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  • Archive for June, 2012

    Egypt’s new president.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 24th June 2012 (All posts by )

    The Muslim Brotherhood candidate has now been declared the winner of the Egyptian election. Some foolish things are being said, as a consequence.

    Morsi’s election is tempered by the army’s recent move to significantly limit the powers of the presidency regarding the national budget, military oversight and declaring war. Following a court ruling this month to dissolve the Islamist-controlled parliament, the military also seized legislative powers and is angling to cement its legal authority over the nation by guiding the drafting of a new constitution.

    The military will not be able to control the destiny of the country. The army in Turkey was much stronger with a 60 year history of secularism and a recognized right to displace governments that violated Ataturk’s intent. Since the election of Erdogan, the army has been neutered and half the senior officers are in prison, either with no charges or trumped up charges.

    Barry Rubin has a pessimistic view of the future for Egypt.

    Let me divide the discussion into two parts: What does this tell about “us” and what does this tell about Egypt and its future?

    First, what does it tell about the West? The answer is that there are things that can be learned and understood, leading to some predictive power, but unfortunately the current hegemonic elite and its worldview refuse to learn.

    What could be more revealing of that fact than the words off Jacqueline Stevens in the New York Times: “Chimps randomly throwing darts at the possible outcomes would have done almost as well as the experts”? Well, it depends on which experts. Martin Kramer, one of those who was right all along about Egypt, has a choice selection of quotes from a certain kind of Middle East expert who was dead wrong. A near-infinite number of such quotes can be gathered from the pages of America’s most august newspapers.

    These people all share the current left-wing ideology; the refusal to understand the menace of revolutionary Islamism; the general belief that President Barack Obama is doing a great job; and the tendency to blame either Israel or America for the region’s problems. So if a big mistake has been made, it is that approach that has proven to be in the chimp category.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, India, Iran, Middle East, Religion | 3 Comments »

    Fair Shakespeare

    Posted by TM Lutas on 23rd June 2012 (All posts by )

    Just randomly found this sonnet and it touched my heart. Maybe it might touch yours too.

    When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
    And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
    Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now,
    Will be a totter’d weed of small worth held:
    Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
    Where all the treasure of thy lusty days;
    To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,
    Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
    How much more praise deserv’d thy beauty’s use,
    If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
    Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’
    Proving his beauty by succession thine!
    This were to be new made when thou art old,
    And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 4 Comments »

    Flight 93 Memorial

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 23rd June 2012 (All posts by )

    I recently visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania. The park is new and well laid-out and highly recommended. There are signs off the highway to direct you to the park and it seemed very well attended when I was there, on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

    There are a series of introductory displays as you enter the park. This display shows the crew and passengers on Flight 93. You can see that there weren’t many of them that day.

    There were many parents with their children in hand. I could hear them trying to explain what the park was about, and it was difficult. September 11, 2001 was over ten years ago, and I have several nieces born since then, and other relatives too young to remember what 9/11 as it happened.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Photos | 5 Comments »

    The Long Hot Summer of ’60

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd June 2012 (All posts by )

    The summer of 1860 culminated a decade of increasingly bitter polarization among the citizens of the still-United States over the question of slavery, or as the common polite euphemism had it; “our peculiar institution.” At a period within living memory of older citizens, slavery once appeared as if it were something that would wither away as it became less and less profitable, and more and more disapproved of by practically everyone. But the invention of the cotton gin to process cotton fiber mechanically made large-scale agricultural production profitable, relighting the fire under a moribund industry. The possibility of permitting the institution of chattel slavery in the newly acquired territories in the West during the 1840s turned the heat up to a simmer. It came to a full rolling boil after California was admitted as a free state in 1850 . . . but at a cost of stiffening the Fugitive Slave Laws. And as a prominent senator, Jesse Hart Benton lamented subsequently, the matter of slavery popped up everywhere, as ubiquitous as the biblical plague of frogs. Attitudes hardened on both sides, and within a space of a few years advocates for slavery and abolitionists alike had all the encouragement they needed to readily believe the worst of each other.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, History, Media, North America | 8 Comments »

    Re: David Foster on Empathy

    Posted by Ginny on 23rd June 2012 (All posts by )

    Perhaps the greatest pleasure of literature is its access to all those extra minds (and feelings). My freshman teacher asked why I wanted to major in English. Because I like people, I said, then paused. I don’t really like people – many are irritating and frankly I can be a bitch. The real reason then – and now – was they fascinate.

    I loved critic’s insights – though not as much as narratives. So, if the following is bitter, remember I’m more jilted lover than fair observer. When I was young, we spoke openly of our passion for our discipline, but now the academy discourages such talk, understandably fearing sentimentality. But is cynicism all that attractive? It is brittle. And thin. For isn’t “strange” as Gopnik privileges it, a superficial criteria? He condemns Gottschall, a literary critic who is breaking new ground in literary theory, as a “popularizer;” Gopnik speaks from his regular gig at The New Yorker as an academic and he’s probably right. More’s the pity.

    David Foster comments that empathy includes both our ability to understand others and what we do with that understanding. We recognize that maturity comes from broadening sympathies but we’ve all known con men (and, if unlucky, psychopaths) who read us rather well. But the generative subset of bio-criticism in which Gottschall works include “Theory of Mind” studies, especially Lisa Zunshine’s. It analyzes one literary signal of empathy: our ability to “think” as another. asking what does he think, what does she think he thinks, what does he think she thinks he thinks? But empathy is also part of a fiction writers’ ability. We take it for granted, though a genre with a bad reputation for wooden characters and contrived plots is “the novel of ideas.” Authors don’t make works “live” since characters are means rather than ends. Perhaps that happens when we professionalize our reading as well – the ideas we seek dominate our understanding of character. David posits “The career pressure in academia seem to be toward a very clinical, theoretical, and even cold approach to subjects…indeed, I wonder about the ratio of actual fiction-reading to the reading of other academic papers ABOUT fiction.” Critics shouldn’t “lose themselves in a good story” but keep their antennae up.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Leftism, USA | 3 Comments »

    One bead for a rosary

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st June 2012 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — one bead from NASA for the glass bead game as rosary ]

    photo credit: Norman Kuring, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    Consider her sacred, treat her with care.

    Posted in Photos, Religion, Space | 6 Comments »

    Chickens Coming Home to Roost

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st June 2012 (All posts by )

    One of my daughters is almost 12 now. She is active in gymnastics and has been on and off for many years.

    When she was much smaller, I would say five or six years ago, she was in a gymnastics “show”. It was basically a prelude to real competitions, where the children do simple techniques in front of an audience – moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas.

    At the end of that show every child was allowed to step atop the podium and receive a first place medal. This could be a Madison thing to make kids feel good (we are just a bit liberal here from what I have heard) but I have no idea if they do this elsewhere.

    I told my wife at that time the following:

    “This sets up unrealistic expectations for the future. Most of those kids sucked and they still got a first place photo and medal, and have a great feeling. The kids that worked harder were screwed.”

    Fast forward to today. My daughter made nationals for gymnastics, fortunately hosted here in Madison. She only had to beat one other kid to qualify to the national meet. She has been getting absolutely dusted this week in every event by kids from all around the nation. Of course we are dealing with a very browbeaten kid.

    I told her that I didn’t feel sorry for her. I said that she clearly needs to work harder and doesn’t deserve to be the champion if she doesn’t have the skills. I also told her that it was great that she was able to qualify for nationals and have the privilege to compete – many kids didn’t stick with it.

    I think that this will be good for her in the future.

    It is my personal opinion that children are far too coddled. Maybe I am an asshole of a father. I don’t think I am.

    Posted in Leftism, Personal Narrative, Sports | 30 Comments »

    Book Review: Wolf Among Wolves

    Posted by David Foster on 20th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Little Man, What Now?, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, impressed me enough to look up some of the other works by author Hans Fallada. I just finished his Wolf Among Wolves, published later than LMWN, but set in an earlier period: 1923, the time of the great Weimar inflation. It tells the story of a collapsing society through the intertwined lives of many characters, who include:

    Petra Ledig, a sweet-natured girl from a rough background in Berlin, driven into prostitution by financial desperation. On impulse, she asks one of her clients to take her home with him, and he does. That man is…

    Wolfgang Pagel, son of a fairly-well-off but overprotective and controlling mother–the mother being less than thrilled about his relationship with Petra. Wolf supports himself and Petra, in a very marginal way, by working as a professional gambler. One day in Berlin, Wolf meets up again with an old Army acquaintance…

    Joachim von Prackwitz, who everyone calls the Rittmeister (cavalry captain). The Rittmeister married the daughter of a major landowner in East Prussia and is now managing a large farm at Neulohe under lease from his father-in-law, who cannot stand him…indeed, the father-in-law does everything he can to make the Rittmeister’s life miserable, including for example scheming to increase his portion of the electric bill from the estate’s shared diesel generator. (This is surely the only novel I’ve read in which depreciation and cost-allocation calculations come into play.) The Rittmeister was known in the Army as a brave if not terribly bright officer and a good comrade, but he is having great difficulty in dealing with the pressures of his civilian life.

    Eva, the Rittmeister’s well-balanced and long-suffering wife, is losing confidence in her husband and is very worried about the erratic and mysterious behavior of her daughter Violet, an attractive 15-year-old who has developed a passionate and secret crush on…

    The Lieutenant, agent for a group of former military men who are plotting a putsch against the Weimar government

    Mr Studmann, another Army friend of Wolf’s, who has been working as front-desk manager for a hotel. He and Wolf are both invited by the Rittmeister to leave Berlin and come help with the running of the farm. Despite his total lack of agricultural experience, Studmann turns out to be a very effective manager, using the skills he developed at the hotel. Eva is drawn to Studmann, seeing in him the stability and rationality that are absent in her husband–and he is VERY attracted to her.

    Raeder, a young and deeply weird servant who has an unwholesome sexual attraction toward Violet

    One “character” never absent from the story is the mark, the German unit of currency. In fact, the valuation of the mark is mentioned in the very first page of the book:

    This is Berlin, Georgenkirchstrasse, third courtyard, fourth floor, July 1923, at six o’clock in the morning. The dollar stands for the moment at 414,000 marks.

    (By the end of the period covered in the story, the dollar-to-market conversion rate was a trillion to one.)

    A few samples of the writing. Here, a description of Violet’s attraction toward the Lieutenant:

    He was quite different from all the men she had yet known. Even if he were an officer, he in no way resembled the officers of the Reichswehr who had asked her to dance at the balls in Ostade and Frankfurt. The latter had always treated her with extreme courtesy; she was always the “young lady” with whom they chatted airily and politely of hunting, horses, and perhaps of the harvest. In Lieutenant Fritz she had as yet discovered no politeness. He had dawdled through the woods with her, chatting away as if she were some ordinary girl; he had taken her arm and held it, and had let it go again, as if this had been no favor…Just because he thought so little of her, because his visits were so short and irregular, just because all his promises were so unreliable…just because he was never polite to her, she had succumbed to him almost without resistance. He was so different. Mystery and adventure hovered around him…Infinite fire, mysterious adventure, a wonderful darkness, in which one may be naked without shame! Poor Mamma, who has never known this! Poor Papa–so old with your white temples! For me ever new paths, ever different adventures!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Germany, History | 6 Comments »

    Barry Puts Williams in Context: Coke, the Law, & a very young man

    Posted by Ginny on 20th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Roger Williams tells Winthrop “I desire not to sleep in securitie and dreame of a Nest wch no hand can reach.” Puritans could hope but Williams found certainty “monstrous” when it violated “soul liberty.” He sought no conversions: while he could convince the Indians with whom he traded to go through the motions of belief, it would be deeply wrong. Indeed, he argued “any bloody act of violence to the consciences of others” would be as if “the parliament of England hath committed a greater rape than if they had forced or ravished the bodies of all the women in the world.” (The Bludy Tenent). He valued restraints – civil & spiritual.

    John M. Barry’s Roger Williams emphasizes Sir Edward Coke’s (1552-1634) incrementalism and careful construction of precedents that ordered chaos and defined restraints; the purpose was “to take down common law, to precipitate it out of the cloud of centuries of argument and judgment into the hard crystal of precedent, to then crack that crystal open by analyzing it, and finally to lock the piece into place by defining precedent and law more firmly than could any legislative act” (24). After 1600, Coke’s annual commentaries applied those precedents. The English tradition, Barry argues, led to a “common law more arcane and labyrinthine than civil law, but its very arcana, along with custom, created a web which restrained power, making England more resistant to absolutism than states on the continent” (21). The English valued stability, grounded in property rights: the resonance of his speech still delights – as in “Every Englishman’s home is as his castle” (63). (The quotes demonstrate how heady word choices must have been: Coke’s life covered King James’ translation and Shakespeare; Williams lived during Donne’s time and taught Milton Dutch. Their words retain a life familiarity has buried.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Biography, Religion, USA | 2 Comments »

    Obama now claims executive privilege

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th June 2012 (All posts by )

    This morning, moments before a House vote on Contempt of Congress by Eric Holder, the Attorney General, the White House announced that President Obama is invoking executive privilege. Holder requested the action in a letter to Obama.

    He said making the documents public “would have significant, damaging consequences,” but he did not disclose whether Obama has been briefed or had another supervisory role in Fast and Furious.

    This raises the question of whether there are Obama fingerprints on the policy. Some documents have been released and some others, including incriminating e-mails, have been leaked to the committee. So far, Obama’s name has not been found in the documents. His action will now raise suspicion and will force news media, that have minimized the scandal, to inform incredulous readers that it is a big deal after all.

    Richard Nixon could have ignored the burglary of the DNC offices in 1972. We now know that nothing was found that would have tarnished his reputation. It was the coverup that damaged him fatally. The election is coming in 5 months. The Watergate story did not really break until after the 1972 election. This seems to be breaking much sooner and its effect on Obama’s chances are hard to predict. The coming Supreme Court decision on Obamacare may overshadow this story.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked how Obama could assert executive privilege “if there is no White House involvement?”

    A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Obama’s move “implies that White House officials were either involved in the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation or the cover-up that followed.”

    “The administration has always insisted that wasn’t the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?” Brendan Buck said.

    It doesn’t sound like it is going to subside anytime soon. It will be interesting to see if more leaks appear. The White House leaks like a sieve and not all are Obama fans, it seems.

    Powerline writes that It won’t prevent Holder form being held in contempt.

    Whether these consequences and concerns form the basis for a valid assertion of executive privilege is another matter. I’m no expert on the subject, nor do I know all of the ins-and-outs of the dispute between Holder and Issa’s Committee. However, when Congress has a sound basis for believing that the Executive branch lied to it over material matters as part of a coverup in the course of a legitimate congressional oversight investigation, regard for a proper balance in the relationship between Congress and the Executive argues strongly in favor of enabling Congress to obtain all documents relevant to the coverup, including those generated during the process through which the cover-up is reasonably believed to have occurred.

    It will be interesting and may affect the election.

    National Review Online has a piece that may explain the program.

    an e-mail sent on July 14, 2010. After the operation, former ATF field operations assistant director Mark Chait e-mailed Bill Newell, then ATF’s Phoenix special agent in charge of Fast and Furious, to suggest a possible way to use Fast and Furious:
    Bill — can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.

    This “demand letter” refers to the push for a policy that would require U.S. gun shops in southwestern states to report the sale of several rifles or shotguns to a single buyer. According to CBS, “Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.”

    This may have begun as an attempt to require licenses for long guns.

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Elections, Law Enforcement, North America, Obama, The Press | 9 Comments »

    Unsightly Rooftop Debris

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 19th June 2012 (All posts by )

    In the city they don’t built out they build up. When you first move into your condo you are amazed at the city view (if you have one). But then, after a while, you start to notice the details.

    While buildings may lavish effort on their facades and interiors, often times they forget the roof. After all, who cares what the roof looks like. Your neighbors up above, that’s who. Those in the middle of the photo collage, to give a feeling for all the condos in the mostly beige and white skyscrapers look down onto the smaller (mostly commercial) buildings. In the loop it is businesses looking at businesses while in River North and the Gold Coast it is mainly condos and hotels looking down on commercial buildings.

    Upper left – ever wonder how they hang signs and lights off the side of the building? In this case it is a series of planters filled with concrete in a grid. At least they are neat, I guess. Upper right – there has been a puddle with floating debris (including that rope and those boards) up on that roof for SEVEN YEARS. I can’t believe it doesn’t drive the people beneath them crazy with leaking but, rain or shine, in all seasons, there is a big pond on that roof (in the winter it does freeze). Middle left – there is grass growing (it is dead now) in the large puddle on that roof. Middle right – a roof is a great place to store your cinder blocks, un-needed antennas, and the like, apparently. Also been there almost a decade. Lower left – a bunch of boxes and cartons have been strewn about on that roof for a while. Lower right – of all the rooftops this is the most amazing. That is a fully grown tree (in the winter it sheds its leaves) on the roof of the old firehouse. I have no idea how it gets enough purchase to stay on that roof in the high winds but it has been up there for at least seven years, changing with the seasons. Kind of like those trees that live on the rock face in the wilderness.

    Dan asked me over at LITGM why I used the word “purchase”… I was using it as a synonym for “grip” which I thought I heard somewhere but maybe I am just confused.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Humor | 7 Comments »

    Research, Politicians, and Power-Seeking

    Posted by David Foster on 18th June 2012 (All posts by )

    In support of his edict banning soft drinks over 16 ounces, NYC major Bloomberg cited research done by two Cornell professors.

    In this post, the professors say that Bloomberg has failed to properly understand their work.

    (via Ricochet)

    Posted in Human Behavior, Political Philosophy | 7 Comments »

    Super Moon, Everglades, 5 May 2012

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th June 2012 (All posts by )

    The so-called super moon -- a full moon on the date of the moon's closest annual approach to Earth -- as seen from the observation tower in the Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park, Florida on May 5, 2012. (©2012 Jonathan Gewirtz/


    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Super Moon, Everglades, 5 May 2012

    So Far From God

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Poor Mexico, runs the saying usually attributed to long-time Mexican strongman Porfirio Diaz, So far from God, so close to the United States. I was thinking of this, when we went to see the movie For Greater Glory – mostly because I had seen brief mention of it here and there on the libertarian-conservative side of the blogosphere, and the whole premise of it interested me, mostly because I had never heard of such a thing as the Cristero War. Never heard of it, and it happened in the lifetime of my grandparents, in the country right next door … and heck, in California we studied Mexico in the sixth grade. It appeared from casual conversation with the dozen or so people who caught the early matinee at a movie multiplex in San Antonio, only one of them had ever heard of it, either. Was there some cosmic cover-up, or did we have troubles enough of our own at the time … or was it just that Mexico was so constantly in turmoil that one more horrific civil struggle just blended seamlessly into the one before and the one after?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Arts & Letters, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Film, History, Latin America, Law, Leftism, Society, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Fathers Day Dinner (Including Potato Salad Recipe)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 17th June 2012 (All posts by )

    I had to be out of the house today, and my wife sent me an email asking what I wanted for fathers day dinner. I generally prefer to cook everything myself, but that is not possible today, though I will cook the meat and brown some onions upon my return home. My requested meal, with instructions, is below the fold.

    Note that these instructions contain my potato salad “recipe.” I use quotes because when I make this dish I do so completely by eyeball and I never measure anything. I do not know how close my family will be able to approach my ideal for this dish, though I am sure whatever they come up with will be fine. My senior daughter has assisted with the preparation in the past and may be able to get it done right. We shall see.

    Jonathan previously asked me to share this “recipe” and since I had to write it down today, this is the fated moment to pass it along. No doubt everyone has their own absolutely and unassailably best way to make potato salad, and I say each home is its own castle in this regard, and should do things in the time-tested way, and I have no wish to impose my culinary values on anyone.

    I do not suggest that mine is better, I just say that it is mine, and I am happy with it.

    (Note that the eggs are a concession to my wife, who considers her late grandmother’s potato salad to have been the apex of perfection, and it had egg in it. The egg-or-no-egg controversy is one of the main fault lines in the world of potato salad, and my wife and I fall on opposite sides. But domestic peace is more important than standing on principle on this point.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Holidays, Recipes | 8 Comments »

    New! – Your Helpful Marksmanship Tip of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Chicagoboyz like to visit the target range, but after President Obama was elected we realized that guns are bad and so we donated all of ours to schools and hospitals and took a tax deduction. This has caused us some problems as we sometimes get invited on shooting outings, and we have had to resort to borrowing our Uncle Ernie’s old Mauser that he brought back from the Spanish-American War. This is a very fine weapon and in theory we could hit a gnat at 500 yards, with either hand (during legal gnat season, of course). The problem is that we have eyes like an eagle, if by eagle you mean a middle-aged eagle with lousy eyesight, and the sights on old Mausers are very small and probably not usable by anybody older than about 14.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, RKBA | 10 Comments »

    Chicago By Night

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 16th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Navy Pier fireworks viewed from Aqua

    Full moon and the Aon Building (formerly Standard Oil)

    The John Hancock Building

    The Playboy Building

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Photos | 6 Comments »

    Theoretically, We Separate Church and State – But perhaps we need to know what each is first

    Posted by Ginny on 16th June 2012 (All posts by )

    We signal – academic style seems dowdy but members read its gestures; soccer fans treasure that moment of recognition. We note kinship, we signal we understand. We treasure that moment when we raise our eyes and see a surprised look, an – “I agree.” The academic style seems to troll obsessively for these moments – perhaps to still the cognitive dissonance.

    John Barry’s Roger Williams inspired me – I had known little and he has led me to study farther. But if I’m grateful, I’m also a bit irritated. Why a concluding criticism of John Yoo and equation of George Bush with James I (whom he has treated with considerable contempt)? And it alienates – no understanding look would pass between us in conversation, at a dinner table. The relation between the Patriot Act and James’ highhandedness seems tenuous at best and certainly irrelevant. Barry’s LA Times’ piece argues Williams would be today’s “warrior against religion.” Well, maybe. He cites the suit brought by a Rhode Island girl, requesting the school remove a prayer mounted on the wall. He concludes – “Presidential candidates and evangelicals ignore American history and insist on injecting religion in to politics. They proclaim their belief in freedom – even while they violate it.” This simplifies; certainly, using Williams – exiled from each New England community – as touchstone might mean your “American history” is more limited than you imply.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, History, Human Behavior, Religion | 10 Comments »

    Further Adventures in Book Marketing

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 16th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Well, no one ever really considered our family or anyone in it as cutting-edge … although it might be fairly argued that we were mosying so slowly along behind everyone else in our practices and preferences that the cutting-edge, tres-up to the minute actually came around full circle in the last half-decade and caught up to us at last. Home-made everything, home vegetable garden, chores for children, no television, tidy small houses and abstention from debt of every sort, from student to credit-card … an enthusiasm for all such things are now apparently trendy and forward-thinking.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes | Comments Off on Further Adventures in Book Marketing

    Obama and amnesty

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 16th June 2012 (All posts by )

    On Friday, as is often the case, Obama announced a new executive policy to impose a two year moratorium on deportation of young illegals if they can show they were brought here as children and have finished high school with no encounters with the law. They must be under 30 and were brought here before age 16. He promised that citizenship was not included and did not mention if family members were affected. Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security announced that this was the new policy but there has been no confirmation of an executive order.

    I don’t have a real problem with this policy but it avoids Congress and legislation, a problem that even Obama acknowledged last year. It is a transparent ploy to appeal for Latino votes. Everyone knows that.

    It also will close an opening for compromise.

    Obama’s decision probably reduces the likelihood that the scenarios of greatest concern to me will come to pass, especially if Obama is re-elected. Irate Republicans are even less likely than before to cooperate with the administration on this issue now that it has acted so high-handedly and in such a patently political manner. As Marco Rubio, who is planning to sponsor some sort of DREAM Act, said today, by imposing a new policy by executive order, Obama has made it harder in the long run to reach consensus on “comprehensive policy,” i.e., one that gives illegal immigrants additional benefits and a path to citizenship.

    The attraction of the action taken by Obama may have been that it would trump a possible Republican compromise on this topic. Now, suspicion has grown that amnesty and voting rights are the next step. The use of executive order for such a change in policy has been attacked as illegal.

    So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices. That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.

    Even Obama said the same a few months ago in explaining his then inaction. “I wish I could wave my magic wand,” Mr. Obama said. “Until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again… At the end of the day, I can’t do this all by myself. We’re going to have to get Congress to act. I know Nancy Pelosi’s ready to act. It’s time to stop playing politics.”

    Well, playing politics is the order of the day and the Republicans should focus on the illegality of doing it by executive order and not on the policy, itself. With proper safeguards, the policy is a good idea although there may be backlash from semi-skilled unemployed who just got a million new competitors. Certainly the unemployment figures should now be adjusted for all the new legal job seekers.

    The distraction of the Daily Caller reporter interrupting the president was an amusing sidelight. Had Obama demonstrated humor and a benign manner, it might have been a good moment for him. Instead, he showed anger and the incident will probably lead to more interruptions as it seems to be the only way to ask this president a question.

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Cuba, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Politics, Speeches | 26 Comments »

    A host of lessons on the web, with room for admiration

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 14th June 2012 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — Farrall and McCants, debate and discourse]


    There’s a whole lot to be learned about jihad, counter-terrorism, scholarship, civil discourse, online discourse, and social media, and I mean each and every one of those, in a debate that took place recently, primarily between Leah Farrall and Will McCants.

    Indeed, Leah still has a final comment to make — and when she makes it, that may be just the end of round one, if I may borrow a metaphor from a tweet I’ll quote later.


    Briefly, the biographies of the two main agonists (they can’t both be protagonists, now, can they? I believe agonist is the right word):

    Dr. Leah Farrall (left, above) is a Research Associate at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre (USSC). She was formerly a senior Counter Terrorism Intelligence Analyst with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the AFP’s al Qaeda subject matter specialist. She was also senior Intelligence Analyst in the AFP’s Jakarta Regional Cooperation Team (JRCT) in Indonesia and at the AFP’s Forward Operating Post in response to the second Bali bombings. Leah has provided national & international counter terrorism training & curriculum development. She recently changed the name of her respected blog. Her work has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and elsewhere.

    Dr. William McCants, (right) is a research analyst at the Center for Strategic Studies at CNA, and adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University. He has served as Senior Adviser for Countering Violent Extremism at the U.S. Department of State, program manager of the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense, and fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. He edited the Militant Ideology Atlas, co-authored Stealing Al Qa’ida’s Playbook, and translated Abu Bakr Naji‘s Management of Savagery. Will has designed curricula on jihadi-inspired terrorism for the FBI. He is the founder and co-editor of the noted blog, Jihadica. He too has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic and elsewhere.

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    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Blogging, Internet, Law Enforcement, National Security, Rhetoric, Terrorism | 14 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 14th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Billowing layers of distant clouds are dramatically backlit by warm orange light from the setting sun. (©2012 Jonathan Gewirtz/


    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Empathy – A Belated Response to Foster

    Posted by Ginny on 13th June 2012 (All posts by )

    David Foster’s thoughtful “Fiction and Empathy” notes Keith Oatley’s research on reading fiction and empathy. Surely a writer’s empathy is important – Dreiser didn’t seem to like his characters, why would we? Literature often celebrates the sacred or unifies a people. Some is marginalizes the other. Surely, whether fiction leads to empathy or not is complex.

    This belated riff is prompted by Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal. In a cutesy (his shtick) and dismissive review, Adam Gopnik simplifies Gottschall’s argument, using the ever popular straw man of academia. Well, no, these professional consumers of story are seldom moral exemplars. Indeed, some display an unusual inability to empathize.

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    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Book Notes | 6 Comments »

    The Internet Rewards Crazy

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Crazy, overconfident; the opposite of the judicious, scientific, skeptical temperament.

    Extreme opinions.



    The opposite of thoughtful.

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    Posted in Business, Human Behavior, Internet | 10 Comments »

    Roger Williams & the Ship of State

    Posted by Ginny on 11th June 2012 (All posts by )

    Roger Williams, who represents America on the oversized Reformation Wall in Geneva, was not an easy man. Graduating from Cambridge in 1627, he was chaplain to Sir William Masham; by 1630 Archbishop Laud’s demand for oaths of loyalty reached even such clerics, and so Williams and his bride set off for New England. Fortuitously, John Wilson was just then returning to England to gather his family; that is, fortuitously for anyone but Williams. He declined the First Church of Boston post, for he “durst not officiate to an unseparated people.” In the cold winter of 1634-35, he was exiled from Salem, having already been sent from Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth. “Soul liberty” became the governing core of his Providence government – one he defended against Indian attack and the ambitions of other colonies, one he buttressed with authority from England, under both Cromwell and Charles II. He understood liberty because of his “separateness.”

    At times he seems an early libertarian: he took Calvinism farther than even these steely New Englanders, having sacrificed much for their faith, were willing to go. If “moderation,” as Cotton Mather noted, characterized every page of Winthrop’s biography, “extremism” would of Williams’.

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    Posted in Academia, Americas, Book Notes, History, Law, Religion | 2 Comments »