David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, September 2, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

Football, baseball, and other religions; New Orleans, Pluto, infectious stupidity . . . Just a lot of good stuff this week.


Paul Greenberg writes from Fenway Park. I'm not a big baseball fan, but the writing here is delicious -- as is typically the case with this writer, and often the case with writing about baseball.

Football seems to deserve equal time. Here Terence Jeffrey offers some interesting history.

Robert Tracinski writes a great piece on Katrina and BMA coverage of . . . the BMA coverage. Here are excerpts:

The American people began to lose their initial reaction of sympathy and to wonder instead why so many inhabitants of New Orleans were more eager to blame others for their plight than they were to lift a finger on their own behalf. . . .

[Much later in the article:] The only institution for which the press has any praise on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is, naturally enough, the press. They have spent much of this week congratulating themselves on what a marvelous job they did--which is the surest indication that they have completely missed the real story.

Tony Blankley quotes a surprising statement from a surprising source, but that only provides the jumping-off point for this noteworthy rant. Here is an excerpt -- and he's not just going after the white men.

I pray for this man's safety after he said such a sensible thing in such a lunatic place. But what takes his comments beyond a brave, local wisdom to a shrewd global insight was his epigrammatic conclusion: "We have all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity." "We have lost our sense of direction and we don't know where we're headed."

That seems to sum the world up pretty well. From Iran, Lebanon, Gaza and Israel to the leadership of the Republican and Democratic Parties in Washington, to the governments of most of Europe and South America, to the local, state and federal officials responsible for Katrina recovery, to the U.S. State Department, it is hard to spot any leadership that is both sane and competent.

The leadership of Iran, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Venezuela seem politically competent, but they're nuts. Most Western leaders seem at least clinically not insane, but are wandering around bumping into large objects.

The West is being run, more or less, by the most incompetent generation of middle-aged white men since the 6th century -- when they let the Roman Empire collapse without providing for an alternative (other than the Dark Ages.)

Walter Williams, property rights, foie gras . . . Maybe "the bacteria of stupidity" is more than a metaphor. (Williams himself is not infected.)

Someday, when Paul Weyrich writes all his stories about Soviet Russia, I intend to read it. Meanwhile . . .

Lenore Skenazy waxes poetic on the beginning of the school year.

Walter Russell Mead's long article in Foreign Policy on the implications of three major branches of Protestant Christianity for US foreign policy is an long, weighty, insightful read. (Some of my readers will wonder, so I note that the article does not mention the Mormons -- which is appropriate, since Mormonism technically is not a branch of Protestantism.)

Pete DuPont explains why we should keep the Electoral College.

In "The Secular Right" Robert Tracinski responds to a Heather MacDonald article I recommended some time ago, rebutting some of her ideas, affirming others, and adding some excellent thoughts of his own.

One of Our Planets is Missing

Paul Jacob isn't pleased about Pluto's demotion from planetary status. (If you're in the mood for some anatomical humor, follow Jacob's link anchored by "Uranus is a gas giant.")

James Lileks waxes whimsical, not to mention allegorical.

It's the Anti-Jihad, Stupid!

See also "Favorites" above.

Alert reader Jon Rodeback sent me a link to this Weekly Standard article, where Oliver Kamm describes former president Jimmy Carter thusly: "less an elder statesman than a soft cushion who bears the impress of whoever sits on him." I am rolling in the aisles.

Charles Krauthammer explains what Hezbollah lost in the war many are saying it won.

Emmett Tyrrell discusses a Donald Rumsfeld speech and the Democratic response.

William F. Buckley -- predictably -- wants intelligence and reason (aided by technology) to prevail in airport security. But how likely is that?

Michelle Malkin tells how those nice people who keep trying to blow up Israel (one pizza place at a time) are using ambulances as weapons, now -- and not just as propaganda weapons, either.

Heads are rolling -- so far, figuratively -- in Israel's government. Richard Z. Chesnoff describes the cause and its effects.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., talks about the politics of war. Here's an excerpt:

Dangerous, short-sighted and historically ignorant are all apt descriptions of a policy that fails to invest in the U.S. military in peacetime. But failing to invest sufficiently in our defense capabilities in time of war is reckless in the extreme. At some point, such behavior breeds not just defeatism. It assures defeat.

Michael Goodwin talks about Iran and the rest of the world. His article includes this barbed sequence, at the expense first of the UN and then of the French:

Any sane person would conclude that Iran is on a collision course with the world. But the United Nations is not made up of sane people, so U.S. Ambassador John Bolton will have a hard time in coming days. With the official deadline of Aug. 31 for Iran to suspend its nuke activities, Bolton must herd the Security Council toward imposing tough economic sanctions.

But China and Russia, with large commercial ties to Iran, are not enthusiastic and France remains occupied by the French. They can be expected to surrender soon.

Ben Shapiro ably contrasts the stupid things we say about terrorists winning with the terrorists' own definition of victory.

This [our "the terrorists have won if . . ." litany] is all very, very stupid.

Terrorists are quite clear about what they consider victory: conversion of all non-believers to Islam and the subjection of the entire world to sharia law.

New Orleans, One Year Later

See also "Favorites" above.

Michael Graham offers his own tale of two cities. One of them is New Orleans. One of them is not.

Rich Lowry astutely explains the impact of Katrina on American attitudes towards the current administration.

Rich Galen looks back at Katrina and what it showed us about government and leaders at several levels. (It's worth reading despite several errors in diction and punctuation.) He says:

Katrina demonstrated the best and worst in people. Unfortunately, the worst were the people in charge.

The best were the people [whose] names we will never know.

Clarence Page wonders not whether New Orleans will continue to rebuild, but what sort of city it will be.

Greg Crosby wonders what's the point of celebrating sadness.

Wanted: Journalistic Integrity

Mary Katherine Ham recites the latest list of reasons why folks don't trust the BMA.

Jack Kelly offers "a brief review [of a new book] for those of you who have lives." The subject is Plamegate, and journalists who know the truth but tell something else.

Brent Bozell, III, takes issue with BMA insistence that mainstream reporting is "fair and balanced." The specific example involves illegal immigration. Here's his conclusion; you may want to see how he got there.

Perhaps never has so much media bias created as much of a thud of failure as this did. But you'll never catch a whiff of that political reality if you rely on the Big Three networks and their unfair and imbalanced fairytale picture of the world.

The Honorable Judge Was Smoking What?

Robert Novak illuminates the background of federal district judge Anna Diggs Taylor's highly politicized decision against the federal government's program of eavesdropping on terrorist suspects' phone calls.

Jack Kelly adds some cogent thoughts on the same subject, including these:

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor illustrates why Democrats cannot be trusted with political power in time of war. . . .

[That was the beginning; here's the end:]

President Bush has made mistakes in his conduct of the war on terror. But thanks in part to Judge Taylor's ruling, voters this November will be asking themselves whether they would rather be governed by a political party that thinks Islamic terror is the greatest threat to Americans, or by a political party which is more concerned about Wal-Mart.

I don't think Democrats will like their answer.

Jonathan Gurwitz sees the recent saga of Judge Taylor as a cautionary tale.

National Politics

Michael Barone reports that events have shrunk the gap in the polls between the Democrats and the Republicans. (Funny how that works.)

Donald Lambro analyzes a new Gallup Poll which suggests that the 2006 election isn't over yet.

Bruce Bartlett describes a recent federal court decision related to income tax and muses on the possibilities.

George Will describes what he calls an "emblematic" US Senate race in Missouri.

Marvin Olasky "blames the victims" -- meaning that he thinks we should all make some preparations for disaster -- and also quotes one of my favorite thoughts from Alexis de Tocqueville.

Education, the Culture, Business, Religion

Jeff Jacoby won't reassure you at all if you care about the intellectual credibility of major publishers of elementary school textbooks.

I read Nat Hentoff's piece on Bill Cosby and his message and thought, among other things, that it probably applies to more than blacks.

Nat Hentoff surveys the religious freedom of speech landscape, finding, among other things, that the ACLU is actually on what I would regard as the right side of an issue, which doesn't happen every day.

Scott D. Anthony and Clayton M. Christensen discuss innovation in business.

Tallahassee, Florida, is one of the points where environmentalists' principles and their needs for energy intersect. Kathleen Parker illuminates the situation (and yes, the pun is intended).

Have you wondered lately about President Bush's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. James J. Kilpatrick weighs in with an update and some additional discussion about religion and the state.

Brent Bozell, III, praises a new Disney movie as -- my term -- an island of decency. An excerpt:

No raunch. Nothing objectionable. Just a wonderful, uplifting story. You walk out of the theater wanting to shake the hands of those in charge at Disney who made a simple decision: If it's a movie with a target market being youngsters, their innocence will be protected -- period. That's the Walt Disney Co. I remember.

But then you return home and turn on your television set, and it's like a frying pan to the face.


George Will explains Japan's interest in changing its constitution to allow for conventional armed forces. His thoughts on why it matters to the US include this good insight:

The list of economically formidable nations that are without virulent anti-Americanism and are eager to collaborate with America is short. The list is: Japan.

The math geek in me isn't quite certain that Thomas Sowell's "random thoughts" are actually random, but they are always worth reading.

American Fork and Environs

Anna Chang-Yen's Daily Herald article on the Alpine School District math conflict has some snotty quotes from ASD K-12 administrator Barry Graff. Bob Larson of Shelley Elementary isn't much better. The article in general gives too much play to inside proponents of The Emperor's New Math trying to make opponents look stupid. Where is the equal time for well-reasoned arguments from the other side?

Caleb Warnock's Daily Herald article on proposed American Fork annexations isn't earthshaking, but should be useful background for those who want to understand local government in action.

The numbers don't matter much, but the basic news does: Delta Airlines is reporting a profit in July.

Here's a Daily Herald opinion piece on American Fork's Developmental Center. I myself am less confident than its authors that civil rights organizations are useful sources of sound policy.

This article includes a brief note from the Daily Herald about cottage-style development on the west side of American Fork.

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