Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who Let the Bull Out?

On the Commentary Magazine blog Peter Wehner, in an excellent takedown of the egregious Tom Friedman, shows that he probably does not read the Boston Globe.

When describing a particularly asinine quote, Wehner asks…

Has anything sillier than this… been written recently by a serious columnist?

Assuming that’s not rhetorical, I will take up that challenge. I give you Derrick Jackson’s Michael Vick inspired diatribe. Well, the diatribe might have been occasioned by Vick, but the target is greyhound racing. For him, dogfighting and dog racing are indistinguishable. This is a quintessential example of the liberal reflex of inappropriate moral equivalence (which, explains Goodwin’s Law, but I digress). One can have a cruelty free dog racing environment. I would like to see such an environment created. Former racing dogs are good pets (I often see them and they are sweet tempered). Fighting pit bulls is by its definition cruel and much of the audience proves that the Puritans had a point. Fianlly, the careers of those canines (who can never become pets because of their ingraained aggresion) is almost invariably an unnatural death.

But to the liberal mind the evil businessman must be as bad as the ‘gansta’ hoodlum if their worlds are even slightly parallel. Otherwise how can the liberal’s animating animus be justified? And increasingly, the liberals are all about their anger.

Update: Sensitive souls should not read this WaPo exposé of the hideous dogfighting subculture.

While I normally disapprove of editorial comments in the article, staff writer Paul Duggan can tap me for a round for this paragraph.

"Dog men," they call themselves, the untold numbers of breeders and fighters. With their pastime illegal everywhere in the country, they stay in touch through secret networks and underground magazines. They say they love to compete. They tell themselves the pit bulls love it, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Your Shirt Offends Me

Lampooning PC excesses is like shooting fish in a barrel… with a Ma Deuce. However, “>this case is emblematic.

University of Maryland student Mia Lazarus recently went to buy some chips and juice at the Maryland Food Collective. The clerk at this grocery and sandwich shop in the student union read her t-shirt’s “Baltimore Zionist District” and “I Stand for Israel” slogans and then declared, “Your shirt offends me. I won’t ring you up.”…

Coop employees told the Post’s Fisher that “no one should have to have contact with people whose views they find hurtful.”

Mia used another cashier. But the problem is with the mindset. As you go through life, you will be confronted by people whose views may not just differ from yours; they may even be repugnant. For example, Moonbats hold the regular anti-war rallies near where I live. I have to pass those clowns on the way to get a paper. You know what? I walk by them (albeit with sneers and glowers). PC makes people unable to deal with it and walk past. The universities have churned out a perpetually affronted generation to whom everything is personal. Of course it never occurred to the cashier that he or she was the offensive one.

Personally, I would have threw the bottle on the ground and ripped open the bag before storming out. Well, I hope I would have. Probably I would have left the stuff there at least.

Radio Free Europe

In Sweden the elites debate what is important to them (HT, Instapundit). The public has other priorities, of course. The same would be true in the USA, but because of the free market, we have what I call the counter media. The Murdoch empire, conservative/libertarian/contrarian blogs and talk radio fill the void created by a craven MSM. So, while publications seen only in dentist offices display their pieties and priorities, talk radio and the blogosphere worry about topics the MSM would rather not deal with or in a different manner than the MSM cares for. The most glaring one is illegal immigration. Except for the war, this is the topic that dominates talk radio. It affects flyover country and the working class far more (and far more negatively) than it does those ensconced in red brick buildings in Cambridge, K Street offices and glass towers in Manhattan and LA, . No wonder why the influence of the MSM is imploding. That and the MSM is staffed by bozos.

Back to Europe which could use a Rush Limbaugh… seriously. Take the UK. The most powerful media institution in the UK is the BBC- a tax fed a liberal monoculture staffed by ‘Grauniad’ reading commuters. And they drive the debate as they wish, ignoring inconvenient opinions. What if, instead there was a talk show host who aimed for, well, the Daily Mail readership (I know the DM’s rep, but work with me on this one). Maybe they’d start talking about things the BBC would rather ignore or downplay.

Of course that would never happen. The media elites believe the need to control the debate. For the greater good, of course. Give the working class a media platform unsupervised by their betters, they’ll store coal in it. Besides, look at America. The country took a very large rightward tilt when Punch Sulzberger and Walter Cronkite stopped controlling the discussion and that horrible Rush Limbaugh and his ilk came forth. At least Congress seems to be wisely reconsidering.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Potter and Me

At first I did not care for Harry Potter. I saw the movie version of Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone and was unimpressed. I was in the audience at the Hugos at the Philly Worldcon in 2001 when Goblet won best novel and people seethed. I was disappointed, I admit.

Then I caught The Chamber of Secrets on HBO. "Cool. A basilisk. Not a bad idea." Since book 5 was coming out, I decided to start reading them in order.

Fast forward to the present. Tonight, I am attending Pandemonium Hogwarts Alumni, I am the prosecutor in the mock trial of Severus Snape.

(Spoilers for Half Blood Prince below)

My Lords and Ladies, this session of the Wizengamot has been convened for the most serious… the most heinous breach of the Wizarding peace in nearly a generation: the murder of Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The accused, whom we are trying in absentia, is Professor Severus Snape, a teacher at Hogwarts. A man who was trusted not only by the deceased, but by every witch, wizard and Muggle who sent a child to Hogwarts. Snape profoundly betrayed that trust with the crime of murder.
What is murder? Murder is the unlawful killing of another with malice aforethought and without justification or excuse. The great Muggle Jurist, Sir William Blackstone described it as…

The crime of deliberate and willful murder; a crime at which human nature starts…

Let us break the definition down to its component parts. Unlawful: A soldier who shoots the enemy in combat, the auror who uses deadly force against a dangerous dark wizard and the executioner who flicks the switch are all killers, but morality aside, they have a legal authority to kill.
Killing of another: self explanatory.
Justification: Killings in self defense or the defense of others fall into this category. Deadly force is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that deadly force is going to be used.
Excuse encompasses mental deficiency, insanity, lack of volition or the absence of intent. An inattentive muggle automobile operator or an errant potion brewer can kill. Though they may be negligent and otherwise culpable of manslaughter, their crime is involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is a killing in a sudden heat of passion, such as a man who catches his wife with her lover and, in a rage, slays them.
And now, we reach the crux of this trial, the state of mind: malice. Blackstone describes malice as…

…not so properly spite or malevolence to the deceased in particular, as any evil design in general; the dictate of a wicked, depraved, and malignant heart.

The modern legal definition of malice requires any one of four factors.
• Intent to kill
• Intent to do serious bodily harm
• Highly reckless or depraved heart… in other words, a high disregard or contempt for human life.
• Lastly, not that it matters here, a killing occurring in the course of five following felonies: burglary, robbery, kidnapping, rape or arson.

The Ministry will expose Snape’s wicked, depraved and malignant heart. We will show his intent to kill and how it became the foul deed. We will present testimonial evidence showing Severus Snape knew of a plot by Our Enemy to use a student at Hogwarts to kill Albus Dmbledore. We will show he attempted to aid and abet the plot. We will prove that when the plan was executed, Snape voluntarily joined a Death Eater assassination squad smuggled into Hogwarts. And when our foe's hand picked executioner lost his nerve, Severus Snape used the killing curse on the man who was his mentor.
This, my Lords and Ladies is the very definition of murder.
You have a grave responsibility: to examine the evidence closely. And there is one inevitable conclusion; that Severus Snape murdered Albus Dumbledore in cold blood.

My Lords and Ladies, our hard duty is near completion. But the hardest part of your task- judging and deciding- lies ahead.
The learned counsel for the defense has, I must admit, presented an interesting philosophical question. Such lovely speculation is more suited for the hallowed halls of academia than the courtroom.
This court does not deal with such philosophy. This court deals with facts. The basic facts are undisputed.
First, the summer prior, Severus Snape volunteered to join the plot to assassinate Albus Dumbledore. More than that, he willingly and voluntarily took the Unbreakable Vow, obligating him to carry out the bloody deed should the intended assassin, Draco Malfoy, have failed.
Second, that during the school year, Snape repeatedly offered aid and advice to Malfoy in his evil mission. Harry Potter overheard the two arguing about this subject during a Christmas party.
Thirdly, that when a coterie of Death Eater terrorists entered Hogwarts, and cornered an already weakened Dumbledore, our enemy's hand picked executioner, Draco Malfoy faltered. He looked his intended victim in the eye and civilization took over. Morality and conscience cooled hot homicidal blood. Draco Malfoy was not a murderer.
But the defendant, Severus Snape was.
• Severus Snape climbed to the top of the Astronomy Tower.
• Severus Snape saw the tableau: the Death Eaters, Draco Malfoy, paralyzed with indecision and Albus Dumbledore helpless, wandless and ill.
• Severus Snape raised his wand.
• Severus Snape looked Albus Dumbledore in the eye.
• Severus Snape said two words and snuffed Albus Dumbledore’s life.
In front of a half dozen witnesses. The two of whom whose testimony we have heard saw the man daily for nearly six years.
Recall the definition of murder we started with? Let’s review.
• Unlawful? Certainly.
• Killing of another? Not even disputed.
• Wuthout justification? Snape could have refused the Unbreakable Vow. He placed himself in peril to be in good standing with his Death Eater peers.
• Without excuse? No passion. No lack of intent. No indication of clinical insanity or the Imperius Curse. And as we are discussing a Hogwarts professor and a master of potion brewing and dark arts, we don’t need to discuss lack of capacity. This was murder in cold blood.
• Malice Aforethought? How else can one use the killing curse? Who can say ADAVERA KEDAVERA without intent and a wicked, depraved, and malignant heart.
And all this was voluntary. Snape was not coerced into taking the Unbreakable Vow. Learned counsel for the defendant has again spun a fascinating theory. But let us use Occam’s Razor to interpret the events. ‘Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity,’ or to rephrase, ‘the simplest solution tends to be the best.’ Instead of a convoluted fantasy of noble sacrifice, we have the brutal truth. Severus Snape, a former Death Eater and double agent showed the world his true colors when he murdered Albus Dumbledore. There is no direct evidence to support the defendant’s theory of the case, and there is considerable motive in the defendant’s part.
My Lords and Ladies. The evidence presented is overwhelming. Rarely has such a clear case been presented. The defendant is unquestionably guilty. He performed this deed willingly. I know it. You know it. The counsel for the defendant knows it too, though she disagrees in interpretation and motive. Most of all, Severus Snape knows it. That is why he has fled with the Death Eaters. Back to his true master.
There is a tale of the great American Muggle jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes. As he was climbing into a carriage, his fellow judge, Learned Hand, said, “Do justice, sir. Do justice.” Holmes ordered the carriage to be stopped. "That is not my job," he said. "It is my job to apply the law."
In this case, to apply the law is to do justice. For there is one person in this sordid tale who can not speak for himself. Not Snape, whose absence from these proceedings is an admission of guilt. Unlike the defendant, he is not hiding. He is mute because Severus Snape silenced him. Forever.
Do justice for Albus Dumbledore. Apply the law. Find Severus Snape guilty of murder. Thank you.

How sharper than a serpent's tooth was such betrayal. And with this act, Severus Snape betrayed us all He betrayed the trust of our society. He betrayed every student at Hogwarts and their parents. He betrayed his fellow teachers and staff. And most unforgivably of all, he betrayed Albus Dumbledore, the man who stood up before this very body to vouch that Severus Snape was no Death Eater.
Dumbledore’s trust was his Achilles Heel. But that was typical of the man, the greatest and noblest of us. All who passed through Hogwarts were touched by his kindness and understanding. All that wisdom gone forever.
Dante placed traitors in the 9th Circle of Hell. Well, all the flames of Hades are not hot enough for this betrayer and murderer. We thought he came in from the cold. But society embraced a serpent to her bosom.
I started with Blackstone. I will end with Blackstone. He notes that murder was universally punished by death and that the King of England himself could not pardon a murder properly convicted. He then quotes the Bible. Numbers. Chapter 35: verse 31.
Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.
I take no satisfaction, in the modern meaning in calling for Snape’s execution. But, my Lords and Ladies, he brutally and foully took the best of our society from us. There is but one just punishment.
Do justice.
Sentence Snape to death.

Counsel for the defense is going with a 'heroic sacrifice' theory. Like in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or The Last Temptation of Christ. Does that mean we'll have Bertie Bott's Communion Wafers?

Update: They ac quited him. Typical fangirls.

Book 7 is the best of the series and a wonderful and fitting climax.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Beach Blanket Blogging

I'm writing this blog post on my new Palm Treo while on a beach on the southern coast of Cape Cod. I am literally on a beach blanket. The water is nice and it's sunny, though with a stiff breeze.
It's not all blogging. I snorkled. To me snorkeling is the best part of beach going. Today I saw a huge spider crab and a striped bass over a foot long. I also flew kites with my nieces.
Obviously this post will be edited once I am back at my desktop.

This post is completely insignificant, but the point is that I CAN do it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Carr Jumps Sinking Ship

The big news in Boston media has to be Howie Carr trying to end his contract with WRKO and defect to WTTK. Carr, is WRKO's afternoon drive time host and a Herald columnist. He's an influential figure in Boston politics and a strong right of center maverick in the bluer-than-blue Commonwealth. In a sense this dustup is not really surprising. When I met him at a function/signing for The Brothers Bulger, I asked him what was going on with WRKO. He shook his head at the station management.

First they hired Tom Finneran, the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Carr loathes Finneran with a passion, calling him 'Tommy Taxes' and 'Felon Finneran.' Finneran reciprocated, while joking with Governor Deval Patrick, suggesting the proverbial one way trip for Carr. Their relationship has not improved since.

The other problem is that Carr is on in the afternoon drive time slot. But, starting this year WRKO broadcasts some Red Sox games, often preempting Carr's program. While conservative hsts (Limbaugh, Savage and Jerry Doyle) take up much of WRKO's airtime, schedule and lineup changes seem to indicate a management team uncomfortable with portwise personalities.

Today, and for much of this week, Carr has had guest hosts subbing in for him. Frankly they're not as adept a radio host as he is. Even if Carr can be lazy, going to a familiar routine of topics (immigration; 'hacks;' Kennedy bashing; bad beers of yore; and who on TV would you like to see naked), he is good with both banter and monologue. He is skilled with callers and guests.

Ironically, should Carr go to WTTK, he will occupy Don Imus's former timeslot. Carr's wife sued Imus for slander after Imus described an obscene scenario involving her and boxer Riddick Bowe. Imus was egged on by Mike Barnicle, another Carr foe whose disgrace and failings Carr enjoys repeating. One thing for sure. Carr can be cheerfully vindictive. He may very well get his ratings

Tie Die?

          Time and tie wait for no man. The necktie's demise is something I have been observing for a while with some mixed emotions. The only occasions these days where I wear ties is when I appear in court or attending religious services or important family functions (Like the post Bar-Mitzvah parties). Growing up, I was an alienated youth at a school that had a sports jacket and necktie dress code. I have worn neckties to fruitless interviews and pointless job fairs. It will come as no surprise that I loathe wearing them. Of course, the fact that I have a thick neck (in proportion to my skull) did not help. They're uncomfortable and occasionally unwieldy. Sometimes, they can even be dangerous. Why do you think EMTs always loosen the ties immedeately?

          But the flip side is that, yes, men do look good in ties. Look at the photos of the days when ties were de rigeur even in situations that today are considered casual (a baseball game, for example). Turn on ESPN today and see the way folks are dressed now and it makes you wince. Don't get me wrong. Dress casual is great. But sometimes, even I am glad to wear the monkey suit and cloth noose.

Return of the Native

          I had, let's be blunt, abandoned this blog for a while. I had a new job and lost myself in it. (The fact that I had a brutal commute helped in that decision). But, for better or for worse, I am back.
          I've had some changes in my life, though at times, I feel as if I am stuck in amber, never making progress. Just like life, eh?
          Part of the reason I've not been talking or writing, lately. Politics has been depressing. The odious (Chavez, Mugabe, Ahmadinejad and Olberman) are ascendent. The Left's never ending assault on those with whom they disagree is bad enough. What is sickening is their Neville Chamberlain instincts, joining with forces that are antithetical to everything they claim to hold dear, just so they can defeat someone at the polls they would not want to invite to their cocktail parties.
          And Bush on the Congressional GOP pissed away many of his advantages too. Granted, much of it was not their fault. Katrina the incompetence of Democrat officials were recast as Republican malignancy. Of course they've had self inflicted wounds (pork and immigration).
          As for the War, if Bush did not invade Iraq, he'd still be assailed for actions real and imagined Afghanistan. Iraq is a necessary theater in the war against Islamic terror. And unlike the wars against nation states and their uniformed militaries, it won't be won with the speed of an advancing army. It's going to be long, slow and tedious. It means that we're going to have to return to territory reconquered. It means diplomacy and thoroughness. It means seemingly endless casualty lists and bombing against Iraqi civilians.
          Of course, defeat will mean a genuine, massive genocidal war will erupt in Iraq that will make these vicious little skirmishes pale in comparison.
          Well, nobody said it would be easy. Except for people trying to put words in Bush's mouth. But then that's part of the game.