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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

New Year's Eve Musings.

I hope they get a bead on the 19 terror suspects, pronto. It could just be me, but this has the feel of a story that the government did not want to get out.

One of these years, Dick Clark is going to drop the pretense of being alive, guzzle a two-liter of type-O negative on New Year's Rockin' Eve, and scream "The Reign of the Warm Bloods has ended! Now, you are cattle for the nosferatu! Prepare to live your what remains of your futile lives Under The Fang!" He will then transform into a bat and flap away into the night as the ball drops.

Finally, for those of you who have commented, linked to, written to, or merely read this site: Have a Happy New Year!
Now, Don't Go Around Confusing Beaker With The Facts.

(Link via Kausfiles.)

An interesting story about the Bush Administration's tough new diesel emission rules, more stringent than those in Europe.

"The proposed rules -- to be formally announced next spring -- would slash off-road diesel emissions by as much as 95 percent and bring them in line with newly adopted standards for heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses that traverse the nation's highways. Off-road diesel engines have been held to a much weaker standard than on-road vehicles since 1977. After power plants, off-road diesel engines are among the largest sources of pollutants that scientists have linked to premature deaths, lung cancer, asthma and other serious upper respiratory illnesses, according to the EPA.

* * *

[T]he administration has consistently and aggressively advocated tougher diesel emission standards -- well beyond those imposed in Europe. It has also rejected previous pleas of industry and lawmakers for more lenient regulations.

* * *

'We're supportive [of new rules] and we recognize we can't sell diesel fuel if it's perceived as dirty and contributing to pollution,' said Ed Murphy, a senior official at the American Petroleum Institute. 'But we have done studies showing it could reduce the supply of diesel to the markets. The economics make it difficult for refiners to justify the investments you have to make.'"

>>Ah, yes: once again, we have irrefutable proof that the FratBoy President is totally beholden to Big Oil. Yet another example of his "appalling environmental record," right, Beaker? Nevertheless, I'm sure this will be chalked up as a deceptive manuever by those who cite Earth In The Balance as Holy Writ.

After all, it certainly doesn't fit the behavioral template of the man the Left fantasizes about. You know: the guy who takes secret trips around the country in Air Force One to burn styrofoam, throttle spotted owls, spray freon on the elderly and pour dioxin into elementary school air vents.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Ho-hum: Britain's Independent Serves Up a Predictable Hero-Villain List.

Take a gander at the two part article allowing Britain's "thinking" class to offer nominations for 2002's Hero/Villain of the Year. It's in alphabetical order, and is mostly suitable for wrapping fish and/or lining a cat box. Keep the Maalox handy.

1. George Bush gets multiple "Villain" nods. For example, noted Darwinian and irritable chihuahua Richard Dawkins uses the opportunity to present yet another example of his cryonic stupidity:

"Villain: George Bush
This illiterate buffoon cheated his way into the White House with the help of his well-connected family and friends. Having dismally failed to anticipate or prevent the atrocity of September 11, he spent the rest of the day zigzagging around the country like a jet-propelled chicken. His personal cowardice was mirrored in the country at large, and he fanned it to his advantage in the mid-term elections, and now, to foment an unprovoked war that has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with oil. His record on the environment is as appalling as you would expect. Bush is rightly despised throughout the world, and it is humiliating that Britain is seen as his only ally. "
----------------------
>>There's no point in fisking this stool sample at any length. I'll simply offer up the following two observations: (1) Dr. Dick ought to stick to spreading the Gospel According to Charles, where he is on somewhat firmer quicksand, and (2) his rant is heartening in that it demonstrates that two years after W's election, his foes continue to make the boggling mistake of regarding him as a corrupt, brain-damaged tool. The increasingly vapid recycled insults say more about his critics than they do about Bush. I used to worry that the Left would wise up and start beating him at his own game. Fortunately, the evidence is becoming clear that they will underestimate him for the remaining six years of his presidency.>>

2. Speaking of fiskings and stool samples, the Independent's own Robert "Thank You Sir! May I Have Another?" Fisk also gets a couple of nominations for "Hero." This includes one from Beaker Dawkins, who simpers: "He is not afraid to tell the truth, however unpleasant. His serious sincerity redeems the profession of journalist from the dishonour inflicted by the tabloids."

Ditto the obsequy from somebody named Andy Kershaw: "I've nominated him for the clarity and bravery of his reporting, in contrast to most other journalism about the Israel-Palestine conflict, which can be characterised by its cowardice, its clich├ęs, its laziness and its mendacity."

>>One question: When did parroting the views of Saudi mullahs on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (minus the "apes and pigs" references) become laudable for its "clarity," "bravery," and "serious sincerity"?>>

3. Dr. Rowan Williams, the C of E's head Archbishop, also received a few nods from the Independent's glitterati, including this unintentionally telling comment by Terence Blacker:

"Hero: the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams
On the evidence of his first few weeks as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will be a very considerable national figure, and a thorn in the flesh of spin-happy, market-crazed New Labour. At last, a churchman with a forensic brain and a fierce moral sense."

>>I'll just say that I couldn't agree more, since a "forensic brain" is indispensible when your church is headed to the morgue.>>

4. Miscellaneous. Have fun looking for the dwarven figure who hopes Dick Cheney will have a heart attack, and also for the rare hero nominations of Bush and Iranian dissident Hashem Aghajari. Also, search for the references to Hussein, bin Laden, the Taliban, the repressive Saudis, Al Qaeda and one of Britain's hardline Muslim fundamentalists in the "Villain" category. Helpful hint: you'll find exactly one reference to one of the above.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The Lesser-Known Explanations, Apologies, and Announcements of Trent Lott.

"I would like this opportunity to clarify a few things.

First, when I said that 'Nathan Bedford Forrest was the greatest man of the last millenium,' I was, of course, referring to (1) his record as a businessman and (2) his horseback riding skills. Or "skeeeeels," as my friend Maxine Waters reliably informs me.

Second, when I said that 'the South has arisen at last, and now is the hour of secession,' I simply meant that all Americans should 'secede' from the notions of high taxes and dependence on government to solve problems.

Third, when I said 'Three cheers for Jim Crow!', I was referring to James Ironcrow, the best darn blackjack dealer at the Silver Star Resort and Casino, over at the Choctaw reservation in Neshoba County.

I apologize if the above was unclear or offensive to anyone.

Finally, I am happy to announce that I will be singing a duet with Nelly on the next 'Singing Senators' album.

Nothing but love for you,

Trent Lott"

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Why Ben Affleck is destined to be known as Jennifer Lopez' third husband.

As in past tense.

Matt Labash's Weekly Standard article is painfully funny. Here's the ridiculous amenities demand memo he refers to.

Just think: in fifteen years, she'll be in the lower righthand corner on the Hollywood Squares, wondering how it all went wrong.
All Van Impe--All The Time!

Actually, I have a sneaking admiration for my fellow Michigander. There's something about his happy excitement as he sets forth The Signs Of The End that is infectious. I don't buy into his theology--not even close--but he's interesting to watch.

I'm not the only one who thinks so, either. In 1998, he and wife Rexella were jointly given the title of "Coolest Doomsayer" in a year-end "Best of" issue of the sadly-departed Orbit magazine.

For a classic take on JVI's analysis of the news, take a look at Rod Dreher's review of the first (!) Left Behind film.
Right now, somewhere in Royal Oak...

Jack Van Impe is so excited only dogs can hear him.

Monday, December 16, 2002

This Anglican's not so goofy.

To say that the Anglican communion has enormous problems is a little like describing the Hiroshima bomb as a noisemaker: True as far as it goes, but it doesn't go anywhere near far enough. But, for the life of me, I don't see the "risibility" of Anglican Bishop Keith Sutton's comments on the Nativity. There's nothing here I object to, except for the ambiguity of the following statement:

"The Wise Men 'were on a mission from Herod to discover the whereabouts of the baby Jesus so that he could be killed.'"

Now, that was in fact Herod's plan. The ambiguity is that the Bishop's phrasing allows for one to understand the Magi as willing accomplices, which they were not. In fact, they refused to return to Herod to inform him about Christ:

"16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 'A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.'"

Matthew 2:16-18. Read all of Matthew 2 here.

Given the orthodoxy of the rest of the comments, I'm inclined to chalk it up to a garbling by Britain's resolutely secular press. He appears to do something unusual amongst modern churchmen of many denominations, including mine: he takes the Gospel accounts at face value. No denying of the Slaughter of the Innocents here.

Give the guy a break. He's a British bishop who believes in the physical resurrection of Christ. In the three-ring circus of Anglicanism, that makes him a hidebound relic.
I wonder if this might have something to do with Senator Nickles' comments yesterday?

He's Catholic.

After all, we've seen how imperative it is to replace morally-compromised leadership in recent days.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Trent Lott: The Pattern.

It's said (rightly) that you can't read what's in someone's heart. But you sure can judge his actions.

Battling to keep his national fraternity all-white.

The legislative record:

1. Introducing a bill to end busing;
2. Voting against the extension (continuation) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on at least two different occasions;
3. Supporting the tax-exempt status of the racist and Catholic-bashing haven of BJU;
4. Opposing the symbolic gesture of a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now, principled non-racial arguments have been made against some of the above, but put it in context. He went above and beyond in the case of BJU, filing an amicus brief on behalf of the school, arguing in part "Racial discrimination does not always violate public policy." He filed the brief in his own name, not on behalf of any organization. A Mississippi Congressman supporting a South Carolina school he did not attend. Interesting.

In 1984, he told the Sons of Confederate Veterans that "the spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the Republican platform."

And what about his relationship with the libelously-titled Council of "Conservative" Citizens' (the renamed White Citizens' Council)? This group's lovely views can be seen here. Lott commended the group's stand against "dark forces", and was photographed with its leadership in 1997. His uncle said Lott was an honorary member.

How about a close friendship with an unrepentant segregationist, Richard Barrett? [Note the bigot's cheap shot against President Bush.]

The composition of his Senatorial staff can be described with two words: Ivory soap.

"In an appearance Wednesday on the talk show of conservative ratio host Sean Hannity, Lott said that he had hired or appointed many African Americans. But his office did not respond to a request for a racial breakdown of his staff. In 1999, when Lott was embroiled in another racial controversy, he had only one African-American worker, a mail clerk, out of a staff of 65."

Finally: maybe the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, in the end.

Leaving aside the fact Harry Truman dropped The Bomb twice, and lavished military support on America's allies in the form of the Marshall Plan in the early days of the Cold War, the above history makes it rather unlikely that support for Thurmond's views on national defense motivated Lott's praise of the Dixiecrat candidacy. Especially considering he said it twice.

In 1998, Lott said he he sometimes felt closer to Jefferson Davis "than any other man in America." Truer words have never been spoken.

Sen. Don Nickles is right--he has to go.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Bush rebukes Lott.

Excellent.

Now just make sure that the radioactive junior Senator from Mississippi doesn't stay on as majority leader.

There's just no telling what he could be willing to do to preserve his "reputation."

If he stays on, it's bye-bye judicial nominees, bye-bye partial birth ban. Hello kow-towing to the party that just lost the midterm elections.

If he won't go, push him out. It's that important.
Bernard Cardinal Law to Offer Resignation Tomorrow.

He will tender it to the Pope on Friday, Fox News reports.

The story also indicates that grand jury subpoenas have been issued to the Cardinal and seven bishops associated with the Boston Archdiocese.

It's just getting started, I think.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Satan has a website.

And a wicked wrist shot, too.

Not to mention he's Slovakian, not Czech. Apologies for a blunder comparable to confusing the Irish with the English.

Still, it's a Dyspeptic Mutterings first: my first link to a site with a Slovak domain name. Who else in St. Blog's has done that?

I didn't think so.
From Logos to Logo.

A very interesting article from The Weekly Standard about evangelical pop culture and its products. Here's a couple of sample quotes:

"Taste, though, is only part of what's disconcerting. There's also the blending of faith in things not seen with things seen, sold, flaunted; ultimate concern embodied in plastic. It's like Evelyn Waugh's anecdote about touring a crucifix factory and hearing a worker boast: 'You can stomp on 'em and they won't break!'

* * *

There's much, in fact, to respect about this new-time religion and the people behind it, including near-pervasive sincerity, pockets of remarkable artistry, and faith that's not confined to Sunday morning. Yet aspects still inspire unease--the seeming commandment to be fruitful and accessorize, the gimme gospel of Jabez, the materialism suffusing material Christianity, the T-shirt drawers where J. Crew lies atop J. Christ (the Word become logo), plus the suspicion that the reigning credo isn't 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life,' but rather 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.'"
-------------------

Read the whole thing.

Monday, December 09, 2002

"A bearded thug, with his eyes all aglow..."

Christmas and Yassir Arafat: they go together like peanut butter and rancid headcheese.

Apparently it's essential to the "Peace Process"™ that a not-particularly-observant secular Muslim, one whose wife and daughter live in Paris, be allowed to attend Midnight Mass in Bethlehem. I see...

Well, fair enough, he can go, with one caveat.

Just as long as next year, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have to celebrate Ramadan with a battalion of Israeli commandos.

UPDATE: As Xavier gently pointed out, Arafat has a daughter, not a son. The blog has since been edited.

And while I'm at the task of pointing out errors, I'd like to note that Xavier is Canadian, not Spanish, as I mistakenly said about three months ago. "Typical American, can't differentiate between 'foreigners...'" He's too nice to say that, so I will.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

What can I say? He's one hell of a hockey player.

"Satan gets hat trick."

Actually, I've always felt a little sorry for the guy: a citizen of the Czech Republic, Satan (pronounced "Shuh-TAN") used to play for the defunct Detroit Vipers in the equally-defunct International Hockey League. It was evident early on that he was going straight to the NHL. He's done well since he got there.

Needless to say, local sportscasters on slow nights were quite thankful for his presence in Day-twah.

I think he got tired of the obvious puns, but a word of advice, if I may: lose the goatee.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

It's easy to find a place to sit in a United Church of Christ outlet on Sunday morning.

Jesus is just all right with abortion, says the chaplain for the culture of death.

The Rev. Mark Bigelow channels for a hypothetical Palestinian social worker named Josh and pumps ether into the souls of pro-choicers everywhere:

"'In your show you [Bill O'Reilly] said that Jesus was not pro-choice and you were sure he would be insulted were he to see this card,' referring to Planned Parenthood's "Choice on Earth" holiday greeting card.

'Even as a minister I am careful what I presume Jesus would do if he were alive today, but one thing I know from the Bible is that Jesus was not against women having a choice in continuing a pregnancy,' he continued.

'Jesus was for peace on earth, justice on earth, compassion on earth, mercy on earth, and choice on earth,' Bigelow added."
----------

Oh, yeah. Odd, but I think I'm missing the addendum to the "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God" passage. The one that apparently says "Feel free to kill them so they can get there faster."

Must be in one of those other manuscripts.

In other news, figures revealed that the UCC lost 15 percent of its members in the last decade. Not that they have a clue as to why, of course.

[Thanks to Relapsed Catholic for the first link.]

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Jesuits, Jesuits, Jesuits.

A mini-furor over at Mark Shea's blog today about the website for the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco, which has handy weblinks and contact information for abortion clinics. Those of you who think this is accidental, or that complaining to USF will do a damn thing to change it, are living in a world much nicer than ours. Fierce criticisms of all things Jesuit, and timely reminders about the examples of good men in the order, can be found in the Comment box. This includes a couple of contributions from yours truly.

For my money, Jesuit priest Fr. Paul Shaughnessy's Weekly Standard article best summarizes the current state of the dwindling order, and its precarious future.
I didn't need to read this.

A short early review of The Two Towers, by normally sensible NRO contributor and Detroit Red Wings fan John Miller.

The problem? I have to wait eighteen more days...

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Opinions in Rhyme: Giving the Litigants Exactly What They Deserve.

In a recent blog to The Corner, Kathryn Lopez reported a story about a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice who wrote an entire opinion in rhyme concerning a dispute over the validity of a prenuptual agreement. She seemed to share the opinion of the Justice's disapproving colleagues, stating "This judge...has issues."

I beg to differ: He showed the case exactly the respect it deserved. From the context, the parties were, to use technical legal jargon, jerks. And, given the facts of the case, they apparently obtained counsel worthy of their respective causes, which were identical: screw the ex. Patrick Keenan, my criminal law professor at UDM, once said that given the choice between representing a murderer or a divorce client, he'd choose the former: on average, the murderer has a more finely-tuned sense of mercy. Having witnessed a divorce case that involved a dispute over nose hair clippers, I'm inclined to agree.

The Perreco case is the kind that drives sensible judges to fits of disgust. It is likely that, by the end, the trial judge was grimly scanning case law looking for authority to order body cavity searches for the both of them.

Done with fiberglass mittens.

It probably didn't get any better on appeal. In any event, rhyming opinions have an established legal pedigree. I'm proud to say Michigan's Court of Appeals contributed an appropriate gem in a claim for auto insurance benefits filed on behalf of a tree. In other words, Justice Eakin stands in a proud tradition, and his colleagues are off-base.

If Justice Eakin is interested, there is authority for a terse, if intemperate, rebuttal. It is found in Footnote 2 of the majority opinion in People v. Arno, 90 Cal.App.3d 505 (1979) (scroll way down):

"“We feel compelled by the nature of the attack in the dissenting opinion to spell out a response:

“1. Some answer is required to the dissent’s charge.
“2. Certainly we do not endorse ‘victimless crime.’
“3. How that question is involved escapes us.
“4. Moreover, the constitutional issue is significant.
“5. Ultimately it must be addressed in light of precedent.
“6. Certainly the course of precedent is clear.
“7. Knowing that, our result is compelled.'”

Look very closely at the footnote. No help?

Spell out the first letters of each sentence. Now what do you think?

Brutal.
The Second World War, the Bomb and Dresden.

Madeleine really, really needs to learn to sleep in on the weekend.

An interesting story from CNN on an August 1944 suggestion by Britain's spymaster that the Allies threaten Germany with the Bomb if the Nazis began V2 missile attacks on Britain. An understandable suggestion, given that, unlike the slow, easily-stopped V1, there was no defense against the supersonic V2. The only way to "stop" the V2 was to take out the launchers. The threat was never made, and rightly so: given the Bomb's state of development, it would have been a bluff, easily called.

The problem with the article is the final paragraph:

"In the event, atomic weapons were not used in World War II until August 1945, at Hiroshima when 200,000 Japanese were killed."

First, the actual death toll, while still appalling, was approximately one-third that claimed by CNN: 70,000, as opposed to 200,000.

The more troubling aspect is the implication that the Allies, being racists, decided not to use the Bomb on fellow "white folks," and saved it for the more hated Japanese: "[A]tomic weapons were not used...until August 1945, at Hiroshima").

Well, duh. The bomb was not even tested until July 16, 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Germany had unconditionally surrendered on May 8, 1945. It could just be me, but I think it could be considered bad form to bomb someone two months after they surrender. Not to mention creating an aggravating environmental hazard for your occupation troops.

More significantly, while it is clear that there was a profound racial hatred for the Japanese that exceeded that toward Nazi Germany, it is equally clear that the Bomb would have been used against the Germans first had the war in Europe lasted longer. Indeed, it cannot be denied that the Allies showed a similar ferocity toward Germans at Dresden. In fact, it could be argued that the unblinking focus on Hiroshima and continued ignorance of Dresden (which contributed nothing to the victory in Europe) is itself a form of racism.