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August 2003 Archives

August 1, 2003

When is a door not a door? When it's ajar!

What do you call it when the government imposes costs on you, which you must pay, by law, whether you get something for it or not? Well, if you figure it out, please let the New York Times know, okay? Writing about the BBC:

Indeed, the corporation is governed by a 10-year Royal Charter, not expiring until 2006, meaning it can take a much longer view of its investments and spending than other broadcasters. At the same time, though, to the annoyance of competitors, the charter permits it to sell programs, books and magazines even as it harvests income from the compulsory license fees that its critics call a tax.
(Emphasis added.) What do other people call it, a penguin?

August 5, 2003

Another Sign Irony is Not Dead

Today on the National Review's group blog The Corner, Mike Potemra writes the following about something Roger Ebert said: "It’s heartening that this attitude can prevail, even in today’s climate of race-mongering and race-baiting."

Ironic, considering that one of The Corner's contributors is Charles Murray.

Facinating Wording

Today, Fred Barnes gives us this about Bishop-elect Gene Robinson: "The gay issue is threatening to split the Episcopal Church. Conservatives, traditionalists, and their allies note the Bible is explicit in identifying gay sexual relations as sinful and insist the church should stand against worldly trends. The church's official position is opposition to sexual activity outside of marriage. The pro-gay side argues the church must accept everyone, including gays."

So, according to Barnes, the "conservatives, traditionalists, and their allies" have the Bible on their side and have a coherent argument, and are even against something ("worldy trends.")

The other side aren't called "reformers" or "liberals" nor do they have allies. They are just "pro-gay." And they don't seem to have anything on their side. They just argue that the church must accept everyone. According to Barnes, they don't have any Biblical foundation for their argument. (Barnes is a journalist, after all. If they had an argument, wouldn't he have included it? :) )

If I were reading this, yeah, I'd agree with Barnes, too.

But I don't agree with Barnes. I remember Paul's letter to the Romans. "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men." (Romans 14:17-18). If Rev. Robinson is righteous, peaceful, and takes joy in the Holy Ghost, it seems that he's approved with God. Maybe not okay with Fred Barnes. But that's okay.

I hear they are posted at the Alabama Supreme Court building...

It seems the author of the e-mail damning Bishop-elect Gene Robinson claims he never meant the accustion to become public. ""He never expected this to become a matter for the secular press," someone in the know said. "It was meant to be an internal message to the powers that be. ... It got very beyond where he expected."

Reading the e-mail, it's hard to believe.

But, whatever.

Considering that these accusations ("grab-assing skirt-chaser", "improprieties had nearly brought law suits against the church", "does not maintain appropriate boundaries with men", "he put his hands on me inappropriately every time I engaged him in conversation) concern the touching of a "bicep, shoulder and upper back in the process of a public conversation," I just have to ask one thing:

Doesn't this guy know his ten commandments? Especially the one that goes: "Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour." (Deuteronomy 5:20)

August 6, 2003

Saying one thing then saying you said something else

Today's example: John Derbyshire.

First he says that he's entertaining the idea that homosexuality should be criminalized. Or, in his words: "I have always thought that the criminalization of homosexual acts was both foolish, and inhumane, and un-Christian. I am no longer so sure."

Then he takes aim at someone who desires clairification on what he said (wondering if his words were an incitement to violence) by replying: "Only if you are the kind of hysterical moron who believes that the failure of a person whole-heartedly to 'celebrate' your lifestyle can fairly be described using the verb 'to bash.'"

Mr. Derbyshire, you didn't just not celebrate homosexuals, you said that, perhaps, they should be arrested and punished (the definition of criminalization). Either stand by what you wrote or retract it. Don't confuse the issue by sating one thing then saying you said something else. Don't try to play the good guy.

August 7, 2003

Schwarzenegger's Negatives?

Over at my fave site, The Corner, Tim Graham lists five possible negatives to a Schwarzenegger governorship:

1. Liberal media will have a new Dan Quayle caricature to show how much smarter Democrats are. But Arnold's no dummy, you suggest? Neither was Quayle. But if they can exploit the image, they will. Reporters will be asking about Swedish-style land-use planning just to get the gaffe.

Other than not knowing what liberal media he's talking about, this isn't going to happen. Quayle wasn't a dummy, but he wasn't Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt, or Hoover, either. There's nothing wrong with desiring more intellectual ability of a possible President than the fact that, even though he's not that smart, he's "no dummy." Schwarzenegger's is plenty smart and he isn't going to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

2. Liberal media will have a new Rudy Giuliani/Christie Whitman character at the NY convention to constantly underline how "fringe right" the GOP is on abortion and homosexuality.

The Democrats had Bob Casey at its conventions. Was this used to show how "finge left" the Democrats were on abortion?

3. After giving every responsible candidate in the recall race a fraction of the attention the Terminator gets, Gov. Arnold gets eight times as much attention as all other 49 governors combined (not to mention about 500 congressmen). That's how it worked for Gov. Ventura. Confirms theory that reporters think voters are deeply stupid and easily swayed by celebrity.

Reporters report stories that their readers want to read. It's not about stupid or celebrity.

Ventura was not just a celebrity. He was different. That was what demanded the attention. Will a Governor Schwarzenegger be different or just a run-of-the-mill moderate Governor? If he's different -- if he does things differently -- he'll get attention. If he's not -- attention won't be paid.

4. Despite the odd thought of Democratic, Starr-loathing operatives bombarding reporters with Arnold's sexual exploits and philosophies (oral sex isn't cheating), any Republican who even whispers in defense of Arnold's wild life will be portrayed as a complete hypocrite on the Lewinsky saga.

It wasn't that oral sex wasn't cheating. It was that some of us (in fact, most of us) didn't think it mattered. For those to whom all of that mattered yet defend Schwarzenegger's "wild life", yeah, hypocrite might just be the appropriate description. I'm going to be consistant, though. What Schwarzenegger did before is his own business.

5. Maria Shriver as First Lady of anything? Can't we complete the recent trend of Kennedy family electoral defeat?

I didn't realize that there was a trend. As far as I know, Edward Kennedy is still a Senator and Patrick Kennedy is still a Congressman. Sure, Kathleen Townsend lost. Did Joseph Kennedy II actually run for Governor and lose? I though he withdrew his candidacy.

As far as I can count, here are all the Kennedy electoral losses: 1968 Robert Kennedy lost the Oregon Democratic Primary (yeah, that's right, he won all the other state primaries in which he was entered as did his brother in 1960), 1972 Sargeant Shriver (John and Robert's brother-in-law and Schwarzenegger's father-in-law) lost the Vice-President race as McGovern's running mate, 1980 Edward Kennedy lost a bunch of primaries then lost a convention fight, 2002 Kathleen Townsend lost the Maryland Governor's race. I think that's it, but I could be missing one or two here or there. Considering that Patrick wins every two years and Edward every six, I don't see where the losing trend is. They sure do win a lot.

Saying one thing then saying you said something else II

Once again, John Derbyshire:

In reviewing the reactions he received from his diatrible yesterday, he writes:

"I got a strong impression, time after time, that the reader believed I SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO SAY the things I said. A couple of readers said so flat out. Veiled threats to try and shut me down were common. ("Does Mr Buckley know the kinds of things you say on The Corner? Perhaps he should be told...") Make no mistake about it: there is a serious, strong current of thought out there that believes ANY objection to homosexuality is "hate speech" and ought to be criminalized--or, if it cannot be criminalized, shut down by any means that come to hand. I say again: there are many exceptions, and I thank those readers who, after identifying themselves as homosexual, went on to argue with me in a thoughtful and civilized way. But I now know something I did not know 48 hours ago, or knew only vaguely and imperfectly: gay fascism is real, and strong, and determined. If this Political Correctness cannot be stopped, we are going to lose our freedoms."

First off... the readers had no intention of shutting him off. They were going to tell his publisher and the publisher would or wouldn't make a decision. Is he scared of this? Of his publisher being aware of what he writes?

I'm not gay nor am I a facist, but cripes, isn't this last sentence ironic: "gay fascism is real, and strong, and determined. If this Political Correctness cannot be stopped, we are going to lose our freedoms."

Isn't Derbyshire the one entertaining the idea that homosexual acts should be criminalized? If Derbyshire gets his way, who is going to lose their freedoms?

Preach it, Al!

Al Gore today at NYU:

If the 21st century is to be well-started, we need a national agenda that is worked out in concert with the people, a healing agenda that is built on a true national consensus. Millions of Americans got the impression that George W. Bush wanted to be a healer, not a divider, a president devoted first and foremost to honor and integrity. And yet far from uniting the people, the president's ideologically narrow agenda has seriously divided America.

His most partisan supporters have launched a kind of civil Cold War against those with whom they disagree.

And as for honor and integrity, let me say this. We know what that phrase was all about.

But hear me well, not as a candidate for any office, but as an American citizen who loves my country, for eight years, the Clinton- Gore administration gave this nation honest budget numbers, an economic plan with integrity that rescued the nation from debt and stagnation, honest advocacy for the environment, real compassion for the poor, a strengthening of our military -- as recently proven -- and a foreign policy whose purposes were elevated, candidly presented and courageously pursued in the face of scorched-earth tactics by the opposition. That is also a form of honor and integrity.

August 8, 2003

Panda Republicanism

Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post is moving to New York City:

Whatever else can be said about Rudy Giuliani, he gave New York City a different profile in the 1990s, and now people who would never even have dared to visit Manhattan flock there to live. But this is the point: In fact, what makes me nervous about Manhattan nowadays is not the criminals, who have faded back into the Bronx, but the people who replaced them: clever people, accomplished people, well-educated people -- and people who agree about almost everything.

She's right, and I find it just about the most infuriating thing about living in the city. Thanks to Dr. Manhattan for pointing the article out. I agree completely with his comments:

I think just about every conservative in the greater NYC area can relate to what I used to call the "Giant Panda" reaction: when a group of people, having just become aware of the exotic species in their midst, react with the strange mixture of curiosity and condescension: "I've heard such species exist, but I never expected to actually meet one!" Then there's the "Misplaced Compliment" variation, where the reaction is a stammering "But..but you're nice and smart ... you don't seem like a fascist!"

Indeed. One other reaction I get when they do find out my party affiliation is "well, you're just a *fiscal* conservative, right?" I've been asked that multiple times. It's a rough enough description of my beliefs that I usually just agree. Friends (as well as people I've just met) are somewhat comforted to know that while I may be all for lowering taxes, I'm not in favor of hunting gay people for sport.

August 9, 2003

Cinema Paradiso

Matthew Hoy writes: " finally got around to watching the new version of "Cinema Paradiso." Usually the director's cut is better -- i.e. "Blade Runner" -- in this case, however, the original is the one you should watch. I think leaving some things unanswered is better than the answers you end up getting. Anyway, if you rent it watch the old version (the DVD has both versions on it) -- it has a much greater emotional impact."

I'm going to be picking nits, but I'm going to advise you to do something different if you rent it.

Cinema Paradiso is, indeed, an wonderful and extraordinary movie. If you rent it, if you can, watch both versions. They are almost two different movies. But whatever you do, watch the "old" version first. Then the so-called director's cut.

[For what it's worth... the cut that is now being billed as the "director's cut," and what Hoy calls "the new version" isn't new at all -- it was the version that originially hit the theaters in Italy (it's an Italian movie) in 1988. The movie bombed. It was taken back into the studio and 30 odd minutes were cut from it. It was re-released and became a big hit, both there and, later, abroad. It was an art house hit here and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The original version was lost to history until this DVD (except for some movie junkies like yours truly who had years back treked to the library and had read the originial screenplay with his next to non-existent Italian)].

And I agree with Hoy... some things in this story are better left unanswered. However, with the cuts, the shorter version leaves something really big unanswered. Why doesn't Elena come to the Cinema Paradiso before Salvatore/Toto joins the army. In the shorter version, we have no idea and are left confused and unsatisfied. We might not like the answer given in the "director's cut" but it's necessary to the story.

The rest of the "director's cut" should only be seen and known after a full viewing of the shorter version. Some people point to Casablanca, but, I think that the original Cinema Paradiso has the best last scene of any movie, ever. (Yeah, I know, it's the same last scene as in the "director's cut," but this scene in the "director's cut" doesn't have the same emotional impact as it does in the shorter version. Hoy is right on target here.)

Two questions about Howard Dean

I know that blogs are supposed to make assertions and make points and all that, but I have two questions which some of you readers (there are readers out there, right?) might know. I'm asking because I don't know:

1. Both Howard Dean's father and grandfather were top executives at Dean Witter Reynolds and were both fabulously wealthy. Do any of you know if Dean's grandfather was a founding/naming partner of Dean Witter Reynolds? I ask because it's hard to believe that it's chance that Dean's grandfather worked at the firm and his last name is part of the company's name. (Dean Witter Reynolds is commonly known as just "Dean Witter" and was recently purchased by Morgan Stanley.)

2. Howard Dean's wife's maden name is Steinberg (full name: Judith Steinberg; she kept her own name, but seems to be pulling a Hillary Rodham and adding her married name for her husband's political career). I'm just guessing here, but do you any of you know if she's Jewish?

2a. If the answer to #2 is yes, anybody know about the children? Were they raised Jewish?

Agreeing to Disagree

If you haven't been liking the charges of McCarthyism and anti-Americanism on the Jumping to Conclusions comment boards, you sure won't like Anandashankar Mazumdar's lastest post on his blog.

And, yeah, I know he just got married, but why doesn't Ananda post more often to his blog? There are people who want to read what he has to write.

(One major complaint about Ananda's page, though: cripes, in the "Sorely Missed" section of his page, where is the great and greatly underappreciated show "The American Embassy"? It NEEDS to return to television. Don't throw a one-in-a-million show away so quickly, FOX, because the next one-in-a-million show is a million shows away.)

Yeah, I think so, too

Over at the Corner, Steve Hayward writes: "In other California news today, the L.A. Times notes that California lost another 21,000 jobs last month, which is half the total nationwide job loss for the month. Someone in the White House ought to point out that job loss is worst where Democrats are in charge of things."

Good idea, Steve. Whatcha think the Democratic Response will be?

22.4 Million New Jobs Created Under the Clinton-Gore Administration?


2.1 million jobs lost Under the Bush Administration?

August 10, 2003

One of the reasons I like Schwarzenegger

I wouldn't vote for him myself, but I do like his movies (with exceptions, of course, like Kindergarden Cop and Twins), and I identify with him because, like me, he has a bicuspid aortic valve. Or, should I say, he had a bicuspid aortic valve.

August 11, 2003

Advertisements for vouchers

Fun with unions... a New York City junior high teacher was arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana. Did I say teacher? I meant "dean of discipline." He pled guilty to a felony. The Department of Education fired him. Well, they tried, anyway. But he entered a "drug treatment program," and so an arbitrator has now ruled that he should be allowed to keep his job.

The arbitrator's "logic," and I use the term loosely, was that since completion of the diversion program would leave the teacher without a criminal record, the Education Department couldn't fire him. Ain't tenure grand?

But I'm sure the real problem with public schools is that not enough money is being thrown at them. And vouchers can't possibly help, because, after all, private schools don't have the same highly-qualified teachers the public schools do.

(Incidentally, none of my comments should be read as an endorsement of the drug war. The whole fiasco just points out the idiocy of the whole situation. First we pretend that possession of a recreational substance causes harm. Then we pretend that we can "treat" people who are carrying these substances around, as if they had pneumonia, when what we're really doing is making politicians look compassionate while keeping jails from filling up too fast. Then we pretend that this "treatment" erases the harm supposedly caused by the offense itself. And at the end of the process, we've spent thousands of tax dollars for no clear reason, and have accomplished nothing. But all that aside, it hardly sends the right message to students to tell them that the person in charge of enforcing the rules against them doesn't have to obey the rules himself.)

When bad things happen to bad people

Also known as getting what you deserve.

(Yeah, I know: she meant well. Big whoop.)

As the Badger would have said, it's a bad day for hockey

If you could magically go to any entertainment event of the 20th century, where would you go? The premier of the Rite of Spring in 1915? The famous Armory art show? Watch Babe Ruth in the 1927 World Series? Woodstock? The Beatles at the Cavern in 1962 in Liverpool? Jackie Robinson making his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947?

While watching Jackie's first game comes in a close second, I know exactly what I'd choose if I could go to one entertainment event of the 20th century. I've seen it on tape many times; it must have been genuinely miraculous to have been there that evening. That night when we beat the Russians.

The coach is gone now. Died today. It's a bad day for hockey.

August 12, 2003

It's funny because it's true

The Onion's take on why Gray Davis may be recalled.

90 percent of life

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new official campaign web page exclaims: "There comes a point where we the people must demand more of our elected officials than just showing up."

I suppose that's why Arnold, not Keanu Reeves, is running for the California's governor's mansion.

Because Keanu, of course, quite famously told us all that "the most important thing in life is just showing up."

August 13, 2003

RE: Amuck or amok?

Eugene Volokh asks: "Amuck or amok" -- which is the prefered spelling?

He quite sensibly and correctly writes: "Amuck or amok?, asks a reader, responding to an earlier post. The answer, as is often the case with such linguistic issues, is that both are acceptable, as dictionaries make clear. A google search suggests that "amok" is more common, though "amuck" is common enough; a NEXIS search is unhelpful, because it quite reasonably treats the two as synonyms, so that a search for either finds both. The word comes from Malay, which helps explain the alternate spellings -- when words are transliterated from a language that isn't spelled using the Latin alphabet, there will naturally be many possible transliterations, and several of them may end up being fully standard in English (cf. Chanukah / Hanukkah, tsar / czar, the umpteen spellings of Kaddafi, etc.)."

But, even though I'm no Molly Wyman (a resident expert on etymology), I'm going to say that "amok" should be used sometimes and "amuck" others. "Amok" originally comes from the Malay amoq: "engaging furiously in battle, attacking with desperate resolution, rushing in a state of frenzy to the commission of indiscriminate murder... Applied to any animal in a state of vicious rage."

Through the years, it seems, "amok" became confused with muck: "Excrement, manure; dirt, waste matter" (probably from early Scandinavian meaning dung). So running amok (engaging furiously in battle) also became to mean running amuck (running through excrement). What makes more sense: "The Davis campaign to retain his office is running amok [engaging furiously in battle]" or "The Davis campaign to retain his office is running amok [running through excrement {figuratively, of course}]"?

I'd say, use "amok" for the former and "amuck" for the later. Depending on what you mean to say.

UPDATE: Like many other things, I might just be all wrong about this. The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style says: "Usage authorities once held firmly to the idea that amuck is preferable to amok—solely on the mistaken notion that amuck is older in English and amok (though a better transliteration of the Malaysian word) was a late-coming “didacticism.” In fact, both forms date from the 17th century. And, in any event, amok is ten times more common than amuck today—e.g.: “For decades, the Buildings Department, which processes 35, 000 permits a year, has resembled a satirist's vision of bureaucracy run amok” (N.Y. Times). But some publications fight the trend—as evidenced by the title of Charles Krauthammer's essay “Elephants Run Amuck: After Killing Big Government, the G.O.P. Suddenly Risks Stampeding Itself to Death” (Time). Amok is now the standard term." ("amok" The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style. Bryan A. Garner. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. 13 August 2003 )

August 14, 2003

Now I know my ABCs

Perhaps I'm just missing something really obvious, but I can't quite figure out the point of the California alphabet lottery. If they're going to rotate the alphabet from district to district in order to be fair, well, that part makes sense. Different people will be at the top of the ballot in different districts, so nobody gains the advantage of being first all the time.

But if they're going to do that, then why do they need to pick a random alphabet? What exactly does that do for them? Ultimately, ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ is no more or less random than RWQOJMVAHBSGZXNTCIEKUPDYFL. The former, of course, is more familiar, so it seems more "ordered," but it's no more or less arbitrary than the latter, and hence no more or less fair.

Or am I missing something really obvious?


John Derbyshire is too easy to ridicule. Ordinarily, I believe that someone as foolish as Derbyshire should be ignored, but people like he and Ann Coulter speak with such force and on such a large stage that they must be confronted.

Today, Derbyshire wrote: "Al Franken is a hysterical, delusional, America-hating, buck-toothed lefty dork. OK?"

Right now, Franken's book is the #1 bestseller on Amazon.com and it hasn't even been released yet. It's an easy prediction to make to say that, after its publication, it'll be a bestseller, if not, for a while, America's #1 best selling book.

What does that mean? That means a lot of people in American want to hear what Franken has to say. They agree with him.

I wonder if Derbyshire believes that these millions of Americans -- you know, the Franken agreers -- are also hysterical, delusional, America-hating, lefty dorks?

You'd have to assume that, in Derbyshire's world, the answer is yes. Also, you'd have to assume that, in Derbyshire's world, the only people who love America are those who agree with everything he and his fellow Corner members write. Anything else is, well, just un-American. (Not just un-American, but also hysterical, delusional, lefty, and dorkish.)

August 15, 2003

What to expect on May 14, 2004

Before more people, either your friends or on the news, tell you that 9 months after the great 1965 Northeast blackout, an abnormally high number of babies were born, please read this.

August 17, 2003

Future urban legend?

The New York Times points out a budding myth: despite what people are saying, it wasn't fifty million people who lost power in the recent blackout.

The number 50 million appeared as part of a news release issued late Thursday and again on Friday by the reliability council, which sets rules for managing the electrical grid.

"Approximately 61,800 megawatts of customer load was lost in an area that covers 50 million people," the statement said. "We cannot say with precision how many customers were affected at this time."

The statement did not say 50 million people lost power — indeed, it made clear that the total was unknown. But that number was widely reported as the sum of those plunged into darkness.

It calls to mind the "Super Bowl Sunday" domestic violence myth. A "fact" is reported once, and is repeated over and over again, by reporters whose goal is sensationalism, and whose idea of research is cutting and pasting from older stories. Good to see the Times, for once, not falling into this trap.

August 19, 2003

Only the true Messiah would deny his divinity... or something like that...

American religion is becoming more "mystical" and less "mainline" says New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The Roman Catholic holiday of the Feast of the Assumption this past week is his Exhibit A. Fine. Let him believe or not. What I was most struck by in the column was this passage:

Yet despite the lack of scientific or historical evidence, and despite the doubts of Biblical scholars, America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47 percent of U.S. non-Christians.

First off, the Virgin Birth isn't meant to be a matter of scientific or historical evidence. For that matter, it's not clear whether such an event *could* be proved by any such evidence. Secondly, one can probably find Biblical scholars who doubt the existence of God. If all Biblical scholars agreed on everything, all Christians would still be Catholic (well, not exactly - you'd still have Biblical non-scholars around - but you get my point).

But it's the claim that 47 percent of non-Christians believe in the Virgin Birth that is most striking. How was this poll taken? Who are these people? You can certainly believe that Jesus was born, was crucified, and had lots of followers without being a Christian. But the Virgin Birth is an event that presumably marks Jesus as, well, somehow special. Perhaps 47 percent of non-Christians didn't fully understand the question? I'd be interested to know how many of them believe in the Immaculate Conception and Transubstantiation as well.

August 20, 2003

Didn't families of suicide bombers get $15,000 also?

From the killing-the-golden-goose department: Blair Hornstine, the girl who successfully manipulated the system to become valedictorian and gain admission to Harvard, and then tried to gild the lily (perhaps it's actually the mixed-metaphor department) by suing her school district for millions of dollars, has settled for a mere $15,000. (Her attorneys also get $45,000, lucky them.)

So, let's tote up the scorecard:

  • Without the suit: Hornstine would have had the title of co-valedictorian, admission to Harvard, a good reputation in her circles and anonymity outside it.
  • With the suit: Hornstine got the title of valedictorian, the tag of plagiarist, and national notoriety as a spoiled brat. And couldn't attend her own graduation because of the fear of being booed off the stage. And $15,000, which won't even pay for a year of Harvard -- a moot point, since she lost her admission to Harvard.
It doesn't sound like a very good tradeoff to me. But it does sound like poetic justice. It's one thing to "work the system" to one's advantage. Fine, she invented a phony illness and used it as an excuse to fix her class schedule so she couldn't lose. That seems like crossing the line from working the system to cheating, but she did it, and the school district let her get away with it. But when you've twisted and bent the rules that much, and successfully reached your goal, give thanks for your good fortune and move on. Don't press your luck and try to milk it for a big cash windfall for no other reason than that you think you can get away with it. But she tried, and failed, and now she's got a big pile of nothing. And that's exactly what she deserves.

(What's known but doesn't get enough attention in all this is that the school district wasn't trying to take her valedictorian status away from her. I've heard several radio talk show hosts make that claim. Her whole lawsuit was motivated by the fact that someone else was also going to be honored. How much of a jerk do you have to be to try to keep someone else from getting what is, ultimately, a pretty trivial honor? Sure, it's an accomplishment, but she was already in college, and it's not as if, years down the road, anybody would have cared whether she was a high school valedictorian or "mere" high school co-valedictorian.)

Ah, well. Knowing the way the world works, she'll probably be defrauding investors of her own company someday.

Conservatives are evil

Yesterday the New York Times came up with yet another of those well-some-Republicans-are-okay-but-these-extremists-in-Washington-now-are-modern-day-Torquemadas editorials they're so famous for. This time, it didn't come from Paul Krugman, but from editorial board member Adam Cohen, who is allegedly an attorney. (I say "allegedly" for reasons that will be made clear.)

He describes the National Constitution Center, a new museum in Philadelphia devoted to (you guessed it) the Constitution, as a wonderful, inspiring place that tells "a largely triumphal story of rights recognized and new groups woven into the fabric of the nation." You can practically hear the trumpets in the background. But now (cue ominous music) George Bush and his evil comrades want to change all that, taking away the right to vote from women and re-enslaving blacks. Or something like that; Cohen doesn't come out and say precisely that, but he implies it as strongly as possible without doing so. But holding out the spectres of Dred Scott and the Chinese Exclusion Act is just the beginning for Cohen; he then goes on to slander specific nominees of Bush's:

One Bush choice for the courts, Michael McConnell, now a federal appeals court judge, has argued that the Supreme Court was wrong to rule that the equal protection clause required legislative districts with roughly equal numbers of people.
Here's why I question Cohen's credentials as a lawyer: he can't tell the difference between an argument about what the law is and an argument about what the law ought to be. It's one of the first things one learns in law school, but Cohen has problems with it. It's possible that Michael McConnell is secretly a Klansman, dreaming up ways to keep blacks down. But that has nothing to do with the discussion; McConnell makes a scholarly argument that the Supreme Court misinterpreted a law. Does Cohen not know that, or does he not care?
Jay Bybee, also now an appeals court judge, has argued, incredibly, that the 17th Amendment should be repealed, and United States senators once again selected by state legislators.
And? What's so "incredible" about that? It may be a good idea; it may be a bad idea. But why is Cohen so horrified by it? Cohen doesn't say. He provides no context for Bybee's statement, nor does he let anybody know why this particular amendment is so important in the arena of civil rights, which was the framework for Cohen's discussion. People for the American Way, in their denunciation of Bybee, argues that it's "anti-democratic" and "turning back the clock on representative government" to repeal the 17th. But (a) given that state legislatures are democratically elected, it is in fact neither of those things, and (b) given that the whole Bill of Rights which PFAW and Cohen celebrate is anti-democratic, that's not a very compelling criticism standing alone.
William Pryor, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, urged Congress to repeal an important part of the Voting Rights Act.
He urged Congress to repeal a provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5, which requires Justice Department preclearance before certain portions of certain states make even trivial changes in voting procedures. Since the Justice Department rarely objects to these changes, there's little purpose to the law. Repealing it wouldn't change the substantive rights of anybody; it would just streamline bureaucratic procedures. Cohen demagogues this to make it sound as if Pryor is trying to repeal voting rights for blacks -- but again, is vague enough that most readers won't know the difference.
President Bush has said he wants to appoint judges like Clarence Thomas and Justice Scalia, both embarked on campaigns to undo years of constitutional progress.
Not all change, of course, is progress, and in any case, Cohen provides no evidence for this assertion. "Judges like Clarence Thomas and Justice Scalia" want to change the way judges work; Cohen again either can't discern, or refuses to acknowledge, the difference between statements about what the law should be and statements about what the law are.
Justice Scalia advocates tying Americans' rights today to the prevailing wisdom of the 18th century. In a petulant dissent in the recent sodomy decision, he argued that gay sex can be criminalized now because it was a crime in the 13 original states.
Actually, Justice Scalia advocates tying Americans' rights today to two things: the Constitution, and the prevailing wisdom of the 21st century. He argues that judges ought to apply the Constitution rather than their personal views, and, on issues where the Constitution is silent, that democratically elected legislatures ought to decide. He argues that gay sex isn't forbidden by the Constitution for the simple reason that nothing in the Constitution addresses the issue; he argues that it can be criminalized now because the "prevailing wisdom" in Texas now says so.
Justice Thomas offered the dangerous argument in last year's school voucher case that states should be less bound by the Bill of Rights than the federal government.
A flat out lie. That one seemed bizarre, so I checked it out. Thomas argued, in the school voucher case, that the states should be less bound by the establishment clause than the federal government. Here's what he actually wrote:
Consequently, in the context of the Establishment Clause, it may well be that state action should be evaluated on different terms than similar action by the Federal Government. "States, while bound to observe strict neutrality, should be freer to experiment with involvement [in religion]--on a neutral basis--than the Federal Government." Walz v. Tax Comm'n of City of New York, 397 U. S. 664, 699 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring). Thus, while the Federal Government may "make no law respecting an establishment of religion," the States may pass laws that include or touch on religious matters so long as these laws do not impede free exercise rights or any other individual religious liberty interest. By considering the particular religious liberty right alleged to be invaded by a State, federal courts can strike a proper balance between the demands of the Fourteenth Amendment on the one hand and the federalism prerogatives of States on the other.
Not only does Thomas not make a claim about the "Bill of Rights," but he doesn't make the claim that states can establish a religion or discriminate on the basis of religion. Again, Cohen tries to turn a legal argument about the interpretation of a particular amendment into a claim that a conservative judge wants to revive lynchings.

Reasonable people can disagree on some of these issues of legal interpretation, but Cohen doesn't even try. He just race-baits in the hopes that nobody will notice the paucity of logic, facts, or fairness in his column. When Republicans attempted, unconvincingly, to claim that Democratic opposition to Bill Pryor was based on anti-Catholic bias, the New York Times had a tantrum. And yet the Times' editorial writer has no problem insinuating that George Bush and his gang -- including the black Clarence Thomas -- want to take away basic rights from blacks and women.

August 21, 2003

Alabama, Ten Commandments, the Two Great Commandments, and a Trivia Question

Q: According to the Gospels, when Jesus was asked which was the greatest of all the ten commandments, which one did he answer with?

A: The answer is, none of the above.

The conversation starts at Matthew 22:36: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" To which, the reply came: " Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

And to Jesus, these two commandments trump the ten in Deuteronomy, and those ten must be understood and be informed in terms of these two. How do we know this? Because He said so, at Matthew 22:40: "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. "

Which forces one to ask to those Christians down in Alabama who are supporting the non-removal of the Ten Commandments statue from the Supreme Court building... why the Ten Commandments? Why not the Two Great Commandments?

Is loving thy neighbor as yourself too touchy-feely, too P.C., for 2003?

August 22, 2003

Still, more successful than the Devil Rays.

A couple of years ago, Tampa famously rolled out surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology at the Super Bowl. They've finally, tacitly, admitted failure:

Two years after Tampa became the nation's first city to use facial-recognition software to search for wanted criminals, officials are dropping the program.

It led to zero arrests.

Perhaps if they had focused the cameras on the state legislature?

In any case, I say that they "tacitly" admitted it, because they didn't really admit it at all:

Durkin emphasized Tuesday that the trial run with Face-It didn't cost the city any money. But even so, he said, its use likely benefited the city.

"Something that's intangible is how many wanted persons avoided (Ybor City) because the cameras were there," he said. "That's something we may never calculate."

And the best part of not calculating it is that the city is free to pretend that it provided a benefit, without fear of contradiction. Except, if it "likely benefited the city," then why are they giving it up?

I shouldn't complain overly; it's good to see that government officials are willing to experiment with new approaches, and it's also good to see that they're willing to abandon those experiments if they prove to be failures. We should count our blessings that this didn't go the way of the typical failed government program, as seems to be happening in nearby Pinellas County:

Meanwhile, facial-recognition technology has been in use at the airport, jail and jail visitation center in Pinellas County for more than a year, and at the courthouse since late April. And Pinellas sheriff's officials have no plans to discard it, although they have not attributed any arrests to the technology.

Pinellas sheriff's Lt. James Main, who heads the program for Sheriff Everett Rice, said Rice's office is confident the technology works well and is a useful security tool, despite the lack of arrests.

"We don't have any plans to change anything here," Main said. "The fact that we aren't making arrests doesn't mean the technology isn't working."

He said Tampa's use of the technology is far different than in Pinellas. In Tampa, the technology isn't used in a controlled environment like the inside of a well-lighted courthouse, where people can be asked to take off hats and glasses.

Hmm. With that stubborn denial of reality, anybody want to bet that there's a federal grant somewhere out there which is paying for Pinellas' use of the technology?

August 25, 2003

Things are bad all over. Two examples

1. Teachers are taking dozens of free pens at conferences because their school districts no longer have the money to provide pens to their students. Pens!

2. Ken Lay takes a bath on his Aspen house. He only got $5.5 million for it. Hopefully he got more for his other three houses in Aspen.

August 26, 2003

Moore religion

According to Eugene Volokh, Hindus are gay! Well, it makes sense if you read the whole post.

And on the subject of the intersection of religion and government, this excerpt of aletter published in the New York Times about the Roy Moore ten commandments controversy:

The duty of a judge is not to obey God but to follow the law, which he took an oath to uphold. If Chief Justice Moore finds that his duties as a judge conflict with his religious beliefs, he can resolve the conflict in favor of his higher calling by resigning from his secular responsibilities.

But he has no business being a judge if he is willing to subjugate the law to his own personal convictions, regardless of how deeply those convictions are held.

In other words, Moore can believe what he wants, but he can't act on those beliefs as a judge; he has to follow the law. That, indeed, seems to be the conventional wisdom amongst liberals about Moore.

Which is fine, except that I recall someone not on the left saying the exact same thing about judges like Moore, and taking flak for it. Last year, Justice Scalia gave a speech, and then published an article, saying that judges, whatever their personal moral or religious views, had to follow the law with regard to capital punishment:

I pause here to emphasize the point that in my view the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation, rather than simply ignoring duly enacted, constitutional laws and sabotaging death penalty cases. He has, after all, taken an oath to apply the laws and has been given no power to supplant them with rules of his own. Of course if he feels strongly enough he can go beyond mere resignation and lead a political campaign to abolish the death penalty—and if that fails, lead a revolution. But rewrite the laws he cannot do.
Scalia was accused of injecting religious views into jurisprudence, and there was great uproar on the left. But all he was saying is what people are saying now about Moore: if he can't obey the law, he's not fit to be a judge, and he should step down.

Who said it first?

With regard to the Fox lawsuit against Al Franken, I've heard several pundits comment about the general absurdity of being allowed to trademark a common phrase like "fair and balanced." So here's a question: is the phrase "fair and balanced" really a common phrase, or do we just think it's common because of Fox? Were people regularly using the phrase before Fox adopted it?

10 Commandments Redux

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and am and, as far as I can predict the future, will always be a Pennsylvanian. However, I lived in Kansas for a large part of my adult life and am proud to consider myself a Jayhawk.

For what it's worth, it never bothered me that the University of Kansas seal had a great religious image on it. Check it out for yourself. It's Moses in front of the burning bush. It's supposed to symbolize man being humble before knowledge. It's a fine symbol for a university. (KU doesn't hide from the image either; it is also a large part of one of its building's archecture.) (Yeah, I know, Moses did not receive the 10 Commandements at the burning bush -- he received them much later. But it was the same person [Moses] so it has *some* relevance.)

Aside: What I never understood, however, is how the Great Seal of the State of Kansas has all those mountains in the background. I've been all around Kansas. I never saw those mountains. And if you stand on Kansas's western most boundary, you cannot see the Rocky mountains. And, further, yeah, I know the song with the purple mountain majesties line, but they these mountains just don't exist. Unless I'm missing something big (like a mountain range somewhere in the Sunflower State), this is false advertizing.

Conclusions not matching the data?

Much of this article about Wesley Clark is pretty humorous (in an ironic way). Two lines in particular stand out:

"But an unexpected bolt from the blue suddenly ignited Clark’s life, turning mediocrity into a skyrocket ride that could yet land him in the Oval Office."

Mediocrity? At this point, the article has already listed his: (1) placing first in his class at West Point, (2) his being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, (3) his successful completion of a master's degree at Oxford, (4) his Purple Heart, (5) his Silver Star, (6) his two Bronze Stars, and (7) his White House Fellowship. We should all be so mediocre.

"“Known by those who’ve served with him as the ‘Ultimate Perfumed Prince,’” writes veteran military combat soldier and journalist Col. David Hackworth about Gen. Wesley Clark, “he’s far more comfortable in a drawing room discussing political theories than hunkering down in the trenches where bullets fly and soldiers die.”"

See above vid. his Purple Heart, his Silver Star, his two Bronze Star, and, what hasn't been mentioned (by me but was in the article) his being wounded in action four times. But, yeah, I'm sure they're both right (both the person quoted and the author of the article who did the quoting in implicit agreement with the statement)... who wouldn't be more comfortable in a drawing room than in a trench. That doesn't mean Clark did not do his duty when he was called upon. And he did it heroically.

Dems v. Repubs

Jane Galt writes:

The Republicans, after all, are in many ways a larger tent than the Democrats.... And that's because they can. The Republicans only have two groups to please: social conservatives, and fiscal conservatives....

The Democrats, on the other hand, are a veritable festival of interest groups: unions, teachers, minorities, feminists, gay groups, environmentalists, etc. Each of these groups has a litmus test without which they will not ratify a candidate: unfettered support for abortion, against vouchers, against ANWAR drilling, whatever. A lot of groups means a lot of litmus tests, because with the possible exception of the teachers, no one group is powerful enough to swing an election by themselves.

This causes two problems. First, it drags the party platform marginally farther to the left than the Republican platform is to the right, which in a 50/50 nation is bad news, and it narrows the well of political talent. At the local level this doesn't matter, since districts go reliably for one party or another, but nationally it's a problem, which is why the Democrats are struggling to hold onto the senate and the presidency. It took a politician of the skill and charm of Bill Clinton to make it work.

I've gotta disagree on a number of levels.

First, it doesn't just take the skill and charm of Bill Clinton to make it work. No matter what you think of the 2000 elections, the fact remains that Al Gore received 500,000 more votes than George Bush. Gore didn't have the charm nor the skill of President Clinton.

Second, sure, the Democratic Party has lots of interest groups each having their own limus tests. But, when push comes to shove, the party members and independents come out to vote for their party. It's not like they have 135 different choices on the ballot. They usually have just 2 (or, in the case of the last three Presidential elections, 3, including Perot and Nader). So, President Clinton can anger labor with his support of NAFTA but still get labor's vote in 1996. Clinton can anger the far left with his ending of welfare as we know it in 1995 but still get their vote in 1996. Clinton can execute a mentally retarded person in 1992 and still get the anti-death penalty vote that same year. Gore can distance himself from Clinton's accomplishments and still his votes in 2000.

Why do Democrats (and many independents) rally around their candidate come election time? It is because the Democratic Party does have core beliefs that they all share. President Clinton articluated them like few others before, but others have, and others will. I give an example below.

Jane Galt continues:

But the larger problem is that those interest groups are increasingly coming into conflict. African-americans want vouchers, but the more powerful teacher's union says no. Latinos trend strongly pro-life, but don't let NARAL catch them at it. Environmentalists want stricter standards that cost union members jobs. The more interest groups under the tent, the looser the grip the party has on any one group. And as social security and medicare turn into the sucking chest wound of the budget, the money for the programs that Democratic politicians have traditionally used to cement those interest groups to them is disappearing.

Sure, there is conflict. But there is no conflict in opposition. Meaning, all of these interest groups that she lists... African Americans, teachers unions, Latinos, environmentalists, and the others she doesn't... are all united against the fiscal conservatism opposing them (politically opposing, that is). And it's not just solidarity in opposition, these groups, again, all share a corps of beliefs.

She continues:

And the reason that I thought of that is that Daniel Drezner makes what I think is essentially the same point in discussing why the Democrats are having such a hard time coalescing around a candidate.

Are Galt and Drezner agahst that the Democrats haven't coalesced around a candidate yet? It's 2003 forgoshsakes. The first primary is months away. The convention is basically a year away. What do they expect? A candidate all ready picked out? Ready to go? Sorry that just doesn't happen.

Picking a nominee is hard. The Democrats *should* be having a "hard time". It's always hard -- for both parties. For every George W. Bush who gets the nomination, there is a John McCain who fights for it and doesn't. Debating who the best person to run doesn't imply a hard time. It's democracy. Come next October, the party will be united. That doesn't mean a "hard time" is being experienced.

Oh yeah, what are these core beliefs? Courage and confidence.

It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. The strong, the strong they tell us will inherit the land.

We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact. And, we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans -- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America.

For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.

So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again -- this time to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of a nuclear holocaust....

August 27, 2003

Elections are a serious threat to democracy!

On the November ballot in New York City will be a proposal to eliminate partisan primaries. If the proposal passes, all candidates in a district will run in a single primary election, which will be open to all voters. The top two vote-getters for each office in the primary will face off in the general election. Such a system is used in many other large cities, and it sounds like a reasonable idea to me. But not to everyone:

City Democrats have vowed to fight the plan and Brian McLaughlin, head of the 1.5 million-member city Central Labor Council, said he will convene 90 union leaders tomorrow to "spearhead an effort to challenge this serious threat to democracy." McLaughlin said he has enlisted the support of some of the city's biggest unions, including District Council 37 and Local 1199, to come out in force to reject the initiative in November.

I fail to see how the proposal is a "serious threat to democracy," and I doubt McLaughlin was asked to elaborate. How anyone can get so riled up to fight the proposal is beyond me. Well, almost beyond me - obviously, anyone with an entrenched interest in the current system is going to scream. So far, that would be political party hacks and labor union leaders. Which suggests to me that the proposal would be the best thing to happen to the city since unlimited ride MetroCards were introduced.

But what is the chance it will actually succeed at the polls? I predict slim to nil. Gotta hand it to the party hacks and union leaders - when they scream, people listen.

Dems v. Repubs II

Nick Schulz weighs in on Jane Galt's article.

He writes: "All of which will make the Democratic primary season hugely compelling. The Democrats haven’t had to debate what they truly believe since 1992 when Bill Clinton became the party’s standard-bearer. That’s a long cease-fire among factions."

I suppose... if you believe, of course, that Nader's run in 2000 was not part of a debate about what Democrats truly believe. And if you think that most of those who voted for Nader won't come running back to the Democratic party because they've realized that being progressive also means being anti the anti-progressives -- it means voting *against* those who you oppose. Or in this case, voting against the Republicans and for the Democrats in 2004.

And, if you add those who voted for Nader (who wasn't a great candidate) and Gore (who wasn't a great candidate) and assume that their votes will all go to the Democrats, the 2004 won't even be close. (Of course, if all the states fall like they did in 2000 [even giving Florida to Bush] but a Democratic nominee Dean switches New Hampshire, the 2004 election goes the other way, too).

He continues: "I think there’s some truth to this. But it begs some questions. Do fiscal and social conservatives have any true litmus tests? Any lines that Bush simply cannot cross? Bush’s stem cell decision was hugely disappointing to social conservatives. And Bush’s record on spending and on the size and role of the federal government is an absolute travesty from the perspective of any fiscal conservative. At what point would fiscal conservatives simply sit on their hands come election time?"

That's easy. Tax increases. If President Bush submitted a tax plan which substantially increased taxes (like, say President Clinton did in 1993), he'd lose his base. They'd sit on their hands come election time. Just like what happened to Bush I in 1992 (of course, a lot of these fiscal conservatives didn't sit on their hands in 1992... they got up and voted for Perot).

Here's a question I've got for Schulz: let's not talk about litmus tests. Is there any group that's part of the Republican base that a hypothetical Republican nominee will never lose? Because, for the forseeable future, the Democrats will always get African Americans; they'll always get labor; they'll always get new immigrants; they'll always get feminists. They'll always get the groups Galt discusses in her originial post. These groups may fight amongst each other during the primary season, but come November, they vote Democratic.

When a party is ideologically based (like the Republicans are posited to be in these two posts by Galt and Schulz) -- and not identity based (like the Democrats are posited to be by these same two posts) -- straying from this ideology causes fractions that groups will never forgive. Like Bush I saying read my lips then raising taxes. Like what brought about the Buchanan insurgency at the 1992 Republican Convention.

So, basically, my question is... dropping the sitting on hands image... who will *always* wait on line in the rain to vote Republican?

August 28, 2003

My kids are hot! Please raise my taxes!

James Lileks writes a column about a column he didn't write:

The premise concerned the closing of the wading pools in the middle of August. That's right - budget cuts, you see. They couldn't find $13K in a $60 million budget for wading pools, so they shut them on the hottest day of the year. I think, but cannot prove, that this is their way of making us scream to our legislators, to show up outside their offices carrying our limp tots, begging for tax hikes so the wee bairns can be moistened with chlorinated, pee-infused H20 through Labor Day. God forbid they'd ever let some staffers go - no, every Park Department employee is vital and crucial, right down to the guy whose job consists of visiting all the wading pools and putting up CLOSED signs.

If I didn't like Lileks so much, I'd say screw the kids - let parents go to his beloved Target and spend a few bucks on wading pools of their own. But I won't. Instead, I'll point out that he's right on the money about politicians' motivations. A friend of mine who worked for a U.S. Senator confirms that this is *exactly* how budgeting works: fully fund the invisible, unpopular, and/or silly programs, so there is less money left than there should be for the visible, popular, and/or necessary programs; then make grand pronouncements about how this latter group of programs will need to be cut unless something is done.

Politicians don't close public swimming pools in August because they hate children. Politicians close public swimming pools in August so constituents won't complain as much when their taxes go up by a few hundred dollars in January.

But where is it from?

Clayton Craymer writing on a post by Glenn Reynolds writes:

Instapundit has a whole bunch of quotes about religion and the founding of the United States.
As George Washington noted, "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
The nice thing about the Library of Congress is that they have the complete set of Washington's papers online, and searchable by word and phrase. You can also search the complete text of the Journals of the Continental Congress, House and Senate journals through 1873, a gobs of other documents here. Guess what? That phrase "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" doesn't show up in either collection. Sorry, but with the choice of believing the Library of Congress, or someone with a strong antireligious bias (Instapundit's correspondent), I think I'll trust the Library of Congress more.
So, Washington didn't write it. It's not in the Journals of the Continental Congress. It's not in the House or Senate journals (through 1873). It's not in gobs of other documents. Is it in the Library of Congress or is it just a made up quote by someone with a strong antireligious bias?

Whereas it's true President Washington did not, himself, write it the line, it's certainly authentic and authentically important. With a more rigorous search of the Library of Congress, I'm sure Craymer would have found it.

The line "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" can be found in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripolli. This treaty was signed by Commissioner Plenipotentiary David Humphreys on November 4, 1796. So, it wasn't Washington, himself, but an official representative of President Washington. (Aside: trivia question. When did the Department of State stop using the term "Commissioner Plenipotentiary" and replace it with "Ambassador"?) It was ratified by the United States Senate on June 7, 1797 and signed by President John Adams.

So, in summary: this line was negotiated by an official representative of George Washington, ratified by the 1797 United States Senate (whose presiding officer was Thomas Jefferson), and was signed by John Adams. I'm guessing that in the textbook definition of "original intent," this line is used as the example. (And if you want to see an original copy of the line "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion", click here).

August 29, 2003


Larry Kudlow has a facinating paragraph in his recent National Review column column about Howard Dean:

For example, Dean's universal health-care insurance is Hillarycare. It's the same government-paid health insurance that's been a disaster in Western Europe and Canada. And it's the same socialist proposal that was defeated handily in a Democratic Congress ten years ago.
In addition to replying that sticks and stones will break my bones but childish name calling ("Hillarycare", "socialist") won't hurt me, it's important to remember that no matter what you thought about President Clinton's health care plan, it was not "defeated handily." It, in fact, was filibustered and never came up for vote. Had it been actually been voted on, it might have passed.

August 30, 2003

No hobgoblins here

John Rosenberg points out a minor discrepancy in the positions of the NAACP on two race-related issues:

In Florida the NAACP does not want the state to collect information that would identify poorly performing schools. By contrast, in California, as one of their primary arguments against Prop. 54, the Racial Privacy Initiative, the NAACP and its allies argue that the state must continue to collect racial information in order to monitor compliance with civil rights laws.
Of course, nobody who has been paying attention over the last few decades thinks the NAACP stands for any principle beyond naked self-interest any longer, but the contrast is still striking.

August 31, 2003

Labor Day Rental Recommendation

If you're going to be spending Labor Day at home, I have a video recommendation -- a recommendation quite appropriate for Labor Day. Harlan County U.S.A.

About August 2003

This page contains all entries posted to Jumping To Conclusions in August 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2003 is the previous archive.

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