Wednesday, October 29, 2008





Tuesday, October 21, 2008


To the person who googled "Kramnik sucks":

He sure does.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Suggestion

Media: go to hell.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Until this, I was on Christopher Buckley's side.

Let me explain what happened. Christopher Buckley, son of the late William F. Buckley, Jr., announced he's voting for Obama. Because Buckley wrote a column for National Review, of the most anti-Obama publications in existence right now, this was bound to make things awkward. He tried to explain himself in an article for some website I've barely heard of. I wasn't convinced by it, but he also made some comments in a video interview that at least made the case for Obama, or, more accurately, the case for Christopher Buckley's support of Obama. I didn't think less of him, for two reasons. First, he didn't seem like he was voting for Obama for a stupid reason. Second, he can damn well vote for whomever he wants to vote for. I disagreed with him but I thought his opinion had a good enough foundation to escape criticism.

Then, well, all this. Rich Lowry seems to think Christopher is blowing the conservative response to his support for Obama out of proportion. In fact, while Christopher's sort his own sense of humor, I think his remarks in this latest comment are just grossly unfair. Take this:
In fact, the only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot.
"The Right" isn't a group of disgruntled e-mailers making death threats. I mean, there are sensible people among the Right, like, you know, the editors of National Review. If you're going to label political movements by the tone of e-mails you get from the more sociopathic, well, Right and Left should both probably be institutionalized (quiet, Freiheit). I thought this comment went beyond exaggeration.
One editor at National Review—a friend of 30 years—emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.”
Have you seen the fights John Derbyshire gets into? How about Andy McCarthy and Jonathan Adler's public snark-filled feud just two days ago? Newsflash - the editors of National Review disagree with each other, sometimes fundamentally. John Derbyshire's still writing regularly for it even though he's bashed religion and religious people mercilessly in The Corner.

Further distortions:
Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.
I'm not sure how much of a problem NR really had. Remember John Derbyshire? How does he still write for a magazine founded by a Catholic and steeped in conservative Catholic ideology? Somehow, he manages to do it, Christopher! People tolerated a lot of disagreeable things from WFB's pen because his columns were so well reasoned that, despite their refusal to toe the party line, they made the reader think. I felt exactly that way about Christopher Buckley many times. I approached his endorsement of Obama in the same light. But then he tried to paint his (voluntary!) exit from NR as a retreat from an oppressive, vociferous group of fanatics burning the house (NR) to roast the pig (Buckley the Younger). This seems to be the result of an overreaction on his part.
So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me.
Again, besides the distasteful hyperbole, this is disingenuous. I've heard nothing to suggest that Buckley did anything but quit.
But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.
Another low-blow.
Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance.
The contradiction exists only if you think George W. Bush is a conservative. But he's not. He ran as a moderate and he has governed as a moderate. That's the problem. And if you're so damned concerned about entitlement programs, how the hell does voting for Obama make sense? No, as intelligent as Buckley surely is, this is just stupid. Even, frankly, cretinous. "The past eight years have seen too much corruption and a staggering increase in the federal bureaucracy - let's elect a shady Chicago-machine Democrat with the most liberal voting record of any U.S. senator. That logic doesn't hold in any possible world.

Add to this that Buckley's argument was basically "Obama can write well so he must be awesome; additionally, no one could be stupid enough to actually believe the Marxism Obama purports to believe so we're safe" and I'm disappointed. If you're fed up with Bush and don't like McCain, you can rest there. Believing that you have to go whole-hog for the other candidate is silly.

Whatever. It's none of my business. Still, this election is a depressing microcosm of the death of the West. Goodbye, logic! Goodbye, freedom! Goodbye, prosperity! Marx, despite having been refuted in blood last century, is somehow not dead yet. And he's winning.

And we're ok with this - we're cheering it on.

We're toast.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Holmes on Film

I just saw Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes for the first time. It wasn't a Conan Doyle Holmes story, but an original wartime fool-the-Nazis thriller - Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. It was sort of neat, but very corny. Nigel Bruce must be responsible for people's thinking Watson was a buffoon.

I still prefer Jeremy Brett, but Rathbone's Holmes was the one good part about the movie.

Should I bother watching more Rathbone Holmes?

Thursday, October 09, 2008


The Wawa Cuban flatbread sandwich.

Eat it.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pandering - the New Hotness

So, for some reason, ESPN has this segment during Sportscenter called "ESPN Deportes". During this segment, some heavily-accented woman will talk about worthless sports like boxing, soccer, and baseball, mixing English words with Spanish names. That's fact one.

An episode of The Office last night (rerun of course) had Michael Scott suggesting that Oscar, a Hispanic employee, not join the basketball game because he'd call on his skills in the event of a boxing match or baseball game. That's fact two.

Put them together and what do you get? ESPN thinks that what Hispanic viewers really want to see is news about boxing and baseball, because, well, you know. That's what those people like. No word on whether cockfighting, day laboring, or rum mixology will be covered in the future.

Another thought - to whom does a heavily-accented Hispanic woman struggling to pronounce English words appeal? If I wanted to hear news in Spanish, I would. It's not like it's Ainu, right? I think I could manage to find some Spanish language sports news somewhere in this country. If I wanted to hear news in English (and I happen to prefer it, because my German has deteriorated so as to be worthless), I'd like to hear it from someone who can speak it. Now, if I were a Hispanic man and happened to prefer hearing my news in English from pretty Hispanic ladies, well, I'd expect someone to find a Hispanic woman who can enunciate in English. Even if she's gotta switch between languages for some reason, surely there are bilingual people out there who can read copy comprehensibly, right?

But no, what ESPN thinks Hispanic people want is broken English and boxing.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The New Laissez-Faire

You may have heard that this economic crisis (or meltdown, or whatever cliche it's being called) is the result of "cowboy capitalism" or "laissez-faire run amok" or "Anglo-Saxon economic liberty" (which makes no sense, right? But I did that yesterday). Well, I thought I would refute that with the magic of photography.


Here's a book I have to carry three days a week. You'll notice it's not called Greed is Good: Why We Aren't Regulating Securities At All, which is the first sign that perhaps capitalism in this country isn't exactly unrestrained. Still, how much could there be in this book?


Whoa, words! Lots of words. I thought maybe the title was a blind and the book was empty, maybe hollowed-out for a flask. But no, actual regulations relating to the issue and sale of securities in this country. Huh.


Look at that! The book that has "selected statutes, rules, and forms" relating to one part of the regulatory regime of the United States is almost a thousand pages long. Sounds like a strange unregulated world, when the regulations are so long.


Thicker than a finger.

Ball's in your court, Marx.

Monday, October 06, 2008


I've heard a lot of people saying "Anglo-Saxon" when they mean "Anglo-American." At least, I think I'm not insane, and that "Anglo-American" is really the way to say it. Otherwise, why not just say "Anglo" and avoid the extra work? Especially when speaking of a certain school of political theory, I'm pretty sure you want to be referring to the two most important exhibitors of that kind of political thought, and not refer to the ethnicity of the inhabitants of the British Isles.

Nick, you know about these things; I'm almost sure I'm right. Let me know.

In other news, I'm pretty much sleeping every other day, my insomnia is that bad.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Spot the Looney

Oddly Enough: Still nonsensical.

Again, I must just be slow, because I see nothing odd about the news article. If I somehow forgot what judicial review was, then maybe it would seem odd, but surely Reuters gets what that is, right?

I did enjoy reading the article because it showed me that Switzerland isn't a paradise of freedom as I had vaguely thought. The demonization of tobacco is always more important than silly things like freedom, even in supposedly robustly libertarian places.

Between this and Obama's truth squads, it looks like there's no place in the world left where basic human rights are respected! Hooray! We're all fascists now.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Petition to Save Face - Denied

The Supreme Court has decided.
The petition for rehearing is denied.
The "we're still right" position will be effected simply by modifying the deficient original opinions (Opinion of the Court and dissenting opinion) very slightly to note that, indeed, there is a law that demolishes the foundation of the majority's holding, but no one cares.

The "it doesn't matter" position is briefly described in the opinion respecting the denial of rehearing, and as it's not long, you might as well read it. The rationale seems to follows two main threads: first, what Congress did was essentially the maintenance of inertia. Congress did not specifically authorize the death penalty for child rape, but maintained the status quo ante, and no actions of the legislative or executive branches demonstrate a new affirmation of the desirability of execution as a punishment for child rape. The second position is that the Eighth Amendment's bar on cruel and unusual punishment may have different applications in the civilian and military contexts, and thus there is no contradiction in striking down the death penalty for child rape among civilian defendants while allowing it in the case of military defendants.

Justice Scalia (joined by Chief Justice Roberts), while having voted to deny the petition for rehearing, nevertheless wrote separately about his view of the case. The two dissented in the original case, of course, but Justice Scalia colorfully expresses why he voted to deny the rehearing anyway:
I am voting against the petition for rehearing because the views of the American people on the death penalty for child rape were, to tell the truth, irrelevant to the majority’s decision in this case.
In other words, why waste the time? The result was set even before the original briefs and oral argument; why conduct the farce again?

Justice Scalia takes down the majority pretty well. First, he doubts Justice Kennedy's assertion that the new authorization was merely the maintenance of inertia and claims some facts in support of his view that there were active, conscious moves in favor of establishing child rape as an independent capital offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Second, of course, is the devastating critique of the Eighth Amendment dualism Justice Kennedy's position creates. Cruel and unusual punishment, if cruel and unusual, ought not to be acceptable when exacted against members of the military; or is that precisely what Justice Kennedy meant? Perhaps not, and perhaps he disclaimed that in his opinion respecting the denial, but the problem is that that denial was an implicit embrace of such dualism. The issue whether the Eighth Amendment is different for members of the military surely is one which ought to be briefed and argued extensively before the Court comes to a decision on it; when the Court comes to such a decision, saying "But we really don't mean to decide the issue" won't fly.

Ultimately, the Court blew it and this tidying up created a mess of its own. Members of the military - you must be worried, huh?

There was one thing that jumped out at me about the two opinions. The "inertia" element, as I've been calling it, really cuts both ways. Congress and the President may merely have been unconsciously keeping the death penalty authorized for child rape because that's the way it had always been, and no one thought much about it, so that, absent someone's actually paying close attention, the authorization would continue. But then, the Supreme Court, only a few decades ago, imposed a moratorium on the death penalty when it determined that systemic problems in the administration of capital cases made the death penalty defective across the board. Further, the Court also determined that the death penalty was excessive (and thus violative of the Eighth Amendment) when applied to the rape of an adult woman. Eventually the Court allowed states to impose the death penalty in homicide cases again, but by that time, two things had happened. First, states had drafted new statutes to determine the appropriate punishment for serious homicide in the interregnum that existed when the death penalty was not permitted. Second, states had altered their rape laws to conform to Supreme Court standards, and if they repealed the death penalty for child rape, it could be understood as a prediction that the Court would strike down such laws under the same logic that caused it to strike down the death penalty for adult rape. Thus, by the time the Court got around to permitting states to impose the death penalty again, the status quo was one shaped by recent Supreme Court precedent. Many states, fearing their criminal justice systems would not pass constitutional muster, had changed them to preclude capital punishment. At that point, imposing the death penalty again would have taken actively passing legislation to alter the law.

Thus, if few states had the death penalty for child rape, no wonder. It might have been because citizens of those states rejected such a harsh punishment; it might, however, have been the case because the Supreme Court artificially imposed a contrary system, and other legislative business had prevented the reimposition of harsh punishments after the Supreme Court's interference stopped. As I said before, the inertia argument cuts both ways. The Supreme Court earlier imposed a regime, the inertial effects of which are still with us in the form of a system where few states view child rape as a capital crime.

So, the national consensus against it is...a consensus created by the Court. The Court can make you do something, then claim your forced action as evidence of your agreement with the Court's view!

There's a lot to talk about here, and changing a footnote here and a sentence there in a bad opinion won't paper over the problem.

Bad form.


Still leftist. Things haven't changed, people.

Try to remember these things, there will be a test.