Thoughtful post by Tim B. Lee on the lack of libertarian presence at the "liberal CPAC" event.
Also, I never say this, but read the comments - some good stuff down there!
(HT: Monkey Ben's twitter feed)
I've been too busy with paying work to read everything on this kerfuffle. But I see now that the story line has shifted to even people on the right giving Andrew Breitbart blowback for supposedly taking Shirley Sherrod's comments — as the saying goes — "out of context."
According to a transcript of Sherrod's comments James Taranto dropped in his "Best of the Web" column at The Wall Street Journal Online the other day, the former Ag official said this:
The first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I know what he was doing. But he had come to me for help. What he didn't know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him.
I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he--I assumed the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him.
So I took him to a white lawyer that had attended some of the training that we had provided, because Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farmer. So I figured if I take him to one of them that his own kind would take care of him.
That's when it was revealed to me that it's about the poor versus those who have, and not so much about white — it is about white and black, but it's not — you know, it opened my eyes, because I took him to one of his own.
Now, Taranto thinks Sherrod got a raw deal. Fair enough. However, what's got me scratching my head about the flak Breitbart's getting from some on the right is the simple fact that an official in a Republican administration would have been vaporized for saying what Sherrod did. That it was "taken out of context" would not matter.*
Imagine for a minute that an official in the Bush administration at a CPAC convention said:
I'm pretty iffy on the principle of intellectual property already, but stories like this just persuade me that it's generally a bad idea:
Patent holding company NTP, which received a $612.5 million settlement from BlackBerry marker Research In Motion in a patent infringement case, has filed patent lawsuits against six makers of smartphones or related software, including Apple and Google.
A company that doesn't produce anything, but simply buys up patents in order to extort money from any company trying to produce an interesting product that meets a customer need? Only a lawyer could come up with an idea like that.
I'm not sure if this should be filed under "refreshing honesty from the jackboots" or simply "more evidence that government is a band of robbers writ large" but here you go:
Mayor Michael Nutter: "We want our damn money, you owe it, we want it, and I plan to collect it."
It's nice when the "gun in the room" draws attention to itself.
Byron York prints plenty of disturbing details from the police complaint against Al Gore, but this is the one I find most infuriating:
Finally she got away. Later, she talked to friends, liberals like herself, who advised against telling police. One asked her "to just suck it up; otherwise, the world's going to be destroyed from global warming."
To that "friend" let me offer up a piece of advice: Go to hell.
Snarky folks at The Corner are treating this revelation as being run-of-the-mill Democratic politics, but honestly the problem here -- as is often the case -- is of power generally. You can see an almost carbon-copy dynamic at play when people angrily defend the Catholic Church against accusations of widespread child molestation. Victims are urged to hush up, to go away, because their truth threatens The Mission of whichever person or movement or institution is involved.
And while it's often true that sacrifices must be made in order to advance a worthy cause, you can easily tell the difference in the worthiness of those sacrifices by asking one simple question: Is the dignity of the individual who made the sacrifice enhanced by that sacrifice? Or is it diminished?
If the answer is the latter -- if a woman is obliged to be silent about a sexual assault -- than the person, or movement, or institution is almost certainly unworthy of the sacrifice. I don't want the allegations against Al Gore to be true -- but that's mostly because I don't want the woman in question to have been victimized. Shame on her supposed friends for valuing her dignity so cheaply.
Police in El Reno, Oklahoma decided that assaulting a bed-ridden 86-year-old woman is a good way to get your kicks.
There are a lot of new American gins worth exploring, and some wonderful things to mix them with (such as Crème Yvette, returned after many decades).
In fact, I think I'll go have a Blue Moon cocktail right now...
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce Crème Yvette
Shake in iced cocktail shaker, and strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
If I hadn't deleted my Twitter account, I'd give Zaius 140 characters of what-for. Instead, I'll point you to this tweet of his:
RT @HeartlandInst: Northwestern U. study: raising the min wage doesn't help low income workers. Who wld have thought? http://bit.ly/c6KfZH
Who indeed? But somebody might as well point out that it's not a study -- but a theoretical model. That model might well be correct. But if you read all the way to the last couple of paragraphs of the link...
So far, the model remains a theoretical pursuit. “It screams for empirical testing,” Swinkels says. “We hope that it will excite empirical activity by people better qualified at that than ourselves.”
Well, uh, I'm going to go ahead and wait for some of that empirical testing before I draw much in the way of conclusions. Besides, it's worth noting that the model doesn't really account for the "minimum wage" writ large -- it instead looks at those jobs where employees receive some combination of minimum wage and "incentive pay" -- tips and commissions. There are lots of minimum wage jobs that don't fit those conditions. So even if the model proves correct, its application is limited.
This story in today's New York Times is more than a little disturbing. Apparently educators and adults are working feverishly to keep kids from having ... best friends.
Most children naturally seek close friends. In a survey of nearly 3,000 Americans ages 8 to 24 conducted last year by Harris Interactive, 94 percent said they had at least one close friend. But the classic best-friend bond — the two special pals who share secrets and exploits, who gravitate to each other on the playground and who head out the door together every day after school — signals potential trouble for school officials intent on discouraging anything that hints of exclusivity, in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying.
“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.”
“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,” she continued. “We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”
As somebody who felt -- in junior high, particularly -- on the wrong side of the line of cliquishness and bullying, I've got to say: This is profoundly stupid. It's a weird attempt to create a socialism of friendship -- everybody is everybody's friend! -- that has nothing at all to do with the real world those children enter as adults.
Here's the truth: People gravitate to some people more than other people. I like books, you like books, but Johnny's more interested in football. So you and I hang out, and Johnny finds himself a football-loving buddy. The solution to cliquishness and bullying is not to keep people from sharing interests and sharing time bonding over such interests -- the solution is to teach those kids not to be jerks to people who don't share those bonds.
Because this practice is so at odds with the way people form relationships in real life, I can't help but feel that it's not aimed at reducing cliquishness and bullying so much as it is designed to reduce the amount of time and energy that educators have to spend dealing with cliquishness and bullying. On one level, I can't blame the authorities for that. But on the other, it's very Pink Floydian. Outlawing close friendships at school? You can't have any pudding if you won't eat your meat!
Jon Stewart reminds us that "change" ain't all it's cracked up to be:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Respect My Authoritah|
(Hat tip: Boing Boing)
That's a question we've wrestled with from time to time here at Infinite Monkeys -- sometimes heatedly (yes, I was the heated one) -- and as it happens, The Atlantic this month has a profile of Paul Romer, who advocates kind of a colonialist approach. Citing Hong Kong as an example, he advocates that underdeveloped countries turn over a swath of land -- a "charter city" -- to a rich country that would provide low taxes, enlightened rules and the security to make it all happen.
It's an intriguing idea, and Romer nearly got the chance to put it into practice in Madagascar. But not quote.
Even as Romer was meeting with Ravalomanana, the president’s main political opponent was sniping at the proposed lease of farmland to Daewoo, and the idea of giving up vast swaths of territory to foreigners was growing increasingly unpopular. The arrangement was denounced as treason, and public protests gathered momentum, eventually turning violent. In late January 2009, protesters tossed homemade grenades at radio and TV stations that Ravalomanana owned; looters ransacked his chain of supermarkets. In February, guards opened fire on marchers in front of the presidential palace, killing 28 civilians. At this, units of the army mutinied. Soon, Ravalomanana was forced out of office.
The first action of the new government was to cancel the Daewoo project, and Romer’s plans in Madagascar were put on hold indefinitely.
I don't know that this is an apples-to-apples comparison to the kind of enlightened imperialism that's been casually advocated around here. But it does signal some rather unsurprising challenges to such a project, doesn't it? No one wants to see their country under some other country's thumb -- even if it's for their own good.
Seriously, program directors, give these bands a rest for a few years:
Who did I miss?
Seriously, it's like these stations are frozen in the mid-90's. After the jump, take a look at this playlist from TODAY on my local "alternative" station. Note that not only did they play Cake three times in a 9 hour period, they played "The Distance" TWICE. Inexcusable.
I'm surprised my fellow monkeys haven't adopted the affectation of ordering a Bronx with each meal:
* 2 ounces gin
* 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
* 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
* 1 ounce fresh orange juice
What can we say? How about: Thanks.
Via Jon Favreau's Twitter Feed comes the most adorable, geek movie parody I have ever seen...
Ok. I'll admit it. That headline isn't very accurate. But whenever a politician has the cajones to tell a government worker that the gravy train is over and they gotta suck it up in tough times like the rest of us in the private sector, this former newspaperman always thinks of my all-time favorite headline from the New York Daily News:
The sentiment of Chris Christie's response to a New Jersey public school teacher was pretty much the same, and it was heartening to hear. Christie, who is among the few politicians brave enough to take on his state's powerful teachers union, held a town hall meeting the other day. A public school teacher, Rita Wilson, rose to object to Christie's suggestion that tough economic times require teacher pay to be frozen for one year. Christie also insists that teachers contribute a measly 1.5 percent of their salary toward benefits — which were previously picked up entirely by the taxpayers of the Garden State. Ms. Wilson didn't take those suggestions well.
Wilson told the governor she was one of the educators he criticized as having a "me, first" attitude, but she's making a smaller salary than she would as a baby-sitter. [Editor's note: Does anyone really believe that? C'mon.]
"I'm not a rabble-rouser. I'm a simple English teacher," whose students perform well, Wilson said. "I work really hard."
Wilson said she used the babysitter example to make a point ... She and Christie then testily talked over each other for several questions and answers.
"You know what, you don't have to do it," Christie said.
"Teachers do it because they love it," Wilson told him.
The governor said in a time of "economic crisis," teachers and their main union — the powerful New Jersey Education Association — should be willing to take the freeze.
After the 90-minute session, Christie said he welcomed the "spirited exchange."
I welcome it, too. It's getting a little tiresome hearing sob stories from members of all-powerful teachers unions about their taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits — and it's even more grating from those in New Jersey. According to The New Jersey Star-Ledger, the average salary for public school teachers in the state is "$63,154, with more than half of the teachers earning from $40,000 to $60,000." Furthermore, the paper says, the public school teachers in New Jersey are the fourth highest-paid in the nation, behind only California, New York and Connecticut.
That is not a princely sum, but with benefits (and more tenure) it's quite comfortable — and higher than the median annual income in the United States. Good on Christie for informing Ms. Wilson of the reality of the situation in New Jersey: The state's broke. Belt-tightening is required. And if you don't like it, there is an enormous private sector out there in which one can take their chances.
Not exactly "Drop Dead" ... but, to my delight, close enough.
Appearance-related bias... exacerbates disadvantages based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and class. Prevailing beauty standards penalize people who lack the time and money to invest in their appearance. And weight discrimination, in particular, imposes special costs on people who live in communities with shortages of healthy food options and exercise facilities.
So why not simply ban discrimination based on appearance?
Yes, why not? A beautiful idea. What could possibly go wrong?
(Via John Miller at The Corner.)
Sarah Pulliam Bailey echoes and amplifies the point I made in our podcast with Jason Snell, except she did it for the readers of the Wall Street Journal (of which there are considerably more than the, er,...select audience listening to Joel and me):
The show's writers have hooked an invested group of about 11 million viewers, and these devotees want to believe some larger purpose exists in the storytelling, something meaningful that makes six seasons of watching worthwhile. Each week, however, every answer seems to lead to more questions, leaving enthusiasts with grave angst.
Yet this is how all of life unfolds. In the end, we may find only an approximation of the truth. The viewers' search for meaning in "Lost" exemplifies a microcosm of that experience. If we give the writers a little grace and extend some patience, the suspense leading up to the finale of this television show could teach us something about faith in general.
"I wish you had believed me," Parallel-Universe Locke says as he lies in the hospital. Later, Jack says the same thing to Locke. I've come around to the view that "Lost" won't answer every single question when it ends Sunday night. It might even leave open some big ones. That's okay with me. We don't call them "mysteries" for nothing. Not all mysteries can be solved.
(Cross-posted at RBJonesPhotography.com)
I remember watching Floyd’s amazing Stage 17 performance in the 2006 Tour de France live on television. I was dumbfounded and thrilled. When my wife got home, I showed her the entirety of the stage’s television coverage, watching along with her. We even sat on the couch together afterward as I read aloud the live-blogging entries of a writer for VeloNews whose blow-by-blow account of Landis’s shocking recovery and devastation of his opponents on that epic mountain stage. We laughed and reveled in the unexpected and unorthodox moves and the bewildered descriptions they elicited from commentators on tv and online.
Well… we probably all knew this day was coming. Not all of us, certainly. There were those who either wanted to believe bad enough, or who knew just enough about chemistry or medicine to be able to see a glimmer of possibility in the explanations that the test(s) [that showed his two types of testosterone levels to be too far apart] were a result of his body’s conversion of medication for his ailing hip. Alas. I had my strong suspicions, particularly since reading David Walsh’s book From Lance to Landis. Since then, I’ve considered everyone who had ever been a part of the US Postal team to have been part of a systematic doping program with Johan Bruyneel at its helm.
Much more after the jump. Click below...
I've got nothing against blasphemy -- in fact, I kind of love it.
I love "South Park," enjoyed "The Last Temptation of Christ" more as a novel than as a movie, think "Dogma" is overrated but enjoyable and, generally, like to see sacred cows nudged a little bit. I think it's wonderful, essential and necessary that we can do such poking in America -- and it pisses me off, frankly, when the "South Park" guys come under threat for depicting Mohammed. Or, looking abroad, when European cartoonists face violence, threats and censorship for doing the same.
Still, I didn't draw Mohammed today. And I won't be publishing any of the cartoons. At least, not for now.
Why? Simple. I have Muslim friends and acquaintances -- at least one of whom, I know, is very offended when Mohammed is drawn or otherwise depicted. Not to the point of threatening or undertaking violence, thank goodness, but still: It's an act that wounds her.
And that, I think, beyond strength in the face of censorship and threats, is part of "Draw Mohammed Day" is supposed to be about: Offense.
Some more hawkish and conservative types have pointed out -- rightly -- that Comedy Central, "South Park" and other American institutions have skewered Christianity for years without facing death threats. But I can't help but notice that many of the people who make that observation have also gotten the vapors -- or are closely allied with those who get the vapors -- about having their religious sensibilities trampled upon. And that many of those people are very, very gleeful about the chance to offend Muslims en masse today.
So yeah, there's a double standard. But I suspect the double standard goes both ways.
Me? I admittedly feel more comfortable blaspheming Christianity because, well, Christianity is mine to blaspheme: I grew up in it, was immersed in it and (yes) fell away from it. Even at a distance of nearly a decade, its rhythms and habits are still etched in my bones. And my own adventures in blasphemy were part of rebelling against a culture that had dominated my outlook and behavior.
But Mohammed was never my prophet. Between that and the fact of my friends' sensibilities, a day devoted to angering his followers seems ... rude. It seems too easy to me, even a little bullying, to blaspheme against somebody else's god.
And I'm weird: I've always felt my principles must be balanced and shaped by the impact that they have on real people. Right now, I don't think I have enough cause to hurt my friends.
Make no mistake: I still find the threats and censorship despicable. There may come a time when I feel that committing a little blasphemy against Islam's sacred cows is necessary. That day isn't today. I won't draw Mohammed.
Arlen Specter is OUT.
Your politics are finished. You will not be missed.
Rand "Son of Ron" Paul is CRUSHING incumbent Republican party-whore Trey Grayson in the Senate primary for Kentucky.
UPDATE: The AP has called the race for Paul. Grayson lost 2-1 in his home district. David Weigel's take is here.
This Ralph Reed -- remember him? -- post at The Corner, about Elena Kagan's radical tendencies, deserves a thorough fisking. But there's one point in particular that I found interesting. And by "interesting" I mean "dishonest."
In response to questions during her confirmation as solicitor general, Kagan argued the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, like freedom of speech, enjoys “strong but not unlimited protection.” This is a dangerous view of the law when it leads to the creeping erosion of the Bill of Rights.
Why is this dishonest? Because if you check what Kagan said at her solicitor general hearings, it's clear that she was citing DC vs. Heller, the 2008 case that upheld gun rights. This is a fuller and untruncated quote of what she said:
Once again, there is no question, after Heller, that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to keep and bear arms and that this right, like others in the Constitution, provides strong although not unlimited protection against governmental regulation.
Is that really "a dangerous view of the law?" Consider this: Kagan was basically echoing the Heller decision in making her statement about the limits of the Second Amendment -- a decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia wrote:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to castdoubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms byfelons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
Is Ralph Reed really going to say that Antonin Scalia -- about as solid a Second Amendment absolutist as you'll find on the court -- has a "dangerous view of the law?" Of course not. So if he's saying the same view of the law is dangerous when held by Elena Kagan, well, you can be sure he's doing so in the service of dishonest hackery. Ralph Reed isn't telling the truth.
Christopher Hitchens almost makes sense with his defense of the French burqa ban:
The French legislators who seek to repudiate the wearing of the veil or the burqa—whether the garment covers "only" the face or the entire female body—are often described as seeking to impose a "ban." To the contrary, they are attempting to lift a ban: a ban on the right of women to choose their own dress, a ban on the right of women to disagree with male and clerical authority, and a ban on the right of all citizens to look one another in the face. The proposed law is in the best traditions of the French republic, which declares all citizens equal before the law and—no less important—equal in the face of one another.
Hitchens appeals to my humanist-slash-libertarian side here, briefly, by casting the proposed burqa ban as a blow for women, letting them cast off their subjugation by forcing them to remove the veil from their faces. But that's not what the proposal does -- at least, not entirely.
Instead, the proposed burqa ban substitutes one set of restrictive authority -- you will always hide your face! -- for another -- you will never hide your face! Women who are forced by husbands or male family members (or, more or less indirectly, by their co-religionists) to cover their faces are given no more choice in how they express themselves through dress than women who are forced by the state to make a precisely opposite decision. Either way, women are treated almost like playthings in the broader Culture Wars/Clash of Civilizations/War on Terror or what have you. It's not about letting them make their own choices; it's about deciding their choices for them in advance.
That's still not any kind of meaningful freedom.
Indeed, the New York Times story that serves as the basis of Hitchens' column hints at this a little bit:
Fewer than 2,000 women in France wear a version of the full veil, and many of them are French women who have converted to Islam. The full veil is seen here as a sign of a more fundamentalist Islam, known as Salafism, which the government is trying to undercut.
It is impossible to know the story of every French woman who converted to Islam and started wearing the veil, but it certainly seems as though many of those women freely made their choices. It's not a choice I would've made, nor would I have made it for them -- but that's not really the point point, isn't it?
There are, of course, separate questions about the veil and the public's right to safety in public places -- and that is a debate that deserves to be hashed out: It's certainly not a debate contained to France. But the feminist argument advanced by Hitchens -- and French President Nicholas Sarkozy -- rings hollow. You don't free women by making choices for them.
I am Roman Catholic in upbringing, but Post-Lutheran in faith, American in temperament, the son of deacons who have papal medals adorning their dining-room wall, unafraid and untraumatized by Catholic masses and elementary schools, a self-described "Messianic gentile."
I believe, therefore, that I am among those friendly to the church who nonetheless can feel free to critique her.
And so, a Friday afternoon baseball game, away in the mountains around Lake Arrowhead, on a crummy community baseball field, youngest son in the stands, eldest son playing right field and batting in the second inning, me coaching 1st base and keeping score, becomes in one awful moment another window open on the suffering of God. Another look through a glass, darkly.
I sent him to steal second on a crucial pitch, the throw was botched, the shortstop, lunging for the ball, collides with my son, his shoulder crushing my son's jaw as he slides into the bag. He collapses, backward, arms splayed, eyes closed, and is still. I can see some of the damage from the coaches' box. So begins a 6-hour side trip into the agonies of parenting a child born to me.
That, of course, was the least of the outcomes of the event. But our family has rallied around him, and we are lifting him up, and he is recovering more speedily than I'd hoped.
So. Just for the record, I love my son.
But a couple of data points interested me more than the others:
Empowered Iran in Iraq and region. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the primary strategic beneficiary of the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq. The end of Saddam Hussein’s regime removed Iran’s most-hated enemy (with whom it fought a hugely destructive war in the 1980s) and removed the most significant check on Iran’s regional hegemonic aspirations. Many of Iraq’s key Iraqi Shia Islamist and Kurdish leaders enjoy close ties to Iran, facilitating considerable influence for Iran in the new Iraq.
Stifled democracy reform. A recent RAND study concluded that, rather than becoming a beacon of democracy, the Iraq war has hobbled the cause of political reform in the Middle East. The report stated that “Iraq’s instability has become a convenient scarecrow neighboring regimes can use to delay political reform by asserting that democratization inevitably leads to insecurity.”
In the absence of WMD, of course, creating US-friendly democracies in the Middle East became the backup rationale for the American invasion. Turns out there were no WMDs ... and that our invasion might've throttled whatever nascent democratic spirit existed in that region. The Iraq War, simply put, is never not going to be a disaster for us.