Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Cap and Traitors

Michelle and Connie have the sames of the eight Republicans who voted for the cap and trade bill. All from blue states, three from New Jersey.

I say we put New Jersey on eBay.

Here in its entirety is the 309-page amendment that was inserted at 3:00 AM. Think anyone had time to read it?

Greenpeace thinks the bill is too weak.

James Inhofe thinks the bill is dead in the Senate. But don't take his prognostication for granted. Fight! Call your Senators!

Before you make any calls, educate yourselves about the bill. Start with Heritage scholar Ben Lieberman's Congressional testimony. This was delivered before the 309-page amendment, so this portion might not be entiurely correct:

The only entities directly regulated by Waxman-Markey would be the electric utilities, oil refiners, natural gas producers, and some manufacturers that produce energy on site.

On his show today, Rush Limbaugh said that cap-and-trade would directly regulate home sales. Anyone selling a house would be required to get an EPA inspection; certain "green" renovations such as replacing older heat-leaky windows with the better-insulating kind would be required before sale. One gets the impression that the law would make it nearly impossible to sell fixer-upper houses anymore. I need some documentation on this to get a better picture. Limbaugh hasn't mentioned this exhange on his website yet (the broadcast day just ended a little over an hour ago); I'll check back later to see if he mentions this segment and documents his source.


Lawbreaking Honduran President Deposed

President Mel Zelaya sought to expand the term limits imposed on his office. In return he was ousted by the military. Who's in the wrong here? Mary Anastasia O'Grady explains:

That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite [to change the term limits law], the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. [Hugo] Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

Fausta's blog is all over this story.

Naturally, President Obama is siding with the crook.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Anti-Socialism Friday

At PJM, Andrew Ian Dodge has an article about American conservatives' favorite Member of European Parliament Daniel Hannan.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ed McMahon (1923-2009)

Rest in peace.

Read my tribute to Johnny Carson's show here.

Update: The California State Military Museum's website has a page briefly summarizing McMahon's military career.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Anti-Socialism Day

This 1948 cartoon came to my attention recently.

Memo to the United Auto Workers: if the government can nationalize General Motors, it can nationalize you. And not just because this video says so.

No Pasaran has Ronald Reagan's 1961 warning against socialized medicine.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bottom Story Of The Day

Hamas Rejects Carter Plea to Recognize Israel

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Obama vs. PETA

Obama swats fly on TV, inviting stern words from Ingrid Newkirk.

PETA is sending the President a humane bug catcher. Why not send a Venus Flytrap? They gotta eat, ya know.

Does Ingrid know about this? Red/blue bipartisanship in its full glory!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Real Tragedy Of The Iranian Election

Heritage Foundation scholar James Phillips reports:

Iran's government is not a true democracy but a theocratic dictatorship that cloaks the rule of the ayatollahs with a façade of representative government. The clerical regime hand-picked the four contending candidates from a pool of 475 who initially sought to run for the presidency. The senior clerics on the Guardian Council, which vets the candidates, severely narrowed the choices to less than 1 percent of the original field of challengers. The four who were permitted to run for the presidency share a deep commitment to the extremist Islamist ideology that sparked Iran's 1979 revolution.

This is almost as bad as the old Soviet "elections" that featured unopposed candidates.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Sixty Candles

June 8 marked the anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Reason's Cathy Young wrote an unremarkable article about the book and its current relevance. One disappointment is this passage:

Yet 1984 does have lessons beyond the totalitarian experience. Take the book's definition of "doublethink," the ideal mental state of the citizen of Orwell's dystopia: it is "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them," the ability "to tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies."

It is not just governments—democratic or not—that engage in a less extreme version of such mental gymnastics. It's activists of all stripes; talk show hosts and pundits across the political spectrum; and, finally, ordinary people.

Now is the time to cite specific examples. She doesn't have one. Okay, let me offer a few. Those who believe that racial discrimination of nonfavored groups is not racial discrimination - whites and Asians with regard to certain academic affirmative action admissions policies, individual white and Hispanic firefighters with regard to Ricci v. DeStefano. Some people say they don't believe in moral absolutes, but if you press them hard enough you'll find out that they really do. (Quickest way to find out is to discuss politics.) Many environmentalists oppose nuclear power despite its environmental benefits. The rationale that views a once-in-a-blue moon shooting of an abortionist as a clear and present danger pervasive in the right-to-life community is held by many who refuse to view commonplace jihadism as a danger pervasive in the Islamic community. Many who believe that it is evil to kill strangers who never did anything to you make excuses for Palestinian terrorists and Bill Ayers. What sort of doublethink allows Colin Powell to endorse the political ally of someone who founded the organization that tried to blow up Fort Dix?

Immediately following is this lameness:

The same is true of "newspeak," terminology invented to shade the real meaning of certain beliefs or acts and make them more appealing. (Even such popular terms as "pro-choice" for "pro-abortion rights" and "pro-life" for "anti-abortion" have overtones of newspeak.)

Earlier in the article she criticized the Competitive Enterprise Institute for trivializing Orwellian imagery in an ad combating anthropogenic global warming hawks. Here she trivializes Newspeak. Of the four abortion-relevant terms she trots out, only "pro-choice" disguises the goals of its associated goals.

A key aspect of Newspeak that is often overlooked is that it is implemented by force. In the real life United States the primary example is the crusade to change the historic definition of marriage by force of law. Gay activism objects to the historic definition, because it implies that homosexuality is somehow less value than heterosexuality. The radical Left originally tried to get rid of the notion of marriage altogether; I am old enough to recall when it panned marriage altogether as a cheap piece of paper that got in the way of sexual fulfillment. Somehow the Left abandoned that goal, and has joined with gay activism to use force to enshrine its ideology in the English language.

Newspeak seeks not only to redefine the vocabulary buta also to shrink it, to get rid of "troublesome" words. We see a little of that in the Political Correctness culture, especially with regard to gender-specific nouns. Star Trek took the idea to extremes, making "Mister" a gender-neutral title. We don't have waiters and waitresses anymore, or stewards and stewardesses, or hosts and hostesses. But we still have gays and lesbians - cue the doublethink.

The article concludes by trivializing the Two Minute Hate and Hate Week. Wikipedia defines the conceptas:

[A] daily period in which Party members of the society of Oceania must watch a film depicting The Party's enemies (notably Emmanuel Goldstein and his followers) and express their hatred for them and the principles of democracy.

The film and its accompanying auditory and visual cues (which include a grinding noise that Orwell describes as "of some monstrous machine running without oil") are a form of brainwashing to Party members, attempting to whip them into a frenzy of hatred and loathing for Emmanuel Goldstein and the current enemy superstate...The film becomes more surreal as it progresses, with Goldstein's face morphing into a sheep as enemy soldiers advance on the viewers, before one such soldier charges at the screen, machine gun blazing. He morphs, finally, into the face of Big Brother at the end of the two minutes.

Back to the article:

Another pervasive feature of the Orwellian state was the practice of constantly whipping up hatred toward the ideological enemy du jour. Looking at much of our political discourse today, from right-wing talk radio to left-wing blogs, it's hard not to think of such rituals as "Two-Minute Hate" and "Hate Week." On too many political websites, every week is Hate Week—whether the object of hate is liberals, Muslims, neocons, or Christian bigots. Partisan propagandists and professional hate-mongers bear a large share of the blame, but so do "regular" people who need little encouragement to demonize political opponents.

The Two Minute Hate and Hate Week employ ritual ad hominem attacks with no attention whatsoever given to ideology. Virtually none of the sources fit the latter half of the bill.

Once again, Young describes a perceived phenomenon without offering specific examples - no specific right wing talk shows or lefty blogs or political sites. The name of the magazine is Reason, not Innuendo. C'mon, Cathy, get with it.

I'd especially like to know where in the talk radio universe she sees commonplace ad hominem attacks. I don't see it in the ones I've listened to with some regularity: Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Sliwa, Beck, Ingraham. They have their quirks; Levin occasionally dives into angry rants, and Ingraham says "uh huh" with the same tone of voice as the wife who's been told by her husband for the 87th time that he won't stay out at the bar too late. But these hosts target real issues.

But what about Savage? Never listened to him, so I can't comment. He's just one guy, anyway- why should I believe that he's representative of talk radio in any fashion (other than being conservative)?

(Anyone know where I can find a list of talk radio hosts ranked by listenership?)

But they put down people, too. Yeah, for doing what they believe to be bad things. Cathy Young does in print the same thing that Sean Hannity does on the air (without bumper music).

But doesn't criticism inspire hatred? Only in hateful people, not in mature folks. Take another close look at that animated GIF near the top corner of my blog.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Twenty-Two Years Ago Today

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The British National Party And -- Screwtape?

These are the words of British National Party leader Nick Griffin, spoken at a meeting of white nationalists in Texas (at which David Duke happened to be in attendance). He addressed one of the basic principles of propaganda: "saleable" words, catchphrases that sound appealing to the general public on the surface but which the propagandist uses to masquerade his or her more noxious principles.

There’s a difference between selling out your ideas, and selling your ideas. And the British National Party isn’t about selling out its ideas ... but we are determined now to sell them. And that means basically to use the saleable words. As I say, freedom, security, identity, democracy. Nobody can criticise them, nobody can come at you and attack you on those ideas. They are saleable.

Perhaps one day, once by being rather more subtle we’ve got ourselves in a position where we control the British broadcasting media, then perhaps one day the British people might change their mind and say, “Yes, every last one must go.” Perhaps they will one day, but if you offer that as your sole aim to start with, you’re gonna get absolutely nowhere. So, instead of talking about racial purity, we talk about identity.

These are the words of Screwtape, C. S. Lewis' fictional bureaucrat from Hell, instructing demonic field agent Wormwood on using one of the most powerful of saleable words: "democracy" (emphasis added).

Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. The good work which our philological experts have already done in the corruption of human language makes it unnecessary to warn you that they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won't. It will never occur to them that democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor of course must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle's question: whether "democratic behaviour" means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve a democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.

You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of human feelings. You can get him to practice, not only without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.
Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from fear of being undemocratic.

Later in the passage, Screwtape relates a tale of a tyrant who seeks advice on governing from another tyrant. Using the allegory of cutting wheat stalks all down to the same size, Screwtape defines the diabolical sense of democracy:

Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals.

BNP may or may not share this view of "democracy." That's not the point. The lesson here is that we must look past deceptive jargon.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Socialists Take A Hit In European Elections

The Wall Street Journal has a country-by-country summary of the European Parliament elections.

The UK results are astonishing; the Labour Party, which holds a solid majority in the UK parliament, came in third among Britain's delegation in the European Parliament.

MEP Daniel Hannan thinks it's time for UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to go.

Update: Andrew Ian Dodge has some observations on the British side of the elections aftermath at Pajamas Media.

Update: Via Andrew Sullivan, the majority of those who voted for the British National Party are (quoting Sully) "disaffected labour voters."

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Correction Corrected

In this post I had originally stated that Flip Benham is Operation Rescue director, and then updated the post to say that Troy Newman holds that post. Thing is, both statements are true - there are two organizations using that name. Newman is director of Operation Rescue, Benham of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America. One is a splinter group of the other - but which is the splinter group may be a matter of debate...

Benham's is the organization that put out the video linked in that post. Newman's is the organization that Roeder had contacted on several occasions inquiring about Tiller's court appearances.

Activist outfits routinely get calls from complete strangers about their pet issues; there's no scandal here, unless OR senior analyst Cheryl Sullenger actually knew Roeder and had reason to believe him a violent threat. I do question OR's wisdom in giving high office to someone who, quoting LGF, had been "convicted of conspiracy to bomb an abortion clinic in 1988" - even if she is repentant. Activist organizations are duty-bound to avoid any appearance of being a threat to public safety - especially one like OR; the right-to-life movement in general is painted with some of the most vicious bigotry one can find.


Why I Read Volokh Conspiracy

Total Eclipse of the Heart - The Literal Version

Best line: "It started out as Hogwarts, now it's Lord of the Flies."

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The blog is seven years old today. Read my fifth anniversary musings.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Since Some Of Y'all Are Probably Wondering

I don't take any glee in anyone's death, not even if it's convicted murderer Jeffrey Dahmer or terrorist Yasser Arafat. Death is sometimes a necessary tragedy - when deadly force is justly applied against deadly criminal threats - but a tragedy nonetheless.

The post below explains why Tiller's murder is not just use of deadly force..


God, Caesar, George Tiller, And Batman

Emperor Misha puts forth an eloquent defense of due process regarding the incident. Here's the money passage:

The religious aspect. This is important, because it’s something that the loony left doesn’t understand (along with almost everything else). “How can you not feel bad about this man being murdered while at the same time insisting that his murderer is a murderer?” Simple, really. Tiller’s murderer violated a law of man, and by that he must be judged here on Earth, as I hope and expect that he will be. But Tiller also violated the Laws of G-d, and therefore I cannot feel bad about him being a recipient of “what goes around, comes around.” It is improper, however, for man to take it upon himself to enforce the Laws of G-d, only G-d has that prerogative, and Tiller’s murderer, no matter how much I feel that this world is a cleaner place because Tiller has been removed from it, did just that. For that he will answer, just as Tiller will answer for his sins.

Here's some food for thought. Ever wonder what it would be like if Batman really existed? Many would find it cool at first - a Caped Crusader taking out crooks that conventional law enforcement can't get to. Thing is, there's a huge lack of consensus over just who the crooks are; many see villainy where it does not exist, or where it is exaggerated. In Batman Nation, the innocent have more to fear from vigilantes than from the usual criminal sorts.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Andrew Sullivan Is Unhinged, Too

Yeah, I know. That headline belongs with James Taranto's "Bottom Stories of the Day."

Sully quotes a grammatically-impaired reader:

That quote by Michelle Malkin that you posted describing the killing of Tiller as "terrorism" wasn't by Michelle. It was a quote from a post on some other blog and she linked to Google. She didn't call it terrorism. In fact, she was basically pulling the "oh NOW the left uses the word 'terrorism'" card. Just didn't want you giving her credit for something she didn't actually do.

Sullivan had given her an Yglesias Award nomination for this:

"Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down at his church in Kansas Sunday morning in a thoroughly evil, cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism. Yes, terrorism. Not 'extremism,'"

The Malkin article in question is here. What threw off the reader - and Sully - was the sentence immediately following that excerpted in the Dish:

Interesting how the t-word has been rediscovered.

First, the reader is misrepresenting facts about the origins of her quote. I did a Google search on the exact phrase "thoroughly evil, cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism." The results clearly show that Malkin is the originator of the quote.

Second, one like Malkin can both believe that the Tiller shooting was terrorism AND note the resurgence of the word "terrorism" in the media.

Third, please take note of the definition of the Yglesias Award: its purpose is (emphasis added)...

"for writers, politicians, columnists or pundits who actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe."

Andrew Sullivan insinuates that a guy who murders an abortionist is representative of the conservative majority. Sully should win his own Moore Award.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

A Closer Look At Ricci

Pej explores Sotomayor's pro-discrimination ruling in the case in question.


George Tiller Murdered

Michelle Malkin has the story.

Update: LGF has background on Scott Roeder, who was arrested for the murder.

Update: LGF's Charles Johnson is unhinged. He thinks Operation Rescue bears culpability in the murder:

But as we’ve shown here at LGF, Roeder also posted comments at anti-abortion websites, subscribed to anti-abortion magazines (including one that advocated the murder of doctors who perform abortions), and when he was arrested he had a Post-It note in his car containing the phone number of Operation Rescue. Exactly how do you qualify to have “connections to the pro-life” movement, if this doesn’t do it?

Note to anti-abortion groups: man up and take responsibility for Scott Roeder. He’s one of yours. Obviously, not everyone who belongs to a “pro-life” group will go to such extreme lengths as Scott Roeder apparently did, but it’s long past time for you folks to start dialing down the rhetoric and acting more responsibly — before anyone else is hurt or killed in a shooting or an abortion clinic bombing.

And if you don’t believe this is necessary, here’s a video created by Operation Rescue. The apparent purpose of the video: to encourage the murder of Dr. George Tiller. At one point, an onscreen message says: “Together We Can Put An End To George Tiller, Abortion and These Horrific Crimes”

Following that commentary is the video in question (warning: graphic images of aborted fetuses).

He has a point that the language "put an end to George Tiller" without any added context comes across as sounding like a death threat. But the context of the video is plainly not that. OR's video clearly seeks to convey the message that abortion kills, and that OR seeks new members and petition signatories. Anyone with common sense would grasp that somebody wanting to off an abortionist doesn't issue a recruitment video with a petition advertised at the end; that somebody quietly hires a hitman, or does the job himself. OR director Flip Benham is a colossal PR nightmare, but he does not incite violence.

(Quite frankly I think that videos of living fetuses would be more effective than the dead fetus pics - not grainy hospital scans, but the kind of image quality you find in the still photos in this YouTube video. The strategy should be to demonstrate that the human fetus is a human life.)

Correction: Flip Benham is not the current OR director. Troy Newman is the current president. (Top two officers listed here.) Benham was director from 1994 to date unknown. He is perhaps the organization's most visible spokesman.

FYI, OR's official statement is here.


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