June 22, 2014

Who's Progressive?

I'm far from the first to note how the political left in this country has increasingly become the party of defense of the status quo, while conservatives take on the role of proponents and agents of radical change...but it's worth doing. From education to entitlements and tax policy, a political movement that labels itself "progressive" refuses to budge from failed or failing policy positions. Meanwhile, the push for something resembling actual progress in these important areas of public policy is coming mostly from the right.

It's almost as if the "progressive" movement has less to do with societal progress, and more to do with the expansion and consolidation of their own political power. Labeling has been a problem for leftists for decades, and they are nowadays reduced to recycling old ones. The word "liberal" has been largely abandoned as their self-identification, without acknowledging that it was policy outcomes and not faulty messaging that dragged the label into disrepute. (Besides, it had that troubling association with its root word "liberty")

Of course the word "progressive" has its own set of troubling associations, but those things are so 20th Century, and most Americans contentedly basking in the label today are unaware of its intellectual DNA. It is quite enough for most of them to hear the word "progress" in the handle, and infer that anyone in opposition to their preferred policies must be against progress...and as such, a reactionary and self-evidently wrong.

In practice though, the left's professed fealty to reason, empiricism and progress often conflicts with its love of power, and in those battles, power tends to trump practical results. The ever-expanding State often appears to be less interested in providing services for citizens than in assuring its self-preservation. (see: Veterans Administration)

Baby boomer leftists who cut their teeth in (often romanticized) opposition to The Man, now find that in the Obama Era, they are The Man....and they like it just fine, thank you. The Tea Party infuriates them because one of its guiding principles is respect for the constitutional limits on state power. There seems to be something of a cognitive dissonance to their anti-Tea Party fury as well. The political left has a hard time dealing with the idea of a genuine grassroots populism afoot in the land without them as its vanguard. Remember guys....you're The Man now.

Nowhere is the disconnect between actual progress and statist policy more striking than in public K-12 education. Preservation of the one-size-fits-all public education cartel takes priority over positive outcomes for students, especially the poor and minority students for whom the left poses as champions. Teachers unions remain bitterly opposed to charter schools and homeschooling programs, even as those modest reforms have taken shape in response to the manifest failures of public school systems.

Kevin Williamson's provocative 2013 book has a particularly strong chapter on education, suggesting as one of its themes that the public education cartel mistakes its customers for its product.

A functional market-based education system would properly recognize that its customers are students, and that its products are various kinds of education, ranging from classical liberal arts studies to forms of specific occupational training. Being political institutions, schools operate under the theory that their customer is the state - or "society" at large - and that the product is a national workforce tailored to meet national needs - which is to say, political needs.
Continue reading "Who's Progressive?"
Posted by dan at 5:24 PM

May 25, 2014

Duke Revisited

Just when you think you have a disgraced prosecutor safely disbarred, and innocent young men exonerated and getting their lives back, along comes a new book by William D. Cohan to suggest, in the absence of any new evidence, that those Duke lacrosse players may have been guilty after all, and to imply that their wealthy families bought them out of trouble. The academic left at Duke and elsewhere were shamed but unrepentant when the truth of the 2006 Duke rape hoax finally came out. The case had seemed to fit their preferred template so perfectly, what with the rich white frat boys and the poor black stripper and all. Cohan has received mostly glowing reviews for his supposedly balanced and rigorous book, and is out on a promotional tour, doing C-SPAN and such. Along the way, Cohan may soothe the consciences of people who jumped to early conclusions, and would like to be hinted to, if not persuaded, that they were something other than embarrassingly wrong. But mostly he wants to sell books to them.

Outside of the principals in the case, no one knows the Duke lacrosse team rape hoax better than KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. Johnson is an instructor in history at Brooklyn College, and authors to this day the definitive blog on the case, Durham in Wonderland. Taylor is a distinguished journalist, whose name is nearly synonymous with National Journal, a scrupulously non-partisan publication. Their 2008 book Until Proven Innocent, is the definitive account of the mad rush toward injustice in Durham, NC in 2006, and now Johnson and Taylor have been moved to respond to the credulous media treatment of Cohan's book tour. The fawning reviews for Cohan have come...

..despite the fact that the 621-page book, "The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities," adds not a single scrap of new evidence that undermines the well-founded consensus that -- as North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper found in April 2007 -- no Duke lacrosse player committed any crime against the mentally imbalanced accuser, Crystal Mangum.

Since the early hours of March 14, 2006, Mangum has provided more than a dozen dramatically varying versions of her story of being sexually assaulted in a bathroom by (variously) three, four, five, and 20 members of the Duke lacrosse team, who had paid her and another woman to strip at a spring-break team drinking party.

Cohan's main additions to the record are long, tiresome interview transcripts uncritically presenting the self-serving ruminations of disbarred District Attorney Mike Nifong, a convicted liar. Cohan added a jailhouse chat with Mangum, who is now serving an 18-year prison sentence for murdering her boyfriend. Cohan deemed her "rational, thoughtful, articulate" even though her newest story contradicted each of her prior accounts.

From these two discredited and highly compromised sources, Cohan advances two aggressively revisionist theses. First, he contends that "something happened in that bathroom that none of us would be proud of," citing the Nifong-Mangum claim that a sexual assault in fact occurred despite all the DNA, photographic, physical, medical, and other credible evidence and witness accounts to the contrary.

In our opinion, Cohan has veered into potential slander by speculating in one broadcast interview that the falsely accused former students might have been "very successful at covering it up," thanks to the "deep pockets" of their parents and attorneys.

Johnson and Taylor point to the list of people Cohan didn't see fit to interview in compiling his exhaustive 621-page treatment of the case:

Portraying Nifong as a courageous hero "crucified" for a few forgivable "mistakes," the "even-handed" Cohan did not even attempt to give most of the people he helps Nifong smear a chance to respond.

This list includes the judge who sentenced Nifong to a night in jail for lying in court; the wrongly indicted players' five principal defense lawyers; the two North Carolina State Bar prosecutors who presented the case against Nifong; and the three bar disciplinary panel members who did disbar him for egregious prosecutorial misconduct after a five-day public trial in which he had a full opportunity to defend himself. The panel concluded that Nifong hid highly exculpatory DNA evidence and made inflammatory, race-baiting attacks on the accused in the media to help win the black vote in a tight primary election.

Do read the whole thing here.

Taylor was granted time on C-SPAN (video approx 45 min.) to react to the Cohan interview, and to the treatment the Cohan book has received. I'm guessing this is about as agitated and animated as the veteran journalist Taylor gets.

Also well worth reading on the attempted revisionist history practiced by Cohan is last week's WSJ op-ed by Dorothy Rabinowitz. Ms Rabinowitz knows a thing or two about prosecutorial misconduct and the trauma of being falsely accused, having won the Pulitzer Prize for her work on the famous Amirault day care case. She leaves a few tattered pages of Cohan's book intact by the time she's finished. At the blog, KC Johnson remarks of the Rabinowitz piece:

Given how thoroughly Rabinowitz eviscerates Cohan's work, a reader might be tempted to show a smidgen of sympathy for the embattled author. Might be tempted, that is, until the reader recalls that Cohan wrote a book, and has spent the last month-plus on a publicity tour, seeking to cast aspersions on falsely accused people as he aggressively attempted to rehabilitate the reputation of a prosecutor whose ethical misconduct was notorious.

Browse Durham in Wonderland regularly for ongoing commentary.

Update 5/31/14:

As negative reviews for his book pile up, Cohan takes to HuffPo to ask, "How Much Freedom of Speech is Too Much?" Cohan's answer appears to be that freedom of speech is fine, as long as his book sales remain unaffected by it.

KC Johnson reviews the Cohan book for Commentary: The Hazards of Duke



Posted by dan at 7:03 PM

April 27, 2014

Sweden a Model For....What?

Confronted with their spotty resume of roughly 80 million dead innocents under collectivist regimes in the 20th Century, leftists seem to reflexively resort to the example of Sweden when challenged to put forth an example of a well-functioning socialist state in the history of...ever. The problem for them is that while they weren't looking, Sweden has become a model all right, but rather one of privatization, lower taxes, deregulation, school choice and pension reform. We should be so right-wing in America.

Obama and the Democrats insist on directing the U.S. toward a European ideal of the social democratic welfare state from which Europe itself has been in retreat for several years...electing more conservative political leadership, bucking the EU, and otherwise beginning to come to grips with the unsustainability of it all.

Sweden leads the reform movement, and is becoming a different kind of model for the rest of Europe. Their successes should be held up as examples by American conservatives because it's now easy to turn the "Look at Sweden" argument against a Democratic Party that is bereft of ideas beyond name-calling. Consider...

Sweden's turnabout has been in the making for two decades now, and a partial listing of accomplishments reads like an American free-market advocate's (if not always Republican) agenda.

The Swedes have deregulated their market for electricity, and allow private competition in distribution markets and private foreign ownership in generation facilities, including nuclear plants. As this 2007 summary details further, markets including telecommunications, postal service and public transportation have also been deregulated.

The Swedes have implemented a school voucher system allowing parents broadly based school choice. They have moved toward privatization of the retirement pension system, allowing individuals to make their own investment decisions. The Swedish healthcare system has been increasingly privatized.

Income taxes have been cut, wealth taxes eliminated. Farm subsidies were abolished for a time, before EU membership forced them to re-regulate. Corporate tax rates are low by U.S. standards, and there are few restriction on foreign trade, and relatively few obstacles to business creation. The results have been economic growth averaging about 4% in recent years, more twice the growth rate of our own sluggish recovery.

How much we can learn from a country with a population just 3% the size of ours, and one more homogeneous culturally and ethnically than the U.S., is a matter for good faith debate. But by all means, conservatives should encourage people to look at Sweden...and to take note that it is conservatives who for years have been advocating similar reforms.

Posted by dan at 5:07 PM

April 26, 2014

Madison Revisited

At the "Continue reading" link below, I have recreated an old article from The Cleveland Fan...a little photo-essay from my trip to Madison, Wisconsin in 2010, for a night game between the then No. 1 Buckeyes and the Badgers. It didn't end well for the good guys, and the original article didn't survive the shift to the new home of the TCF archives, so it lives here, if only for my own reference...

Continue reading "Madison Revisited"
Posted by dan at 6:13 PM

Renewing the Cold War

No, this is not about Putin's expansionism and the U.S. reaction to it. It's much less weighty than that.

The leftist bias in the media is a fact of life that irritates conservatives even as we become somewhat inured to it. Often blatant, it is sometimes subtle, and it is an example of the latter I describe here.

Some months ago, I downloaded the Encyclopedia Britannica app for my iPhone, and did a quick search to see what the entries look like. The app is free, but for anything beyond the first sentence or two from the article, a subscription fee is charged. Most users (like me) don't spring for the detail, so all we get on our smartphones is the quickie summary. On the Web (see links) the full article is available free.

Off the top of my head, I did my first search on Whittaker Chambers...the abbreviated entry read as follows:

Whittaker Chambers - original name Jay Vivian Chambers (born April 1, 1901, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.--died July 9, 1961, near Westminster, Md.)

American journalist, Communist Party member, Soviet agent, and a principal figure in the Alger Hiss case, one of the most publicized espionage incidents of the Cold War.

Okay...nothing factually untrue there, although the defining feature of Chambers' biography surely was his renunciation of his communism, along with his authorship of his memoir "Witness", which features the soul-baring account of his apostasy, and that of his famous testimony against Hiss. His work in the service of the Soviet empire ran from 1932 until 1938, and he worked for several years after that as a respected journalist and an editor at Time magazine. He was eventually awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Of how many Communist Party members and Soviet agents can that be said?

Curiosity then led me to the entry for Hiss:

Alger Hiss - (born Nov. 11, 1904, Baltimore, MD - died Nov. 15, 1996, New York, NY)

former U.S. State Department official who was convicted in January 1950 of perjury concerning his dealings with Whittaker Chambers, who accused him of membership in a communist espionage ring. His case, which came at a time of growing apprehension about the domestic influence of communism, seemed to lend substance to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's sensational charges of communist infiltration...( into the State Department.)

Again...no factual untruths...just a subtle twisting of the historical realities. Because Hiss was certainly no less a "Soviet agent", and arguably more so than Chambers, as he remained defiant until his death, persisting in the lie that he never betrayed his country. His perjury conviction, described here as "concerning his dealings with Whittaker Chambers", was in fact about his work as a spy for the Soviet Union from within the U.S. State Department.

In 1948, it "seemed to lend substance to" McCarthy's charges of communist infiltration. In 2014 however, this is no longer simply an "accusation" by Chambers, but a fact documented by the Venona transcripts and other material from the Soviet archives. The very last sentence of the Hiss entry in the Web version nods to this reality when it says, "In 1996 the release of secret Soviet cables that had been intercepted by U.S. intelligence during World War II provided strong evidence for Hiss's guilt." One man's strong evidence is, I suppose, another man's definitive proof. Based on what we know today, if the bio of Alger Hiss had to be reduced to two words, they would have to be "Soviet spy"...or maybe "treasonous bureaucrat"...take your pick.

But if you read nothing more than the first few sentences of these entries in the smartphone encyclopedia, you see one guy was a journalist, but also a Communist and a Soviet agent, while the other guy was a State Department official who was accused of being involved in espionage, and who by the way, was convicted of perjury.

Like I said....subtle.

Posted by dan at 5:46 PM

February 22, 2014

Best of Krauthammer


It has been a treat to read Charles Krauthammer's best-seller "Things That Matter" over the last few days. It's a compilation of 30 years of columns and essays, mostly of the 2-3 page variety from the Washington Post, where he is an institution. The format lends itself to short bursts of consumption, with no loss of continuity, but my preference was to plow right through it as steadily as possible.

Much of it was familiar to this longtime Krauthammer reader, but I was struck most by the timelessness of so many of his insights. Columns that are 20 years old could just as well have been written last week, in terms of their relevance to the social and political questions of today. A lot of the material is available online, so I'll link where I can...the last 15 years or so of syndicated columns can be found at his JWR article archive, and the longer essays, from The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, and Time, are accessible online as well, but the pre-1998 stuff is harder to come by. 

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my positions on so many issues track closely with his, and I'm not sure to what degree there's a cause and effect relationship there. Reproducing memorable lines here would fail for lack of time and space, as there are gems in every column, but please indulge me in a few as we go. Krauthammer has never shrunk from the difficult and divisive issues over the years, and his thoughts on affirmative action, global warming, gay marriage, polygamy, research cloning, stem cell politics, the Ground Zero mosque controversy, and social security reform are all included in this volume, accompanied by enlightening forays into such less weighty matters as baseball, dogs and his chess club. 

Speaking of timelessness, Krauthammer is especially trenchant and persuasive on the matter of what he calls "the Jewish Question"...Zionism and the Palestinians. Three "keeper" articles on the topic are included in the book: "Those Troublesome Jews" (2010); "Judging Israel" (Time;1990), and "At Last, Zion" (The Weekly Standard;1998)


Continue reading "Best of Krauthammer"
Posted by dan at 6:59 PM

March 27, 2012

"Joy Unrestrained" - A New Home on the Heights

ADWandNewHomeR.jpg100 years ago, my grandfather wasn't just the happiest man in Cleveland. To hear him tell it, he was the happiest man on earth. Winning a new house the same week he becomes a father for the first time can do that for a man.

That's him in the front yard, pointing to the new bungalow he had just won as first prize in a local newspaper contest. He was grateful for his good fortune, but then again, they say luck is where preparedness and opportunity meet.

In June of 1912, Albert D. ("Bert") Wismar was a married 29-year old, and the proud father of a newborn baby girl. He worked as an accountant at the Struthers Furnace company in their downtown Cleveland offices. By all accounts, Wismar was a hard worker, and he and his wife Sadie tried to save all they could, with an eye toward eventually buying a home of their own.

Wismar had moved to Cleveland from the family farm near Bowling Green, Ohio. The small town of Custar was the location his grandfather had chosen to buy land when he came to America from Germany in 1866. Bert's dad Fred was a teenager when the family arrived from the old country to farm in Ohio, and Bert was the fifth of Fred's ten children.

Uphill Both Ways

Bert was the only one of Fred Wismar's kids to pursue higher education, and to do it he had to regularly bicycle the 80 miles from Custar to Tri-State University in Angola, Indiana for his teacher training. After working as a teacher in Wood County for a couple years, Bert came to the big city around the turn of the century, and took up accounting, eventually working his way into a lead accounting position with the furnace company.

The family shared a double house on Preston Rd. in East Cleveland, but the baby meant they needed more room, and the couple talked often of their dream house, maybe even one "on the Heights". In what spare time he did have, Wismar was an avid participant in contests of all sorts. He and an uncle in Detroit engaged in a friendly competition, taking each other on in ventures like the "booklovers' contest" sponsored that year by The Cleveland News

Continue reading ""Joy Unrestrained" - A New Home on the Heights"
Posted by dan at 8:49 PM

June 12, 2011

The Tressel File

Since I started covering OSU sports for TheClevelandFan.com more than three years ago, writing about the Buckeyes (and pretty much all sports) on the blog has dried up almost completely. Once you crank out a couple thousand words about a game...or about a scandal...over there...and say anything else that's left to say at the TCF message boards...the urge to say what you think is pretty much sated.

Genuinely curious and sincere friends and acquaintances of mine who know I cover the Buckeyes will ask what I think about the ongoing turmoil in Columbus, and I always have to resist the urge to say "go read the 12,000 words I've written about it over the last three months and then if you still have any questions, come talk to me". And that's mostly because I can't do justice to the issue in a 2-minute conversation, (even though I suspect what they want is the 2-minute version)

What I've been missing to this point is one link I can send to people who really want to read what I've written on the subject without sifting through links at my TCF archive to find what they want...and now I'll have one. Here's a summary of my related TCF articles since December when the players' violations were disclosed...most recent first...

(Updated 6/18) - Buckeye Leaves - 6/18 - How heavy will The Hammer be when it finally falls on OSU?

Buckeye Leaves - 6/11/11 - Fickell in, Pryor gone, and questions about who'll be coaching the offense.

OSU: Reaching For the Bottom - 6/4/11 - Tressel resigns and OSU fans wait to bottom out.

Buckeye Leaves - 5/28/11 - on the undisguised glee of the national media, and my errant prediction, two days before the resignation, that Tressel will fight on.

Buckeye Leaves - 5/1/11 - after the NCAA "notice of allegations" went public and the media feeding frenzy got restarted.

Buckeye Leaves 4/9/11
- thoughts on the impact of Tressel's 5-game suspension.

The Tainting of Tressel - 3/10/11 - my first article following the OSU press conference...contains links at the end to other reaction from various writers and pundits.

Sugar Bowl Preview - 1/4/11 - first coverage of the Tat5 player suspensions.

Continue reading "The Tressel File"
Posted by dan at 11:16 AM

Idling

I'm feeling the urge to fire up this blog after keeping it in cyber-mothballs for about nine months. That's far and away the longest stretch of inactivity in its eight-year existence, and it's explainable by some combination of the laws of motion (once at rest, it tends to stay at rest), procrastination, laziness, Twitter-addiction, and perhaps frustration with writing it for no one. In any event, I'm going to get back to it as an outlet for taking note of things I find important, funny, outrageous or interesting. Feel free to join in with the spambots in the comments if you like.

Posted by dan at 10:49 AM

December 6, 2010

The Fall of Bobby Lowder

My article on Bobby Lowder and Auburn athletics has been up just over 24 hours, and it's already one of the most widely read pieces ever at TheClevelandFan.com...

...and counting. We assume what we're experiencing is a Twitter-lanche.

UPDATE 12/9: Allen Barra quotes yours truly, and plugs TCF in his Wall Street Journal article today. My fifteen minutes counting down....

A week after the original article, I address the feedback: Reaction on Lowder and Auburn

Another follow-up piece: Auburn Revisited - 2/20/11

Update 5/26/14: The links to the Terry Bowden interview with journalists Paul Davis and Randy Kennedy in two of the articles above are broken. Another transcript of that interview can be seen here.

Posted by dan at 1:01 AM

September 21, 2010

Nobody Wants To Hear About It

(...and what better place for nobody to hear about it than right here at this blog....)

The New Slavery: Sex Trafficking - Hudson New York

The above link is to the transcript of a truly moving speech given by Emma Thompson in New York this June on the ongoing global catastrophe that is human sex-trafficking. Longish, but hard to excerpt....please do RTWT.

More here, here, and here on Thompson and the Journey exhibit.

Posted by dan at 7:42 PM

September 5, 2010

Remembering the Good Times

Iowahawk - Barack, Can We Talk?

Barack, can we, uh, talk for a few minutes?

Oh, nothing. It's just that it just seems we haven't had a chance to talk for a while. I mean, I know we've both been busy for the past year or so. You with your fundraisers and golfing and stuff, and me with all those appointments at the unemployment office. But you know I think it's important in a relationship like ours to keep the lines of communication open.

So anyway, I've been think that... look, this is really hard. God. Do you remember when we met at that big party in Denver back in 08? I mean when I saw you across that crowded convention floor, it was like, Oh My God. I don't think I ever saw anything like you before. I was on the rebound from a bad relationship and you were so tall and articulate and, well hot. And then I couldn't believe that of all the democracies in the room you picked me out.!

Read it all...but remember...nostalgia is not what it used to be.

Posted by dan at 8:57 PM

August 23, 2010

Beyond Parody

From the New York Times editorial on the investigation of Tom Delay:

Mr. DeLay, the Texas Republican who had been the House majority leader, crowed that he had been "found innocent." But many of Mr. DeLay's actions remain legal only because lawmakers have chosen not to criminalize them.

Had those lawmakers known in advance what actions Delay would take, they could have passed laws criminalizing them. Think ahead a little bit next time, Democrats.

UPDATE: Taranto:

By the same logic, the New York Times editorialists are not in the dock only because "criminal stupidity" is a figure of speech and not an actual law.
Posted by dan at 1:22 PM

July 19, 2010

Covering Their Fannie

Jim Geraghty, from Friday's Morning Jolt newsletter...

The fundamental problem with the [financial reform] legislation is that it doesn't address...the underlying problems with the mortgage market. It was the mortgage bubble, instigated by liberal social justice demands placed on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which caused the crisis, not a failure of securities rules and regulations. No mortgage market problems, no mortgage-backed securities problems; no mortgage-backed securities problems, no financial crisis. One of the greatest scams ever is the success of Democrats in distancing their mortgage policies from the financial crisis, and portraying the crisis as simply a matter of Wall Street greed and lack of regulation. . . . Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac never is going to happen unless Democrats have no other choice. Not at least as long as Barack Obama is President or Democrats control all or part of Congress. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are off limits for Democrats, just as they were when the Bush administration warned of problems.

This was not a problem caused exclusively by one political party, but the ""mess we inherited" rhetoric by the White House necessitates reminding people that the Bush administration did warn of problems...and they did propose reforms...which were shot down and the need for them dismissed by Sens. Frank and Dodd...and as you can see here...

UPDATE 8/23: With an election looming, Barney Frank sees the light.

UPDATE 8/24: The Obama administration fesses up about who their HAMP program was designed to help.

Posted by dan at 2:33 PM

Who's Unserious?

In the course of dismissing Mitt Romney as a viable GOP candidate for 2012, Dr. Zero articulates nicely my biggest concern about Republicans retaking political power...that they won't have the political courage to do what needs to be done...

Serious Human Beings

This election will not be fought over the fine details of a few specific pieces of legislation. It will not be a contest to find someone who can escort an unpopular Barack Obama from the White House, then trot back inside and continue shoveling trillions of dollars into the deficit furnace. We don’t need a national CPA to provide a lecture on deficit reduction during his inauguration, then return for a State of the Union speech in which he explains spending cuts are pretty much impossible, while forklifts roll in with massive new tax packages. We have no use for someone who thinks ObamaCare is an awesome machine that just needs a new transmission and some mag wheels to reach its potential.

We are about to conduct an election about the very philosophy of our government. It is our last chance to avoid the Great Crash which Obama has brought to our doorsteps… but which would have lurked twenty or thirty years in the future even without him. The Obama presidency has begun a fundamental transformation of the relationship between Americans and their government. The groundwork for this transformation was laid over many years, by politicians from both parties. Government bloat has accumulated for decades. The State isn’t really changing all that much under Barack Obama. It’s working to change us.

To reverse this process, we must reach farther back than the administrations of George Bush or Bill Clinton. We are being crushed by engines of regulation, taxation, and corruption that were designed in the first decades of the last century. We’re approaching the end of the story that began during the New Deal. It won’t be good enough to merely rewind the tape a few years. Even such a half-hearted measure, simply returning us to where George Bush left us, would be the most spectacular reduction of State power in our entire history… and it wouldn’t be good enough.

Posted by dan at 2:30 PM

July 17, 2010

Horowitz on Hitchens - Hitch on Hewitt

David Horowitz reviews the new Christopher Hitchens memoir Hitch 22, in a two-part essay at NRO, and it's a must for admirers of either or both men. David says his friend Hitch hasn't really left the Left, and shows how Hitchens' loyalty to his Marxist revolutionary influences is hopelessly at odds with his proud Orwellian anti-totalitarianism. The result is "a moral incoherence" that is navigated by Hitchens in the book by omission of inconvenient facts.

Hitchens' apostasy from the Left wasn't nearly the abrupt and devastating "crucible of despair" endured and described by Horowitz, but David's message that "you can't have it both ways" is hammered home in countless examples for Hitchens. The larger point made by Horowitz is to show how powerful is the seductive appeal of the utopian fantasy...that such a lover of freedom as Christopher Hitchens cannot and has not rid himself of it. Pack a lunch.

"Second Thoughts" - Part One - Part Two

Also a very worthwhile read is this transcript of Hugh Hewitt's conversation with Hitchens last week. Another long one, but not to be missed by Hitch fans.

Here's the link to the Hitchens memoir. And here's to his successful treatment and speedy recovery.

Posted by dan at 3:23 PM

July 11, 2010

He Calls It Community Organizing

Documentary Charges Obama Won 2008 Democratic Nod With Caucus State Dirty Tricks

It'll be interesting to see how the Democrats handle this issue in 2012. Pass the popcorn.

Posted by dan at 6:52 PM

July 9, 2010

More Sportsguy

Post-decision thoughts by Simmons and his readers. Among them...

It's one thing to leave. I get it. You're 25. You don't know any better. You're tired of carrying mediocre teams. You want help. You want the luxury of not having to play a remarkable game every single night for eight straight months. You want to live in South Beach. You want to play with your buddies. I get it. I get it. But turning that decision into a one-hour special, pretending that it hadn't been decided weeks ago, using a charity as your cover-up and ramming a pitchfork in Cleveland's back like you were at the end of a Friday the 13th movie and Cleveland was Jason ... there just had to be a better way.

---

We are already fools for caring about athletes considerably more than they care about us. We know this, and we do it anyway. We just like sports. We keep watching for moments like Donovan's goal against Algeria, and we keep caring through thick and thin for moments like Roberts' Steal and Tracy Porter's interception. We put up with all the sobering stuff because that's the price you pay -- for every Gordon Hayward half-court shot, or USA-Canada gold-medal game, there are 20 Michael Vicks and Ben Roethlisbergers. Last night didn't make me like sports any less -- my guard has been up since 1996 -- it just reinforced all the things I already didn't like.

Well said. It didn't really help to have the Cavs owner respond immediately, sounding like a sixth-grader. ("The curse" moves to Florida? Really?) As much as some of his lines have generated applause in town, I'm thinking he really should have slept on it before penning his response.

The other thing that strikes me is that the NBA's reputation for being well-run by David Stern is in serious jeopardy. I suspect Stern will fine Gilbert for his outburst, and probably act to get his arms back around a system that used to require things like contracts being in place before players announced where they were going to play. There's a real sense now that the inmates are running the asylum, and Stern will have to act decisively to reassert control.

Meanwhile, I can go back to treating the NBA like I treated it before LeBron came to the Cavs....as my least favorite pro sport, and one where I'm too disinterested to ever watch a game start-to-finish until the Finals...maybe.

UPDATE: A pretty good column by Adrian Wojnarowski.

Posted by dan at 2:44 PM

July 8, 2010

Simmons on LeBron

Reading Bill Simmons, five hours before LeBron announces, with his 23 thoughts on "The Decision". Let's face it. He's the best... Read it all, but here's a large slice of it...

Countdown to the LeBron James decision

19. I always thought the goal was winning rings. That's what Russell, Bird, Magic and Jordan taught us. That's what I grew up believing. But sports are different now. You're a brand as much as an athlete. In the past 72 hours, with the suspense building for his announcement, LeBron created a Twitter account, launched his own website and agreed with ESPN on a one-hour live selection show that, incredibly, was the exact same idea that a Columbus reader named Drew had in my Thanksgiving '09 mailbag … but I thought he was kidding. Now I think he's Nostradamus. Or even Nostradamu-SAS.

Drew from Columbus looked into the future, and here's what he saw: A world in which it was totally conceivable that an NBA superstar would sell an hour-long show in which he picked his next team and tainted his legacy in the process. I played along and pushed a "Bachelor"-type setup ("The LeBrachelor!") in which LeBron whittled 29 teams down to six, then four, then two, then one over the course of six episodes. Hell, have him hand out roses. Why not? It's not like this would actually happen, right?

20. Seven months later, it's happening. I can't wait to watch for the same reasons I couldn't turn away from O.J.'s Bronco chase or the Artest melee: it's Car Wreck Television. If LeBron picks anyone other than the Cavaliers, it will be the cruelest television moment since David Chase ended "The Sopranos" by making everyone think they lost power. Cleveland fans will never forgive LeBron, nor should they. He knows better than anyone what kind of sports anguish they have suffered over the years. Losing LeBron on a contrived one-hour show would be worse than Byner's fumble, Jose Mesa, the Game 5 meltdown against Boston, The Drive, The Shot and everything else. At least those stomach-punch moments weren't preordained, unless you believe God hates Cleveland (entirely possible, by the way). This stomach-punch moment? Calculated. By a local kid they loved, defended and revered.

It would be unforgivable. Repeat: unforgivable. I don't have a dog in this race -- as a Celtics fan, I wanted to see him go anywhere but Chicago -- but LeBron doing this show after what happened in the 2010 playoffs actually turned me against him. No small feat. I was one of his biggest defenders. Not anymore.

And here's where I really worry, because I don't think LeBron James has anyone in his life with enough juice to hurl his or her body in front of the concept of "I'm going to announce during a one-hour live show that I'm playing somewhere other than Cleveland." It's the best and worst thing about him -- he has remained fiercely loyal to his high school friends, but at the same time, he's surrounded by people his own age who don't stand up to him and don't know any better. Picking anyone other than Cleveland on this show would be the meanest thing any athlete has ever done to a city. But he might. Assuming he's not malicious, and that he's just a self-absorbed kid who apparently lost all perspective, that doesn't make him much different than most child stars who became famous before they could legally drink -- or, for that matter, Tiger Woods. That's just the way this stuff works. Too much, too fast, too soon. You don't lose your way all at once; just a little at a time. Then one day you look up and there's a TMZ photo spread with 15 of your mistresses, or you're agreeing to stab an entire city in the heart on a one-hour television show.

Posted by dan at 3:36 PM

June 23, 2010

Scott Need Not Apply to CBC

John Steele Gordon:

Charleston, South Carolina, was the cradle of the Confederacy. And come next January, barring unforeseen developments, it and the rest of the 1st District will have a black Congressman for the first time since Reconstruction. Tim Scott defeated Paul Thurmond for the Republican nomination last night, and the district has been a safe Republican seat since 1981. It wasn’t even close, with Scott trouncing Strom Thurmond’s son by 61 to 39 percent.

That a black man could beat the son of the legendary segregationist so badly in a district where the Civil War began — the district where Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861 — is a measure of just how much the South has changed in the last 50 years, and the country’s politics and race relations along with it.

But assuming Scott is elected, he needn’t apply for membership in the Congressional Black Caucus, of course. It’s a measure of how little the left in American politics has changed in the last 50 years that the Black Caucus — devoted to race-based politics and victimology — admits only liberal Democratic members.

To be fair, it has been a while since there was such a thing as a black Republican Congressman for the Black Caucus to consider (J.C. Watts), and if elected, Scott will face the customary leftist smears of inauthenticity and Uncle Tomism endured by all blacks who stray from identity politics orthodoxy. If the past predicts the future, he will be called a "race traitor" and there will be no end to leftist attempts to marginalize and defame him.

May he have the courage and character to persevere until he is joined in Congress by many more black conservatives, and the poisonous and condescending idea that all blacks should be of one correct political persuasion is consigned to the scrap heap once and for all.

It is notable that Scott was endorsed by Sarah Palin, and won big in a majority white (66%) congressional district...all of which confounds and refutes the "Tea Partiers are racists" crowd...an inconvenient reality that they will doubtless ignore.

Posted by dan at 12:35 PM