Sunday, January 25, 2009
On this day:

Obama seeks space weapons ban

I'll wait for all the details, but at first glance, this seems recklessly naive. It has implications for missile defense and satellite defense, among other things, and would effectively amount to unilateral disarmament on the part of the U.S., since the technology of our "strategic competitors" in those areas is years behind our own. If President Obama is seeking to reassure America's friends and foes that U.S. defense policy will remain strong under his administration, this is not a good signal.

What Roe really did

Jeff Jacoby clears up some popular misconceptions about Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The upshot:
Taken together, Roe and Doe meant that abortion could not be barred at any stage of a pregnancy. The "attending physician" could always say that in his medical judgment, the woman's "emotional" or "familial" health made it necessary to abort her unborn child. The result has been 36 years of abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy. ...

Since 1973, more than 40 million US pregnancies have ended in abortion: Ours is the most liberal abortion culture in the advanced world. Reasonable people can differ over whether to preserve Roe or overrule Roe. But surely the way to begin is to understand Roe.

Thursday, January 22, 2009
On this day:

Roe has to go

Ed Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, gave many of the reasons why in his 2005 Senate testimony. Here's a taste:

First, Roe v. Wade marks the second time in American history that the Supreme Court has invoked "substantive due process" to deny American citizens the authority to protect the basic rights of an entire class of human beings. The first time, of course, was the Court’s infamous 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857)). There, the Court held that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which prohibited slavery in the northern portion of the Louisiana Territories, could not constitutionally be applied to persons who brought their slaves into free territory. Such a prohibition, the Court nakedly asserted, "could hardly be dignified with the name of due process." Id. at 450. Thus were discarded the efforts of the people, through their representatives, to resolve politically and peacefully the greatest moral issue of their age. Chief Justice Taney and his concurring colleagues thought that they were conclusively resolving the issue of slavery. Instead, they only made all the more inevitable the Civil War that erupted four years later.

Roe is the Dred Scott of our age. Like few other Supreme Court cases in our nation’s history, Roe is not merely patently wrong but also fundamentally hostile to core precepts of American government and citizenship. Roe is a lawless power grab by the Supreme Court, an unconstitutional act of aggression by the Court against the political branches and the American people. Roe prevents all Americans from working together, through an ongoing process of peaceful and vigorous persuasion, to establish and revise the policies on abortion governing our respective states. Roe imposes on all Americans a radical regime of unrestricted abortion for any reason all the way up to viability—and, under the predominant reading of sloppy language in Roe’s companion case, Doe v. Bolton, essentially unrestricted even in the period from viability until birth. Roe fuels endless litigation in which pro-abortion extremists challenge modest abortion-related measures that state legislators have enacted and that are overwhelmingly favored by the public—provisions, for example, seeking to ensure informed consent and parental involvement for minors and barring atrocities like partial-birth abortion. Roe disenfranchises the millions and millions of patriotic American citizens who believe that the self-evident truth proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence—that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with an unalienable right to life—warrants significant governmental protection of the lives of unborn human beings.

Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

And here's something to think about:

Mad transvestites attack Memphis McDonalds I guess the Memphis police will have to set up a massive dragnet to apprehend these guys. (YouTube alert.)

The new New Deal

Reason TV asks, "Will it be as bad as the old one was?"

Jonah Goldberg on "What Obama brings to conservatives"

Jonah's gotten a lot of flak for this today (to which he responds here), but I think he's right. Obama is not a conservative and is unlikely to govern as one, but his inauguration as President was a proud moment for America that carries with it a great deal of promise - even for those of us who are conservative Republicans. As Jonah said:
If Obama lives up to the dreams of his supporters in writing a new, post-racial chapter for America, he will have at once done more for America than any Democratic president in generations. But he also will have cut the knot holding much of the left together. As an American and as a conservative, I certainly hope that’s the case. He’s already made a good start of it just by getting elected.
We certainly shouldn't paper over our differences, nor should we concede the point that President Obama made in his inaugural address "that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply." Arguments over the proper role of the federal government in American life are not stale, nor are they inapplicable to the current economic and political environment. Still, on one issue that has been at the root of the most divisive events in our nation's history - race - it's unquestionable that we've turned a corner. It's hard to see how that can work in favor of the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world.

She's a poet, but you'd never know it

The best thing I can say about Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem is that it lived up to expectations.

State Rep. Alvin Holmes speaks out on the term "African-American"

No doubt about it, Rep. Holmes never fails to speak his mind.

From Tom Gordon at the B'ham News (H/T Flash Point):
Alvin Holmes could not be happier now that Barack Obama has taken the oath.

But you'll get Holmes' dander up if you call Obama an African-American.

"First of all, he's an American who happens to be black," Holmes said. "I don't look at him as African-American. Bob Riley is an American who happens to be white. We're all Americans first."

The veteran Montgomery legislator can't stand hyphenated designations. He has had more than a few arguments with other black leaders on the subject, including Jesse Jackson.

"African-American means anybody from the continent of Africa," Holmes said. "That would include the Egyptians, the Sudanese, and it would include the white people from South Africa. If a white man from South Africa comes to America, he's African-American. I mean, the white people who had the apartheid system, if they come over here, they're African-American.

"I dislike very much anybody using that word African-American," Holmes said.

"The only people who want to use African-American are these pointy headed, briefcase-toting black intellectuals," Holmes said. "I ain't never had nobody in my district support people who called themselves African-American.

"When the police come through there and beat up some of them, they don't ever call me and say, 'Mr. Holmes, you need to come over here and check things out. The police just came through here and beat up a bunch of African-Americans.' They call me and say, 'Mr. Holmes, the police been through here and done beat up a whole bunch of blacks.'"

The Frenchman

Headline of the day:

Former French President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
On this day:

Another "historic event"

President Obama took the oath of office twice. The second time according to the actual language of the Constitution.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
On this day:

President Obama

Congratulations to President Obama for his remarkable achievement. May God bless him and the nation he serves.

Sunday, January 18, 2009
On this day:


It's what's for dinner.

Saturday, January 17, 2009
On this day:

A follow-up question

How did someone capable of spouting such verifiable nonsense ever get to be recognized as a "leading climate expert"?

NASA "scientist": Obama has four years to save the world

The Guardian reports:
Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of NASA scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.
That may be close enough for guv'mint work, but it's not quite right.

Clearly, Mr. Dr. Hansen based his estimate on the fact that Obama is the Anti-Christ and is therefore pure-dee eeeee-vil. That means that the amount of time it will take for Mr. Obama to save the Earth from climatological collapse - and thereby delay the apocalyptic return of the real Messiah - can be deduced by multiplying the sign of the beast, 666, by the number e, which is approximately 2.71828183. That comes out to 1810.87569878 days, or about 4 years, 11 months, 15 1/2 days. Unfortunately, that's than the four-year election cycle, so if Mr. Obama intends to save the world, he'd better damn well get himself re-elected.

What's in a name?

Here's a question:

There are several buildings in Alabama named after our senior U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby, but are there any named after Jeff Sessions?

Thursday, January 15, 2009
On this day:

Good interviews are hard to come by these days...

What with all the loud-mouths who won't let their "guests" get a word in edge-wise. But Charlie Rose is different, as this recent interview with Defense Secretary Robert Gates shows. Rose asks intelligent questions and engages in intelligent conversation while maintaining the proper sense of humility that makes for a great interviewer: focusing the attention where it should be focused - on his guest.

And thankfully so in this case, because Gates is such an impressive public servant. In his interview with Rose, Secretary Gates outlines a view of American defense policy (and foreign policy) that is both realistic and consistent with American idealism. Pay particular attention to what he has to say with regard to Russia and NATO expansion. Very interesting. That President-elect Obama has chosen to retain him as Defense Secretary is an encouraging sign.

Ricardo Montalban, RIP

Fantasy Island's Mr. Roarke has died at the age of 88. Like me, he was a friend and subscriber to National Review. Cool.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
On this day:

Alabama NAACP: We like diversity...except when we don't

Perhaps Artur Davis should have a chat with the leadership of the Alabama NAACP.

Update: The Mobile Press-Register reports that "State NAACP President Edward Vaughn said he never suggested that Mobile's Azalea Trail Maids should be excluded from next week's presidential inaugural parade and apologized for saying their appearance could make Alabama a 'laughingstock.'" That's good to hear.

And then there's this, also from the Press-Register:
The flap over the Azalea Trail Maids' appearance at Tuesday's presidential inauguration will get an airing on this morning's Today program, which runs in the Mobile area from 7 to 11 a.m. on local affiliate WPMI-TV15, a network spokeswoman confirmed late Tuesday afternoon.

No other details from the network were immediately available, but a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, said the congressman had been interviewed for the segment.

In a statement, Davis, the only black member of the Alabama congressional delegation, said he is disappointed that "a multi-racial group which represents the entire community of Mobile has unfairly been criticized."
Also good to hear.

Monday, January 12, 2009
On this day:

Andre Glucksmann on "Disproportion"

From the conclusion to his article in City Journal:
To work for peace in the Middle East, we must escape the temptations of absolutism, which entice not only fanatical hard-liners but also angelic souls who imagine that some sacred “proportion” would bring a providential balance to murderous conflicts. In the Middle East, the conflict concerns not only the enforcement of rules of the game, but their establishment. One has every right to discuss freely the appropriateness of a given military or diplomatic initiative, but not to imagine that the problem is soluble in advance by the ostensible right-thinking of world opinion. To wish to survive is not disproportionate.
Read the whole thing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009
On this day:

Theodore Dalrymple on modern art

It's all about ego.

Artur Davis on seating Roland Burris: Keep race out of it

Rep. Artur Davis is a real gem.

From the B'ham News:
"I choose not to associate myself with any argument from some quarters that Burris' race or the desire for diversity entitles him to be seated, and I cannot join any suggestion that those who oppose Burris are racially motivated," Davis said in a written statement explaining his decision not to sign the CBC letter.

Burris, who is black, was appointed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, but Blagojevich is under federal investigation for trying to sell the appointment to the highest bidder. Democrats initially opposed Burris' arrival in Washington, but they are now considering allowing him to take office.

Although Davis said he agreed that Burris - who is not accused of wrongdoing - is legally entitled to be sworn in, he objected to implications that the controversy was driven by racism.

The CBC letter did not mention race, but some caucus members have compared Burris' treatment to a lynching.

On Wednesday, Davis left a closed meeting of the 41- member black caucus before the group voted to back Burris. And Thursday, he went public with his opposition.

The controversy "should not be treated as an occasion for racial solidarity," he said. ...

Davis, who would like to be elected Alabama's first black governor in 2010, said the election of the first black president should end attempts to "inject race into arguments where it doesn't belong."

"Barack Obama never based his campaign on racial appeals and it is time to honor the example of this historic election," he said.

Wow. What a breath of fresh air, not to mention an excellent political play. Although if Rep. Davis is really serious about removing race from those areas of public life where it should play no part, perhaps he should reconsider his membership in the Congressional Black Caucus.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, RIP

Father Richard John Neuhaus, founder of First Things magazine and one of the most influential social conservatives in America, died January 8 at the age of 72.

I first "met" Father Neuhaus through First Things and its blog-like department called On The Square (both of which I link to over in the right sidebar). I was immediately drawn to him because he was a man of faith who was also a man of reason: one who believed that true faith and right reason are inseparable - two sides of the same coin, both oriented towards those "first things" that give life its meaning.

One of his most moving and personal reflections - entitled "Born Toward Dying" - has been reposted on the First Things web site. In addition, many of Fr. Neuhaus's other writings and several reflections on his life and work have been compiled here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009
On this day:

Barbecued Bacon and Sausage

Be still my heart.

The U.S., Russia, and Georgia

As Doug Bandow points out, we're playing with fire.

Heresy on abortion from the New York Times

Marvin Olasky noticed a subtle lapse in the New York Times's pro-abortion orthodoxy recently. You'll have to read his article to find out what that was, but he goes on to ask a very good question:
Two positions on abortion are logically consistent. One states, with biblical objectivity, that the killing of small human beings, whether born or unborn, should be illegal. The other, as espoused by Princeton's Peter Singer and others, is subjective: Small human beings dependent on others gain rights only as their needed protectors give them. This means that not only abortion but infanticide up to toddler stage should be legal.

This is not to say that Americans can't come at least temporarily to an illogical middle position. Most Europeans have. In France, for example, abortion during the first 10 weeks is legal but discouraged; after that time, sharp restrictions set in. If the Supreme Court hadn't in Roe v. Wade gone to the extreme of legalizing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason, we'd now have laws that allow for some abortion but do not freeze us into Court-dictated subjectivity.

Subjectivity: Right now killing an unborn child with the consent of the mother is legal in all 50 states—but in at least 35 states it is murder if a father or anyone else kills that child without the mother's consent. In other words, our law is based on the idea that unborn children do not objectively have value unless they are recognized as children by their mothers. Do we really believe that?
The problem is that even if we don't believe that, there's little we can do to amend it, since the U.S. Supreme Court has placed almost all practical options for restricting abortion off limits. The Court has written this grave injustice - if that's what it is - into the Constitution, and it is now the supreme law of the land.

Although it's daring of us moderns to do this sort of thing - placing man's law in direct opposition to the moral law - I can't say that it's very smart.

Thursday, January 08, 2009
On this day:

Reps. Griffith, Bright in first test of "independence"

Both fail.

From the Huntsville Times:

Within an hour or so of officially becoming a congressman, [Rep. Parker] Griffith [D.-Huntsville] cast two votes: One to retain Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker of the House and one to pass the Pelosi-proposed rules package that does away with term limits for committee chairs and limits the minority party's ability to offer some legislative motions. Both votes quickly drew criticism from Republicans, who enacted the term limit on chairmen 12 years ago.

The selection of speaker was handled by a voice vote, and Griffith - he was sitting beside Republican Congressman Robert Aderholt of Haleyville - stood and pointed as he called out his vote for Pelosi.

And the Montgomery Advertiser:
[Rep. Bobby] Bright's [D.-Montgomery] first vote Tuesday was to re-elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as speaker of the House. He also joined most other Democrats to support a bill to change several House procedural rules, including making it harder for Republicans to delay votes on bills and not re­quiring tax increases or funding cuts to offset the cost of emergency bills.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009
On this day:

Silent Cal

Ryan L. Cole has this piece in the American Spectator on one of my favorite Presidents - Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, January 05, 2009
On this day:

Vaclav Klaus II

See his remarks to the CATO Institute here.

Vaclav Klaus

This month, the Czech Republic assumed the EU Presidency, and the new prominence that has afforded Czech President Vaclav Klaus has caused quite a stir. In addition to being a staunch opponent of the push by European elites to vest the EU with vastly expanded powers, Klaus is also a vocal skeptic of the climate change hysteria that has gripped the West. In 2007, he wrote in the Financial Times:

As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists.

The scientists should help us and take into consideration the political effects of their scientific opinions. They have an obligation to declare their political and value assumptions and how much they have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence.

Of former Vice President Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize, Klaus remarked that "The relationship between his activities and world peace is unclear and indistinct. It rather seems that Gore's doubting of basic cornerstones of the current civilization does not contribute to peace."

It should be an interesting six months.

How progressive is the federal tax system?

See for yourself.

Gov. Riley vs. AG King on gambling

Gov. Riley: Enforce the law.

Riley-appointed Attorney General Troy King: I intend to, but the Governor is mistaken as to what the law actually says.

Talk about a "clash of civilizations"

Salon's Michael Lind advocates a "Third Reconstruction," directed against the American South. With lots of fightin' these, for example, in which he essentially accuses Southerners of being traitors to the Union:
In the early 20th century, the Southern states were the first to adopt conscious statewide economic development policies, which then as now meant poaching industries from New England and the Midwest where wages and public spending and regulation were greater. That's how the South took the textile industry from New England, before losing it to lower-wage Asia. Now with the help of Nissan, Toyota, and BMW, the South is trying to replace Detroit as the center of U.S. automobile production, using low wages, anti-union laws, and low taxes to benefit from the outsourcing of industry from societies more advanced than the South, like Japan and Germany. The economic Axis is collaborating with the neo-Confederates against their common opponent -- the American Union. If they succeed, the losers will be not only non-Southern regions in the U.S., but the majority of Southerners of all races, whose interest in decent wages, good education, and adequate public services have almost always been sacrificed to the greed of the well-connected few by Southern statehouse gangs.

Samuel Huntington, RIP

In 2004, National Review's Rich Lowry called Samuel Huntington, who died on December 24, "the most important political scientist in America." His New York Times obit is here.

Foreign Affairs has posted a selection of Huntington's essays here, including one of his most influential, written in 1993 and entitled "The Clash of Civilizations?. It's definitely worth a read or a re-read. ("The Lonely Superpower" is also worth your time.)

Sunday, January 04, 2009
On this day:

New Jersey fires a warning shot against religious liberty

See the full story from the AP and the New York Times here and here.

MarriageDebate's William Duncan and the American Spectator's W. James Antle comment here and here.

Additional background from the American Spectator's Mark Tooley here.

Saturday, January 03, 2009
On this day:

Israel and the Palestinians, continued

Like many Americans, the misbehavior of Gazan Palestinians has made it very difficult for me to sympathize with their plight. My response to the ongoing mess in Gaza, which has now erupted into war, has pretty much been that Hamas and its supporters - both active and passive - deserve everything that the Israelis can mete out, and probably more; that this is not an occasion for Israeli restraint, but rather one that calls for a wildly disproportionate response that puts an end to this conflict for good.

But alas, the Middle East and its problems are never so simple as to lend themselves to such a smite-and-make-right solution. And while our sympathies in this latest conflict may lie squarely with the Israelis, we have to come to grips with the fact that America's permanent interests are not always so clearly defined as its temporary passions.

In the lastest issue of Foreign Affairs, Walter Russell Mead discusses what America's interests are with respect to Israel and the Palestinians and offers some advice on how they might be achieved. It's definitely worth a read - for providing a thorough background of the issues involved, if nothing else.

Israel and Hamas: What would a "proportionate" response look like?

R. Emmett Tyrrell:

It is dreadful that Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth, is under heavy aerial bombardment from Israel. Yet Hamas, the governing entity in Gaza, has been lobbing shrapnel-filled missiles into Israel on a regular basis for months. Two weeks ago Hamas arbitrarily broke its six-month ceasefire with Israel, and the danger to Israeli life and property has gotten worse. How many missiles is Israel to suffer before it is warranted to defend its territory and its people?

Now that word "disproportional" is being raised among foreign policy elites. Israeli air strikes since Saturday have killed several hundred Palestinians and injured several thousand. So we are hearing that the Israeli actions are "disproportional." I can almost imagine a learned seminar being convened here in Washington wherein the assembled gogues excogitate precisely how many incoming Hamas missiles will warrant one air strike or more. And how will these advocates of proportionality factor in the targets of the Israeli air strikes? It is tragic that Palestinian civilians are dying, but Hamas locates its military installations and administrative facilities in civilian areas precisely to dissuade Israel from attacking Hamas as it insouciantly bombards Israel, its soldiers, and more frequently its civilians. ...

I have no idea how many Hamas strikes against civilians warrant how many Israeli acts of retribution. Frankly, such calculations strike me as beside the point. The real question is how many Israeli strikes are needed to close down Hamas? That is what is necessary. The Israelis have at their border a violent, unprincipled enemy that has vowed to destroy Israel. Hamas not only vows to destroy Israel, it bombards Israel and expects the world to object when Israel counterattacks. Now that strikes me as irrational. Hamas should accept the consequences of its assaults on Israel. Hamas might even renew the ceasefire that it broke. For that matter Hamas might end its war against Israel. I doubt the Israelis would object.

Mobile brings in New Year with giant Moon Pie drop

A neat idea, but where was the giant can of RC Cola?