Saturday, June 05, 2004

In honor of Ronald Reagan

Here are various obituaries and remembrances from around the blog world. I'll keep adding them as I find them. Let me know if there are any good ones I've missed.

Doc Rampage

Emigre With Digital Cluebat
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Dean's World
Smoke on the Water
The Belmont Club
Right Wing News
Right-Thinking from the Left Coast

UPDATE: I just found this great collection by The Politburo Diktat. He did such a great job of collecting blog reactions that I no longer feel compelled to do this. Go there instead.

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004, Rest in Peace

As of 1pm today, President Ronald Reagan has passed on. He was born February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois, a farming town of some 1276 people. His family moved around a bit until he was nine, when they settled in Dixon, Illinois. He was an avid reader who enjoyed Edgar Rice Burroughs and Horratio Alger among others. Reagan attended Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. According to his letters, he always fondly remembered his time there and the people he met. He made money in the summers as a life guard at the beach. He became later, a radio sports caster, a reserve cavalry officer, a movie actor, Governor of California, and President of the United States.

Ronald Reagan was the first and only presidential candidate I have ever voted for. He was the only candidate I ever wanted for president, the only one that I felt genuinely reflected my own ethics and political beliefs. The memory fades with the years, but we should try to remember how bad things were in this country when Ronald Reagan took office in 1980. We were still suffering from the Watergate scandal, the loss in South Vietnam, the Nixon-Carter recession-inflation, the oil embargo, and the Iran hostage crisis. Besides that we were losing the Cold War and the Soviet Union was in its ascendancy, pulling more and more countries under its influence. There was a huge vocal minority in the US that wanted us to unilaterally disarm. They blamed us for the hostilities even though it was the Soviet Union that was occupying other countries. Reagan turned all of that around. He gave us a strong economy, revived much of the international respect that previous presidents had squandered, and pushed the Soviet Union into an arms race they could not maintain. More than that, he openly criticized the Soviet Union and other brutal communist regimes, refusing to grant them the legitimacy of democratic governments. He refused to pretend that the Cold War was anything other than what it was--the US resisting the imperialism of Russia. That moral stance may have had more to do with America winning the Cold War than the arms race did.

But more than a great president, Reagan was a good man. A depression kid who never forgot his roots. Loyal, humorous, and affectionate. A man who loved his wife, his friends and his country. Here is some of Reagan's early life in his own words. I have transcribed them from Reagan a life in letters. I cite each quote with the year the letter was written and the page of the book:
When I was a drum major of the YMCA boys band we were asked to lead the Decoration Day parade in the Franklin Grove. The parade marshal on a big white horse rode back down the parade at one point which left me out in front. No one had told me the parade route so I kept on marching. He rode back up the line just in time to have the band turn a corner. I was left marching up the street all by myself. I didn't look around until the music began to sound faint and far away. then I cut across back yards and got back in front again. (1985, pg 12)
I was raised from childhood by my parents who believed bigotry and prejudice were the worst things a person could be guilty of. My father once slept in his car during an Illinois blizzard rather than stay in a hotel that wouldn't allow Jews. He was Irish Catholic.
As a sports announcer broadcasting Big League baseball in the middle '30s I campaigned against the rule that prohibited blacks from playing in organized ball. As governor of California I appointed more blacks to executive and policy making positions than all the previous Governors of California put together. I too have a dream, a dream that one day whatever is done to or for someone will be done neither because of nor in spite of their race. We are all equal in the sight of God--we should be equal in the sight of man.(1983, pg 13)
In those tough '30's you mentioned I wasn't too far from you. I was washing dishes in the girls dormitory of a small college in Illinois to get an education.(1982, pg 17)
When I graduated from college in 1932, the depths of the Depression, it was a time when, as you remember, the government was putting ads on the radio urging people not to leave home looking for work because there was none...
Well, my journeys took me to WOC in Davenport. It was a 5,000 watt station ... the program manager had informed me that they had just hired an announcer the day before ... and as I went out the door, I said, "How the hell does a guy get to be sports announcer if he can't get a job in a radio station?" And down the hall I went to the elevator.
Fortunately, the elevator wasn't there, and as I waited, I heard a clumping down the hall. I looked around the corner, and it was Pete, who was badly crippled by arthritis and walked with two canes. He was thumping his way down the hall, and he was cursing in his Scotch brogue and saying, "Wait up for me you big bastard." ... And he said "Do you think you could tell me all about a football game and make me see it as if I were listening on the radio?" ...
Well, he left the studio, and I stood there and thought, well, I've got to be a able to have names to call off if I'm going to pretend broadcast so I picked a game from the previous season that we had won in the last 20 seconds when a 65-yard run by our quarterback gave us a one-point victory. I knew all our own fellow's names, and I knew enough of the other team's names that I wouldn't have to fake and try to dream up some names...
Well, I cam up to the moment when it was 20 seconds to go and we were on our own 35-yard line. I was right guard, and the right guard pulled out most of the time from the line and ran interference--led the interference, as a matter of fact. The play we called was an off-tackle smash with Bud Cole carrying the ball, and I was the key man in blocking in that I had to take the first man in the secondary to get him past that line of scrimmage. I missed my man on this play... In the reenactment I want you to know, I didn't miss that man in the secondary--I delivered an earth-shattering block that sprung Cole loose....
Well, in a little bit, Pete came back into the studio where I was waiting and said, "Be here Saturday. You're broadcasting the Minnesota-Iowa game, and we'll give you $5 and bus fare." (1980, pp 27-29)
I have no trouble believing in those miracles because a miracle happened to me and it's still happening.
Into my life came one tiny "dear" and "a light shone round about." That light still shines and will as long as I have you. Please be careful when you cross the street. Don't climb any ladders. Wear your rubbers when it rains. I love my light and don't want to be ever in the dark again. (1975, pg 45)
I was a liberal New Deal Democrat, and have told many times how, like others, I was fooled into supported causes. It was the 1947-48 Hollywood strike that opened my eyes.(1985, p141)
My first four votes were cast for FDR my fifth for Harry Truman. Following World War II my interest in liberalism and my fear of "new-fascism" led to my service on the board of directors of an organization later exposed as a "communist front", namely the "Hollywood Independent Citizens Commission of the Arts, Sciences and Professions."...
Now you might ask, "who exposed this organization as a 'front'?" It was no crusading committee of congress, or the DAR or the American Legion. A small group of board members disturbed by the things being done in the organization's name introduced to their fellow board members a mild statement approving our democratic system and free enterprise economy and repudiating communism as a desirable form of government for this country. The suggestion was that by adopting such a policy statement the board would reassure our membership we were liberal but not a "front"...
We suggested this "policy statement" was perhaps a matter for the whole organization to decide--not just the board. We were told the membership was--"not politically sophisticated enough to make such a decision."
When we resigned the organization went out of existence only to reappear later (minus us) as "Independent Citizens committee of the Arts Sciences and Professions" in support of Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party.

Iraqi patriots

Hugh Hewitt has a letter from a soldier near Falujah who provides some intelligence on the Iraqi freedom fighters. Yeah, those guys are just like the Minutemen.

the party of inclusiveness

CNN has published a list of potential Democratic VP candidates (via the Corner). The top contenders are all white men. All six of them. The list of thirty five includes exactly one black person, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina. With John McCain on the list, there are as many Republicans as blacks. There is also one supposedly Chinese guy, Gary Locke of Washington (with a name like that, he can't be more than half Chinese). Everyone else on the list is white. There are eight women.

So, how does the party of inclusiveness score, inclusiveness-wise? Men, who make up about 50% of the Democratic party, make up 77% of the presidential candidates. Women, who make up about 50% of the party, make up only 23% of the candidates. Blacks, who make up about 20% of the party, make up only 3% of the presidential candidates. Hispanics, who make up about 10% of the party, make up 0% of the candidates. Chinese, who make up a small percentage of the party (I couldn't find the stats on it), make up 3% of the candidates. Republicans, who make up 0% of the party make up 3% of the candidates. Democrats, who make up 100% of the party, make up only 97% of the candidates.

To summarize; overrepresented: men, whites, Chinese, and Republicans. Underrepresented: women, blacks, hispanics, and Democrats.

But does this mean that the Democratic party is just a sham set up as a power base for a bunch of white men where they fool women and minorities into voting for them by pretending to be on their side and offering them crumbs? Of course not! You watch the Democratic convention if you want to see inclusiveness. Those delegations will be inclusive out the wazzoo. You won't be able to find a statistically significant sliver of difference between populations and conventioneers. In essentially symbolic, powerless positions the Democrats are 100% inclusive. No exceptions allowed.

Quick! Name three nationally prominent black Democrats who white people would vote for! Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? Maxine Waters? Louis Farrahkan? In their dreams. Every one of them is a shrill, hate-filled racist who blames white people for everything that's wrong in the world. Two of them ran for a nomination. Both to the horror of the Democratic party. Both quickly learned that white people won't vote for them. (I didn't include Carol Moseley Braun because she isn't really nationally prominent).

Counter exercise: Name three nationally prominent black Republicans who white people would vote for. This shouldn't be too hard. Lots of Republicans have been campaigning to get Condi Rice on the ticket as the VP this year. Republicans and Democrats both tried to get Colin Powell to run in 1992. If Clarence Thomas would run, a lot of white Republicans would vote for him. And heck, I'll throw in Ward Connerly as a bonus. I'm not sure how well he'd do, but I'd vote for him.

The party of inclusiveness has lots of "black leaders" who are only leaders of blacks, while the party of crypto-racism has fewer black leaders, but they are really leaders that whites would follow as well. Why is that?

Friday, June 04, 2004

pennies from hell

William Safire has written an article proposing that we do away with pennies. I haven't read the article (registration required), but there is a discussion going on over at The Corner about it. I've proposed this in the past, and people I've suggested it to often react with shock and horror. It's quite unsettling, proposing something so obvious and correct and having people react like that. It's like you would suggest defending our borders against illegal immigration and people called you a racist for it. It's like suggesting that marriage is an institution that should be reserved for the union of a man and woman and people say you are full of hatred. It's like if Coke would change it's formula so it tastes better and everyone would threaten to boycott. Of course those are impossibly outlandish examples, but they demonstrate how strange the reactions to the penny issue are.

Face it, pennies are literally worthless. Worthless in the sense that they are not worth storing or carrying around or using. Why do we keep them? If your time is worth only five dollars an hour, it isn't worth ten seconds of your time to bend down, pick one up and put it in your pocket. And it isn't worth your time to wait for the cashier to count it out and give it to you. America must spend thousands of man hours each year counting out pennies and waiting for someone to count out pennies. Keep in mind that the people behind you in line are waiting too. And I'll bet more money is spent by banks and merchants transporting pennies than the total value of the pennies transported.

One of the most common arguments against getting rid of pennies is that merchants would round all of their prices up. This is unlikely. Merchants use prices like $4.99 for a reason. They want you to look at the price and say, "Hey, it's less than five dollars." If they round up, the price would be $5 which doesn't look as good. They are far more likely to round down. But either way, it's hard to imagine that consumers would be either hurt or helped by it. The economy just wouldn't allow anyone to draw much profit from the change except possibly in some highly constrained markets.

One of the corner readers suggested that as soon as we get rid of the penny, the nickel would become the worthless coin because there is always a least valuable coin. This is poor reasoning. The penny is not worthless because it is the least valuable coin, it is worthless because it isn't worth using. If the smallest denomination of currency were a thousand dollars, people wouldn't suddenly start throwing away thousand dollar bills.

Some reactionary types also object for reasons of sentiment. I say let them buy old Beetle's LP's, classic cars and antique furniture if they want to be sentimental. They shouldn't impose their inefficient sentimentality on the rest of us.

I propose that we get rid, not only of pennies, but also of nickels and quarters. Then we start just rounding currency off to one decimal place instead of two. Introduce three new coins to replace the three we eliminated: twenty cents, fifty cents and one dollar. Eliminate the one-dollar bill and reintroduce the two-dollar bill.

The fifty-cent coin, dollar coin, and two-dollar bill have all failed in the past, but I think that's because they were additions rather than replacements. We just don't have room for more kinds of currency. But if you get rid of some of the old denominations, people will like the new ones. Just don't give them any annoying PC designs.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

great books no one's read

Dean Esmay has a post about great books that no one's read (link from Back of the Envelope). Two occurred to me pretty quickly: The Riddle Master of Hed series by Patricia McKillip (which two other people mentioned), and the Expendables series by Richard Avery.

The Riddle Master of Hed starts out with one of the most charming character introductions I've ever read. It takes place in a farm house of a large family. There are no old folks, the oldest seems to be about 25 or 30, and it turns out he is the king of the island of Hed. Hed is a small farming community and there really isn't much for a king to do besides farm. The other adults and teens are his brothers and sisters. One sister mentions that she found a crown under his bed while dusting and the rest of them basically force him to explain where it came from. It seems Hed has never had a crown for its king before. Anyway, the explanation for where the crown came from introduces the character and starts the story. Since two other people mentioned it, this series doesn't really qualify as a book no one has read...

The Expendables series is good old fashioned space opera. In the world of the stories, space travel and planet exploration is extremely dangerous and the powers-that-be have decided that the voters would never stand for it if there were casualties. However, they also have matter transmission, so once you get to another planet, you can set up a receiving station and safely transmit the colonists. The Expendables are a group of misfits and criminals drafted to do the dangerous parts; the theory being that if they are lost, no one will care too much. Their job is to travel to a new planet and live on it for a (planetary) year while exploring and building base facilities for colonists. If the planet is judged safe after a year, then the colonists are teleported in. This is one of the best science fiction series I've ever read, and I can't believe it was treated so shabbily by the publisher. It was treated rather shabbily by the author too, who didn't even use his real name. I have no idea why.

Here are some more that I've come up with after a little though:

The Voyages of the Space Beagle by A. E. Van Vogt is a great space opera with the usual Van Vogt twists. The Space Beagle is a research ship staffed by hundreds of scientists who are exploring the galaxy. There are aliens, politics, ruins of alien civilizations. What's not to love?

It seems that everyone read The Hardy Boys as kids, but no one read the Tom Swift adventures. Tom Swift was a teenage genius, scientist, inventor, and industrialist. His father owned and ran Swift Enterprises, but we all knew that Tom was the real brains behind the outfit. Tom Swift had all sorts of adventures from the Flying Lab to the Visitor from Planet X. I loved them as kid, and they cruelly deceived me into wanting to be a scientist. You see, somehow I got the idea that scientists are people who have adventures. That's the real reason I decided on that career path before high school. Oh, sure, you can point out that by the time I was a senior I should have known the score and I could have done something else in college, but it isn't that easy to change a life's ambition. So now I'm a scientist and I haven't had a single adventure that was related to work. Bummer.

And I suppose a lot of people have read Jim Kjelgaard's books with dog heroes, but how many have read Fire Hunter? This is a wonderful story about a young pre-historic hunter who invents the spear chucker, the bow, poisoned arrows, tar-lined baskets, and other stuff. I thought no one had read it until I found The Hunter Returns, a re-release of the Fire Hunter in 1991 with additions by David Drake. It turns out that Fire Hunter was a favorite of Jim Baen, who publishes lots of science fiction. But no one seems to have read The Hunter Returns either. Too bad; they are both great books.

Kerry's vet rep

Kim du Toit has a collection of letters from men who served with John Kerry in Vietnam. These letters tend to validate my preconceptions about what Vietnam vets would think of Kerry. I always believed that emphasizing his Vietnam experience was a dumb campaign strategy. It doesn't impress the left because they hold Vietnam vets in contempt. It doesn't impress the right because Kerry demonstrated that he holds other vets in contempt.

However, it did help Kerry win the nomination because the left doesn't understand how the right views military service. The Democrats rightly saw that their party was losing credibility among patriotic Americans, and they viewed Kerry's Vietnam experience as a sort of magic pill that would restore their credibility. I never thought it would work, because regardless of his vet status, Kerry is so clearly in the America-haters camp. He was a principle architect of America's loss in Vietnam. He deliberately slandered our troops and tried to turn America against them. He encouraged the enemy to continue fighting when their cause was clearly lost. He helped to win for the North Vietnamese in America when they could not have won in Asia. Whether he did it for political gain or because of communist sympathies is irrelevant; he's a traitor. And I don't think he will be able to hide that basic fact for the whole election season.

The left misses this basic fact because they don't hate traitors. In fact, they worship traitors, even communist spies who were working for the defeat of America in the Cold War. They would have as much luck running a former leader of the KKK, on the grounds that he votes for affirmative action so that proves he's not a racist. But they chose to go with Kerry instead of Robert Byrd.

Thanks to Cluebat for the link.

the reading list

By the way, if you are looking for something good to read this weekend, I highly recommend "The Holy Land" by Robert Zubrin. It's a science fiction satire of the Middle East situation, but it also works as heroic science fiction. I was so impressed that I'm going to look up some of the author's nonfiction. I'll be writing a book review next week.

a note on citations

I'm feeling a bit guilty about this and confession is good for the soul: sometimes I get pointers to articles from other blogs and don't credit them like I should. The reason is carelessness. When I read blogs and see an interesting link, often I'll just open it in a new tab which leaves it on the screen to view later (this is something you can do with the Netscape browser). Then later (sometimes days later) I'll come back to it and decide to write about it. By that time, I have no idea where I got it from originally. At that point it's either post without a credit or spend a couple of hours trying to retrace my steps. I usually go with plan 1.

religious freedom

According to a US district judge, it's OK for a school to require children to pray in school after all. Apparently, this is not in contradiction with previous Supreme Court rulings, because those rulings only applied to Christian prayers.
In the three-week course, Excelsior teacher Brooke Carlin had students assume Islamic names, recite prayers in class, memorize and recite verses from the Quran, and had them simulate Ramadan fasting by going without something for a day.
The judge ruled that the program is
devoid of "any devotional or religious intent," and as therefore educational, not religious in nature.
But of course, she's an idiot. Could they require Muslim and Jewish kids to eat barbecue pork in order to enhance their understanding of Polynesian culture if there were no religious intent? Could they require the kids to copulate (with condoms, of course) as part of their sex education, but since the activity is "devoid of any procreational intent" it isn't really sex? Could they require any kid to recite any Christian prayers?

Be honest, now. If some school in Texas were to start a program where they required kids to engage in Christian rituals and ceremonies and prayers for three weeks and used this very same defense, where would the ACLU be? The grotesque double standard here is beyond the pale.

And lets be clear here, this isn't a matter of merely allowing religion into the schools, it's a matter of forcing children to engage in practices that may offend their conscience. Even the most radical Christians, those who want prayer in school and who want "under God" in the Oath of Allegiance, don't want anyone required to say them. They don't want to force anyone to engage in Christian rituals.

But this judge has decided that you can force Christians to violate their faith in a way that would never be tolerated (and rightly so) in the reverse. This ruling displays nothing but utter contempt for the Bill of Rights, for Christians, and for the freedom of conscience. It is the ruling of an arrogant despot who thinks her religious views should rightfully trump all others, and is pleased to use the power of the government to enforce it. It is grotesque.

Yet this psychotic double standard is not unusual for the despotic courts of this nation. There are many examples of courts enforcing rights to a bizarre extent in one direction while failing to enforce them at all in more important situations.
Freedom of religion means that non-Christians should not be subjected to the horror of seeing any Christian symbol on government property, but it doesn't leave a church free to remove members who disagree with their doctrines.

The freedom of speech covers commercial pornography even when it is on the Internet and freely available to any bright eight year old, yet freedom of speech doesn't cover political speech, the type of speech that is it supposed to cover, when (cue ominous music) money is involved.

Freedom of speech is so sacrosanct that it even covers specific modes of speech like flag burning, but it doesn't cover Christians standing outside of an abortion clinic, gently offering alternatives to the women who go in.

The invented right to privacy allows you to kill your unborn children and engage in sexual practices that spread deadly diseases, but it mysteriously doesn't give you the right to abuse recreational drugs in the privacy of your own home.

Police can't use a bag of crack for evidence against you if they pull it out of your trash can without a warrant, but they can take your house away from you if they suspect you were selling drugs from it.

Police can't use an outright confession if you weren't entirely clear on all your rights, but they can stop you, humiliate you by patting you down, put you in handcuffs, and hold you for an hour just because you look suspicious.

In most cases, all of the due-process rights are construed to give criminals ridiculous advantages in court, but they don't protect someone from having their house condemned and taken away by the city council and given to a developer to build a mall.
Sometimes I think that Congress should impeach and remove every federal judge on the bench, invalidate all precedent, and just start over.

Monday, May 31, 2004

constraints on Bush

Tacitus suggests a military solution to the genocide going on in the Sudan (link via Instapundit). Some commenters say that Bush would never do this because there are no national interests at stake (a less charitable reader might think they were saying that Bush would never do this because he has no personal interest at stake). Although I have criticized Bush myself for the lack of US action, I don't think it is fair to blame him for not starting another war.

If there is any fault for this, it is the fault of the left for making it impossible for him to do so. What would happen if he did send special forces, arms, and air power to help Chad attack the Sudan? Well first, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and many others on the left, aided and abetted by the national press, would attack him mercilessly for using the tragedy for his own personal political gain. They would claim that he timed the intervention to coincide with the elections for his own benefit. Never mind whether it actually benefited him or not.

Second, the left would start immediately to see the good side of the barbarians that are committing genocide. They would have news stories about all the babies that were killed by evil American and Chadian forces. They would start to call for giving a peace a chance, meaning that we should leave things at the status quo, with the perpetrators of genocide benefiting from all their cruelty and inhumanity. Soon the barbarians in this conflict would have the full support of the American left, who would be trying to make us lose another good cause, as they did successfully in Vietnam and as they tried to do in Afghanistan and as they are trying to do in Iraq.

The left has proven time and again that no villainy is to great to support if it helps them defeat the Republicans.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

fisking Totten fisking Buchanan

Michael J. Totten has a post fisking an article of Pat Buchanan's. Buchanan is an isolationist and noninterventionist. There are lots of things to criticize in this view, but that's not enough for Totten. Totten has to mislead us about what Buchanan says in order to make him into a monster. Buchanan's point in this piece is that Western values consist not only of political freedoms, but also of sexual libertinism, and that the second part is nothing to be spreading around the world. Totten changes this thesis into the thesis that we shouldn't care if Muslims mistreat women.

Honest debate is good. It clears the air and even if it doesn't convince anyone, at least it lets you know how the other person thinks, and probably makes you more respectful of the other person. Dishonest debate such as Totten engages in here does nothing but harm. Slandering people doesn't make the world a better place. To understand the deepening divisions in US politics, you only have to look at dishonest writing like this; it makes one side angry for being slandered, and misleads the other side into thinking the first side is a bunch of hateful monsters.

On to the fisk:
Pitchfork Pat has a new piece up at called What Does America Offer the World?
So, how do we advance the cause of female emancipation in the Muslim world?" asks Richard Perle in An End to Evil. He replies, "We need to remind the women of Islam ceaselessly: Our enemies are the same as theirs; our victory will be theirs as well."

Well, the neoconservative cause "of female emancipation in the Muslim world" was probably set back a bit by the photo shoot of Pfc. Lynndie England and the "Girls Gone Wild" of Abu Ghraib prison.

He’s probably right about the setback. But it’s funny he bills female emancipation in the Muslim world as “neoconservative.” Not that it’s totally wrong, mind you. The neocons are all for it. But there are plenty of people who think of themselves as liberals, feminists, independents, centrists, and just plain old conservatives (not of the old right variety like Pat) who think female emancipation in the Middle East is a cause worth supporting. Last I checked, the neocon cabal wasn’t the only crowd that thinks a burkha is just another kind of ankle iron.
Indeed, the filmed orgies among U.S. military police outside the cells of Iraqi prisoners, the S&M humiliation of Muslim men, and the sexual torment of Muslim women raise a question. Exactly what are the "values" the West has to teach the Islamic world?
The abuse has not a thing to do with Western values. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
While I agree with Totten that the abuse has nothing to do with Western values, Totten's other comments put words into Buchanan's mouth. Buchanan didn't say that only neocons don't like the conditions of women in the Muslim world, he said that only neocons think it is America's responsibility to do something about it. He's more right than wrong on that score. I haven't heard anyone in the mainstream of either left or right advocating war on the basis of the treatment of women in the Muslim world.
"This war ... is about – deeply about – sex," declaims neocon Charles Krauthammer. Militant Islam is "threatened by the West because of our twin doctrines of equality and sexual liberation."

But whose "twin doctrines" is Krauthammer talking about? The sexual liberation he calls "our" doctrine belongs to a '60s revolution that devout Christians, Jews and Muslims have been resisting for years.

Sexual emancipation is our doctrine. I couldn’t care less that he and his old-right reactionary pals here and in the Middle East haven’t even caught up to the sixties yet. The radical left may be stuck in the 60s, but geez, at least they got there. Maybe he just needs to accept that he’s a museum piece like the burkha will be some day.
Totten has dishonestly changed "sexual liberation" to "sexual emancipation" in order to help him change the clear meaning of what Buchanan said. The word "Emancipation" is connected with freeing slaves from bondage. It is intended to suggest things like letting women vote and own property and be treated equally under the law. That is clearly not what Buchanan had in mind. He was talking about sex, not women.
What does Krauthammer mean by sexual liberation? The right of "tweens" and teenage girls to dress and behave like Britney Spears? Their right to condoms in junior high? Their right to abortion without parental consent?
We all know what sexual emancipation means. There’s no point in playing dumb. It means women and men are equal under the law and in society. It’s lower-case-f feminism, something the Middle East desperately, urgently needs. Charles Krauthammer isn’t agitating for condoms in schools in Riyadh. And neither is anyone else.
It is Totten who is playing dumb here, and his underhanded change of wording suggests that it is deliberate. It is remorselessly clear what Buchanan means by "sexual liberation", just as it was clear what Krauthammer was talking about in the article. It isn't lower-case-f feminism, it is sexual liberation. Hence the term. It is turning sex into a form of recreation. It is making the practice of finding a mate, largely a sexual competition rather than the carefully controlled social structure it is in most successful cultures in history. It is adultery, easy divorce, and sexual perversion. It is abortion.

Totten is dishonestly changing some perfectly unremarkable conservative points into something else so that he can slam Buchanan for it.
If conservatives reject the "equality" preached by Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, NARAL and the National Organization for Women, why seek to impose it on the Islamic world? Why not stand beside Islam, and against Hollywood and Hillary?
Pat Buchanan thinks he has more in common with Middle Eastern sexual apartheid practitioners than he has with Hillary Clinton. Well, Pat, I’ll just have to take your word for it. And the next time I hear mention of the “Taliban wing” of the Republican Party, I might have to let the comment pass without a rebuttal.
Again, Totten's words take their edge from misrepresenting Buchanan's clear meaning. He wasn't discussing the mistreatment of women, he was discussing sexual libertinism.
In June 2002 at West Point, President Bush said, "Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time and in every place."

But even John Kerry does not agree with George Bush on the morality of homosexual unions and stem cell research. On such issues, conservative Americans have more in common with devout Muslims than with liberal Democrats.

I guess that’s true, too. Then again, gay people in the Middle East are tortured and executed. It’s a good thing for Pat that he only aligned himself with them on the issue of homosexual unions.
Buchanan said that moral conservatives have more in common with "devout Muslims", not with Middle Eastern dictatorships. There are plenty of devout Muslims in the world that don't torture and execute homosexuals. Just as there have been lots of non-Muslims who also tortured and executed homosexuals.
The president notwithstanding, Americans no longer agree on what is moral truth. For as someone said a few years back, there is a cultural war going on in this country, a religious war. It is about who we are, what we believe and what we stand for as a people.
Does Pat mean to say there is no such thing as Western values despite our arguments about the finer points? Or does he say that he doesn’t believe in them himself? I really don’t know because he really doesn’t say. Either way, that isn’t so good for him. Most of us have a notion of what Western values are, and most of us aren’t too cool with those who reject or don’t believe in them.
Again, Totten changes Buchanan's wording in order to obscure the meaning. Buchanan used the phrase "moral truth" and Totten changed it to "Western values". Totten's term brings to mind things like the Bill of Rights, Buchanan was talking about stem cell research and homosexual unions. Totten can't seriously deny that there is a huge national schism over these issues, so he changes Buchanan's meaning to something else. Something that everyone more-or-less pretends to agree on.
What some of us view as the moral descent of a great and godly republic into imperial decadence, neocons see as their big chance to rule the world.
Take out the word “godly” and Pat Buchanan sounds like a tin-foil hat leftist. Let me know when someone floats a bill to annex Iraq and I’ll change my mind about our “imperial” decadence.
Score the second good and fully honest point by Totten. It turns out there are only two.
In Georgia recently, the president declared to great applause: "I can't tell you how proud I am of our commitment to values. ... That commitment to values is going to be an integral part of our foreign policy as we move forward. These aren't American values, these are universal values. Values that speak universal truths."

But what universal values is he talking about? If he intends to impose the values of MTV America on the Muslim world in the name of a "world democratic revolution," he will provoke and incite a war of civilizations America cannot win because Americans do not want to fight it. This may be the neocons' war. It is not our war.

Everyone, and I mean everyone including Pat Buchanan, knows George W. Bush isn’t thinking of MTV when he talks about values and freedom, especially when he mentions “universal” values. He isn’t referring to the right-wing opposition to stem-cell research, and he certainly isn’t talking about left-wing bra-burners.

It may not be true that everyone in this world wants to be free. But you can’t find a single country ruled by a despot where everyone loves their chains. It just doesn’t happen. The desire for freedom is universal in that sense.

Although George Bush isn't talking about that, it is fair when someone starts talking about the superiority of his principles to bring up some that aren't so superior. And it is certainly likely, near inevitable actually, that if America succeeds in remaking Middle Eastern society to such an extent that it stops producing terrorists then sexual libertinism will follow. No one explicitly making that a goal (for the moment), but it is hard to see how the people of the Middle East can become free to view American movies, American pornography, and MTV without it having a dramatic effect on the culture.
When Bush speaks of freedom as God's gift to humanity, does he mean the First Amendment freedom of Larry Flynt to produce pornography and of Salman Rushdie to publish The Satanic Verses, a book considered blasphemous to the Islamic faith? If the Islamic world rejects this notion of freedom, why is it our duty to change their thinking? Why are they wrong?
Now that is just astonishing. A tyrannical fascist regime in Iran orders the execution of a novelist in Britain. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini sent death squads after a man who had never even been to Iran. And Pat Buchanan wants to know why that’s wrong.

It seems to me it ought to be self-evident to a man who writes books that it’s not cool if you’re executed by a foreign government because it doesn’t like what you’ve written. But I guess it isn’t self-evident if you’re a religious nutjob who can’t get past the word blasphemy.
Totten has a point here, if one is ignoring the principle of charity (reading the other person's words in the best possible light). Totten clearly has no truck with the principle of charity when it comes to Buchanan. On the other hand, one could assume that Buchanan didn't mean to endorse death sentences for writing blasphemous books or to endorse extra-national laws about books. Buchanan may have just been saying that Muslims have a right to ban books they find offensive. Some of us would think that makes Buchanan look bad enough, but Totten has to bring in the death squads.
When the president speaks of freedom, does he mean the First Amendment prohibition against our children reading the Bible and being taught the Ten Commandments in school?
I certainly hope so. Bibles and Korans can be read after school. Shuttering the radical Islamic madrassas would do more to stop terrorism than anything else I can think of.
Once again, a charitable reader might assume Buchanan was making a point here about how the left has distorted the foundational principles of this country. They did manage to successfully turn a freedom of religion into an assault on religion. Maybe Muslims have reason to be disturbed about these things.
If the president wishes to fight a moral crusade, he should know the enemy is inside the gates. The great moral and cultural threats to our civilization come not from outside America, but from within. We have met the enemy, and he is us. The war for the soul of America is not going to be lost or won in Fallujah.

Unfortunately, Pagan America of 2004 has far less to offer the world in cultural fare than did Christian America of 1954. Many of the movies, books, magazines, TV shows, videos and much of the music we export to the world are as poisonous as the narcotics the Royal Navy forced on the Chinese people in the Opium Wars.

A society that accepts the killing of a third of its babies as women's "emancipation," that considers homosexual marriage to be social progress, that hands out contraceptives to 13-year-old girls at junior high ought to be seeking out a confessional – better yet, an exorcist – rather than striding into a pulpit like Elmer Gantry to lecture mankind on the superiority of "American values." [Emphasis added]
Here is where the wave of Pat Buchanan’s idiotarianism crests: He actually used the language of the left to say people like me are possessed by the devil.

I do what I can to combine the best of the left and the right. No one does better than Pat Buchanan in fusing the worst of both into a unifying and idiotic morass.

Anyone else see anything the least bit hypocritical about a man who calls Buchanan the devil ("Pitchfork Pat") being offended that Buchanan suggests someone is possessed by the devil?

breasts and natural selection

Instapundit links to an article that claims breast sizes are increasing nationwide for Danish women. The article gives credit to increased nutrition, but I wonder if sexual liberation isn't part of the answer, not only for this, but for men's increasing height as well.

A hundred years ago in Europe, most marriages were arranged, or at least set up, by parents. A young woman's chance of reproducing was correlated more to how conscientious her parents were than to her own appearance. Today, mating is largely a matter of sexual competition. Women with larger breasts are more sexually attractive, and therefore may be more likely to reproduce. If so, natural selection will produce a population of women with larger breasts. Similar comments apply to men's height, because tallness for men is a positive trait in sexual competition.