Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pope Pat Buchanan

This Pat Buchanan article was difficult to take.
"But if [the people who oppose Ratzinger] do not believe in hell, what are they worried about? What are they whining about? Why do they not simply say: "The church is wrong, the church is out of touch, the church is yesterday. I'm gone." Answer: Deep in their hearts, they fear the church is right. They are unsettled because they fear that when the church says it has been given by Christ custody of the truths about how men must live to reach eternal life, it is right. When liberal Catholics say people have been "hurt" by Catholic teachings, what they are saying is that their consciences are hurting."
No, what some of them are saying is that thousands of people have suffered at the hands of priests who were simply sheltered and moved around by the rich and powerful leaders of the church, like, for example, the new pope.
Buchanan can't handle the truth.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Stop supporting terrorism. Do it.

So, we need to lessen our oil dependency. What if, instead of the innocuous "miles to the gallon" rating that no one seems to take seriously (based on the fact that Hummers continue to sell), we rated vehicles by "miles to the dollar"? With gas so high right now maybe it would impact people a little more.

I bought a Honda Civic HX because the Hybrid was too expensive. Its claimed mileage is 36/44. (While I've been getting 35-36 in traffic, I've still never seen over 41 on the highway.) Anyway, on my last tank I paid $2.259 per gallon for 9.7 gallons of gas, $21.91, that I just drove 344 miles (about 35.5 miles to the gallon).

That's 15.7 miles to the dollar. A 2005 Ford Mustang GT gets 17 miles to the gallon right now; that's 7.5 miles to the dollar. Every 7.5 miles you go is another dollar. In your 2005 Ford Expedition, you're getting a sweet 5.7 miles to the dollar. Good work, you.

Honda, I'll give you this idea for your next ad campaign in exchange for some protein bars.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The media

Digby on left vs. right:

"See, the right isn't like us. They think that the so called liberal media is irretrievably biased but believe what they see, read and hear on their own media. We on the left, on the other hand, have no faith in any mainstream media, really, or any alternative media either for that matter. We have developed the habit of culling from various sources and analyzing the information ourselves as best we can. Even then we are very skeptical. Nothing that the media could do would particularly shock or disappoint us. No so with the other side. A fair number of them are actually hurt and bewildered by what they saw in the Schiavo matter."

I thought this was an interesting post. I'm neither going to endorse nor argue with Digby's characterization of left vs. right, but what I can say is that he outlines a position that I share. "Culling and analyzing" is exactly what should be done. Whether (how much the average FoxNews watcher trusts FoxNews) > (how much the average NYT reader trusts the NYT) is nearly impossible to get a handle on; what can and should be argued is that 1) the NYT is a much better, more trustworthy source than FoxNews, and 2) both should still be aggressively read, compared, parsed and corroborated.

More of the same

This article is upsetting. The interesting thing about it is that you don't get much new knowledge from reading it--everything that comes out is denied by someone, so where's the truth?

"According to the report, CIA officials tried to tell the agency's top officials that Curveball was a suspected fabricator and may have been mentally unstable. The new information includes an alleged warning in a late-night phone call to the agency's former director, George Tenet.

Tenet and his top deputy have both released statements emphatically denying that they received such warnings. Tenet called it "deeply disturbing" that the information didn't get to him."

So George Tenet, who called the WMD debacle a "slam-dunk case," either did or did not get a warning that some of the "intelligence" was unreliable. Great. Everything is clear now.

Democrats continued to do what they've been doing--nothing. But they're still angry, and they still have questions!

"Other lawmakers are angrier. "As far as I am concerned, the CIA threw us a curve ball," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, also a member of the Intelligence Committee."

Thanks, Carl. Maybe next time a war is started for no reason, you'll be livid or outraged instead of just angry.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

On thugs, and why I occasionally like Bill O'Reilly

Tom DeLay has been taking trips paid for by lobbyists, accepting illegal campaign donations, and has paid his wife and daughter more than $500,000 over the last 5 years, supposedly for campaign work. Now he's upset that the media has been covering this. He explains the nepotism as follows:

"My wife and daughter have any right, just like any other American, to be employed and be compensated for their employment," Mr. DeLay said. "It's pretty disgusting, particularly when my wife and daughter are singled out and others are not, in similar situations in the Senate and as well as the House." Yes, it's disgusting, but not because they're singled out--because of what you're doing.

In response to the relevations about the trips having been paid for by lobbyists, DeLay said he didn't know. Unfortunately for DeLay (though he certainly doesn't care) he impaled himself upon the horns of a dilemma with this statement: either he's telling the truth and he didn't know, which makes incompetent, or he's lying, which makes him a corrupt liar.

Last night Bill O'Reilly interviewed one of DeLay's lawyers. He didn't pull any punches, and when she tried to spin the wife and daughter pay-out O'Reilly screamed "It just doesn't look good!" Thanks, Bill. Once in a while you get it right.

So, what should we do about this? Probably write angry columns and let DeLay stay in power. Sound good? Great.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The evolution of higher education

Louis Menand weighs in.

Strapped for headlines

A USA Today headline: "Schiavo's life was tragically short, but her legacy is long." The first sentence of a Maggie Gallagher column: "Now that Terri's long struggle is drawing to a close, our own begins."

This is going to sound cynical, and for that I apologize, but these writers, newspeople and columnists never paid attention to Terri and others like her before the issue became hot. They're mining people's emotions for attention. Anyway, that's not really relevant, because everyone knows that. On to my point:

John Leo, an op-ed columnist and writer of one page fluff pieces for US News and World Report, orders us to "Think of the Terri Schiavo case as another red-vs.-blue issue." No, John Leo, I won't, because things aren't that simple. This isn't a red-vs.-blue issue. He also quotes Richard Neuhaus approvingly: "Thousands of ethicists and bioethicists, as they are called, professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on its way to becoming the justifiable, until it is finally established as the unexceptional." Many conservatives echo this, because they think that's exactly what happened: something unthinkable was forced down their throats by "the enemy": those freakishly liberal courts, for example. Now, I don't know what the right thing to do in this case was, and I have no argument either way. What I do know is that it didn't take Terri Schiavo and a truck full of bioethicists to "establish" cases like this as unexceptional: they happen all the time, in hospitals, hospices, and homes across the country and the world. Decisions are made, and more often than not someone is disappointed. In trying to make the Schiavo case out to be unique, the media has done us a disservice.