Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Contrast Between The Conventions I Just Noticed

The Republicans are holding theirs in a city named after an ardent foe of Greek temples.

I just know the Religious Right is behind this :-)

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Friday, August 29, 2008

More Thought On Sarah Palin

With this selection, McCain has virtually guaranteed that Hillary Rodham Clinton will never be President of the United States.

He has also guaranteed that conservatives will have at least one powerful seat at the table in his administration.

Palin is a hyperactive crusader against excessive spending. Unless we see a colossal flip-flop, McCain-Palin will not continue the spending policies of George W. Bush and the Democrats.

I heard on the radio somewhere a remark that when it comes to Washington DC outsiders, you can't get any further from the Beltway than Alaska. Well, yes you can - Europe is even farther. Obama campaigned there, and the Supreme Court majority cited European sources in its decision on Lawrence v. Texas. But Europe's a little bit too outside.

Conventional political strategy has it that a candidate should reach out to the base during the primaries and then reach for the "center" after the nomination. One is tempted to say that McCain did the opposite, but his base isn't the Republican base.

I wish Palin would say this at the convention: "The Republicans want more drilling of our domestic oil reserves; the Democrats want more drilling of your pocketbooks."


It's Palin!

Obama is toast.


Obama's Big Night

The transcript is here.

Commentary abounds from these and other sources:

  • Jay Nordlinger Points 24 and 33 are noteworthy.
  • Ramesh Ponnuru "An effective, dishonest speech."
  • Peggy Noonan "The famous Greek amphitheatre didn't look all Alexander the Great if you were there. It looked instead like the big front display window at Macy's during Presidents Day Sales Weekend."
  • Michelle Malkin snorts at many points of the speech.
  • Paul Mirengoff has blow-by-blow commentary, and notes that the speech "wasn't better targeted towards the two groups Obama must have to win the election -- Hillary Clinton-supporting women and independent voters."
  • John McCain rebuts several claims in the speech, backed up with evidence..


Thursday, August 28, 2008

John Boehner, Front And Center!

I will donate $50.00 to the Republican National Committee IF, in your speech at the convention next week, you will acknowledge that "the Republican majority spent money like Democrats" when it held the majority, that such policy is part of the reason that it lost the majority, and that Congressional Republicans will not go down that road again. You MUST use the exact phrase in quotes for the RNC to collect the money.

I am dead serious. You people need to humble yourselves and admit that you woefully screwed up. That's how you regain the respect of the party rank-and-file.

Update: Yes, I have emailed the House Republican Leader.


Bill Clinton's Tragical History Tour

The former president said this at the convention:

And it is, to be fair to all the Americans who aren't as hard- core Democrats as we, it's a philosophy the American people never actually had a chance to see in action fully until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and the Congress.

Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades actually were implemented. And look what happened.

They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt; from over 22 million new jobs to just 5 million; from increasing working families' incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty; and millions more losing their health insurance.

What he doesn't tell you is that it took a Republican Congress to create those record surpluses, and that the Bush Era Republicans squandered them by spending like Democrats.

He also doesn't tell you that the job losses were largely due to 9/11, which wouldn't have happened if he'd accepted Sudan's offer to hand over Osama bin Laden.


We Are The Priests...

...of the Temple of Syrinx Obama.

Jonah Goldberg makes a wardrobe suggestion. Actually, that would be appropriate for a Roman temple; the Greek counterpart to the toga is the chiton.

So what is it - Greek or Roman? He has 300 foreign policy advisors - what do you think?

Michelle Malkin favors the Roman parallel, however - note the embedded YouTube video.

Update: Best response yet - "It's the O-cropolis!"


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Takes The Stage

I could bear only 25 seconds of that droning, condescending voice.

Here's the transcript. Yawn.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Campaign Advice For John McCain

In comments to LGF's post on a Texas GOP ad featuring George Obama, I said this:

McCain could score points by giving one of his wife's properties to George.

Hey, it would probably cost less than some of that campaign advertising.

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Convention Protest Sign Du Jour


(Look just to the left of the promient "No Hope For Capitalism" banner.)


Convention Quote Du Jour

Mrs. Obama says:

It's what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs...

Michelle, are you sure you're at the right convention? This sounds like something from Mr. Newt's playbook.


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 40, "The Believers"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

This portion catches my eye:

Verses 56-85 continue excoriating the unbelievers, who are motivated by nothing but pride (v. 56) – an oft-repeated Qur'anic trope that has led many Muslims through the ages and today to assume that non-Muslims know the truth of Islam but reject it out of selfish self-interest.

There is a parallel prejudice one finds in politics: some partisans, assuming that the benefits of certain policies are self-evident, conclude that all opposition to said policies is rooted in malice. I suepect we'll be seeing a lot of that in Denver this week.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Dark Side Of The Political Force Meets The Dark Side Of The Cola Force

I didn't know this - the Democratic convention is being held in Denver's Pepsi Center.

I will have to stock up on Cokes next week - I think Wal-Mart has 'em marked down.


Obama Picks Joe Biden

Time to pull out the ammo.

Barry, you should have picked Elizabeth Edwards like I suggested.

Update: Evan Bayh would have been a fun pick, from a Republican perspective. On his radio show, Mark Levin said that that pick would have inspired bumper sticker: BYE OBAMA

Heh, the bumper sticker on Tony Rezko's car should read BUY OBAMA :-)

Update: Andrew Sullivan suggested the perfect time to make the announcement - but Obama didn't take it.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Big White Mansions And Little Shacks

Obama has a half brother living in deep poverty in Kenya.

A lot of people, seeing a story like this, will wonder why Barack didn't do anything financially for George. So do I. I don't expect a rich Illinois lawyer to buy a Coloumbia University education for all his Kenyan half-siblings, but at far less cost he could significantly improve their lot with trade schooling (as George currently plans) or financing a small family business or something.

What grabs my attention is that Barack has scarcely any relationship with his Kenyan relatives. Something ain't right.

Michelle Malkin is out of line with this snark:

Actually, this may be one of the few times Obama did taxpayers a favor - by not bringing his unemployed brother here to live off the welfare state.

There's no telling what life George coud have led in AMerica - he could have been a gainfully employed attorney like Hugh Rodham, or a failed musician like Roger Clinton.

If there is a silver lining to George's not moving to the US of A, it's that he didn't have a chance to be corrupted by Barack's political allies.

Some of the Malkinator's commenters drew Billy Carter comparisons, to which I objected:

I’ll believe he’s the next Billy Carter when he starts wangling financial deals with Mohammar Qaddafi.

Oh, and he lives in a shack, not a hut. I watched Gilligan's Island for years - I know what a hut looks like.

Update: Occasional shipments of arugula to the relatives wouldn't hurt :-)

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain Parrots Democrat Talking Points

This campaign ad is disgusting.

What did Wall Street, drug companies, and Big Oil ever do to me? Those institutions are not enemies of the American people. Don't treat them that way.

As for Big Tobacco, I'm all for snuffing out its taxyaper subsidies. Don't have any other legal arguments with that industry.


Bad Veep Coices


Bobby Jindal: Good political stances, but not enough experience.

Mike Huckabee: Too much in love with the nanny state. And let me ask once again: what does the former governor of a failed Southern state bring to the table?

Joe Lieberman: Dead, dead wrong on judicial appointments.

Tom Ridge: One-trick pony - his claim to fame is homeland security, where McCain is already strong (immigration policy notwithstanding).


Joe Biden: Republicans will have a field day with the slimeball who deliberately misrepresented Clarence Thomas' views on Supreme Court activism during the confirmation hearings. Obama has his own Clarence Thomas controversy; I would think that he wouldn't want to give Republicans extra reasons to bring up that name. Also, Biden has said a lot of things that conflict Obama's campaign themes.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Two immensely polarizing names on one ticket is a bad idea. Obama/Clinton would be like the GOP running Hannity/Coulter - in PR and not policy terms (obviously).

John Kerry: Even Kerry opposes the idea.


Republican nomination: Sarah Palin, who gets strong endorsements from NRO readers.

Democratic nomination: Elizabeth Edwards.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Curious Remark About The Saddleback Forum

Rush Limbaugh reported this bit of analysis offered by Andrea Mitchell:

Oh, absolutely. You know, there was crisp, immediate, forceful response by John McCain -- clearly in a comfort zone because he was with his base -- and Barack Obama taking a risk in going there but seeing an opportunity, and a much more nuanced approach.

His base? Someone packed the church with New Hampshire independents? Or is there something about Saddleback I don't know about?


Monday, August 18, 2008

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 39, "Throngs"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

Portions of this sura speakl of believers and unbelievers being "not equal." Not equal in what way? They are certainly not equal in what afterlife they will receive, as is the case in the Bible. But the Koran rejects the Biblical notion that humans all have equal value despite the fact that they do not share the same degree of devotion toward God. It further rejects the idea of equality under the law for beleivers and unbelievers, an idea stated explicitly in Sura 9:29 (cited in the following excerpt - see added emphasis):

The believer and the unbeliever are not equal (vv. 9, 22, 24). This oft-repeated notion has many implications; the emphasis in this sura is on the fact that they will not receive equal treatment on the Day of Judgment. At the same time, however, the absolute way in which the statement is made underscores the idea that the Muslims are the "best of people" (3:110) and the unbelievers are the "vilest of created beings" (98:6). There is no compatibility of this with the idea of the equality of dignity of all people as created by the same God. Instead, there is a sharp dichotomy between believer and unbeliever that runs through all of Islam – including its laws for the governance of states. In light of this, it should come as no surprise to anyone that there is not a single Muslim-majority state in the world today, even though Islamic law is not fully enforced in almost all of them, where non-Muslims enjoy absolute legal equality with Muslims. Even in secular Turkey there are restrictions on conversion from Islam to another religion, and immense amounts of red tape involved in trying to get official permission to build a church. This is no accident: it is a cultural hangover of the deeply ingrained traditional idea that non-Muslims in a state that Muslims control should "feel themselves subdued" (9:29), in accordance with the dictum that they are not equal to the believers, and should be made in every possible way to remember their perversity in rejecting Islam.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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What Causes The Lunar Eclipse?

Two nights ago a partial lunar eclipse was visible South America, much of the Eastern Hemisphere, and a tiny sliver of North America:

The penumbral eclipse will begin at 18:23 UTC, with the partial eclipse beginning at 19:36. The time of greatest eclipse is 21:10. The partial eclipse will end at 22:44, and the penumbral eclipse will finally at 23:57.

This map shows the parts of the world where the eclipse coudl be seen.

Ever wondered what causes the lunar eclipse? The science is explained in Chapter 12 of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Tales of Tarzan. Tarzan speaks to Taug, one of the apes of his tribe about Goro (the apes' name for the Moon):

"Look, Taug!" exclaimed Tarzan, pointing toward the stars. "See the eyes of Numa and Sabor, of Sheeta and Dango [lion, lioness, panther and hyena - in the language of the apes]. They wait around Goro to leap in upon him for their kill. See the eyes and the nose and the mouth of Goro. And the light that shines upon his face is the light of the great fire he has built to frighten away Numa and Sabor and Dango and Sheeta.

"All about him are the eyes, Taug, you can see them! But they do not come very close to the fire--there are few eyes close to Goro. They fear the fire! It is the fire that saves Goro from Numa. Do you see them, Taug? Some night Numa will be very hungry and very angry--then he will leap over the thorn bushes which encircle Goro and we will have no more light after Kudu seeks his lair--the night will be black with the blackness that comes when Goro is lazy and sleeps late into the night, or when he wanders through the skies by day, forgetting the jungle and its people."

Taug looked stupidly at the heavens and then at Tarzan. A meteor fell, blazing a flaming way through the sky.

"Look!" cried Tarzan. "Goro has thrown a burning branch at Numa."

Numa would soon approach victory over his intended celestial prey:

One night when Taug lay sleepless looking up at the starry heavens he recalled the strange things that Tarzan once had suggested to him--that the bright spots were the eyes of the meat-eaters waiting in the dark of the jungle sky to leap upon Goro, the moon, and devour him. The more he thought about this matter the more perturbed he became.

And then a strange thing happened. Even as Taug looked at Goro, he saw a portion of one edge disappear, precisely as though something was gnawing upon it. Larger and larger became the hole in the side of Goro. With a scream, Taug leaped to his feet. His frenzied "Kreeg-ahs!" [warning cries of the apes] brought the terrified tribe screaming and chattering toward him.

"Look!" cried Taug, pointing at the moon. "Look! It is as Tarzan said. Numa has sprung through the fires and is devouring Goro...He is in danger and none can help him--none except Tarzan. Soon Goro will be devoured by Numa and we shall have no more light after Kudu [the sun] seeks his lair."

The apes watch the spectacle in horror:

And as the tribe waited they watched the slow devouring of the moon. Already Numa had eaten out a great semicircular piece. At that rate Goro would be entirely gone before Kudu came again. The apes trembled at the thought of perpetual darkness by night. They could not sleep. Restlessly they moved here and there among the branches of trees, watching Numa of the skies at his deadly feast, and listening for the coming of Taug with Tarzan.

Tarzan comes to save the day - er, night:

The ape-man wasted no time in idle words. In his hand was his long bow and at his back hung a quiver full of arrows, poisoned arrows that he had stolen from the village of the blacks; just as he had stolen the bow. Up into a great tree he clambered, higher and higher until he stood swaying upon a small limb which bent low beneath his weight. Here he had a clear and unobstructed view of the heavens. He saw Goro and the inroads which the hungry Numa had made into his shining surface.

Raising his face to the moon, Tarzan shrilled forth his hideous challenge. Faintly and from afar came the roar of an answering lion. The apes shivered. Numa of the skies had answered Tarzan.

Then the ape-man fitted an arrow to his bow, and drawing the shaft far back, aimed its point at the heart of Numa where he lay in the heavens devouring Goro. There was a loud twang as the released bolt shot into the dark heavens. Again and again did Tarzan of the Apes launch his arrows at Numa, and all the while the apes of the tribe of Kerchak huddled together in terror.

At last came a cry from Taug. "Look! Look!" he screamed. "Numa is killed. Tarzan has killed Numa. See! Goro is emerging from the belly of Numa," and, sure enough, the moon was gradually emerging from whatever had devoured her, whether it was Numa, the lion, or the shadow of the earth; but were you to try to convince an ape of the tribe of Kerchak that it was aught but Numa who so nearly devoured Goro that night, or that another than Tarzan preserved the brilliant god of their savage and mysterious rites from a frightful death, you would have difficulty--and a fight on your hands.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Today's Sermon

That Rottweiler post attracted some discussion on church/state issues. I offered this summary of the central issue:

Church and State are separate in that they serve two separate functions. The Church is a voluntary institution that exists to further human relationships with God - and with other humans, secondarily. The State is a body of elected individuals to which is delegated the authority to use prescribed coercive means to protect people from the criminal actions of other people.

(These definitions reflect the Founders’ bias, not those of systems the Founders wished to expel to the dustbin of history.)

God commands the realms of both religion and politics. God defines the requirements for relationship with Himself. He also says what people should and shouldn't do to each other; since the State governs a portion of this concern, the State is a servant of God. The State may acknowledge its Master, but it may not seek to govern matters, religious or otherwise, that fall outside its jurisdiction.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Nitpick Du Jour

The Rott displays video of Thomas Paine (or a facsimile thereof). I took issue with one small portion, in which he speaks of diversity and unity (emphasis in original)

Paine’s section on multiculture doesn’t quite hit the right notes. I’m sure he doesn’t mean to imply that we are some sort of monocultural Borg, but he doesn’t find the right words to explain himself. Every individual belongs to multiple cultures - a common national culture (ideally), and numerous other cultures reflecting those pursuits (religious, commercial, recreational etc.) that the indivudal shares with others.

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Getting Ready For The 2010 Winter Olympics

Chimps on ice!

I thought the backflips and cartwheels were pretty impressive.


Friday Open Comments Thread

Comment away on anything you want - including this blog's presidential endorsement banner.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pelosi Caving

If we can get Congress to allow more drilling for oil, can we get it do less drilling for taxes?


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fisking The Jukebox 1

This launches a new meme that looks into annoying song lyrics. It's a target rich environment, and a conventient diversion for whenever I run out of stuff to blog about.

Today's target is Meredith Brooks' Bitch. The chorus is familiar to many (emphasis added):

I'm a bitch
I'm a lover
I'm a child
I'm a mother
I'm a sinner
I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell
I'm you dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

The portions in boldface lose every ounce of male sympathy for the song's persona. She wants him to adapt, to "take me as I am" - but she is completely unwilling to adapt by making herself a better person ("I cant change"). Guys want a woman who feels some measure of regret about her flaws and is willing to grow up, not one who fates herself to a perpetual state of manic depression, nice half the time and hostile, tactless and selfish (qualities that define "bitch") the other half.

Unlike the subject of Sam Kinison's Wild Thing, at least she gets credit for warning the guy that she's a demon from Hell.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Eugene Volokh Asks

Are dogs livestock?

Glenn Reynolds has yet to comment.


Education Policy In One Lesson

Clayton Cramer found a highly informative video.

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Gone With The Wind

Not Rhett and Scarlett, but T. Boone Pickens and Nancy Pelosi.


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 38, "Sad"

Robert Spencer has the installment here. This chapter is named for the Arabic letter printed at its beginning. Its meaning is unknown.

Verses 17-29 retell the David-Bathsheba-Uriah story, without Bathsheba and Uriah:

In the Bible, the point of the story of the rich man with many ewes who takes the single ewe of the poor man is to bring home to David the enormity of his having had Uriah the Hittite killed so that he could take Uriah's wife Bathsheba. In the Qur'an is none of this, however, except the story of the rich man who took the poor man's ewe, followed by David's realization that Allah had tried him (v. 24). The story clearly depends on the Biblical story of Bathsheba — Ibn Kathir says, "In discussing this passage, the scholars of Tafsir [Qur'an commentary] mention a story which is mostly based upon Isra'iliyat [Israelite] narrations. Nothing has been reported about this from the Infallible Prophet that we could accept as true." The Tafsir al-Jalalayn reveals the dependence in saying: "And David thought, in other words, he became certain, that We had indeed tried him, that We had caused him to fall into a trial, that is, a test, through his love for that woman. So he sought forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing, in other words, prostrate, and repented."

Unlike the Bible, the Koran seems to he highly allergic to recording the moral flaws of the prophets.

Sura 37's depictions of Heaven and Hell make an appearance. This time, eternal damnation comes with two cursed beverages (v. 57) - one boiling, one "intensely cold" (Yusufali, Shakir). It seems to me that the latter drink would have to be kept miraculously in a liquid state well below the earthly freezing point in order to be tortuous. Either that, or it's Pepsi - Yusufali does describe it as "dark and murky"...

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Darwin Award Potential

Andrew Sullivan has Flickr pics illustrating three ways to tempt fate.


Prediction Du Jour

Reuters headline: All U.S. adults could be overweight in 40 years.

This is good news for the skeletal Amy Winehouse. Too bad it's such a long wait.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)

Chicago Boyz posts its remembrance, and links several others. Rand Simberg excerpts the salient portion of today's James Lileks' column - its topic: Solzhenitsyn vs. the US-USSR moral equivalency myth.


From The Home Office In Corpus Christi, Texas

Top Ten Remarks Overheard At My 30-Year High School Reunion:

  1. "I knew my second marriage was in trouble when I found pentagrams carved all over the bed slats."
  2. "You look like you can still fit in your cheerleader uniform. Here, have some cheesecake."
  3. "That was YOU I've been chatting with all these months on Second Life?"
  4. "I'm working for the DEA these days - ironic, isn't it?"
  5. "Barack Obama is a year younger than I am - now I really feel old.
  6. "Do you know that Xenu has a plan for your life?"
  7. "What happened to all the cheesecake?"
  8. "FREEBIRD!"
  9. "My yearbook photo is horrible - I look like that chick in the ads."
  10. "My hair was darker when I first started organizing this reunion."


Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 37, "The Ranks"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

One notable section describes paradise and perdition. The former offers to its inhabitants a nonintoxicating milky-white wine and the famed houris - "those who restrain the eyes, having beautiful eyes" (Shakir translation). In the latter the unbelievers will drink boiling water and eat from a tree fruit that resembles the heads of devils; the deleterious effects of the fruit is not stated.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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