September 2008 Archives
September 1, 2008
"Biden quoted as saying that Israel will have to reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran"
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden was quoted Monday as telling senior Israeli officials behind closed doors that the Jewish state will have to reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran.
In the unsourced report, Army Radio also quoted Biden as saying that he opposed "opening a additional military and diplomatic front."
Biden, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been considered strongly pro-Israel. His nomination as Barack Obama's running mate had been expected to shore up the Democrats' strength with U.S. Jewish voters.
Army Radio said Israeli officials expressed "amazement" over the remarks attributed to him.
"Israel will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran," Army Radio quoted Biden as telling the unnamed officials.
"It's doubtful if the economic sanctions will be effective, and I am against opening an additional military and diplomatic front."
Read the rest here.
If Mrs. Palin were the presidential candidate I might be tempted out of presidential election abstention for the first time in many years, though I'd have a lot more due diligence to do first.
I spoke to a Republican party 'insider' at a party yesterday and he said that she was anti-ESCR and in favor of making abortion illegal in cases of rape and incest. (He had no motivation to BS me -- this was a private affair that had nothing to do with politics). If true that makes her the most principled pro-life candidate on the national stage, well, ever; or at least since Reagan.
Her chances at being the presidential candidate in 2012 and/or 2016 are probably better with an Obama win. I don't see how an Obama win could spoil them, at this point, but there are a lot of ways that a McCain win could spoil them.
Bristol Palin is pregnant, just like Obama's mom
As is well-know by now, Bristol Palin, Governor Palin's 17 year-old daughter, is pregnant. The McCain-Palin campaign released this information because of the completely inane speculations of the Far Left blogosphere about Governor Palin's pregnancy. Bristol, who needs our prayers and respect, has chosen life, and will marry the baby's father.
There is a certain irony in all this: Ann Dunham (b. Nov. 29, 1942) was 18 when she gave birth to Barack Obama II on August 4, 1961. Thus, it is likely that Ann was pregnant at 17 with a child sired by a 24 year-old Kenyan exchange student.
Life presents us with certain hardships, some of which are the consequences of our actions. These are the times at which the exercise of virtue becomes the most difficult as well as the most rewarding. Thankfully, there are still many Ann Dunhams and Bristol Palins residing in our communities. We have much to learn from them.
The weirdest and scariest thing...
...about those among Obama's camp followers, up to and including Andrew Sullivan, who were pushing "baby-gate," is that they really seemed to believe that it would reflect badly on Sarah Palin if the rumors that Trig was really her grandson were true!
As so often, Steve Sailer got this exactly right.
Bottom line: even if the rumor-mongers had been right, they would have ended up looking like a bunch of jerks. And if they'd been wrong, they would have ended up looking like an even bigger bunch of jerks. Therefore (assuming the law of the excluded middle) they could only have ended up looking like a bunch of jerks.
...thinks that Barack Obama's qualifications for the presidency are better than Sarah Palin's. He attacks Palin's qualifications, while defending Obama's:
The "Governor Palin supported Pat Buchanan" story refuted
The same people who consider themselves the guardians of reason, continue to offer up one Big Foot-like urban legend after another about Governor Palin. Before the Down syndrome baby-switch conspiracy theory and its subsequent demise, there was the "she supported Pat Buchanan for president" X-File. This too has been demolished, courtesy of David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy:
Palin and Buchanan, II ("Timeline"):
July 17, 1999: AP reports on Pat Buchanan visit to Wasilla, AK. The reporter notes that "among those sporting Buchanan buttons were Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and state Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage."
July 26, 1999, letter to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News by Sarah Palin:
As mayor of Wasilla, I am proud to welcome all presidential candidates to our city. This is true regardless of their party, or the latest odds of their winning. When presidential candidates visit our community, I am always happy to meet them. I'll even put on their button when handed one as a polite gesture of respect.
Though no reporter interviewed me for the Associated Press article on the recent visit by a presidential candidate (Metro, July 17), the article may have left your readers with the perception that I am endorsing this candidate, as opposed to welcoming his visit to Wasilla. As mayor, I will welcome all the candidates in Wasilla.
August 7, 1999: AP reports on Steve Forbes' campaign in Alaska. "Joining the Fairbanks Republican on the leadership committee will be Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin, and former state GOP chairman Pete Hallgren, who will serve as co-chairs."
This information is all available on Lexis. Anyone who continues to push the "Sarah Palin supported Pat Buchanan in 2000" line is either willfully ignorant or lying. And there is no evidence thus far except a recollection from Pat Buchanan, contradicted by his sister and campaign manager (see previous post), that she supported him in 1995.
Andrew Sullivan does it again: he tries to demean Gov. Palin and fails, again
Andrew Sullivan writes:
From an Eagle Forum Candidate Questionnaire:
Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
PALIN: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
The phrase was added in 1954.
Andrew, again, has not done his homework. The question was about the "under God" phrase, which, as historians of the American founding note, was added to the Pledge by Congress in 1954 precisely because it was uttered on several occasions by none other than George Washington, including this historically important moment:
The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die. Address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776)
So, the journalism B.A. from the University of Idaho beats the Harvard Ph.D. (in political philosophy) yet again.
September 2, 2008
Another Gov. Palin urban legend doused: she was not a member of the Alaskan Independence Party
From John McCormack at the Weekly Standard blog:
In response to accusations that in the 1990s Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party - a third party that seeks a vote on making Alaska a sovereign state - the McCain campaign has provided records showing that Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982.
Jake Tapper has updated his post on Palin and the AIP with this response from the McCain campaign:
[McCain spokesman Brian] Rogers says the McCain campaign provided ABC News with all the voter registration information that exists. Rogers says that Palin didn’t attend the AIP convention in 1994, "but she visited them when they had their convention in Wasilla in 2000 as a courtesy since she was mayor."
He would not comment as to why AIP officials are so convinced Palin was a member of their party. When asked if Palin ever identified herself as a member of the AIP, Rogers said, "No, she's a lifelong Republican."
Given that Pat Buchanan's claim that Palin was a "brigader" for him has been proven false, wouldn't it make sense to be a little skeptical of minor political figures trying to attach themselves to Gov. Palin's rising star from here on out?
If the Left Wing smear machine wants to play the guilt by association card with the bottom of the Republican ticket--which is apparently what they are attempting to do--the top of the Democratic ticket is a royal flush: Ayers, Rezko, Pfleger, Wright, and Dohrn. Remember, for every full disclosure on Gov. Palin, including documents such as her voting registration, something of equal value will be asked of Senator Obama. Every time the Dems up the ante for Gov. Palin, the GOP will raise them one Obama.
As I said before, this is starting to feel more and more like a Wellstone funeral.
September 3, 2008
Palin v. Obama: the Ad
Nothing more fierce than an animated Newt defending a Sarahcudda
Star Trek Election: Kirk v. Tuvok?
Terry Moran: Barack Had Two Daddies
September 4, 2008
Miscellaneous thoughts on Burton-Auster-McGrew
Readers may be somewhat interested in my and Steve Burton's discussion with Lawrence Auster about the Palin nomination.
Since Auster is away from his computer for today, my most recent response to him won't be posted until some time later, perhaps tomorrow. I also didn't happen to save it as a sent item or a draft, so I don't have those ipsissima verba available. In this post I am going to say just a couple of things I said there, not terribly philosophical, and I hope to put up a post later today squarely on the subject of what it should mean to disapprove of illegimacy.
First, reader Gintas (who has been a commentator on our posts here in the past) implies that talk about men and women as not interchangeable will "set me off." I can't imagine why. I sometimes call myself "Mrs. Eagle Forum." I am one of the most traditional women I know of currently writing on the Internet. I believe in traditional gender roles. I say things deliberately to get people's goats like "The husband should be the head of the home" and "The mother's place is in the home." I defended Auster against hysterical feminist responses to his speculations about the ill effects of the female vote. And I brought up spontaneously on Jeff Culbreath's blog the idea that Sarah Palin would do best to be at home with her own children. But I also said there that I might under some conceivable circumstances (not in this election, because of McCain) vote for her.
In other words, I'm strongly anti-feminist, and Palin is clearly something of a feminist, but that doesn't mean I'd never vote for her. It's not a deal-breaker with me. This seems to me a reasonable enough stance.
The second thing I want to throw in here that I didn't perhaps make clear enough in the earlier exchange with Auster is that I do consider it blameworthy for him to use the unpleasant phrase "knocked up" for Bristol Palin's pregnancy and to try in several different ways to distance the girl from her boyfriend. For example, he has made fun of people who call the boyfriend her fiance, though (the upcoming marriage having been announced to the entire nation) that seems a literal enough term. And he implies that the wedding is not simply hastened by the pregnancy but definitely pushed through for the sake of Palin's political career. At least, that is how I understand him. One could, of course, think that perhaps the young couple had genuine affection and love for one another and were already thinking of marriage when they committed the sin of fornication and that the "shot-gun wedding" is so only in the sense of being hastened because of the pregnancy. One could also think that perhaps the family really is considering what is best for the girl in promoting the marriage and has decided upon consideration that this is best rather than pushing the marriage cynically for the sake of the mother's career. In other words, the impression I get from Auster on this subject is that we have to put the most negative possible interpretation on the whole situation and that any conservative who doesn't do so is to be mocked as a sentimental fool. But that is hardly necessary to any contentful point Auster might have to make about illegitimacy, Palin, or anything else, and while I wouldn't use quite Steve's terms--'shameful' and 'disgusting'--I would say that this sort of uncharitable and unjustified implicit speculation is pointless and deplorable.
More later, I hope, on the subject of illegitimacy.
What should a stigma on illegitimacy mean?
The recent situation with Sarah Palin's family has brought up within the conservative community the question of whether there should be a stigma on illegitimacy and what that might mean. I believe that some of my (and others') disagreement with Lawrence Auster on Palin's situation springs from a disagreement over what it should mean to disapprove of illegitimacy.
My impression is that Auster definitely believes that there should be a stigma upon pregnancy out of wedlock per se, as opposed to there being only a stigma on sex outside of wedlock per se. I may be misunderstanding him here, but this seems to me to be the best way of understanding his insistence that Sarah Palin, by continuing to be John McCain's running mate with a pregnant teenage daughter, is requiring conservatives to abandon a condemnation of illegitimacy. It also helps to explain what seems to me to be the oddity of the following exchange:
Me: You state that I am the one who wishes to get into a discussion of Palin's personal virtue. But I, in making my point about whether Palin was neglectful and the like, was thinking of comments of yours like this:Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Palin raised their children with so much love and discipline that their 17 year old daughter went and got herself knocked up. Maybe if the family had actually been spending time together, and if the parents had exercised real discipline, as Laura W. powerfully argues, this would not have happened.
See? This isn't just saying she's got too much on her plate or even that we should not approve of illegitimacy. It's a lot more than that.
Auster:Yes, I was expressing diapproval of their daughter's illegitimate pregnancy, AS ANY NORMAL MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN WOULD HAVE DONE 50 YEARS AGO, and I was making the larger point that regardless of whether their situation is ok or not, regardless of whether Bristol is "ok" and her baby is "ok," the larger social impact of this situation is to legitimate illegitimacy for the whole country
This seems to mean that, to show genuine disapproval of illegitimate pregnancy, we should express scorn for the opinion that the parents of a pregnant teenaged daughter raised her with love and discipline. We should conjecture about just how they were neglectful parents, and we should demand that the entire family be disgraced to the point that the parents (or is it just the mother?) cannot run for a new major public office as a result of the disgrace.
So, what should it really mean for us, as social conservatives and moral traditionalists, to disapprove of illegitimacy?
Did Obama Give McCain a Gift?
On CNN, Paul Begala just called Barack Obama "Change Incarnate." What's next? A Chalcedonian formulation of Obama's two natures?
September 5, 2008
Pro-Life Suites Part I--Infanticide
This is the first post of an as-yet-undetermined number in which I discuss issues other than abortion that pro-lifers are concerned about. The immediate impetus for this series comes from the implication in some paleo-right circles (here, for example) that conservatives, particularly evangelicals, care only about abortion.
It is now widely known among conservatives that infant euthanasia is carried out in Holland frequently. The publicization of the infamous Groningen Protocol brought this long-standing fact to Americans' notice in a fashion that could not be ignored. And Wesley J. Smith points out that the conceptual and ethical ground is being cleared by non-judgemental discussions of this protocol for its implementation in the U.S. Even more ground-clearing has taken place in the form of personhood theory a la Peter Singer, widely taught as part of "ethics" in our universities.
September 6, 2008
Why They Hate Her
An on the money blog post by Jonathan V. Last at First Things:
There are reasonable criticisms that can be made of Sarah Palin, both as governor and a vice presidential selection. Yet little of what we have seen in the last six days has been either reasonable or critical (in the traditional sense of the word). Instead, much of the left and many in the media simply lashed out at Palin, particularly at her family.
And not only the fringiest parts of the political fringe: A writer at the Washington Post attacked Palin for the fact that her seventeen-year-old daughter was going to have a baby.
September 7, 2008
Palin rumors collected, and crushed; and Atlantic.com smears her again (but it's quickly refuted)
(previously posted on Southern Appeal)
According to Barrett, here's the latest smear, offered by the Atlantic, a magazine once known for a measured and more careful approach:
Todd Palin's former business partner files an emergency motion to have his divorce papers sealed. Oh God.
But, as fate would have it, the Atlantic writer's attempt at passive aggressively dropping a hint of an adulterous liaison turned out to be just another case of the writer doing a bad Rona Barrett impersonation. Dean Barrett (no relation to Rona) explains:
Obama campaign publishes rumor-mongering Atlantic writer; Senator Obama condemns rumor-mongering
I've been wondering recently if the Obama campaign wants the rumor-mongering Atlantic writer, who coined the slur "Christianist" for those with whom he disagrees theologically, to be known as the Senator Obama's chief literary apologist for his presidency. For that writer seems to have become that advocate by virtue of his well-written Gospel of St. Andrew to the Americans, "Why Obama Matters," published in the December 2007 issue of the Atlantic.
September 8, 2008
Why They Hate Her II
From this morning's New York Times:
In the press galleries at the [Republican] convention, journalists wrinkled their noses in disgust when Piper, Ms. Palin’s youngest daughter, was filmed kitty-licking her baby brother’s hair into place. But to many Americans — including some I talked to in the convention hall — that looked like family church on Sunday, evidence of good breeding and sibling regard.
Guest Post: Keith Pavlischek on the Andrew Sullivan anti-Semite slur against McCain campaign
From Keith Pavlischek:
In a blog post titled, The Education of David Brooks Andrew Sullivan comments on Brooks’ editorial piece in last Friday’s New York Times: “As David concedes, the reason we don't have Lieberman is because David's party is a religious organization that would not accept a pro-choice Jew on the ticket. So the first reason we have Palin is the Christianist veto...."
I’ve read and re-read the Brooks piece, but the closest I could come to finding evidence for such anti-Semitism was this comment by Brooks: "Before the convention, some McCain aides wanted to sunder the links to the past in one bold stroke: Name Joe Lieberman as the vice presidential nominee, promise to serve only one term, vow to take a hiatus from partisanship and work by compromise to get things done. That proved to be a leap too far. So McCain was pulled back."
Maybe Sullivan meant to say that the Republican Party would not accept a pro-choice Protestant, Catholic, Jew or Atheist or Hockey mom on the ticket. But that wouldn’t have the same slanderous rhetorical effect, would it?
This counts for civil discourse over at The Atlantic these days.
All other things equal, ceteris paribus doesn't make for a very good argument
One of the more profound insights I've found in the writing of Pope John Paul II, though of course the idea does not originate with him, is that the things that we choose to do always end up changing who we are. This is a profound truth about the human person. Sin brings us closer to Hell because it makes us more the kind of person who will ultimately be at home in Hell. Good works, done out of our own free will with the help of grace, bring us closer to the Beatific Vision because they make us more the kind of person who is close to God. What we choose to do changes us.
A lot of argumentation in the blogosphere, though - particularly political argumentation - tacitly assumes that this is not the case. The notion seems to be that if I vote for a medical cannibal like John McCain or Barack Obama, having decided to do so as a choice of the lesser of two evils, that making that choice does not mean that I will do anything else differently: I will be the same person and do all the same things subsequently whether I vote for a cannibal or not.
But this is obviously not the case. It is not the case for an individual, whose effect on the election is literally negligible. And it is not the case when we aggregate individuals. Five million people who are unwilling to vote for a cannibal are a different kind of group from five million who are willing to vote for a cannibal. Refusing to pull the lever for the least bad viable option is in the end far more powerful on an individual basis than pulling the lever for the least bad viable option, because pulling the lever or refusing to pull the lever changes what kind of person you are. And what is true on an individual basis is true in the aggregate.
"If everyone did it the pro-life cause would lose" is simply false, because it rests on the unspoken assumption that all else remains the same. But all else never remains the same; and most especially we don't remain the same.
September 9, 2008
Biden gaffe watch: if Palin really cared for disabled children, she would support stem-cell research
Looks like Biden is Trigger happy:
This event was the rare one at which Biden took questions that one of them was not about his counterpart on the Republican ticket, Gov. Sarah Palin. But he did refer to her when one woman asked about how he and Obama would help those with disabilities. In her convention speech, Palin said she’d be a voice for parents with children with special needs, noting her newborn son, Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome. “I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have … the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability,” said Biden, who’s wife is a teacher. “Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?”
The Catholic Church holds, and Mother Teresa held, the same position that Biden is attacking. Is Biden suggesting that John Paul II and Mother Teresa didn't care about disabled children?
That Biden, a real class act.
(Update: From a commentator ["george"] at the Commentary Mag blog: "it is absolutely impossible to treat trisomy 21 with stem cells. EVERY cell in the baby’s body has an extra chromosome 21. One would have to physically replace every cell in the baby’s body to see an effect. Not only is Biden a boor, he is a scientific illiterate. Just what we need in charge.")
J. P. Moreland's Wonmug illustration
Here is an interesting illustration offered by my friend J. P. Moreland:
September 10, 2008
My response to Eileen McDonagh's review of Defending Life
Last month I published a WWwTW entry with a link to Professor Eileen McDonagh's review of my book, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007). I finally got around to composing a response, which took longer than expected because of the move to South Bend as well as a few publishing deadlines and speaking commitments.
You can find my response online here.
Did Obama borrow text from cartoon-world McCain/Palin?
Here's the relevant text, which precedes his now infamous September 9 "lipstick on a pig" comments:
"John McCain says he's about change too. Exce- and and so I guess his whole angle is watch out, George Bush, except for economic policy, healthcare policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl-Rove-style politics, we're really gonna shake things up in Washington."
Here's the cartoon, which appeared in the September 5 Washington Post:
And the hits just keep on coming....
S.C. Dem chair: Palin primary qualification is she hasn't had an abortion
South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler sharply attacked Sarah Palin today, saying John McCain had chosen a running mate " whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.”
Palin is an opponent of abortion rights and gave birth to her fifth child, Trig, earlier this year after finding out during her pregnancy that the baby had Down syndrome.
Fowler told my colleague Alex Burns in an interview that the selection of an opponent of abortion rights would not boost McCain among many women.
“Among Democratic women and even among independent women, I don’t think it helped him,” she said.
Told of McCain's boost in the new ABC/Washington Post among white women following the Palin pick, Fowler said: "Just anecdotally, I believe that those white women are Republican women anyway."
September 11, 2008
Univ. of Chicago Religion Prof: Palin not really woman
Prof. Wendy Doniger has come to this conclusion in a piece published on the Washington Post's website: "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman." In terms of the essay's central argument, if you read it carefully, you will notice that Prof. Dolinger does the very thing that she condemns. She claims, as her title states, "all beliefs are welcome, unless they are forced on others." However, she offers her understanding of the nature of religious beliefs as the only correct guide by which religious citizens ought to engage the public square. So, ironically, no other belief about beliefs is welcome, except hers. Thus, she is "forcing" her belief about beliefs on others.
What happened on this day seven years ago may be said simply: The Jihad delivered against America a most grievous and staggering blow; also, of course, a treacherous and spiritually impotent one — as befits the Jihad. It was not a blow delivered against the American fighting man. Against him the Jihad has generally withered or taken flight. We demean the word by calling what happened on September 11th a battle. It was a blow delivered against men and women the great majority of whom never had even a moment to contemplate self-defense. That some Americans — who we venerate today where their remains lie, in the wide fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania — gave battle to these brigands, and in the end conquered them by thwarting their conspiracy, shows indeed their valor, but does not grant their murderers the honor of the title Soldier.
The Towers fell; the Pentagon burned. It was a perfect expression of the Jihad. The guilt of its victims, according to doctrine, was fixed by their unbelief. America stood as the citadel and champion of Infidelity. There could be no innocents there.
And so honor, innocence, charity, kindness, courage, nobility, valor — all must kneel at the feet of the obligation of the Jihad to smash up the powers of Infidelity. America is the greatest of those powers. Whatever our foreign policy, whatever the character of our statesmen — still we shall attract, at least for the time being, the boldest stratagems, the cleverest sedition, the cruelest bloodlust of the Jihad.
Our countrymen perished in the flames of this wicked system, this terrible institution of Jihad. Today we remember them, we honor them, we lift up those who mourn them in prayer; and we steel ourselves for the day when the Jihad will try again.
September 12, 2008
Murder, Perfection, and Telling White Lies
When I say that I think it is wrong to vote for a Presidential candidate who supports the murder of innocents, including John McCain, people often respond as if they haven't heard what I said. A fairly typical response is that if I expect "perfection" in a candidate there will never be a candidate I can support, as if I had said that a candidate who would answer "no" to the question "does this dress make me look fat?" would be disqualified by taking that position. Lying is, after all, intrinsically immoral. But somehow "doesn't support the murder of innocents" has come to be equated with perfection in our politics.
There is a message in there for those who can hear, it seems to me.
As Evangelium Vitae tells us, there is a very basic contradiction at work when government officials support the killing of the innocent. Protection of the innocent from murder is fundamental to what a legitimate government is. A government which actively pursues the murder of the innocent is not merely doing something wicked: it is negating its own essence, destroying its very reason for being, indeed destroying its own being.
When we vote in national politics, what we are primarily doing - irrespective of what we think we are doing - is expressing our civic loyalty, our affirmation of the legitimacy of the governance which emerges from the election. My individual vote or deliberate abstention, as I have observed to much wailing and gnashing of teeth, is simply not going to affect the outcome of this election. Basing a moral choice on the idea that my vote can change the outcome is lunacy.
What my vote or abstention will affect is me: as a concrete act of civic duty it will express and even change the kind of citizen I am, and the nature of my commitment to the common good. When I am voting for a good politician - not a perfect politician, but one who at least minimally does not support the murder of the innocent - that is a good thing. When I vote for a politician who supports the murder of the innocent, I have contradicted every legitimate proportionate reason there might be to vote in the first place.
Women, Seniors, Handicapped Veterans, oh my
It's official, Barack Obama's campaign has lost its collective mind.
This morning the McCain campaign release an ad called disrespected.
The Obama campaign fought back hard with an ad that implied that Senator McCain is not hip and with it since he doesn't know how to use email. (This is what McCain's comeback should be: "This is coming from a guy who won't interact with me in a series of townhall meetings. Does he really think that you win the presidency by emailing it in?")
I can't imagine that the Obama ad is going to go over well in Florida, Nevada, or Pennsylvania, where there are large populations of non-internet savvy senior citizens who vote. Here's what some people, like my own parents, may think after viewing these two ads: Obama and Biden disrespect women, and now senior citizens.
But it got worse. During the day several bloggers discovered that the reason why Senator McCain does not send email himself is that his war injuries prevent him from doing so: "McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes." That's from a 2000 Boston Globe story that any half-wit connected to Google could have found. And that same half-wit would have likely also found this, from a 2000 piece in Forbes:
In certain ways, McCain was a natural Web candidate. Chairman of the Senate Telecommunications Subcommittee and regarded as the U.S. Senate's savviest technologist, McCain is an inveterate devotee of email. His nightly ritual is to read his email together with his wife, Cindy. The injuries he incurred as a Vietnam POW make it painful for McCain to type. Instead, he dictates responses that his wife types on a laptop. "She's a whiz on the keyboard, and I'm so laborious," McCain admits.
Yet, the fact that this information was just a couple of Google clicks away for any one with minimal internet skills did not stop Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer from saying today on Real Clear Politics: "It's extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesn't know how to send an e-mail."
So, not content with disrespecting women and seniors, the Obama campaign has moved on to mocking injured war veterans.
September 13, 2008
"You're free to choose--Just don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Via Secondhand Smoke comes a particularly odious and ominous Canadian reaction to the Palin nomination. Our neighbors to the North sometimes do seem to be somewhat more advanced in the disciplines of the culture of death even than Americans.
But others fear Ms. Palin's emergence as a parental role model sends a different message. As a vocal opponent of abortion, Ms. Palin's widely discussed decision to keep her baby, knowing he would be born with the condition, may inadvertently influence other women who may lack the necessary emotional and financial support to do the same, according to André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
Lalonde tries to cast this as a matter of making women "free to choose."
Dr. Lalonde said that above all else, women must be free to choose, and that popular messages to the contrary could have detrimental effects on women and their families.
"The worry is that this will have an implication for abortion issues in Canada," he said.
But is that really what it is about? Look at the previous paragraph. Lalonde is evidently unhappy at the thought that the poor might get all excited by Sarah Palin as a role model and might fail to abort their Down's Syndrome children, despite the fact that, in his view, they lack the "emotional and financial support" to be capable of raising a Down's Syndrome child. (Adoption, I note, is not even in the menu of choices.) God forbid Sarah Palin should "inadvertently" influence anyone not to kill a Down's Syndrome child. My own suspicion is that she wishes deliberately to influence people in that direction, which would no doubt make Dr. Lalonde even more unhappy.
Later in the article, advocates for the disabled tell how women pregnant with Down's Syndrome children are given a one-sided view of the matter and thus pressured to abort. Dr. Lalonde is indignant at the suggestion, but he's already tipped his hand.
Giving women balanced information about the potential consequences of either decision does not mean they are being encouraged to abort their pregnancies, Dr. Lalonde said.
"We offer the woman the choice. We try to be as unbiased as possible," he said. "We're coming down to a moral decision and we all know moral decisions are personal decisions."
Yeah right. Just don't do anything he wouldn't do.
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, "The Will to Disbelieve"
My good friend, and frequent WWWtW commentator, Michael Bauman, forwarded to me this excerpt from a piece authored by former U. N. Ambassador, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick. According to Mike, "I am impressed that she reached this conclusion about us nearly 25 years ago, during Reagan's first term, and that in the meantime the failing she notes has only grown worse."
September 14, 2008
There May Be Other Sources of Meat, Redux
I and a few others have elicited skeptical responses to the notion that being McCain's vice president may end up ruining Sarah Palin. In fact, just being his running mate is bringing forth the early signs. Via Stony Creek Digest we get a little preview of things to come:
GIBSON: Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it.Echoing her new boss, we learn from Mrs. Palin that it is good that we may not have to eat children, after all, because there may be other sources of meat.
PALIN: You know, when you’re running for office, your life is an open book and you do owe it to Americans to talk about your personal opinion, which may end up being different than what the policy in an administration would be. My personal opinion is we should not create human life, create an embryo and then destroy it for research, if there are other options out there[*]… And thankfully, again, not only are there other options, but we’re getting closer and closer to finding a tremendous amount more of options, like, as I mentioned, the adult stem cell research.
I can only imagine what eight years of being McCain's vice president may do to this very promising and potentially formidable pro life politician. I again reiterate that the best thing for Sarah Palin, and the best thing for us with respect to Sarah Palin's future as an American politician, may be a McCain loss.
UPDATE: And the hits keep on coming. Also courtesy of Jeff Culbreath, McCain-Palin have a new radio ad, which goes:
They’re the original mavericks. Leaders. Reformers. Fighting for real change. John McCain will lead his Congressional allies to improve America’s health.Now that's just about all you can eat.
And, John McCain and his Congressional allies will invest millions more in new NIH medical research to prevent disease. Medical breakthroughs to help you get better, faster. Change is coming.
- Stem cell research to unlock the mystery of cancer, diabetes, heart disease.
- Stem cell research to help free families from the fear and devastation of illness.
- Stem cell research to help doctors repair spinal cord damage, knee injuries, serious burns.
- Stem cell research to help stroke victims.
McCain-Palin and Congressional allies. The leadership and experience to really change Washington and improve your health.
Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee.
[*] - In the video, Mrs. Palin emphasizes this phrase.
September 15, 2008
“Community Organizing” is to politics what “Olive Oil Business” was to the Corleone family
From Brian Faughnan at the Weekly Standard blog:
Sharia Law Comes to the U.K.
The emergence of such paradoxically parallel yet established Islamic legal systems is a threat several orders of magnitude more severe than that of mere terrorist attacks, for the latter, by their very barbarity, summon forth resistance and denunciation, while the former, by insinuating themselves into the dense skein of civil society, become parts of society without which it is no longer possible to think of that society. They become, in another paradox, organic, woven into the very tapestry of order, of relationships, of societal customs, their very obscenity enabled by the enfeebling multiculturalist dogmas of our age. The more contradictory, the more monstrous the Other is - if I might paraphrase Lawrence Auster - the more we feel ourselves obliged to incorporate that Other into our civilizational substance.
No war on distant shores will deliver us from this threat; it is a threat that can only be addressed by means of domestic action, domestic reforms. We of the West must change ourselves, and not, as Dick Cheney would have it, change them, because we will not change ourselves.
September 16, 2008
Can't We All Just Vote Along?
Nobody seems to agree with me that an individual act of voting is negligible to the outcome of a national election, and that therefore any double-effect evaluation of a particular choice to vote or not vote for president must hinge on other considerations. I guess I must just be crazy not to see the profound impact it has, which acts as the proportionate reason justifying remote material cooperation with grave evil.
But perhaps there is at least a middle ground position that we can agree on, even if we don't agree on the margins.
Suppose I were to suggest that people who do not live in swing states do not have a proportionate reason to vote for McCain/Palin. Can't we all at least agree to that? Does anyone who does not live in a swing state have an objectively proportionate reason to vote for a cannibal for President?
A Fatwa Against Mickey Mouse
Maybe Islamic cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid is just more of a Bugs Bunny sort of guy? In an interview with Al-Majd Television the sheikh, a former diplomat who once served in the Saudi embassy in Washington, condemned cartoons that endear rodents to their viewers.
Islamic law, he said, sees the mouse as "a repulsive, corrupting creature" while children today see mice as loveable and "awesome" because of animated shows like Tom and Jerry, and Disney staple Mickey Mouse.
"Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases," Al-Munajid tells the interviewer.
Barack Obama, not out of commissions
Today, Senator Obama said: "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book: you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem. But here's the thing: this isn't 9-11. We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out."
Apparently, then, we can dismiss Senator Obama's call for commissions on Social Security (11/2007), torture (9/2007), war crimes (8/2008), and financial oversight for Wall Street (4/2008) as four separate instances of the senator pulling "the oldest Washington stunt in the book." Perhaps the person who ghost writes his teleprompter can first do a Google search on the senator's behalf to see whether he had opined on prior occasions on the matter of commissions. It took me about 40 minutes to track all these down.
September 17, 2008
A difficulty in recent discussions is that many folks are treating human acts as if they were an analog radio signal of effects and only effects which can be gradually attenuated down to nothing. They aren't. An act either categorically is deliberate remote material cooperation with grave evil, or it is not. It takes a certain minimum movement of the will to act at all.
If an act is deliberate remote material cooperation with grave evil at all, it can only be justified in the presence of a proportionate reason. And if the act is causally negligible with respect to the very outcomes which the person is analyzing under double effect in order to justify it, then a proportionate reason does not exist.
The contemplated act might be justifiable under some other understanding, of course. But it cannot be justified by appealing to double-effect with respect to outcomes upon which it has causally negligible effect.
Obama campaign's Rev. Wright-style approach to fomenting ethnic hate
This is despicable. These Spanish-language ads, targeting Hispanics, attempt to tar John McCain with Rush Limbaugh's 1990s comments on Mexican immigration. Of course, as the Obama campaign surely knows, Limbaugh has been a harsh critic of McCain's views on immigration. But, I guess the Obama campaign figures that the ad's audience will just think that since both men are white Republicans then they must hold the same views on everything. Thus, ironically, this ad attempts to illicit and nurture bigotry in its viewers, which means that the Obama campaign does not respect them. When someone expects you to be a bigot, they don't think very highly of you.
In case you may have forgotten the pastoral insights of the Rev. Wright, go here. These recent ads are cut from the same demagogic cloth.
September 18, 2008
Biden declines invitation to protest Ahmadinejad, and then Palin disinvited
This is just beyond remarkable. Here's an excerpt from Jennifer Rubin's Commentary blog post:
Here's the latest news on the withdrawal of the invitation to Sarah Palin (and all other politicians) to Monday’s protest of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — withdrawn by the sponsor, the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organization. COMMENTARY has learned that Joe Biden was invited to the event in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s refusal to appear on the same stage as Palin — and he declined. In an e-mail to me, Biden spokesman David Wade said that “we’ve had longstanding commitment to speak at National Guard Convention on Monday in Maryland.”
Here is John McCain's personal response:
September 20, 2008
The Parable of the Dollar Auction
A guy walks into a bar.
He slaps a $100 bill on the table and says "I'm auctioning off this $100 bill. Bidding starts at a dollar. The only rule is that the next highest losing bidder has to pay me too."
Bill and Ted can't help themselves. Bill would love to have some extra money to donate to Catholic Answers, and Ted is planning on using the proceeds to renew his subscription to Commonweal. A hundred smackers with bidding starting at a buck? What's not to like about that?
So Bill bids a dollar. Ted tops him by bidding $2. (Heck, who wouldn't put $2 on the line for a hundred?)
When the bidding gets up to $99, something interesting happens. Bill realizes that he is out $98 if he doesn't bid $100, but if he bids $100 he can still break even. Being Catholic, he consults the USCCB document on game theory. It says something to the effect that if he has a proportionate reason it is fine to make a decision to limit his losses. It doesn't mention Martin Shubik.
So he bids $100. Then Ted realizes that if he bids $101, he will only be out a buck instead of $99.
And so it goes. At some point the knife fight starts.
The Fallacy of the Clickable Universe
(Some straight-up philosophy of religion for your weekend.)
When philosophers talk about the Problem of Evil (aka "the POE"), they sometimes cast the question like this: "Why did God create a universe in which Adam chose to sin rather than a different universe in which Adam did not choose to sin? Was there no possible universe God could have created in which Adam did not choose to sin?" Then they go on to discuss these questions.
I think this is a confusing way for philosophers to cast the issue.
September 22, 2008
Two year anniversary of winning my tenure appeal
Today is the two year anniversary of the day on which I won my tenure appeal at Baylor University. In my forthcoming book, Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic, I briefly touch on my tenure case and how I look at it in hindsight. Here is a brief excerpt from that portion of the book:
On September 22, 2006, Baylor University reversed its decision and awarded me tenure. And only 16 months after winning my appeal (in April 2008), I was promoted to full professor. In the academic world, such a story is as unlikely as they come. For this reason, I am in awe of, and humbled by, the gentle and unpredictable hand of providence that has taken my wife and me by its grace through one improbable scenario after another. Any success that I may have appeared to earn, hangs by a thin string dangling from an intricate tapestry over a fiery abyss, whose Creator is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2 KJV).
And the fact that I now find myself on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame as a senior visiting fellow for the 2008-09 school year is beyond my wildest dreams. Soli Deo Gloria.
September 23, 2008
Stanley Kurtz's new article in WSJ on Obama-Ayers connection
Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.
The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. Among other feats, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts bombed the Pentagon, and he has never expressed regret for his actions. Barack Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers's home.
The Obama campaign has struggled to downplay that association. Last April, Sen. Obama dismissed Mr. Ayers as just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis." Yet documents in the CAC archives make clear that Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were partners in the CAC. Those archives are housed in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago and I've recently spent days looking through them.
Read the rest here.
September 24, 2008
What We're Reading--A Severe Mercy
I've recently re-read Sheldon Vanauken's beautiful book, A Severe Mercy. The Wikipedia articles on Vanauken and the book itself are fairly accurate, as far as they go, and linking them moves us past the most general introduction for those who have never heard of the book.
It is said that every man has one good book in him. A Severe Mercy was that book for Vanauken. The writing is often lyrical. The delicately-written prologue draws you into the story with a third-person account of Vanauken's last visit to his family home, which he calls Glenmerle, by that time owned by strangers. He goes there at night like a ghost himself to say farewell not only to the family estate but also to the ghost of his wife, who has recently died.
A Severe Mercy is the story of a great love. You don't have to agree with everything the young lovers think or do. In fact, as it is an autobiographical book written by one of the no-longer-young lovers in hindsight, after his wife's death, he himself doesn't agree with everything they thought or did. But you cannot read the book with a receptive mind and come away a cynic. At every re-reading I am reminded that young love is one of the greatest and most beautiful gifts God has given to mankind.
Free Bob Dylan Download: Mississippi
To celebrate the October 7 release of the new Bob Dylan album, Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8, bobdylan.com is allowing fans until September 29 to download a free copy of a song from that album, "Mississippi." Although a version of this song appeared on the 2001 album, Love & Theft, the version on Tell Tale Signs is an outtake from 1997's Time Out of Mind, winner of the album of the year Grammy Award. Here are the lyrics to "Mississippi":
September 25, 2008
Give Peace a Chance?
Keepers of Protestantism’s pacifist traditions will showcase just how far they’ve come from their humble roots in Europe’s persecuted peasantry when they share an intimate dinner Thursday in New York with a world leader.
It’s not just any world leader, however, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s been labeled an international pariah for his nuclear ambitions, denial of the Holocaust, saber-rattling toward Israel and alleged support of terrorism.
But for Quakers and Mennonites who’ll be at the table, breaking bread with this controversial man means drawing deeply on the same spiritual roots that sustained their embattled ancestors long ago.
“Jesus ate with lepers and with tax collectors, and in the United States right now, Iran would be in that category,” says Arli Klassen, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee, an outreach arm for Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in the United States and Canada.
The New York gathering, an Iftar dinner to commemorate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, will mark the fourth time since 2006 that Ahmadinejad has met with American religious leaders. Each time, Klassen says, it’s been at Ahmadinejad’s request.
Read the rest here.
Have economic questions; will listen to answers
Every once in a while I find myself asking questions to which I don't know the answers. For instance,
*To whom do we owe the National Debt?
*Who is the "we" that owes it? All the American people? The American government?
*Can whoever it is to whom we owe it foreclose on whomever it is that owes it?
[*Should that be "whoever it is that owes it" in that last question?]
*What would a foreclosure on the National Debt look like?
*Could we all wake up tomorrow and discover that our entire country is now owned and ruled directly by China, which has foreclosed on the National Debt?
These are not smart alecky questions, to which I already know the answer. (Well, okay, so maybe the last one is a smart alecky question to which I already know the answer. The answer is "no."...Right?)
But actually, for all the others, I really don't know the answers. But I bet my blog colleagues and readers do.
Bob Dylan Halloween Costumes
Courtesy of Boing Boing:
September 27, 2008
Back to the Future
From The New York Times, September 30, 1999:
In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.(HT: View from the Right)
"From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us," said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry."
September 29, 2008
Today, September 29, is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, known in Merry Old England as Michaelmas. Michaelmas really is one of my favorite feastdays, and it seems particularly appropriate to us here at What's Wrong with the World, because the whole point of the reading for this feast is that the good guys do win in the end, and by battle, too, but that sometimes the ultimate victory takes a while. Here is the entire (exceedingly cool) reading for today from Revelation.
The Book of Revelation, the twelfth chapter, beginning at the seventh verse:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the eath and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
Up The Creekonomics
I've been asked to summarize my opinions on the economic crisis. Most of what is here is buried in this thread, indeed this post is mainly an edit of some of the most important (to my mind) of those comments into a summary here, with some new material. I apologize in advance for the length.
First, coming up with an accurate narrative on how we got into this mess will be difficult, not because everyone is wrong about what caused it, but because nearly everyone is right. That is, most of the suggestions for contributing causes are true, and most of the attempts to dismiss contributing causes proposed by others are not valid. To pick on just one example, it is definitely true that pressure from the Clinton administration on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy sub prime loans to mostly poor mostly minorities was a contributing cause. But it hardly stops there, and indeed even if we took that out of the picture entirely it is not clear that the crisis would not have arisen nonetheless. I honestly don't want to even get into the clash of narratives - again, not so much because everyone is wrong as because everyone is right, and life is too short for that kind of flame war.
September 30, 2008
A Tale of Gold and Lead
Suppose we have ten thousands banks, and each of those banks has in its possession a thousand bags of metal. Somewhere around eighty percent of the bags are known to contain gold. Somewhere around twenty percent contain lead. These percentages are not hard and fast, but they are roughly good numbers.
Each bag of gold is worth $100,000, and each bag of lead is worthless, so on average there is $80,000,000 dollars worth of metal at each bank. But that is on average, over all 10,000 banks. The bags cannot be opened except over a lengthy and arduous process which takes years.
The distribution of lead and gold amongst the banks is entirely unknown, but it is definitely not uniform. It is not even entirely clear how many bags a given bank has. If I bought up all the bags from a given bank, or even a given cluster of banks, I could easily end up with all lead. On the other hand, I could just as easily end up with all gold. Most likely I would end up with some mix, but the percentages could easily be radically skewed one way or another. Buying up all the bags from a given bank is a crap shoot: an eighty million dollar crap shoot, on average.
On the other hand, if I have a large enough amount of capital to buy up all of the bags from all of the banks, it is perfectly reasonable for me to expect that 70% to 90% of them will contain gold. If I can buy bags on the open market for $20 right now, that represents a very good investment opportunity; only if I can buy substantially all of them. If I can buy them all, it is even well worth it for me to take out a loan to buy them all, because I only have to pay a couple of percent on the loan whereas my returns on the portfolio will most likely be quite a lot higher. It is a surer bet than (say) buying a house with a mortgage. If I only have enough capital to (say) buy up the bags of one bank, on the other hand, I am basically rolling the dice on my own solvency.
In a nutshell, that is why the federal government can afford to buy up these assets as a responsible transaction, effectively not costing the taxpayers a thing, and far smaller market players are incapable of doing the same thing.
In a peashell, size does matter.
And notice, please, that this does not even take into consideration any salutary external or strategic effects; for example, say, preventing credit lockup and halting a financial downturn on the order of the Great Depression.
We are the children.....for Obama
I couldn't watch this for more than a minute:
But it still inspired this ditty: