Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Okay, bro isn't buying the Bush line, and we can argue till the cows come home, but one thing you can't argue with.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

The man does the BEST Dick Cheney in the business.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Disturbing It Is

This little event goes down on my Top Ten Incidents of Idiocy list (which I just started this moment).

A little backdrop:

Those in these parts may have some passing familiarity with the lonely Cape Cod outpost called Provincetown. At the outer tip of the Cape, it is known for a number of things. One is that it is a haven for artists. The other is that it is a haven for gays and lesbians. Not that there is anything wrong with that -- but for a community known for its acceptance of all kinds (and I mean all kinds -- the sidewalks in the summer time there look like the cover of a Captain Beyond album -- creds to anyone who can claim afficion of that band), you'd think their town mothers and fathers would be pretty open minded on the subject of art.

But you would be mistaken.

Provincetown's local government holds its meetings in the Judge Welsh Hearing Room, on the wall of which hangs an oil painting depicting the Pilgrims signing the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown, where they first landed before shoving onward to Plymouth. The painting is by Max Bohm, a turn-of-the-century artist of worldwide repute, and has been hanging in the town hall for as long as anyone there can remember.

But no more.

Here's a report from The Cape Codder, a local weekly that has somewhat of a liberal bent:

The Max Bohm painting of the Pilgrims voting for the Mayflower Compact, which has hung above the board of selectmen for as long as anyone can remember, will come down soon.

On a motion by Selectwoman Sarah Peake, the board decided Monday to ask the art commission to take it down and replace it with another painting from the town's vast collection.

Peake said the idea came to her after touring the new Provincetown Art Association and Museum wing, which was opened to the public over the weekend. She was so impressed to see that many of the paintings on display were on loan from the town's collection, she said.

Peake argued that the painting should be taken down because it does not show a single woman, and "the only one not holding a ballot in the painting is the Native American."

He may not be holding a ballot, Selectman Richard Olson said, "but he is holding a tomahawk." Olson several years ago had suggested taking this painting down, too.


Anne Packard, artist and gallery owner, and the granddaughter of Bohm, had no idea the selectmen would contemplate removing this painting. "I think it is so sad," she said. "It has been there for as long as I can remember and I am 72. It's been there for at least 60 years. This shows the deterioration of Provincetown and what we stand for," she said. "My grandfather was one of the founding fathers of the art association, and of the Beachcomber Club. That painting is perfect for that room, fits it fine. I just think it is such a shame."

The story implies that Peake's interest in removing the painting grew out of some deliberation about including other artworks on a rotating basis. But that's not how one of her colleagues characterized the event.

The Boston Globe's Brian McGrory, not widely recognized for his hatred of political correctness, put it this way:

...Selectwoman Sarah Peake spun her chair around near the end of the Nov. 14 meeting, gazed up at an oversized oil painting depicting the Pilgrims voting on the Mayflower Compact when they first landed in Provincetown, and declared that she wanted it removed....

...If you don't believe me, let's go straight to Cheryl Andrews, the chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen. She also happened to cast the only vote against the painting's removal, making her a rare voice of sanity on the board.

''There's this lovely oil painting," she said yesterday. ''The thing is huge. It's been up there since forever. It was painted by Max Bohm, who's considered quite something in local art circles.
''And Sarah Peake turns around and faces it, and it's government. They're voting. She says, 'I'd like to talk about this painting. I find this painting disturbing.' That's a quote. She said it's disturbing to her because there are no women in the painting and the only one not holding a ballot is the Native American Indian. And I thought, 'Here we go.' "

I called Peake and asked her why. She sounded normal, even pleasant, and explained that her proposal was mostly born of a tremendous pride in the town's vast art collection, and she wanted to give other paintings the chance to hang in such a prominent spot behind the selectmen....

...The former head of the town's Art Commission wrote to the local paper that the vote was ''an act of idiocy." Bohm's granddaughter, Anne Packard, herself a noted local artist, said, ''It offends me because they're trying to change the history of the town, or just history."

I have a perspective I'd like to offer.

Twenty years ago, I served as a conservative legislator here in Masachusetts. During one fractious budget debate, one of my colleagues offered an amendment cutting out funds for the Massachusetts Art Council, on the grounds that it had assisted in the funding of an art exhibit that featured (among its works) a highly controversial work by Andres Cerrano entitled Piss Christ. You might assume that a conservative would be offended that taxpayer money would be used to help promote such an offensive piece of work and support the amendment. I didn't. There is a lot of art that I'd opine belongs in a dumpster and not in a gallery, but that's just me. I don't make the rules for everyone else's tastes, in art, music, writing or any other expressive endeavor.

So I find it ironic that, in this bastion of liberalism and freedom of expression (artistic, sexual and whatever else) called Provincetown, the majority of the Board of Selectpersons would remove a significant painting by a renowned artist from its walls because the accurately reflected political and cultural subject matter was "disturbing" to them -- 385 years later !!!!

I wonder what these folks would say if one of their own local artists were to create a work that, say, revised DaVinci's Lat Supper painting to depict a homosexual orgy. Would the painting make it into the newly-designated rotation to take the place of Bohm's work?

It's just one more example of the rampant hypocrisy of the politically correct.

Monday, November 21, 2005

History Repeats Itself?

This is a commentary rich in history and irony.

As accurately stated (how about that) in Wikipedia, the remark "we will bury you" was made by Nikita Krushchev while addressing Western ambassadors at reception in Moscow in November, 1956:

"The translation has been controversial by being presented as belligerent out of context. The phrase may well have been intended to suggest 'we will outlast you"'as a more complete version of the quote reads: 'Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you' - a meaning more akin to 'we will attend your funeral' than 'we shall cause your funeral'.

Several online sources incorrectly claim that he made this statement at the United Nations General Assembly on October 11, 1060, when he is said to have pounded the table with his shoe (or with an extra shoe he had brought with him explicitly for that purpose).

Speaking some years later in Yugoslavia Khrushchev himself remarked, 'I once said, 'We will bury you,' and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you,' a nod to the popular Marxist saying, 'The proletariat is the undertaker of capitalism'."

These many years later, communism having made extraordinary concessions to the siren song of capitalism, the warning means something entirely different, as millions of poor Chinese communists labor for pennies under horrendous work conditions to produce goods that flood America, while American manufacturers cannot compete due to the standard of living enjoyed by its own workers.

Krushchev would delight in the irony, don't you think?

To Hell With Proof

I’ve been thinking a lot about God lately.

This has been quite a change for me, because for quite some time (some would say too long), I hadn’t been thinking of Him much at all. A lot of folks would say that none of us do.

Anyway, due to some events that have turned my life somewhat upside down, the urge suddenly came upon me to think quite a bit about Him, and I have to say it has been a watershed event.

Before these events, I think that the most directly I thought of God was in following the ongoing debate about intelligent design. This issue has always appeared to me to be smack at the crossroads of theology and science (the two surely do intersect, no?), and I’ve always been a bit frustrated that the die-hard scientists who hold a white-knuckle grip on evolution don’t loosen up a bit and appreciate what it is that the intelligent design theorists are trying to do (I mean the genuine theorists, not those with the political agenda) – that is, in my humble perception, to add why (not necessarily Who) to the study of how.

And so I was particularly intrigued when I learned last week that the Vatican’s chief astronomer averred that intelligent design was not science and does not belong in the science classroom.

Vatican’s chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."
In a June article in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet, Coyne reaffirmed God's role in creation, but said science explains the history of the universe.

"If they respect the results of modern science, and indeed the best of modern biblical research, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God or a designer God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly."

Rather, he argued, God should be seen more as an encouraging parent.

"God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world that reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity," he wrote. "He is not continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves."

This is the notion that has occurred to me time and again as I witness the monotonous back and forth of the “yes it is, no it isn’t” argument. As the saying goes, what’s in a definition?

It seems to me quite lovely that scientists in the ID community are engaged in this profound and fascinating quest for proof of the existence of God. Who could argue with that? Just because there is a lack of proof that God’s hand is evident, that does not render the ID proponent’s argument sophistry – it just makes it profoundly difficult to prove.

It seems to me that the elusiveness of the proof of His existence is indeed one of the great geniuses of His creation. If His existence could be proved empirically, where would the reward be in praising Him? The miracle of His presence is in the very fact that in order to see “proof” of his existence, you must believe in Him. And the proof comes in forms and manners of exceptional intrinsic value, at exceptional times and places.

I place “proof” in quotation marks because, of course, the rules of science do not regard anecdotal evidence as proof until it can be replicated. Hence, the legion of witnessings to the miracles of God account for nothing in the proof department.

So I say to hell with proof (although perhaps not to all that demand it). I have as much proof as I need. I have seen, heard and felt enough during my fifty years of life to declare and avow that I believe in God, in His wisdom, His power and His love.

Henceforth, I place myself among the privileged and proud who call themselves “Anecdote.”

My Own Jaundiced Eye

In a comment posted below, the lovely and gracious Karen expresses her preference for my political views over my humor, and solicits my current thoughts.

How generous, how reckless.

As all twelve of my regular readers have probably noticed, my blogging activity has abated substantially since the summer. There are a few reasons for that, but one of the primary reasons is that I am

I regard this activity here as a blessing -- an opportunity to steal a few precious moments out of my alternately frenetic and drab existence to employ my brain in a manner that brings me amusement, edification, laughter. I get none of those gifts from engaging in the current political discourse. So, while I continue to scan Wizbang, Althouse, Bainbridge and a few others just to see what is being featured, and offering a comment or two here and there, I have no desire to host my own thoughts in expanded form. A sarcastic broadside here or there is really all I can muster -- it's just too painful otherwise.

But because Karen was so gracious in asking me for my thoughts, here ten current thoughts, in no particular order or clarity:

1. I believe that George Bush is a very decent man with a strong character who has not lied to the American people about anything, much less something as grave and horrible as the reasons we went to war in Iraq. I think people who genuinely believe that are deranged and cynical.

2. I believe that too many people in Washington D. C. have begun to forget how insane and committed to our destruction muslim extremists are, and therefore fail to appreciate that we must win the war against them by any means necessary.

3. I believe that the very freedoms that make our Country great are those that pose the greatest threat to our survival in today's world. Freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and the right to a fair trial will be the trojan horses through which extremists and haters of America will continue to succeed in murdering innocent Americans, here and around the world.

4. I believe that the minority party in Congress will say and do anything, without conscience, to defame and destroy their enemies in the majority, solely for the purpose of regaining power.

5. I believe that very few and select members of the majority party have exceeded the appropriate use of their own power, against their own people and their opponents, in pursuit of certain issues on their agenda that are not shared by a majority of Americans -- all to the eventual erosion (or loss) of that majority.

6. I believe that Jack Ambrahamoff's activities in regard to the wholesale bipartisan purchasing of United States Senators for the purpose of interfering in the process of Native American gaming interests is the most pervasive and corrupt practice since the Savings & Loan scandal of the 1980's.

7. I believe that, until every single voter who bothers to go to the polls takes the time to look hard behind the names of the people on the ballot, the American public will continue to get what they deserve in their state and federal legislative representation -- mediocrity, intellectual sloth and duplicity.

8. I believe that public corruption expands and increases in direct proportion to the length of time an officer holder remains in office. Therefore, I believe in term limits, and only wish that they were self-imposed; but I am not a complete idiot, so, see #7.

9. I believe that no person should be allowed to be Mayor of a major metropolitan city (like, say, Boston) for more than two terms.

10. I believe my blood pressure is up ten points from the beginning of this list.

That is all. Thank you for listening. Now back to the cartoons, Inblognito, Feisty and Velociworld.

Damned If You Don't

Bro here makes a an obvious, if clever, point about what "we" should expect of our judicial nominees.

It seems now that the left isn't happy with judicial candidates who haven't worn their political stripes proudly on their sleeves; and yet now they're all in a dither when one such candidate wears stripes that aren't a color of their liking(blue).

It is too much to ask of any highly intelligent, accomplished and experienced lawyer that he have absolutely no political persuasion. How would we regard a candidate who avowed proudly that, in preparation for a potential lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, he had steadfastly eschewed any involvement in the political process and in fact had never voted once in his adult life? I think we would look at him with a jaundiced eye, and well we should.

The holding of strong political beliefs should not be a red flag that raises the spectre of a filibuster, as was so fatuously suggested by Joe Biden yesterday on Fox News Sunday (only a few weeks after he assured the nation that should not happen). This is especially the case where the political views at issue were stated over twenty years ago.

What matters is that there is a comfortable assurance that a candidate is capable of laying aside his or her personal beliefs in the application and interpretation of the Constitution and prior case law.

No one (with a shred of intellectual honesty) who has had any interaction with Judge Alito suggests anything but that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Utility of a Good Education

A young Kentucky boy goes off to college; but about 1/3 way through the semester, he has foolishly squandered what money his parents gave him (now there's a surprise!).Then he gets an idea.

He calls his daddy. "Dad," he says, "you won't believe the wonders that modern education are coming up with! Why, they actually have a program here that will teach Ole Blue how to talk!"

"That's absolutely amazing!" his father says. "How do I get him in that program?"

"Just send him down here with $1000," the boy says, "I'll get him into the course."

So, his father sends the dog and the $1000. About 2/3 way through the semester, the money runs out. The boy calls his father again.

"So how's Ole Blue doing, son?" his father asks.

"Awesome, dad, he's talking up a storm," he says, "but you just won't believe this! They've had such good results with this program, that they've implemented a new one to teach the animals how to READ!"

"READ!?" says his father, "No kidding! What do I have to do to get him in that program?"

"Just send $2,500, I'll get him in the class. "

His father sends the money. Now the boy has a real problem. At the end of the year, his father will find out that the dog can neither talk nor read.

So he shoots the dog.

When he gets home, his father is all excited.

"Where's Ole Blue? I just can't wait to see him talk and read something!"

"Dad," the boy says, "I have some grim news. This morning, when I got out of the shower, Ole Blue was in the living room kicking back in the recliner, reading the morning paper, like he usually does. Then he turned to me and asked, 'So, is your daddy still messin' around with that little redhead who lives on Oak Street?' "

The father says, "I hope you SHOT that son-of-a bitch before he talks to your Mother!"

"I sure did, Dad!"

"That's my boy!!!"

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Making Fun of Madmen

There is something about cartooning and caricature that makes it easier for us to feel hatred toward vile, unhuman madmen, don't you think?

To reflect on what people like Al-Zargawi are doing tends to make us angry and desire revenge or feel helpless.

To delight in the lampooning of such a madman takes away some of the ugly feelings, at least momentarily.

The portrait of Khomeini is great, too.

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