Saturday, March 12, 2005

real-life A-team

You need the A-team? Advertise on craigslist.

Condi for president

Joe Gandleman notes that Condoleezza Rice has refused to close the door on a possible run for the presidency in 2008. Smart move. That means that when she is talking to foreign leaders, they know they are looking at someone who is potentially the next president of the United States. That can't hurt.

Gandleman writes:
Could it happen? It's more likely that she'd run for office in California — although that would require a wait — and then become a national figure.
I'd love to see the Republican party run a black woman for president just because of what it would do to the media's stereotype of Republicans as racist and sexist, but Condi really isn't ready. She has never run for office and she has never been a governor. She might have a good chance to win the governorship in CA and that would be great, but it puts her presidential run back for a decade.
Another option that would be great for the party but not so great for Condi is for her to run as VP. From Condi's point of view, VP's don't have a great track record of advancement, but from the GOP point of view it would be almost as good as having her run for president. How are the Democrats going to keep up the lie that Republicans are all a bunch of racist thugs when they are running a black woman for VP? That's why I'm not so worried about this:
There is a definite downside from this Times article.
Now that she is not ruling out running, if a buzz starts on her she's going to be looked at a whole lot differently by many politicians and journalists. She hasn't gotten a free pass in recent months, but her words are going to get much more scrutiny.

Rice could find some GOPers and Democrats will be more critical of her in coming months — because she has now moved from being a cabinet appointee to a potential political competitor.
First of all, the Democrats are out to get her just because she is a black woman in a high position in a Republican administration. The Democrats have a vested interest in maintaining the stereotype of Republicans as bigoted, so they do everything they can to tear down popular non-WASP Republicans. Second, any Republicans looking at Condi as a potential opponent also have to consider her as a potential ally. If they make the same calculation I do, they will see that with her lack of executive and political experience, she's not that serious of a competitor, but she could make an outstanding running mate. If so, they are more likely to suck up to her than trash her.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Meating of the Mines, scene 6

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of the Mines.

Zantar and Rolf are riding through a dense forest. Zantar, as always when riding a horse, has the built-up saddle that puts his feat on the back of the horse rather than straddling it. This will become significant in a later episode.

ROLF: A being has to have a more sophisticated philosophy than that, Zan! When a companion asks you for your philosophy of life, you can't just say "get rich". You must expound! You must explicate! Your elucidation should exhibit the final product of a thorough and ponderous deliberation. Surely there is more to your life than getting rich?

ZANTAR: (after a moment of thorough and ponderous deliberation) Get rich. Get drunk. Get laid.

ROLF: (irritated) Dunce! Dullard! You simply cannot reduce the entire purpose of your life to three sentences of two words each! Your truculence on this issue is disagreeable and vexatious! What you propose is not a philosophy, but a mere slogan (Rolf's voice switches from irritated to analytical) --although I'll allow that as a slogan it features some nice syllabic alliteration and a beguiling perspective, suitable no doubt as a plan of action in various and sundry situations-- (his voice switches back to irritated) but it lacks subtlety! It wants for depth! And most assuredly it fails in answering to the purpose of the question which is to lighten the burden of a long ride with pointless conversation.

ZANTAR: OK, then. What's your philosophy of life?

ROLF: Well, that's a pretty involved question, Zan. Are you sure you want to know?


ROLF: First of all, a being must build up a strong foundation on which to plant the orchard of his life. In mortal terms, that means, of course, a sound financial position. Wealth isn't a good in it's own right, but only a means to and end. The doorway into the springs of happiness, as it were. ...

ZANTAR: Shouldn't that be either a doorway into the halls of happiness or a path to the springs of happiness?

ROLF: Who's philosophy is this, anyway?

Zantar shrugs.

ROLF: Anyway. The purpose of wealth is to afford the domicile, luxuries and wife appropriate to the station which one deserves. In my case, I think the appropriate domicile would be a small castle on a hill, endowed with a generous bit of remunerative farmland, sufficient peasants to do the work, and a small but prosperous town at a small distance. Close enough to visit for tax collection or other purposes yet far enough not to ruin the idyllic natural landscape. We elves appreciate idyllic natural landscapes, you know.

(At one point during Rolf's soliloquy, the camera lingers as the two ride on, showing that they are leading two horses, one of which is a small, cute Shetland-style pony.)

ROLF: I shall be clothed in the finest silk and lie in repose on soft cushions. Suitable reward for a hard and productive life. I shall be served fine wines in a golden chalice by comely peasant wenches who don't mind a little slap and tickle if the mood strikes me. Indeed they will no doubt compete for my attention, as I shall be not only virile and elegant but master of the estate as well.

ZANTAR: How do you think your expensive wife is going to feel about that?

ROLF: (hesitating, obviously troubled) You submit a compelling objection. It may be that a sad and lonely bachelorhood must be my fate. (after a moment of silence) I might broach the subject during courtship proceedings...

ZANTAR: Krikey.

ROLF: ... but that might be considered indecorous. I suppose I must learn to endure spouselessness.

ZANTAR: You could give up the wenches.

ROLF: Please, Zantar, I'm trying to have a serous discussion here.

ZANTAR: Sorry.

ROLF: I'm determined to enjoy my full destiny of wealth, wine and wenches.

ZANTAR: That's your ultimate goal?

ROLF: Essentially.

ZANTAR: I can see how that's a lot better than "Get rich. Get drunk. Get laid."

ROLF: Any dolt could. Still, I'm troubled by the thought of aging bachelorhood. Marriage is a sort of right of passage, as sign of ultimate success.


ROLF: There lies one of the mysteries of culture.

ZANTAR: There's advantages to not getting married, you know.

ROLF: Indeed? Like what?

ZANTAR: Like you don't have a wife.

ROLF: Hmm. A matter worthy of some thought.

The two riders pass on either side of a seven-foot tree stump, but as they pass the camera shows that the stump was the back of Lone the Ranger who has his camouflage cloak arranged to make him look like a mossy tree stump from the back. The camera pans along with the two riders as they go by his face which is not hidden on this side of the cloak. The camera sees it but the heros do not because their backs are to him. Loan waits until they are a few feet past him and Rolf has finished his last line before he speaks.

LOAN: Don't you think the companionship is worth the compromises though?

Rolf and Zantar both jump and whirl around.

LOAN: I'm sorry, did I startle you? I'd hate to ruin a good horse stealing.

ZANTAR: I'd hate that too.

ROLF: (peering around the underbrush) Why Mr. Ranger! How philosophical of you to drop in on our little debate. Are you alone or should we ask the others to join us?

LOAN: I'm all alone. (with a big smile) Why, does that give you some idea?

Rolf and Zantar look at each other or a moment.

ZANTAR: Are you planning to ruin a good horse stealing?

LOAN: Well, you know our deal. You don't mess with citizens, or deputies, or me. You can steal all the horses you want from your employer.

ROLF: I congratulate you on your enlightened attitude with regard to our equestrian acquisition project. How much are you going to charge us to keep this information to yourself.

LOAN: No charge. I'm taciturn by nature.

ZANTAR: You don't sound like no sheriff I ever knew.

LOAN: I'm one of a kind all right. (he pats the Shetland pony) Well, the kids are going to miss you Mimi. I hope they don't find out you ended your days in the belly of a dwarf.

ROLF: "Belly of a dwarf?" That's privileged information, sir. May I ask who violated our confidence?

LOAN: You did.

ROLF: I? The incident escapes me.

LOAN: I overheard you.

ROLF: When did I give you an opportunity to overhear me?

LOAN: Every time you two are out riding, you carry on like there's no one else in the forest.

ROLF: You mean ... you mean you used your rangering skills to spy on us? (outraged) That's ... that's ...

ZANTAR: Sneaky.

ROLF: (outraged) Nefariously sneaky!

LOAN: I'm a sneaky guy.

ROLF: (outraged) Well! I'm appalled! I'm horrified! I'm, I'm ...

ZANTAR: Jealous.

ROLF: (outraged) Acutely jealous!

ZANTAR: Sort of makes you wish you had spent more time paying attention during those elfish sneaking classes, don't it?

ROLF: (prim) Not so! I value the powerful skills of wizardry far more than the furtive arts. Yet one cannot deny their beguiling appeal.

LOAN: You know (indicating the non-Shetland), this mare's name is Nightingale.

ZANTAR: Aww. Hey Nightingale, want to see a dwarven stomach from the inside?

LONE: Nightingale is sort of a hero to the town. One time a ranger rode her at a full run for miles to warn the town of an attack. Saved the town, but ran the horse to death.

ZANTAR: Funny. It don't look dead.

LOAN: The town raised three gold to pay a wizard to save her life.

ZANTAR: (outraged) Three gold! To save a dumb pony that's worth more on the spit than on the hoof? That's stupid! That's idiotic! That's, that's, ...

ROLF: Barbaric.

ZANTAR: (outraged) Idiotically barbaric!

LOAN: Whatever you may think of it, the town thinks the horse is worth three gold.

ZANTAR: (outraged) Well they're idiots!

LOAN: Intelligence estimates aside, the Barkleys's retired her. Put her out to pasture in that nice field you stole her from this morning, along with Mimi here (indicating the Shetland) to keep her company. The only work they do is let kids ride them bareback in the summer. The kids and the town really love these two ponies.

ROLF: Well, thank you for the information, sir. We have an appointment to keep, but the next time we feel the need for insignificant details of the town's history, we shall certainly call upon your expertise.

The two turn to ride off, leading the two doomed ponies.

ZANTAR: (still outraged) Three gold! That's, that's ...

ROLF: Stupid.

ZANTAR: (outraged) Stupidly stupid!

After a silence.

ROLF: We aren't going to get rich selling horsemeat Zan.

ZANTAR: No, but we're making a nice stake. Get it? We sell the horses and they make steaks out of them.

ROLF: We may just be forced to wait on opportunity.

ZANTAR: See, the word "stake" has two different meanings....

ROLF: I get it, Zan! It was a pun!

ZANTAR: Oh. Well, I don't like waiting; I like making stuff happen.

ROLF: I concur.

ZANTAR: You got how I used the word one way but it could be taken another way?

ROLF: (resigned) Yes, Zantar. That's what a pun is.

ZANTAR: Those dwarves we sell horses to are OK guys. I'd hate to have to just steal from them.

ROLF: Yes. Much better if we can somehow cheat them.


ROLF: Incidentally, do you remark when the ranger was regaling us with that insipid anecdote about the pony?


ROLF: Did you feel he was attempting to communicate something to us?

ZANTAR: Why would you think that?

ROLF: The anecdote was just so out-of-place and irrelevant to the situation. Why would he inflict it on us if not to communicate some matter that he could not quite express directly?

ZANTAR: So what do you think he was trying to say?

ROLF: I have no idea...

UPDATE: continued.


Oops. I forgot to announce the Storyblogging Carnival again. We're always looking for new writers. If you have a story on your blog, please think about entering it in the Carnival.

good guys and bad guys

Donald Crankshaw on the pro-occupation demonstration in Lebanon:
Finally, the most important aspect of this is that Hezbollah has chosen a side, and demonstrated publicly that they are against freedom. This is important, considering that for a time Lebanese opposition leaders were courting Hezbollah's support. Now they and everyone else know whose side Hezbollah is really on.
That sounds right. It may turn out that one of the best things to happen in the Middle East as a result of the war in Iraq is that the terrorists are forced to show their true colors. The terrorists hate us for supporting dictators? Then why do they side with dictators over us? The terrorists hate us for meddling in their affairs? Then why do they side with other who are obviously meddling far more? The terrorists hate us because they fear that our freedom and our belief in human dignity will spread? Yeah. Actually, that sounds right.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Intellectual Incoherence of Conservatism

Boy, this was disappointing. You see an article with a title like that, referenced from a site called The Conservative Philosopher, and you expect to find a powerful, well-thought-out article to really challenge your preconceptions and make you think.

Don't get your hopes up. Hans-Hermann Hoppe starts off with a few feints at "neocons", William F. Buckley, and religious conservatives that struck me as no more than typical ignorant partisan comments. Then he launches into a long screed against Buchananism --the bulk of the article.

Hoppe's burden is to prove that conservatives are all statist, and to do so he discusses a group that are largely ignored by most conservatives, and to a large extent the reason they are ignored is because they are too statist. In fact an honest title for the article is "Buchananites Have Some Socialist Ideas", but that would bore the hell out of everyone before they even started reading.

The paragraph against the religious right is the funniest, probably because I'm most familiar with that group. The entire thing is parenthesized, showing how important he thinks the dominant block of the dominant political party is:
(As for most of the leaders of the so-called Christian Right and the "moral majority," they simply desire the replacement of the current, left-liberal elite in charge of national education by another one, i.e., themselves. "From Burke on," Robert Nisbet has criticized this posture, "it has been a conservative precept and a sociological principle since Auguste Comte that the surest way of weakening the family, or any vital social group, is for the government to assume, and then monopolize, the family's historic functions." In contrast, much of the contemporary American Right "is less interested in Burkean immunities from government power than it is in putting a maximum of governmental power in the hands of those who can be trusted. It is control of power, not diminution of power, that ranks high.")
Notice that he couldn't actually find a quote from one of these religious conservative statists to back up his claim; he had to quote from one of their critics. In fact, he gives no justification at all for these wild accusations, for the very good reason, I surmise, that he could find none.

If anyone can find a genuinely intelligent article with the argument that this one promises, I'd like to read it.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

forgiving racists

La Shawn Barber, a black woman, is more willing to cut some slack for former members of the KKK than I am. In a way, it says a lot about her forgiving nature, but I think she's going too far. It's not like Robert Byrd was a mere segregationist. I'm willing to cut some slack for people who were just prim about who they associated with, both black and white. They were raised thinking that people should segregate themselves by race, and in the absence of strong reasons to change, they didn't. These people were just products of their societies and we shouldn't hold that against them.

But the Ku Klux Klan, that's a different story. This was a terrorist organization. They used violence against civilians, creating terror in order to achieve their political goals. Like all terrorists organizations, almost by definition, the KKK is antidemocratic. They seek to warp the democratic process through fear and violence. Anyone who joins such an organization has shown such a deep lack of moral character that it renders him permanently disqualified for any position of national leadership. And it is shameful that the people of West Virginia don't understand this.

And terrorism isn't the worst sin of the KKK. That organization isn't merely segregationist, they are racist in the most vile sense of the word --they view other races as less than fully human. This pernicious doctrine (probably descended from southern apologia for slavery) is a sign of such depravity that, again, it is hard to imagine a man who ever endorsed it as being fit for office.

So, forgiveness, OK. If anyone truly repents, it is our duty before God to forgive. But that doesn't mean forgetfulness. And it doesn't mean that you ever vote for someone who promoted such evil views and practices.

welcome back

Emigre with a Digital Cluebat is back blogging. Go on over and say "hi".