Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Open inquiry

I am becoming more and more concerned with the collapse of open inquiry in society today.

Douglas Murray writes in the Times about a conference in Holland on Islam in Europe held in memory of Lijst Pim Fortuyn who was assassinated by by Islamic fundamentalists four years ago. Security for the event was one level below "national emergency" and there were apparently real fears about the safety of the participants. This for a group of scholars getting together and talking about an issue that will define Europe over the next century.

Similarly, in the United States, only a few newspapers have been willing to publish the Danish cartoons that have caused such an uproar in Europe and the Middle East. Of course that uproar happened months after the initial publications of the cartoons as a result of a deliberate campaign by a radical Mullah who included supplementary materials to his presentations in the Middle East in order to create such a reaction. Even scholars and university faculty have been blocked from using the images in public discussions of the events for fear of offending someone. It is interesting how the academic intelligensia is perfecting willing to offend Christians and Jews, but for some reason radical Wahhabists are to sensative to accept the realities of free speech.

The Western left despises all religious fundamentalists who oppose abortion, women's rights and gay rights expect for the Muslim ones. An interesting position.

Changing the theme slightly, Lawrence Summers resigned as President of Harvard in effect for asking a question. How can Harvard's faculty claim to support the notion of intellectual or academic freedom when simply asking questions is forbidden. A true intellectual would enter into a debate on the topic and if they disagree produce evidence and scholarship in support of their position. An ideolouge would attack anyone asking question which might challenge their orthodoxy and instead of engaging in a debate of ideas would attempt to prevent such a notion from even being expressed. Harvard's faculty have shown which category they fall in to their everlasting shame.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

ASPCA Law Enforcement?

There was a commercial from the ASPCA on television this evening. The spokesperson was a woman who identified herself as being part of the ASPCA Law Enforcement Division. She wore a uniform and a badge I assume to create the appearance of authority. My question is when did the ASPCA get deputized by some government to enforce any law and if they have who else is out there enforcing laws that we need to know about.

Does the timber industry have crews out hunting ecoterrorists?

Where are Greenpeace's SWAT teams for polluters?

We have public servants who have been selected and trained to enforce laws, and legislators elected to create law. These institutions have standards they have to meet and are at least technically open to public scrutiny and oversight.

Private organizations like the ASPCA have neither standards nor oversight and should not try to act like public ones.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Grand Ole Opry

This weekend I did one of the things I have always wanted to do. I went to Nashville to attend the Grand Ole Opry. It was in the Ryman Auditorium which added to the enjoyment.

The show as usual for the Opry had a wide variety of musical performers. From bluegrass, to cajun to cowboy to country.

The headliners of the show (i.e. the ones that would be on television) were Emmy Lou Harris, Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch and David Rawlins. They had the prime hour of the show and were fantastic. One of the lighter moments came when Welch commented how proud she and Rawlins were to be an a Hillbilly band with Costello and Harris. And they were. It was set up as a sounded like a traditional hillbilly band.

The other highlight of the night came at the end as Vince Gill came out to close the show. After one song by himself, the song he performed last was one (I am not sure of the title) that he had recorded that day for his next album. It was a wonderful jazz number done with Diana Krall who came on unannounced and sang it with him. Who knew that Vince Gill could sing and play jazz. Look for it. After they finished Bill Anderson, who was hosting that section of the show, commented that after that, he didn't smoke but needed a cigarette.

The night was not without it problems though. While walking back to my car, I slipped on some ice, and sliced my thumb open on a metal grate in the sidewalk which meant I got to spend a couple of hours in a very nice emergency room getting eight stiches and a tetnus shot.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I have been following the Cheney shooting story and contemplating whether or not to comment. I was rather annoyed by some defenders of the VP who blamed Mr. Whittington for the accident. The first I learned from my father when he taught me gun safety was that I was responsible for the weapon. It is the shooter's responsibility to identify any risks and not shoot another hunter. In this instance Cheney made a mistake, as he admitted to Brit Hume. He was responsible and he blew it.

The other part of this is the ongoing griping and whining by the Washington media junta about what they have been told and when they were told it. Part of this is clearly their annoyance at being scooped by a local paper in Texas. After all, they are the arbiters of knowledge, how dare someone go around their egos. So in a fit of pique they have spent days doing little but griping rather than doing their jobs.

Did it never occur them that Dick Cheney, a man who has been hunting all of his life, might be personnaly embarassed by his mistake. Their was no coverup but apparently anyone that the media elites feel like humilitating must immediately dress themselves in sack cloth beg for their forgiveness.

Now today, on the editorial page the New York Times, otherwise known as the PR machine for the Democratic Party, Bob Herbert is demanding that Dick Cheney resign. Recounting all of Cheney's mistakes and proclaiming him unfit for office.

I am not a big fan of Cheney's or Bush's for that matter. But the American people elected them both for four year terms in office. So Herbert and all his running buddies are stuck with them and maybe they should just get over it.

As an aside, I wonder if Mr. Herbert could stand up to the scrutiny that he seems to want to dish out. Our political leaders do need to be scrutinized, but as the growing number of MSM foul ups that the blogosphere has exposed shows us. The MSM who want to be the judges, should perhaps be judged as well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cartoons and Freedom of Speech

I have been horrified but not especially surprised at the uproar that the cartoons of Mohammed published in Denmark have caused. It is somewhat hypocritical of Arab nations and news outlets to be outraged by something deemed critical of their culture and religion when their rhetoric is full of what can only be described as "hate speech" towards Jews, Christians, Westerners, women and just about anyone else they can think of. Perhaps when they show some tolerance, I will feel some. Till then, perhaps they should just shut the Hell up.

As obscene as they riots and protests are, the most obscene part of this was the statement by the U.S. State Department condemning the publication of the cartoons. The U.S. government ought to support the notion of free speech everywhere. Whoever made that decision should be publically fired and the position renounced. If it was made in the White House then that person should be fired.