Sunday, November 30, 2008
On this day:

Celestial coolness

Look up this evening.

Update: Nice clouds, huh?

Rick Brookhiser gives thanks

I liked this:

I am unutterably, and even so insufficiently, grateful that there is something rather than nothing, and that one of the things that is is me — a free, fortuitous, didn't-have-to-happen, once-in-infinity lottery ticket for which I was the lucky winner. Nonexistence would have been so dull, would it not? And even if that's where I'm headed, I hope to be able to say, “Thanks, it's been real” as I go.

Saturday, November 29, 2008
On this day:


Now that was great fun, wasn't it?

Thursday, November 27, 2008
On this day:

To whom do we owe our thanks?

President Washington wasn't exactly shy about answering that question, now was he? And rightfully so. If you're going to issue a thanksgiving proclamation, it would be absurd not to acknowledge the One to whom thanks is given.

Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, when asked as President to issue a thanksgiving proclamation, declined. He wrote:
I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that, also, which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must, then, rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant, too, that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it: not, indeed, of fine or imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription, perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation any less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrine; nor of the religious societies, that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them, an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.
Now, that's a strict constructionist.

And here's something to think about: Could you imagine the controversy that would ensue if either Washington or Jefferson wrote those things today?

Happy Thanksgiving

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor--and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be--That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in thecourse and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions--to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
On this day:

Things to not be thankful for

The Senior Adult Choir Hip-Hop:

(H/T Mark Shea)

Chavez and Ortega: Tyrants still

From those NYT stories...

On Venezuela's Hugo Chavez:
The defeat in some of the slums of Caracas irked Mr. Chávez to the point that he went on state television Monday night, chafing at the election results. Warning the opposition, he said, “Don’t think you control Petare.”

Among the pro-Chávez candidates who lost were members of the president’s inner circle, including Mario Silva, the host of La Hojilla (translation: The Razorblade), a program on state television used to attack Mr. Chávez’s opponents. Sometimes Mr. Silva played taped recordings of opponents’ intimate cellphone conversations or aired their instant-messaging transcripts.

With Mr. Silva trailing in polls ahead of the election, Mr. Chávez threatened to mobilize tanks in Carabobo State in the event of his ally’s defeat, one of many of his menacing comments that linger, as if to remind voters of the vulnerability of their democracy to threats and intimidation.

During the campaign, Mr. Chávez called opponents “traitors” and “swine,” and his government blacklisted almost 300 candidates, preventing them from running in what has been argued to be a violation of the Constitution.
And on Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega:
Edmundo Jarquín, a former Sandinista, said of Mr. Ortega, “He views us as traitors.” Mr. Jarquín challenged Mr. Ortega for the presidency in 2006 as a member of the Sandinista Renovation Movement, a political party made up mostly of former Sandinistas. Mr. Mejía Godoy was Mr. Jarquín’s vice presidential candidate. ...

To outflank the former Sandinistas, Mr. Ortega’s government managed to keep Mr. Jarquín’s party off the ballot in the municipal elections two weeks ago. ...

Mr. Ortega’s government found itself on the defensive recently when it took on one of the most cherished icons of the revolution, Ernesto Cardenal, the 83-year-old priest and poet who helped create the intellectual backbone of the revolution.

This summer, after Father Cardenal lashed out against Mr. Ortega while in Paraguay, calling him a “thief” who runs “a monarchy made up of a few families,” a Nicaraguan judge revived an old court case against the poet and froze his bank accounts. Politics frequently creeps into Nicaragua’s judiciary, and the action prompted widespread condemnation from intellectuals both at home and abroad.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
On this day:

The cause of liberty gains ground

The New York Times has some reassuring news about some of our southern neighbors:
Venezuelan Opposition Gains in Vote

Once Considered Invincible, Chávez Takes a Blow

Sandinista Fervor Turns Sour for Former Comrades of Nicaragua’s President

Monday, November 24, 2008
On this day:

Huntsville Times: War Eagle faithful feeling blue

Disappointed AU fans lower profile and quietly pray.

Awwww. Maybe this will cheer them up.

Sarah Palin talks turkey

Check out the vid that has the NY Times - among others - in a snit. Gotta love it.

(By the way, if you follow that NY Times link, check out the comments. They're more entertaining than the editorial.)

To be or not to be: a woman decides whether to perform abortions

See here.

Does the Constitution prevent Hillary Clinton from being appointed Secretary of State?

Due to the Constitution's often-forgotten Emoluments Clause, it may. Eugene Volokh explains here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008
On this day:

Super Obama World

The video game.

What type is my blog?

According to this site, the author of A Bama Blog (that would be me) is of the type:
The Scientists

The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it - often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be pshysically hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communcating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use conrete examples. Since they are extremly good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone.
Ummm...maybe. Try it on your favorite blog.

Huntsville's new mayor hopes to pig out at the federal trough


Mayor Tommy Battle spent the first two weeks of his administration focusing on who his department heads may be and the shape of city finances, and conferring with aides over budget priorities.

He's now setting his sights on Washington.

Today and Tuesday, he will be meeting with key leaders over pending BRAC job transfers to Huntsville and a possible economic stimulus package crucial to cities.

"Our itinerary is to make contact with each of our (Alabama) congressmen and their staffs and have some discussions about what Huntsville can look for from the federal government with the new transition coming," Battle said last week.

Battle's chief of staff, Trent Willis, said a major goal is to forge strong relationships with top leaders, including congressmen from surrounding states and chairs of powerful committees and subcommittees.

Battle said he's particularly interested in learning about legislation on Capitol Hill that could help states and cities weather the economic crisis.

"There's talk in this Congress of finishing up the session by putting out a large infrastructure stimulus package. We want to be ready for that," Battle said.

Not surprising but not encouraging.

Why piracy? Why now?

David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Lee A. Casey explain.

What a difference good management makes

The Huntsville Times reports:
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will reduce production in the United States to cope with slowing sales in the world's largest economy.

Toyota will stop production at all its plants in the U.S. and Canada for two extra days in addition to the regular Christmas holidays next month, and cut about half of 500 temporary workers at a plant in Georgetown, Kentucky by March, company spokeswoman Kayo Doi said.

The engine plant in North Huntsville Industrial Park, at Pulaski Pike and Bob Wade Lane, won't produce any engines on Dec. 22 and 23 -- as well as during its scheduled holiday break from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2, according to Toyota spokesman Mike Goss. Workers will return on Monday, Jan. 5. ...

Beginning January, Japan's top automaker plans to reduce production of the Sienna minivan at its Indiana plant, and slow a line for the Camry and Avalon sedans at the Kentucky plant, Doi said.

At New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. in Fremont, California -- its joint venture with General Motors Corp. -- Toyota will eliminate a shift producing the Tacoma pickup truck.

The production cuts are the latest effort by the company to deal with shrinking demand in the U.S., which is expected to slip into recession this year.

So, instead of hanging out in the halls of power groveling for bailouts, Toyota's management is making the tough decisions that will help it weather the upcoming recession. That's admirable.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On this day:

Favorite '80's (and some '70's) TV show intros

How many of these do you remember?

The Facts of Life:

Diff'rent Strokes:

Mork and Mindy:

Harper Valley PTA:


The Greatest American Hero:

Wonder Woman:

Bosom Buddies:

The Jeffersons

Sanford and Son

Fantasy Island:

The Love Boat:

Hawaii 5-0:


B.J. and the Bear:

Dukes of Hazzard:

Charlie's Angels:

The A-Team:

Knight Rider:


The Fall Guy:

Buck Rogers:

The Six Million Dollar Man:

Silver Spoons:

Doogie Howser:

Family Ties:

Charles in Charge:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
On this day:

Time: Will the Pope and Obama clash over abortion? the Pope Catholic?

How to write like Toni Morrison

You, too, can write like a Nobel prize winning novelist. Peter Wood writes:
Gone are the days when students yearned to command the stylistic muscle of Addison, the authority of Johnson, the fullness of Gibbon -- or the wry voice of Twain. But never mind. We have Morrison.

Of course, some of our readers were no doubt set in their ways before Morrison’s Beloved (1988) came along to open up new possibilities of English expression. You are asking yourself, “Is it too late for me? Is there any hope that I can catch that special cadence, that artful style that will, you know, make me sound all wise ‘n stuff?”

It is not too late. As a public service, we offer a primer on how to write the Morrison way. We will be using Morrison’s brand-new novel, A Mercy, as our primary text.
Now, jumping ahead to the good stuff:
Remember the rules: (1) Misuse common phrases, (2) Embrace inconsistency, (3) Omit words to create more forceful expression, (4) Mix up parts of speech, and (5) Chop in self-conscious micro-sentences. ...

These simple rules can be applied to almost anything you might care to write. Until you are fluent in Morrisonian, I recommend that you practice by translating your regular writing into this more compelling style. Consider for example the ordinary office memo:
Just to remind you, I will be out of the office Tuesday to meet with our supplier, Acme Explosives. Please finish your work on the 2Q budget and let the account rep know that Mr. Coyote’s order will be shipped Thursday.
The reminding can’t wait the hurry of it. I explain. I know you know of Tuesday, I and Acme Explosives is soon together meet. You can please work, perhaps, the budget’s second quarter, and knowledge the account rep of Mr. Coyote’s Thursday shipment.
A must-read for all English majors. I can't wait for the sequel: "How to woo your boos like Maya Angelou."

Monday, November 17, 2008
On this day:

Sen. Sessions blasts Paulson on the bank bailout

The Birmingham News reports here.

Here's the full text of Sessions's letter to President Bush:
Dear President Bush:

I am deeply concerned that the execution of your economic stabilization plan by Secretary Paulson represents an unprecedented governmental intervention in the economy that threatens our nation’s long heritage of limited government and commitment to the free market.

Although I understand the need for a narrow plan to help stabilize our nation’s financial sector, I opposed Secretary Paulson’s bailout plan because it represented a massive interference in the market, one which hinged on the delegation to a single unelected executive branch official the authority to spend $700 billion in taxpayer money. Unfortunately, recent events have confirmed my fears that this unfocused scheme provides a basis for almost any action, including direct government ownership of private corporations, and sets a dangerous precedent.

Less than a week after pushing for authority to purchase distressed securities, Secretary Paulson altered the focus of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to recapitalize banks instead. That move directly contradicted his prior testimony to the Senate: “There are some that said we should just go and stick capital in the banks . . . but we said the right way to do this is not going around and using guarantees or injecting capital.” Since that time, Secretary Paulson has abandoned the stated goal of purchasing distressed assets and is now concentrating on purchasing large equity stakes in banking institutions. The financial sector recovery program operating today is entirely different from the one outlined to, and approved by, Congress in October. I can only conclude that the swift reversal from purchasing toxic assets to stock purchases was part of a plan to mislead the Congress because massive stock purchases would have received a much more hostile reception.

Predictably, efforts are now underway to expand the TARP to bail out private companies suffering in a recessionary economic climate, notably the big three auto manufacturers. Allowing this trend to continue sends a clear signal to foreign nations that the United States has turned its back on the free market and is a virtual guarantee that other “vital” industries will request government assistance in the future. As estimates for the Fiscal Year 2009 federal deficit approach the staggering $1 trillion mark, we must ask: where do we draw the line?

With this in mind, I urge you to:

1. Publicly outline a plan for extricating the government from the market as soon as reasonably possible, limiting further interference, and allowing markets to function in the future, as well as emphasizing clearly why this is an important principle.

2. Establish guidelines for making the TARP’s basic earnings and loss data – similar to that found on a corporation’s quarterly statement – available to the public. The Administration has argued that taxpayers may be made whole by the future sale of equities purchased by the TARP. Accordingly, the American people have the right to know the status of their investment.

3. Oppose the economic stimulus package that includes an additional bailout for troubled auto manufacturers. Your administration should not allow a struggling economy to be used as justification for a huge surge in government spending and control.

It seems to me that Secretary Paulson, whom you obviously admire, has assumed an inappropriate role in our governmental system. He is acting as a Wall Street investment banker, allocating hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money, with no oversight and no stated plan. This undermines our heritage of law and order, and is an affront to the principle of separation of powers. Of course, the Secretary works for you and serves at your pleasure. While you have many challenges in these busy days, I believe you have a clear constitutional duty to personally supervise his actions and to direct this process. I urge you to do so.

In this time of economic turmoil, let your actions clearly reflect a commitment to the sound economic and governmental principles that have made our nation great. It is important that we recognize the magnitude of the precedent these actions have set, and that you intentionally act and speak in ways that limit that precedent for the future.

I have been honored to work with you on many important issues and please know that my affection and appreciation for you and your leadership remains strong.

Very truly yours,

Jeff Sessions
United States Senator

Sen. Shelby on the Big Three bailout

Here's Sen. Richard Shelby at his best:
"These companies are going to have to downsize. They're going to have to be innovative. They're going to have to change their whole model, and the government, at the end of the day ... should not choose which companies are going to survive or not survive. We should let the market work," Shelby said on "Meet the Press."

The Big Three is, in a sense, "a dinosaur," Shelby said, noting that without fundamental changes in the way the companies do business, including a change in management, a bailout would simply postpone their inevitable failure.

"This is a dead end. It's a road to nowhere, and it's a big burden on the American taxpayer," he said.

Shelby added that in a lot of people's judgment, the companies would be better off to reorganize under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

"Get rid of the management, get rid of the boards, the people who brought them where they are today," he said. [B'ham News]

And get the hell out of Detroit. The weather and the business climate are much better down here.

More clear thinking on all of this from Megan McArdle and Will Wilkinson, via Jim Manzi.

Brian at Flash Point notes Shelby's record as a maven of the federal government pork barrel, and says:
I’m glad Shelby has seen the light and has come to the conclusion that the federal government should avoid spending hard earned tax dollars on state, local, and private concerns. I look forward to him applying his new found logic to pork barrel spending. I also look forward to riding on a flying pig.

Honoring Sen. Jeremiah Denton

A richly deserved honor for a true American hero.

Here's why:
Denton's name first came to the attention of the American public in 1966, during a television interview arranged by the North Vietnamese in Hanoi. Prior to the interview, torture and threats of more torture were applied to intimidate him to "respond properly and politely. " During the interview, after the journalist's recitation of alleged U.S. "war atrocities," Denton was asked about his support of U.S. policy concerning the war. He replied: "I don't know what is happening now in Vietnam, because the only news sources I have are North Vietnamese, but whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, I support it, and I will support it as long as I live."

Throughout the interview, while responding to questions and feigning sensitivity to harsh lighting, Denton blinked his eyes in Morse Code, repeatedly spelling out a covert message: "T-O-R-T-U-R-E". The interview, which was broadcast on American television on May 17, 1966, was the first confirmation that American POWs in Vietnam were being tortured. Denton was released on February 12, 1973, when he again received international attention as the spokesman for the first group of POWs returning from Hanoi to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. Denton was advised that as the senior POW onboard, he might be expected to say something on behalf of the group upon arrival. As he stepped from the plane, Denton turned to the microphones and said: "We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America."
I still hold a grudge against Richard Shelby - who was still a Democrat at the time - for narrowly defeating Denton in the 1986 Senatorial race. In that campaign, Shelby ran an ad mischaracterizing Senator Denton's position on Social Security and another accusing him of spending too much time in Washington. As I recall, it showed a video clip of Denton saying something like, "I can't be down there in Alabama patting babies on the butt when there are things to do here in Washington." That's one thing about Jeremiah Denton. From his days as a POW in North Vietnam to his days as a U.S. Senator, he has never been shy about speaking his mind, even when liberals like those in the California Assembly haven't cared to listen.

The dangerous federalization of crime

That's the title of this 1999 WSJ article by former Reagan AG Edwin Meese. Here's a taste:

For most of the nation’s history, federal criminal jurisdiction was limited to offenses that involved truly national matters, such as treason, counterfeiting, bribery of federal officials, and perjury in the federal courts. But in recent years, as Senator Joseph Biden has put it, “we federalize everything that walks, talks, and moves.”

That is not much of an exaggeration. Today there are more than three thousand federal crimes on the books. Hardly any crime, no matter how local in nature, is beyond the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement authorities. Federal crimes now range from serious but purely local offenses such as car jacking and church burning to trivial matters such as disrupting a rodeo or damaging a livestock facility. In 1994, one crime bill alone created two dozen new federal offenses. ...

Perhaps the most compelling reasons to oppose the federalization of crime are that it contradicts constitutional principles, undermines the state-federal fabric, and disrupts the important balance between the federal and state systems of justice. The drafters of the Constitution clearly intended the states to bear responsibility for public safety and what Alexander Hamilton called “the ordinary administration of criminal and civil justice.”

As the National Sheriffs Association recently stated, with every additional federal crime, “we’re getting closer to a federal police state. That’s what we fought against 200 years ago—this massive federal government involved in the lives of people on the local level.” The National District Attorneys Association expresses a similar view, saying that the trend “not only places an intolerable burden on the federal criminal justice system, but is changing the very nature of that system by intruding on cases that by every standard should be handled by local prosecutors."

The Star Wars a Capella Quartet

Ummm...kinda. Watch:

A brave, new world indeed

In his latest post on embryonic stem cell research, the Ross Douthat linked to this chilling 2006 Mother Jones piece on America's "embryo glut." Warning: slippery slopes ahead.

Friday, November 14, 2008
On this day:

Let's restore federalism

Culture11's John Schwenkler writes (H/T Southern Appeal):
By campaigning and governing in ways that are tailored to local concerns, a politician like Mitt Romney can be a success as the Republican governor of Massachusetts even if his approach would be a less-than-ideal fit for the national party, while Mike Huckabee can do well in Arkansas even though the nation may not be quite ready for a “Christian leader” of exactly his sort. Presenting themselves, not as a single-minded party with an inflexible platform and no place for disagreement, but rather as a group that is focused on enabling local governance and a consequent sensitivity to regional particularities, can help Republicans to overcome their internal conflicts without having to throw the dissenters overboard.

The flip side to this is that adopting a federalist approach to governance will also entail abandoning the attempt to make federal policy decisive on issues like abortion, marriage, drug policy, and euthanasia. But the attempt to impose nationwide policies in such areas is a strategy fraught with danger for social conservatives: not just because it is Constitutionally suspect, but also because there simply isn’t the sort of national consensus on such issues that many conservatives would like there to be. As Jim Manzi and Megan McArdle have recently observed, the alliance between libertarians and religious conservatives that has traditionally been at the heart of the Republican coalition requires exactly this sort of modesty — and it’s far better to win in some states while losing in others than to bet the house on Washington and lose it all at once.
I agree wholeheartedly.

The temptation to centralize power in Washington, D.C. is an affliction that has found suitable hosts among both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. Time after time - whether on education, social welfare, the federalization of criminal law, or budgetary earmarks for projects of purely local interest - Democrats and Republicans have cooperated in a broad effort to co-opt those powers that have traditionally been reserved to the states. Our political leaders have thus succeeded in creating an imperial national government that bears little resemblance to what James Madison promised in Federalist 45:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
So why is it so important to preserve the constitutional balance between the state and federal governments? And how does federalism contribute to republicanism? You could write essays upon essays on those two questions. Or you could just read The Federalist Papers and find out the answers.

We conservatives shouldn't advocate a rebirth of federalism out of mere sentimental attachment to "the good old days," or because we believe it would promote our ideological interests, or because we view it as a cure-all for the nation's ills. We should do so because we agree with our Founding Fathers that both reason and experience recommend it as the best possible system for preserving liberty and harmony in this diverse, extended republic we call home*.

*See Federalist #10 and Federalist #51 for further elaboration on this point.

Bill Maher is a smug, arrogant, bigoted, and condescending you-know-what

Not to mention hateful and offensive. And according to Tommy Stevenson of the Tuscaloosa News, Bill Maher owes Tuscaloosa a big, fat apology. (Follow-ups here and here.) Even Andrew Sullivan - who has about as much contempt for Alabama and the South as Bill Maher does - agrees.

As a former resident of Tuscaloosa, condolences would be more appropriate than an apology, but let's not get unrealistic.

No new stimulus packages

The Heritage Foundation has this backgrounder: "Why Government Spending Does Not Stimulate Economic Growth".

A memo to the President-elect

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw gives some good advice to Sen. Obama.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
On this day:

Conservative coalition-building

Here's Jim Manzi:

Rod Dreher, in commenting on the David Brooks piece on the future of conservatism in yesterday’s New York Times, writes this:

Let me make a point that’s going to be overlooked among secular conservatives of Reformist impulse: no conservative movement that hopes to be successful can do so without religious conservatives. It will be very easy for secular Reform conservatives to sell op-ed pieces to newspapers, in which they argue that the GOP will not be revived until and unless it cuts itself free from the Religious Right. It’ll be easy for them to sell that point because it suits the prejudices of the kind of secular liberals who run the media. But it’s quite wrong.

While it is always possible to imagine some arbitrary configuration of 51% of voters who have the label “conservative”, Rod’s point strikes me as correct as a practical matter. Further, more important than the question of electoral advantage, is the fact that tens of millions of citizens have deeply held beliefs that should be considered in making and enforcing the law.

I also believe it to be true that a political movement that proposes to impose what is traditionally considered to be a socially conservative agenda (e.g., a near-absolute restriction on abortion, preventing gay marriage, and so forth) on the entire population of the United States any time soon through force of federal law faces a pretty bleak future.

Both sides of these debates, I believe, have to recognize that many people who share the same country disagree in good faith, and are unlikely to be persuaded within our lifetimes. As I have argued at length, I think that the only workable compromise is not to try to force the creation of uniform national law when no national consensus on the morality of these issues exists. Instead, I believe that we should have an agenda of devolving as many of these social issues, as a matter of law, to as local a level as possible.

Politics, properly considered, has limited aims. Attempts to use it to create heaven on earth, whether motivated by secular or religious thinking, usually backfire. Fortunately, most practical people realize this. We should be looking to build political bridges across moral divides by lowering the temperature of such debates, and keeping our expectations of what politics can accomplish appropriately humble.

I couldn't agree more. Social conservatives (and I include myself in that group) should recall what Abraham Lincoln said in his letter to Horace Greely regarding the abolition of slavery:

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

The nature of our Union has often required its people to tolerate those who condone and even promote certain abhorrent - but nonetheless constitutional - practices. It's not the ideal arrangement, but there's only one Ideal Arranger, and "We the People" are not Him.

Monday, November 10, 2008
On this day:


John Derbyshire feels your pain.

The Party of Death plans its return

The Washington Post reports:
Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team. ...

Obama himself has signaled, for example, that he intends to reverse Bush's controversial limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a decision that scientists say has restrained research into some of the most promising avenues for defeating a wide array of diseases, such as Parkinson's.

Bush's August 2001 decision pleased religious conservatives who have moral objections to the use of cells from days-old human embryos, which are destroyed in the process. ...

The new president is also expected to lift a so-called global gag rule barring international family planning groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal, said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he rescinded the Reagan-era regulation, known as the Mexico City policy, but Bush reimposed it.

I thought this was just golden: "Bush's August 2001 decision pleased religious conservatives who have moral objections to the use of cells from days-old human embryos, which are destroyed in the process."

You need not be a "religious conservative" to object to federal funding for life-destroying research. Any libertarian or economic conservative worthy of his name would also object to it as an unnecessary government intrusion into the free market. Likewise, any fiscal conservative would likely object to it as a pork-barrel expenditure that doesn't lie at the core of the federal government's responsibilities.

And what about the "personally opposed" crowd? Under certain extreme circumstances, they are willing to condone the taking of human life. Are they also willing to provide the funds to endorse and encourage it?

If it's politically impossible for government to be pro-life, is it too much to ask that it at least be neutral?

Saturday, November 08, 2008
On this day:

Where's my gin and tonic?

Here's more reason to love Dave Barry.

Friday, November 07, 2008
On this day:

It's time to end racial preferences

And Barack Obama's just the man to do it. Odds are that he won't, but the Center for Equal Opportunity's Roger Clegg thinks it's worth it to make the case. Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell agrees.

There's some good news on this front, by the way. The Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative passed by a convincing margin. A similar initiative in Colorado came close, but didn't quite make it. (Both of these stories say that the Nebraska and Colorado ballot measures would "ban affirmative action." That's not true. Affirmative action encompasses a broad range of policies - not all of which make use of preferences and set-asides. Thus, to ban discrimination and preferences does not
constitute a blanket ban on affirmative action.)

"Obama's post-racial promise"

Shelby Steele provides a healthy dose of realism. (H/T LaShawn Barber.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008
On this day:

Obama: The great black hope?

Linda Chavez, Ward Connerly, Deroy Murdock, Abigail Thernstrom, Roger Clegg, and others discuss the potential impact of Obama's election on the black community and on race relations in general in this NRO Symposium.

Going beyond the poignant symbolism of Obama's election - which has already had a hugely positive psychological impact on the black community - Obama has an unparalleled opportunity to help heal the lingering divisions that have soured race relations in this country. How he and his administration handle issues like racial preferences, slavery reparations, and voter segregation will help determine whether he becomes the great uniter he claims to be.

We've come a long, long way

Ross Douthat:
Like many conservative writers, my good opinion of Barack Obama diminished somewhat over the course of the campaign. Part of this was the inevitable hardening of the partisan arteries that takes place during a Presidential year, but part of it was that Obama's particular gifts - his combination of charisma and thoughtfulness, and his ability to project sympathy for positions he does not himself hold - created unreasonable initial expectations for the kind of actual compromises he might make with conservatives. You start with the fact that he seems to understand your side of the argument, and the next thing you know you're imagining scenarios in which he moves the Democratic Party to the center on abortion, or comes out against race-based affirmative action, or offers some other grand, conciliatory gesture that you'd like to see American liberalism make.

None of this was ever terribly plausible, of course, given Obama's actual record - and it was especially implausible in a year when running as a "generic Democrat" has such obvious upsides. Obama moved to the center on issues where Democrats more or less have to be move to the center - making hawkish gestures on foreign policy, promising middle-class tax cuts, etc. - but there was never any way that he was going to live up to the hopes of the various conservatives who said favorable things about him in the early going (unless they engaged in outright self-deception, as some did). Unlike previous Democratic nominees, Obama was operating in an environment where his side had the upper hand on almost every issue, and there was actually more risk than reward involved in straying too far off the liberal reservation. And the campaign he ran reflected that reality, rather than living up to its initial promise to transcend the left-right divide.

So I was disappointed in Barack Obama, but I also realize that his campaign wasn't addressed to me: It was addressed to the constituents of a potential center-left majority, and that's the majority he won tonight. Whether this majority holds together will depend on how he governs, but for the moment he has achieved something that no Democratic politician has achieved in a generation: He's carved out a mandate to take America at least some distance in a leftward direction, and he has left the conservative opposition demoralized, disorganized, and arguably self-destructing. Obviously, this achievement was made possible by the blunders of his predecessor, the floundering of the McCain campaign, and the good fortune of running against the incumbent party during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. But great politicians are almost always lucky politicians, and Obama's good fortune does not diminish the magnitude of his triumph tonight, and the credit that he and his campaign deserve for the race they've run.

And then, of course, there's the fact that Obama has just been elected President of a nation in which he could have been bought and sold as a slave just seven generations ago. I don't think there are any words adequate to the occasion of America electing its first black President, so I'll just say this: This may be a bleak day for the Republican Party and for conservatism, but come what may in the years ahead, it's a great day for our country. Barack Obama deserves congratulations, tonight, but so does the nation he's about to govern: We've come a long, long way.

"I can see Russia from my house"

Let's just hope that four years from now we won't be able to see Russia from the White House.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008
On this day:

Demagoguery must run in the family

Here's Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of former Alabama Governor George C. Wallace:

George Wallace and other Southern governors of his ilk stood defiantly in the 1950s and '60s in support of racial segregation, a culture of repression, violence and denial of basic human rights.

Their actions and the stark images of their consequences that spread across the world galvanized the nation and gave rise to a cry for an end to the American apartheid. The firestorms that were lit in Birmingham, Oxford, Memphis, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Little Rock and Selma were a call to arms to which the people responded.

And now a new call to arms has sounded as Americans face another assault on freedom. For if the stand in the schoolhouse door was a defining moment for George Wallace, then surely the aftermath of Katrina and the invasion of Iraq will be the same for George W. Bush.

The trampling of individual freedoms and his blatant contempt for the rights of the average American may not have been as obvious as an ax-handle-wielding governor, but Bush's insidiousness and piety have made him much more dangerous.

Healing must come, hope will be our lodestar, humility will reshape the American conscience, and honesty in both word and deed will refresh and invigorate America, and having Barack Obama to lead will give us back our power to heal.

Healing must come, huh? NRO's Mark Hemingway responds to this blather here:

I don't object to her right to make these standard issue criticisms of Bush, but more dangerous than George Wallace? Yes, clearly African Americans would say they face a much more dangerous enviornment for preserving individual freedoms after eight years of Bush than when the state of Alabama was unleashing dogs on them for daring to sit at a lunch counter.

Katrina was a tragic failing of Bush's presidency, but it was one of governance (and probably the blame should be shared by New Orleans incompetent mayor) not a deliberate attack on anyone's civil rights — unlike George Wallace. Similarly, you may view the invasion of Iraq as a major blunder, but that's a tough argument to make in the same breath you're celebrating the election of a Vice-President who supported it and a President elect who wanted to cut and run at a time when it would have set Iraq up for a competitive round of ethnic cleansing.

But I'm sure typing that made Peggy Wallace Kennedy feel better about her father being an absolute monster most of his life and that's what really matters.

And yes, Mr. Hemingway goes overboard himself in labeling George Wallace "an absolute monster." But that's a different topic.

We Have Overcome

Barack Obama's election as the 44th President of the United States is a momentous occasion, and for the sake of a great nation, I wish him and his administration well. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."

In reflecting on this historic day, I leave you with the following quote from Booker T. Washington as testimony as to how far we've come. May God bless America and our President-elect.
I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get entangled in the net of slavery. I have long since ceased to cherish any spirit of bitterness against the Southern white people on account of the enslavement of my race. No one section of our country was wholly responsible for its introduction, and, besides, it was recognized and protected for years by the General Government. Having once got its tentacles fastened on to the economic and social life of the Republic, it was no easy matter for the country to relieve itself of the institution. Then, when we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten million Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe. This is so to such an extent that Negroes in this country, who themselves or whose forefathers went through the school of slavery, are constantly returning to Africa as missionaries to enlighten those who remained in the fatherland. This I say, not to justify slavery -- on the other hand, I condemn it as an institution, as we all know that in America it was established for selfish and financial reasons, and not from a missionary motive -- but to call attention to a fact, and to show how Providence so often uses men and institutions to accomplish a purpose. When persons ask me in these days how, in the midst of what sometimes seem hopelessly discouraging conditions, I can have such faith in the future of my race in this country, I remind them of the wilderness through which and out of which, a good Providence has already led us.

Ever since I have been old enough to think for myself, I have entertained the idea that, notwithstanding the cruel wrongs inflicted upon us, the black man got nearly as much out of slavery as the white man did. The hurtful influences of the institution were not by any means confined to the Negro. This was fully illustrated by the life upon our own plantation. The whole machinery of slavery was so constructed as to cause labour, as a rule, to be looked upon as a badge of degradation, of inferiority. Hence labour was something that both races on the slave plantation sought to escape. The slave system on our place, in a large measure, took the spirit of self-reliance and self-help out of the white people. My old master had many boys and girls, but not one, so far as I know, ever mastered a single trade or special line of productive industry. The girls were not taught to cook, sew, or to take care of the house. All of this was left to the saves. The slaves, of course, had little personal interest in the life of the plantation, and their ignorance prevented them from learning how to do things in the most improved and thorough manner. As a result of the system, fences were out of repair, gates were hanging half off the hinges, doors creaked, window-panes were out, plastering had fallen but was not replaced, weeds grew in the yard. As a rule, there was food for whites and blacks, but inside the house, and on the dining-room table, there was wanting that delicacy and refinement of touch and finish which can make a home the most convenient, comfortable, and attractive place in the world. Withal there was a waste of food and other materials which was sad. When freedom came, the slaves were almost as well fitted to begin life anew as the master, except in the matter of book-learning and ownership of property. The slave owner and his sons had mastered no special industry. They unconsciously had imbibed the feeling that manual labour was not the proper thing for them. On the other hand, the slaves, in many cases, had mastered some handicraft, and none were ashamed, and few unwilling, to labour.

Finally the war closed, and the day of freedom came. It was a momentous and eventful day to all upon our plantation. We have been expecting it. Freedom was in the air, and had been for months. Deserting soldiers returning to their homes were to be seen every day. Others who had been discharged, or whose regiments had been paroled, were constantly passing near our place. The "grape-vine telegraph" was kept busy night and day. The news and mutterings of great events were swiftly carried from one plantation to another. In the fear of "Yankee" invasions, the silverware and other valuables were taken from the "big house," buried in the woods, and guarded by trusted slaves. Woe be to any one who would have attempted to disturb the buried treasure. The slaves would give the Yankee soldiers food, drink, clothing -- anything but that which had been specifically intrusted [sic] to their care and honour. As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom. True, they had sung those same verses before, but they had been careful to explain that the "freedom" in these songs referred to the next world, and had no connection with life in this world. Now they gradually threw off the mask, and were not afraid to let it be known that the "freedom" in their songs meant freedom of the body in this world. The night before the eventful day, word was sent to the slaver quarters to the effect that something unusual was going to take place at the "big house" the next morning. There was little, if any, sleep that night. All as excitement and expectancy. Early the next morning word was sent to all the slaves, old and young, to gather at the house. In company with my mother, brother, and sister, and a large number of other slaves, I went to the master's house. All of our master's family were either standing or seated on the veranda of the house, where they could see what was to take place and hear what was said. There was a feeling of deep interest, or perhaps sadness, on their faces, but not bitterness. As I now recall the impression they made upon me, they did not at the moment seem to be sad because of the loss of property, but rather because of parting with those whom they had reared and who were in many ways very close to them. The most distinct thing that I now recall in connection with the scene was that some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper -- the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.

For some minutes there was great rejoicing, and thanksgiving, and wild scenes of ecstasy. But there was no feeling of bitterness. In fact, there was pity among the slaves for our former owners. The wild rejoicing on the part of the emancipated coloured people lasted but for a brief period, for I noticed that by the time they returned to their cabins there was a change in their feelings. The great responsibility of being free, of having charge of themselves, of having to think and plan for themselves and their children, seemed to take possession of them. It was very much like suddenly turning a youth of ten or twelve years out into the world to provide for himself. In a few hours the great questions with which the Anglo- Saxon race had been grappling for centuries had been thrown upon these people to be solved. These were the questions of a home, a living, the rearing of children, education, citizenship, and the establishment and support of churches. Was it any wonder that within a few hours the wild rejoicing ceased and a feeling of deep gloom seemed to pervade the slave quarters? To some it seemed that, now that they were in actual possession of it, freedom was a more serious thing than they had expected to find it. Some of the slaves were seventy or eighty years old; their best days were gone. They had no strength with which to earn a living in a strange place and among strange people, even if they had been sure where to find a new place of abode. To this class the problem seemed especially hard. Besides, deep down in their hearts there was a strange and peculiar attachment to "old Marster" and "old Missus," and to their children, which they found it hard to think of breaking off. With these they had spent in some cases nearly a half-century, and it was no light thing to think of parting. Gradually, one by one, stealthily at first, the older slaves began to wander from the slave quarters back to the "big house" to have a whispered conversation with their former owners as to the future.

- Booker T. Washington - Up From Slavery, 1900

A little ditty for this election night

Monday, November 03, 2008
On this day:

Planned Parenthood nurse admits babies’ survival of late-term abortion happens

It appears that we are about to elect a man as President who has said in word and deed that there is and should be no legal remedy for this form of infanticide.

A frustrating day for Kim Jong-Il

Last week, Kim Jong-Il's government threatened to turn South Korea into "debris" if the South doesn't start playing nice. Apparently, presidential politics in the U.S. has got the Dear Leader a little down. Reminded him that he's never once held an election.


An important election eve notice

Folks, this is important! Make SURE to tell all your friends and acquaintances about this so that their vote will COUNT in the upcoming presidential election.

Fears of electoral chaos due to anticipated record-high turnout, as well as widespread voter confusion over straight-ticket voting, have prompted election officials in all fifty states to take the unprecedented action of keeping the polls open an extra day.

Yes, you read that right! Polls will be open on both Tuesday AND Wednesday in all 50 states. Election officials are asking that all voters intending to vote a straight Democratic or mostly-Democratic ticket should go to the polls on WEDNESDAY. Voters who intend to vote straight Republican or mostly-Republican should go to the polls on TUESDAY.

As a conservative, this kind of last-minute tinkering makes me very uneasy. However, I understand that preserving the integrity of the election process is of the utmost importance in order to maintain the people's confidence in the electoral process.



Pope Benedict: "There is no opposition between faith's understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences"

Amen. Truth cannot contradict itself. More here.

Barack's bankrupt economic policy

Will it play in Pennsylvania?

Sunday, November 02, 2008
On this day:

Bama's Number 1

Roll Tide!