Saturday, April 09, 2005

In Favor of Nuclear Energy

Kristof: Nukes Are Green:
"Global energy demand will rise 60 percent over the next 25 years, according to the International Energy Agency, and nuclear power is the cleanest and best bet to fill that gap.
Solar power is a disappointment, still accounting for only about one-fifth of 1 percent of the nation's electricity and costing about five times as much as other sources. Wind is promising, for its costs have fallen 80 percent, but it suffers from one big problem: wind doesn't blow all the time. It's difficult to rely upon a source that comes and goes.
In contrast, nuclear energy already makes up 20 percent of America's power, not to mention 75 percent of France's....

Indeed, some environmentalists are already climbing onboard. For example, the National Commission on Energy Policy, a privately financed effort involving environmentalists, academics and industry representatives, issued a report in December that favors new nuclear plants.

One of the most eloquent advocates of nuclear energy is James Lovelock, the British scientist who created the Gaia hypothesis, which holds that Earth is, in effect, a self-regulating organism.

"I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy," Mr. Lovelock wrote last year, adding: "Every year that we continue burning carbon makes it worse for our descendents. ... Only one immediately available source does not cause global warming, and that is nuclear energy."

In my opinion any rational future US energy policy must include sensible utilization of nuculaer energy.

NRO Editors on PJPII & Media

US Delegation in St Peter's Bascillica Posted by Hello

National Review Online: "When Christiane Amanpour of CNN described John Paul II in the hours after his death as 'the first non-Catholic to be elected pope in more than 455 years,' she provided some much-needed levity to the day. Nobody will hold it against her.

What is more problematic is the media's unconscious tendentiousness in describing the teachings of this pope and his Church. The Pope, nearly everyone said, was a complex man: He was progressive on economics, war, and the death penalty, yet took doctrinaire and divisive positions on moral issues. The media, much less complex, let us know which of these features were laudable and which lamentable - the word 'divisive' being one of the most common cues. And journalists have followed this line with a uniformity of thought that no church could ever attain. The resulting depiction of the Catholic Church and John Paul II is full of distortions - not falsifications, but highly misleading exaggerations....

Finally, the media have kept noting that many Catholics, especially in the West, have flouted the Church's teachings on abortion, birth control, and sexual morality. This is true; but it should be put in context. Even more Catholics have flouted Church teaching on, say, the universal obligation to love one another and the immorality of lying. The odds that the Church will change its teaching on love or lying are approximately as great as the odds that it will bless abortion and non-marital sex — whatever the church of the television anchors may want."

Cardinal Ratzinger Blessing PJPII's Coffin Posted by Hello

Friday, April 08, 2005

French Concerns Over Separation of Church State

Chirac and Rice at PJPII Funeral Mass Posted by Hello

France Urged to Skip Official Papal Honors:
"France may be a predominantly Roman Catholic country, but it is also officially secular, with separation of church and state one of its most sacred tenets.

So while the death of Pope John Paul II has brought widespread mourning, there has also been pressure on the French Republic not to honor him officially.

From the outside, none of this should seem to matter much. After all, since early Catholicism, France has been called the "eldest daughter of the church" and 62 percent of the French people identify themselves as Catholic, according to a 2003 poll.

But the country is also struggling to shore up its secular identity after banning religious symbols, including Muslim head scarves, Jewish yarmulkes and large Christian crosses, from schools.

The conflict, though, distracts attention from the real religious crisis, both in France and in Europe as a whole: the withering of the Catholic faith.

Only about 12 percent of French Catholics attend Mass every week. Meanwhile, weekly attendance of French Muslims at Friday Prayer is soaring.

Vatican City Remembers

Largest Papal Funeral in 2000 Yrs Posted by Hello

A Huge Throng Gives Waves of Applause to a Beloved Pope:
"VATICAN CITY, April 8 - Applause rang out from a huge crowd this morning at the end of the funeral of John Paul II, the little-known Polish cardinal chosen as pope in 1978.

After a Mass that lasted about two-and-a-half hours, his plain cypress coffin marked with a cross and an "M" for the Virgin Mary was brought out from St. Peter's Basilica and placed before an altar in St. Peter's Square. The book of the Gospel was placed on the coffin and the wind lifted the pages.

The bells of St. Peter's tolled and 12 pallbearers with white gloves, white ties and tails then carried the coffin on their shoulders back inside for burial, after holding the coffin to face the multitude for a prolonged moment, as the great bell of St. Peter's pealed, and waves of applause swept through the audience.

The pallbearers finally turned again and entered the church, as the crowd held on, mesmerized. The bell tolled on and on, and at last people chatted with their neighbors and began to move away, many of them weeping."

PJPII-St Peter's Sq Posted by Hello

'Reminiscences and Reflections'

Karol Wojtyla in 1945 Posted by Hello

John Paul the Great
Reminiscences and Reflections
By Michael Novak

"As our great Pope is buried, I feel sorry for the Polish people most of all--sorry, and joyous with them. Today, my telephone correspondents in Poland tell me, they feel like orphans. Papa Wojtyla has been such a Protector to them, such a shelter, such a tower of strength at their side and at their rear and in their forefront. Someone told me during the week my father died that losing a father is like having a big tree on the edge of the forest come down, and feeling the wind upon one’s own face. The Poles feel like that today. So do we all...

"The Catholic Church has grown by about 45 percent since John Paul II became Pope, growing 160 percent in Africa, and nearly doubling in size in Asia. Moreover, the Catholic groups, religious orders, and individual dioceses that model themselves most closely on his vision of a confident, unafraid Christian humanism of the future are growing rapidly in numbers and high morale.

The most important thing John Paul II gave both to the world (including, but not limited to, the political world) and also to the Church is new confidence in our own capacities, especially our capacities for self-government, for liberty and responsibility, and for making human life better and more worthy of human possibilities and higher standards. It is not a small thing, to teach people: 'Be not afraid.'

Pope John Paul II pointed the way to a new civilization of love. Real, serious, self-sacrificing, other-centered, unselfish love. The kind he showed, right to his final day. Adieu, our dear, dear friend! Our greatest inspiration in a very long time. 'Praised be Jesus Christ!' as you would have said yourself."

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics

One Hundred Years of Uncertainty: Brian Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia writes, "...about a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein began writing a paper that secured his place in the pantheon of humankind's greatest thinkers. With his discovery of special relativity, Einstein upended the familiar, thousands-year-old conception of space and time. To be sure, even a century later, not everyone has fully embraced Einstein's discovery. Nevertheless, say 'Einstein' and most everyone thinks 'relativity.'

What is less widely appreciated, however, is that physicists call 1905 Einstein's 'miracle year' not because of the discovery of relativity alone, but because in that year Einstein achieved the unimaginable, writing four papers that each resulted in deep and formative changes to our understanding of the universe.

Yet, it is the remaining 1905 paper, written in March, whose legacy is arguably the most profound. In this work, Einstein went against the grain of conventional wisdom and argued that light, at its most elementary level, is not a wave, as everyone had thought, but actually a stream of tiny packets or bundles of energy that have since come to be known as photons.

This might sound like a largely technical advance, updating one description of light to another. But through subsequent research that amplified and extended Einstein's argument scientists revealed a mathematically precise and thoroughly startling picture of reality called quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics does not merely challenge the previous laws of physics. Quantum mechanics challenges this centuries-old framework of physics itself. According to quantum mechanics, physics cannot make definite predictions. Instead, even if you give me the most precise description possible of how things are now, we learn from quantum mechanics that the most physics can do is predict the probability that things will turn out one way, or another, or another way still.

Although we have yet to fully lay bare quantum mechanics' grand lesson for the underlying nature of the universe, I like to think even Einstein would be impressed that in the 50 years since his death our facility with quantum mechanics has matured from a mathematical understanding of the subatomic realm to precision control. Today's technological wizardry (computers, M.R.I.'s, smart bombs) exists only because research in applied quantum physics has resulted in techniques for manipulating the motion of electrons - probabilities and all - through mazes of ultramicroscopic circuitry. Advances hovering on the horizon, like nanoscience and quantum computers, offer the promise of even more spectacular transformations.

So the next time you use your cellphone or laptop, pause for a moment. Recognize that even these commonplace devices rely on our greatest, yet most puzzling, scientific achievement and - as things now stand - tap into humankind's most supreme assault on the idea that reality is what we think it is."


OpinionJournal: Henninger- "If in the 26 years of his pontificate, John Paul had received half the emotional or intellectual support for his message that issued from TV's screens the past seven days, the crude troops of new culture in the West might well have faced a counter-force. John Paul's politics may have won in the East, but they lost in the West.

And so it came to pass in beat reporting and liberal church circles that this pope--notwithstanding his affinities on the death penalty or economics or war--was described to the world as a "conservative." That is to say, he was ultimately an opposition political force to be kept at arm's length. It worked.

Until now. John Paul in death is proving a force equal to and possibly more powerful than what he was in life. Past some point this week it became clear that this pope's death was building into something else--a spirit moving in the room perhaps, whose ultimate effects and direction are hard to predict.

It is now estimated that several million people may have come to Rome, perhaps equal to its resident population. The Pope's funeral Mass will be seen world-wide by uncounted millions. And they will have witnessed a liturgy of an almost mystical beauty."

John Paul II Posted by Hello

Title IX

What Women Want: "With its new guidance, the Department of Education is finally trying to let schools use the commonsense solution, enabling them to comply with Title IX by e-mailing a survey to all students asking them about their interest in participating in intercollegiate athletics, and judging schools by how closely what they offer matches what women want. It makes sense. So what's the problem?

Like a home crowd whose team just had a touchdown called back, Title IX's proponents pounced on the department's new rules. In an Inside Higher Ed commentary the other week, for instance, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic gold-medal swimmer and an assistant professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, and Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation, ripped into the new guidance, saying the department is 'thumbing its nose at the law and the female athletes it is charged with protecting.'"

Dell to Keep Expanding

Beyond Desktop PCs:
"Dell Inc. chief executive Kevin Rollins said Thursday the company will continue to expand beyond traditional desktop PCs and offer more flat panel televisions, laptops and printers to help grow its business to $80 billion within four years...
Rollins said the company's increasing push into servers, data-storage equipment, printers, consumer electronics and technology services will help offset cooling desktop PC demand. According to IDC, PC shipments are expected to grow by a more moderate 10 percent this year.

Analysts welcomed the diversification talk in the face of rivals HP and IBM. ``It's a scale issue. What they're really saying is that they are going to be able to scale to the level of an IBM or an HP,'' Ron Silliman of Gartner said. ``Dell is going into that scale more focused but also talking diversification. This organization is probably the most rigorous in the industry on the question of execution.''

Dell also said it would spend $2 billion to repurchase stock in the current quarter, or about 50 million shares, more than double what the company had initially planned. In the past four years, the company has bought back enough stock to reduce its average share count by more than 9 percent."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Finance: Direct Public Offerings (DPO's)

Sophisticated Investor: Direct public offerings rare, but have targeted appeal - Financial - Specialty Finance - Financial Services - Personal Finance:

"Berrett-Koehler, a San Francisco-based book publisher, is looking to raise $1 million through a direct public offering of stock...

That's not to be confused with an initial public offering. And it shouldn't be mistaken for a private offering of stock to the public. [Not PPO's-WAA]

Instead, direct public offerings, or DPOs, are curious little financial animals that provide companies with much needed capital, usually small amounts, and investors with the chance to buy into a company they like and want to support. There are usually no financial middlemen or broker-dealers involved with the transactions. "

Since 1990, fewer than 2,000 companies have attempted to raise money through the direct sale of securities to investors under a small corporate offering registration, which provide an exemption from federal registration.

Of the companies that have attempted to raise money through a DPO, only about one-third succeeded, according to Dallas-based SCOR Report, a newsletter that tracks the industry. Moreover, of the 670 or so companies that raised money, about 166 have gone on to list on some form of secondary market, SCOR Report says.

The only way investors can cash out of their DPO investment is if a company lists on a secondary market or an exchange where they can freely trade their shares or if a company gets acquired and shareholders receive cash for their shares.

Ted Cohen, a securities attorney with the firm Spolin Silver & Cohen in Santa Monica, Calif., says DPOs are often difficult offerings to turn into viable long-term investments because they lack the follow-up a traditional investment bank can offer.

"Because of the media attention, Google was able to gain the public interest in a viable way to access the public markets, but that is rare," says Cohen.

Google last year issued public shares of stock in a Dutch auction offering, which is a quasi DPO because it limits the participation of investment banks/underwriters and puts the share-price and success of the offering directly in the hands of individual investors.

Underwriters create a secondary market for securities offerings by marketing and selling shares throughout the investment community. This provides investors with a way to cash in shares and immediately profit, the sticking point of a DPO.

The New Republic: Insightful Analysis!

Great observations and overview of current politics from Martin Peretz the editor-in-chief of TNR see The New Republic Online: The Politics of Churlishness:

"It has been heartening, in recent months, to watch some Democratic senators searching for ways out of the politics of churlishness. Some liberals appear to have understood that history is moving swiftly and in a good direction, and that history has no time for their old and mistaken suspicion of American power in the service of American values. One does not have to admire a lot about George W. Bush to admire what he has so far wrought. One need only be a thoughtful American with an interest in proliferating liberalism around the world. And, if liberals are unwilling to proliferate liberalism, then conservatives will. Rarely has there been a sweeter irony. "

Read it all.

Dowd on Delay

Love her or hate she really can write, here's Maureen in today's The Passion of the Tom:

"When Dick Cheney tells you you've gone too far, you know you're way over the edge...

...there's some skittishness in the party leadership about the Passion of the Tom, the fiery battle of the born-again Texan to show that he's being persecuted on ethics by a vast left-wing conspiracy. Some Republicans are wondering whether they need to pull a Trent Lott on Tom DeLay before he turns into Newt Gingrich, who led his party to the promised land but then had to be discarded when he became the petulant "definer" and "arouser" of civilization. Do they want Mr. DeLay careering around in Queeg style as they go into 2006?"

'We Want God'

Pope John Paul II Posted by Hello

WSJ- Peggy Noonan: "All of this was summed up by a Polish publisher and intellectual named Jerzy Turowicz, who had known Karol Wojtyla when they were young men together, and who had gone on to be a supporter of Solidarity and member of Poland's first postcommunist government. Mr. Turowicz, remembering the Blonie field and the Pope's visit, told Ray Flynn, at the time U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, 'Historians say World War II ended in 1945. Maybe in the rest of the world, but not in Poland. They say communism fell in 1989. Not in Poland. World War II and communism both ended in Poland at the same time--in 1979, when John Paul II came home.'

And now he is dead. It is fitting and not at all surprising that Rome, to its shock, has been overwhelmed with millions of people come to see him for the last time. The line to view his body in St. Peter's stretched more than a mile. His funeral tomorrow will be witnessed by an expected two billion people, the biggest television event in history. And no one, in Poland or elsewhere, will be able to edit the tape to hide what is happening.

John Paul gave us what may be the transcendent public spiritual moment of the 20th century. 'We want God.' The greatest and most authentic cry of the human heart. "

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mickey Kaus Comments On Party Structures

The Pyramids and the Spheres - Special Architectural Metaphor Edition: "The problem, of course, is that the Democratic party's most stable institutional elements are also its most problematic elements: 1) unions; 2) the civil rights and Latino lobbies; 3) the senior lobby (AARP); 4) institutional feminists (NOW); 5) trial lawyers; 6) Iowa-caucus style 'progressives;' and 7) Hollywood emoters. If a national problem could be solved without trampling on the interests of this institutional base, Democrats would have solved it in the decades when they were in power. What's left are the problems that can't be solved--even solved in accordance with liberal principles--without trampling on these liberal interest groups: competitiveness, for example, or public education, or entitlement reform. If the Dems' permanent institutional base is what gets to 'develop' and 'hone' the ideas to be adopted by the party's presidential nominee, then the Democrats will in perpetuity be the party of union work rules, lousy teachers, mediocre schools, protectionism, racial preferences, unafforadable entitlements, amnesty for illegals and offensive rap lyrics! That winning collection gets you, what, 35%?

Currently, the Democrats' only hope is that once every four years a maverick candidate will come along who tells the party's permanent institutional base to shove it and actually fashion an appealing platform. The party's post-Vietnam presidential winners--Carter and Clinton--both fit this pattern."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

John Paul II in Repose Posted by Hello

Buckley: A Farewell to Pope John Paul II

William F. Buckley Jr.:

"Well of course, what makes people famous is fame, and John Paul had been at the central part of the international stage a dozen years. He did not command an air force or any bark larger than that commanded by the Founder when he stilled the storm, and drew up the fishes. Where did this old Pole get that magic?

He had such an effect on men and women of all races, of all ages, though it was in particular his impact on young people that arrested attention. And then there was the cloud hovering dreadfully close, the Parkinson's disease that finally made even simple speech problematic.

...then intermittently the great light within flashed, and one saw the most radiant face on the public scene, a presence so commanding as to have arrested a generation of humankind, who wondered whether the Lord Himself had a hand in shaping the special charisma of this servant of the servants of God, as the pope styled himself, his death leaving a most awful void, and a disconsolate world. "

WFB yet again at his sometimes succinct, always insightful self.

Jonah Goldberg on Paul Krugman & Higher Education...

...National Review Online:

"BullKrug -
Paul Krugman's institutional fantasies.

I have to go walk Cosmo and the prospect of picking up his droppings is more appealing than picking up Paul Krugman's. But duty calls. Paul Krugman's latest column is a peripatetic tour of liberal fantasyland...."

This morning I only said Krugman was unhinged, dear Jonah starts his piece with "BullKrug." I forgot how nice I was this morning. Read it all to again see Krugman's "logic" torn to shreds.

NYC Deliveryman Stranded 4 Days in Elevator

Deliveryman Emerges Safely After 4 Days Stranded in Elevator: "restaurant deliveryman who immigrated from China and speaks virtually no English spent [update from NYT- more than] three days unnoticed in a stalled high-rise elevator in the Bronx as an intensive search swirled around him, the police said today. He emerged this morning thirsty but appearing otherwise all right after someone finally heard - or he finally figured how to trigger - the elevator car's alarm.

...Mr. Chen is reported to be from the coastal Fuzhou region of Fujian Province in southeastern China, where his wife and 12-year-old son live. His family told the police that he had entered the United States illegally and paid off a $60,000 fee to the people who smuggled him in, the police said.

He has worked six days a week at Happy Dragon, making about 40 deliveries a day on weekdays and as many as 60 on weekends. His last delivery on Friday was to an off-duty police officer who lives in Tracey Towers, the police said.

In a 2003 article on its Web site, The Norwood News described most of Tracey Towers' hallways as dark, with few if any light boxes functioning in the long corridors that lead to the elevators, which the residents described as shaky and notoriously unreliable.

"You have to pray every time you get in the elevator not to get caught," one resident told the newspaper."

Idaho Against Art

Police in Idaho Say Strippers Aren't Art: "Art night at Erotic City apparently wasn't artistic enough. Police raided the Boise bar Monday night for violating the city's nudity ordinance, which requires that dancers wear at least pasties and a thong unless they are engaging in a performance with ``serious artistic merit.''
The club had tried to beat the ordinance by distributing pencils and sketch pads to patrons during special twice-weekly ``art nights,'' when the dancers performed nude."

Great Web Site for Prospective Students and Parents

Colleges Sharpen Focus on Freshmen: "Kevin Carey, Education Trust policy research director, acknowledged that educators often excuse the lower graduation rates of less selective institutions as unavoidable because of demographics. But while creating the Web site -- it compares the graduation rates of schools with similar student bodies -- Carey said he found that 'some institutions consistently outperform their peers.' "

Amazon Buys On-Demand Publisher Acquires Book Printing Service: " Inc. has acquired a publishing company that prints books when they're ordered rather than relying on warehouses stocked with titles, the online retailer said Monday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BookSurge LLC, based in Charleston, S.C., offers an inventory-free book fulfillment network to publishers and authors, and has a wholesale service for retailers, wholesalers and distributors.

"Print-on-demand has changed the economics of small-quality printing, making it possible for books with low and uncertain demand to be profitably produced," said Greg Greely, vice president of media products for "BookSurge makes it possible to print books that appeal to targeted audiences, whether it's one copy or 1,000."

Google: Satellite Maps

Technology > Google Feature Incorporates Satellite Maps: "Online search engine leader Google has unveiled a new feature that will enable its users to zoom in on homes and businesses using satellite images, an advance that may raise privacy concerns as well as intensify the competitive pressures on its rivals.
The satellite technology, which Google began offering late Monday at, is part of the package that the Mountain View-based company acquired when it bought digital map maker Keyhole Corp. for an undisclosed amount nearly six months ago."

WSJ: Even Fidel Castro Bows to John Paul II

OpinionJournal - The Western Front: "What does Fidel Castro know that many American liberals don't seem ever to have understood about Pope John Paul II? That's something worth asking as the dictator in Havana issued a personal statement of condolence and has allowed his people three days to mourn, three days to publicly act like a normal society amid a social structure otherwise built on fear.

Pope John Paul II stood up to the communists around the world and emboldened millions by saying with his words and his actions that there will be a moral accounting for what is done here on earth.

This triumph of morality and hope over fear and despotism has never been fully understood by the post-Vietnam American left.

Before the pope's death, even Castro came to understand that he had to acknowledge papal power, even while fearing the people power that was likely to unleash. It's unfortunate that John Paul II will not be here to see democracy take root in the Muslim world. But his message that governments must be held to a higher moral standard in respecting basic human dignity will be no less powerful as free societies begin to sprout in the Middle East. "

WSJ on Robb-Silberman Report

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Among the many valuable conclusions of the Robb-Silberman report on U.S. intelligence, the most important is probably this: Policy makers need to be more assertive, not less. To put it another way, Vice President Dick Cheney should have asked more questions of the CIA during the run-up to war in Iraq, not fewer.
We realize this ruins the Aesop's fable that has developed about Iraq, and about the intelligence process more broadly. That story holds that CIA analysts are the final arbiters of intelligence truth, and that elected leaders must accept what they conclude as holy writ or else they will be 'politicizing' intelligence.

Regarding Iraq, this fable holds that the problem was that Mr. Cheney and the Pentagon created a separate intelligence 'stovepipe' that ignored CIA professionals, or, even worse, pounded them into concluding against all evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The Robb-Silberman panel does the enormous service of exposing all of this as both false regarding Iraq, and dangerous if it colors the future. "

After Krugman Back to Reality with David Brooks

Back to reality with Brooks in A House Divided, and Strong:
"Much as I admire my friends on the left for ingeniously explaining their recent defeats without really considering the possibility that maybe the substance of their ideas is the problem, I have to say that this explanation for conservative success and liberal failure is at odds with reality.

Conservatives fell into the habit of being acutely conscious of their intellectual forebears and had big debates about public philosophy. That turned out to be important: nobody joins a movement because of admiration for its entitlement reform plan. People join up because they think that movement's views about human nature and society are true.

Conservatives have not triumphed because they have built a disciplined and efficient message machine. Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. "

Read it all. In a way it points out the foolishness of Krugman's last piece and liberal thinking in general these days.

Krugman Apparently Thinks Universities Lean Left Because ...Republicans are Religious

You will have to read this just to see it in black and white and confusion. In a piece of "reasoning" from Krugman as my title suggests apparently believes university must be left to resist the religious nonsense of the right. See The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: An Academic Question: "'s Republican Party - increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research - doesn't respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn't be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party."

I think the man is finally revealing himself to be unhinged.

Monday, April 04, 2005

WSJ Ridicules Asheville Citizen-Times Again - Courtesy of AC-T Former Editorialist

From the WSJ and James Taranto's Best of the Web Today:

"In the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times, one Hal Herzog, a "biological psychologist," weighs in on the Terri Schiavo case:

'Terri Schiavo's body died Thursday morning. The moral, social and legal issues raised by her case, however, will live on. In recent weeks, there has been considerable discussion of the ethical nuances of persistent vegetative states in the pages of the Citizen-Times. Most commentators, however, have ignored the troubling inescapable financial consequences of severe irreversible brain damage to affected families and to taxpayers.

Here are the facts. According to a 2002 report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, the frequency of persistent vegetative state in the United States is 64 to 140 per million people. Thus, somewhere between 538 and 1,176 North Carolinians are probably afflicted with this condition. At a cost of about $80,000 a year per person, this translates to an annual financial burden to the North Carolina health-care system of $43 million to $94 million--enough to hire between 1,500 and 3,500 additional public school teachers.'

Does Herzog really mean to suggest that some people should be killed in order to expand the membership of the teachers unions? What in the world is happening to American liberalism? (Hat tip: blogger Marc Ruscoe.) "

Marc Ruscoe was a former columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times representing my,er, I mean the right side of many issues. I miss his column and now the AC-T has more lefty writers than ever, not even a pretense at "fair and balanced." Ruscoe's new blog is here.

Election Demographics

The demographics favor republicans as explained by John Fund on the Trail: "The best chances for Democrats to gain the 15 seats they need to take control of the House in 2006 are in these districts held by 'Kerry Republicans.' The problem is that there are so few of them. John Kerry carried just 18 GOP House members' districts, while Mr. Bush carried 41 Democratic ones."
"...Only five Republican House members currently sit in districts where Mr. Bush won less than 47% of the presidential vote last year: two in Connecticut, two in Iowa and one in Delaware. But 31 House Democrats represent districts where John Kerry won less than 47%. That means Republicans have many more opportunities to pick up seats in favorable political terrain as Democratic members leave the House. No one expects Democrats to hold the seat of Ike Skelton of Missouri when he leaves office; President Bush won 64% of his district's votes. Ditto for the district of Gene Taylor of Mississippi, where Mr. Bush won 68%."
"...Another worrisome sign for Democrats is the Hispanic vote. Michael Barone, a co-author of the definitive Almanac of American Politics, reports that Polidata's findings tend to confirm the exit polls that showed George W. Bush gaining nine percentage points among Hispanic voters, ending up with some 44%."

Interesting reading.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

From the Serious to the Sublime with Steyn

GOP crack-up? Pardon my guffaw: "Anyone would think it was the Republicans who'd lost the 2004 elections, and the 2002 elections, and the 2000 elections. From every corner, concerned 'friends' of the party rise to offer 'friendly' advice. "

The notion, for example, that poor Terri Schiavo will cost Republicans votes in a year and a half's time is ludicrous. The best distillation of the pro-Schiavo case was made by James Lileks, the bard of Minnesota, responding to the provocateur Christopher Hitchens' dismissal of her as a "non-human entity." "It is not wise," wrote Lileks, "to call people dead before they are actually, well, dead. You can be 'as good as dead' or 'brain dead' or 'close to death,' but if the heart beats and the chest rises, I think we should balk at saying this constitutes dead, period."

The Republicans did the right thing here, and they won't be punished for it by the electors. As with abortion, this will be an issue where the public moves slowly but steadily toward the conservative position: Terri Schiavo's court-ordered death will not be without meaning. As to "crack-ups," that's only a neurotic way of saying that these days most of the intellectual debate is within the right. If, like the Democrats, all you've got are lockstep litmus tests on race and abortion and all the rest, what's to crack up over? You just lose elections every two years, but carry on insisting, as Ted Kennedy does, that you're still the majority party. Ted's quite a large majority just by himself these days, but it's still not enough."

David Remnick in The New Yorker on John Paul II

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town:
"Karol Wojtyla, a poet, actor, and playwright, who had been a bishop in Poland for twenty years, was elected Pope by the College of Cardinals on October 16, 1978. Shortly afterward, Yuri Andropov, the head of Soviet intelligence, called the K.G.B.'s station chief in Warsaw and asked furiously, 'How could you have allowed a citizen of a Socialist country to be elected Pope?'

...On August 31, 1980, four hundred and forty-eight days after the Pope left Poland for Rome, at the Lenin Shipyard, in Gdan´sk, an electrician named Lech Walesa signed the agreement (his enormous souvenir pen bore the image of John Paul II) that created Solidarity, the first legal and independent union in the Soviet empire. In March, 1985, a provincial reformer, Mikhail Gorbachev, became General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. In 1990, another playwright-turned-politician, Václav Havel, welcomed John Paul to Prague after the fall of Communism, saying, “I am not sure that I know what a miracle is. In spite of this, I dare say that I am participating in a miracle: in a country devastated by the ideology of hatred, the messenger of love has arrived.” And by Christmas night, 1991, Gorbachev, who had found an ally in the Pope, agreed to his empire’s dissolution.

Last Friday, as the magazine was closing and the news from Rome grew more grave, we talked with Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, a physicist who decided to study for the priesthood in the early seventies as he sought to understand the political and spiritual upheaval of the time. Albacete, who was born in Puerto Rico and now lives in New York, met Karol Wojtyla in 1976, and the two men became friends.

“I was a parish priest in Washington, D.C., for a very short time and a secretary to the Archbishop when I was told that the Archbishop of Kraków was coming for a visit,” the Monsignor said. “The thought that this guy would become Pope was absurd. I was told to take good care of him. He was an intellectual, they’d heard, and they thought I could engage him somehow. We met over breakfast, over cornflakes, and we quickly started talking about the truly big questions. I was just so impressed by the intensity of his humanity, an energy, that, if tapped, could power the whole world. I was seeing him without the props of the papacy. We spoke in Italian, but he joked with me that unless I could speak Polish and read his favorite poet, Cyprian Norwid, in the original, well, then I was culturally underprivileged. And, as I am thinking about it now, I remember how he told me about Norwid’s poem ‘Chopin’s Piano,’ about Chopin’s death and how the end of life is so pregnant with meaning.

“I eventually came to teach a course on the plays that he had written,” Monsignor Albacete went on. “I especially liked ‘Our God’s Brother,’ ” which Wojtyla wrote when he was still a seminarian. “It’s the story of the life of Adam Chmielowski, a nineteenth-century Polish intellectual and painter, who accidentally encounters poverty on the streets of Kraków. He has to ask himself, ‘How do I respond to this suffering? Charity? The revolutionary path?’ He finally sees that these are all superficial responses and joins the poor, a kind of Franciscan path.” In fact, Chmielowski eventually changed his name to Brother Albert, and devoted his life to the poor, founding the Albertine Brothers. “When Wojtyla became Pope, he canonized his own character,” the Monsignor said. “There are still some of his plays that remain unpublished. Most of them were written during the Nazi-Communist period, when he was in the cultural resistance.”

Monsignor Albacete spent three years in Rome under John Paul in the nineteen-eighties, working on issues of Catholic education around the world, and afterward the two men stayed in contact. As the Monsignor was speaking on the telephone, CNN issued a report—premature, as it turned out—that the Pope had died. “It’s very sad but a relief, too,” Albacete said. “Lately, when you would see him, his Parkinson’s was such that he couldn’t respond to you with the intensity he wanted. To take away the ability to talk and move meant that he was losing the means to express his personhood. The last conversation we had was in Rome. I was there because he was beatifying a Puerto Rican, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. I said, ‘I protest, Holy Father! I want to be the first Puerto Rican saint!’ He smiled, said nothing. Then I said, ‘You know, Holy Father, I’m feeling a little guilty. I’ve agreed to go on television after you’ve died to say something or other about you.’ He smiled again. Then he said, ‘How do they know that I will die first?’ He was able to joke. He was not afraid.”

Bill Kristol on John Paul II, 1920-2005

"In the end, however, one returns to what was most simple and most evident about John Paul II: his courage--physical, moral, and intellectual. Aristotle claims that courage is the first of the virtues, because it makes possible all the others. John Paul II demanded that we 'learn not to be afraid,' that we 'rediscover a spirit of hope and a spirit of trust.' He grounded that hope and trust on his faith that man 'is not alone' but lives with the abiding presence of God. His life invites us to admire human excellence--and to reflect on the question of whether or not such excellence depends on a conviction, like John Paul II's, that man is not, in some fundamental sense, alone."

WSJ on our 264th Pope

The Wall Street Journal editorial board email last night and available on line at OpinionJournal - Featured Article:
"In progressive circles in the West, religion in general and Christianity in particular tend to find themselves caricatured as a series of Thou Shalt Nots, particularly when they touch on human sexuality. But it is no coincidence that George Weigel entitled his biography of John Paul 'Witness to Hope.' For billions of people around the world--non-Catholics included--that's exactly what he was. Perhaps this explains why China, where only a tiny fraction of its people are Catholic, remained to the very end fearful of allowing a visit from this frail, physically suffering man, fearing what he might inspire.

We don't expect the secularalists who dominate our intelligentsia ever to understand how a man rooted in orthodox Christianity could ever reconcile himself with modernity, much less establish himself on the vanguard of world history. But many years ago, when the same question was put to France's Cardinal Lustiger by a reporter, he gave the answer. 'You're confusing a modern man with an American liberal,' the cardinal replied. It was a confusion that Pope John Paul II, may he rest in peace, never made. "

Washington Post on Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II (

"The pope is a thoroughly modern man who nevertheless challenged a lot of the conventional wisdom of self-consciously modern people," his biographer George Weigel said in a magazine interview some years ago. "In a world dominated by the pleasure principle and by personal willfulness, he insists that suffering can be redemptive and that self-giving is far more important to human fulfillment than self-assertion. In an intellectual climate where the human capacity to know anything with certainty is under attack, he has taught that there are universal moral truths . . . and that, in knowing them, we encounter real obligations. To a world that often measures human beings by their utility, he has insisted that every human being has an inviolable dignity and worth."

"One who exercises as much power as the pope will never be free of controversy, no matter how exemplary his life; the secular world is not in the habit of conferring sainthood on people. But John Paul II, after his death yesterday at 84, will be seen by most, we think, as a remarkable witness, to use a favorite term of his -- witness to a vision characterized by humaneness, honesty and integrity throughout his reign and his life. "