually apply for citizenship to earn the rights of citizens. Can you believe the nerve? The well-documented undocumented workers, for instance, want to construct a wall (or, more precisely, a floor) to protect America from the undocumented undocumented workers. But to place a wall on our horizontal border to secure ourselves from below while we let people come over the vertical borders on every side insults all immigrants--legal, illegal, and super-illegal. Don't let anyone fool you that there's a difference between the methods of immigration. Legal, illegal, and super-illegal immigrants are all immigrants, after all. To oppose one method of immigration is to hate all immigrants. Let's get over our legality fetish and stop felonizing people who just want to work. It's just plain anti-immigrant and un-American. Rather than impeding the sometimes dangerous journey from the Earth's mantle, we should be removing the obstacles--like the Earth's crust--that stand in their way. Amnesty implies that the super-illegals have crimes that need forgiveness. They don't. The laws themselves are criminal. We're all people, after all, even "dirtbacks." Open all borders, vertical and horizontal, earthen and fence.
Super-illegal aliens, their opponents charge, are diverting scant educational resources from the teaching of Spanish in American schools to the teaching of Esperanto, the native tongue of the Morlock. But every child has a right to an education in their own language at the expense of foreigners. To hear the anti-super-illegal rhetoric, the super-illegals overcrowd the prisons already crowded with plain illegals. They crash the uninsured cars of illegal aliens. They start gangs. They jump ahead in emergency-room lines. They commit crimes disproportionate to their numbers. They drain the pool of welfare money, benefits that illegal aliens, by putting a much-deserved guilt trip on so-called "citizens," earned fair and square. But the anti-super-illegal rhetoric is a pack of lies. The illegals would be wise to reflect on their super-illegal ancestors. Then they wouldn't be so intolerant. The super-illegal aliens built America. Did I mention that they are the backbone of this country? Viva la Morlock!
Illegal aliens are angry with super-illegal aliens for entering their communities with no intention of learning the language. A community that can't communicate, they say, isn't a real community. Hogwash! Talking is superficial. We can all understand each other on much deeper levels that don't require speaking, which is racist anyhow. Illegal aliens gripe that they now have to press "2" to get instructions in Spanish, navigate an increasing number of super-illegal-alien oriented television and radio stations, see the Morlock flag everywhere, and hear the national anthem sung in Esperanto. Well too bad! And you increasingly hear their complaints about how there are now some cities in California and Florida where Esperanto is the majority language. Miami and Houston aren't Miami and Houston any longer. The super-illegals just rolled in and transformed the cities into places unrecognizable to illegals. C'mon, people, get with the times. America is a nation of immigrants, and it's the job of all Americans to accomodate the newest, purest immigrants. And if you don't like living in a nation of nations, then you should migrate to a "proper" nation (provided they let you in!). In diversity is unity.
Why are the illegals so mad at the super-illegals? I, for one, don't understand it. Sure, the super-illegal aliens break the law, drive down the wages of illegal aliens, mutate communities, and drain government resources. But those aren't legitimate reasons for illegal aliens to oppose super-illegal aliens. What are their true motives? Are they bigots? Xenophobes? Racists? It just doesn't make sense. Why do they hate immigrants?
Protestors have held three high-profile demonstrations in the last few days. George Clooney ruined a perfectly good cause by joining up with the "Save Darfur" protestors on the Mall in Washington, DC. Ditto for Cindy Sheehan, Al Sharpton, Susan Sarandon, and this fool holding a "Bush Is More Evil Than Bin Laden" sign. As Clooney and co. marched for intervention in Sudan, Sarandon and the usual suspects marched against the war in Iraq (please do keep track of which oil-laden Muslim country it's politically correct to invade). Today, primarily Mexican Americans, and just plain Mexicans, hold "A Day Without Immigrants," which thus far has demonstrated to me that immigrants have little impact on my daily life. Somehow, I've survived the day (knock on wood).
Does protesting help? Or do protestors actually hurt the causes they seek to help? Americans may not love George W. Bush, but they hate his enemies. They repulse, not attract, people. They drive individuals who might otherwise be critical of the president's actions into in his camp. In a popularity contest between Ward Churchill, Michael Moore, and Janeane Garofalo on the one side, and anything else on the other, "anything else" wins every time.
Other subjects of protest, aside from President Bush, benefit from the protest effect: the death penalty, immigration, war. Whatever side the protestors take on these and other issues, public opinion takes the opposite side. Protestors would be wise to take note and henceforth protest what they support.
Serious people don't want to associate with superficial Hollywood actors, all-passion/no-wisdom college students, professional activists, or lawbreakers who demand rewards for cheating the system. They generally don't want to associate with their causes, either. But, protesting makes the protestor feel good. "I'm making a difference," at least that's what the protestors tell themselves. Thus, protesting is therapeutic. It's penitential. It's cathartic. But, with a few exceptions, it's not effective.
Just don't tell that to the protestors. They may just camp out in front of your house in protest with bongo drums, obnoxious chants, and stock sign slogans. They won't persuade you or your neighbors (except of their instability), but let's face it: persuasion isn't the point of protest.
Tim Russert, normally a pretty sharp tack, woke up on the stupid side of the bed on Sunday. He actually asked energy secretary Samuel Bodman: "Mr. Secretary, if, if demand is up but supply is down, why are the profits so high?"
I just opened my mailbox to find an advance copy of Timothy Carney's The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money. The book doesn't come out until July, but I get to read it now. You have to wait two months, but you can camp out at your local bookstore starting today or just order the book through FlynnFiles by clicking on the above link. With gas prices inspiring calls for increased government involvement in the energy sector, Tim Carney's book comes at the right time to warn us: danger ahead! Remember Enron? Archer Daniels Midland ethanol subsidies? If you don't, reading The Big Ripoff will jog your memory. The last thing America needs is greater government involvement in the market. Big business loves big government. The Big Ripoff is exhibit A.