The central bank of Germany will no longer accept bank bonds backed by Ireland, Greece and Portugal as collateral, becoming the first euro-zone central bank to exercise a new privilege to protect its balance sheet from the region’s debt crisis.
The embargo is a frustrating thing. On the one hand it really doesn't accomplish anything, as Cuba trades with many other nations. Pope Benedict is clueless when he says that the "restrictive economic measures" (the embargo) "unfairly burden [the Cuban] people." Well, it accomplishes nothing for the good guys - the embargo is manna from Heaven to the Cuban PR machine.
On the other hand, it is just to forbid citizens from trading with a hostile foreign government. Cuba is a hardline Communist nation, with none of the economic laxity of modern China or Cold War Hungary. There is no private commerce; all trade with Cuba is trade with its government.
Been on vacation for a week, so I'll start to get back in the blogging groove with this gem from Armstrong Williams. The short answer to his question: to protect their economic status, and because they "see the federal government as a charitable organization or a tool they can use to reshape society." Read the whole thing.
Norwegian researchers say that lysergic acid diethylamide — also known as the hallucinogenic drug LSD — was used in a few clinics in the 1960s and 1970s to help some alcoholics, and should be revisited once again as a possible treatment, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a one-man operation, once had a running gag about EIA's union, the Education Intelligence Extra Income Organization (EIEIO). Now he's spotted a real-life one-man union, Detroit's Assistant Supervisors of Street Maintenance and Construction Association.
I'm reminded of the absurd games such as Electro-Magnetic Golf and Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy that appear in Brave New World. The novel doesn't offer any descriptions of the games, but the names alone suggest Rube Goldberg-worthy diversions with way too many moving parts, and - unlike the major sports of today, requiring batteries.
“I hate that people think compromise is a dirty word. It’s not a dirty word,” she said…
Compromise is possible if both parties share a common goal. The Democratic leadership does not share any common goals with conservatives or libertarians - not on the top issues, and especially not on the top, middle, or bottom money issues. The Dems have locked themselves into depending on thievery to stay in power - stealing from one half of America to the other half in exchange for votes. We can't get the Dems to trim the budget by the smallest of margins, much less by the $1.5 trillion per year necessary to balance the budget.
"And then there is the Tenth Commandment. 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.' The Ten Commandments are God's basic rules about how we should live — a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts.
"The first nine Commandments concern theological principles and social law. But then, right at the end, is 'Don't envy your buddy's cow.' How did that make the top ten? What's it doing there? Why would God, with just ten things to tell Moses, choose as one of those things jealousy about the starter mansion with in-ground pool next door?
"Yet think how important the Tenth Commandment is to a community, to a nation, indeed to a presidential election. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't be a jerk and whine about what the people across the street have — go get your own.
"The Tenth Commandment sends a message to all the jerks who want redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, more government programs, more government regulation, more government, less free enterprise, and less freedom. And the message is clear and concise: Go to hell."
P. J. O'Rourke, "An Alternative Inaugural Speech," January 18, 2005
Parents teach certain half-truths to children because children do not have an adult understanding of the world. One of these half-truths is the claim that it is inappropriate to call people by rude names. We teach children this because we know their nature. They act rudely out of mean-spiritedness or out of indifference.
Satire is an alien concept to young children. They do not easily distinguish between ad hominem and attacks on actions and ideas, nor do they comprehend the paradox that impoliteness (satire is rude by nature) must play by certain rules of civility.
Back in 2007 I attempted a treatise on name-calling, inspired by the recent controversy over Ann Coulter's uncalled-for "faggot" remark at CPAC. It could probably use some cleaning up, and since that post I'm liking the term "Islamofascist' (cited there as an example of proper name-calling) less and less, since the root term "Fascist" is so overused and widely misunderstood to those who don't read Jonah Goldberg.
My chief concerns about name-calling are that names:
Should ridicule ideas or actions, abstaining from ad hominem.
Must stay on-message.
Must not give ammo to the opposition.
Should refrain from vulgarity in most cases, depending on audience.
His Monday dialogue offers an excellent summary of Fluke's Congressional testimony - read the whole thing.
The central theme to Rush's mea culpa:
I don't expect -- and I know you don't, either -- morality or intellectual honesty from the left. They've demonstrated over and over a willingness to say or do anything to advance their agenda. It's what they do. It's what we fight against here every day. But this is the mistake I made. In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them.
On March 2, Ann Althouse (a Rush fan) posted a thoughtful criticism of Rush's controversial remarks. She notes some factual errors - mainly that Rush had misreported Fluke's call for insurer subsidies as a call for taxpayer subsidies - and she said this about the vulgarities:
Quite aside from the lack of a factual basis for his humor, it's just mean to aim words like "slut" and "prostitute" at a woman, especially a young woman, even if the metaphor is apt. Even when you get the joke and agree with the criticism of the policy she's advocating, it feels ugly. The humor backfires.
About a month ago commenter Bart at Transterrestrial Musings cast the Democrats as the Veruca Salt Party. Unfamiliar with that name, I turned to Google and found one of those films that should not have escaped my youth but did: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Veruca is the spoiled, demanding rich girl whose big number is I Want It Now. I will forever associate that YouTube clip with Sandra Fluke. Am i comparing candy to contraception? No, I'm comparing Veruca's covetousness and sense of entitlement to Fluke's.
A lot of conservatives are in a cranked-to-eleven fury over Rush's apology. The mest illumination on this comes from Rush himself. In the post on the Ann Coulter flap I mentioned early in this post, I excerpt Rush's comments on the matter:
I think what people misunderstand about the rank-and-file in the Republican Party is that they're sick and tired of taking it on the chin day in and day out. The mainstream press can assault every one of our icons. The mainstream press, the Drive-By Media and the left, can assault every one of our presidential candidates. They can call George Bush "Hitler." They can write movies on how Bush ought to be assassinated, do movies and produce them; write books on how Bush ought to be assassinated; can say that they wish Cheney had been killed -- and there is no condemnation of it. There are a lot of people in the so-called conservative movement who are fed up with the docileness of Republican leaders in Congress, and even in the White House, who just sit by, don't respond, and just take this stuff.
People are hungry for leadership and they want there to be a response, and they want fighters...So when somebody like Ann Coulter comes along and says what she said, they simply react to it. "All right! Somebody's fighting back! Somebody is saying something in return to these people and pointing out their hypocrisy." I think that's why the support that is there for Ann Coulter is there, because she represents something that the leadership of the party doesn't provide them. The leadership of the movement these days doesn't provide them an outlet for their own anger. You know, individuals are sitting out there roasting and frying and getting angry each and every day at the things that are in the Drive-By Media: the unfairness, the imbalances, the constant defense of the people who are invested in defeat of their own country. They're never called on it. It's never portrayed. The Democrats and the left in this country are never portrayed for who they really are in the Drive-By Media. The White House won't say it and many of the Republican leaders in the House and Senate won't say it. They won't be critical of anybody. The Drive-Bys totally give Bill Maher a pass for wishing that Dick Cheney were dead, and saying that more people would be alive were that the case.
Conservatives (and other foes of the Left) want someone to fight back against the Left, and those people are hard to find among our elected representatives (folks who I labeled the Vast Right Wing Complacency). They get excited when they see someone who appears to be fighting. But sometimes they fail to discern what ever successful boxer knows, the difference between fighting and lashing out. Fighting exposes and/or counters the opposition's efforts. Lashing out is just an emotional vent (not necessarily an angry one, as Coulter illustrates).
Many are also enraged by the perception that Rush conceded something to his foes. He did no such thing. He conceded to a principle that scarcely any prominent figures on the Left support. Do a Google search on the phrase "civility bullshit" for relevant articles. Scour the Internet and see how hard it is to find examples of lefty opposition to the celebrations of Andrew Breitbart's death.
One thing we need to remind ourselves is that when people battle over politics the combatants aren't the only ones watching. Rush's apology serves not only principle, and his side's moral authority to criticize the incivility that dominates the Left, but also it benefits the unconverted. Rush's powers of persuasion have changed a lot of minds over the years. That ability diminishes if he abandons principle, and the impressions of conservatives and conservatism among the unconverted suffers.
Life: "Hackers Elect Futurama’s Bender to the Washington DC School Board" (via Instapundit)
Art: "New Hampshire will become the first state to allow Internet voting, despite concerns that hackers might influence elections. This decision will come under review when William Gibson and Clay Aiken make strong showings in the primaries." (One of my Predictions for 2004)