Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The first good news to come out of my home town since Carly Patterson

You may have heard of him before. He parents are Indian. He was born and raised in Baton Rouge, LA. He went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and was drafted into LA politics shortly thereafter. He is a conservative Republican who is wicked smart and currently serves in Congress. He is running for governor against the severely compromised Ms. Blanco. Even a state as messed up as LA can't keep him down.

His name is Bobby Jindal.

I was first made aware of him by my dad who was impressed by his work as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals about 10 years ago.

Illinois (a state that gives LA a run for its money as most the corrupt in the Union) may have Barack, but we have Bobby. And he's only just getting started.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Busy Busy Monday

So not too much today. I've been reading too much about the Middle East these days, so I can kill two birds with one stone by combining it with a tribute to the late, troubled genius of B Kliban.

Enjoy more of these here

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's another Taqiyya Sunrise

From the Jerusalem Post:

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on Saturday renewed his offer for a 10-year truce with Israel in return for the establishment of a temporary Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Wow, I thought chutzpah was a Yiddish word

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sincere Apologies to Mr. Kliban

Happy weekend!

The Democratic Executive in the 21st Century: a blueprint

Occaisioned by a piece in Commentary by Joshua Muravchik on Carter.

Carter and Clinton: the models.

Two very different men on the surface, yet their similarities point us in the direction of what a successful Democratic nominee would look like. Their main shared traits seem to be:

1. Massive intellectual capacity - as far as IQ goes, both of these men are generally considered to be among the smartest to hold the office of president.

2. The lack of a solid core - this is a little more troublesome, but both men seem to lack a solid set of values, picking and choosing causes based not so much on their merits but rather on their appearance to others. The Muravchik piece and other biographies of Carter are filled with anecdotes where seemingly fundamental policy choices and campaign platforms are arrived at through a calculating, Machiavellian process. Clinton's similar methodology has been perhaps better documented, but the disconnect between public and private faces is very pronounced in both men.

3. An obsession with a historical legacy as something to be cultivated after leaving office, usually by choosing statesmanly causes that, as above, seem calculated rather than genuine.

4. Enigmatic and Self-Obsessed Personalities - this is a little vague and perhaps included in the traits above, but neither man really gives you the impression that you fully connect with what makes them tick. Both men have the ability in the moment to connect to people on a personal level, but this can be seen in retrospect as a skill rather than an inward trait.

It could be said that these are vague observations that are common to many ambitious men, not just politicians. But if Carter and Clinton are compared with their Republican counterparts (Reagan, the Bushes, and Ford) these men seem opaque, calculating and self-serving.

I would argue that their lack of a "center" and desire to disguise their private motivations are a almosta Party template (cemented by both men's unquestioned success) that are common to Kerry and Gore, but these unsuccessful candidates lacked either the intelligence or personal charisma to complete the picture and connect to voters.

Well that's as much of a thought piece as I'm good for on a Friday. Have a great weekend!

Why? Because they try harder!

Volokh Conspiracy: Former Member of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) Board Files Complaint with Justice Department About (Among Others) "the 'Jewish Lobby'"

I guess that's how you stay ahead of the competition. Use the system. Use the "Arab Street". Use foreign aid. Throw up the specter of internment camps and Kristallnacht.

BTW, I wonder whether the whole inversion of Nazi persecution of the Jews ("now they're killing all the Palestinians! Oh, the irony!") by the Arab Press is really even acknowledged or believed or is some self-contained trope used to deflect criticisms and internal strife. Besides the fact that it's untrue on the face of it and patently unfunny, there is the kind of crass opportunism of the bazaar in trying to simultaneously leverage a historical event for your own advantage and at the same time trying to deny that the event even happened.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

CAIR to be #1 that that it has surpassed the NAACP and other civil rights organizations in whining and preying upon liberal guilt. This according to my unscientific poll - well, actually it's more anecdotal evidence than a true poll, but...

Okay, I made that statistic up. But doesn't it just feel right?

Fin de partie

I suppose today is a slow news day since the blogosphere is full of very speculative thought pieces on Iraq, 2008 and Scooter Libby.

I would like to add to this ragout by putting forward this possibly historically interesting but nevertheless borderline useless proposal:

We elected the wrong Bush.

As the war with Iraq almost inevitably continues ( I don't think that, in hindsight, we can imagine any scenario that would have presented a quick and easy victory there) the winning of hearts and minds at home and the ability to convey at least the appearance of nuance and diplomacy abroad have become more desired qualities than indomitable resolve and populist appeal. Both Bushes may be all of these things and both may have brought us to this same juncture, but in a way we have reached the endgame in Iraq, and Jeb's Bishop cuts a much more useful figure than W's bellicose Knight.

It is one of the ironies of history that the best and brightest do not always rise to the top, and Jeb's earlier successes on the smaller stage of Florida may have precluded him from holding an office where he could have done his country a better service. In any case, I doubt that the US is ready for a yet another Bush (or even a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton-Bush cycle) in the White House.

I wonder how history will assess it all?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Welcome Back, American Idol (I guess)

We don't own a TV right now, but I caught a bit on my downstairs neighbor's beautiful HD plasma screen
Actually, I am Uebermann


Middlebrow - John Mark Reynolds hardly needs my plug to be noticed, but he is a great guy and a friend and covers a wide range of topics. I agree on a lot of what he says about Romney, troubled and perhaps uninformed as I am about mainstream Mormonism.

Besides his usual fare on Theology and Politics he's also an inveterate film and theater buff and a card-carrying Disneyland aficianado.

What more can you ask for?

Taranto: Things that make you go "Ouch"

From BOTW today, on Obama's tepid showing among Black politcos:

"Our view is that Obama threatens Jackson, Sharpton and Belafonte precisely because he has an appeal that transcends race. If Obama is able to gain widespread appeal as a national political figure, it undermines the basis of white guilt, namely the assumption that America remains a deeply racist society. Men like Jackson, Sharpton and Belafonte have made their careers on the exploitation of white guilt. Obama is a threat to their power and livelihood. "

That's gotta hurt. But Al and Jesse are no strangers to pain (albeit perhaps more in their past than present), and, as they say, "Pain is God's megaphone".

But as New Orleans and a few of my own personal shortcomings can attest, suffering is no guarantee of growth or change. Human nature often (wrongly) tries to tell us the easiest course is to just hunker down until the pain goes away.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Becker and Posner take on "Libertarian Paternalism":

A libertarian paternalist is happy to accept information arguments for government regulation of behavior, but typically stresses other considerations.

Ugh. What a waste of electrons.

I think to wax legalistic about this issue or to bring Mill into it only empowers a specious debate and obfuscates the real issues. Mill had the luxury of appealing for individual freedoms in a culture that was largely monolithic and whose behavior was already circumscribed by a host of universally recognized laws. Like a Picasso or a Kandinsky, he could "push" against the dominant paradigm because there was something to push against. We have no such luxury. Our social contracts are vague and polymorphous, so Science as the final (and only unquestioned) arbiter is allowed to creep in to the discourse. But Science can make no value-based arguments, so the bait-and-switch leaves us with an impoverished arguments that gets bogged down in legal footnotes.

Ham-Berglar, or Schadenfreude on the Right

This whole Sandy Berger thing is gotten a little too post-post modern. The Right is fuming and polishing off their ever un-popular "b-but Clinton " shtick (and they said Reagan was a Teflon president!), the Press is ignoring, the Blogosphere is teeming with petitions and the Administration, who has already dealt very gingerly with the guy through the Justice Dept., is saying nothing.


The reheated "b-but Clinton" trope makes me uncomfortable and a little ashamed because of the parallels to the current "Chimpy McBush" (or is it Chimpy McHitler?) rhetoric on the Left. While the Right tends to exercise slightly more restraint (unlike the Left, the Right is at least theoretically held in check by its own appeals to a standard of morality), I am chastened by what jerks we conservatives can be.

The whole Berger affair is strange (at least to an outsider like me) because of the appearance of plans within plans on both sides. Is the Bush Administration trying to retain the high ground by letting the Blogosphere doing its dirty work? Is there dirt that Berger/Clinton has that constrained the Bush Justice Dept? Is this really an example of closet Dems at work in the rank and file of the Dept? How have Bill and Hilary still ended up smelling like roses?

My head a splode.

Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others. - hugh macleod

The world does not need another blog, but this is a tiny little "s*** or get off the pot" moment for your humble correspondent. I will attempt to focus on politics, culture and their intersection with larger philosophical and theological issues. I will set a few guidelines:

1. No (or very sparing) use of mean-spiritedness, sarcasm, or self-serving wit.
2. A promise to get over the blank submission box and start typing already.

As for the rest, we'll just have to see.


Everything takes three times longer than it should. Especially the money part. - hugh macleod

I would only add: it still takes three times longer if you figure in the "three times longer" beforehand