Monthly Archives: June 2007

Great thoughts from far and near

* Christopher Smart, in his 1751 poem, “An epigram of Sir Thomas More, imitated,” has a man kissing Dorinda, whom he playfully tells her nose is too big.

At which Dorinda, “equally to fun inclined,” placed “her lovely Lily hand behind./ ‘Here, Swain,’ she cried; ‘Mayst thou securely kiss,/ Where there’s no nose to interrupt thy bliss.’”

Right here, Bud.

* The academic (not athletic) racial achievement gap at one Oak Park K-6 school was said to be “more unique” than at other schools — by its principal.

Is she more unique than other principals?

* A book I am working through is The Roots of National Socialism, by Rohan D’O. Butler (Dutton, 1942). It would be good reading for others, I think, especially by young folks who do not know Naziism was socialism — national socialism, as opposed to the international version run out of a building in Moscow.

The roots in question are heavily philosophical. The book is a tour de force showing the consequences had by ideas.

* We routinely object to senseless violence (it’s a consecrated phrase), but when do we hear praise for sensible violence?

On the football field is one place, but no guns allowed.  The Bears’ Tank Johnson has done his time for gun violations and is suspended for several games at considerable monetary loss. I am assuming he had to promise not to go armed onto the field.

Fr. Pfleger again in Riverdale

Oops, Fr. M. Pfleger joins Rev. Jesse J. et al. in another foray to Chuck’s Gun Shop Saturday, his people tell Friends of Saint Sabina in an email message. 

Normally any friend of St. Sabina is a friend of mine, but is another call to snuff the gun salesman on tap? 

Maybe just a joke or two making fun of right-wingers, with maybe a mild shot (pardon the expression) at Cardinal George The Ineffectual?  Only the Shadow knows.

Progressively fussing

It’s an old joke, but maybe you never heard it: Hearing police siren, one dude to other: “Change your name, here comes the wagon.”

This is the wise(guy) strategy of libs, now espousing “progressive.” I’ve said it before, I say it again, what’s wrong with liberal?

What’s wrong with it is that the ones who have used it the last 50, 100 years are in flight from their awful record and would like us not to think about that.

Besides, conservative has gained cachet, so that its presumed opposite has lost some.

Answer? Presto-change-o, let’s be PROGRESSIVE. After all, who wants to be un-progressive, i.e., stuck in mud, opposing new ideas, unwilling to change, etc.?

It’s a marketing ploy by those who, hearing siren sounds of voters switching, make haste to adopt new nomenclature.

Hard question for Sun-Times

Tom Roeser does Rev J. Jackson Sr. up brown in this rundown (second item) on his squeezing corporate money and jobs to feather his own nest, noting along the way how Sun-Times has retreated from its onetime muckracking of The Pout, as R. calls him, to the point of giving him a column for going after Republicans.

Which, says R.,

leads [to] a news consumer question: when will the newspaper stop paying a tithe in the form of a newspaper column which is nothing more than DNC boilerplate for which Jackson gets the sum of $150 weekly . . .

It’s a good business decision by S-T editors, because it gets Rev. JJ off their back and fits in with their Dem Party attachment, says R., but does it serve the consumer?

Primitives in revolt vs. each other

In Investors Business Daily:

Middle East: Violence between rival Palestinian factions has erupted across the Gaza Strip. The death toll since the fighting escalated Saturday has hit 70. But in the West, none dare call it a civil war.

Oh my.  Can’t say if other outlets have been reporting this, but Fox News has been doing so for several nights now.  It’s a terrible sign of how incapable of governing themselves are the Palestinians and how needful they are of Israeli occupation to create a semblance of order and prosperity.

The intelligentsia of the developed world have too much invested in portraying the plight of the Palestinians as a problem created by hard hearts in Israel. Civil war? That better describes the quagmire President Bush faces is in Iraq. No such thing in the Palestinian territories. The people there and their beleaguered leaders are just spending too much of their energy trying to survive Jewish cruelty to fight among themselves.

And there’s more, more, more for our anti-Israel friends to consider . . .


How bills (don’t) get passed 

The immigration bill is a sign of what’s to come with legislation once too complicated to understand except by highly paid lobbyists.  Thus John Podhoretz in NY Post, here excerpted.

This was a “comprehensive” bill, designed to thoroughly “take care” of a thorny problem. It sought to address every important issue relating to immigration – border and employer enforcement, guest workers, legalization and the means by which immigrants can become citizens.

. . . . For almost any lay person outside of government, it might as well be written in Urdu – so indecipherable is the drafting language.

That is by design. These bills aren’t written by the senators who negotiate them, but by the staffers who work for the senators. And since the bill seeks to “reform” existing laws, a lot of it simply makes reference to those laws and says Word A should be changed to Word B.

All of this shields the actual meaning of the legislation from the public, which must rely only on the general summaries of the legislation from politicians.

That’s the culture of Washington, thwarted by the Internet:

There was almost no way in the pre-Web era to piece together the actual provisions of reform legislation before it became law. Lobbyists were paid millions of dollars to do just that for panicked business clients – and to get their friends to stick in a few words here or there that would tilt the balance of the new law to benefit them and their clients.

This time, the bill, “released within minutes of its completion” on the Internet, “was quickly hacked to bits by paid experts, think tankers, lay thinkers, lawyers and logicians.”

They reported that “the bill would be ineffective at best at doing what it promised to do – identifying and regularizing illegal immigrants already here – and would only accelerate the entry of illegals after its passage.”

There was nothing to recommend it to those who believe illegal immigration is a critical problem for the country. Worse still, many of us who hold the view that illegals have proved a net plus to the nation could not countenance the legislation once the corkscrew impact of its provisions became clear.


This can be a problem for any piece of “comprehensive” legislation, particularly those touching topics on which there is no national consensus. And the immigration bill’s defeat suggests that comprehensive bills of all ideological stripes will be susceptible to citizen revolts.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have met the enemy, and the enemy is not us, and we have free speech like never before.

Somewhat startling revelation

A Jesuit novice writes from Chicago:

Two things that the Society of Jesus certainly does NOT lack are good food and good booze.

It’s good to know that.

Anything goes, he said. Let’s just talk about it.

Richard Rorty, professor of Comparative Literature emeritus at Stanford, who just died, got a medal in April saying his work

redefined knowledge ‘as a matter of conversation and of social practice, rather than as an attempt to mirror nature’ and thus redefined philosophy itself as an unending, democratically disciplined, social and cultural activity of inquiry, reflection, and exchange, rather than an activity governed and validated by the concept of objective, extramental truth. [Italics added]

I would rather it said he

* portrayed the pursuit of knowledge as conversation and social practice trying to mirror nature and

* thus further defined philosophy as an unending, democratically disciplined, social and cultural activity of inquiry, reflection, and exchange — an activity governed and validated by the concept of objective, extramental truth.

But I don’t give awards now, do I?

Missing the point on the Finkelstein story

Sun-Times carries a bad exercise in journalism today with this piece on denial of tenure:

For a man who has just lost his job after a highly public battle, DePaul University assistant political science Professor Norman Finkelstein is calm and accepting.

That’s because Finkelstein, whose tenure bid drew widespread interest because of the Jewish professor’s blunt criticism of Jews and the state of Israel — and the attack on those views waged by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz — stands firmly on the beliefs that may have got him fired.

Let us now praise noble men who stand firmly on their beliefs, for one thing.  But let us not give an iota of attention to tenure standards.  For another, denial of tenure is not a firing, as the lede implies, though it is a year’s notice.

For yet another, let us lay it on thick as a personality piece that is blatantly complimentary to a prof who has been denied tenure elsewhere, as we read in Chi Trib.  Thick?  Consider the 3rd and 4th ‘grafs:

“There is a song by the folk singer Keith Seeger, ‘Die Gedanken sind frei,'” the controversial academic reflected in a rare interview with the Sun-Times.

“That means, ‘thoughts are free.’ No one can deny that ‘die gedanken sind frei.’ They can deny me tenure, deny me the right to teach. But they will never stop me from saying what I believe.”

Etc. etc., violin chords in the background.

In Chi Trib, on the other hand, we hear both sides, including this:

Before coming to DePaul, Finkelstein taught at several New York universities but was not granted tenure. At DePaul, his application for tenure was supported by the political science department but opposed by Dean Chuck Suchar of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who said he found Finkelstein’s attack-style scholarship inconsistent with the university’s commitment to respect for the views of all. [Italics added]

Attack-style scholarship, eh?  So there is a bigger question here, or at least more pertinent to the story, than one man sticking to his guns, which is a generic issue?  In any case, that’s what the dean did, right?


Chi Trib on Knoxville murders

Don’t miss the Howard Witt-Chi Trib “special report” on black-on-white crime with focus on the Tennessee case of kidnapping, rape, and murder:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — What happened to Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, a young Knoxville couple out on an ordinary Saturday night date, was undeniably brutal. The two were carjacked, kidnapped, raped and finally murdered during an ordeal of unimaginable terror in January.

But whether the attack was a racial hate crime worthy of national media attention is another question, one that has now ignited a fierce dispute over the definition of hate crimes and how the mainstream media choose to cover America’s most discomfiting interracial attacks.

Witt, who is based in Austin TX for the Trib, touches all bases in his account, including conservative bloggers who have made this a cause celebre — though not my Queens NY friend Nicholas Stix, who has covered the matter exhaustively.  Witt writes with admirable control and keeps the wordage down. 

He also resists the urge to pontificate and draw conclusions, as if he were producing a dissertation in which he had to prove something.  Instead, he delivers a bona fide report, in which Stix and others may find gaps but I don’t.

Yes, he buries this:

[W]hen overall cross-racial violent crimes are tabulated—including incidents not formally classified as racially motivated hate crimes—Justice Department statistics show that blacks attack whites far more often than whites attack blacks.

But not jarringly so, in view of his adequate base-touching in fewer than 1,400 words.  This is a newspaper.  You don’t expect it to do opinion-journal things, or shouldn’t.  You very much do not want it to. 

It’s also a mainstream newspaper, which I admit may temper my criticism.  Page one on Sunday splash is not bad for a story that’s been underplayed for dubious reasons at best.

Witt does not question the whole hate-crime category, which is the product of our era of compulsive classification according to academe’s top trio of things that make the world go ‘round — race, class, and gender, as a journal (or blog) might do.

Less significant than the hate-crime description is the neutral designation black-on-white crime, as used by U. Tenn. law professor Glenn Reynolds, a.k.a. Instapundit, and cited by Witt.  There’s far more of that than white-on-black crime, Witt reports, which leaves us wondering if it’s adequately reported, legal requirements or not.

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