30 December 2006

Falling Down

Although I don't often blog about it, I make it a point to keep abreast of the 9/11 denier community. 9/11 denial has a little bit of everything. It is hilarious, it is sad, it is frustrating and it is infuriating. It reminds me of the limitations of reason and rational argument. It even gives me faith: 9/11 denial has been roundly rejected by Democratic Underground, which can even be the source of excellent rebuttals.

Today, I ran across an especially good example of the complete irrationality and lack of insight that characterize the deniers. The blogger at Humint [sic] Events Online is a no-planer. That means that he knows that no planes were flown into the towers. What he's not sure of is how the towers were brought down. He has narrowed it down to five possibilities:
1. the towers were pre-built with demolitions embedded in them for future re-activation

2. the towers were loaded up internally with essentially conventional explosives

3. the towers were taken out by a few extremely powerful bombs, such as mini-nukes

4. the towers were demolished by some external force, such as a directed energy beam

5. the towers were demolished by a combination of the above
What makes this perfect is his reaction to Saddam's execution:

I'm just saying the conspiracy theories will flourish unless extremely good quality video of the execution is shown.
Because of course conspiracy theories are impossible if an event is captured on live video.

29 December 2006

Worthy Canadian Initiative

Today, we welcome Peter Burnet and his blog Diversely We Sail to our links and to our list of daily reads.

Come Right In

Last Minute Darwin Award Nominee

Hip-Hop Car Stunt Leaves 2 Dead (Garance Burke, AP, 12/29/06)
"Ghost riding the whip" - a stunt in which a driver gets out of his car and dances around and on top of the slowly moving vehicle to a thumping hip-hop beat - has gotten at least two people killed, led to numerous injuries and alarmed police on the West Coast and beyond.
Apparently, the answer to the question, "If the song lyrics told you to jump off a bridge, would you?" is yes.

28 December 2006

A Cautionary Tale

In this December 15 story, the New York Times reported that the head of Morgan Stanley was slated to receive a $40 million bonus for 2006. They didn't report some other numbers of interest: that Morgan Stanley's income had increased 26% to $33 billion, that it reserved nearly $3.5 billion for taxes, that its net income increased by 46% to 7.4 billion, that it spent $14.4 billion on compensation and benefits and that John Mack, its CEO had refused any bonus the year before.

In any event, the Times comment section is now filled with some of the most ignorant commentary on the web, mostly attacking but also supporting Mr. Mack's bonus. Surprisingly, though, the stupidest comment of all is not hard to detect. It jumps right off that page. Less than 90 minutes after the story was posted, "jb" delivered him or herself of this gem:
That’s great! Now he can go out and buy shoes for the maintenance workers’ children. CEO’s should not make more than 10 times the lowest paid worker in their firm!

And we wonder why ten million young muslim men are angry?
This put me in mind of one of my least favorite leftist tactics: that some emergency requires us all to sacrifice by -- what an amazing coincidence -- adopting the preexisting lefty political platform wholesale. (Sometimes we see the right do this, too, but must less often.) This can be seen most clearly when it comes to global warming. To save the planet, we must all sacrifice by nationalizing everything, reducing our population, reducing our economy, etc., etc., etc. Here, the war on terror requires us to limit CEO compensation. It's just happenstance that the left has wanted to do this for decades, anyway.

This is related to the need to believe (as AOG recently noted) that we are in control and our enemies are all ciphers. The Islamists are not committed to our destruction. They're just mad at income inequality. All we need to do is punish some people we hate anyway (CEOs, not murderous barbarians who shoot back) and we can solve this pesky terror problem.

27 December 2006

Why Is There A "Their" They're

Does anyone else find, when on a typing jag, that their mind inserts a random "there," "their" or "they're" regardless of which of the homonyms is actually required?

Well Done, Good And Faithful Servant

Gerald Ford has died. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a better man we have treated worse than President Ford. He agreed to take on an impossible situation and we then blamed him because the situation was impossible. (To get a sense of just how badly he was treated, go see OJ's memorial post.) That's not to say that some of the criticisms aren't well taken. In particular, Gerald Ford was part of the go-along-to-get-along permanent Republican minority in the House and never managed to shake the mind-set. Far outweighing these lapses, though, was his service to the nation in pardoning Richard Nixon and then taking the heat for that decision.

It is clearly true that it was President Ford's fate to be a lacuna. Yesterday, we were talking about how there could not have been a President Reagan without the hideous Jimmy Carter. In turn, there could not have been a President Carter without the loathsome President Nixon. But it didn't matter, much, who filled the gap between Nixon and Carter. It was our luck (more evidence of American exceptionalism) that an obscure congressmen turned out to be a decent man.

We should also note that the general perception of President Ford as a clumsy dunce was ludicrous; the first, and most successful, example of the modern mainstream media convincing us that their perception was reality.

26 December 2006

American Zionism

OJ points us to a fascinating Michael Oren column posted at Opinion Journal setting forth the history of American Zionism, starting in colonial times. Mr. Oren also makes a point that can't be made too often: in this, as in so much else, Jimmy Carter is unlike his predecessors and successors. How such a limited, delusional, hate-filled man became president is beyond me but the fact that we not only survived but thrived (for without President Carter there never could have been a President Reagan) is yet another sign of American exceptionalism.

24 December 2006

Merry Christmas

To those of you who believe in that sort of thing, and to the neo-pagans who don't yet realize that by putting up with the tree and the solstice, the Church will coopt them just as it did their predecessors.

22 December 2006

Misguided, But Not Actually Wrong

An Antifederalist essay, from "Montezuma," published in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer on October 17, 1787

We the Aristocratic party of the United States, lamenting the many inconveniences to which the late confederation subjected the well-born, the better kind of people, bringing them down to the level of the rabble-and holding in utter detestation that frontispiece to every bill of rights, "that all men are born equal"-beg leave (for the purpose of drawing a line between such as we think were ordained to govern, and such as were made to bear the weight of government without having any share in its administration) to submit to our Friends in the first class for their inspection, the following defense of our monarchical, aristocratical democracy.

lst. As a majority of all societies consist of men who (though totally incapable of thinking or acting in governmental matters) are more readily led than driven, we have thought meet to indulge them in something like a democracy in the new constitution, which part we have designated by the popular name of the House of Representatives. But to guard against every possible danger from this lower house, we have subjected every bill they bring forward, to the double negative of our upper house and president. Nor have we allowed the populace the right to elect their representatives annually . . . lest this body should be too much under the influence and control of their constituents, and thereby prove the "weatherboard of our grand edifice, to show the shiftings of every fashionable gale,"-for we have not yet to learn that little else is wanting to aristocratize the most democratical representative than to make him somewhat independent of his political creators. We have taken away that rotation of appointment which has so long perplexed us-that grand engine of popular influence. Every man is eligible into our government from time to time for life. This will have a two-fold good effect. First, it prevents the representatives from mixing with the lower class, and imbibing their foolish sentiments, with which they would have come charged on re-election.

2d. They will from the perpetuality of office be under our eye, and in a short time will think and act like us, independently of popular whims and prejudices. For the assertion "that evil communications corrupt good manners," is not more true than its reverse. We have allowed this house the power to impeach, but we have tenaciously reserved the right to try. We hope gentlemen, you will see the policy of this clause-for what matters it who accuses, if the accused is tried by his friends. In fine, this plebian house will have little power, and that little be rightly shaped by our house of gentlemen, who will have a very extensive influence-from their being chosen out of the genteeler class ... It is true, every third senatorial seat is to be vacated duennually, but two-thirds of this influential body will remain in office, and be ready to direct or (if necessary) bring over to the good old way, the young members, if the old ones should not be returned. And whereas many of our brethren, from a laudable desire to support their rank in life above the commonalty, have not only deranged their finances, but subjected their persons to indecent treatment (as being arrested for debt, etc.) we have framed a privilege clause, by which they may laugh at the fools who trusted them. But we have given out, that this clause was provided, only that the members might be able without interruption, to deliberate on the important business of their country.

We have frequently endeavored to effect in our respective states, the happy discrimination which pervades this system; but finding we could not bring the states into it individually, we have determined ... and have taken pains to leave the legislature of each free and independent state, as they now call themselves, in such a situation that they will eventually be absorbed by our grand continental vortex, or dwindle into petty corporations, and have power over little else than yoaking hogs or determining the width of cart wheels. But (aware that an intention to annihilate state legislatures, would be objected to our favorite scheme) we have made their existence (as a board of electors) necessary to ours. This furnishes us and our advocates with a fine answer to any clamors that may be raised on this subject. We have so interwoven continental and state legislatures that they cannot exist separately; whereas we in truth only leave them the power of electing us, for what can a provincial legislature do when we possess the exclusive regulation of external and internal commerce, excise, duties, imposts, post-offices and roads; when we and we alone, have the power to wage war, make peace, coin money (if we can get bullion) if not, borrow money, organize the militia and call them forth to execute our decrees, and crush insurrections assisted by a noble body of veterans subject to our nod, which we have the power of raising and keeping even in the time of peace. What have we to fear from state legislatures or even from states, when we are armed with such powers, with a president at our head? (A name we thought proper to adopt in conformity to the prejudices of a silly people who are so foolishly fond of a Republican government, that we were obliged to accommodate in names and forms to them, in order more effectually to secure the substance of our proposed plan; but we all know that Cromwell was a King, with the title of Protector). I repeat it, what have we to fear armed with such powers, with a president at our head who is captain- -general of the army, navy and militia of the United States, who can make and unmake treaties, appoint and commission ambassadors and other ministers, who can grant or refuse reprieves or pardons, who can make judges of the supreme and other continental courts-in short, who will be the source, the fountain of honor, profit and power, whose influence like the rays of the sun, will diffuse itself far and wide, will exhale all democratical vapors and break the clouds of popular insurrection? But again gentlemen, our judicial power is a strong work, a masked battery, few people see the guns we can and will ere long play off from it. For the judicial power embraces every question which can arise in law or equity, under this constitution and under the laws of "the United States" (which laws will be, you know, the supreme laws of the land). This power extends to all cases, affecting ambassadors or other public ministers, "and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more States; between a State and citizens of another State; between citizens of different States; between citizens of the same State, claiming lands under grants of different States; and between a State or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens or subjects."

Now, can a question arise in the colonial courts, which the ingenuity or sophistry of an able lawyer may not bring within one or other of the above cases? Certainly not. Then our court will have original or appellate jurisdiction in all cases-and if so, how fallen are state judicatures-and must not every provincial law yield to our supreme flat? Our constitution answers yes. . . . And finally we shall entrench ourselves so as to laugh at the cabals of the commonalty. A few regiments will do at first; it must be spread abroad that they are absolutely necessary to defend the frontiers. Now a regiment and then a legion must be added quietly; by and by a frigate or two must be built, still taking care to intimate that they are essential to the support of our revenue laws and to prevent smuggling. We have said nothing about a bill of rights, for we viewed it as an eternal clog upon our designs, as a lock chain to the wheels of government-though, by the way, as we have not insisted on rotation in our offices, the simile of a wheel is ill. We have for some time considered the freedom of the press as a great evil-it spreads information, and begets a licentiousness in the people which needs the rein more than the spur; besides, a daring printer may expose the plans of government and lessen the consequence of our president and senate-for these and many other reasons we have said nothing with respect to the "right of the people to speak and publish their sentiments" or about their "palladiums of liberty" and such stuff. We do not much like that sturdy privilege of the people-the right to demand the writ of habeas corpus. We have therefore reserved the power of refusing it in cases of rebellion, and you know we are the judges of what is rebellion.... Our friends we find have been assiduous in representing our federal calamities, until at length the people at large-frightened by the gloomy picture on one side, and allured by the prophecies of some of our fanciful and visionary adherents on the other-are ready to accept and confirm our proposed government without the delay or forms of examination--which was the more to be wished, as they are wholly unfit to investigate the principles or pronounce on the merit of so exquisite a system.

Impressed with a conviction that this constitution is calculated to restrain the influence and power of the LOWER CLASS-to draw that discrimination we have so long sought after; to secure to our friends privileges and offices, which were not to be ... [obtained] under the former government, because they were in common; to take the burden of legislation and attendance on public business off the commonalty, who will be much better able thereby to prosecute with effect their private business; to destroy that political thirteen headed monster, the state sovereignties; to check the licentiousness of the people by making it dangerous to speak or publish daring or tumultuary sentiments; to enforce obedience to laws by a strong executive, aided by military pensioners; and finally to promote the public and private interests of the better kind of people-we submit it to your judgment to take such measures for its adoption as you in your wisdom may think fit.

Signed by unanimous order of the lords spiritual and temporal.

21 December 2006

One Good Carol Deserves Another (But All I Could Afford Was This Dreck).

For Brit, Duck and Skipper:

We three Dunnoist bloggers are;
On Christmas we sit at the bar,
Gin and tonic, so ironic,
Rubbishing Jehovah.


O stars of gases, fusion displays,
Stars, a source of gamma rays,
Nowhere leading, us unheeding,
Wholly natural displays.

Born a primate on Africa’s veldt
Born a monkey without a pelt,
Despite endeavor, die forever,
Even in the Bible belt.


Received wisdom I decry,
My own reason I live by.
Prayer and praising, just navel gazing,
Better to worship π.


Religions are all the same to me,
Just an excuse for bigotry,
Hating, lying, killing, dying,
Blinding the bourgeoisie.


Glorious now behold Us rise;
From the muck we’ve made us wise.
Alleluia, Alleluia,
We deserve the Nobel Prize.


19 December 2006

Without The Umbrella, It's Completely Different

David Zucker takes on the Iraq Study Group:

18 December 2006

That's Embarrassing

British Lord Stings Senators Rockefeller and Snowe: 'Uphold Free Speech or Resign' (PRNewswire, 12/18/06)
Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, has sent an open letter to Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Snowe (R-Maine) in response to their recent open letter telling the CEO of ExxonMobil to cease funding climate-skeptic scientists. [Lord Monckton's letter is here]...

Concludes Lord Monckton, "I challenge you to withdraw or resign because your letter is the latest in what appears to be an internationally-coordinated series of maladroit and malevolent attempts to silence the voices of scientists and others who have sound grounds, rooted firmly in the peer- reviewed scientific literature, to question what you would have us believe is the unanimous agreement of scientists worldwide that global warming will lead to what you excitedly but unjustifiably call 'disastrous' and 'calamitous' consequences."
It's not quite the Germans advising us on morality, but it's still embarrassing.

My Skepticism Melts Like Snow In December

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data," but it is harder to maintain my anthropogenic global warming skepticism when I'm about to go walk the dog in a tee shirt because its 50 degrees F at 9:30 am on December 18.

On the other hand, trying to convince me that agw is a bad thing is just getting harder and harder.

16 December 2006

Harry Gives Me A Hanukkah Present

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Harry Eagar left this comment:
As long as there are demands to 'put Christ back in Christmas,' it is obvious that Christmas is BOTH religious and non-religious (or irreligious). It's a free country -- take your choice.

I'm an atheist, but I celebrate Christmas. I like the sentiments that have accumulated around it, even if some (though not many) Christians share them.
Harry's comment drew this comment:
Precisely. As one more data point, my wife and I are both atheists, and we very much enjoy our Christmas tree. It was a pagan holiday before it was coopted by Christians, and for us, it retains a great deal of beauty as a celebration of the arrival of winter and of gift giving.
I couldn't have asked for a nicer proof of my thesis that American atheists are functionally Christian.

Thanks, Harry. I'll try to find a story about mean religious people for you.

12 December 2006

That Didn't Last Long

I did want to leave a pointer to this discussion in the Telegraph of what it would take for British Ex-pats to return. I was surprised that so many of those who left appear to be Tories, although that might simply be the Telegraph readership.

Real Life Intrudes

I probably won't be posting here again until Sunday or Monday. Have a Happy Hanukkah, everyone.

10 December 2006

And Swimmers Get Wetter Compared To A Control Group

The New York Times Magazine tells us, in its annual Ideas issue, that women gain wait once they've found a long-term male companion:
For every woman who complains about how messy her new live-in boyfriend is, add a new concern: his effect on her health. Dietitians have found that women tend to gain weight once they move in with male partners. "Living with a male seemed to put pressure on females to consume more of the 'unhealthy' choices," Amelia Lake, a research fellow at the Newcastle University Human Nutrition Research Center in Britain, wrote this year in the journal Complete Nutrition, "while females had a positive influence on the diets of the males."
I don't generally object to scientific studies just because they confirm something that has been obvious for centuries if not millenia. After all, even the most seemingly obvious fact can benefit from careful study and some scientific rigor. The real problem with this study (single women are more careful about their weight) is the explanation: men force unhealthy diets on their mates. Poor women, just putty in the hands of men.

The Divine Science

UN downgrades man's impact on the climate (Richard Gray, Sunday Telegraph, 12/10/06)
Mankind has had less effect on global warming than previously supposed, a United Nations report on climate change will claim next year.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent.

In a final draft of its fourth assessment report, to be published in February, the panel reports that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has accelerated in the past five years. It also predicts that temperatures will rise by up to 4.5 C during the next 100 years, bringing more frequent heat waves and storms.

The panel, however, has lowered predictions of how much sea levels will rise in comparison with its last report in 2001.

Climate change sceptics are expected to seize on the revised figures as evidence that action to combat global warming is less urgent.

Scientists insist that the lower estimates for sea levels and the human impact on global warming are simply a refinement due to better data on how climate works rather than a reduction in the risk posed by global warming....

The IPCC has been forced to halve its predictions for sea-level rise by 2100, one of the key threats from climate change. It says improved data have reduced the upper estimate from 34 in to 17 in.

It also says that the overall human effect on global warming since the industrial revolution is less than had been thought, due to the unexpected levels of cooling caused by aerosol sprays, which reflect heat from the sun.
New science scares, like any cult, start out with an Apocalypse and end with a whimper, so this was entirely predictable. On the other hand, it warms my soul to know that the direct cause of the current warming has been air pollution laws and anti-CFC laws. None of the warmists, though, will find any relevant lesson there.

08 December 2006

Four Weddings and a Funeral

We watched this movie at home tonight, because we both had fond, albeit vague, memories of it. As it turns out, the movie is dreadful. What were we thinking? In order to find out, I went and looked up Roger Ebert's review of the movie. Ebert liked it, but his description might as well be of some other movie entirely. Ebert always gets something wrong about the movie, writing in the dark apparently not being one of his talents. This time, however, he bollixed up the entire film and ends up reviewing a film that was not made. Oddly, the movie as reviewed would likely not have been any better.

Jeane Kirkpatrick Died Yesterday

From the AP:
Kirkpatrick was known as a blunt and sometimes acerbic advocate for her causes. She remained involved in public issues even though she'd left government service two decades ago. She joined seven other former U.N. ambassadors in 2005 in writing a letter to Congress telling lawmakers that their plan to withhold dues to force reform at the world body was misguided and would "create resentment, build animosity and actually strengthen opponents of reform."
It is hard to explain, today, how important Jeane Kirkpatrick was to the intellectual victory of what is now known as Reaganism. Reagan was dismissed as a fool who offered only simple answers to complex questions; as someone who ignored the truths obvious to the smarter, more subtle professionals. Kirkpatrick hit those people over the head with the truth until they said "Uncle."

The sweetest part of Ronald Reagan's funeral, for those of us who were conservatives in the 80s, was the Democrats' pretense that we were all anti-communists together. What greater victory can there be then when your opponents claim to have been with you all the way? The victory was, in large measure, Jeane Kirkpatrick's doing.

07 December 2006

A Bullet, Dodged

In a new installment of its informal, never-ending series, "Oh, That Wacky Internet," the New York Times investigates the pressure to be witty when declining an evite:
Just last week Carolyn Fitzpatrick, 32, a retired lawyer from Wollaston, Mass., spent 20 minutes drafting a "no" response to an Evite.

"Twenty precious minutes," said Ms. Fitzpatrick, the mother of a 3-month-old and a 2-year-old. "Do you have children? You don’t understand what 20 minutes to yourself is."

So why bother?

"There’s pressure," Ms. Fitzpatrick said. "You’re on stage."

Her Evite reply had to indicate she was glad to have been invited. It had to illustrate she had good reason for not attending. Most of all, it had to be so witty that invitees she did not even know would find themselves wishing she was coming to the party....

And so she wrote: "With a boatload of in-laws in town, I unfortunately will be doing nice nice in my own home when I’d much rather be doing eggnog shooters at yours. Please keep us on the guest list. With luck, I won’t be pregnant, traveling or hosting extended family who hate me next year! (Bah Humbug.)"

Don't You Love It When Jokes Come To Life?

Two Jews were marooned on a desert island. One year later, when they were rescued, the rescuers found three synagogues. They asked one of the Jews why two marooned men needed three synagogues.

"I've got mine, he's got his, and we're both boycotting that son-of-a-bitch on the hill."

Today's New York Times notes that Conservative Judaism has now decided that gay rabbis and commitment ceremonies are legal, and illegal:
The highest legal body in Conservative Judaism, the centrist movement in worldwide Jewry, voted yesterday to allow the ordination of gay rabbis and the celebration of same-sex commitment ceremonies....

But in a reflection of the divisions in the movement, the 25 rabbis on the law committee passed three conflicting legal opinions — one in favor of gay rabbis and unions, and two against.

In doing so, the committee left it up to individual synagogues to decide whether to accept or reject gay rabbis and commitment ceremonies, saying that either course is justified according to Jewish law.
I come down gingerly on the side of allowing gay Rabbis and commitment ceremonies, although I can't even fool myself into thinking that, by doing so, we are following Jewish law. A Rabbi is not like a Priest or even a Minister. He is a teacher of Jewish law, and a guide to living a Jewish life among the goyim, but he does not mediate my relationship with G-d. Whether he is a sinner (and he is, since we all are) is his business, not mine, other than in how it effects my willingness to take his advice.

Commitment ceremonies, on the other hand, are just flummery. If I thought about it too hard I might be bothered by using our most sacred symbols in this way. But the point of the Temple is to promote a Jewish community and identity within the majority culture, which necessarily involves some flummery. Nothing to see here, people, just keep moving.

[I don't know how odd the Committee's action will seem to non-Jews. It is fairly common in conservative Judaism for the prayer books to contain multiple versions of various prayers, from which the Temple's Ritual Committee or the individual congregant can choose. There are, for example, traditional versions and gender-neutral versions. Mostly, I like the gender-neutral versions better]

02 December 2006

From The BrothersJudd Archives: KINGS NEVER HAVE A SECOND INAUGURAL (Via The Corner)

The Left's war on Britishness (Anthony Browne, The Spectator, 7/23/05)
The terrorist attacks of 7 July, as the ludicrous BBC refuses to call them, have raised many questions. We might ask what turned ordinary Muslim youths into mass murderers. Or we might wonder how a religion of peace can inspire people to terrorism across the world.

A more pressing question, however, is: why Britain? Not why was Britain attacked, because the list of countries targeted by Islamist terrorism is growing so fast it will soon be quicker to list those unaffected. But rather: why did Britain become the first country in the developed world to produce its own suicide bombers? Why is Britain just about the only country in the world to have produced suicide bombers who sought to kill not another people but their fellow citizens? Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland were all part of the war on Iraq, and have not produced suicide bombers. The US and Spain had to import their terrorists. For those who think that Muslims in Britain are particularly oppressed and poor, try visiting Muslims in France or Italy. . . .

No, the real answer to why Britain spawned people fuelled with maniacal hate for their country is that Britain hates itself. In hating Britain, these British suicide bombers were as British as a police warning for flying the union flag.

Britain's self-loathing is deep, pervasive and lethally dangerous. We get bombed, and we say it's all our own fault. Schools refuse to teach history that risks making pupils proud, and use it instead as a means of instilling liberal guilt. The government and the BBC gush over 'the other', but recoil at the merest hint of British culture. The only thing we are licensed to be proud of is London's internationalism; in other words, that there is little British left about it.
If a society teaches its children that their own culture is bankrupt, that it is built on lies and the blood of the other, that it is selfish and bloated and corrupt, then how does can it object when those children agree?

Obviously, I'm not talking about Britain.

If you read enough about the 50's and 60's, particularly biographies but also fiction, a shared experience emerges. The radical as a child has a pure love for this country, which he learns in school is good and just; the greatest country in history. He then goes on to college and discovers (either through his own brave exploration or with the help of a brave truth-telling teacher) that in fact nothing he was taught in kindergarten was true and in fact our history is stained with sin from conception. Never the same again, he fights the reactionary forces for control of the country in order to establish true justice. Also, he doesn't want to be killed in Viet Nam.

Becoming a radical because history is more subtle than is presented in kindergarten is easy to mock. To teach, in reaction, that America is tainted, unexceptional and hypocritical is not just wrong, but suicidal. Yet we can't ignore our history. The native peoples were destroyed. Many of the Founders were slaveholders. The Constitution is a pact with the devil. There is a different justice for the rich. We are war-mongers.

The trick is to understand that this does not change the essential truth. The United States is the great achievement of humanity. We are the indispensable nation. We are exceptional, just and true. Our history is everything we are taught in kindergarten, and everything we learn afterwards. The United States is the most human of nations, with everything that implies. We need to face that much of what our enemies say about us is true -- which should make us proud and them nervous.

(Originally posted July 22, 2005)

A Market Kind Of Guy

If you follow the link to Paul Krugman's latest column, you run up against the Times Select firewall. It let's you see only the first line of the column: "The odds are very good that 2007 will be a very tough year." The Times hopes that this taste will get you to sign up for Times Select, but, really, what more do you need? 2007 may well be a tough year; I'm agnostic. But Paul Krugman is like the market: he's predicted 8 of the last 2 recessions, including one for each year George Bush has been in office.