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April 2005 Archives

April 1, 2005

International Politicians...

A Norwegian cabinet minister is worried about what one-year-old Norwegian girls are wearing to the beach:

OSLO (Reuters) - A Swedish bikini-style top for toddlers will be withdrawn from sale amid criticism from a Norwegian cabinet minister that bra-like clothing was inappropriate for small girls.

"It is remarkably daft to make bra-like bikinis for one-year-olds," Norwegian Minister of Children and Family Affairs Laila Daavoey was quoted as telling the Norwegian daily Verdens Gang Thursday.

"This is a terrible commercialization of childhood. Children are not women. Bikinis on small children are a way of linking children to sexuality. We must say 'No' to this," she said.

Not stated in the article is what *is* appropriate beachwear for small girls. Little bikinis are perfectly normal and unremarkable here in the U.S., as are little one-piece suits. To label one or the other as "daft" strikes me as, well, daft.

Or is Daavoey saying that baby girls should not wear tops at all? I don't know what the norm is in Norway, but at least in Italy, girls up to the age of puberty tend to go topless on the beach. Sadly, eighteen- to twenty-six-year-old girls don't.

April 7, 2005

More Things The Man Doesn't Want You To Do

Be careful on your cross-country trip, Julie. Politicians in a North Dakota town, spooked by the campground lobby (the campground lobby?), want you to stop parking your RV at Wal-Mart:

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Campground owners here want the city to outlaw free overnight camping for recreational vehicles at the Wal-Mart parking lot, city parks and elsewhere.

The Police Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend that the City Council draft an ordinance to regulate RV parking.

Charlie Tanata, owner of a 60-space campground, complained to the committee about the number of RVs parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot each night. He said that hurts business at private campgrounds.

And on the exact opposite end of the culture divide, politicians all over want you to stop eating foie gras:

Hurley's is among several Portland restaurants that have removed foie gras from their menus because of protests by animal rights activists, who would gather outside restaurants with gruesome images of dead and diseased ducks they say are the result of inhumane force-feeding techniques used to produce foie gras.

Opponents say the practice should be outlawed, and persuaded the California Legislature last year to pass a bill that will ban foie gras in 2012 unless producers can prove the technique is humane.

Legislation also is being considered in Oregon, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts that would make it a criminal act even to possess the delicacy.

I'm not the only one who thinks this is absurd, but we in the pro-eating lobby are simply not as organized. Maybe we'll get our act together by the time activists (and cowed politicians) start seriously talking about banning meat altogether (which I honestly expect to happen somewhere in the United States within a decade or two...)

UPDATE: I didn't mean that I believe that meat *will* be banned, I meant that I believe that a serious attempt will be made to ban it...

April 20, 2005


It's hard to blog when there are so many others who have already written what I've been thinking, and written it better than I ever could have. As always, James Lileks:

The selection of Ratzinger was initially heartening, simply because he made the right people apoplectic. I’m still astonished that some can see a conservative elevated to the papacy and think: a man of tradition? As Pope? How could this be?

And I particularly like this insight from "The Anchoress":

As long as the obstinate Church refuses to get on board with the times, the progressive agenda cannot go forward without examination and debate. That is unpleasant to people who simply don’t like hearing the word “NO” unless it is coming from their own lips.

I don’t believe the progressives really expected a pope who would be markedly different from John Paul the Great on matters of doctrine and morality. They couldn’t be that naive. They had to know that the next pope, whoever he was, would still not please them.

No, I think most of this is just a temper tantrum against the church-that-won’t-go-away. These folks are fuming because they saw that JPII stood against their agendas, and that they were quite, quite powerless against him because….well, because he was so BELOVED.

Ergo. Make Pope Benedict easy to hate. He (and the Church) will be much easier to move against if the pope is hated, rather than loved.

But the best comment I have heard comes from a poster on fark.com named "palad":

Before the pope died I had no idea how the Catholic church worked. I got curious, and researched it a bit. Now I do.

Catholicism makes every other church on earth look absolutely amateur. Especially the dinky little baptist ones in the US.


April 24, 2005

Is the Pope Catholic?

From the New York Times, one of those classic letters to the editor that lead one to wonder whether it's serious or meant to be a parody of New York-style liberalism (eighth letter down):

To the Editors:

While I am not a Catholic, I am disturbed that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, issued a Vatican document in 2000, "Dominus Jesus," which said the Roman Catholic Church was the only true path to salvation and declared that other faiths were "gravely deficient."

This is a divisive comment and one that will certainly give other religions considerable consternation.

While I am not a Catholic either, I am amused that someone would feel "consternation" -- correction, "considerable consternation" -- that the leader of a religion might actually have the temerity to insist that said religion is actually the correct one.

Does the author of this letter -- who, it should come as no surprise to learn, is from New York -- realize that Ratzinger was not a government official, but a church official? It seems as if liberals have gone from promoting the separation of church and state to promoting the separation of church and religion. It's apparently one thing for a religious tradition to hold that it is more valid than others -- but g-d forbid (pun intended) that the leaders of the church actually still hold to those religious traditions. Churches, are apparently there to promote New Age/Rodney King values of tolerance and understanding, not to teach truth.

Frankly, I'm not a big fan of religion -- but I don't understand why people who claim to be religious decry everything that makes up religion. If they want to be atheists, they should have the guts to say that they're atheists, rather than trying to turn religion into a lowest-common denominator self-help book.

April 28, 2005

Let filibusters be filibusters

Via Discriminations, I see a column from Linda Chavez arguing that Senate Republicans have an alternative to the "nuclear option" of eliminating the filibuster for judicial nominees:

But the most significant change in filibuster rules came later, when, by gentlemen's agreement, the Senate leadership decided that the mere threat of a filibuster would be enough to stop a vote. Instead of forcing obstructionist senators to take to the floor for hours on end, the Senate began operating under a two-track system that allows legislation and other business to move through the Senate whenever a filibuster is threatened. Instead of pulling in the cots and forcing senators to stay up all night reading recipes into the Congressional record, 41 senators simply indicate their unwillingness to allow a vote, and the matter is put aside -- which is the process Democrats have used to derail Bush's judicial nominees.
If the Republicans want to force a vote on the president's nominees, they don't have to change the filibuster rules permanently, or even adopt the so-called "nuclear option" of allowing Vice President Cheney, acting in his Constitutional role as presiding officer of the Senate, to rule that executive matters -- specifically judicial nominations -- are not subject to a cloture vote. Why not just insist that senators who want to filibuster actually do so, bringing work in the Senate to a halt?
I think this is brilliant. Perhaps because I already said it quite a while ago.

Note that this would also fit the true purpose of a filibuster: to preserve the opportunity for debate. (That it prevents a bill or nominee from being voted upon is merely an incidental effect.) If Democrats want to have a debate on a nominee, let them. Let them talk as long as they want. And when they're done talking, then the Senate can vote. If the Democrats have made their case, great. All they need to do, after all, is peel away six Republican senators from the majority. If they can't manage to do that after talking all day and all night, then perhaps it's because their case has no merit.

Chavez concludes:

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Republicans would make a mistake getting rid of the filibuster. Republicans won't be in the majority forever, and they may rue the day when they deprived themselves of the ability to block a candidate to some future Supreme Court. Worse, they may end up making themselves look like the heavies instead of forcing the Democrats to take center stage as the real fanatics. Let the filibuster stay -- and force the Democrats to actually use it.
All that is true... and Republicans are either fanatic, power-drunk, or just plain stupid not to realize it. But it misses a much simpler point, one that leftists like Nathan Newman understand all too well:
But the reality is that conservatives have thrived in a political environment where they can block any positive use of government. By frustrating progressive policy, it feeds the argument that ineffective government does not deserve the taxes working families paid. That was the explicit argument of conservatives who blocked health care reform in 1994; they knew that national health care would be so popular that it would lock in support for positive government action for decades more.
The reverse doesn't work for liberals. Blocking conservative action through filibusters has short-term gains, but it feeds the long-term cynicism of voters that government cannot accomplish anything. Which just feeds the meta-argument of conservatives of the dysfunctionality of government and the superiority of leaving decisions to the marketplace.
Liberals like government. The business of government is passing laws. The filibuster prevents that from happening. The filibuster is anti-government. The filibuster -- regardless of the short-term politics of a particular issue today -- is the small government supporter's friend. Why would you want to sacrifice that over seven measly judicial nominees?

About April 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Jumping To Conclusions in April 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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