Ephemerides (November 2003)
November 30, 2003 The new issue of The Weekly Standard carries Andrew Ferguson's portmanteau review of assorted leftists' tracts decrying "That Man in the White House". It's a useful summary for anyone who doesn't care to slog through thousands of pages of paranoid ravings — I commend the reviewer for his endurance — yet it suffers, I think, from the too-facile equivalence of "Bush Hatred" with "Clinton Hatred". Except in emotional intensity, the two phenomena are markedly dissimilar, and ignoring the differences risks misunderstanding the current trajectory of American politics.
Clinton Hatred had a bit of an ideological component in its early days, when Bill & Hillary had big plans for raising taxes, socializing medicine and converting the Armed Forces into a gay-friendly social agency. After November 1994, however, the Clinton agenda dwindled to inconsequence. Clinton did what he could to obstruct conservative initiatives, but the Right got a series of half and three-quarter loaves, most notably a welfare reform measure to which the President, like the maiden in the poem, "saying 'I will ne'er consent', consented". By 1996 the standard conservative criticism of Clinton's politics was that he was King Log, a leader whose principal goal was to retain the celebrity status that goes along with the Presidency. Nobody hated him for that. What inspired revulsion was his cheap, sleazy, self-indulgent, dishonest celebrity. Advocates of removing him from office didn't expect that Al Gore would follow conservative policies. To the contrary, every sane pro-impeachment commentator recognized that, if the Vice President became an incumbent President untainted by scandal, he would almost certainly win a new term in his own right. But ridding the White House of the stench of Clintonism was more important than maximizing the prospects of a Republican victory in 2000.
The Bush Haters are the opposite. In their minds, George W. Bush is plotting to turn America into a 19th Century imperialist state whose economy will be dominated by malefactors of great wealth and whose "democracy" will be a sham. The President's personal failings are merely an epiphenomenon of his ideological purpose. He "lies" not for a Clintonian reason — to cover up personal moral transgressions — but for a Hitlerian one: to deceive the public about his true intentions. Veteran leftist William Greider, writing in The Nation a few months ago, offered an account of the Bush Administration's covert aims that is believed by all of the writers whose books Mr. Ferguson reviews:
The movement's grand ambition - one can no longer say grandiose — is to roll back the twentieth century, quite literally. That is, defenestrate the federal government and reduce its scale and powers to a level well below what it was before the New Deal's centralization. With that accomplished, movement conservatives envision a restored society in which the prevailing values and power relationships resemble the America that existed around 1900, when William McKinley was President. Governing authority and resources are dispersed from Washington, returned to local levels and also to individuals and private institutions, most notably corporations and religious organizations. The primacy of private property rights is re-established over the shared public priorities expressed in government regulation. Above all, private wealth — both enterprises and individuals with higher incomes — are [sic] permanently insulated from the progressive claims of the graduated income tax.
The true parallel to the Bush Haters is not the Clinton Haters but the 1950's John Birch Society, with its insistence that Dwight Eisenhower and other public figures were scheming to turn the U.S. over to a communist regime. The Birchers were, however, a minuscule fringe of mid-century conservatism, whereas the Bush Haters dominate the nominating process of a major political party and have lined up financing far in excess of what could be furnished by a minor league candy magnate.
Put simply, Clinton Hatred represented a possibly exaggerated dislike of a single individual's modus operandi. Bush Hatred, by contrast, is a conspiracy theory to which George W. Bush is incidental. The same accusations, modified only to the extent necessary to fit a different biography, would be leveled at any conservative President. No one accused Al Gore of being an accessory to Whitewater, but whoever is the Republican Presidential candidate in 2008 will be denounced as an accomplice in "Bush's lies". The Angry Left believes, at heart, that "politics as usual" no longer exists in this country. We will be lucky indeed if it doesn't act in ways that ultimately turn its delusion into disastrous fact. [To comment, click here.]
November 23, 2003 Losing to Harvard isn't so bad. It's happened before, doubtless permitted by God as a reminder of the inescapable imperfection of the fallen universe. But when 550 yards of total offense, over 30 first downs and five drives inside the ten-yard-line produce 19 points, one is severely tempted to convert to the death-of-God school. I'm glad the people in Georgia (the overseas one) have reason to rejoice. Alumni of Old Eli don't. [Add grumbling sound as editor totters off to drown his sorrows and start a movement to reduce the length of the football field to 90 yards.] [To comment, click here.]
November 20, 2003 Far be it from me to pretend to infallibility in reading omens in the tea leaves of the stock market, but there has to be some reason why the generally cheery economic news of the past two weeks, today's being a rise in the leading indicators and a fall in initial jobless claims, has provoked nothing better than a very gradual downhill slide. Does the market's perversity have anything to do with the indicators of future economic policy? The Bush Administration has held resolutely to its steel tariff folly in the face of an adverse WTO decision and increasingly credible threats of retaliation by other countries, then expanded its protectionist campaign by launching a pinprick strike — too big to ignore, too small to do any damage — against Red Chinese brassiere imports. Meanwhile, it has crafted a Medicare proposal that will make the program vastly bigger and more expensive, a sure step toward increased government control over, as conservatives kept saying during the Hillarycare fight, one-seventh of the American economy. That the AARP has endorsed the White House bill is all the proof one needs that it is fatally flawed. (Vide Ramesh Ponnuru's aperçu "AARP GOP".) Do any of these developments portend future prosperity?
There has been a tendency for first-rate wartime leaders to grow increasingly inept in dealing with domestic policy. Winston Churchill lost office as he won World War II. FDR's bungling on the home front gave force to "Had Enough?", the banner beneath which Republicans won control of Congress in 1946. In Israel Menachem Begin let his early plans for liberating the economy slip into oblivion, and Ariel Sharon is similarly insouciant about the need to relax the grip of socialism. That George W. Bush is drifting with the same current cannot inspire the animal spirits of the investing and entrepreneurial class. [To comment, click here.]
November 20, 2003 Stephen Hayes' reporting on ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden is starting to attract attention from the hitherto studiously indifferent mainstream press. In the current issue of The Weekly Standard, Mr. Hayes summarizes a Pentagon memorandum outlining, in 16 pages and 50 dense paragraphs, data supporting the view that the two enemies of the West cooperated extensively from 1991 onward. The Defense Department reacted with a less than forthright press release, to which Mr. Hayes offered a prompt response. Now comes Newsweek, claiming that the "tangled tale of the memo suggests that the case of whether there has been Iraqi-al Qaeda complicity is far from closed." It's refreshing, as one wag remarked, that the magazine at last concedes that the case might be open, but, as the latest Hayes response devastatingly demonstrates, it is not at all clear that the Newsweek reporters even read the memorandum at issue. At least, they seem mysteriously ignorant of its contents beyond what Mr. Hayes himself has published. For example, they claim that "The Pentagon memo pointedly omits any reference to the interrogations of a host of other high-level al Qaeda and Iraqi detainees — including such notables as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Abu Zubaida, and Hijazi himself." Yet the document, in a section not quoted in the original Weekly Standard article, cites interrogations of Abu Zubaida and Faruq Hijazi, both providing evidence that Osama was eager to ally with Saddam and approached him for assistance. Similarly, Newsweek seems aware of only two reports of post-1999 contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, whereas at least 13 are actually described. An uncharitable soul might think that the Newsweek team was engaged in regurgitating talking points fed to it by a government source rather than in reporting. Unfortunately, their journalistic colleagues will by and large swallow their dubious "refutation" and get back to chanting "Bush tricked us". [To comment, click here.]
November 20, 2003 When the late Robert Forward used to talk about going up the stars via a "space elevator" thousands of miles long, I assumed that his ideas were centuries, if not millennia, in advance of present-day technology. $sessionid$F3U32WGUEV0P5QFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/connected/2003/11/19/ecfspace19.xmlThe Daily Telegraph reports, however, that their realization may be scant decades away.
The development that pushed the space elevator from the pages of science fiction into a topic worthy of two conferences is the carbon nanotube, an elongated structure of carbon atoms measuring a few nanometres across, where a nanometre is a billionth of a metre. The smallest have a circumference of just 10 carbon atoms, linked to form a hexagonal pattern.
Carbon nanotubes have been found in nature, including small amounts in soot. They are as strong as diamonds, but flexible and far lighter than steel. A ribbon made of carbon nanotubes, or of a composite fibre that incorporates nanotubes, would be strong enough to support its own weight as well as the weight of climbers ascending in to orbit. "With the discovery of carbon nanotubes and their remarkable strength properties, the time for the space elevator is at hand," said Dr [Bryan] Laubscher [of the Los Alamos National Laboratory].
There are, the story is careful to note, practical and technological problems besides spinning a 60,000 mile long super-cable, such as finding a way to shield passengers from the Earth's radiation belts during a three-week ascent. Still, the stuff of dreams is coming nearer to reality than I had ever expected during my lifetime. [To comment, click here.]
November 19, 2003 For some time, The Wall Street Journal's subscription-only "Political Diary" has been pushing the theory that Howard Dean is at heart a moderate who attached himself to the Angry Left more out of political opportunism than conviction. The moral that Holman Jenkins and John Fund draw is that Governor Dean is more like Richard Nixon than George McGovern, that is, a chameleon rather than an ideologue.
Now new evidence is pouring in, and it suggests that, whatever the Democratic front runner may think when he is walking solitary through the green hills of Vermont, he wants the electorate to identify him with the unapologetic Leftism of his most recent endorsers, the socialist-led AFSCME and SEIU. ("Socialist-led" is sober description, not invective.)
The first datum is his declaration to The Washington Post that he wants to "re-regulate" American business. The initial targets are "utilities, large media companies and any business that offers stock options". "Re-regulation" is not quite the apt turn of phrase. "Any business that offers stock options" would go vastly beyond the territory that federal and state governments have regulated intrusively in the past, and his initial list of wished-for mandates is full of rules that have never been imposed before on any segment of the American economy: "new workers' standards, a much broader right to unionize and new 'transparency' requirements for corporations that go beyond the recently enacted Sarbanes-Oxley law".
The second straw in the wind is the latest Dean commercial in Iowa, which unequivocally opposes "spending $87 billion in Iraq". Governor Dean has sounded moderate a few times in recent weeks when he has suggested that the United States ought not simply to abandon Iraq to Ba'athist terrorism and probable civil war, but he evidently doesn't mean that seriously. Or does he perhaps want our boys in Iraq to pay their own way by looting the country?
It seems to me that, if Governor Dean is going to so much trouble to be recognized as the McGovern of 2004, politeness demands that we accede to his desire and cease to torment him with embarrassing reminders of his moderate past. That belongs, as the saying goes, in the dustbin of history. [To comment, click here.]
Update, 12/2/03: "Lee", who represents himself as a dual resident of Pittsburgh and New Haven, writes:
If one considers Dean's positions, they are surprisingly moderate. States' rights views on civil unions and gun control, an eleven-year record of balanced budgets in Vermont, and his incremental approach to expanding health insurance coverage are not the positions of a raving liberal. I know, I am one. As for "re-regulation," that is simply an unfortunate term for commonsense regulations like media ownership limits and accounting oversight. (A final note — political pronouncements at this stage must be viewed through the lens of primary elections. Iowa Democrats wouldn't like Dean to support the $87 billion, even if Dean knows, as pretty much everyone does, that US troops need to be there for a while.)
As I said in my post, Governor Dean may be a moderate in his secret heart, but he wants people to see him as a fire-breathing liberal. Real liberals have every right to be suspicious of his bona fides, but why should conservatives insult him by positing that he is lying to Iowa voters about his current opinions? To put it another way, the man is a liberal or a liar. I'm not eager to vote for either one. [To comment, click here.]
November 19, 2003 President Bush delivers yet another world class speech (this is becoming a bore — doesn't he realize that he's just a stupid, tongue-tied cowboy?), while pro-Saddam protesters surge through London like . . . like . . . maybe a squadron of fierce toads? (Instapundit has a quick summary of the inaction. Vide etiam David Frum, Iain Murray, Kathryn Jean Lopez and Annanova.) If the Presidential visit to England was a plot by State Department saboteurs, they've vindicated Foggy Bottom's reputation for foot-shooting. If it was a high stakes gamble by Karl Rove, we have another lesson on why he plots strategy for Presidential campaigns and the rest of us don't. Most likely, though, the President made the decision himself and based it on the simple calculus that it is better to stand up to one's enemies than run away. [To comment, click here.]
November 18, 2003 If I believed same-sex marriage to be a splendid idea (which I don't), I hope that I would still have the good sense to be appalled by the manner in which it is being imposed in Massachusetts: not by the legislature or through action of the people, but by a four-to-three vote of an unelected tribunal. Just four years ago, the same court ruled unanimously that the principles of judicial restraint, in the form of the finality of completely litigated decisions, compelled it to uphold criminal convictions obtained through the use of fraudulent evidence. (Vide Dorothy Rabinowitz, "Judgment in Massachusetts"). Today judicial restraint is of no importance, as the court's majority interprets the state constitution to create a right to same-sex marriage that no rational being can believe was ever contemplated by the framers — or by anybody else until just now. Not even the liberal concept of a "living constitution" fits. The majority's "constitution" isn't alive; it is a zombie manipulated to say whatever the voodoo doctors want.
What will happen next is predictable. Press reports might lead a casual reader to think that, like the Vermont Supreme Court a few years ago, the Massachusetts court has sent the issue to the legislature for resolution, but that is not the case. While entry of judgment has been postponed for 180 days, the decision is not contingent on anything that the legislature does. If, for instance, the lawmakers were to try to compromise by enacting some form of Vermont's civil union legislation, the order would take effect anyway and render the half-measure meaningless. The motive for the delay is simply to give the legislature time to amend the marriage law voluntarily to conform to the court's decision. "You can avoid execution by committing suicide." (And, as the experience of many Vermont legislators who voted for civil unions indicates, it would be suicide in the political sense.)
Since amending the Massachusetts constitution takes three years, there is nothing that the majority of the state's citizens, however large that majority, can do to alter the decree of a majority of a seven-member court (short of an impossibly drastic step like imposing a moratorium on marriage until a constitutional amendment can be adopted). For that reason, there is nothing that the rest of the country can do to avoid years of inflammatory litigation over whether the U.S. Constitution requires every state to give full faith and credit to what any state labels a "marriage". The conflict isn't likely to rise to the level of a civil war, but hardly anybody expects it to be other than bitter and divisive.
Were I conspiracy-minded, I would be tempted to suspect that, in certain circles, creating bitterness and division is the principal point. Homosexuals do not now suffer any serious detriment from inability to contract legal marriages with persons of the same sex, and they are free to agitate through democratic channels for changes in the current laws. The shred of justification for judicial intervention in the Lawrence case — the far-fetched apprehension that anti-sodomy laws might be employed as instruments of persecution — isn't present here. Statutes have altered elements of the marriage contract before and can do so again, if the advocates of change can persuade their elected representatives that change will be beneficial.
So homosexuals gain very little from Goodridge v. Massachusetts, while America suffers the distraction of a debilitating debate that will probably produce irrational emotionalism on both sides. In the midst of a war, cui bono? The ghosts of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, in their pits in Hell, must feel a breath of refrigerium. [To comment, click here.]
November 17, 2003 Within 24 hours, more or less, we'll know whether President Bush's visit to Britain is a public relations catastrophe or yet another case of "misunderestimation". The worriers include sensible folks like David Frum (though he later backed away a bit from his initial alarmism), Stephen Pollard and Melanie Phillips, who know the British well and fear that the anticipated semi-riots will undermine the trans-Atlantic partnership. All three think that the decision to have the President meet Prime Minister Blair in London rather than, say, an enclave in the Galapagos, was boneheaded, perhaps even a deliberate anti-Bush step by a State Department fifth column. Miss Phillips adds her own explanation of the underlying cause of the blunder:
Frum asks how Bush's advisers could have allowed him to drift into this. I think part of the answer is similar to the reason why Israel is so useless at putting its case across. For like Israel, America is so convinced of the righteousness of its cause that it simply cannot conceive that it can be hated as much as it is. It is incredulous at the suggestion that it needs actively to win hearts and minds. It has also never bothered properly to understand Britain. It knows Tony Blair has been a staunch ally over Iraq. Er, that's it.
The Americans have been going round in a kind of bubble. It's the same bubble, insulating them from the advice of candid friends which they simply override because to listen to it might admit to weakness, which has got them into such terrible trouble in Iraq. If they had bothered to look closely at what has been going on in Britain, they would have seen that the country has been engulfed by a rising hysteria about the US and Bush: an irrationality and complete breakdown in logic, common sense and moral reasoning from 9/11 onwards which has created the ugliest, most prejudiced and most dangerous national mood that I can ever remember. But the Americans, like the Israelis, have been so wrapped up in themselves that they have never opened their eyes to this. As a result, they have been almost entirely absent from the battle for hearts and minds, leaving a vacuum to be filled by the propaganda of noxious ideologues and their compliant fellow-travellers in the media.
And now, for another opinion, let us turn to, of all places, the consistently anti-American, terrorist-tolerant Guardian, which today published a poll showing that the British public (i) favors the President's visit (43%-36%), (ii) favors the invasion of Iraq (47%-41%), (iii) opposes immediate withdrawal of American and British troops from Iraq (two-thirds against withdrawal, no report of the percentage for it) and (iv) believes that the U.S. is "a force for good" (62%, vs. 15% who label us "an evil empire"). Those figures don't seem entirely consistent with "a rising hysteria about the US and Bush . . . which has created the ugliest, most prejudiced and most dangerous national mood that I can ever remember". In fact, a comparison of this with past polls indicates that the direction of the hysteria is downward. In September, 53% of the respondents to a similar Guardian survey condemned the invasion. Thus the anti-war position has lost a quarter of its support and fallen into minority status in just two months — two months, it should be noted, of relentless quagmire propaganda from the British press.
The point that Miss Phillips overlooks, I think, is that President Bush, by traveling to Britain, is waging "the battle for hearts and minds" in the most effective way open to him. The publicity surrounding his visit, including the irrational hostility of the anti-Western Left, brings to the fore what is at stake in the War on Terror. When the public is motivated to devote real thought and attention to the state of the world, the drone of media propaganda has less influence, and the President has an opening to present the American cause (which is also the cause of Britain and every other civilized country) without hostile intermediaries. The Guardian's poll suggests that this process is already under weigh.
Absent such efforts, the United States has almost no voice beyond its own borders. Paid advertisements aren't going to counter the world's overwhelmingly leftist media, and it is no longer politically feasible to follow the early Cold War course of covertly subsidizing friendly foreign publications. Happily, there is still the bully pulpit. The President is to be commended for mounting it instead of skulking in the corridors of power. [To comment, click here.]
Update, 11/18/03: The full breakdown of the Guardian poll results is on-line in PDF format, as is a more detailed article, written, let's not forget, by people who must really feeling like they're swallowing castor oil. The headline encapsulates my own thesis: "Protests begin, but majority backs Bush visit as support for war surges."
The Society's aim is to highlight the full extent of the life of King Charles I. This includes both his kingly persona and the man himself. In post-millennium Britain with its established democracy, it is easy to dismiss Charles I and the Royalist cause as tyrannical and by highlighting Charles and his cause in full, we hope to expand modern day thought about one of our most controversial monarchs.
Membership is currently free and can be obtained by sending an e-mail to the Society.
As I have observed elsewhere, King Charles, though far from politically astute, struggled against the forces of despotism and ultimately won a posthumous victory. He deserves a place in the Pantheon of martyrs to liberty. [To comment, click here.]
November 16, 2003 Mark Steyn is even more incisive than usual today. His subject is the anticipated rioting during President Bush's visit this week to Britain.
As to the derangement of the crowd, they are impervious to reason. After two years of warnings from clapped-out Arabists that the incendiary "Arab street" was about to explode in anti-American rage across the Middle East, it remains as unrousable as ever. Instead, it is the explosive European street that remains implacably pro-Saddam, pro-Yasser, pro-jihad, pro-Taliban misogynist homophobes, pro-anyone as long as they are anti-American.
The demonstrations this coming week are best considered in the light of several smaller events: on Remembrance Day in Melbourne, "anti-war protesters" shrieked their way through the service; in Ottawa, "anti-war protesters" sprayed slogans on the National War Memorial a few hours before the start of the ceremony. Bush-hatred is just a form of cultural self-hatred.
That's why this week will be a good test of US resolve. The Islamists can't win militarily. They can only win by demoralising America into jacking it in.
Actually, it looks more and more like the Islamists are mere cat's paws for the indigenous anti-Westerners, who would rather see civilization overrun by barbarians than fall into the hands of the demonized Right. [To comment, click here.]
November 16, 2003 A new front for Pat Buchanan! According to The Daily Telegraph, immigrants from the West Indies and the Indian subcontinent have risen economically to the point where they can devote their leisure time to cricket. The United States Cricket Association has 15,000 registered players and is hoping to establish a professional league within five years. New York State alone has 5,000 players, over 100 clubs and more than 60 pitches (as cricketeers call their playing fields).
Some viewers with alarm will doubtless see the rise of cricket as a defeat for assimilation and another dreary multiculturalist triumph. They're wrong. While cricket is not the same as baseball, it appeals to the same type of sporting interest: as a cerebral game that doesn't rely on bursts of frantic action for its appeal. It is thus, as I have discussed elsewhere, the opposite of the truly un-American pastime of soccer. If anything, cricket is more like baseball than baseball itself. There is no meretricious excitement in a contest where making a century, the closest equivalent to a grand slam home run, takes several hours to accomplish. If and when ESPN starts devoting 20 hours a week to Major League Cricket, you can be confident that the GOP will be drawing a solid majority of the Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani vote. [To comment, click here.]
November 16, 2003 Were I fractionally as paranoid as the average Angry Leftist, I would find it highly suspicious that The Weekly Standard's Web site went down for over 24 hours very shortly after it posted an article detailing links between Saddam Hussein's government and al-Qaeda. "Case Closed" by Stephen F. Hayes is based on a secret memorandum from the Defense Department to the Senate Intelligence Committee listing some 50 connections known, with either certainty or probability, to U.S. intelligence agencies. Much of the evidence was uncovered during the Clinton Administration, well before "neoconservatives" could have worked any maleficent influence. Other data have emerged from interrogations of former Ba'athist officials. While much remains murky (neither Saddam nor Osama bin Laden had any motive for transparency!), the overall pattern is one of cooperation going back to the aftermath of the first Gulf War. Certainly there are no signs of the alleged antipathy between religious and secular enemies of the West.
It's conceivable, of course, that all of this smoke comes from very small fires, but there are no longer any grounds for the incessant left-wing claim that President Bush has no reason to believe that Iraq has anything to do with the War on Terror. Needless to say, that won't keep the claim from being repeated. In fact, as Mr. Hayes notes, Democrat Senator Carl Levin, a member of the Intelligence Committee, was vigorously repeating it two weeks after reading the DoD memo, questioning whether there was "a basis" for connecting Iraq to terrorist groups despite having been shown what the basis is. The only rational explanation of Senator Levin's position is that he thinks that our country's intelligence services are populated by liars, a view that, I hasten to add, should not be considered to the least extent inconsistent with the Senator's unquestionable, indubitable, 1,000 percent patriotism. [To comment, click here.]
Update, 11/16/03: The Pentagon has issued a press release, analyzed by Josh Chafetz, that confirms Hayes' article under the guise of denying it. All that the memo did, we are told, was summarize "the reports from the Intelligence Community" that "dealt with the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida" without drawing any conclusions. In other words: Here is a great mass of credible evidence for links between Saddam and al-Qaeda; the committee may decide for itself whether there is any basis for thinking that such links exist. An Administration opponent like Senator Levin could reasonably say that the evidence isn't up to whatever standard of proof he imposes. It is harder to accept as bona fide his pretense that the confirmatory data are a Presidential fantasy. [To comment, click here.]
Update, 11/18/03: Stephen Hayes has presented his own analysis of the Pentagon's non-refuting "refutation".
November 13, 2003 Returned at last from a period of excessive and taxing travel, I don't yet quite feel up to large-scale updating of this site. Still, I had enough energy to take the most strenuous on-line quiz that I've ever encountered: Are You an Austrian? It has nothing to do with the governor-elect of California. My score was 86, which probably overstates my affinity for the economics of Ludwig von Mises (though I did read most of Human Action once upon a time). My answers that didn't qualify as "Austrian" all fell into the Austrian caricature of the Chicago School. Naturally, I avoided all of the Keynesian and socialist answers, thus doing better than Iain Murray, who claims that his one Keynesian response was "a mistake". Also noteworthy in Iain's blog is a smack on the wrist of "organic" foods (do hippies really think that the rest of us eat inorganic substitutes like plastic and silicon?) soundly administered by Kris Murray.
Because I'm pregnant and want to eat safely, I will not touch organic food. But pregnant or not, I still prefer food without bacteria or little green worms in it. Pesticides can be easily washed off, the sort of vermin living in organic foods can not. I am happy to admit that free-range meat products do appear to have some taste benefits, free-range, however, does not necessarily mean organic, let's also just make that clear right now.
Come join the ranks of Jay Ranyer, John Torode, Anthony Bourdain, the professionals at Cooks Illustrated, and many other culinary high-flyers and actually taste the difference between regular and "organic" foods before you virtuously pat yourself on the back for spending 50 pence more an ounce for an organic apple of dubious quality and packed with more worm protein than vitamins.
And finally, I would point out that the Green Revolution (which in this context means use of pesticides) has actually reduced the amount of farmland cultivated while increasing the amount of food produced (Skeptical Environmentalist, page 62). So you could say that judicious use of pesticides is actually more environmentally friendly as well as helpful in feeding populations than organic farming. Let's drop the holier than thou attitude and do what's right - boycott organic products!
My old college at Yale reportedly now serves only "organic" foods in its dining hall, simultaneously undermining the physical health of the students and the fiscal health of their parents. [To comment, click here.]
November 6, 2003 Jonah Goldberg thinks that school children will one day be reading in their classes about the speech that President Bush delivered today to the National Endowment for Democracy, "Freedom in Iraq and the Middle East". I wish that I shared young Jonah's confidence that future school children will know how to read. Nonetheless, it is a superb speech — if not Burke or Churchill, well on a level with Roosevelt, Thatcher and Reagan. [To comment, click here.]
November 6, 2003 The Oxford Union Society, a debating institution vastly more venerable — more thoughtful goes without saying — than the United Nations, has rejected, by a plurality of about forty, the proposition, "Resolved, This House believes that we are losing the peace". American Josh Chafetz was among the victorious speakers in opposition. Time and Newsweek may be defeatist, but the Youth of Britain stand with the daughter country. Hail, Britannia! [To comment, click here.]
November 4, 2003 Global warming? A bagatelle. If you want a real catastrophe to keep you awake nights, how about the just-discovered, billion-star galaxy that is on a collision course with the Milky Way, as reported by Universe Today?
An international team of astronomers from France, Italy, the UK and Australia has found a previously unknown galaxy colliding with our own Milky Way. This newly-discovered galaxy takes the record for the nearest galaxy to the centre of the Milky Way. Called the Canis Major dwarf galaxy after the constellation in which it lies, it is about 25,000 light years away from the solar system and 42,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way. This is closer than the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, discovered in 1994, which is also colliding with the Milky Way. The discovery shows that the Milky Way is building up its own disk by absorbing small satellite galaxies.
Perhaps, as part of an imperialistic galaxy expanding at the expense of others, we deserve what's coming to us. I'm sure that the loony leftists at Democrats.com think so. [To comment, click here.]
November 4, 2003 To
honor celebrate commemorate — okay, you get the idea — the 90th anniversary of the federal income tax (signed into law by President Wilson on October 3, 1913), legal publisher Commerce Clearing House has reprinted its first income tax publication, containing the 1913 statute and the original version of Form 1040 (that was its number way back then). The law is 27 pages long, the form, including instructions, four pages. The reader is left to draw whatever moral he will. [To comment, click here.]
November 4, 2003 Not all is bile in Anglicandom, however. Though it undoubtedly wasn't intended to support my side, I can't resist quoting this letter to the editor of a Tennessee newspaper, which a friend passed along to me. I'm surprised that Knoxville-based Instapundit hasn't picked it up already:
The actions taken by the New Hampshire Episcopalians are an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church's founder, Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon, and his wife Anne Boleyn, and his wife Jane Seymour, and his wife Anne of Cleves, and his wife Katherine Howard, and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer through this assault on traditional Christian marriage.
November 4, 2003 The controversy in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality has elicited streams of uncharitable bile from both sides. Not being an Episcopalian, I don't feel called on to say much about it myself but would like to call attention to an impressive post by David Morrison, a homosexual (but chaste) Christian whose thoughts resonate beyond this particular issue (via Midwest Conservative Journal):
Way back when, after I had come to Christ but before I had come to chastity, I tried for a time to reconcile the two as a "gay Christian." I even took part in the founding of a small publication,named Malchus, dedicated to these "gay Christians" and wrote for it for a time, all the while coming to understand ever so clearly that I was running out of room to straddle certain realities in my life. My final contribution in the publication was my resignation letter and it included these paragraphs:
At their deepest, my disagreements with Malchus run right to the heart of what I believe it means to be a Christian in the latter part of the twentieth century. Not, please note, what it means to be a homosexually oriented Christian, or a white Christian, or a Male Christian, but a Christian. Over hours and months of reflection and prayer I have come to understand my relationship with Christ and His Church to be far more about what He would have me do than what I would have me do. This, I have observed, runs sharply counter to the surrounding philosophy - the ballpark if you will - in which Malchus operates. Unlike many others who write for Malchus I find my battle, as a Christian, to be more one of bending my own selfish will to the Moral Law than of trying to bend, twist, reshape, or recast that Moral Law to endorse my will. I have come, for better or worse, to feel Malchus endorses a course of life that is willfully sinful; in as far as it supports a demand among some that God change to meet their actions and desires rather than change those actions and seek purification of those desires out of love of God. . . .
Some quarters credit St. Augustine with this observation about relations between Christians: In the essentials, unity, in everthing else, charity. And by and large I agree with this. If the issue were only about Gene Robinson being same sex attracted. it would be a much different issue. If he were only open about that, lived chastely and remained deeply committed to articulating the historic Christian understanding of sexual expression and discipleship, I would likely be as strong a supporter as I could be as a Roman Catholic.
The issue is that he openly decries those teachings, cheerfully flouts them and proclaims his desire to continue doing so, encourage others to do so and . . . tells other Christians who disagree with him to essentially go to hell. That is a matter of an essential about which there must be unity if fellowship is to continue.
Both Christians and non-Christians face the temptation "to bend, twist, reshape, or recast [the] Moral Law to endorse my will" on those all-too-frequent occasions when that is less uncomfortable than "bending my own selfish will to the Moral Law". But, if we believe in any kind of morality, we need to struggle against that temptation. Otherwise, we have no claim to be moral actors at all and no essential superiority to a Hitler, a Stalin, a Mao or an Osama bin-Laden. [To comment, click here.]