Thursday, June 19, 2008

What If the Post Office Supplied Our Gasoline?

That's a question that at least some Congressional Democrats answer with enthusiastic affirmation.

Per Fox News, Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, said that government control of refineries would lead to a more reliable flow of oil.

Like VA hospitals deliver more reliable health care.

We find ourselves really disturbed by this development. Not because we think it has even a ghost of a chance of ever becoming reality, but because we can't believe that in this day and age even a Democrat would think that a socialistic solution to a supply problem was any solution at all. It's so stupid, we can't even slyly rejoice that if the Ds run on this nonsense, they'll take a thrashing in November.

For those who lack the historical perspective, we urge consideration of the recent history of Western Europe, not even the Eastern European Communist bloc. Western Europe's experimentation with state-owned industries came to an end over the last 25 years, as the old government-owned steel mills, refineries, telephone companies and railroads were sold off to shareholders, began competing, and suddenly created more, cheaper goods and services, more decent jobs, tax revenue and economic growth.

Back to the politics: it'll be interesting to see the explanations that come out tomorrow for these remarks, as in "What Congressman Hoyer meant was [followed by something other than what he said today]."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What a Few Thousand Teens Will See This Summer

Attendees at this summer's Christ in Youth Conferences will see this video on Fridays:

We hope that some heed it.

Props to our friend Adam S for producing this and the previous cinematic experience.

Meanwhile, On Another Part of the Globe

We delight in sharing how the Christian mission moves forward:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just Divorce the Guy, OK?

The erstwhile Hillary Clinton Campaign today released on the web a "photo album" from her failed campaign.

We actually recommend having a look. For one thing, it reveals the truth that no one knows what a woman of a certain age actually looks like anymore. For another, it has some interesting pictures of folks with Herself, including someone who looks just like Dick Cheney.

But most of all, the album is notable for the absence of the Most Famous Clinton of All.

Which raises for us two interesting hypothetical questions:

  • Would Herself had fared better politically if she had divorced Himself back when it was timely to do so?
  • If she were to Do the Right Thing now, would her future political prospects improve?

Reality Check on Global War on Terror

Two notable opinion pieces published today provide just the right contrarian check on the conventional wisdom that we need a new approach to Islamofascism.

The first, by Bret Stephens from the indispensable WSJ opinion page, notes that Iraqis are troubled by the prospect of an Obama presidency. The reason is simple and obvious: a precipitous US withdrawal, the obviously declared plan of the Democratic candidate even if it is not his intention to carry it out, leaves Iraq, currently enjoying its most peaceful period ever, subject to the same sectarian warfare and ultimate domination by the extremist mullahs of Iran that seriously threatened it not so many months ago.

The second is not so remarkable in its message--that the world is safer thanks to the actions of one George Walker Bush--as in its source, Britain's left-wing Guardian. From a marvelously terse column by one Oliver Kamm, we quote this gem of a paragraph:

The most fundamental decision in western security policy in the past seven years has not been the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It has been the recognition that the most voluble adversaries of western society are not merely a criminal subculture, and still less an incipient liberation movement. Rather, they are a reactionary, millenarian and atavistic force with whom accommodation is impossible as well as intensely undesirable.

And so, Kamm concludes:

Whoever succeeds Bush as president will benefit from some decisions well conceived if often badly executed. So will America's allies.

Which takes us to the latest polling. Obama, despite his many political advantages, currently leads He Who Will Be Bush's Third Term by an average of merely four percent. In our view the race is close because, uncomfortable as people are with Bush's legacy, they don't trust that the solutions are as painless as the Democratic left insists.

Obama Econ Interview: Eclectic or Directionless

WSJ today reports on an interview with Barack Obama in which the nominee offers that he just might support a reduction in Our Republic's second-highest-in-the-world corporate tax rate to spur global investment in our economy.

That got us excited over our breakfast of hot coffee and cold pizza. That is, until we read the rest, a confused muddle of every proposal that any Democrat has ever supported.

We had hoped that, absent the pressures of satisfying his party's left, Obama could enter the world of real economics. But it is not so. If anything, we are more confused about what Obama's "change" will mean for the economy.

In the Obama economic stew are such ingredients as these:

  • His assertion that there's no connection between tax cuts and economic growth.
  • His commitment to evening out American incomes by using the tax code to redistribute wealth.
  • His simultaneous commitment to balancing the budget and spending more on "infrastructure."
  • His willingness to label just about any project as "infrastructure" for the sake of spending government money on it.

In sum, we see a leader without a place to which to lead, a man without a compass. Obama calls his approach "eclectic." The term implies that the individual chooses a mixture of things and combines them in novel ways. That's fine with such matters as, say, composing music or developing cuisine. But in economic policy, where competing choices pull the economy in opposite directions, eclecticism is doomed to failure.

For those who believe that government spending for such things as "green energy" will yield economic dividends, the good folks at the WSJ detail the extremely poor record of such things. Government spending on basic scientific research does serendipitously yield big economic gains now and then. Government spending on big projects to revolutionize the economy has a rate of success declining toward zero.

The nominee appears still as one who is trying to convince his party that he's their man, attempting to appeal to every mircoconstituency of his party's incoherent coalition of special interests. We are not comforted.

Obama Veep Chief Pick Means Hillary Stays in Senate

This is a weird move, unless it is what it obviously is: a signal.

The Obama campaign has named Patti Solis Doyle as chief of staff to Obama's VP running mate. That is, Ms. Solis Doyle is chief of staff to someone who hasn't been picked yet. As in, the veep doesn't get to pick. As if veep chiefs matter to anyone except the veep.

Why make this move? Because Solis Doyle was formerly Hillary's campaign manager, fired midway through the campaign for underperformance and thereafter both persona non grata in Hillaryland and highly hostile to Herself and All She Stands For (Solis Doyle is rumored to be a significant unnamed source in Vanity Fair's recent negative piece on St. William of Dogpatch).

The only reason to make this move is to say to the world that Hillary will never be on any ticket with Obama.

So this leaves us with two questions, to which we offer SWNIDish speculation and interpretation:

1. Whom will Obama pick for veep? We expect someone who can carry a swing state: Ed Rendel of PA, Ted Strickland (the horror!) of OH, Jim Webb of VA or Sam Nunn of GA. The pick will tell a lot about Obama. If he picks a nonentity like Strickland or Rendel, it means that he isn't keen to share the spotlight. If he picks Nunn, it means he's serious about substantive policy and not just forever running on a vacuous call for "change."

2. What will happen to Hillary? If Obama orchestrates her selection as Senate Majority Leader or even appoints her to his cabinet (Health and Human Services is the obvious pick, though one that will perpetually rankle Rs), it means that he's ready to exercise some intra-party statesmanship, again sharing the spotlight but also extending the olive branch in a way that acknowledges that he is secure as leader of his party for the next two terms. If Hillary spends the next seven months waiting for the phone to ring, it means that Obama wants to run his government like the Clintons: with malice toward all and charity toward none.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Timely Facts on the Lie

It's not surprising when a conservative pundit or Republic pol reminds the forgetful public that George Bush didn't "lie" about Iraq when he urged action on the basis of intelligence that proved later to be inaccurate but was the best available at the time.

It's noteworthy when the note is sounded by the editor of the left-wing New Republic on the pages of the LA Times.

Such an observation is timely inasmuch as it is now utterly clear that the Democrats' primary campaign strategy for the upcoming election is to run against the George Bush who (a) lied about Iraq; (b) leaked Valerie Plame's undercover identity; (c) caused global warming; (d) wrecked the economy; (e) antagonized the entire world; and (f) still stands atop the Republican ticket.

Dare we say it? Those seem closer to lies, defined as deliberate statements of untruth aimed at deception, than Bush's alleged sins.

SWNIDish Virus Spreads, Albeit Slowly and Narrowly

Is it flattery by imitation, parody, copyright infringement or a manifestation of a parallel universe?

Whatever it is, we draw gentle readers' attention to We on Da Grind, Cousin, a blog disturbingly similar to this one in several significant features but strikingly different in others. Gentle readers who spend too much time on this blog may recognize the blogger's voice as that of regular commenter PS/SWNID ("PS" stands for "Prodigal Son"). It is a voice worth listening to.

WODGC can be accessed here, or via the link added to our left column. Eventually we expect that Googling the distinctive initials will lead just as surely to that blog as Googling SWNID leads to this.

Friday, June 13, 2008

145 Days to Find Out

Newsweek political sage Howard Fineman makes interesting sense of Obama's jettisoning of Jim Johnson as Veep Vetter. To wit: we don't know much about Obama, but this episode tells us something. Fineman delineates the lessons as:

  • Obama is more concerned with soothing the establishment than starting a revolution.
  • Obama hasn't yet learned to keep his cool when questions get hot.
  • Obama has learned to cut his losses by instantly cutting off associates with problems.

We'll add some other observations of our own (why else have a blog?):

  • Obama's choice of a multimillionaire dealmaker to vet his veep belies the populism that he has begun to take on as the candidate of the party of Jackson and Bryan.
  • Obama's choice of the manager of Mondale's 1984 disaster to vet his veep evinces that like most Ds, he believes that his party's success depends on continuing to do what it has done in the past, whether those things worked or not.
  • Obama's failure to anticipate Johnson's fatal flaws suggests, as did the Jeremiah Wright imbroglio, a surprising level of political naivety in an otherwise highly accomplished politician.
  • Overall, the profile of Obama that emerges is of one more consumed with the significance of his own person than with the ideas that he espouses.

We stress that this last point is a part of the makeup of many successful politicians, whose success depends on their indomitable will to power. We do not suggest that John McCain, to cite a timely example, is free of such. We simply observe that Obama is no less a classic politician for all the perceived newness of his candidacy, and that "hope" attached to his fresh personage is therefore likely doomed to disappointment.

Finally and most importantly, we have a bone to pick, an ax to grind, a cause to champion, with Mr. Fineman. The esteemed journalist in this column employs a simile that labels vanilla as "bland." Those who revel in their food enough to prepare it for themselves and others (e.g. SWNID and many gentle readers, we assume) will declare immediately that vanilla is a flavor both powerful and ubiquitous. A little vanilla goes a very long way,* and it's in just about everything that's sweet, including chocolate stuff.

Mr. Fineman, we would consider our life worthwhile if it could even in the tiniest of aspects be fairly compared to complex, adaptable, savory, invigorating, soothing, tantalizing vanilla, the World's Favorite Flavor.


*For those who don't care enough about their food, we note that vanilla is not white, as it is sometimes inaccurately characterized in metaphorical speech, but a deep brown that rivals cocoa. Vanilla ice cream is white, in contrast to chocolate and other flavors, precisely because so little vanilla is needed to flavor vanilla ice cream. With so tiny a proportion of the recipe's ingredients being tawny vanilla, the confection's color becomes that of its chief ingredient, namely cream.

Sexism Charge Ignores the Obvious

Hillary supporters, by definition probably not the most reasonable and objective of creatures, have of late taken to accusing the media of sexism in its coverage of their erstwhile savioress. SWNID finds this about as blind as asking whether energy drinks are associated with risky behavior.

As SWNID seems to recall, Ms. Rodham-Clinton's political career has depended on the coattails of her supremely talented and supremely philandering husband William Jefferson "Slick Willie" (Rodham-)Clinton. We recall further the number of her supporters who expressed their enthusiasm for Making History by electing the First Woman President.

In other words, Hillary would never have made it as far as she did without the rather ancient American political habit of anointing the wife as the husband's political successor and heir.* And her candidacy would have lacked much of its juice if female presidents were common enough not to be viewed as "historic."

So if the goose is entitled to such special goose sauce, is it wrong to point out that the goose does not in fact have gander sauce?

We'll say further that a truly historic female presidential candidate would be one who owed nothing to the man in her life for her political standing. Like, say, the candidacy of one Condi Rice, if such a candidacy ever existed. The brilliantly accomplished and permanently unattached Dr. Rice cannot be accused of having leveraged her career through her personal relationships, except maybe to get some NFL tickets now and then. And as a lifetime adherent of the Evil Republican Sexist Conspiracy, Dr. Rice could not expect her candidacy to be met with support from self-styled "sisters." Hers would be a run made on her merits, against the tide of identity politics.

But because of her obvious lack of ambition for elected office, a Rice candidacy is something that one can only imagine wistfully.

*Various states in our federal republic have famously elected wives of governors or senators to their husband's former offices when the husband could no longer serve by virtue of term limits, illness or death.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Megabus Update: New Pickup and Dropoff Point in Chicago

To alleviate congestion around Union Station, Chicago's city fathers are mandating that Megabus move its pickup and dropoff point one block south of Union Station, on Canal Street between Jackson and Van Buren.

Intrepid travelers should not be discouraged about this move. It means less confusion around the buses and a closer point of arrival and departure to the Clinton Street CTA Blue Line Station.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Are "Energy" Drinks the Problem Drinks?

Today's Inside Higher Ed reports on concerns about possible linkages between college students' consumption of so-called energy drinks and engagement in risky behavior.

SWNID finds this discussion among the most poignantly dysfunctional on record.

It doesn't take much familiarity with the behavior of undergraduates on the typical American campus to identify the drinks most associated with students' risky behavior. For the willfully blind, these are alcoholic beverages, so commonly consumed in immoderate to dangerous quantities that the behaviors of drunkenness, with their attendant dangers, are largely accepted as normal among undergraduates. Promiscuous sex, sadistic hazing and impaired driving are among those dangerous behaviors. Alcohol poisoning is disturbingly common in institutions of higher education, as are drunken students' falls from heights or immolation in house fires. When students get plastered, they often get sick and injured. Sometimes they die.

Most campuses, however, have decided that there's nothing to be done about collegiate alcohol abuse. Few do anything meaningful to discourage it. Some actually subsidize it with college-sponsored parties. Turning the other way while students binge drink is part of the cost of doing business on just about every non-evangelical campus in America. The cost is borne by the students, both those who drink dangerously and those who live and study with them.

But the attention of this study is to the correlation between the consumption of energy drinks and risky behavior. It's like worrying about your complexion when you're dying of cancer.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

And on Obama's Speech

We recommend this parody of a victory speech from the winner of the Democrats' Epic Struggle.

On Hillary's Demise

We've read two pieces that delight us on the end of Hillary's Bid for World Domination.

The first is by Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of the indispensable National Review Online. She opens with the great insight, thereafter developed in her essay:

A beautiful thing happened on the way to a 2008 Democratic nominee. Hillary Clinton obtained the feminist dream: She was treated equally.

The second is from Scott Ott, creator of the indispensable Scrappleface. Ott's is a parody concession speech by Herself. Again, we excerpt the opening:

No matter the outcome of the presidential race this November, the year 2008 is a watershed for Democrats. For the first time in the history of either party, a woman selflessly withdrew from a race she was winning to lend a merciful, helping hand to a young African-American in his time of need.

The Way of a Man with a Maid

Some bits of anonymous wisdom circulated via the Internet are more valuable than others. We share this bit:


a. If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.

b. If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.

a. When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.

b. When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

a. A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.

b. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.

a. A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel .

b. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

a. A woman has the last word in any argument.

b. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

a. A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

b. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

a. A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.

b. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

a. A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

b. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

a. A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.

b. A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

a. Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.

b. Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

a. Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.

b. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Until November

Take a look here at the Electoral College prospects, and you'll see that once again, it all comes down to Ohio.

We will be turning our TV off for a few months, until the usual round of commercials for beer, cars and prescription drugs returns.

Web Service for Post-Rapture Communication

Several years ago the Wittenburg Door asked readers to submit the weirdest thing they could find for sale in a Christian bookstore. The winner was the "Critter Cross," a cardboard cross on which believers could inscribe the names of their pets, then hanging the handsome accoutrement on their front doorknobs to notify left-behind pagans of animals needing care during the tribulation. N.B. that the marketers of the Critter Cross never indicated whether pets would need to be marked with 666 to be fed during those awful times. Whether the Critter Cross might lead roving bands of pagans to identify Puff and Fido as potential sources of emergency nourishment seems not to have been considered.

The Critter Cross has now been updated and expanded by, a service that notifies your pagan friends why you and so many (or maybe not so many) others have gone missing.

We will defer to the thorough description offered here. Suffice it to say that because the service costs money, we discourage our anti-dispensational readers from signing up just for the fun of it.

Hat tip: alert gentle reader Scott.

Suggested comment: other methods people have come across for explaining the Rapture in the absence of the Raptured.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Megabus Review

For those who aren't already converted to the Gospel of the Megabus, we offer a recent review by a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Tom Uhlenbrock. Bottom line: Megabus is cheap and pleasant.

We agree, of course.

Anyone up for a road trip?

Free Tutorial on the Trinity

Though not a systematic theologian, frequently SWNID gets asked to explain the Trinity. To save a few more discourses, we refer gentle readers looking for a clear discussion of the topic to the "Theology in the News" posting on Christianity Today's blog network by Collin Hansen. Prompted by the recent allegorical novel, The Shack, Hansen gives a brief, clear and pretty thorough discussion of this challenging and foundational theological concept.

Just a Reminder Why Obama Might Not Want Hillary on the Ticket

Because in the event of a Democratic win in November, President Obama would have to deal with this man's 24/7 access to Obama's Oval Office.

If there's been a more obvious example of the Clinton's unintentionally self-referential use of "the politics of personal destruction," we are unaware of it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

McClellan Surrenders His Only Qualification

Scott McClellan's tenure as Dubya's press secretary was at best undistinguished. Folks in the rarefied world of the Washington press corps came to the judgment that his primary qualification was loyalty to Bush.

His widely publicized book seems to confirm that, except that now he's caved on the loyalty. Reviewers and insiders are pretty clear on a couple of points: the book tells us nothing that we didn't already "know," and it entirely repeats the Democratic boilerplate that Bush's deputies did a bad thing with Valerie Plame.

Whether McClellan decided to take this tack because he wanted to make money on the book, because he wanted to gain standing with the left-looking media establishment, or simply because he is subject to the influences of his surroundings, no human can know.

We cite two discussions of the book as most important. One is Bob Novak's. Novak is distinctly well suited to opine on this matter, as he published Richard Armitage's "leak" that Ms. Plame got her husband on the junket to Niger to investigate the yellowcake allegations. Novak lets loose on not just McClellan but also special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who continued his investigation even though he knew the leaker when his investigation began. As far as Novak is concerned, McClellan's book is rendered worthless by his studied refusal to acknowledge the factual situation of his narrative centerpiece.

The second comes from the editorial board of the WSJ. They contribute the underreported but vitally important information that McClellan's book is being published by a company controlled by George Soros. SWNID dislikes conspiracy theories but is sometimes attracted to the notion that rich people of ambition can finance campaigns of disinformation. Soros has so many fingers in so many PACs, media ventures and other propaganda instruments that one can hardly resist blaming him for much of the nonsensical tenor of present political discourse.

We will guess that McClellan's book may represent the nadir of Bush's reputation. While the book is being published, the fortunes of the war and the economy seem to be turning positively, perhaps decisively. In a few years, McClellan's book may well be remainedered off to people who want it as a historical curiosity, testimony to the disconnect between conventional wisdom and empirical realities in the last months of this presidency.