Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Privacy and the Private

Image from PlanetPOV.
I guess I have to say a couple of words about PFC Manning and his conviction on theft and espionage charges, but I'd rather wait until the sentencing to make it anything final. It's only today, as that phase begins, that we learn that the disclosure of the Afghan War Logs failed to produce any of the ghastly harm that was predicted, of identifying the Friends of America so that the Terrorists would be able to murder them all (there was one guy the Taliban killed, because, they said, of Wikileaks, but they were lying—he wasn't mentioned in the files). The worst General Robert Carr could say was:
Discussing the Guantanamo Bay Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), Carr suggested that the release of these documents was detrimental to the United States’ efforts to close the detention center, though he explained on cross-examination that the DABs could reveal that what the U.S. says publicly to some countries regarding transferring detainees back to their home countries and what we say to them privately could differ, obstructing that process. He testified, though, that he couldn’t speak to whether transferring the detainees was an administration priority.
Thanks, General Carr, for revealing to the opponents of closing Guantánamo what they need to do to slow that process down, if there's any way it could be any slower than it already is, because Manning and the Guardian didn't really make it clear. Now because of you Senator McConnell will be poring through the Guardian's database looking for evidence that he can use, and then calling the president of Yemen: "Mr. President, do you realize that what President Obama says in public about repatriating Yemeni prisoners is somewhat different than what he tells you in private?" What a massacre! We're putting you away for life, kid!

I just realized, if being detrimental to US efforts to close Guantánamo is harming our national interests, Senator McConnell must be one of the secret enemies that Manning allegedly helped out. Curiously enough, he's one of my enemies too. May I arrest him, please?
Image by TheSkunk.
Anyway, I'm in an awkward position, as I believe on the one hand that Manning performed a service to the country that, while it broke the law, deserved to be punished a whole lot less than it already has been and doesn't need to be punished any further; and on the other that this doesn't make Obama a war criminal. I'm starting to feel a little like one of those Evan Bayh types with the "Now just stop that, both of you!" Also I'm pretty sure that the whole discussion is a lot less important than poverty and injustice, and yet I feel like being in it all the time. Huh.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

West of Eden: Washington

Image from Greenmarc Farms.
Why we hate the New York Times:

Article by Michael Gordon and Isabel Kershner with the headline,

Talks Begin on Mideast, to Doubts on All Sides

and then the doubts, for the first 16 paragraphs, are represented by a single source, convicted criminal Elliott Abrams. After which some other voices from "all sides" are heard, but none of them quite as doubtful as that. Abrams seems to think the purpose of the negotiations is [jump]

Monday, July 29, 2013

Simple answers to simple questions

Was a fetus before it became mainstream. Via
 Katy French for the Washington Examiner:
A baby is wanted. A "pregnancy tissue" isn't. But is the longing or lack thereof of one's mother truly an acceptable basis on which to confer or deny humanity?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Foxy Lazy

Via Owen Greaves.
The Fox News religion correspondent, Lauren Green, stared with suspicious bewilderment at her interview subject, the historian Reza Aslan, on their air to promote his new book, Zealot, a study of the historical Jesus. "Why," she said, "would a Muslim want to write a book about Jesus?" As if it were an inexplicable perversity, something he couldn't possibly have thought up on his own.

He immediately went a little prickly but maintained his kind smile and even tone of voice, informing her that he was actually not simply a Muslim but a qualified scholar, with several degrees and an intimate familiarity with New Testament Greek, etc., etc., and that it [jump]

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The new party is the Surprise Party

Via The Inspiration Room.
News from Bernard Sanders (I-VT):
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday provided suggestions for tax reform to the Senate Finance Committee, Politico reported. Chairman Max Baucus and ranking member Orrin Hatch had asked for member input and offered to keep any suggestions secret for 50 years. Sanders declined the offer of secrecy, The Hill reported online. “Given the fact that my suggestions represent the interests of the middle class of this country and not powerful corporate special interests, I have no problem with making them public,” he said. LINK, LINK
 This is kind of amazing. As Bloomberg Businessweek remarks,
Tax negotiations, then—Congress’s basic constitutional responsibility—are to be held to the same standard of secrecy as the investigation of the Warren Commission.... [jump]

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sixteen Scandals: Missouri

If you Google something like "Central Missouri College Republicans Obama" you will get a lovely kind of picture of the right wing outrage wind machine getting into gear: [jump]

Cheap shots and iconography

The Great and Terrible. From leftwingnutjob.
That old white magic:
He's just so—mavericky! [jump]

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No they didn't

Don't panic, people. Image from HorrorReport.

Majority of Americans favor restricting abortion at 20 weeks, according to new Post-ABC poll

says the Washington Post, as if to announce that we're all in support of the new-fangled laws (of course everyone wants their laws fangled, but the old fangling is the best) coming out of Texas and elsewhere, and so it is received by rightists like these:
But not so fast. It's true the Post poll found 56% to 27% favoring restrictions after 20 weeks, as opposed to the 24 weeks specified in Roe v. Wade (another 10% wanted it banned altogether), but then [jump]

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Informed, open, or deliberative

Dear Mr. President,

My colleagues in the Fool Department have delegated me to register a complaint against the staffers who came up with the memo announcing that you "welcome a debate" in "light of the recent unauthorized diclosures" and criticizing the proposed Amash-Conyers amendment to the defense authorization bill as
not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.
The formulation is apparently meant to call humorous attention to the fact that the process by which the surveillance policy was developed was anything but informed and open (unless they meant to suggest that it was open to everyone who was informed, i.e., both of you), and that the White House has done everything it can to prevent the debate it now claims to welcome. As such it constitutes a blatant encroachment on our department's traditional purviews of irony, absurdity, and foot-on-the-rake slapstick.

This bureaucratic overreach cannot stand. Is our ancient and honorable calling to be mocked by a herd of political hires and distributed throughout the staff leaving us with nothing to do but draft the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner standup routines?


D.G. Yastreblyansky

P.S. Answers such as "I can't hear you, I have a banana in my ear" will not be accepted.
The Tribunal of Fools, from the Bambergensis Constitutio Criminalis (Bambergische Halsgerichtsordnung), 1508. Image reproduced courtesy of the Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Good news for John McCain

Awesome news from Allen & Vandehei at Politico:

Barack Obama, to hear his advisers tell it, has finally found The One he has been looking for: John McCain. “We have been looking literally for years for someone we can cut deals with, and finally someone has stepped up,” a White House official said. West Wing aides say they now talk with McCain roughly every other day.
How roughly, exactly? I hope they don't hurt the old fellow.

Think before you Godwin

At the Lebensborn clinic in Wernigerode, where single women bore children for the Reich. Image from The Children of Nazi Germany.
From the Aspen Times, via:
Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.”  When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble. 
Apparently he had two kinds of laws in mind: those involving abortion and "homosexual sodomy". Did activist judges of the Weimar Republic bring on the Holocaust through their insistence on imposing their Jazz Age views on the sanctified constitution of the Germans?

Well, the constitution was written and adopted in 1919, so it doesn't seem likely that the Bundesgerichtshof of the 20s and early 30s represented a completely different [jump]

Monday, July 22, 2013

Who shoots white babies, Dana?

And what about mocking white female rappers? Got anything to say about that, Mr. P? Image from The Daily Banter.
Dana Perino, the former spokesperson of the worst president in the history of the United States, chides the current president for taking a turn as his own spokesperson and for making the best utterance on the subject of race that has ever been made by a U.S. president:

Sunday, July 21, 2013


To many, the New York Times's alternating right fielders David Brooks and Ross Douthat, the Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, are as alike as Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, but I have long felt that Douthat is more honest than Brooks, and a more talented and diligent writer. I like the way he provides links to sources in the online versions of his column, and his relative openness about his mental illness (that gloomy Catholic sexual terror, which he probably doesn't recognize as mental illness, but all the same compared to Brooks he is pretty self-aware).

Today, though, his column hits a level of disingenuousness and bad argument that can compete with Brooks at his worst, on the subject of the new Texas abortion law, which jump]

Saturday, July 20, 2013

If you can't find it in your own back yard...

...then you never really lost it to begin with.

Via Crooks & Liars:
"I wouldn't know where to go look to find real voter intimidation and real discrimination," [Iowa Representative Steve] King opined. "So I think there is more damage that comes to our election system from lack of voter ID then might come from voter intimidation."
I'll tell you where to look if you tell me where to find the damage that comes from lack of voter ID.

No, the hell with it, I'll tell you anyway. It's called the Internet, Steve. 
Oh, and the New Black Panthers showed up again in Philadelphia. Or the New Black Panther—there was only one of them.

And voter fraud in Iowa? Not really.
From Blogging Blue. "This is so racist!" complains someone in the audience; "How come the intimidated voter is always portrayed as black?"

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cheap shots and fat pagans

Our best of the week:
Nothing against orangutans. Oregon Zoo.
They do but jest, poison in jest; there's no offense i' the world.

 New York Times:
Roberto Calderoli, a leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, had told supporters on Saturday that whenever he sees photographs of Cécile Kyenge, the Congolese-Italian minister for integration, “I can’t help but think of her resemblance to an orangutan.”

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Take that filth away, I'm playing Angry Birds!

The Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street is worried about the shlubbiness epidemic.

It may seem plausible, but it does not seem to be the case. Though the evidence isn't exactly powerful (it's hard to find anything on porn use that isn't sponsored by a church).
A 2001 Forrester Research report claimed the average age of a male visitor to an adult web page is 41 and has an annual income of $60,000. According to the same report, 19% of North American users were regular visitors to adult content sites. Of that 19%,   approximately 25% were women, 46% were married, and 33% had children. (
It's not the tech-savvy teens who are obsessed computer gamers, in fact, the average video game player is a 35-year-old married man or woman earning 23,000 pounds a year, a new UK study has found. (2013;
From Wikipedia.


Mary Chesnut. From Modern Medievalism.
From the Deseret News via Tom Levenson:
Compulsory education laws have resulted in parents disengaging themselves from the responsibility to oversee the education of their children and have caused schools to falter under the burden of being all things to all people.

Those points are among the arguments made by Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, in an article posted Friday on the blog of the Utah State Senate, in which Osmond called for the end of compulsory education in the state.
I noticed something in a recent Googling expedition that I hadn't ever heard of before about the history of public education: that it was well established, municipally funded, [jump]

Oops, they did it again

A Rolling Stone cover always constitutes an endorsement. Charles Manson's record sales zoomed after this one. I don't know if Jahar Tsarnaev has an album coming out, but keep your ears open.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tweeumphal March

Mark Halperin favorited my Tweet! He must have thought there was something savvy about it. Then he seems to have changed his mind and de-favorited it again. You don't suppose he thought he was being made fun of, do you? Oh well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Men on the verge of a total breakdown

Shorter David Brooks, "Men on the Threshold", New York Times, July 17, 2013:
Men are brave, loyal, caring, and honest, but also vengeful, hateful, dangerous, and tainted by racism. It's what made America great. But now it's made them unemployable. Pity, that.
Sometimes I wonder whether Brooks sees himself, actually, as a man. Not, I mean, that he identifies as a woman (he knows less about them than he does about men, as if he's seen rather more movies about the latter, in particular John Ford's The Searchers). He's more like one of the interminably pedagogical Ancients from Back to Methuselah:

I danced when I was a child like you.
Dancing is a very crude attempt to get into the rhythm of life. It would
be painful to me to go back from that rhythm to your babyish gambols: in
fact I could not do it if I tried. But at your age it is pleasant: and I
am sorry I disturbed you.
But he isn't, you know, very brave, loyal, caring, or honest, while he is somewhat vengeful and tainted by racism, and he actually has quite a good job himself. I wrote a little story about somebody like that last year.
Image by Tengrain.

In black and white

From Royal Wedding (1951). Via.
Throughout the George Zimmerman trial people have been arguing from the counterfactual: suppose Zimmerman was black, or suppose the situations were reversed; and claiming that we ought to generalize our reaction from there to the real case—for instance if we think Black Zimmerman could be innocent, then we must accept it for White Hispanic Zimmerman. Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, even suggested that his whiteness was his crime:
"I think that things would have been different if George Zimmerman was black for this reason. He never would have been charged with a crime."
Referring, no doubt, to Florida's pervasive anti-white sentiments. Hm.

But there's something fraudulent about this thought experiment: nobody's imagining it all the way.

It's easy enough to imagine a white Trayvon. Skinny kid, sufficiently smart and good-looking, but maybe acting out a little after his parents' breakup, gets into a little trouble [jump]

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Gun shield art from the Canadian corvette HMCS Mayflower, from the Canadian War Museum.
The First Lady of Virginia, according to the Washington Post:
She asked Williams to pick up the tab for a $15,000 shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman in New York, people with knowledge of the gift have said. And after admiring Williams’s Rolex watch, she asked him to buy one so that she could give it to her husband, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). She received a $50,000 check from Williams, which the governor reported as a loan, as she confided financial stress to friends.

Some of Maureen McDonnell’s closest friends are surprised by the reports, saying the first lady is as sweet as her public image. But some people she has worked with at the governor’s mansion and in state government paint a different portrait: One of someone unable to make the leap into the Richmond fishbowl.

They say she can be hard on staff, so much so that after several resignations, a team from Virginia Commonwealth University was summoned to the mansion to provide intensive workplace counseling.
Of course she hasn't done anything as bad as Bill Clinton, in the memorable words of Margaret Noonan:
Throughout the yearlong trauma he forced the country through, he smirked and maneuvered and muscled people. He acted as if he were still in Little Rock, still up against legislators in plaid suits who own the Chevy dealership. When Bill Clinton was governor and it was the Yalie vs. the yokels, the yokels folded when you leaned on them. But Washington is not Little Rock. This is why David Broder told Sally Quinn, "He trashed the place, and it wasn't his place to trash." And Lindsey Graham and Chris Cox and Bill McCollum are not yokels.
Christianist sanctimony, contempt for working people, and shameless grifting do not constitute what Noonan, Quinn, and the late Dean regarded as "trashing the place". 

Kid killers respond

Image via Skydancing.
Erick Erickson writes:
I must offer up my sincerest apologies to the kid killing caucus that took it on the chin or other body parts in Texas last night.
After days on end of abortion supporters in Texas holding up coat hangers and then, yesterday, throwing feces, urine, and tampons in defense of killing kids, I tweeted out a link to a coat hanger wholesale store.
The kid killers were offended.
Now, I expected them to be offended because I was mocking their hyperbole. But they actually seem to think I was seriously suggesting some policy for the GOP.
Dear Erick,

You really are a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy when it comes to spelling your name, aren't you? How about "Ericqk"? Just to be sure.

Coat hangers are the GOP policy. Like Mafia rum-running was President Harding's. Dr. Gosnell's late-term abortion abattoir existed because Pennsylvania banned abortion after 20 weeks, as a direct and inevitable consequence. It is so weird how you guys are always saying "If guns are outlawed only outlaws" etc. (not that anybody for gun control has ever suggested outlawing guns, speaking of hyperbole, though I do think it is time to repeal the Second Amendment), but cannot grasp this simple fact. I think you do grasp it. I think you want to see women murdered with coat hangers because they had some pleasure of which you disapproved. But don't say I don't have a sense of humor about it. It's just a little dark.

And also speaking of hyperbole, kid killers? Gosh, Erick, you need to lighten up a little. To us cultural relativists, that thing is not a kid—it's a fibroid tumor with fingernails.
Image by Awomynous (breeder with sense of humor, probably pro-choice).
Ericqk, last Thursday:
When I talk about my faith and my views on gay marriage or abortion, liberals are convinced I must be lying when I say I have gay friends and pro-abortion friends and we get along just fine and they are wonderful people. Surely I must think they are going to hell and how could those people be friends with me. Folks, I think we’re all going to hell, but by the grace of God.
His pro-abortion friends are such wonderful people that they don't object when he calls them "kid killers". 

Truth can be painful, or make you spit out your coffee and get the keyboard dirty.

More of these at Top Conservative Cat's facebook page. Hey Newty, it's been a long time!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The House is Humpin: Contrafactum

Image from Queens Jazz Trail Map.

They have a new expression in Austin's hallowed halls
That tells you when the Legislature's showin off its balls
To say the House is humpin makes it eminently clear
That folks are gettin screwed because the Members are in gear

Here it comes...
The House is humpin
It's really humpin
Come on boys
And make some noise
I swear this House is humpin 
The Speaker's pumpin
He's really sumpin
Texas Lege
Has crossed the edge
In fact this House is humpin 
Check your tampons at the door
If you're somebody's daughter
You'll soon be bleedin on the floor
And joinin in the slaughter 
The House has rabies
They're savin babies
Vag'nal probes
From hydrophobes
You know this House is humpin
To the tune, of course, of

Thanx to MsEntropy for the "Check your tampons" line that got me going.

Every poor soul who has found himself in a 3rd world country gene pool

Shorter David Brooks, "Pass the Bill", New York Times, July 12, 2013:
"I don't always support Democrat legislation, but when I do, there's usually something in it for people who employ gardeners."
Image from Culture Lust. There's a video there, too.
One of Brooks's commenters, from New Jersey, writes:
"Tragedy for the country" How is not allowing indiscriminately every poor soul who has found himself in a 3rd world country gene pool to come to the US a tragedy? The tragedy is seeing that people liek the author just have no concept of "country". If all the world is invited to repopulate America, there would only be one huge flea market here with 30 languages and an indefinable character. A Moroccan bazaar. The left has a problem with just saying "No". That's the only tragedy.
Again, an embarrassment: I too think House Republicans should vote for the Senate immigration bill, though I, too, think there are a lot of things wrong with it. What I mainly think is wrong is not what Brooks thinks is wrong, of course. I'm sure the secure-the-border provisions are a waste of money, in that the border is already as secure as it's ever going to be, but then you could think of it as a kind of stimulus (no doubt Iowa, Kentucky, and Tennessee and other states of dubious border status will pick up some of the funding). I assume the expanded guest worker provisions for low-skill and agricultural workers are for employers to avoid paying minimum wage, as they always are. They won't be allowed into Obamacare, in any case. But it's like the Affordable Care Act: passing it would improve a great many people's lives, whatever gene pool they've been swimming in, immediately, in a way there's no other prospect of doing; and once it's there, it can always be made better.

Cheap shots and resting-face issues

Hanging out at #OKCupid:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ramadan karim!

And selamat puasa!

In Singapore and Malaysia, the older Muslim kids are being ostentatiously heroic, rolling their eyes and suggesting they might faint, while their mothers beg them to eat something: "You're too young!" In offices and and factories and at outdoor worksites, all the Muslims, from cabinet ministers to daily-rated workers, are crabby—not nasty—or dopey and slow, in the awful humidity. At nightfall, everything is magically transformed as the feasting begins.

If David Brooks had any intellectual honesty, Islam would be his favorite religion, for the simple but rigorous demands made on the faithful and the social cohesion it provides. I admire it too, though I'm only a tourist in religion, congenitally faithless, and aesthetically I prefer a chewier theology. Ramadan, though, is just beautiful, comical and sweet. Human at its humanest.
Strasbourg mosque. Image from Euronews (but I can't pin down a proper credit).

Guantánamo by the Bay

Bagram. Photo by Tribune Express, Pakistan.
NPR did a story on the California prison hunger strike and the conditions in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison; they never mentioned Guantánamo, or detention in the former GWOT (now Overseas Contingency Operations (or OscOPs as I like to call them) in general, but they didn't need to; the parallels are pretty eerie.

The prisoners are held in the SHU, many of them, for specious reasons; for trivial breaches of discipline, or because they are profiled in, or because they were reported by another prisoner who gains an advantage from reporting them. Conditions amount to torture, and there's no hope of getting out.

The SHU is for holding "the worst of the worst"—ever heard that expression before? But
the California Code of Regulations, Title 15, Section 3315, outlines two dozen “Serious Rule Violations” that can result in placement in the SHU. These include “Possession of five dollars or more without authorization,” “Tattooing or possession of tattoo paraphernalia,” “Participation in a strike or work stoppage,” and “Self mutilation or attempted suicide for the purpose of manipulation.” Approximately 50 percent of California SHU inmates may have committed no offense at all; instead, they are held in solitary due to the gang “validation” process, in which inmates deemed to be active gang members are sent to six-year terms in the SHU. Gang validation can take place based in large part on anonymous accusations. Commonly, these anonymous charges come from validated inmates in the SHU, for whom the only hope for early release has been summarized as “Parole, Snitch, or Die.” Prisoners have also earned points toward gang validation simply by possessing the book The Art of War or making reference to prison activist George Jackson.
Remember how they condemned the suicides at Guantánamo as acts of "asymmetrical warfare"? Those cowardly detainees taking advantage of the jailers' tender feelings and purposely making them feel sad?

And then Governor Jerry Brown, assuming the position of Mohamed Karzai, tried telling the federal government to go away and stop interfering because
"We've gone from serious constitutional problems to one of the finest prison systems in the United States," Brown said at a news conference, where he announced that he had signed a proclamation declaring an end to a state of emergency in state prisons.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Updated 7/14/2013
Remember, the snark is only a sideshow. This is what it's really about. Whether there's to be a privately enforceable death penalty for walking while black.
This is an amazing pseudoscandal that has been blowing like the scirocco all day, beginning I guess with a report from Judicial Watch, a wingnut welfare dispensary (to be fair, they have targeted a number of genuinely corrupt Republicans) funded by Richard Mellon [jump]

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Jared Bernstein took up the idea of reporting on the sequester as an ongoing slow-moving disaster; apparently on Tuesdays, I haven't noticed it before, but he's already up to installment 12. It's just links, 27 in this round, to stories of the impact of the loss of funds:

The 5% cut to the US Forest Service's $2-billion firefighting budget.
The reductions come as officials brace for a wildfire season they say might rival last year’s, when about 9.3 million acres burned, one of the largest totals on record. The West in particular faces tinderbox conditions, which, combined with high winds, proved deadly last weekend when a wildfire killed 19 members of a firefighting crew outside Yarnell, Ariz.
“This reduces our capability and significantly constrains our work in fire response” and restoring land after fires, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month about the cuts. (Salon)
Black Forest fire, Colorado Springs, June 13. Photo by Jerilee Bennett/MCT for Los Angeles Times.
 The 5% cut to $5 million for the facilities at Assateague Island, Maryland, with the famous wild horses, visited by 2 million people per year.
Here, that impact is to our visitor entrance station, that first line of contact to our visitors. It’s to our water quality monitoring program,” says Justin Unger, acting park superintendent. 
Park officials maintain the water is safe for recreational activity, but if the budget cuts continue in the next year there could be other cuts. The park has nearly 100 seasonal and full time workers, but there is now a hiring freeze and staff reductions could be in the future. (WJLA TV, Washington)
Image from Dog Breed Info Center (no, I don't know).
The loss of 4 million meals for seniors, 2.1 million people who will be denied needed food internationally, 1.17 million farmers and small businesspeople who will miss out on antipoverty support, and more.
Meals on Wheels recipient, home delivery program, La Crosse County, Wis.: “These meals are sometimes the only meal that I have a day. I don’t drive, so I have to rely on others to get around to doctors’ appointments. I only get $16 a month for food (Moyers & Co.)
Of course on the other hand it's reducing the deficit. That's just what we need, huh, Sparky?

Fair and balanced

I really don't have any objection to David Brooks's column today, a book report (he called it that himself) on the philosopher Charles Taylor's A Secular Age (2007). Except to note that you can get a lot more out of the Wikipedia article, which is a lot longer, better informed about the philosophical and historical issues, and written with beautiful lucidity. (Typically, the article is under attack by the encyclopedia's army of fussbudgets, who claim that it's inadequately sourced. The author seems to have relied more on reading the book than reading about it—that's overuse of "references to primary sources". Democracy haters who still believe Wikipedia must be badly made, if they still exist, have no idea of the pedantry that pervades it.)

Amazon wants almost forty bucks to put the book on Kindle! I'll have to wait for the movie to come out.
Piety in the Renaissance home. Unsourced image from swinish University of Cambridge; Wikipedia would never allow this to go unidentified.
Update: Driftglass proposes what might be called an Autoshorter (i.e., when the author of the shortened text writes his or her own):
I’m vastly oversimplifying a rich, complex book

First casualty

The Egyptian army accuses the Muslim Brothers who were massacred yesterday morning outside the facility where Mohammad Morsi is being detained of being "terrorists". In so doing, they are really putting themselves in the position of President Assad, or President Putin, and it's pretty disappointing. The MB may be lousy at government, but they are not terrorists.

If the Brothers in turn are telling lies to portray the army as baby-killers that is pretty reprehensible too.
But it seems we only have the army's word for it. Ugh.
Allegory of Truth, by Stefano Mulinari, 1774. Identified by the website,  Courtauld Institute, as "after Michelangelo" but I really can't see it and can't find any explanatory information.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Roomful of hails

Kathryn Jean Lopez has a fetching new picture with her NRO byline, and some outstanding prose:
I made the mistake of walking away from my computer after hitting “play.” All of a sudden, the room was filled with hails to . . . Satan.
I saw that video without walking away, and I can tell you that the hails did not fill the room. They could hardly even be guessed at except for the woman at the very end who said it distinctly into the camera. I'm not saying the filmers were lying, but Kathryn Jean is not exactly being truthful about her own experience.
Given that [Texas State Senator Wendy] Davis has become effectively a heroine of our slouch — if not plunge — toward a culture comfortable with infanticide denial, the scene was fitting, however, I pray, jarring.
She doesn't want to exaggerate by calling it a "plunge" so it's a "slouch". (The less than energetic diver slouched into the water; the stock market slouched on slightly unpleasant news.) The concept of a "culture comfortable with infanticide denial" seems odd—why [jump]
Titian's Danae, impregnated by Zeus in the guise of a shower of gold. Via SenseShaper.

Up your nose

I get tubes stuck up my nose pretty often, mostly for photography, occasionally to burn off some obnoxious tissue, always with anesthetic. I still hate it, but that's OK, I know why it's happening, and it's with my consent. A couple of times during hospital treatment they tried to give me a feeding tube (preceded by a fairly stiff guide wire, and quite a bit thicker than the laser thing) without anesthetic (I'm sure they had a better reason than the Guantánamo doctors), and like Yasiin I cried. I can't imagine how a human being could do that to another human being against the latter's will, day after day. (My doctors gave me a stomach tube instead, under sedation.)

President Obama has said,
 “Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are — being held on a hunger strike,” he said in May. “Is that who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children?”
 I guess that's your call, Mr. P. Let us know when you figure it out.
New York Telegraph Sunday Magazine, September 30 1917, clipped by Djuna Barnes. Via  Mutant Eggplant.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Distinguished col of the week

Jennifer Rubin. No, a different one, in Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987).
The front-runners for worst columnist in a national newspaper are pretty well-known by now. Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, the Mystax Doctissimus, is busy explaining Egypt to the Egyptians. Ross Douthat, the Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, laments that both parties are too progressive on health care in the US—i.e., both want to destroy it and kill us all. David Brooks, as observed, has fallen into deep Charles Murray Land, with its mutt mobs and lack of mental equipment. Margaret Noonan lurks, of course, on the other side of a paywall I have sworn not to cross.

A dark horse at the Washington Post, however, Jennifer Rubin, is looking very strong, nominating Wisconsin governor Scott Walker as "distinguished pol of the [jump]


Some have moved to Outer Derpistan, a land of utter intellectual barbarism; here we have Erick Erickson declaring never mind the facts, he has feelings, and Niall Ferguson declaring that we really do have inflation, but the feds are spiriting it away in their black helicopters and burying it in Area 51.
Needless to say, read the whole thing.
Henry Holiday, illustration for The Hunting of the Snark. Wikpedia.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mental equipment in Egypt

Image via Rocco Marc McDonald.

Via Twitter account of the great Lyse Doucet:

I think we should stop worrying about Egypt right now.

Looks premeditated to me

Image by LASTOChkin at DeviantArt. Don't know if the styling of the nym should be called capital (majuscule) PUNishment because I don't see the pun.
[Missouri Attorney General] Koster dismissed concerns over the cruelty of reviving the gas chamber in an exchange with The Associated Press, saying, “The premeditated murder of an innocent Missourian is cruel and unusual punishment. The lawful implementation of the death penalty, following a fair and reasoned jury trial, is not.” (via ThinkProgress)
Because no innocent person could ever be executed in Missouri. Except once in a while. Like if they miss a deadline, which shows bad moral character.

And is the gas chamber crueler than Dr. Doerhoff?
The doctor testified anonymously that he is dyslexic. That he sometimes confused names of drugs. That he sometimes gave inconsistent testimony. That the injection protocol was not written down, and that he made changes on his “independent authority.”

And that turns out not to be all. The Post-Dispatch has confirmed the man behind the screen was Dr. Alan R. Doerhoff, 62, of Jefferson City. Two Missouri hospitals won’t allow him to practice within their walls. He has been sued for malpractice more than 20 times, by his own estimate, and was publicly reprimanded in 2003 by the state Board of Healing Arts for failing to disclose malpractice suits to a hospital where he was treating patients. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Lethal Injection)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Brooks: Mental equipment

David Brooks writes:
The debate on Egypt—I mean the debate in Washington, obviously, not anything they're talking about in Egypt, which could hardly be of an intellectual heft to interest my readers—is essentially between two different worldviews: those who believe in constitutional government and those who hate Muslims.
Constitutionalists say the main thing is that there is a constitution and that there has been an election* and that the government has the support of the people, as has been confirmed over and over.** Democratic institutions and the rule of law are tender plants that need loving care, indirect sunlight. Give them too much coup*** and they could drown.
*Although in point of fact the election (May 2012 for Parliament, June for the presidency) wasn't under the constitution (the following December).
**A poll last March found 82% in favor of the return of the military to power!
*** [sic]. Brooks seems to have decided that coup is a mass noun: "those who would destroy them through armed coup".
"O my brother! How are the poll numbers?"

Great Spirit

I've long been skeptical of Johnny Depp's acting method and its dependence on hair, but I think I'm going to like The Lone Ranger, if objections to the film from the Christianist community have any foundation:
In an interview with The Christian Post, Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Coalition and Editor-in-Chief of Movieguide, attacked the film's "strong mixed pagan, revisionist, politically correct worldview."
"The government is bad – the army is killing Indians – the bad guy is a businessman, the military-industrial complex is bad," he explained, finishing the list with a notable exception – "the Christians are not always bad."
Nevertheless, "the pagan elements triumph because you're looking at it from Tanto's point of view." He used "pagan" as a generic term for non-Christian, unidentified spirituality. "It's not Buddhism, it's not Hinduism, it's a mishmash." (Christian Post, via Raw Story)
That's so typically liberal, focusing on the government killing Indians and not saying a word about the tax breaks Indians got. But Dr. Baehr is a little P.C. himself, changing our noble friend's name from the offensive Tonto (Spanish for "fool") to the mystifying Tanto ("so much" in Italian?).