"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas To All

Tonight my wife, the Bear, and I will go to my parents' for an early Christmas Eve/Morning. Then we'll return home for another Christmas Eve/Morning with my wife's mother. Ah, delight.

I've got a number of things planned to write about in the coming weeks. I've got a couple of takeoffs from LOTR: ROTK in mind (the lighting of the beacons and the Charge of the Rohirrim). I'm planning to write analyses of the Robin Hood Syndrome, how "imposing your morality" is self-stultifying, and why "tolerance" isn't all it's cracked up to be. My wife's also encouraged me to start writing about being a daddy; the market's glutted with material focusing on the mother/child relationship, but there's just not that much on fathers by fathers for fathers. Maybe some of that will make its way here.

But that comes later. For a weekend or so, the concerns and arguments of the blogworld will be left behind. I can read and argue this stuff any day. This weekend is about enjoying family and making memories. There have to be way stations, and whatever other controversy surrounds Christmas, it is a wonderful time to shut down the treadmill and enjoy life in itself. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Hail The Victorious Dead

Ah, I now have the four-disc Return of the King. Since the Bear (14 months old today!) doesn't get to sleep until around 9, my wife and I are just taking this about an hour at a time. Last night we managed to make it to the lighting of the beacons (about which I'll post soon) before we finally collapsed.

I love the Lord of the Rings, both the book(s) and the movie(s). I respect Tolkien's demand that his works not be treated as allegory, but I also recall his characterization of their "applicability" in describing certain themes and thoughts.

One in particular came to mind again last night. After the Rohirrim return to Edoras, they have a feast to celebrate their victory. King Theoden begins the feast with a toast in which all the hall joins: "Hail the victorious dead."

What a foreign concept that's become to so many of us! "To hail" is to show honor and gratitude and deference, and a substantial portion of our populace appears incapable of doing that anymore, especially as regards our military. The closest some can come is some milquetoast version of "support the troops". What a strange deficiency in a country so defined by and indebted to military sacrifice and strength! What a great loss it would be if we forgot how to honor our heroes.

So hail the American soldier! Hail the liberators of Iraq and Afghanistan! Hail the defenders of life and liberty and happiness' pursuit! And hail the milbloggers like 2Slick and Greyhawk and Blackfive and Smash and all the others who remind us of what our warriors really are like!

King Theoden also calls them "victorious". It's almost an odd concept, that the dead may be victorious, at least if one considers the presence of life to be more significant than the character of a life. In today's "modern" age, it seems that some think that one cannot win a battle if one does not survive it. What a peculiarly individualistic and limited view! How fortunate we are that those who have given their lives were not so short-sighted and selfish to think that the world ended when their own did! Where would we be if we did not have soldiers who thought that the preservation and prosperity of their home's way of life mattered more than their own lives?

It is even more poignant that Theoden's feast is only a respite from the larger, almost certainly unwinnable war. Indeed, he later acknowledges that his people are in a battle they cannot win, but that will not stop them from fighting. What a contrast to those who cannot bring themselves to even declare any victory in Iraq, let alone celebrate it! Theoden's prospects against Sauron were far more dire than our own against terrorists and mullahs and Ba'athists, yet his people paused for a victory feast and then sallied forth once more against the foe. We ought to learn.

Finally, Theoden is saluting the dead. The hall raises a glass to their memory and their prowess and their deeds. They do not mourn for themselves as Theoden does when he comes out of his ensorcelment and grieves for his son. They do not gnash their teeth and wail about the waste and cost of the battle. To do so would belittle those who have died. It would be dishonorable.

Furthermore, they do not believe that the dead have ended. Rather, they have "gone to their fathers" and will be measured and viewed by their deeds, their bravery, and their sacrifice. Again, how so very removed from so many today who cannot see the dead of war as anything but victims and who think that nothing can be redeemed once physical life has fled!

Yet not all think so. Hail our honorable warriors! Hail our glorious defenders! And yes, hail the victorious dead!

Added Haloscan Today

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Well, there's my nice little automated message. Now I just need to figure out how the trackback stuff works, and I'll be in business. Sadly, this means I jettison the very useful comments by David Velleman at Left2Right and the nice compliment 2Slick paid me on the abortion post (as well as a few back-and-forths with David from ISOU.) Suffice it to say that I appreciate the comments and hope not to have to switch services anytime soon and jettison yet more stuff. Slarrow v. 2.0 is now operative.

Homespun Symposium: Racial Reconciliation

I'll take my first crack at a Homespun Symposium question. Marc at Hubs and Spokes offered this little jewel:
What do you believe is necessarry for true racial reconciliation to take place in American society? Does your solution involve coercive governmental remedies? Do you believe that Churches have an important role to play in this process?
Frankly, I think what's necessary is for those who seek the profit margin in racial tension to go out of business. I think the conditions on the ground are ripe for a sweeping racial reapproachment, but there are those who have too much money or self-worth bound up in a group struggle that pits black against white. They must be defeated.

The remedy doesn't really involve government intervention except that criminal investigations into various race-exploiting people ought not to be stymied because of political pressures. That includes investigation for extortion, tax evasion, brutality, and voter suppression. Rather, the remedy comes from explicit and sustained denunciation and punishment that comes from the actions political communities take to police their own leaders.

Who are the flies in the ointment? From the Right I offer Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, and whoever wrote/authorized the 2000 James Byrd NAACP ad. I'm willing to hear the list from the Left as well as their objections to this list; I'm also willing to hear additions/subtractions from the Right too.

Part of this will just be generational, I hope; eventually the old guard for whom it is always Selma 1965 will die off. As those with long memories of old grievances (whether remedied or not) exit the scene, the stage will be set for those who have grown up under vastly better conditions to shape events and movements in response to the current state of affairs. By actively seeking to marginalize the professional agitators, we reduce the chance that bitterness and grievance get passed down like a family heirloom to new generations.

(As a result, I think voting habits will change. Indeed, the best thing for the political prospects of black people is for 35% of them to vote Republican in an election that does not involve a black person. That increases their desirability as a swing voting bloc and reduces the influence of those who rely on inflammatory racial rhetoric to keep them a monolithic voting bloc.)

As for churches, I think the part they play in racial reconciliation is largely separate from this marginalization (unless, of course, black churches start publically disinviting Jackson and Sharpton.) Their greatest contribution is to organize cross-racial Christian events (mostly where there is proximity of racial mixes, often in cities) and to enforce Christian discipline on those who try to opt out based on racial considerations. As there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor should there be either black or white when it comes to the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Homespun Slarrow

Well, I've joined Homespun Bloggers. Should be fun.

In case I get folks coming over to the house, a little about me: I live in the Missouri Ozarks near Branson. I'm a computer programmer/web guy with degrees in computer science and philosophy. I have a wife and baby son (the Bear.) I'll be 30 in February. I'm a fiscal and social conservative and a Republican (not necessarily the same thing.) I have this blog because I think it's fun to think and write about the stuff I do; if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it. By and large I do not take arguments personally, although I will cut off debate if it becomes about me personally instead of my ideas. I am patient and thorough and longwinded (very longwinded.)

I chose "Slarrow" because of the Hamlet reference and because I like the sound of it. I prefer the online handle instead of my real name because (a) knowing the web as I do, I know what's possible with identity tricks, and (b) it's fun. I like to think of myself as an Ozark Intellectual; for example, I can debate very extensively on topics like abortion and the death penalty and the ramifications and justifications for each, but I think it boils down to guilt and innocence, and I follow my intuitions on those factors.

I typically stay away from the computer on weekends, so beware if you ask an interesting question on Friday afternoon. I'm a St. Louis Cardinals fan. I don't watch much TV. I love to read; it is absolutely my favorite hobby, and I'm especially fond of fantasy fiction. (Lately I've been trawling through my Terry Pratchett again.) I have a waterfall on my place when the season's wet and a ton of work to do around here. I went deer hunting for the first time in my life this year and didn't get one; naturally, they're everywhere now. Curses. Wait until next year.

That's me in a nutshell, heavy on the nut. Welcome.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What A Shame

It seems that Left2Right is going to be a disappointment to conservatives. The initial statements seemed to suggest that the site was going to be an attempt by some academicians on the Left to engage the Right in an attempt to persuade them. Unfortunately, it seems the purpose is for those on the Left to discuss amongst themselves the most effective way to reframe their message and recalibrate their language to appeal to The Other. It's an in-house discussion, in other words, along the lines of Lakoff's seminar with Congressional Democrats.

If the group can't find from within its members someone who's really good at being a devil's advocate, then they're doomed. Too much homogenity is going to lock in too many "non-negotiable" policy positions they mistake for principles. I'm afraid the authors of the site, once they get past the blogosphere learning curve, are going to spend their time refining the details of positions that non-Left voters will reject because of the basic premises.

David Velleman from Left2Right has pleaded that they're still new at this and that their mission is changing, so there's hope that they'll avoid the fate of instituting yet another insular community. But so far the trend does not look good to these conservative eyes. Pity.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Where The Future Is Being Killed Today

The local chapter of Planned Parenthood has been up to their old tricks again. Earlier I posted an item on the teenage couple who caused a miscarriage through the boyfriend beating the girlfriend's stomach with a mini baseball bat. A columnist from my local paper mentioned it here, and the public affairs director for the local Planned Parenthood wrote an editorial chastising him for linking this incident and abortion. She's written disengenous stuff before, but she really shouldn't have called him "intellectual and morally dishonest with his readers." I've had my own tussles with the man, but he in no way deserves that. Besides, her argument was dangerously ridiculous, so I penned the following and sent it to the editor. Maybe it'll get printed. (Of course, since this is my blog and there's no word count here, I can expand it to be a little snarkier.)
I see Kellie Rohrbaugh objects to Brian Lewis’s column. He called a man beating his pregnant girlfriend with a miniature baseball bat to cause a miscarriage an “unorthodox abortion” that he didn’t think was “any less barbaric than any other abortion.”

I agree with Ms. Rohrbaugh. There is a clear difference between a clinic where a woman receives accurate medical information and, with the assistance of doctors, aborts her fetus and a bedroom where a man hits his teenage girlfriend in the stomach with a baseball bat to induce a miscarriage: the clinic is cleaner. And has pamphlets.

Otherwise, the situations seem pretty analogous to me. A young woman decides her unborn baby is actually unwanted and inconvenient tissue, so she and her boyfriend just choose a do-it-yourself abortion. Of course, if that young woman had just walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic to eliminate her child with professional help, everything would be all right!

But that's okay, because it shows that Planned Parenthood trusts women to make the best decisions! It's all about women and empowerment and making sure that inconvenient unplanned babies don't get in the way of a sex life! Tee hee!

Still, it is important to work together to find common ground, and Ms. Rohrbaugh is soliciting practical solutions to the complexities of family planning. So just this once I’ll set aside my concerns on appropriate government spending and suggest reinstatement of the publicly funded programs she mentions. Let’s even send some of it to her chapter to assist them in providing “information, education, and services” for family planning.

Of course, once a child is conceived, the planning stage is over. Since we’re beyond the planning phase, it seems fair that the money trail should stop here too. So, to be fair and to keep the books separate, any Missouri entity providing both family planning and abortion services should spin off its abortion clinic as a separate entity with no legal, physical, or financial connection to the original company (including referrals) and with no claim on state funds.

If family planning is truly as important as Ms. Rohrbaugh claims, then uncouple it from the antiseptic death rooms and let it stand on its own. Then those vital services will be insulated from the abortion question, and she won’t have to threaten the loss of family planning and hurl around “anti-choice” epithets every time someone states a pro-life position.

Finally, if the clinics were spun off, they’d need a new name. Given the intellectually and moral dishonest decision to call abortion “choice”, I suggest Orwell Laboratories, Where The Future Is Being Killed Today.
I am serious about splitting the clinics, actually. I think much of the heat in the debate about abortion comes from conflating too many issues. I think Planned Parenthood (as a matter of deliberate strategy) has bundled abortion into family planning in order to claim that its opponents are anti-woman. Broadly speaking, though, "pro-choice" is about sex and "pro-life" is about babies. The merits and demerits of sexual behavior and contraception have little to do with the morality and efficacy of abortion, and it's about time the other side stopped the dishonest practice of bundling it all up like some omnibus Congressional spending bill.

UPDATE: Hey, they printed it.

UPDATE: I had a response from someone in the area who didn't like what I wrote. Since I can't respond directly to the letter in the paper (editorial policy), here are the text and my thoughts. My opponent said:
A simple, safe medical procedure like a first-trimester abortion is no different than a man hitting a pregnant woman in the stomach with a baseball bat to cause a miscarriage? Does [slarrow] really hate women this much?

Has he ever even been inside an abortion clinic? Has he ever talked (in person) to a woman who has had an abortion? Does he know anything firsthand about the complexity of abortion experiences for women --anything he hasn't read on bumper stickers or on hateful, erroneous and ignorant Web sites? Would he equate having his teeth knocked out to having them extracted by a dentist?
First, the writer seems to think that I approve of one behavior or the other; at least, that's where I get the notion that I must "hate women." But I view both of these actions as essentially violence against women (as well as the unborn.) I don't want women to be hit with baseball bats, but neither do I want women to surgically cut out their children and throw them away.

An original weakness of my published piece was that the readers might not be aware of all the facts in the original case and thus might not know that the teenage girl consented to being beaten to cause the miscarriage. Once that's known, though, the parallel is strong: the choice to abort has been made by the woman, and the end result is a terminated pregnancy. All we're talking about then is the means, and the difference between the baseball bat and the vacuum tube is the degree of temporary pain and the risk of infection. These are not, I argue, moral considerations if the practitioner is not forcing the method upon the patient.

I found the teeth analogy to be particularly illuminating. If, indeed, I chose to have someone remove a tooth with a punch or a pair of pliers instead of letting a dentist do it, the only difference is my desire to choose the more painful route. In either case, I want the tooth removed, the tooth gets removed, and the tooth is thrown away (or worth a couple of bucks from a particularly generous Tooth Fairy.) Again, how interesting that my opponent here reaches for an analogy that likens an aborted baby to a disposable tooth.

Of course, the real reason this kind of analogy must be attacked is because there is still an emotional, visceral response to an induced miscarriage through beating that is absent from a mere surgical procedure removing unwanted tissue. The other side cannot allow some of the horror to bleed through to the operating room lest they lose that thin "public support" they claim in trying to marginalize their opposition.

As for being inside an abortion clinic and talking to the people there--no, I haven't, and I don't expect to. I expect the employees to be good at their jobs at removing the hassle from removing the hassle, as it were. I also haven't talked to a woman about her own abortion, although I don't know why that should change the moral calculus of the issue. The premise, I suppose, is that I should let sentiment shut me up about the moral issues involved. (Oh, and since she doesn't like my position, I have to be stupid or ignorant.) Again, this taps into one of my pet peeves: this is a call for surrender on the issue, not for more reasoned dialogue.

My final point on this (for now): I think everyone is horrified at the notion of a back-alley abortion. I do find it distressing, though, to discover that while my side is horrified that an abortion occurred, the other side is just horrified that it took place in the back alley.

Hope It Succeeds

I've spent most of the day on the new site Left2Right, particularly on this thread nominally about homosexuality. It's been interesting; there's been some pretty good discussion there. (It's also fun to see some of the references that I haven't encountered since my philosophy courses in college.)

I hope the site succeeds, although not necessarily on its own terms. By its lights, Left2Right is about engaging the Right in order to persuade. I think it's more likely to have its assumptions exposed by the Right, forcing members of a largely homogenuous community to defend themselves in a manner to which they're unaccustomed. Most of the time in the academic community, they have to defend up; that is, they present a refined idea on top of a host of belief and data and have to further refine the idea in response to objections. But in an enterprise like this, they'll have to defend down; they'll have to reexamine the foundations on which their "common-sense" or "neutral" beliefs are based (that is, if they'll engage enough to do so instead of demanding that all discussion take place on their "home turf.")

But it's good for them, though, and maybe it'll start a kind of critical thinking on the Left that it's lacked so far.

Now This Is Dirty Politics

I always get a little amused and frustrated when people talk about how low our politics have sunk and how dirty and terrible the campaigns are when they run political commercials that say the opponent isn't all that great. These people have no historical perspective. We actually live in an extraordinarily civil political society, and what we call "extreme" is really pretty milquetoast.

Now this is dirty politics. Doctors are confirming that Ukraine presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned over the past few months. Yeah, that's right: somebody was trying to kill him. Makes all the hand-wringing over the Swift Boat Vets and National Guard stuff look awfully silly.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A Bit of Classical Fun

This actually made me want to pick up my Dante again. Found on David's ISOU on which I've spent an inordinate amount of time today. (Happily, we've made our peace--for this round, anyway. Who knows what the future holds, but hopefully it's respectful and vigorous debate.)

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

I Am Humbled

I suppose late nights are for me to rise to the bait and indulge in rhetorical hand-to-hand combat with guys like David. But I settle down in the clear light of day and only hope that what I wrote the night before makes some kind of sense.

And then sometimes I discover sites like The Anchoress who is watching her brother die with extraordinary compassion and grace, and I am humbled and a little ashamed for my little outbursts.

She wrote a merciful, generous response to Maureen Dowd's anti-Christmas column that shows a bigger heart than mine. So I read further on her blog about her experiences with hospice and the strange half-world her brother is in right now, and it reminded me so much of when my aunt died of cervical cancer. She was climbing her own mountain toward the summit, and we just tried to climb with her. I thank the Anchoress for reminding me of that terrible, wonderful time and for showing me an example of grace. Again, I am humbled.

Monday, December 06, 2004

He Finally Did It

David Scott Anderson finally made me angry.

I've read his blog for some time after he extended a kind invitation to Bush supporters to state why they were voting for their guy. Since I've begun reading him, I've always thought he was an emotional guy who occasionally overreached but who has a fundamental sense of fairness nevertheless. We had a bit of a dustup in private email, though, and I suggested at the end of a long email that while he was looking to build bridges, I was looking for more of a sparring partner. I said that if he figured we wanted different things, I'd just take my comments elsewhere, although I'd still read him and keep him linked. I never got a reply, which may have been innocent (deleted email, didn't read whole thing, etc.). Since I heard nothing, I decided not to act as if he had agreed to something when he hadn't, so I've kept quiet about some rather risible issues.

But he made a mistake. He made the mistake of Being Self-Righteous While Condemning Self-Righteousness.

Rob at Say Anything vented some frustration at those people who view everything as evidence that We Are Losing. He cited David as his example. David countered. Tom from MuD&PHuD weighed in, and David responded with a comment claiming that he had the moral position because apperently he was the only one moved by the death of little babies. That's where he angered me.

While accusing his opponents of self-righteousness, David explicitly made his own feelings about the death and destruction he saw the moral standard by which our actions in Iraq are measured. If his opponents are talking about the relative costs of actions like leaving Saddam alone versus going in militarily versus working diplomatically, they're making political arguments. But since David remembers Abu Ghraib, sees pictures of dead babies killed by accident, and can realizes that dead Iraqi patriots have families, he's making moral arguments, and the rest of us have to defer to his wisdom because he cares and we don't...

...and in the same post, David accuses us of being preachy and self-righteous? Pah.

Why does that get under my skin so much? First, it's a case of projection which I've often found to be the problem when liberals complain about self-righteousness. I really think that David believes he's a better person than the rest of us because of his reaction to pictures of wartime. Not only is that extraordinarily narcissistic, it also confuses emotion for argument. But what really gets my goat is that he uses that emotion as a trump card, and that's foul play.

He concludes the post with a bet that there will be no peace in Iraq for years to come. Well, I'll take that bet, David. Name your terms. I'll go toe-to-toe with you on this, and we'll just see who's drinking the damn Kool-Aid.

UPDATE: After reading David's response to this and reviewing my own writing, I've concluded that I went too far in making the assumption that David thinks he's better than us. That's a blanket condemnation not borne out by the facts, and I retract it. The point about projection still stands--I think the charge of self-righteousness stems from a view on the nature of morality that I don't think conservatives generally share--but I was wrong to attribute motives to David when I can't get inside his head.

While I reserve the right to sift through his statements and nail him when he overreaches, it's not my place to judge his heart in this. David, I apologize.

Silk Purses and Sow's Ears

Rush alerted me to this story (more on it here). Apparently the Democrats are having a Berkeley professor named George Lakoff come speak to them about the importance of "framing" their issues the right way to make more palatable to the populace. Lakoff claims the Republicans have essentially won through a thirty-year program of clever marketing, good storytelling, and message discipline. (Michael Moore thinks much the same thing when he claims that Republicans just told a better story than Democrats did.)

If this is the way the Democrats plan to regain political power, it's doomed to fail. Short answer: you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

The long answer goes something like this. What Democrats are having difficulty coming to grips with is the fact that their ideas are old and tired, the implementation of those ideas usually falls short of the mark, and that people have been rejecting their ideas as a result. The other fork of this dilemma is that some of their ideas worked so well that they solved the bulk of the problem; instead of moving on, though, the ideas lingered past their prime. In either case, their ideas do not offer solutions for today's and tomorrow's problems.

Yet Democrats fail to recognize this. Rather, they dwell on past glories, plump up the same old stuff, and get angry when today's electorate doesn't care about their solutions any more. Part of this, I think, is generational, stemming from the extraordinary narcissism of the public face of the Baby Boom generation. To accept that the civil rights and women's rights movement have served their purpose, that well-meaning attempts to end poverty and war were dangerously flawed and destructive, and that sexual policies that seemed right at 20 are ridiculous at 50...well, to accept that, a number of them will also have to accept that their youth is gone and that they are growing old. That's especially telling if one's hopes for redemption and purpose are limited to this world, and there's not enough time to try new stuff if they want to see the Promised Land before they die.

Another aspect, of course, is that to rethink the ideas and calibrate them to the actual needs of constituents means two admissions. It means that Democrats must acknowledge that they are the minority party and must take some risks to get back into power. Institutionally and structurally, this is devastating because so much of the Democrats' infrastructure and power blocs are based on having the power to get things done. To admit their minority status is to fracture their basic coalitional nature.

It also means that some of them must admit that some of the things they believe are wrong. This is troubling because for many liberals (that are Democrats), they seem to have the notion that what they believe makes them better than other people. I think this is a major source for the vitriol and condescension that can come from the Left. To be shown that something they believe in strongly is false or counterproductive is to diminish themselves in their own eyes. Conservatives, by and large, do not suffer from this. If they're shown to be wrong, they chalk it up to experience and move on. (Their vitriol stems from other motivations.) Thus while George W. Bush could shrug off his youthful indiscretions as being "young and irresponsible", John Kerry just could not repudiate his statements before the Senate, despite the extant evidence and the political pressures.

So this is the Democrats' challenge. Their solutions are geared toward old problems. Some of those problems have largely been solved; in the last 40 years, the air and water have become a lot cleaner, and most of the artificial obstacles in the way of blacks and women got knocked down. Others got worse because of the old solutions; not only did poverty not go away, the effort to fix it essentially destroyed the inner-city black family, leading to poor schools, crime, and illegitimacy. Finally, the old solutions were built around a different world with different rules. There was a Soviet Union, it was East v. West in Europe, Asia meant Vietnam, and terrorism hadn't yet emerged. Those solutions cannot be "adapted" to today's circumstances; they have to be thrown out and reformulated from first principles. They need new solutions to today's challenges.

Yet with this Lakoff attempt to rebrand the Democratic party using new terms, the Democrats show they still don't get it. They think dressing up the old stuff in new clothes will do the trick. They ignore two realities here. First, this has already been tried. Using language to frame the issues in the most advantageous way was the secret of Bill Clinton's "success." When it comes to terminology, does this professor have anything better than calling tax increases "contributions", government spending "investments", and lying under oath "protecting the Constitution"? Bill Clinton was great at "framing the issues", but his party still lost Congress and governships by the boatload. There are all kinds of examples over the past 12 years of Democrats aggressively defining terms and framing issues their own way, and it still hasn't worked.

The second and most critical reality they ignore is the good sense of the voters who get impatient and irritated when politicians try to pull the wool over their eyes. In a longer interview from 2003, this Lakoff guy seems to think that people will buy into whatever side has the cleverer slogans or more compelling story; it's just that the Republicans have been more clever lately. Not only does this show disrespect to folks' ability to decide something based on the merits, it also confuses effect with cause. It's not the crafted delivery that make the message popular; it's the people who make the message popular because they like and believe it.

For instance, Lakoff says that the conservative position on taxes is, "So, add 'tax' to 'relief' and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain." The other position, he claims, should be, "Taxes are what you pay to be an American...[A]re you paying your dues, or are you trying to get something for free at the expense of your country?" I'm sure he'll be surprised when people continue to support a lower-tax position instead of one that tells people that they're freeloaders for wanting a tax cut. (Of course, this guy also thinks that calling trial lawyers "public protection attorneys" and replacing environmental regulations with "poison-free communities" is the way to go. Has this man ever left California?)

Apparently what's going to have to happen for the Democrats to succeed is for a new generation of leadership to arise who have respect for regular people in their gut (and for the old generation of leadership to get out of the way--both tall orders.) More Ivy League grads won't do it; Berkeley professors can't do it; pollsters with focus groups can't do it. It's gonna take new blood and new ideas. The folks running the Democrats may have deluded themselves into thinking all they handle is silk, but the American people know pigskin when they feel it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

What Child Is This?

Now that I've refrained from posting for a while, thoughts are scrambling to get out of my head. Back to it, then.

It's Christmastime again, so I'm listening to my delightful Christmas music I can get from the generic kiosks at Wal-Mart. I'm listening to a "Frosty the Snowman" tape from LaserLight that features the most beautiful rendition of "What Child Is This?" I've ever heard. It's by a girl (at least, she was a girl in 1990) named Whitney Keyes, and it's just angelic.
What child is this who laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary.
It is a deeply moving song, just right for the season. But how to reconcile it with this story?
An autopsy of a fetus found buried in a Richmond Township back yard failed to show if it could have survived outside the mother's womb, the Macomb County medical examiner said Wednesday.

The fetus died of premature birth associated with trauma to the mother, according to chief medical examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz. It was a male, about 6 months old, but it was too decomposed to tell whether it would have been viable outside the womb, Spitz said.

"(The autopsy) was difficult. It was many weeks since it was delivered," Spitz said. "It is impossible to tell if the child had breathed or had a heartbeat."

Once the report is completed, it will then be up to the prosecutor's office to determine what charges could be brought against the 16-year-old parents.

Police say they induced a miscarriage when the boyfriend hit the girlfriend in the abdomen with a miniature baseball bat over the course of several weeks.
Of course, if this girl had just gone to a clinic instead of having her boyfriend hit her stomach to flush the fetus, everything would have been okay. At least, it's not infanticide, right?
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.
(Frank J. has a devastating writeup on this.)

What child is this, indeed.