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Spirit of '62

Benedict XVI has just released an encyclical allowing for the return of the Tridentine Mass anywhere it's desired.  Previously priests had to get permission from their bishops first, and this was not always granted.

I know I don't really have a dog in this fight from a religious standpoint.  Catholicism celebrated the old way or the new way still isn't for me.  But as a high school student very into the Latin I was studying I saw the Latin mass performed several times, and I enjoyed it much more than the modern way.  It's worth seeing.

Sticking it to the G-Men

Jon Johansen, the man who as a teenager brought you DeCSS, now claims he has a hack for using the iPhone without activating the phone capability with AT&T. (I should have written about this yesterday, but I was still pissed about Lee Greenwood.)

Apple/AT&T's intellectual monopoly aside, he said it best himself:

I’ve found a way to activate a brand new unactivated iPhone without giving any of your money or personal information to AT&T NSA.

Speedy Sarko's loser critics

It seems that Nicolas Sarkozy's critics have really been running out of substantive criticisms: now he's being blasted for jogging. Nevermind that the founders of Western Civilization would have considered it a gross defect if a man with many responsibilities neglected physical training. Nevermind that its health benefits are broad. Nevermind that the French haven't had a king in a long time, and that nobody ought to be lifting a president's fork for him.

Nevermind that being president of a country opens a person up for a lot more criticisms that actually matter, either.

This is why the French Left lost. They're more worried about the indignity of the president showing his knees than about the massive set of serious problems he deals with--with whatever amount of wisdom--after the run.

Via Arts & Letters Daily


After having my good aesthetic tastes assaulted once again last night during a fireworks display, I wanted to issue this public notice that if I ever meet Lee Greenwood I am going to abandon my libertarianism long enough to pound him into the dirt.  Not only is that silly patriotic-event-style artificial and offensive as music, it also encourages blind support for bad ideas.  But also it's terrible.  And really awful.  Jesus Christ.

Lee Greenwood, watch your back. 

Un-American American flag makers

Via Geoffrey Allan Plauche, this story about how several legal jurisdictions in the U.S.A. have laws requiring that flags bought or flown there must be made in the U.S.A.  While Geoffrey points out the crass, un-American motivations behind these acts, maybe it will help stem the cheap displays of irrational sentimentalism one sees everywhere since 9/11.

Prohibition: a joke at best

I found this on Shorpy, a great blog of old photos:

The latest thing in flasks. Mademoiselle Rhea, a dainty dancer who is
now in the city as part of the Keiths program inaugurates the garter
flask fad in Washington. From the National Photo Company Collection,

Prohibition never workd

The myth of the need to embrace the irrational voter

Via Arnold Kling at EconLog, here's Louis Menand's review of The Myth of the Rational Voter. His summary indicates that he read and understood the book just fine, but his conclusion troubles me:

In the end, the group that loses these contests must abide by the outcome, must regard the wishes of the majority as legitimate. The only way it can be expected to do so is if it has been made to feel that it had a voice in the process, even if that voice is, in practical terms, symbolic. A great virtue of democratic polities is stability. The toleration of silly opinions is (to speak like an economist) a small price to pay for it.

Basically, for some reason the losing group must regard the wishes of the prejudiced majority as legitimate by being made to feel that its voice hasn't been ignored even if it really has and if everyone knows this fact.

Pragmatists and their democracy fetish. Jeez.

"There is only might makes right"

Anthony Gregory has an infuriating essay up at CounterPunch called "When Killer Cops Walk," and it's about just that. Obviously the killers themselves are to blame, but we also won't win until we've convinced the average jury--that is, the twelve people who think least critically about what they're told by a prosecutor--that murder with a badge is still murder. This is no small mission.

Calvin & Hobbes grow into "Jack" & Tyler?

As I kid I loved Calvin and Hobbes comics, and as a bigger kid I enjoyed the book and the movie of Fight Club.  So I really got a kick out of this essay demonstrating that Fight Club is actually Calvin and Hobbes many years later.  Enjoy.

The spreading virus

Let's assume that the two bombs found in London (so far) are the work of Islamic extremists, which the authorities haven't committed to saying officially yet.  Holy shit!  There is a very serious cultural conflict going on between reason and barbarism.  For all my opposition to the military action in Iraq, it's clear that something needs to be done.

What I wonder is how Britain has so much homegrown terrorist sentiment, and what they're going to do about it.  It's obvious to me, but probably not to the British authorities (and certainly not to the American authorities) that the current strategy of rapidly growing a police state to complement the war state is not working.

Here's one thing: let's not kid around with the religious sentiment that makes these kinds of actions possible.

Good karma in Alabama

There is some justice in the world:


A federal judge increased the possible sentence for former Gov. Don Siegelman from more than 10 years to more than 15 years ...

Fuller is to formally sentence Siegelman, 61, and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, 54, convicted last year on bribery, mail fraud and related charges in a government corruption case.

The new sentencing range for Siegelman is 188 months to 235 months, or
about 15 1/2 to 19 1/2 years. The new fine range is $20,000 to $200,000.

Alabama has rates of incarceration that would stun a civilized person, and while they're not trying Siegelman for being at the head of this system, he's getting his due anyway.

Attorney Susan James told Fuller she is concerned about Siegelman's
safety if he is given a lengthy sentence, pointing out that as a former
Alabama attorney general and governor he has a history of pushing for
tough anti-crime legislation and for fighting against parole for some
prisoners. She said that at his age a 10-year sentence would deprive
Siegelman of much of the rest of his life.

How many victimless "criminals" does the average tough-on-crime attorney general and governor deprive of that kind of time? Ten or fifteen years starts to look like chump change.

But at least it's a start.

The transformation of Gaza

The Hamas takeover of Gaza has been a pretty grave developing situation as I understand, but now some Arab states are starting to try to sort it out.

Egypt faces the prospect of a tiny new militant Islamic state on its border, which it sees as a threat to its own security. If Hamas succeeds in maintaining rule in the Gaza Strip, it could embolden Egypt's own Islamic opposition, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Even worse, further unrest among Gaza's 1.4 million people could spill into Egypt. The border with Gaza is riddled with tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives — and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has already seen three terror attacks on tourist resorts the past three years.

Jordanian leaders worry that the Fatah-Hamas conflict could spread to the West Bank and spark violence in neighboring Jordan, where half the people are Palestinians.

Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia also fear Gaza could become a power center for their regional rival, Iran, which has funneled millions of dollars to Hamas.

What's historic about this occasion is that 'the Zionists' aren't blamed so directly for the violence this time.

Support for the institution of thug regimes remains steady

We sometimes read about those people who were initially enthusiastic about the Nazi party when it appeared to support German self-assertion and unity, and who later realized that it was a gang of thugs hellbent on the dehumanization and murder of German and foreigner alike. Given that Mein Kampf was no secret and that it contained the blueprint for tyranny and war the Nazis would later follow, I still think such people ought to be ashamed. But at least they eventually made the right decision. Those who continued to support the regime only to have the scales fall from their eyes at the point of American and Soviet rifles in 1945 have no excuse.

Similarly, I fault people who support Drug Prohibition for any reason, but I recognize that a basically moral and rational person might fall under the spell at first. But those who continue to support it after all the erosion of individual liberty such as the kind described by Rad Geek here, well, there's no excuse.

To recap, two people who did absolutely nothing to violate
anyone else’s rights or hurt anyone against their will, had their car rammed and then stolen. The narcs knew about the deliberate ramming and
the theft but they lied about them—because, after all, they ordered
them. They used this lie to seize property and obtain evidence without
giving their victims any chance to assert their rights (since they were
lied to, they had no idea that a search or seizure was even taking
place), and without obtaining a warrant or submitting to judicial
oversight of any kind. The narcs feel that they need to be able to do
this kind of thing in order to do their jobs effectively, since snitch anonymity,
which actually has nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with
systematically lying about who they are and what they do, is an
essential tool in their efforts to lock harmless people in cages for
the next several years of their lives. The Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals, meanwhile, stands by and smilingly waves them on, once again
under the excuse of necessity.


So who are the real criminals here?

Not quite the silver bullet I was hoping for

From page 473 of Robert Kee's The Green Flag:

But since democracy can never provide precise mathematical justice, an essential part of its successful functioning is the spirit in which it deals with those minorities which it inevitably overrides. In the British Constitution an unwritten safeguard is provided for minorities in Parliamentary constituencies since each representative represents as well as he can, compatibly with his own conscience, those who compose the minority against him equally with those who vote for him.

That is the safeguard? Wow.

Kee's book on the history of Irish nationalism is otherwise worth reading and will probably be written up in a future post.

Jeff Jacoby's wise words on immigration

Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek writes about a great piece on illegal immigration by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe, "The demonizing of illegal immigrants".

This next wave of pilgrims is criticized for entering illegally even when they're on good behavior here, but

For most illegal immigrants, a legal option simply doesn't exist. Under current law, a young Mexican or Salvadoran who wants to improve his life by moving to America and working hard at a useful job generally has just two options: (a) Enter illegally, or (b) stay out forever. Several hundred thousand a year choose option (a).

People who come here in the traditional American way—without asking some self-righteous gate-keeper for permission—are "criminals," yes, but so is every person in Atlanta who drives 56 miles per hour on I-75 and I-85. Which is, oh, everybody. That hardly seems grounds for not letting them do productive work when they arrive at their jobs. Along the same lines, Jacoby writes:

Someone who crosses the border without a visa in order to find work doesn't deserve to be branded a "criminal." Doing so only inflames and confuses an issue that is contentious enough as it is. And it cheapens a word that should be reserved for those who purposely harm others through genuinely wrongful behavior: embezzlers, rapists, arsonists, murderers.

The demonizing of illegal aliens keeps us from having a rational discussion about US immigration policy.

And lastly, with a message that ought to remind conservatives of how much they, too, love big government:

Twenty years ago this week in Berlin, President Reagan uttered his memorable challenge: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Conservatives who extol Reagan's legacy might ask themselves what he would have thought of the idea that our response to hard-working risk-takers so eager for a piece of the American Dream that they endanger life and limb to come here should be a Berlin-style wall of our own. I suspect it's a notion he would have scorned, along with the suggestion that all we really need to know about immigration we learned in kindergarten.