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Friday, July 15, 2005

Quote of the Day
"We seem to have pulled off the rare feat of breeding suicide bombers determined to attack the very society that incubated them; and the question is why. Why does America import its suicide bombers, while we produce our own?... American children still begin their day at school by pledging allegiance to the flag, and that is why the Americans show a patriotism and a simple enthusiasm for their own country that our jaded British sensibilities find childish... [W]e have drifted on over the intervening decades, and created a multi-cultural society that has many beauties and attractions, but in which too many Britons have absolutely no sense of allegiance to this country or its institutions" -- Boris Johnson, a Conservative member of Parliament and editor of the Spectator magazine, writing in the Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml).
This ties in to why flag desecration should be illegal. By mandating respect for the flag, we show it to be something worth respecting. Not just the flag, but also "the republic, for which it stands..." People who are going to hate us will hate us. It's those on the fence we need to worry about, and we can convert them to our cause by showing we care enough about our nation to require people to make outward signs of respect to it. After all, if we don't respect it why should they?

Word of Encouragement
Side by Side!

Philippians 1:27-28
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.

Many people lament the lack of community they feel in their lives. But many people go about seeking community in a very wrong-headed way too. Community, like health, is a by-product of other, more important things. People who seek health seldom find it. For the way you get health is not by seeking health, but by loving good food, exercise and fresh air. Health comes as a by-product. Similarly, people who seek "community" usually don't get it for the same reason we don’t get friends by buttonholing strangers in a corner, fixing them with a stare and demanding, "Let’s have a really good talk now!" Community and friendships are found, not by standing face to face, but by standing "side by side" and looking at something else. Paul knows this and so reminds us that the oneness we have in Christ comes, not by trying to have oneness, but by "striving side by side for the faith of the gospel". The very liturgy reminds us this, for in it we are nearly always side by side to face the altar, not each other. Seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things—-including community—-will be added to you as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Here's an example of why I'm a bad, bad person....
It looked at the sign in the picture linked to above and thought, "They should have had a fat person hold it."

I'm a bad, bad man.

Thomas Sowell: Random thoughts
Why do we keep pretending that we know how to control child molesters after they are released from prison? How many more children must be killed before we face the plain reality that, if it is dangerous to let child molesters out of prison, then they should be kept in prison.

Reading letters from liberals makes me fear that they are going to dislocate their shoulders from patting themselves on the back so much. The way they tell it, the reason they differ from others is that they are so much more compassionate, aware, concerned, nuanced, sophisticated and -- yes -- just plain smarter.

Will even the bloody terrorist attacks in London put a stop to the media's hand-wringing because they don't think we have been nice enough to some of the cut-throats who are locked up in Guantanamo? The media have never shown any such interest in how prisoners are treated anywhere else on the island of Cuba, such as in Castro's prisons.

The next time someone demands a timetable for the war in Iraq, ask them to name just one war -- anywhere -- that had such a thing.

Many people are so preoccupied with the notion that their own knowledge exceeds the average knowledge of millions of other people that they overlook the more important fact that their knowledge is not even one-tenth of the total knowledge of those millions. That is the crucial fallacy behind the repeated failures of central planning and other forms of social engineering which concentrate power in the hands of people with less knowledge and more presumption.

Those of us who believe in the two-party system regard voting for a third party as throwing away your vote. However, we could use two new parties to replace the Democrats and Republicans.

After so many media depictions of the "brilliance" of various liberals and the dullness or stupidity of conservatives, it should not be surprising that there was so little attention paid to the recent revelation that George W. Bush had a higher average at Yale than John Kerry did.
I always enjoy his Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Monkey Business - New York Times
[I]n a clean and spacious laboratory at Yale-New Haven Hospital, seven capuchin monkeys have been taught to use money, and a comparison of capuchin behavior and human behavior will either surprise you very much or not at all, depending on your view of humans.
Santos has observed that the monkeys never deliberately save any money, but they do sometimes purloin a token or two during an experiment. All seven monkeys live in a communal main chamber of about 750 cubic feet. For experiments, one capuchin at a time is let into a smaller testing chamber next door. Once, a capuchin in the testing chamber picked up an entire tray of tokens, flung them into the main chamber and then scurried in after them -- a combination jailbreak and bank heist -- which led to a chaotic scene in which the human researchers had to rush into the main chamber and offer food bribes for the tokens, a reinforcement that in effect encouraged more stealing.

Something else happened during that chaotic scene, something that convinced Chen of the monkeys' true grasp of money. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of money, after all, is its fungibility, the fact that it can be used to buy not just food but anything. During the chaos in the monkey cage, Chen saw something out of the corner of his eye that he would later try to play down but in his heart of hearts he knew to be true. What he witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind. (Further proof that the monkeys truly understood money: the monkey who was paid for sex immediately traded the token in for a grape.)
I had read about the prostitution on The Corner, but the image of the monkey throwing the token into the main chamber really made laugh. Monkeys are funny.

This is by the authors of Freakonomics, which is looking more and more like a book I need to read.

Karl Rove, Whistleblower
Democrats and most of the Beltway press corps are baying for Karl Rove's head over his role in exposing a case of CIA nepotism involving Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. On the contrary, we'd say the White House political guru deserves a prize--perhaps the next iteration of the "Truth-Telling" award that The Nation magazine bestowed upon Mr. Wilson before the Senate Intelligence Committee exposed him as a fraud.

For Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real "whistleblower" in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility. He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign. Thank you, Mr. Rove.
Mr. Wilson also vehemently denied it when columnist Robert Novak first reported that his wife had played a role in selecting him for the Niger mission. He promptly signed up as adviser to the Kerry campaign and was feted almost everywhere in the media, including repeat appearances on NBC's "Meet the Press" and a photo spread (with Valerie) in Vanity Fair.

But his day in the political sun was short-lived. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report last July cited the note that Ms. Plame had sent recommending her husband for the Niger mission. "Interviews and documents provided to the Committee indicate that his wife, a CPD [Counterproliferation Division] employee, suggested his name for the trip," said the report.

The same bipartisan report also pointed out that the forged documents Mr. Wilson claimed to have discredited hadn't even entered intelligence channels until eight months after his trip. And it said the CIA interpreted the information he provided in his debrief as mildly supportive of the suspicion that Iraq had been seeking uranium in Niger.

About the same time, another inquiry headed by Britain's Lord Butler delivered its own verdict on the 16 words: "We conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that 'The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' was well-founded."

In short, Joe Wilson hadn't told the truth about what he'd discovered in Africa, how he'd discovered it, what he'd told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission. The media and the Kerry campaign promptly abandoned him, though the former never did give as much prominence to his debunking as they did to his original accusations. But if anyone can remember another public figure so entirely and thoroughly discredited, let us know.

Walter E. Williams: Aid to Africa
Let's examine the "vicious cycle of poverty" myth and whether foreign aid is a necessary ingredient for economic development. The U.S., Britain, France, Canada and most other countries were once poor. Andrew Bernstein of the Ayn Rand Institute wrote in an article titled "Capitalism Is the Cure for Africa's Problems" that pre-industrial Europe was vastly poorer than contemporary Africa.

A relatively well-off country, like France, experienced several famines between the 15th and 18th centuries as well as plagues and diseases that sometimes killed hundreds of thousands. In France, life expectancy was 20 years, in Ireland it was 19 years, and in early 18th-century London, more than 74 percent of the children died before reaching age 5.

Beginning in the late 18th century, there was a dramatic economic turnabout in Europe. How in the world did these once poor and backward countries break the "vicious cycle of poverty" and become wealthy, without what today's development experts say is absolutely necessary for economic growth -- foreign aid handouts, World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans, and billions of dollars of debt forgiveness?

The answer is simple: Capitalism started taking root in Europe. Capitalism is an economic system where there's peaceable, voluntary exchange. Government protects private property rights held in goods and services. There's rule of law and minimal government regulation and control of the economy.
Some economic development "experts" attribute Africa's troubles to its history of colonialism. That's nonsense, because some of the world's richest countries are former colonies, such as the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. In fact, many of Africa's sub-Saharan countries are poorer now than when they were colonies, and their people suffer greater human rights degradations, such as the mass genocide the continent has witnessed.

One unappreciated tragedy that attests to the wasted talents of its peoples is that Africans tend to do well all around the world except in Africa. This is seen by the large number of prosperous, professional and skilled African families throughout Europe and the United States. Back home, these same people would be hamstrung by their corrupt governments.

The worst thing that can be done is to give more foreign aid to African nations. Foreign aid goes from government to government. Foreign aid allows Africa's corrupt regimes to buy military equipment, pay off cronies and continue to oppress their people. It also provides resources for its leaders to set up "retirement" accounts in Swiss banks.

What Africa needs, foreign aid cannot deliver, and that's elimination of dictators and socialist regimes, establishment of political and economic freedom, rule of law and respect for individual rights. Until that happens, despite billions of dollars of foreign aid, Africa will remain a basket case.

Thomas Sowell: The tragedy of Africa: Part II
Nature and man have combined to make Africa the most tragic of the continents -- and the men who did this have been both black and white.

The great French historian Fernand Braudel said, "In understanding Black Africa, geography is more important than history." Much of Africa's history was in fact shaped by its geography.
Isolated regions have almost invariably lagged behind regions in touch with a wider cultural universe. One among many signs of the isolation and cultural fragmentation of much of sub-Saharan Africa is that African languages are one third of all the languages in the world, even though African peoples are only about 10 percent of the world's population.

Small, tribal societies were another consequence of geographic isolation -- and the vulnerability of such societies to conquest by outsiders was another.

If cultural diversity was all that the multiculturalists claim, Africa would be a heaven on earth. Too often and in too many places it has been a hell on earth.

Many people expected great things from Africa when new independent African nations began to emerge from colonial rule in the 1960s, often headed by leaders who had been educated in Europe and America.

Unfortunately, what these new leaders brought back to Africa from the West were not the things that had made the West prosperous and powerful but the untested theories of Western intellectuals and ideologues who had taught them. Such African leaders by and large lacked both the common sense of the African masses and the technological and economic experience of the West.

The net result was that African leaders, full of confidence because of their Western education and the adulation of the Western intelligentsia, made their people guinea pigs for half-baked theories that had contributed nothing to the rise of the West and had contributed much to its social degeneration.
Thus Julius Nyerere became virtually a secular saint in the Western media while he was driving the people of Tanzania deeper into poverty and tyranny. Nor was he alone.

Conversely, when Felix Houphouet-Boigny made the Ivory Coast an oasis of economic advancement and civil peace, he was either ignored or disdained. He was one of the few new African leaders with any previous experience in business or any understanding of economics. His successors have ruined the country.

Whatever damage European colonialism did to Africa during its relatively brief reign, that was probably less than the damage done later by well-meaning Western would-be saviors of Africa. Africans do not need to be treated as mascots but as people whose own efforts, skills, and initiatives need to be freed from the tyranny of their leaders and the paternalism of Western busybodies.

"[D]o not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is the first sip, the first foretaste of the bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time." --Winston Churchill

"One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation." --Thomas Reed

"The Supreme Court has reconstituted itself as a permanent constitutional convention, amending the Constitution at will to suit the ideology of the majority. If that weren't enough, the Left is convinced that it has a divine right to determine the philosophical composition of the high court, regardless of the outcome of elections." --Don Feder

"What, if anything, should government do about the sustained increase in gasoline prices? Not a thing. For both practical and theoretical reasons, politicians and regulators should resist the temptation to monkey around with fuel markets. No matter how well intentioned, intervention to protect consumers will only make matters worse." --Peter Van Doren

"[Y]ou are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it is his divine duty to kill you." --Amir Taheri

"Some Democrats are simply uncomfortable about America having a strong and unapologetic role in the world. This isn't treason; it's weakness. And weakness in the dangerous world we face is an invitation for more terror. Be warned." --James Taranto

"[T]he city of Paris lost the chance to host the 2012 Olympics. Apparently they're very bitter about it. The Parisians are disappointed because they were looking forward to being rude to thousands of new people." --Conan O'Brien

Jay Leno.... Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring from the Supreme Court and now a number of special interest groups are pressuring President Bush on the selection for Supreme Court nominees. Some want Bush to nominate a women, some want a man, some want an African American, some want a Caucasian. You know who the perfect nominee is? Michael Jackson. .... The president of CBS News has commissioned his staff to come up with an evening news format that favors more of a "storytelling" style over the traditional news format. Storytelling? So it sounds like they're bringing back Dan Rather, huh? .... In an article in USA Today, Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine says that terrorists will try to take advantage of our Coast Guard's aging fleet once they find out its weaknesses. You know how they're going to find out about our weaknesses? By reading her article in USA Today! .... In fact, many in Washington say that if the Coast Guard's ships aren't replaced soon, they will be unable to keep out drugs and illegal aliens from entering our country. God forbid that should ever happen -- imagine what this place would be like if illegal aliens and drugs were able to get in here!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Caring for the Least
Columnists Fr. Richard McBrien and Sr. Joan Chittister are already huffing and puffing and waving their arms looking to trap in the backcourt, while Catholic columnists such as Mark Shields and Maureen Dowd are doing their part in the secular media to close off the passing lanes.

They are telling us that it makes little sense to work to protect the rights of the fetus if we are not going to provide the child with government assistance to secure its educational and medical needs after it is born; that the Democrats’ commitment to poverty programs makes them “more moral” from a Catholic perspective than the Republicans, notwithstanding the Democrats’ positions on issues such as abortion and homosexual marriage; that Republicans are “indifferent to the plight of the poor.”

Are those who take this stance sincere? For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that they are. Let’s take them at their word and accept that they can’t see how a Catholic would back a candidate who is more concerned with corporate profits and keeping taxes low than with than with supporting federal programs that care for the least of our brethren, even if that candidate is “with the Church” on the question of abortion and homosexual marriage. My question is why Catholics who favor the social programs of the Democratic Party as a way of promoting social justice cannot give the same benefit of the doubt to those who think those programs do no such thing.
A very good question indeed. It's a common assumption of the Left that if you disagree with them, you're corrupt, stupid, or selfish. (paging Al Mascitti)

The rest of the article goes on to explain that trust in the free market over a socialistic welfare state is in line with Catholic Social Teaching, especially given the poor results of 40 years of the Great Society.

This cracked me up
I got a little insight into people's health-care priorities a couple of weeks ago, when the news first came out about the Viagra-blindness link. I happened to mention the story to a fiftysomething male acquaintance.

Me: "There's a report here that says Viagra can make you go blind."

He: "So?"
From John Derbyshire.

Thomas Sowell: The tragedy of Africa
As for the people of Africa, they have to survive in the short run in order to get to the long run. So emergency aid for emergency conditions makes far more sense than long-run "foreign aid" programs with an almost unbroken track record of failure, not only in Africa but around the world.

Years ago, a courageous economist in India pointed out that, however helpful it was to receive food from abroad during India's famines, the long-run policy of continually giving wheat to India was just reducing the ability of Indian farmers to grow wheat and sell it for a price that would cover their costs.

Eventually the policy of continually dumping wheat into India was stopped and today India produces so much wheat that it has been able to send some to Africa to deal with African famines.

Holy fluerking schnit!!
Bobby Abreu has always been one of baseball's most unheralded stars.

Not anymore.

The Philadelphia Phillies right fielder won the Home Run Derby with a record-setting performance Monday night, hitting an astounding 24 homers in his first turn at bat before outslugging hometown favorite Ivan Rodriguez in the finals.
I normally don't watch the Home Run Derby, but I taped the replay of it last night. I have to watch this one.

Way to go, Bobby!!

Monday, July 11, 2005

OpinionJournal - John Fund on the Trail
In 1954 the Supreme Court declared in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. But that same year it also ruled in Berman v. Parker that government's power of eminent domain could be used to seize property in order to tear down "blighted" areas.

It soon became clear that too often urban renewal really meant "Negro removal," as cities increasingly razed stable neighborhoods to benefit powerful interests. That helps explain why 50 years later so many minority groups are furious at the Supreme Court's decision last month to build on the Berman precedent and give government a green light to take private property that isn't "blighted" if it can be justified in the name of economic development.
Lesson: When you give the government power, it's inevitably used against the poor, since the rich either know the people making the decisions (or their bosses) or have lawyers good enough to prevent actions against them.

"If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free." --John Adams

"The debate over freedom of religion has turned into a debate over freedom from religion. Religious men and women founded America, and for centuries, religious faith was considered by nearly everyone to be a key to good citizenship. The Founding Fathers would not allow religion to govern the state, but they appreciated the way religion governed the private lives of good citizens." --Suzanne Fields

"The ongoing collapse of courtesy is no surprise in a nation with so many people who are as self-absorbed as black holes. Consider this T-shirt I've spotted: 'It's all about me -- deal with it.' ... Push in your seat when leaving tables in restaurants, libraries, and conference rooms. Abandoning your chair or barstool in the middle of a path obstructs those who walk by after you depart. ... It remains civilized to hold open the door for someone who is walking a few steps behind you. Letting the door slam in his face is rude. When someone opens a door for you, say 'thank you.' Muttering 'Excuse me' makes a gracious person feel his thoughtfulness is abusive. Walking by and saying nothing, as if that lady or gentleman were your servant or simply invisible, is vulgar. ... 'Please' and 'thank you' are not vulgarities. Use them generously, especially around children. They need to learn two of the language's finest words, even if adults say them less than they should. ... Trash cans are there for a reason. Use them. ... A major airline's East Coast shuttle lounge in Washington, DC's Reagan National Airport -- gateway for learned attorneys, lobbyists, journalists, and members of Congress -- recently almost suffocated beneath whole sections and loose pages of various newspapers. They were strewn across the floor and on many seats. These literate adults apparently did not have their mommies on hand to locate the ubiquitous, neglected garbage bins. The point of all this is not necessarily to turn every American man and woman, respectively, into Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, though we could do worse. The idea is to encourage each of us -- every day, in tiny ways -- to subtract from, rather than add to, the worries of an impolite world." --Deroy Murdock

"There is a temptation to see the terrorist act as simply the erratic work of a small group of fanatics. We make this mistake at great peril, for the attacks on America, her citizens, her allies, and other democratic nations in recent years do form a pattern of terrorism that has strategic implications and political goals. And only by moving our focus from the tactical to the strategic perspective, only by identifying the pattern of terror and those behind it, can we hope to put into force a strategy to deal with it." --Ronald Reagan

"Get the picture? New Hampshire businessman Logan Darrow Clements did. He wants to build a new hotel in the town of Weare and he's found just the right piece of land: the home of Supreme Court judge David Souter. In compliance with Justice Souter's view of the public interest, Clements' project will generate far more revenue for Weare than Souter's pad ever could. The Lost Liberty Hotel will include the Just Desserts Bar and a museum dedicated to the loss of freedom in America. I don't know about you, but the last time I was in Weare, N.H., I couldn't help thinking that what this town urgently needs is a good hotel. If it will help the Board of Selectmen in their decision, I personally pledge to take the most expensive suite in the new joint for the first month it's in service. I'll be sluicing plenty of big columnar bucks around town, racking up big N.H. Meals Tax payments at Weare's finest restaurants and, along with my fellow guests, doing far more for the local economy than one ascetic, largely absentee bachelor like Justice Souter could ever do. Indeed, under Souter's definition, it would be hard to think of a property doing less for the public interest than his own house. So let's get on with putting his principles into action, and with luck his beloved but economically moribund abode will be rubble by the end of the year. ... How's that banned-in-Kentucky Commandment go? 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, nor his ass.' However, if thy neighbor is an a** and thou hast financing for a luxury hotel, covet away." --Mark Steyn

"Dependency on government also has the effect of reducing economic mobility among the poor. ... Easy access to welfare has made many individuals, who turned down opportunities, believe they were better off so far as income, leisure time and family time than they would have been by accepting a low-paying job. In terms of short-run economics, many were correct. Welfare reform during the 1990s, despite the dire predictions, moved many former welfare recipients into the world of work and upward mobility. Many who never had a job are now working and are self-sufficient. As such, the tens of thousands of former welfare recipients who moved from welfare rolls to payrolls are proof of the inhumanity of dependency. What's more important is that these former welfare recipients and their families have a greater sense of self-worth. Benjamin Franklin had it right when he wrote, '[T]he best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.' Government dependency makes poverty easy." --Walter Williams

Virgina Governor Admits Democrats Lie
Americans want somebody who is going to be straight with them even if telling the truth may not be what they want to hear. This country is ready for a party and leaders to reclaim the sensible center. My fellow Democrats, it ought to be us.
Isn't he clearly admitting that the Democrats don't tell Americans the truth?

I've finally been quoted in The Corner!!!!
Not about anything substantive, of course. Just weighing in with my opinion on the great "Rock Me, Amadeus" vs. "Der Kommissar" debate
E- mailer Paul votes for "Rock Me Amadeus.": "Partly for it's overwhelming cheesiness, but mostly because without it, this Simpsons scene never could have happened. (From Planet of the Apes, the Broadway musical!)"

Out of Practice, Senate Crams for Battle Over Court Nominee - New York Times
Republicans want the confirmation to take place as quickly as possible, while Democrats would prefer a drawn-out process to give them time to challenge the nominee.
Remember this when the Democrats claim the nominee is an extremist. They don't know who he (or she) is yet, but they've already decided they need to be challenged. The Democrats' objections will be about power, not about substantive issues.

Link via Off the Record on Catholic World News.

BuzzCharts: Jerry Bowyer on Red State Republican Income on NRO Financial
Shows that contrary to myth the richer states vote Democratic. The Democrats are the party of the rich.

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