Thursday, September 29, 2005

Quotes from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

August brings the world of performing arts to Britain's loveliest city, Edinburgh, for the Edinburgh Festival, and the world of subversive performing arts to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Much fun and laughter ensues.

A colleage of SWNID has forwarded the following quotes, attributed to performers at this year's Fringe. We happily share them with you. Do forgive the British spellings. One caveat: we can't be sure that the attributions are accurate, as these come to us by forwarded email. But they're funny enough that it doesn't matter.

I realised I was dyslexic when I went to a toga party dressed as a goat. - Marcus Brigstocke at the Assembly Rooms

Cats have nine lives. Which makes them ideal for experimentation.- Jimmy Carr

The right to bear arms is slightly less ludicrous than the right to arm bears.- Chris Addison at the Pleasance

My dad is Irish and my mum is Iranian, which meant that we spent most of our family holidays in Customs.- Patrick Monahan at the Gilded Balloon

My parents are from Glasgow which means they're incredibly hard, but I was never smacked as a child ... well maybe one or two grams to get me to sleep at night.- Susan Murray at the Underbelly

Is it fair to say that there'd be less litter in Britain if blind people were given pointed sticks?- Adam Bloom at the Pleasance

The world is a dangerous place; only yesterday I went into Boots and punched someone in the face.- Jeremy Limb, at the Trap

I saw that show, 50 Things To Do Before You Die. I would have thought the obvious one was "Shout For Help". - Mark Watson, Rhod Gilbert at the Tron

A dog goes into a hardware store and says: "I'd like a job please". The hardware store owner says: "We don't hire dogs, why don't you go join the circus?" The dog replies: "What would the circus want with a plumber"? - Steven Alan Green at C34

I like to go into the Body Shop and shout out really loud "I've already got one!"- Norman Lovett at The Stand

It's easy to distract fat people. It's a piece of cake.- Chris Addison at the Pleasance

If you're being chased by a police dog, try not to go through a tunnel, then on to a little seesaw, then jump through a hoop of fire. They're trained for that.- Milton Jones at the Underbelly

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

SWNID Shopping Service Opens: Christmas Gift Recommendation

SWNID, your one place for information on all aspects of life, the universe and everything, today begins its periodic shopping service, whereby we recommend useful items, suitable for one's own possession or to give as a gift.

Today we recommend the hot new book, Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! by Katharine DeBrecht with illustrations by Jim Hummel. This looks like the hot Christmas item for the under-12 set, maybe even this year's Tickle-Me Elmo.

Pay no attention to the folks who are claiming that the book contains nudity.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Taranto Unintelligently Disses Design

In another throwaway line that displays his cultural, rather than intellectual, contempt for serious theists, James Taranto has again offered a trivial rejection of intelligent design.

Offering a humorous review of the wonderful movie The March of the Penguins, Taranto, on his way to insulting the intelligence of the Kerry campaign, opines that an intelligent designer would not have created penguins with their awkward process of protecting their eggs while barely managing to feed themselves.

SWNID tires of pointing out the obvious, but this issue is important enough that it cannot rest. But in hopes of being heard, we will turn up the volume on our amplifier to 11:


This obvious observation is what negates Taranto's remark that if there is a designer, he's Rube Goldberg.

If a designer wants efficiency, ease and safety, he would design something rather unlike the penguin, at least as far as procreation is concerned (for swimming and hunting in icy waters, the penguin passes the test easily). Goldberg's humor rested on the contrast between the simplicity of the tasks his machines accomplished and the absurd complexity of the means of accomplishing them. The assumed efficiency as the objective of every design.

But what if this designer wanted something different, something emphasizing other qualities besides efficiency? Say, resourcefulness, adaptability, determination, courage, devotion, pluck?

But, Taranto might offer, assigning such qualities to animals is a matter of personification. Penguins are not resourceful. They all do the very same thing. It's part of being a penguin. People are resourceful.

Agreed. But penguins are eminently amenable of personification. More explicitly, they offer something human observers find significant. As Taranto himself observes in the premise of his essay, they make a good movie--but for humans to watch, not other penguins.

So what if the world and all that is in it is designed by an intelligent designer with humanity as its objective? And what if the objective for humanity is virtue, with its end the seeking of the Designer himself? Might it look rather like a place where French guys can suffer frostbite while filming flightless birds procreating and make millions of people think about life, the universe and everything? Might the design, among other things, provoke the human observer to reflect on the nature and meaning of his or her own existence?

That at least explains why the whole world loves this movie, something that Darwin still puzzles over.

Dionne Reads Barone, Agrees with SWNID

Washington Post liberal political columnist and PBS talking head E. J. Dionne has seen the light.

First, he read the sacred political text, Michael Barone's Almanac of American Politics and learned that Ds must defend 41 house seats in districts carried by Bush in 2004, while Rs must defend only 18 Kerry districts.

Then, he read SWNID. Or maybe he just looked around. Anyway, he realized that the Ds have no message and no national figure of any stature defined by means other than ambition. The Rs may be having a bit of trouble governing in these trying times, but the Ds are having trouble finding any coherent response at all.

If Dionne says it, it's officially obvious. Our republic is sliding toward single-party rule thanks to the inability of the opposition party to do anything right politically. The right has the ideas, the issues, the candidates, the track record, and the political skill. The left has the two-generactions-old legacy of FDR and money from Hollywood, George Soros and That means endless financing of a dead platform.

Until the left moves right or the right splits in two, we will have no real choice in the voting booth. And if the conservatives are right about the dangers of entrusting too much power in one group of people, that's dangerous.

One Less Bad Guy in Wild West Iraq

Reuters reports that Abu Azzam, Al Qaida's number two in Iraq (notice that no one doubts that Al Qaida is in Iraq any more?) was killed this week by American forces. That's another bad guy dead in a shootout with the marshals.

Like the American Wild West, Iraq requires force for pacification. Bad guys will only restrain themselves when confronted with a credible threat, and future bad guys will not choose not to be bad guys if no threat exists.

Meanwhile, protesters say that we have no reason to be in Iraq and are getting nothing done while we're there. SWNID submits that killing bad guys is a very good and necessary thing that we are doing, as it leads to fewer, not more, bad guys in the future.

But don't expect this significant sign of progress to be widely reported. It doesn't fit the quagmire template.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bayh's Hat in the Ring

Senator Evan Bayh, D-Blow Dryer, has announced that he's voting against John Roberts, vaguely offering that the judge's answers were too vague. The Indianapolis Star has nailed its state's junior senator on this declaration, noting that he pledged to support "Hoosier values" in his election campaign.

(Though from Indiana originally, SWNID cannot explain what a "Hoosier" is, so don't ask in the comments. We have spent more of our years out of James Whitcomb Riley's and Booth Tarkington's and Hoagy Carmichael's and Ernie Pyle's state than in it.)

The editorial board at the Star states flatly and no doubt rightly that Bayh is voting no to avoid problems with left-wing activists and fundraisers who control the Ds' presidential primaries.

Bayh, the son of an equally unprincipled Hoosier Senator, can only be depended upon to refer on every occasion to his beloved mother's premature death to breast cancer. Otherwise, he's a cipher of personal political ambition, noteworthy only for managing to get elected multiple times to statewide office.

Actually, "otherwise" in the previous paragraph is misleading. Omit it.

SWNID offers this conclusion, based in part on additional information from his many political contacts in Indianapolis:

Before his first election to statewide office in Indiana, Evan Bayh and his wife were in the Indianapolis legal community, where both worked as lawyers, commonly referred to as Ken and Barbie. It would appear now that and other far-left bagmen have dressed and posed Ken exactly as they want him to appear. Barbie has not been reached for comment.

Another Victory in the War on Terror

International monitors report that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) has scrapped all its weapons. Northern Irish Protestants remain understandably skeptical, but this move, even if it is incomplete, represents the biggest thing in the troubled Northern Irish counties since the potato famine.

And here is the question posed by SWNID: why has the IRA agreed to disarm now when it has adamantly refused for a generation? Is it merely coincidence that it does so in a world whose sole superpower is carrying out a war against terror, in which its President has declared that people are either with the superpower or with the terrorists? Is it merely coincidence that Gerry Adams faces a British PM who is an unflappable ally of the superpower in that war?

Or to put it another way, to what degree did the IRA realize that this is the worst moment in history to be engaged in a long-term terror campaign?

So this is another victory in the war on terror, of the kind seen already in Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon or Qadhafi's surrender of his atomic weapons program. A bad actor on the world scene counts the cost of being a bad actor and decides to give up his bad acting, at least in part, and the part is better than none. It will be awhile before Northern Ireland is as peaceful as Denmark, but it will also be awhile before the IRA does what it has done in the past.

This also points the way to a future victory in the war on terror, this time in Iraq. That way is patience. The British have been fighting and dying to establish and protect liberal democracy in Northern Ireland for over thirty years. They're getting somewhere now, thanks to ignoring all the protests, too many on this side of the pond, demanding that "Brits get out of Ireland," and the analyses that the problem was permanently intractable.

Sometimes you just have to keep doing what's right for as long as it takes.

Barone the Optimistic Prophet

Michael Barone, oft lauded on this page, has an advantage over other journalists. As the principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics, he deals in facts--lots of them--not impressions.

Today he writes that things are far from the dreadful state represented by the sum of recent MSM news coverage. Iraq is improving, Arab reform movements are breaking out over the Middle East, the American economy is robust despite recent challenges, Japan is again prospering, India and China are moving forward the economic status of more than a third of the world's population, North Korea is nearing an agreement on nukes, etc.

We add that the Yankees and Red Sox are cooking up another classic ending to the baseball season, the Bengals have won thrice decisively in as many tries, Oscar Treadwell is back on the air, in the morning good quality English Breakfast tea never tasted better with a spot of milk, the weather is slowly taking a welcome turn away from heat and humidity, and Mrs. SWNID is more beautiful and charming than ever.

So these are the facts. They justify Barone's optimism. SWNID concurs.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Only One Way to Lose This War

Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, posts an article in the Washington Post on his recent trip to Iraq, his third since the end of major combat operations. He provides a balanced assessment of the situation and sensible advice on how to proceed.

Most importantly he notes,

No one I talked to during my recent trip believes we will lose the war on the ground in Iraq; it's here at home that they are concerned about. One general told me point-blank that the "center of gravity" for our success in Iraq is the American public.

Dittoes on that point can be found on a post from an American soldier in Iraq available here.

Wolf recommends a "fresh eyes" commission to visit Iraq and report on the real progress along with the ongoing problem of security, owing mostly to the large numbers of foreign fighters who have entered Iraq to form what is improperly called the "insurgency." Such a commission could also assess the needs of American troops to seal the Iraqi border and improve security.

Wolf's sober advice needs to be heard, not by the administration, who already understands, but by the public. This thing takes patience. But it's worth it. Our Islamo-fascist enemies recognize that Iraq will be their Waterloo if a decently functioning multi-ethnic democracy is established there. They can't afford to allow benign Islam in a democratic state that cares for its citizens.

Meanwhile, Reuters (motto: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter") reports that 100,000 people gathered in Washington to protest the Iraq war and demand that the soldiers be brought home. N.B. that Little Green Footballs is posting photographic evidence that these numbers are predictably inflated.

The demonstration, whatever its size, is notable for two reasons. First, the anti-war protest was combined with a protest of economic globalization. In other words, these are the same collection of university dropouts and performance artists who show up at every G8 summit to break windows and throw bricks at police. Their opinions should be taken as seriously as their behavior warrants.

Second, it seems that the soldiers in Iraq don't want to be brought home right now. They want support at home so that they can finish their work.

The protesters bring to mind an anecdote from the Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes (which is actually large and green). Then California Governor Ronald Reagan was in a limousine on one of the University of California campuses. His car was surrounded by student protesters who began to chant, "We are the future!" Reagan wrote on a piece of paper, then held the paper against the window of the limousine. He had written, "I'll sell my bonds."

Why SWNID Doesn't Allow Blogads

Gentle readers of the previous post will note our parenthetical statement that we do not accept blogads, that "service" by which Google places content-related, clickable advertisements on blogs, remunerating the blogger at some rate, undisclosable per contract, per click or per purchase.

Does SWNID refuse blogads because we are independently wealthy or rabidly anti-capitalist? Those personally acquainted with this humble blogger will know that neither is even remotely true.

We currently refuse blogads because we are embarrassed by them. We note the following:
  • A certain company marketing "conservative t-shirts" is ubiquitous on politically conservative web sites. SWNID notes that the pictures advertising these t-shirts feature young, female models whose hairstyles, facial expressions and physiques are, ahem, not terribly conservative. As a social/moral/theo-conservative, we part company with our libertarian political allies on the point of seduction for profit. There's a name for that.
  • Other blogads feature nontraditional higher education institutions. As an educator, SWNID is in favor of many nontraditional means of education and is even personally and professionally involved in some. But we are uncomfortable with the possible impression of endorsement that such ads would leave, not least because some of these institutions represent "the competition" to SWNID's employer.
  • Like advertising on conservative talk radio, blogads include plenty of pyramid-marketing and snake-oil scams. We don't even want to give a cup of cold water to these con artists.

So, gentle readers, SWNID is not shameless. Per our threshold of guilt, we continue to operate this site as an ad-free zone, probably forever, or at least until we can assure that the only ads that appear are for things that we like. And we don't like much.

Getting Things Done the Special Forces, Horatio Nelson, Donald McGavran and Apostle Paul Way

Pour another cup of coffee, gentle readers. This Saturday morning, SWNID waxes philosophical. Journey with us as we note the intersection of vectors at a remarkable point of understanding about life, the universe and everything, mixing metaphors along the way.

The subject: what many call leadership but which SWNID would rather gloss as, following respected writers and mentors, "getting things done through other people."

This month's Atlantic Monthly (have you subscribed yet? N.B. that SWNID doesn't run blogads, so we have no pecuniary interest in this question) has two articles that begin the intersection. The first is Robert Kaplan's "Imperial Grunts," yet another installment in this intrepid, globe-trotting correspondent's chronicles of United States soldiers in the global War on Terror. Following Special Forces soldiers operating in the Philippines and Afghanistan, he notes that their successes today, as in the American-Philippine War at the turn of the last century, depends entirely on the ability of low-ranking soldiers, thinly distributed in far-flung locales, to adapt to their battlefields, shape policy and make major decisions without micromanagement from higher-ups.

Turn then to the monthly review by Christopher Hitchens, The World's Smartest Person, of Adam Nicholson's new history of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hitchens notes with barely constrained glee that the British prevailed in this crucial battle against Napoleon's French Navy and their Spanish allies because Nelson expected his captains to exercise their own judgment in the command of their ships. No battle plan survives the first engagement, so Nelson, capitalizing on the long tradition of discipline and skill among his officers and their sailors, shared his strategy with his captains and told them once in battle to improvise tactics to carry it out (cf. Russell Crowe in Master and Commander for a parallel). Meanwhile, the Spanish, their unreformed Catholicism rendering them strictly hierarchical and darkly fatalistic, and the anti-clerical French, the Jacobin purges having left them without experienced officers and the megalomaniac Napoleon having specifically ordered his admirals not to share strategy with captains, at Trafalgar slavishly followed initial orders until the clever Brits had harried them down to Davy Jones' Locker.

Consequently readers of this blog mostly eat inferior bread but do not sing La Marseillaise (and people say that "The Star Spangled Banner" is too martial!). On balance that's a very good thing.
But we're on the subject of leadership, not how good it is to be free of the French.

Nelson and Napoleon were both egotistical and capable. But Nelson didn't triumph because he was more capable than Napoleon. He triumphed because he wisely checked his ego to enable others to use their capabilities.

Turn now to the vector of Donald McGavran, Godfather of the Church Growth Movement. Among his many insights, McGavran railed against the tendency of missionaries to see the work of evangelism as "perfecting" the converts. While no advocate of lax Christianity, McGavran refocused missionary efforts from making nearly ideal Christians to getting the message out and making initial converts. "Perfecting," as he called it, is what the converts will do collectively as they depart the baptismal waters.

In other words, McGavran told the leaders of the church to stop micromanaging and let the church mature from the grassroots.

And in that, he paralleled the vector of a certain Second-Temple Jewish genius by the name of Saul of Tarsus, or Paul to his Hellenistic friends. Among Paul's many contributions to the life and thought of the successful Jewish sect that we call Christianity is the metaphor of the assembly of believers as a body, interrelated, working and celebrating and suffering together, each part with dignity, value and responsibility, infused with the Holy Spirit, and with Christ, not any other member, as the head.

A church functioning as the Pauline Body of Christ will therefore operate like American Special Forces rightly commanded, or Nelson's British Navy, or McGavran's missionary who largely lets the nascent church develop itself under the guidance of the gospel and the Spirit. Leaders of this church will not command from above. They will lay out the objectives and broad strategy, all of which has really already been laid out for them in that story with a cross at its center, and then foster creativity and facilitate implementation from below. To plot one more vector, this is the "leadership style" (ugh! we uttered that threadbare cliché!) of Augustine's directive, "Love God and do as you please."

Are excesses possible here? Of course. Special Forces master sergeants can't be allowed become local warlords, in the manner of Conrad's Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. Nelson needed captains with extensive knowledge and training, far greater than the enemy's, so that he could fire their imaginations and ambitions to make his navy sail together while improvising (compare Kaplan's remarks about the impressive number of Special Forces noncoms and junior officers with advanced degrees and the peculiar delight that they take in their daunting mission). McGavran had to remind his critics that he did not advocate a approach to church planting that indulged blatant immorality or unorthodoxy. Paul wrote letters using remarkably harsh rhetoric to rebuke and correct his young flocks. Bottom-up leadership is no panacea. It can go wrong. It doesn't repeal the parables of the sower or the wheat and the weeds.

But it remains a universal necessity in this present evil age. One human is sometimes smarter than another, but never so much smarter that he is justified in autocracy. Collective wisdom is generally better than individual intuition. Or to state it in theological terms, in the age of fulfillment the Spirit empowers the body as a whole through its individual members more than anointing someone special to take over. All y'all Jesus people are "prophets" with a very small p, if we view this from the grand salvation-historical perspective (see Acts 2 or Ephesians 1-2) and reckon that this is not just the present evil age but also God's new age of fulfillment.

Now, to confess. SWNID, as our title suggests, finds it hard to listen to others' points of view. Our default setting is: I am the smartest person in any room; therefore, reckon with me. But we are driven by our theology and experience, not to mention our recreational reading, to struggle against our overbearingly arrogant personality type. We think we know how to get things done. But we know to be got done, things must be done by the many, not the one. We continue to try to learn the means to draw the individual gifts and dreams of our brother-and-sister co-laborers together into a rich stew, not a homogenized broth, to the end that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We encourage our gentle readers with similar concerns to join us in this most difficult and fulfilling of quests.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Taranto in Rare Form

Gentle readers who have stuck with SWNID from the beginning will remember our shameless confession that we rely on James Taranto of for links and insights. Often we link to his "Best of the Web Today" for a section or two.

Today we urge all gentle readers to follow this link now and read all of our faithful blogmuse for Friday, 23 September.

Please pay particular attention to Taranto's take on Charles Rangel, Self-Appointed Congressman for Life in the Adam Clayton Powell Chair of Harlem Political Exploitation, the contrast between Rangel and Barak Obama and why black politicians have trouble getting elected to statewide office, an electoral analysis of Democrat senators voting to confirm John Roberts, and the quandary of senators asking a Supreme Court nominee about his private life in order to determine his inclination to support a right to privacy.

For those gentle readers who believe that they cannot afford to read Taranto and SWNID, we happily defer to the professional, assuming that he would reciprocate were someone seeking the best in biblical exegesis.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Once Again: The Myth of Biological Purity

The Cincinnati Enquirer today gives a platform to local geneticist Thomas Bartman once again to insist that public school biology classes forbid the teaching of creationism or intelligent design alongside evolution. We tire of this refrain, even more than we tire of "Bush lied." But as a reminder to our gentle readers, we offer these brief, mild words of rebuttal.

First, Dr. Bartman, "intelligent design" is not a "pseudonym" for "creationism," though we thank you for finding a new and cleverer way of equating the two. If the two were the same, we would not have advocates of each criticizing the other almost as much as they criticize Darwinism. We thank gentle reader Danny Joe for this trenchant observation in a conversation awhile back. [Yes, gentle readers! Some of us yet have face-to-face conversations!]

But to the larger and more important point, really also the more obvious point. The fact of public school education is this: no classroom sticks strictly to its discipline, and no classroom should.

In English classes, students discuss race relations, family dynamics, the causes of crime, appropriate punishments for crimes, politics and history, all while reading novels. In history classes they discuss current issues (see list above), all while learning about event of the past to which the present can be compared. In art classes, students will from time to time be led in a discussion of the boundaries of free speech and artistic expression, by an art teacher, no less. In math, from kindergarten forward students do story problems that apply their mathematical skills to issues that aren't math, like business, home economics, architecture, engineering or science. In science classes, public policy issues related to scientific research or the environment come up about as often as the periodic table or the functions of major organ systems. And then there are engineering applications, often used to entice students into consideration of the natural sciences.

Are such discussions off topic? Are they a waste of students' time? Not at all! Classrooms are interdisciplinary because good learning is interdisciplinary. Bartman fools himself if he thinks that people are only interested in science because people like Bartman can study zebrafish and maybe discover something that will help humans medically (and properly speaking, he's going outside his discipline, from biology to medicine, with that move). They're also interested in what science might tell them about life, the universe and everything. Even teenagers care about such questions now and then.

Properly speaking, the assertion that the universe was designed by a creator is not a scientific statement. It is an answer to the question that one asks after the science is done. It is a philosophical statement. It arises thus: given the complexity of life and the close tolerances necessary for a universe to exist that could sustain it, is it more reasonable to assume that the present situation arose by chance or by design? That's a question that can and should be discussed by public school students.

Bartman objects that a biologist knows nothing of such things and shouldn't teach them. Well, SWNID agrees that Bartman apparently knows nothing of such things. Had he paid closer attention in that philosophy course that he took as an undergraduate, he might have more respect for ways of knowing that are other than scientific. We'll add that Bartman is also not an educator or a public policy specialist. But he has offered opinions on these subjects. What to do?

Well, let's remember first that high school biology teachers aren't biologists either. They're high school teachers who know enough biology to teach teenagers the fundamentals, or at least pretend to. If the state educational bureaucracy can teach them that much biology along with the 50 credit hours of education courses they require, they can probably work in enough philosophy to enable teachers to lead a reasonable discussion with adolescents on the question of origins.

But, Bartman might reply, that would mean the teaching of religion in the public school classroom, breaking our most sacred taboo. But SWNID rejoins that when we discuss civil rights or just punishments or family dynamics or ecological policy in history or English or biology, we are also discussing matters that for people of faith are informed by faith. It's all religion for the religious. SWNID confesses that he can hardly take a breath without considering it from a Christian point of view. We remain obsessed with that Jewish guy who died on a cross.

At the same time, there's nothing religious in the particularistic sense about intelligent design theory. Muslims, Jews, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants of all denominations and no denomination can join with theosophists and deists and philosophical theists in affirming the probability of an intelligent designer. Buddhists probably can too; as I make it out, they can do just about anything. The only ones who can't, it seems, are the biologists.

But by the way, Dr. Bartman, SWNID knows PhD biologists in our very city who affirm intelligent design. They don't talk about it much because people like you can't deal with the question thoughtfully, let alone politely. But be careful! They're all around you!

And the question comes up whether you want it to or not. A recent PBS Nova program on origins included the observation that evidence of the big bang suggests that life did not arise "by accident." Even allowing for the grand and metaphorical rhetoric of a popular TV program, does not such an admission provoke the question as to whether something can be an accident or not an accident apart from the intention of a person? Is this not the state of the question right now?

Oh, forgive me, Dr. Bartman! That question presumed some quantum physics. You are a biologist. You can't consider such matters. Back to your zebrafish!

Better still, just give it up, dear Dr. Bartman. The way that a scientist knows science is not the only way that humankind can know truth. Your discipline raises questions that it cannot answer. We'd like to discuss those questions. Right now, before we leave the lab. You can't stop us.

Note to gentle readers: this is a rant, knocked out late at night with little consideration. SWNID is mulling the making of an offer to the Enquirer to contribute a "Your Voice" column on this subject, ignoring our principled consternation that our local paper uses this feature as a means of running its opinion page nearly for free. Your comments on the value of such an endeavor will be appreciated and will play a role in our decision to write something suitably concise and coherent, unlike this blather.

CCU Alumni Featured in CiN Weekly

Check out the CiN Weekly article on the MidPoint Music Festival for a delightful little piece on CCU alumni Justin and Tasha Golden, who together comprise the band Ellery.

SWNID commends them as fine students, serious Christians, and good musicians too.

Sam Houston's State Beats Huey Long's State

Gentle readers, local government matters a lot! Hat tip to Lucianne Goldberg for posting these contrasting pics.

US Gets Somewhere with PRK, EU Gets Nowhere with Iran

So in the containment of nuclear proliferation, Europe has lectured the United States about the importance of engagement, diplomacy, international cooperation, and men in blue helmets. So the US said, Fine. You go deal with Iran. We'll deal with North Korea. You try softly-softly, we'll try speaking softly and carrying a big stick. So the EU takes Iran to the UN, and the US sets up independent, regional talks with the PRK, with lots of starting and stopping.

So as of today, who's got a deal on the table?

Not the EU. Their principled engagement via the UN has yielded to roadblocks from the folks most likely to sell Iran its nukes: Russia and China.

Meanwhile, the vilified Bush administration and Rice State Department are close to a deal with the Boy Named Kim. The PRK will give up all its weapons (in the immortal words of Evil Roy Slade, "I've . . . got . . . no . . . weapons!"), and the other partners in the talks will give the Northeners oil and food and used VHS tapes and that 386 computer in the basement and such.

Of course, some will rightly object that a deal with metaphorical-illegitimate-child Kim is no deal. Bush, echoing an earlier President whose skills in arms negotiations were misunderestimated, has insisted that the deal will be closed when the means of verification is secured.

But look who's got a deal.

And what's worst for the EU is that they can no longer even make money by selling bad stuff to Iran. They've ceded that business to the Russians and the Chinese. Pity!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Leahy Looks Ahead, With an Assist from Kennedy and Kerry

We've heard for awhile that John Roberts is a slam dunk for confirmation. His performance in his show trial before the Senate Judiciary Committee was just too strong for the Ds to mount a quixotic fillibuster, which would only give the Rs popular support for the nuclear option, thereby ending the Ds power to influence appointments until they regain a majority or the place of eternal punishment freezes over, whichever comes first.

But today Patrick Leahy, D-Venus, announced that he will vote to confirm Roberts.

Applause has been heard from conservative quarters. A D has walked the Road to Damascus.

Is this happy conclusion justified? Well, let's note the following:
  • Minority leader Harry Reid, D-Incoherence, has stated that he will vote against Roberts. Whatever else the Ds might do in these trying times, they exercise discipline and stay on message. And the leader defines the message. Or at least doesn't deviate from it.
  • Leahy's neighbors to the south--Senator Kennedy, D-Chappaquiddick, and Senator Kerry, D-France--have both stated their opposition to Roberts. These are, ahem, among the Ds' greatest living statesmen, so their voices count more than Reid's, especially since Kennedy, D-Glenfiddich, controls much campaign cash.
  • Some other Ds seem set to vote in favor, but they are from red states and need the cover at reelection time.

So only Leahy looks like a D from a seat in a safe state who will vote in favor. Wazzup with that?

Radio Brain and Blogger Daddy Hugh Hewitt tonight offered on-air (not on blog as we write, but check back on his site) a hypothesis that SWNID finds as convincing as it is cynical, and so all the more appealing. To wit:

Leahy knows that this round is over. His vote on Roberts doesn't matter for Roberts's sake. So Leahy is looking forward to the next nominee, so that when the Senator from Ben and Jerry's announces his dutiful, thoughtful, principled and full-throated opposition, he can do it with the preface, "I supported the President's choice of John Roberts. I am willing to let the President have a nominee who reflects his judicial philosophy. But this nominee is just too far out of the mainstream."

He's saving his opposition for a nominee who might be successfully fillibustered. Expect some others to do the same when Roberts emerges from committee. And don't think for a minute that this wasn't all planned in caucus.

Meanwhile, somewhere at 2700 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, a gentleman from Texas is saying, "Bring it on."

Stuck on Stupid

See the video that started the latest phrase-craze: General Honore, Bush's New Man with the Plan for Hurricane Relief, pasting a reporter with what the MSM has deserved since 1974.

Hat tip to Political Teen for providing video access, to Lucianne Goldberg for directing SWNID's attention, and to bloggers everywhere for bringing this to the world's attention. You'll need to follow Political Teen's link to view the video, as the fine fellow's bandwidth won't accommodate hot links.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

MSM Can't Recognize Integrity at Point-Blank Range

All SWNID readers should read Powerline blogger Scott Johnson's piece over at the Daily Standard (web supplement to the dead-tree Weekly Standard). Rarely does a review of a review merit attention, but this one does.

It concerns the review of a recent biography of Charles Colson in the Washington Post by one David Greenburg, a professor at New Jersey State (a.k.a. Rutgers). In short, Greenburg accuses Colson of pursuing ministry for pecuniary gain, despite the abundant evidence that Colson has generously donated his considerable book royalties and speaking honoraria in their entirety to Prison Fellowship and related ministries. The Post's own web bio of Colson admits as much.

Johnson doesn't go into the reasons for Greenburg's smear piece. SWNID will. Greenburg obviously is one of those peculiar folks who just can't get over his anger with Richard Nixon. SWNID has discussed this leftist phenomenon before. It's demonstrably worse than conservative hatred for Clinton, which is already diminishing and certainly will not live as long as its object, even though the object is in rapidly declining health.

What's so awful about this ignore-the-facts hit is that a genuinely fine man, as obvious a case of conversion as one is likely to meet, is unrecognized by Greenburg and his ilk. The inability forgive leads, it seems, to the inability to see.

Greenburg is apparently now working on a biography of Calvin Coolidge. SWNID has a warning for him: Touch not the Lord's anointed!

Is Brazile Off Her Nut?

By now, gentle readers have heard that Donna Brazile, favorite political operative of the far left and Gore 2000 campaign (mis)manager, has published a column enthusiastically supportive of President Bush’s New Orleans speech and the program of rebuilding that he outlines.

Oh, wait! Gentle readers depend on SWNID for that kind of information. Well, now you know.

So what meaneth this amazing event? SWNID has an opinion, surprising as that may be.

Has Brazile gone Republican? If anything could prompt such an epiphany, it might be the specter of one’s hometown awash while government agencies, spawned by the socialist ideal, dither, and local officials of the socialist party dither most. But SWNID says that political operatives like Brazile last gave serious thought to political philosophy as sophomores--in high school.

We suspect something more, well, cynical.

Has Brazile decided it would be more fun and profitable to work for a party that actually can win elections? This idea has some merit. But even if she makes the move, it’s not all that likely that she’ll obtain much work with the Rs. Candidates value loyalty above all, and Bush’s successes, such as they are, have reinforced that value, as this President is the loyalest of loyalists.

Is Brazile interested in running as a reformist Democrat against Nagin in the Big Easy or against Blanco in the Republic of Huey Long? This is intriguing, all the more so because Louisiana operates with so-called nonpartisan elections that make an intra-party challenge pretty straightforward. If Brazile wants to step out of the spin room and into the spotlight, she my take the first step with this column.

Is Brazile tacking to the center, parallel to Hillary, to land a big spot in the Clinton 2008 campaign? Now we seem to be on a familiar trail. Every D with a brain is trying to become friends with the Junior Senator from New York.

Has Brazile staked out this support so that later she can declare his “disappointment” at the “opportunity squandered” by the Bush administration’s “mismanagement, cronyism, and favoritism for the rich”? Hmm. We don’t want to be too cynical, but …

Expect a combination of the last two, gentle readers. As always, you read it here first.

German Vote Climax a Fizzle

Germany has the biggest economy in Europe and is by far the biggest player in the European Union. So its parliamentary elections give a good glimpse of the health of the United States’ cultural forebears. And the glimpse shows little good.

For those who haven’t heard, the outcome was that Social Democrat (center left) Prime Minister Helmut Schröder didn’t lose, but Christian Democrat (center right) challenger Angela Merkel didn’t win, either. Neither party has a majority, even with the likeliest coalition partners. So it’s a race to see who can get the fringe parties to agree to a coalition, then a race to see who can leave the coalition first and trigger new elections. The German government, in other words, will be paralyzed for the time being.

[Those who decry the American electoral system that yields a decisive result every time, even if it takes the Supreme Court to decide it once every 100 years, should compare the parliamentary alternative, with its sloppy coalitions and votes of no confidence.]

First the humor. The essential James Taranto wins the prize for his response to the Agence France Presse headline, “Schroeder, Merkel in German Vote Climax”: Rauchen sie danach?*

But it is Global Content Provider Mark Steyn who really nails this one. Some quotes:

Germany is dying, demographically and economically. Pick any of the usual indicators of a healthy advanced industrial democracy: Unemployment? The highest for 70 years. House prices? Down. New car registration? Nearly 15 per cent lower than in 1999. General nuttiness? A third of Germans under 30 think the United States government was responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Old obdurate Leftists can argue about which system is "better", but at a certain point it becomes irrelevant: by 2050, there will be more and wealthier Americans, and fewer and poorer Europeans. In the 14th century, it took the Black Death to wipe out a third of Europe's population. In the course of the 21st century, Germany's population will fall by over 50 per cent to some 38 million or lower - killed not by disease or war but by the Eutopia to which Mr Schröder and his electorate are wedded.

But follow the link and read the whole article. Then you’ll know that Steyn’s columns are Canada’s highest quality export.

*Translation to be posted tomorrow in the comments section. In the meantime, try to figure it out.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

How to Get Caught Up on Roberts Hearings

SWNID had a busy week and so missed nearly all of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on John Roberts. Which is to say, we didn't miss much.

But wanting to get caught up on what happened, we went looking for a transcript. This is the best we've found so far. Gentle readers, follow the link!

Scott Simon Improvises, SWNID Analyzes

NPR news broadcasts, as regular listeners know, are carefully scripted at most points. Though many stories are presented as a spontaneous question-and-answer sessions between host and reporter, in fact the questions and answers are written out.

But there are exceptions, mostly for the veteran hosts and reporters. But this morning's Weekend Edition Saturday illustrates that even the veterans foul up when they go off script too much.

Enter Scott Simon, honey-voiced weekend anchor and homey essayist, and Daniel Schorr, veteran of Edward R. Murrow's CBS operation, Watergate reporter, self-styled whistleblower on the CIA barely saved from citation for contempt of Congress for publishing classified documents and not revealing the source of the leak, and since the 1970s a regular bloviator on what some still call Radio Sandinista.

Simon and Schorr, in a manner made famous by Bob Edwards and Red Barber but without the charm, were filling a slot with chat (a.k.a. "analysis") about the week's news (i.e. Katrina, Iraq and John Roberts). Nearing the end of the rather pointless and obvious discussion, Simon offered something that he said, "just occurred to me." He then notes that in 1960, John Kennedy's Roman Catholicism was for some a campaign issue, but now John Roberts' Roman Catholicism was not. Schorr agreed and said that it is good that we have at least got over one form of bigotry.

Fine stuff, eh? Well it happens that if Roberts is confirmed, he will be, per the Catholic News Service, the fourth justice on the current court who is a Roman Catholic communicant (Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy are the others), and the tenth overall. And let's not forget that JFK was not the first Roman Catholic presidential candidate nominated by a major party. He was just the first whose daddy bought him the election. Al Smith ran for the Ds in 1928 and lost to Herbert Hoover (no D had a chance after the fine administration of Calvin Coolidge; N.B. a famous SWNID motto: We'll know that the Revolution has been successful when they take FDR's picture off the dime and put on Coolidge's).

But that's really only half of it. What's more interesting is the way that conservatives have played the anti-religious bias card to prevent the Ds from raising the issue directly. Anti-Roberts web sites are filled with complaints that the right wing is accusing all who oppose Roberts of anti-Catholic bias. This exaggerated claim does have a clear element of truth in it. The pre-emptive statements and accusations are all out there. And the Rs' move clearly has been successful, judging both from the number of complaints about it on left-wing sites and from the relative absence of questions about Roberts's "personal" views in the Senate hearings.

But let's consider whether you have to ask a question about "religion" to demonstrate an anti-Catholic bias. The fact is that most people know what Catholics are supposed to believe, and being generous minded, they assumed that folks who profess Catholic faith actually have it. It's candidates like John Kerry who have to talk about their "faith" repeatedly, simply to show their liberal base that they are running away from it, or to convince faithful Catholics that they're just as Catholic, even though they don't believe what the Church teaches.

This is why the conservative charge of anti-Catholicism on the left is absolutely correct. The left loves Catholics, as long as they don't believe what the Catholic church teaches. And the left will never accuse a Catholic of being unqualified for judicial office because he is a Catholic. They'll simply say that his views--that is, those demanded by his faith--are "out of the mainstream."

For the left, the mainstream is secular, or at worst mainstream Protestant, which is to say the same thing. If you're not secular--i.e. Evangelical, Catholic or observant Jew--you're on the fringe. Along with maybe 65% of Americans, of course.

Now jb from ca will object that this still isn't anti-Catholicism, as the objectionable views are held by others who aren't Catholics, and those folks meet with the same lefty viturpation. Agreed. But note the political outcome: if the left gets its way, no Roman Catholic who actually believes and practices Roman Catholicism can ever hold public office or sit on the judicial bench. This is all the more significant because Roman Catholics are more numerous than any other religious group in our country, and the Roman Catholic church has contributed an outrageous number of significant conservative political thinkers in the last century (start with Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley). Many notable conservatives of the moment are adult converts to Roman Catholicism (e.g., Alan Keyes).

So these many folk are unacceptable to the left unless they stop believing their religion. And that's the condition of the body politic that Scott Simon says marks historic progress.

But don't fret, gentle readers. Roberts will be confirmed easily. Doubtless the crucial support came from Conservative Bloggers Who Support the Gay Judge Roberts. Hmm. Maybe we've made progress on bigotry after all.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Not More on Katrina but More on Katrina Coverage

It's late in the evening and late in the week, so SWNID is tired. We are taking the easy way out here. Gentle readers! Look at this dandy article by the Times of London's US Editor Gerard Baker on how the European media has misreported on Katrina. Or if you're as tired as I, just read a few excerpts:

On Barbara Bush's remarks about the evacuees in the Astrodome liking it there because they are poor and not used to much: "But in the disgust that greeted her remarks in Highgate and the Upper West Side no one stopped to consider the possibility that Mrs Bush was, in fact, dead right."

On an underreported factor in relocation of evacuees:

Forty-two local businesses participated in a job fair for the new homeless at the [District of Columbia] Armoury on Tuesday; more wanted to take part but couldn’t because there was limited space. Twenty of the 150 or so evacuees were hired on the spot. An official at the District of Columbia government involved in organising the event said that more were expected to be offered jobs in the next few days. The exercise was such a success that employers are demanding another one. If there’s anyone left still to hire it will take place in the next couple of weeks.

On European coverage of America in general:

Anything that doesn’t show Americans as stupid, selfish, warmongering, religious bigots, half of them living in pampered luxury in garish purpose-built Italianate mansions, the other half downtrodden in the ghetto by Halliburton stock-owning fat-cats, isn’t going to make it to the front pages or the Ten O’Clock News.

And so to bed!

Christian Separatism, Judge Roy Moore, and Over-Realized Eschatology

Go with us, gentle readers, on a trek through two indispensable articles.

The first is from Philip Jenkins, Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State and a leading thinker on the past and present of Christianity and speculator about its future. In a short piece at, he notes that a small group called Christian Exodus has announced plans to move their members to a region in upstate South Carolina, where they will live in sufficiently concentrated numbers to take over local and eventually state offices, thereby Christianizing the state and leading it to secede from the union and form a Christian republic.

Jenkins, noting separatistic tendencies throughout Christian history, insists that the project is doomed to failure, if history means anything.

The second is in this month's Atlantic: a piece by senior editor Joshua Green on Judge Roy Moore's Ten Commandments crusade (a subscription to the magazine, well worth the price, is necessary to view the article and can be arranged on the web site for those eager to start reading). Moore, gentle readers will recall, is the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice who placed a granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments in the state Supreme Court building's lobby and refused to remove it when ordered by various federal courts, finally being himself removed from the bench as a result. Moore is now touring the country with the giant rock (which he had paid for and given as a gift to the State of Alabama, but with the clever contractual stipulation that it would become his property if ever removed from the Alabama Supreme Court Building), speaking to Christian audiences and urging essentially the Christianizing of American government.

Readers of Green's piece in the Atlantic should first remember Jenkins's reassurances. Moore's efforts have no more likelihood of succeeding than does the Christian Exodus program, but both will get attention from those who will use them to incite fear for purposes of raising funds for their own, anti-religious political work.

But I object to Roy Moore's crusade and to Christian Exodus's crusade not just because they will fail in practical terms. I object to them because the attempt to Christianize government, as these frame it, will fail in theological terms as well. Pursuing a here-and-now political embodiment of Christianity is a classic species of what in the theological trade we call "over-realized eschatology," that is, the fundamental neglect of the tension between the "already" and the "not yet." Moore and Christian Exodus pretend that the kingdom of God can be brought in its fullness through human effort apart from the return of Jesus. They assume that human nature is such that if enough thoroughly committed Christian people can take over the major political and social institutions, the will of God can be realized on earth, or at least South Carolina, as it is in heaven. They act as if the parables of the sower and of the wheat and the weeds have been repealed.

Is SWNID against Christians seeking righteousness and justice in government? Of course not. But such an effort is very different from what Moore or Christian Exodus propose. Theirs is not the effort to get a biblically informed view of justice and morality more sharply in focus in the laws and institutions of the land, or even to protect religious liberty under threat from the secularization of American public space and discourse. Those are valid things for Christians to seek.

But they are much less than a Christian republic. There's really no such thing as a Christian republic, not because government must or should be secular but because--per Jesus, Paul and all our other Jewish religious heroes--the full will of God will not be realized by institutions of this present age. Only the church, with all of its openly self-acknowledged shortcomings, is a genuinely Christian institution. In its faithful life it manifests the coming of the kingdom; in its failures, the ongoing presence of evil.

The Great Commission and Great Commandment mandate that Christians strive to do the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. That includes working to improve the present legal, political and social situation. But knowing that Satan and evil, though defeated, continue for now to thrive in the world, Christians can't expect to take over and make a heaven on earth.

Remember that, gentle readers, as you slog through all this blogged drivel on issues political and cultural. Here we blog the margins. Find the center when Christians gather to worship, and as they scatter to serve.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Note to Whinin' Arlen: Pass a Constitutional Amendment

Our National Paper of Record carries an interesting piece on Arlen Specter's confrontation with John Roberts on the issue of Congressional versus Supreme Court authority. That is, it's interesting if the reader is thinking, as SWNID's gentle readers always do.

Specter's beef with Roberts is over votes by the Supremes to, in the words of the Times, declare "unconstitutional acts of Congress that had been passed by broad bipartisan majorities." For instance, the Supremes said that Congress couldn't enact legislation enabling women to sue rapists in federal court simply by adding up the number of rapes, multiplying that by some dollar figure arrived at by multiplying lost work time by average wages and adding some dough for medical and psychological help, assuming that the sum, doubtless billions, amounted to significant economic impact, and claiming that their action was a matter of regulating interstate commerce and so justifiable constitutionally as a Congressional action.

But "commerce," say the Supremes, or at least five of them, is the actual selling of things. This stuff isn't your job, Senators and Representatives. It is the states'.

Well, whines the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania, "I take umbrage at what the court has said, and so do my colleagues. . . . And we do our homework, evidenced by what has gone on in this hearing. And we don't like being treated as schoolchildren, requiring, as Justice Scalia says, a taskmaster."

Yes, indeed, Arlen, my boy. You're just as smart as that prep school boy over there with the cute smile and the nice suit. And you're much smarter than that uppity Italian Catholic kid. Don't you let them tell you that your definition of commerce, i.e., anything to which you can attach an economic impact estimate, is invalid. Breathing is commerce if you boys in the Capitol say it is.

At one level, Specter's rant is just another example of what's always happened among our wonderfully divided federal powers. Though we are accustomed to saying that the Supreme Court finally determines the meaning of the Constitution, the fact is that all branches are interpreting it all the time. In our early history, some presidents (e.g., Jefferson, if memory serves) simply refused to execute certain legislation, arguing that it was unconstitutional. More recently, Congress has cut off funding for executive actions it deemed unconstitutional.

But what if the Supremes invalidate a law on constitutional grounds. That's it, right? No higher court of appeal.

Nope. There's a way. But it's been so long since anyone tried it that no one remembers it can be done (recall the ERA?). The constitution can be amended. If Whinin' Arlen wants to pass laws giving women the right to sue rapists in federal court, let him first get passed by both houses of Congress and 39 state legislatures a constitutional amendment that grants Congress the power to enact legislation on anything it pleases and call it commerce.

Then haughty judges like Roberts will allow The Boy Who Did His Homework to have his little laws. After all, as Roberts put it, the Constitution, not the Court, is the taskmaster. So do your homework and pass an amendment, if it really matters to you. Or if you think you can.

The Problem of the Left-Wing Mythology

Over at Newsweek/MSNBC, Howard Fineman lays bare another problem for the Ds. It's this: the party is split between its political pros in Washington and its activists on the internet. While Ds, especially Hillary, try to look moderate to get elected in 2008, the folks who raise the money at and such are demanding a more militant tone and radical agenda.

Fineman's notion, rather fuzzily stated but still provocative, is that a candidate will need to get the favor of the dot-organizers to get the dot-org money. But beltway Ds are seen by the dot-organizers as corrupted by compromise with the vicious, immoral Rs, like the Vichy French government's cooperation with the Nazis. So Hillary will have find a way to get the dot-organizers to look past her vote to authorize the Iraq War and her various recent statements that have tacked to the left.

But SWNID insists that this problem lasts only until a candidate has enough committed delegates to be nominated by the Ds in their 2008 convention, likely now being planned by to be held in the condemned New Orleans Superdome. At thatpoint the problem becomes getting a candidate with views radical enough to satisfy the dot-organizers more than 38% of the vote in the general election.

Fineman doesn't say this, but his piece makes it palpable. The left wing in this country lives with the myth that most people think as they do. They explain their failure at the polls as a consequence of demagoguery or lies from the right, or violation of voters' rights, or mass discouragement in the political process because no one is really articulating the radical agenda that ordinary Americans favor.

It's necessary for the left to hold to this myth not just to excuse lousy performance in elections but to persist in the rhetoric of its ideology. "Progressive" (we're not liberal!) politics is all about the empowerment of the little guy, addressing the needs of "working families" who are allegedly by the millions destitute, starving, dying without even an LPN to take a pluse. They're out there for sure, but they're obviously not voting as they should. And heaven knows it's not their fault!

Listen up the next time you hear someone speak of the party that "naturally" represents the interests of the "working class." You're hearing the myth at work, and you're probably hearing it from some TV "reporter" or "analyist."

Of course the fallacy here is that most Americans are doing pretty well overall, demonstrably better than their parents. They have some concerns about the future but no major grievances. Their concerns are addressed by such matters as improvement in public education, protection against crime, maybe some progress on health insurance (not health care: they like their doctor just fine, thank you), and, when they're paying attention, keeping the Islamo-Fascists at bay. They've got no desire at all for a socialist makeover of the republic.

So if the Ds are captured by the myth, as Fineman's argument assumes, the Rs may be able to win in 2008 running the corpse of Harold Stassen.

Why Cincinnati Will Go to Bed Early on November 6

Right-thinking citizens of Our Fair City will get a good night's sleep on election night this year. The mayoral election pits two strong candidates. But it will not be close. Mallory will crush Pepper. Here's why.

First, as noted before, Mallory tied Pepper in the primary despite Pepper's stronger name recognition and Pepper's bigger budget. Pepper was all over television; Mallory didn't buy the first TV ad. When he goes on TV, Mallory strengthens himself relative to Pepper.

Second, Mallory faced two major African-American opponents, also with excellent name recognition and one with a strong advertising campaign, and still tied Pepper, the only major white candidate. While some of Winburn's support can be expected to go to Pepper, none of Reece's will. Mallory should get all of Reece's votes and at least half of Winburn's.

Third, as he will tell you a million times between now and November 6, Mallory has never been on city council. No candidate in this set of elections has on the strength of a city council record, even though three have served on council, and the reason is obvious. Once people realize that Mallory is a clean slate at 8th and Elm, they'll know how to vote.

Fourth, and probably most important, is that word invoked in both Dubya campaigns: gravitas. On TV Mallory looks calm, competent, decisive, and disciplined, probably because he is all that. Pepper comes across as a youthful, somewhat uncertain guy who is bright enough and sincere enough but doesn't inspire confidence or loyalty. Mallory looks straight at you. Pepper looks at the ground, behind you and to your left. The ability to lead, and even more the ability to get votes, is largely tied to such perceptions. In November, voters will punch the hole next to the name of the adult.

Another Helping of Last Word on Katrina Blame

Alert, devoted and gentle reader "Raymond," whom everyone loves, urges one more round of blaming on Katrina, pointing to Michael Kinsley's piece in the LA Times. SWNID agrees that Kinsley deserves the SWNID spotlight. So, hat tip to Raymond!

Why flood ourselves with Katrina yet again? First, because Kinsley is an ace liberal, but he's saying what we've heretofore only heard from the right wing. To wit:
  • When everything is declared a crisis, nothing gets the attention it really needs.
  • When no one knows which disaster is going to happen next, it's impossible to know which to prepare for most.

So it's great to hear a giant of the left say that government can't do everything because life is just hard sometimes.

Second, we link to Mr. Kinsley because he can actually write, even though he works for the fetid LA Times and is syndicated in the unread Cincinnati Post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Voters Save Cincinnati from New Orleans' Fate

Celebrate! The best candidate and the second-best candidate in the Cincinnati mayoral primary finished in second and first place respectively, separated by only a hundred or so votes (provisionals still to be counted) and way ahead of the other "major" candidates, who would have been major disasters. Mallory and Pepper will go through to the general election in November. Our city is assured to be in at least reasonably safe hands (Pepper) if not highly qualified and capable hands (Mallory). No Ray Nagins here!

Some SWNID observations about the election:

  • Mallory managed a virtual first-place tie even though he had not a single TV ad. Pepper--with what I hear is about three times Mallory's money, not surprising for the P&G scion--blanketed TV with more ads than Progressive Insurance. This bodes well for Mallory in November.
  • Winburn moved up about 10 points from his early poll numbers. Doubtless his intensive direct-mail and phone solicitation campaign, with its shameless use of every local (Steve Chabot) and national (Rudy Guiliani) Republican figure, got out the vote among diehard Rs (SWNID is a die-not-quite-so-hard R). The endorsement of the FOP, always ready to add 200 police to the union even if the city has no money to pay them, didn't hurt either. But in the end, there aren't enough yellow-dog Rs who vote in the city to get Charlie though. Given the lack of traction he will have at the county or state level, where there are enough Rs to elect a conservative, Winburn is finished politically.
  • Reece polled nearly even with Pepper in August but came in fourth in September. Let's assume that lack of qualifications and platform trumped name recognition in the end. Gone from City Council, Reece's political future is bleak too.
  • Turnout was around 20%. And that's just fine. In light of the media's miserable noncoverage of the candidates' positions, we should be happy that turnout roughly corresponded to the likely percentage of reasonably informed and motivated voters.

For more election fun, see the Enquirer's election blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina Blame: Once More

On Friday we said that the last word on Katrina blame had been spoken. Now it's Monday, and in a fine tradition, we recognize a resurrection of sorts, that is, one more last word.

It comes from Mark Steyn, of course. Who else can add to the last word? His Telegraph column has such bon mots as:

  • "Go ahead, punk, make my Earl Grey."
  • "But come on, a guy doesn't have to be great to be better than Nancy Pelosi, the armchair general of armchair generalities."
  • "Charges of Republican 'racism' rang particularly hollow in the context of New Orleans, where sodden blacks might be better advised to ponder what they have to show for being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party for four decades."

Steyn argues that the negative political consequences of Katrina for Bush and the Republicans will be nil. After all, the opposition party offers nothing but tears and whining. Would Americans rather live in George W. Bush's America or Ray Nagin's New Orleans?

SWNID, who always complains that the Dems' intellectual bankruptcy is turning our federal republic into a one-party state, offers two points in addition.

First, voters have short memories. If they didn't, the 2004 Presidential election would have been decided by an even greater margin for Bush.

Second, Katrina washed Louisiana into the New South, which is overwhelmingly Republican. Its New Orleans concentration of government-dependent poor is unlikely to be recreated in rebuilding. And so the Democrats' base in Louisiana is about gone. Blanco and Landrieu look set to follow Donna Shalala into higher education administration after the next round of elections.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Award for Liberal Clichés

The coveted SWNID award for Largest Conglomeration of Left-Wing, Hackneyed Untruths in a Single Column is given to the syndicated columnist who manages to pull off the most hilarious combination of lefty clichéd falsifications in one day's opinion piece. Today we give that award to the Happy Warrior of the Elite Populist Left, Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen.

Cohen's winning entry is from the September 8, 2005 Washington Post and was carried locally in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday, September 11, a day that deserved better. Gentle readers will find it here.

What distinguishes Cohen's column in a crowded field is its amazing range of left-wing boilerplate, combined with a journalistic vigor that barely attempts to conceal the massive internal contradictions of its argument, let alone its loose grasp on facts. Complete enumeration of the winner's distinguishing features would dwarf the column itself. So we can only summarize:

  • Cliché 1: Conservatives are heartless. Cohen argues that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, who Cohen says has not failed, has not learned as much as people like Cohen, who has failed and learned from their failure. He will be unable to empathize with the little guy. Cohen is apparently under the misapprehension that Roberts is running for legislative office, or maybe seeking an appointment as National Psychotherapist, or will even serve as a trial judge who hands down sentences to criminals and can consider their circumstances for a measure of mercy. But the Supreme Court decides matters of law on the basis of the law, not empathy or life experience. At any rate, Roberts college summers working in a Gary, Indiana, steel plant don't count for Cohen.
  • Cliché 2: Bush is stupid. Cohen avers that Roberts is bright but implies that the President is dumb. We are apparently to draw the conclusion that Roberts, who possesses two Harvard degrees, is demonstrably brighter than Bush, who has one from Yale and one from Harvard. Or perhaps that Harvard law grads are smarter than Harvard business grads. Cohen, a proud graduate of night school, apparently knows how to make such judgments but doesn't tell the rest of us, who are incapable of grasping the sophisticated means.
  • Cliché 3: Creation is ignorant. At any rate, Cohen's proof that Bush isn't smart is Bush's remark that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in schools. Calling ID a "non-theory" and implying that genuine thought excludes it outright, Cohen doesn't even bother offering the only justification for such cavalier dismissal, the positivistic notion that only "scientific" knowledge really counts. SWNID readers have encountered this insincere feint before.
  • Cliché 4: "Science" is the only knowledge that counts. But Cohen compounds his move with the hysterical remark, "What next, alchemy and chemistry?" Seldom does one see an analogy drawn between a seriously held philosophical viewpoint, informed by science ("metascientific" is the term used for ID by Alvin Plantinga) and supported by a long intellectual tradition going back at least to Aristotle, not to mention Genesis and the Psalms, and a completely unscientific, magical tradition with no currency whatsoever. Of course, an insistence on the primacy of science would discount his entire insistence that Roberts is flawed because he isn't flawed, but enough of that.
  • Cliché 5: Conservatives are damned if they do and damned if they don't. [Note to gentle readers: this is not swearing but proper use of a term found in the King James Version of the Bible.] Nevertheless, the very fact that Bush has failed prior to running for office seems never to have counted in Bush's favor with Cohen. Since neither success nor failure will commend a public figure to him, perhaps he favors those distinguished by radical mediocrity.
  • Cliché 6: Everything is a federal case when the President is a conservative. Cohen offers that coldness to the human condition led to the failed evacuation of New Orleans, then in the next paragraph offers "The poor? It's as if the idiots up and down the line never heard of them. It's as if no one at the top of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or at the White House knew they existed. Check that. They knew, but it was theoretical: Oh, they'll manage." This deft juxtaposition perpetuates the notion that FEMA and the White House were responsible for developing and implementing the evacuation of New Orleans, despite the very public record that such responsibilities are local, with FEMA offering support when asked by the locals.
  • Cliché 7: Republicans are all megarich dolts who don't know reality when it bites them. Cohen cites Barbara Bush's delightfully upbeat but ultimately silly remark about the Astrodome refugees coping well because they are poor and used to bad stuff. Though one might expect the notoriously outspoken and now quite elderly matriarch to be given a pass on this one (as Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Tim Burke will be for this one: "It always seemed to me in a rather non-scientific study that the greatest overvoting ... was in poor, lesser-educated, African-American precincts"), she has become a useful cipher for her son, who is assumed to be a lifetime member of the Silver Spoon Club.

Cohen's virtuoso blending of these voices into a single column, published nationwide, has earned him this prestigious award. We congratulate him on this success, made possible only by his obvious and abject failure.

Getting Past the Polarization on the President

How good a president is Dubya? Depends on who you ask.

James Taranto has a second offering on "OpinionJournal" today, a short piece on Bush's effectiveness as ranked by scholars with the political views of the scholars accounted for. What's interesting is that opinion on Bush is considerably more divided than on other recent presidents, with Republican scholars ranking him sixth best and Dems sixth worst.

I'll venture an additional point. People who can't comprehend either the love or hatred that people have for Dubya are folks who live in political echo chambers, reading and talking to others who agree with them already. As cities become more homogeneous, filled with unmarried professionals and the poor, and suburbs become more homogeneous, filled with families raising children, and the major metro areas and rural regions have less contact with each other, we'll see more Balkanization of political opinion.

Enquirer Hoist by Its Own Indecisive Petard

Heeding the warning of this blog that the eleventh hour in the mayoral primary had reached its fifty-eighth minute, late Saturday night the Cincinnati Enquirer issued its endorsements.

The plural, gentle readers, is correct. Endorsements. Two of them, in an election for one mayor.

Follow the link above and you’ll see more links to (a) a courageous, far-sighted, right-thinking endorsement of SWNID-endorsed candidate Mark Mallory; (b) a follow-the-leader, follow-the-money endorsement of frontrunner and P&G CEO spawn David Pepper; (c) commendations of the alleged positives of the other two major candidates (characteristics that, SWNID insists, require laboratory instruments for detection); (d) journalistic pats on the back for the so-called minor candidates, including the one whose phone service was cut off since she filed her petitions with the Board of Elections.

What’s the justification for this? The Enquirer says that since two candidates will go through to the general election, two endorsements are in order.

SWNID says that’s nonsense. What’s really up is the Enquirer’s editorial board can’t make up its mind because it lacks any decisive sense about anything. Since David Wells took over the helm of opinion at our local paper of record, editorial flavor has transmogrified from salsa to tapioca. These guys would rather issue multiple endorsements for a single office than make any decision that could be recognized as a decision.

We offer the following analogy. One of this weekends many exciting events in the SWNID household was the match between Daughter of SWNID’s Junior High Lady Eagles Soccer Team from Walnut Hills High School and CPS rivals Clark Montessori. Daughter of SWNID was particularly pumped because a close personal friend plays for Clark. Her parents, who are close personal friends with the parents of the close personal friend, were likewise pumped. The exciting game, in which six goals were scored, ended in a draw (gentle readers who are math enabled can infer the score). We all walked from the field saying to eachother how nice it was that no one lost. But in our cars, we lamented how much better it would have been to have won.

A draw is like kissing your sister. And so are these multiple endorsements.

But the Enquirer is also in the condition noted in the title of this post. Today’s paper carries, front page and below the fold, a story on problems with multiple voting (individual voters casting more than one vote in an election for only one candidate) in the first mayoral primary. What’s noteworthy here is not that Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke will get a pass for his stereotyping African-American voters as less educated than their white counterparts. SWNID notes that the Enquirer’s double endorsements make it the Number One Contributor to Voting Irregularities in tomorrow’s elections. When voters say, I voted for Mallory and Pepper," they can blame the paper for their error.

Why the MSM Is "Looking the Other Way"

A gentle reader on a mission to the Left Coast sends a link to John Leo's marvelously informative summary of l'affaire Sheehan, detailing how the MSM has ignored the long-term political extremism and more recent crackpot statements of Ms. Absolute Moral Authority.

Why does the MSM continue to get caught with its pants down like this? SWNID argues that it is trapped by (a) its need for a story while holed up in Crawford, Texas in the middle of August; (b) its predominant political proclivities; and (c) its ongoing refusal to admit that there are alternative media (conservative columnists, radio, Fox News and bloggers) who will call them on it.

So it goes like this:

Help! I need a story!

Cindy Sheehan could give me one.

To make it a good story, I'll have to leave out the part that she's a nut.

That's OK, because she's a useful nut. She's on the correct side of the issue.

And no one will ever know that we left the nutty stuff out.

We are The Media! Hooray for the First Amendment and the Columbia University Journalism School!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Cincinnati Media Fails Utterly

Hey, out there! Does anybody remember that there's a mayoral election on Tuesday?

Hey, Cincinnati Enquirer! Could you, like, carry a summary of the candidates' positions? And cover what debates there have been with a bit more detail? Maybe interview each of the major candidates at length and publish the interviews? Before Tuesday morning?

Hey, five local TV channels with news! Could you cover something other than weather and high school football and the opening of a hurricane shelter in Linwood Elementary?

Political observers decry the way that in local elections the electorate votes on name recognition. But what else has the fifth estate given them?

If Cincinnati's voters had a chance to hear the candidates in extended interviews or debates, I think we'd see decisive support for one candidate. Readers of this blog know who that is. But without that, voters will cast a ballot for the name that they recognize. Unfortunately, the recognize names that have been hogging the camera at City Council meetings for the last six years.

So, here's our contribution to the campaign, by way of creating name recognition:

Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory
Mark Mallory

Sun-Times Columnist Follows SWNID Endorsement

The MSM is catching up to this blog.

Thomas Roeser of the Chicago Sun-Times (how blessed is the city with two decent newspapers) offers his good reasons why Rudi Guiliani is The Man for 2008.

Follow the link. But remember, you read it there second.

How Politics Breaks All Ten Commandments

This blog began with a preemptive hat tip to, among others, P. J. O'Rourke, the literary love child of H. L. Mencken and Mark Twain. Today we must link our gentle readers to his fine and troubling contribution to the Weekly Standard's tenth anniversary symposium.

Politics, argues Miami University's Greatest Alumnus, is evil. He enumerates how by nature it breaks all ten commandments.

He is right.

And this blog is generally political.


Is repentance in order?

If in a few days gentle readers discover that SWNID is blogging only on music, baseball and gardening, you'll know our decision.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Final Judgment for FEMA

The irrepressible Scott Ott has posted a delightfully imagined statement by former First Shrew Hillary Clinton that simultaneously sends up partisanship and the Left Behind series. SWNID knows his readers: y'all will love this one.

Hey! Is There Still A War Going On?

Remember Iraq? Probably so, but you probably haven't heard much about it in the media lately, except the bogus claim that Katrina relief was slow and weak because all the Louisiana National Guard troops were over there.

I have been assuming that the recent silence on Iraq had to do mostly with the media's inability to cover more than one story at a time. But the American Spectator web site carries a post from John Connly Walsh, an American businessman in Iraq, who notes that Baghdad has actually been relatively quiet lately, and seems to be becoming more so each day.

Walsh speculates that the presentation of a constitution for ratification may have something to do with it. But he gives more credence to the notion that the Iraqi army is now capturing (and it seem summarily executing) a lot of terrorists.

Walsh's remark on the lousy state of reporting in Iraq is also noteworthy: most stories come from the AP, whose reporters rotate in and out so quickly that they have little incentive to do anything but hunker down in their hotels and stay out of harm's way until their rotation is over.

All this will certainly be worth remembering when the hurricane cleanup is well underway and the Angry Left returns to the chorus of its one-note tune. Iraq is a failure? It doesn't look that way to at least one person who is actually there.

Book Announcement, And Right on Time Too!

SWNID is proud to announce to the world that Standard Publishing has just released the outstanding and timely Sharing the Narnia Experience by SWNID friend, CCU faculty colleague and former CCU college roommate Paul Friskney.

This lovely volume is aimed at parents who want to introduce their children to the luminous world of Narnia, specifically The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. But it can be appreciated by all who want a knowledgeable and readable guide to this greatest (remember: never in doubt) of children's fantasy stories. Best of all, it's out in advance of the movie version, the upcoming debut of which makes the book all the more timely.

Though the link above is to Amazon, they don't have it yet. So order from the CCU Bookstore.

Happy Ending to "Owe These Guys" Saga

Updating previous posts, SWNID conveys the news that Larry and Heather Vinson welcomed Noah Jeremiah Vinson on Thursday at 9:05 a.m. The lad weighs 6 pounds 15 ounces. All the Vinsons are happy and well.

Father Larry avoided deployment to Mississippi because Heather's labor started before his ordered departure. But her first round of labor proved false, though this did not negate Larry's un-deployment. Larry is therefore the first person ever "delivered" by false labor. We leave it to our gentle readers to decide whether some larger purpose was accomplished by Someone by means of the so-called false labor. Those who want to know whether the lad's name commemorates a deliverance from/by water must consult the parents.

Mrs. SWNID recalls a similar birthing experience with Daughter of SWNID, but in her case, all that was accomplished was a lot of pain and lost sleep.

Blessings for all the Vinsons!

Final Word on Katrina Blame

The Washington Post runs Charles Krauthammer's column on Fridays because once the eminent psychiatriast has weighed in, the discussion is generally over.

That has never been more true than today, when Dr. K outlines the right assessment of "blame" for Katrina. SWNID is happy to eat the crumbs that fall from this table. Follow the link, gentle readers!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Social Engineering and the New New Orleans

David Brooks, token conservative on the opinion page of the New York Times, has a column today that's all the buzz. His argument: the concentration of poor people in New Orleans must be broken to give the next generation of New Orleansians a chance to break out of poverty.

Read the column for details. But consider SWNID's dour pessimism about the outcomes.

First, SWNID doubts that this will become the policy. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" has largely caved in to calls for funding the status quo in social services. If the debate turns to a significant relocation of New Orleans' poor, the clamor for the "rights" of people to "return to their homes and communities" will be overwhelming, and Bush will trot out his compassionate credentials again by throwing money at the issue.

Second, SWNID believes that efforts to relocate New Orleans' concentrations of poor people to unconconcentrated areas will be thwarted by the natural patterns of relocation. Our own fair city has witnessed such a phenomenon as the blighted West End has been recreated in the last several years. The old public housing developments, warehouses for social problems, have been demolished, and nice, middle-class townhouses have been built. But the former occupants of the projects have moved more or less en masse to other neighborhoods, notably East Westwood and East Price Hill, and have brought their social problems with them. This is a function of people naturally grouping themselves near family or friends. But it's also a function of their being relocated to older, inexpensive housing stock, normally concentrated in a few neighborhoods in any city, bought up by investors who take advantage of Section 8 vouchers as a means of profiting on marginal properties.

What this bodes, then, is not that the Big Easy's urban poor will find themselves in middle class schools and neighborhoods, but that they'll find themselves concentrated, albeit in smaller communities but concentrated nonetheless, in neighborhoods of older homes, falling into disrepair, with absentee landlords, inadequate schools, and neighbors who hurt people and break things.

But I'll still say that Brooks's proposal is the right direction. With the blessed Glenn Loury, I'll say that the plight of America's underclass deserves the full attention of its citizenry. The point is not that we can eradicate poverty altogether. But wise, concentrated effort does has its effect on individuals. We work, per Loury, One by One from the Inside Out.

Jesus people will understand this. The presence of hard soil does not negate the necessity to sow seed or the expectation of a great harvest.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Indispensable Cartoon

The Cincinnati Enquirer did the citizens of our fair city a disservice by discontinuing the brilliant satire "Boondocks."

So since you couldn't see it in the paper, follow this link to my nomination for Best Boondocks Ever.

For Those Who Thought We'd Never Criticize Bush

Gentle readers may assume that SWNID is so partisan as never to criticize President Bush. Read on, gentle readers, and learn otherwise.

David Ignatius, the often-worthwhile columnist for the Washington Post, today offers an insightful critique of the weaknesses of Bush's administrative style. He faults Bush for inattention to detail, focus on "home runs" at the expense of "singles," failure to appoint a chief of staff who will see to the details, and a focus on personal loyalty at the expense of performance.

The indispensable John Podhoretz says much the same, while noting that this management failure, not racism, is to blame for the lousy response to the hurricane.

With the additional observation that local officials were ghastly in their roles, SWNID agrees. These are faults that are obvious, and this is analysis that's fair. We'll quibble with Ignatius on one point: we affirm that Bush has been very clear not only that we must "stay the course" in Iraq but in defining what the course is. Last I checked, they were moving toward a referendum on a constitution over there. Sounds like management by objective to me.

All leaders have strengths. With their strengths come weaknesses. Bush has his too, and from Katrina he can still learn to compensate for them. Like Reagan's Iran-Contra cleanup, Bush's giving attention to the details of performance could be just the thing to give energy to the last years of his lame-duck term.

Winburn for Blowhard

Charles Winburn again today fills the SWNID mailbox with propaganda. And today's offers the most obvious reason yet not to vote for the Hamilton County Republican Party's Biggest Mistake. We quote from the cover of the very attractive brochure:

Elect Charlie Winburn Mayor and violent crime will go down almost immediately.

Really! To imitate the inimitable Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

Jesus warned that wars and rumors of wars would follow his ministry, but Charlie is going to lower crime merely by his kingly parousia. Impressive!

Fortunately, Winburn won't be elected. He's barely leading "other" in polls. That probably explains the tactic of this flyer, extreme even for Cincinnati's Greatest Windbag. He knows he's losing big time, so caution and good sense, if there ever were any, are gone.

Oil for Food for Thought, Or the Perpetual Fecklessness of the UN

Claudia Rosett has been indispensable on all matters related to the UN Oil-for-Food scandal. Through most of the affair, she's been the only journalist staying on the story. In a post on National Review Online, she dissects the first appearance of the Volcker Commission's report, fearing a relative whitewash, or more specifically as spreading of enough blame that no one in Turtle Bay is responsible. More particularly, she lays bare the foolhardiness of excusing Kofi Annan of any responsibility for the problem, and even more his hypocrisy in claiming that he wishes the program had never been "given" the program. Truth is, he begged for it.

But the issue here is larger than just this one scandal. It goes to the efficacy of the United Nations altogether. Let's name the great achievements of this vaunted organization. . . . You start. . . . I'm waiting. . . . No, go ahead. . . . What do you mean you can't think of anything? No, responding to the North Korean invasion of South Korea doesn't count. It wouldn't have happened if the Soviet delegation had been present at the Security Council meeting, and in any case the American military and the South Koreans themselves did all but a tiny portion of the fighting (huzzahs again for faithful Australia).

The truth is that the UN has done nothing but issue stamps, occupy valuable East Side real estate, and provide a luxurious setting from which corrupt diplomats from developing countries can send their kids to exclusive private schools. Remember Kosovo? All the UN could do in the face of ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe was . . . nothing. When Clinton was thwarted in the Security Council, he just ignored the UN and went to NATO to get the bombs falling for Algerian Kosovar liberation. Good for him. Bad for the UN.

When SWNID was a child, American schools indoctrinated students with the notion that the League of Nations was ineffective because (a) the United States shamefully refused to join; (b) its charter didn't allow resolutions authorizing military action. The UN was the Great Force for Peace because it had what the League didn't. But today even eight-year-olds would not believe that the UN compares favorably to the League. It's bankrupt of public confidence after two generations of fecklessness.

But the UN is not just an ineffective organization that needs to be reformed or replaced. It needs to be closed and nothing opened in its place. International organizations are by nature of the case largely ineffectual. Baroness Thatcher got it right: only nation states have the power to command the loyalty of people to do life's difficult tasks, like stopping bad guys. Yes, the power of the nation state can be used for evil. Democracy and human rights must be jealously guarded by the citizens who have them and nurtured by nations that have them in nations that don't. But if there is dirty work to be done, it is the Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack, even the French Tricolor to which people will respond with the determination to commit their lives, treasure and sacred honor, not that wimpy blue thing with the fifties-stylized map.

Oil-for-food may not be enough to do it, but let's hope it takes the world in the right direction, namely, to convert the UN headquarters into an upscale cooperative and get all the Undersecretaries of Horticultural Awareness from the People's Democratic Republic of Congirwandinesigolia off Roosevelt Island and back home in the guest room of the Self-Proclaimed President for Life plotting the next coup d'etat.