The Washington Post reports:
China has told participants in the U.N.-sponsored climate talks that it cannot envision reaching an immediate, operational accord out of the negotiations here, according to an official involved in the talks.
How could the Chinese betray the Earth so?
It isn't entirely clear from the Washington Post story, but Reuters informs: "China told Denmark on Wednesday night it was siding with developing nations and argued it was not empowered to change the process by delegating to the small negotiating groups."
Wait... what? Roughly translated, China doesn't want its robust economic growth hobbled by artificial caps imposed by meddling multinational treaties. How... unprogressive.
Here's the lead paragraph of Dan Henninger's column in Thursday's Wall Street Journal:
If President Obama's health-care initiative fails, there is no longer a rationale for being a liberal in the United States. Everything else on liberalism's to-do list is footnotes.
Everything else is a footnote? Cap-and-trade is a footnote? Regulating climate change makes health care look like rural electrification or mohair subsidies.
My brilliant nephew gave me a bottle for Christmas last year. We had made a sojourn to Bonny Doon's new tasting room and cafe in Santa Cruz just after Thanksgiving. They couldn't let us taste the stuff, but we did sample their excellent pommeau. Anyway, I meant to review the Calvadoon for the Winter of Apple, but unfortunately I drank it all and promptly forgot what it tasted like.
If somebody would buy me another bottle -- in the interest of good journalism, of course -- I would be much obliged. Merry Christmas!
Award-winning freelance photographer takes a few pictures inside a mall. Photographer inadvertently takes a few shots of a child (in a wide shot). Parents confront photographer. Photographer apologizes and delete the shots from the digital camera. Parents get the police involved anyway. Which is where things get really stupid.
(Photographer Scott) Rensberger said (Charleston police Cpl. R.C. Basford) stopped him and said, "Why are you taking pictures of kids?"
"I can't believe you are asking me that," Rensberger said to the officer. "Do you mind if I take a picture of you?"
Rensberger said he reached in his pocket and pulled out his camera and raised it to take a picture of the police officer. Basford grabbed the camera to prevent him from taking a picture, which is when Rensberger said he took his free hand and brought it up to the small camera because he was afraid it was going to drop on the ground.
According to Rensberger, Basford said, "Don't you touch me."
Rensberger said he told the officer he wasn't touching him.
"Then he grabs my left hand and takes it around my back while Santa and the kids and everyone looked on," Rensberger said. "I'm scared to death he is going to dislocate my shoulder. I'm begging him not to do that and he responded, 'If it dislocates, I'll call the paramedics.' By no means was I trying to resist arrest."
Ah, well, you know how it is. He's a photojournalist! Hit him again! Ho ho ho...
Anyway, Rensberger is facing a variety of charges, including -- get this -- battery on a police officer. Basford is facing a routine use of force investigation. Seems like something is out of sorts here -- up is down and black is white.
The story about the Taunton, Mass., 8-year-old "suspended" and subjected to a psychiatric evaluation for drawing Jesus Christ on the cross is more complicated than first reported. I still see the current hullaballoo as a species of zero-tolerance gone too far, but the initial story now demands some revision and further explanation.
Taunton Mayor Charles Crowley on Tuesday spoke out about the row, saying school Superintendent Julie Hackett should apologize to the boy's family and ordering the district to pay the for the psychiatric exam the child had to undergo as a condition of returning to class.
But Hackett pushed back, categorically denying the Maxham Elementary School second grader was ever suspended and saying the father's account of what happened was incomplete at best.
Meantime, Chester Johnson, the 8-year-old's father, elaborated to journalists on what school authorities allegedly told him. GateHouse News Service in Massachusetts reports:
(T)he father of the second-grade student said on Tuesday that school officials were concerned that the 8-year-old boy may have intended to depict himself, rather than Jesus Christ, on the cross.
“They told me there was a kid at Taunton High School who drew a picture of knives and guns, then killed himself,” said Chester Johnson, the boy’s father.
Apparently, the teacher and the school's principal and counselor thought the boy might have been in some sort of distress. But the father tells it differently.
The child initially insisted that the picture depicted Jesus on the cross, but after being questioned for the third time, the boy told school officials that the drawing was of himself asleep on the cross, Johnson said Tuesday. Based on the reactions of the teacher and principal, the boy sensed that he was in trouble for drawing Jesus, but then changed his story in an effort to avoid being disciplined, the father said.
Johnson also told a reporter that "the teacher and principal questioned his son three times about the drawing before notifying a parent." Behavior like that invites lawsuits, which, of course, Johnson is contemplating. (For what it's worth, an ACLU attorney said, "They owe this kid an apology and his family an apology.")
But Superintendent Hackett sent a statement to Taunton city officials and the press that disputes several key points. According to the Boston Globe:
(T)he student was never suspended and that neither he nor other students at the Maxham Elementary School were asked by their teacher to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas or any religious holiday, as the newspaper reported and the father suggested.
She said it was unclear whether the boy -- who put his name above his stick-figure portrait of Christ on the cross -- even drew it in school.
"The inaccuracies in the original media story have resulted in a great deal of criticism and scrutiny of the system that is unwarranted," she said.
She said the boy's drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, as the figure on the cross, which sparked the teacher to alert the school's principal and staff psychologist.
She declined to comment on whether the teacher had reason to believe that the student might be crying out for help.
She added: "Religion had nothing to do with this at all.''
Hackett pointed out that Taunton is known as "The Christmas City." Visitors come from across the region to see the annual lighting on the Taunton green, according to the city's website.
Although many other commentators have played up the religious angle of the story, I was -- and remain -- most interested in the zero-tolerance and therapeutic aspects of the case. Any whiff of deviance is a potential threat. When in doubt, call the shrinks (or the cops). That view is further supported by this story in Wednesday's Boston Herald:
(Johnson) acknowledged that the boy was not suspended, but said he was told the boy could not go back to school until he received counseling, which Johnson said he considers the equivalent of a suspension. He said his son was out Dec. 3 and 4.
The boy was allowed to return to class Dec. 7 after a two-day risk assessment by Taunton licensed social worker Helene Titelbaum reported, “(The boy) does not appear to be a threat to himself or others at this time.”
According to (Melissa Cromwell, the boy's mother) and Johnson, officials at the Lowell M. Maxham School were concerned the boy’s drawing of Jesus nailed to the cross suggested possible violent tendencies.
And I think it comes back to that. It could have been the picture of a crucified Christ, Santa Claus machine-gunning Iraqis, or bunnies with assault rifles. The school would have reacted the same -- with horror and concern -- to any artistic depiction of violence, even though more often than not, the drawings have no relationship to harmful behavior.
(Incidentally, a friend e-mailed in reply to my earlier post: "My sister teaches kindergarten in Cleveland. She had a kid who drew a picture of Jesus with a gun. Jesus was shooting the little children rather than loving them. This kid's dad is in prison for murder. Nothing happened with this kid when my sister went to see the principal to voice her concern." Evidently, public school administrators are latter-day Manichees.)
"It is unfortunate that the actions of our district staff have been classified as 'religious' in nature when, in fact, they were based solely on the well-being of the student," the Taunton district’s statement said.
They're so concerned about the student's well-being that they're willing to traumatize him to keep him "safe."
For some reason, I thought you'd enjoy this:
(Hat Tip: Daily Dish)
Cato's Gene Healy writes in the Washington Examiner today about an alarming government trend:
The Founders viewed the criminal sanction as a last resort, reserved for serious offenses, clearly defined, so ordinary citizens would know whether they were violating the law.
Yet over the last 40 years, an unholy alliance of big-business-hating liberals and tough-on-crime conservatives has made criminalization the first line of attack -- a way to demonstrate seriousness about the social problem of the month, whether it's corporate scandals or e-mail spam.
At one point on Tuesday, Breyer protested: "I thought there was a principle that a citizen is supposed to be able to understand the criminal law." Good luck with that.
There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code. Some years ago, analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offenses on the books, and gave up, lacking the resources to get the job done. If teams of legal researchers can't make sense of the federal criminal code, obviously, ordinary citizens don't stand a chance.
You know what this looks like? A YouTube parody of somebody envisioning what a Ridley Scott production of Robin Hood might look like:
Oh. You say it's actually Ridley Scott's production of Robin Hood? Um, er....
Just a prediction: There's gonna be a scene in this movie where lots of people step forward and yell: "I am Robin Hood!" It just kind of smells like that kind of flick, no?
Hey, I'm a fan of the whole "edgy reboot" genre. James Bond. Batman. All were served well by going to dark places. But Robin Hood? C'mon, Ridley! Robin Hood is Errol Flynn and Kevin Costner's bad accent. It's Alan Rickman playing the villain. It's a Bryan Adams soundtrack! It's supposed to be fun, not humorless and angry.
(Update: See this follow-up post on the school district's push-back against press reports.)
(Updated below with details from the Associated Press, video from New England Cable News, and other commentary.)
Just in time for Christmas, some soulless, bureaucratic automatons at Maxham Elementary in the hamlet of Taunton, Massachusetts suspended a second-grader from school and ordered him to receive a psychiatric evaluation for drawing a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross. Looks like zero-tolerance idiocy strikes again.
Here is the story, according to the Taunton Gazette:
A Taunton father is outraged after his 8-year-old son was sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation after drawing a stick-figure picture of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The father said he got a call earlier this month from Maxham Elementary School informing him that his son, a second-grade student, had created a violent drawing. The image in question depicted a crucified Jesus with Xs covering his eyes to signify that he had died on the cross. The boy wrote his name above the cross.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re violating his religion,” the incredulous father said.
He requested that his name and his son’s name be withheld from publication to protect the boy.
The student drew the picture shortly after taking a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat site in Attleboro. He made the drawing in class after his teacher asked the children to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas, the father said.
“I think what happened is that because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent,” said Toni Saunders, an educational consultant with the Associated Advocacy Center.
I'm not certain that the school violated the boy's religion, although it wouldn't be the first time a school trampled on a student's First Amendment right to portray religious themes in art. If nothing else, school officials violated common sense.
The drawing supposedly "violated the code of violence in the school handbook," according to the Washington Times. But this wasn't a case of a Cub Scout bringing a camping tool to class or even an older student having a knife locked in his car. This was a picture. Even the "violence" depicted in it is relatively benign. And in any event, school officials make a grave and fundamental mistake when they equate pictures of violence with actual violence. (Interestingly, a number of schools suggest "writing stories or poems or drawing pictures" as a prevention tool. Makes sense. It's cathartic.)
Turns out, the boy is a special education student, but he reportedly has no history of discipline problems. Could that have influenced the school's decision?
Naturally, the district superintendent justifies the school's overreaction with the usual butt-blanketing bureaucratic balderdash: "Generally speaking, we have safety protocols in place," Superintendent Julie Hackett told the Taunton Gazette. "If a situation warrants it, we ask for outside safety evaluations if we have particular concerns about a child’s safety. We followed all the protocols in our system."
I believe that is correct -- they followed "all the protocols." Does that not suggest something is very, very wrong with the protocols? And isn't it funny how the protocols almost always exclude or present parents with faits accompli about what needs to be done to their children?
Update: Oh, dear. According to the AP:
Chester Johnson told WBZ-TV that his son made the drawing on Dec. 2 after his second-grade teacher asked children to sketch something that reminded them of the holiday.
Johnson said the teacher became upset when his son said he drew himself on the cross. Johnson, who is black, told WBZ he suspects racism is involved. He said he thinks the school overreacted and wants an apology.
Hard to say, from this distance, whether or how race was a factor in the teacher's response or the school's decision. But certainly the school overreacted in any event. The Associated Press story also fleshes out some details about 8-year-old Johnson's reaction to his circumstances:
The boy was cleared to return to school on Dec. 7 after the evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others. But his father said the boy was traumatized by the incident and the school district has approved the family's request to have the child transferred to another school.
"They owe my family an apology and the kid an apology and they need to work with my son (to) the best of their ability to get him back to where he was before all this happened," Johnson told New England Cable News.
Too late. The school can't undo what it's done. In an effort to play it safe, the school harmed this child. Does anyone think that Chester Johnson's son will ever forget what happened to him when he drew a picture of his savior? So stupid.
Here is the video of the story from New England Cable News.
Update: Ed Morrissey writes:
It’s hard to imagine a more clueless, knee-jerk response than the one given by this school. First, Jesus on a crucifix has been a symbol of Christianity for two millenia. Since Christmas is in fact a Christian holiday, at least nominally, the crucifix in this drawing clearly came from Christian symbolism and not some latent threat of a reenactment of the last scenes of Spartacus from a second grader. How dense or deliberately obtuse must a teacher and administrators be not to understand the symbolism involved in this drawing?
And a commenter at Joanne Jacobs's blog reiterates what I've been saying all along about zero-tolerance rules:
This kind of incident does not enhance the public view of the education establishment and those who inhabit it. There’s a toxic combination of silly, “zero-tolerance” policies and no common sense or judgment in their application. It’s a total cop-out on the part of the perpetrators; a refusal to accept the responsibility to make sensible judgments and accept the consequences. It’s the same mindset that sees bringing an aspirin or a plastic knife as deserving of expulsion.
The Taunton Gazette editorializes:
Why didn’t the teacher just talk to the child when he was drawing the picture and ask what it meant? Couldn’t that have spared everyone the grief?
The child was just doing his assignment. He wasn’t drawing this picture to cause any harm. He was just doing his schoolwork.
Yet the school district has turned this into a major story that is now gaining some national notoriety.
All for a little picture.
Related posts on school zero-tolerance policies run amok:
• Vindication for Zachary Christie
• No vindication for Matthew Whalen... yet
• Who is George Goodwin?
• Where is the school board on Lansingburgh's insipid, mindless zero-tolerance policy?
• Well, OF COURSE Lansingburgh school administrators overreacted
• Vindication for Matthew Whalen... maybe soon
• On zero-tolerance policies: "Schools' get-tough rules cross the line"
• No vindication for Matthew Whalen
A revised edition of Angelo Codevilla's classic book, "The Character of Nations," has been published this year, and it too is an education in itself. "The Character of Nations" is less focussed on immediate domestic political issues-- though it does analyze the contrasting responses of the intelligentsia to Sarah Palin and Barack Obama-- but it is focussed more on the underlying cultural developments that affect how nations work-- or don't work.
The very title of "The Character of Nations" is a challenge to the prevailing ideology that denies or downplays underlying differences among individuals, groups and nations.
I reread "The Character of Nations" earlier this year, in tandem with Codevilla's latest book, "Advice to War Presidents" (which I see Amazon is offering at a bargain price).
My friend John Kienker included Codevilla on his list of in the Claremont Institute's Christmas gift symposium. He writes:
Newly updated and expanded to take account of the September 11 attacks and the 2008 bailout, Codevilla surveys dramatic changes in prosperity, civility, family life, religion, and national defense around the world, with examples drawn from the Soviets to the Swedes, from Italy to Israel, and a dozen other countries. When he turns his attention to modern-day America, he no longer finds the nation of free citizens described by Tocqueville, bound together by a devotion to limited, constitutional government; but one that more and more resembles Europe or even the Third World: a nation of favor-seekers profiting from their connections to government and content to be ruled by a powerful, decadent elite.
I agree. And, although it might seem a bit dour for the holiday, I really can't recommend "The Character of Nations" highly enough.
I had no idea. Sure enough, December 14 is Monkey Day. Why Monkey Day? According to the Monkey Day people, "Monkey Day is an annual celebration of all things simian, a festival of primates, a chance to scream like a monkey and throw feces at whomever you choose. Or perhaps just a reason to hang out with your friends while grunting and picking fleas off each other."
I will celebrate as I always do:
(Although, if you stop and think about it, isn't every day Monkey Day? It isn't? Oh... Okay, then.)
Philly Weekly's Michael Alan Goldberg celebrates the occasion by posting his favorite monkey music videos.
Monkey Day isn't an official holiday... yet. But you can sign a petition to help make it so. I should warn that there appear to be some irreligious and other suspect political elements to the whole thing. If that doesn't bug you, then proceed. But watch out, those monkeys bite, I tell you!
Michael Leahy's Washington Post feature today on the travails of California State Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-Claremont, and a bunch of other disparate Foothill and High Desert communities that have more to do with the scourge of gerrymandering than fair or rational representation) deserves more than I can give it just now -- which means I'll probably never get back to it.
Leahy seems to think Adams's problems in California say something about the condition of the Republican Party nationally. Well, nuts to that. Happily, Bill Voegeli, who discovered the story by way of John Judis's snarky take at The New Republic's blog, offers his own astute and witty assessment at NoLeftTurns.
Three quick points, however:
• Recalling Adams was always a bad idea. That is not the same as saying that Adams does not deserve to be ousted. I hope he's back manning a cash register in Hesperia come 2011. But the recall should be reserved for the most egregious cases -- malfeasance, fraud, rank incompetence and the like. Bad as Adams' budget vote was, it simply doesn't rise to that level. (I find myself disagreeing here with Rep. Tom McClintock, with whom I agree on just about everything else. So it goes...)
• Note the reason Adams gives Leahy for voting for the budget that will doom him at the ballot box next year: "State people were not getting paychecks. We faced the possibility of paying those people off in IOUs for quite some time...." State people. His concern, in other words, was for the public employees and not the taxpayers who bear the burden of paying the public employees' salaries (to say nothing of their pensions, but that's another matter...)
• Anthony Adams has the worst mother-in-law in the world.
Oh, one more point. Adams mentions, "This Taliban mentality: it's trying to get rid of people in our party. It makes it impossible to grow the party." The absurdity of the former statement undermines the wisdom of the latter.
Put more succinctly: Taliban mentality, my... foot.
Mirsky reviews a new book about the life of John S. "Jack" Service, a former State Department "China hand" who ran afoul of Joseph McCarthy's hearings after being charged with passing secrets to communist Chinese sympathizers.
Service's story is an interesting one. He really did believe the United States should support Mao Tse Tung over Chaing Kai-Shek and, as the new book confirms, he spoke all too freely with communists and fellow-travelers. Service, who finished his career teaching at Berkeley, was celebrated in the last decades of his life as another unfortunate victim of McCarthyism and the Red Scare.
But Mirsky reveals something that is explosive, if true, and would seem to undermine the conclusion of anticommunist historians Ron Radosh and Harvey Klehr that Service was essentially a dupe but ultimately innocent of espionage.
"If what he told me near the end of his life is true," Mirsky writes, "the word treason no longer seems misplaced."
Certainly the question of "Who lost China?" has some bearing today on the how America battles Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and Asia. Read Mirsky's piece, as well as Klehr's recent review in National Review, and draw your own conclusions.
Technically, the second decade of the 21st century doesn't begin until January 1, 2011. But that chronologically correct distinction* was obliterated in 2000, and so now come the reflections on the Decade That Was. Here is a pretty good, appropriately irreverent entry from The Telegraph's Toby Young:
If the past 10 years had one defining characteristic it was that they allowed human beings to give full expression to their yearning for chaos, one of their darkest unconscious desires. It was the decade in which people’s appetite for destruction became almost insatiable.
* Culturally, of course, "decades" neither begin nor end on their official calendar dates. The '80s, for example, really began in 1982 and ended in 1991. The "Noughties" arguably began on September 11, 2001 and ended last year, with the financial collapse. We're now living in the New Age of Austerity, the Freelance Era, the Silver Age of Irony, or the Twilight of the Old American Order -- take your pick.
(Those are all my terms, by the way -- you're welcome to use them, but you owe me 7.5 cents every time you do.)
(Via Iain Murray on Twitter.)
Ben Stein has a charming piece at the American Spectator about his recent visit with some Marines at Camp Pendleton.
"They had the kinds of faces you used to see in Jimmy Stewart movies, all-American faces, white, brown, black, Asian, but all smiling, all eager to do something for their country," Stein writes. "They did not have the kind of conniving, weasel-like faces I usually see around me in Beverly Hills. They looked like straight shooters, in a word. I guess they are, since every Marine is a rifleman."
Steven Hayward has a short-ish op-ed in Sunday's New York Post that sums up the "Climategate" scandal beautifully.
The piece is a nice abridgment of Hayward's 6,000-word take on the Climate Research Unit e-mail row that appeared last week in the Weekly Standard.
Wow! Did you catch this on Conan O'Brien? William Shatner is brilliant, as always. But Sarah Palin isn't too bad here, either. The transition is a little awkward, but it's a fine bit of comedy. "What made T.J. Hooker's character so interesting...?" Watch to find out. Good stuff.
Eat it, Joel!
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Obama's Nobel Speech|
I'm conflicted. OK. I'm not that conflicted.
This clip isn't all that funny — except for the Will Smith bit (only slightly funny). But I wasn't happy with Jon Stewart when he was undermining George W. Bush's execution of the war on terror. And I'm not happy with him undermining Barack Obama's execution of the war on terror.
As for the lame "kicker": It's not that "every time we think we're out, (Obama) brings us back in." Who's brining us back in are America's enemies. Not Obama. And not (previously) Bush.
Oh. And I don't really mean "EAT IT, JOEL!" I was just ... well ... enjoying a tiny bit of this moment I still condemn. Couldn't resist. All respect.
The mission/fight in Afghanistan, like the mission/fight in Iraq, is worthy of praise — even if Jon Stewart can't bring himself to praise it. I'm encouraged only that Stewart's audience seemed flaccid to his presentation of his world view.
I'm up to my eyeballs in California land-use regulations, so I didn't actually listen to President Obama's speech in Oslo today and just read it quickly. I haven't quite digested it enough to have an opinion, but I see that Joel played off of Justin Paulette's analysis at NoLeftTurns. I think Joel is a bit to quick to dismiss "just war" theory, what with its centuries-old intellectual pedigree and all.
I do think Daniel Drezner's post-speech challenge is worth highlighting, however:
A contest for readers: pour over the speech and look for evidence suggesting Obama favors the following approaches:
• Neoliberal institutionalism
• Social construcivism
• Democratic peace theory
• Feminist IR theory (I think it's there, but you have to squint)
• Human security
It's easy... and fun!!
The Heritage Foundation's Conn Carroll seems to have noticed the same thing, but offers a more dour take: "What comes first — freedom or peace, interests or values? For those with a taste for textual deconstruction, President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech offers ample opportunity."
Jules Crittenden, rarely one to play coy, praises the speech with faint damns: "Maybe, like Nixon going to China, it takes an Obama to make the defense of freedom acceptable. I wonder what happened to him in that Situation Room. Hard, inescapable dose of responsibility?"
Even Commentary's Jennifer Rubin found much to like: "But this speech is perhaps the closest he has come to throwing the American antiwar Left under the bus. America will defend itself. There is evil in the world. And yes, we are at war with religious fanatics... It is not at all what the netroot crowd that lifted him to the presidency had in mind. It seems that reality may be dawning, however dimly, on the White House."
Obama is no neoconservative, and just as it was too early to hand him this rather overblown "honor", it's still too early to say whether this administration is waking up to reality. As always, I recommend anything and everything Angelo Codevilla has to say about foreign policy generally, and Obama's foreign policy in particular.
Barack Obama's trip to Oslo to pick up his Nobel peace award is in danger of being overshadowed by a row over the cancellation of a series of events normally attended by the prizewinner.
Norwegians are incensed over what they view as his shabby response to the prize by cutting short his visit.
The White House has cancelled many of the events peace prize laureates traditionally submit to, including a dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee, a press conference, a television interview, appearances at a children's event promoting peace and a music concert, as well as a visit to an exhibition in his honour at the Nobel peace centre.
He has also turned down a lunch invitation from the King of Norway.
According to a poll published by the daily tabloid VG, 44% of Norwegians believe it was rude of Obama to cancel his scheduled lunch with King Harald, with only 34% saying they believe it was acceptable.
Now, I'm a bit biased here. My wife's grandfather, Jack Moore, was knighted by the Norwegians for his service on The Shetland Bus in World War II. But, still. Obama has lots of time for lots of things. Like lapping Bush in golf outings. Stumping for ObamaCare. Parties. Etc. Would it kill him to show a modicum of respect the country that just gave him a great honor?
Let's put aside questions about whether Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize — and even the fact that he announced an increase in troops to Afghanistan days before departing for Oslo (I, unlike many, think fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida is a noble cause that will foster more peace). This is bad form, and yet another international embarrassment.
This is an apple-booze-related post only tangentially, I realize, but I had to pass it along. Ian Knauer -- a "chef, country boy and former food editor at Gourmet" -- writes at Salon today about what may be the greatest culinary marriage since prosciutto hooked up with asparagus: Cider-bourbon braised bacon.
First step, find a thick chunk of slab bacon. You'll have to go to a butcher for this. When you do, ask them for the thickest chunk they've got. The amount is up to you. How much bacon do you eat? A lot? Then get a lot. Just make sure it's all in one piece...
Knauer goes on to show and tell how it's all done. And if the process of merging apples with bourbon and bacon sounds rather involved, well, consider the results: "The bacon can live in your fridge for a month, but it won't last that long, because it's just about the best thing you've eaten." How could it not be?
(Hat tip: Crywalt)
"The skills required to maintain a happy harem take practice, patience, and a bit of internal discipline, not unlike perfecting one’s golf game," advises Tracy Quan, author of Diary of a Call Girl and its sequel, Diary of a Married Call Girl. Funny thing is, those are the same skills required to maintain a happy marriage. And, challenging as that can be, it seems much less complicated -- and far more honorable -- than either golf or "harem management" to me.
(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
Michael Steele, one of the greatest in a long line of Republican disappointments, had an awkward exchange with the insipid Mike Barnacle on Morning Joe today.
Politico reports on who said what to whom and why:
...Steele got into it with MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle who, in discussing health care, asked, "What are you people for?"
"You people?" Steele asked. "Who are you people?"
"The Republicans, what are you for?" Barnicle responded.
Laughing, Steele -- the first African American chairman of the RNC -- said, "Mike, I just wanted to you define the pronoun baby, that’s all.”
“Oh, come on,” Barnicle responded.
(Hat tip: Memeorandum.)
My friend Doug Bandow has a provocative article on National Interest Online about Switzerland's vote to ban new minarets on mosques. Bandow believes the vote violates the religious liberty of Muslims living in Switzerland. But he also believes that Muslims living in nations that violate the rights of Christians are in no position to criticize the Swiss.
Indeed, as Bandow demonstrates, the loudest protests have come from countries where Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities suffer varying degrees of discrimination and even persecution.
"Switzerland is a beacon of liberty and reason compared to the Muslim nations," Bandow writes.
It's about the Article II prerogatives of the executive branch. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.
Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose "the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military's detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict," Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Other sanctions are available for government lawyers who commit misconduct, the department said.
(More from Harper's here: "Indeed, this has emerged as a sort of ignoble mantra for the Justice Department, uniting both the Bush and Obama administrations.")
Joel will almost certainly disagree (and perhaps soon find himself exploring the mysteries of Taoism), but this is a wise strategy on the administration's part. Quite simply, what goes around, comes around. And when it becomes potentially criminal for lawyers to offer candid advice to presidents -- even bad advice, even morally reprehensible advice -- then it becomes more difficult for presidents to carry out their constitutionally prescribed duties. We have ways of correcting the excesses of policy without sending people to jail -- as Joel and I will discuss with University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone on the podcast this weekend.
If you peruse Memeorandum, you might have seen this odd post by a blogger named Suzi Gablik titled "Why I'm Not a Liberal Anymore." Right... what's all this then? A Charles Johnson in reverse? Not exactly.
The stuff coming out of "progressive" mouths is all too often on a par with Glenn Beck's abusive rants--both sides (right and left wingers) playing thousand-pound national football with the President as the ball--meaning, kick kick kick, until you bust his dick. This truly makes me sick. (It's meant to be the rhyme from hell.)
Yes, there is some wicked rhetoric in the fever swamps of the left-o-sphere. And...? Turns out, Gablik is upset with her friends and fellow travelers on the left-side of the political spectrum who have lost faith in the Hope and Change that Barack Obama promised. If liberals can turn so quickly on the president, Gablik seems to be arguing, then she doesn't want to be a liberal anymore. (I don't think Gablik would be a fan of Joel's, although he clearly hasn't given up on the president altogether yet.)
So, if Gablik isn't a liberal anymore, what is she?
The answer is I'm a Taoist, even though there isn't a political party yet that goes by that name. And now I can add that I'm also "three in the morning"--which means, in considering both sides of a question, I'm willing to follow two different courses at once. And I'm really glad to have a president who is brave enough and willing to do exactly that, too.
Is there anything in Gablik to be admired? Not really. She slams Beck for "abusive rants," yet what did she write last October?
Palin's cultivated malice almost makes the KKK look untutored.
So much for consistency. And who exactly is Gablik? An art critic with a penchant for grandiose abstraction:
A new paradigm of an engaged, participatory and socially relevant art is emerging . . .
Within the modernist paradigm under which I grew up, art has been typically understood as a collection of prestigious objects, existing in museums and galleries, disconnected from ordinary life and action. . . .
Many of the beliefs about art that our culture subscribes to, that the problems of art are purely aesthetic and that art will never change the world, are beliefs that have diminished the capacity of artists for constructive thought and action. . . .
As many artists shift their work arena from the studio to the more public contexts of political, social, and environmental life, we are all being called, in our understanding of what art is, to move beyond the mode of disinterested contemplation to something that is more participatory and engaged. . . .
Verbose nothingness, the familiar incantation of buzzwords -- "paradigm," "socially relevant," "participatory" -- that function primarily as signifiers of membership in the intellectual ranks. And now, because some liberal critics have turned their guns on Obama, she decides that HuffPo is coterminous with liberalism, and therefore she is not liberal.
Remember this next time somebody tells you conservatives are anti-intellectual morons.
On McCain's last point, it's fair to say conservatives have our own crosses to bear. And God knows we've had our share of family squabbles lately. (This is nothing new, of course. Just look at all the people with whom Harry Jaffa has done battle over the decades.)
Our friends on the left, many of whom count themselves as members of something called the "reality-based community," apparently believed all of the things they said about George W. Bush. That was a mistake. I read somewhere that elections have consequences. That they do. One of those consequences is governing. Governing is not the same as campaigning. And although the majority party might wish the vanquished would just step aside, shut up and let the president have his way, that's just not the way it works in a democratic republic. Almost one full year into Obama's presidency, the idealists who saw Hope and Change realize that he is a politician after all, and politics has limits.
Conservatives might do well to remember that, too. For the moment, however, I'm content to sit back and watch if Taoism stages a comeback.
When will our current president stop blaming every difficulty on "the previous administration"? I'm guessing sometime around year three of his second term.
Barack Obama on the TARP program, December 8, 2009:
"Launched hastily — understandably, but hastily under the last administration — the TARP program was flawed. And we have worked hard to correct those flaws and manage it properly."
Barack Obama on the floor of the U.S. Senate, October 2008:
"There may be other plans out there that had we had two or three or six months to develop might be even more refined and might serve our purposes better. But we don't have that kind of time. And we can't afford to take a risk that the economy of the United States of America and as a consequence the worldwide economy could be plunged into a very, very deep hole."
Not only is that a red-handed gotcha quote, it points to the fact that when Obama blames "the previous administration" — be it for TARP or domestic spending in general — he is, in fact, equally culpable. If there was "haste," he was advocating for it on the Senate floor. And it's not as if Bush took all these actions on his own. Congress (and Obama) voted for TARP — and Obama's soon-to-be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was among its biggest advocates. Congress (and Obama) voted for more domestic spending, which added to a debt that Obama inherited ... but has managed to triple in six months.
Enough, already. I'd hope even Obama supporters have had it up to here with this "tic" of the president, as Charles Krauthammer put it tonight on "Special Report."