Paul From Minneapolis

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What do pro-choice believers make of something like this?

Conservative moral activist (among other things) Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review points to an LA Times article about a mission-driven abortion provider who believes he’s giving women their lives back in relieving them of desperately unwanted pregnancies. He strives to relieve them of guilt they may feel, and seems to succeed sometimes:

"The last patient of the day, a 32-year-old college student named Stephanie, has had four abortions in the last 12 years. She keeps forgetting to take her birth control pills. Abortion 'is a bummer,' she says, 'but no big stress.'"

Is that kind of attitude an inherently undesirable thing? Is it more than undesirable; is it some kind of immoral or sinful? And if so, why? Would that strong an opinion depend on a perception that the aborted fetus is actually some kind of human life? Finally, less subjectively, how common is this young woman's attitude, or something like it; something in the same cavalier direction?

I don’t know. Although an opening bid of “extremely rare” I would confidently see and raise.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Kindred Spirit at Huffington Post

A comment way down – comment 37, I think, by “juandimensional” and addressed to “oops” – is marvelous. It puts current travails into historical perspective. I've insisted many times to my friend Steve that the left forgets to do that. And yet he's stil my friend. (Another way of phrasing it is, the left tends to perceive a country that doesn't include itself, or even what might be called the left impulse in nearly everyone.)

Juandimenstional provides a nice quote from “The Mikado:"

"Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, All centuries but this, and every country but his own..."

Mr. dimensional has the grace to distance himself from the word “idiot” in that quote. I wouldn’t have done that, and I defer to Juan’s superior approach.

You don't really need to read the original post to get the comment, by the way. You can if you want. I wouldn't.

"We are completely morally correct..."

"...and therefore unbound by normal political morality." To paraphrase, of course.

Just an example. And proof of the mindset I go on and and on and on about. Unremarkable; to its adherents it's like taking a breath to think the way John Cusack thinks. Again, via The Corner.

The interview is in the Chicago Tribune, requiring registration. It's filled with insights, like this one concerning turning 40: "What I like about this age is that I'm a lot less stupid..."

Yeah, that's what I thought too.

This may be a call for a different president

And not so much a call for fireside chats, as Mary Laney of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests. But I agree with her. (via The Corner.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I'm Gone

...until the weekend. Trying to blog on dial-up is like pushing a rope uphill, plus I have nothing to say.

It's funny how things that seem so intense and crucial in the course of my everyday life lose some luster when I just walk away from it all for a while. As I gaze at mashed potatoes and gravy and hear the din of relatives over at the big people's table, I return to an old suspicion: that I want my tombstone to say something other than, "He was really pissed at 'the left' for the longest time. Kept going on and on about 'the left.' Wouldn't shut up about it. Man." (I'm counting on a pretty big tombstone.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Josh Marshall Says Something of Note this post, about the story floating around that Bush either joked about or actually pseudo-seriously recommended bombing Al-Jazeera, back in 2004, during a conversation with Tony Blair:

"Six months, not to mention a year ago, I think there's little reason to believe a paper like the Post would have touched such a story..."

Yes, that seems right. The 2004 election coverage, for example.

"Let's all get together, gang, and maybe we can pull ol' W through! Huzzah! Huzzah!"

The press has grown jaded since then, though. And thank God for that.

“Vikings: Surly attitudes bring benefits.”

“Point to domination of Gascony ‘as early as 844.’”

(The headline is on the front page of the Strib site right now. It isn't really about those Vikings.)

Not So Funny Girl

Not so lots of other things, too. Barbra Streisand writes a letter to the LA Times:

"So although the number of contributors to your Op-Ed pages may have increased, in firing Scheer and hiring columnists such as Jonah Goldberg, the gamut of voices has undeniably been diluted. "

But - but - but - but - but - okay. Barbra, as Jonah G says: Robert Scheer didn't chellenge your own views. He did not require you to "stretch beyond your own paradigm," as you assure us all people in Los Angeles "desire" to do. Jonah Goldberg does do that. So from your own perspective, isn't your point simply, well, paradigm-constrained? Not to say stupid?

(The link above is to Jonah G's NRO Corner post that contains her letter; here's the original at the Times, which requires registration.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Still Suspect Economic Growth as Currently Conceived Has a Corrosive Quality

But that has almost nothing to do with the current state of politics, the topic upon which this old post isn't completely valueless. Some might call it "ad hominem." I just mean it as a way to think about things.

I Digress

I was writing and stumbled on a reason to make reference to John Speake, the man sent to find Sir Richard Burton, African Explorer, who was off searching for the source of the Nile but had been gone so long that people were beginning to wonder.

Naturally I wanted to beef things up web-style, using a link to explain Speake.

I couldn’t find one. I found oblique references, but no page that simply explained him. I was surprised. I mean after all, the guy was a main character in a PBS docudrama. Yes, that's right. A PBS docudrama and the internet has nothing.

I went to Amazon. Surely there’s a biography? From the old days? No. Not that I could see.

A market failure, I would say.

I did find “Literature of Travel and Exploration,” edited by Jennifer Speake, available in hardcover for $495 (four hundred and ninety-five dollars) from Oxford University Press. Is she a great-great-granddaughter? I wonder. And might she consider a re-pricing strategy? The book’s never been customer-reviewed. I think that “speaks” for itself.

(Sir Richard Burton was a truly amazing guy of course. There are several Burton bios, like this one, reasonably-priced at $4.75. Is it any good? “A waste of paper,” says Dennis Todd of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. "Less than 1-100th as good as "Literature of Travel and Exploration." Okay, I added that. But evidently pricing isn’t all one should consider.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm Paul. I'm from Minneapolis. This is my story.

Or a little bit of it anyway. I spent the weekend in Wisconsin, for a surprise birthday party for my wife's brother, who shall remain nameless. He’s fifty, so really: someone should get around to naming him. But we all had a fantastic time in spite of it.

Anyway, it seems there are now scattered relatives, wife category, aware of and reading these jottings when they can think of nothing better to do. Meaning hypothetically at least, my readership has expanded again.

Like the “Uncle Norm” who leaves a surprisingly aggressive poem-comment on the post below. Very amusing, Norm. So let me explain: I write notes in longhand, and chaos follows in my wake. I won't deny it. And the harder I try, the worse it gets!

Or Uncle Larry, who is somewhat Republican-ey, it’s fair to conjecture. I sent him the link a few months ago and never heard back. So now here he was describing his perceptions of me to a grouping of aunts: “Well, I always assumed this guy was basically a pretty liberal thinker, but then I see wow! This guy is waay right!”

Oh am I. So: I sense a renewed responsibility to be purposeful and clear, or at least less slapdash and even irritating. Thus I believe I’m going to write something explaining my ‘basic perspective.’ It can’t be too long. But it would be a good idea.

In the meantime, this recent post hints at what drives me, like Tiger Woods is consumed with surpassing Nicklaus. The “Strib,” for the uninitiated, is the Star-Tribune, Newspaper of the Twin Cities, where the editorial page is managed by berserkers.

Then this, not by me, has taken on a basic reference role. It’s long. It’s not 100% correct. Like I’ve said before, it’s just a turn of the kaleidoscope on who has power and who abuses it. (Hint: it's not me. Unless abusive penmanship counts.)

Now it’s back to my life, which for the foreseeable future will involve nothing at all but a search for a replacement humidifier belt, furnace drum type, suitable for an Autoflo #2500 or #200P or even, if you can believe it, #200EP.

Update: Got the belt. Found a business called "Grainger" that supplies things like that. A friendly, intrigued and stubborn 800-number woman had to search for ten minutes on her computer. (There are, I believe, three of us in the Twin Cities still relying on what is evidently the Model-T of furnace humidifiers.) And, they have a warehouse with a retail sideline just minutes south of me. And, they were able through electronics to guarantee the part would be waiting for me, which it was and there was no line, and they were cheap (I bought two). And - they sell Airflo products and are committed to having this very belt, furnace drum type and all, for 15 years at least!

To make a long story short, that should have been shorter. But there you have it.

Oh: one of the links was screwed up - mistakes were made - but now it's fixed.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Take A Letter Maria

For example, take this letter here:


Cheney's cloud of lies

Vice President Dick Cheney says the critics of the Bush administration and its steps leading up to the war with Iraq are employing a "dishonest and reprehensible" political ploy.

What then would Cheney call his own interview on "Meet the Press"? He claimed to have "proof positive" that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons and the capability of delivering those weapons to the United States. He warned America that we could not wait for the "mushroom cloud" before we decide to act.


I'm leaving for the weekend. But there is a scrumptious smörgasbörd of entry points here: what Cheney said, when he said it, what else he said the same day, the Strib's honorable policy of keeping falsehoods out of letters, the ways they evade that policy, and the fact this guy is from Northfield, home to St. Olaf College, Carleton Collgee, the late Paul Wellstone and where everyone is very well read, it's well known.

But I gotta go now.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I'm The House

You're the bettor
Lay a wager
"They will print your letter."

We wait a bit, results are in:
The House always wins.

A State of War

In essence, over-simplistically, that phrase is what I perceive most Democratic senators as having enthusiastically accepted, with regard to our new attitude toward Hussein in the period after 9-11. This was in 2001 and 2002, especially, before the Iraq debate really heated up.

They were saying, to my ears, that in this new era, considering the nature of the threat and considering Hussein, the era of "permanent dithering" was no longer acceptable; and neither was the long-term presence of the Hussein & Sons regime.

Rockefeller's comment about the concept of imminence being "outdated" got me, since it seems part of that acceptance. Whether there's a way to say that's not what he meant, for the moment I don't care; I'm trying to develop an idea this has kicked me into developing.

My readership awaits; she seems like a fine person so I don't want to delay forever.

Here's a letter I just sent the Strib that deals with the topic:

It’s been clear for months and years that the administration can fairly be accused of excessive certainty on the WMD issue. And what’s beginning to occur now, the debate on “did they provide all the intelligence,” is an extension of that, and necessary. And that discussion will happen; oh boy will it happen.

Here’s what won’t happen: an honest discussion by the left of the effect introducing uncertainty would have and should have had on the war decision. Keeping in mind that nearly every Democratic senator had unflinchingly agreed with the notion, after 9-11, that the long-term survival of the Hussein & Sons regime was not acceptable. That is, they’d accepted that after 9-11, permanent dithering was no longer an option.

And keeping in mind as well that word “uncertainty:” that we never would have known he had no weapons. We would have had a suspicion, only that, that we were dealing with a disguised, murky, well-nigh-invisible and certainly tactical destruction of weapons stocks by Hussein; in the context of a permanently-withering and corrupt (we now know) inspections and sanctions regime.

In short, we won’t have a left capable of separating their anger at W from an honest discussion of our national interests, and the interests of the Iraqis, then and now.

(You perhaps note, dear reader, my re-use of phrases from posts at comment boards; and the phrase "permanent dithering" appears twice here. I acknowledge that flaw.)

So what this intoduces, I guess, is "the other storyline" in viewing the Iraq war debate: the idea that another source of disingenuity and dishonesty was on the left, and involved a refusal to live up to the implications of their own brave stated beliefs after 9-11.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

There Have Been Complaints (see previous post)

But I've got it all figured out. More later.

I realize this is sort of Josh Marshally, this big promise of exciting stuff just over the horizon which may or may not pan out. But it's not that big. It's just that, you know, I've got it all figured out, as I say. Within a somewhat limited concept of "all." That should go without saying.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11th, that question is increasingly outdated."

So said Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., on October 10, 2002 (via Captain's Quarters).

Everybody seems to be focusing on Rockefeller saying the threat was imminent, and that's understandable, that focus, since it is a description W never used.

But I'm more interested in the second half of the statement - how the question is "increasingly outdated."

Because it's exactly what I think, and always thought. And it comes very close to being the argument I wish W had made from the beginning. At least, made more explicitly; I believe he was trying to make it in his way all along.

And here's what gets me about a guy like Jay, atwittering on these days that he was misled into the war, he never would have supported it had he only known how full of lies W was:

The question of imminence was "outdated," Jay. Irrelevant. Remember? The nature of the threat, the overarching situation and what we should put up with from an asshole like Hussein went much, much deeper than that, after 9-11. Remember, Jay? Jay? Remember?

Of course, it's always possible that Jay really, deeply, truly believes that Hussein had totally, throughly disarmed, psychologically as well as tactically; and never, ever intended to pursue these kinds of weapons ever again. And it was only the lies of warmonger W that kept Jay from seeing how silly he was to perceive Hussein, even with his 12 years of lies and payments to terrorists and hostings of really quite militant Popular Islamic Conferences and all such side issues, as a threat in a larger sense that we could not ignore anymore.

Can you imagine how bad Jay must feel, if that's the case? I mean, poor Hussein - and poor Jay! To have the lies of W lead to such deep misunderstanding, and to keep apart these two fine men who really should have been - dammit, yes, friends!

Is it too late? It may be. That's the tragedy here. Even a gift, a token - an occasional chair for a rape room; a three-pack of size 48 Jockey® shorts - might be insufficient at this point...

Chris Wallace: "But you voted, sir, and aren't you responsible for your vote?"

Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va.: "No."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Got a 40 and a 42-incher this morning."

So said the jovial guy on the western wind-protected side of Lake Harriet an hour ago, just south of the bandshell in the photo. A group of six or seven bundled-up Minnesotans together, men, women and kids, spread out on the constructed rock bank. Throwing 10-inch suckers 75 feet, out past the weedline on this urban lake.

I've done this kind of fishing. It's actually a skill to recognize a hit, and then to take advantage. It's easy to screw up. But boy, it sure does seem like the way to catch muskies, especially in the late fall, when they're serious about stocking up for winter.

(Muskies are really, really hard to catch, in case you didn't know. Or always have been. My Great Uncle Art spent decades fishing for muskies and caught two over 30 inches his entire life. Which was enough. More than enough. When you think of the Cubs, another potential Chicagoland passion, his success rate was phenomenal. And not atypical, to give Uncle Art his due. This was a lonely pursuit and he accomplished it twice.)

Lake Harriet is not a big lake, and can't contain all that many muskies. They're territorial to an extent, especially the big ones. The lake gets a lot of pressure. You'd think the Lake Harriet muskies would be getting more wary.

But it doesn't seem to be happening. The guy's wife missed a hit as I was standing there. (They said it wasn't my fault.) "Harry catches a muskie a day off the Rose Garden!"

The Lake Harriet muskies could be a test of a theory: catch-and-release muskie fishing, which, thanks to groups like this, has become nearly universal, might lead to the emergence of muskies that could really give a damn. "Oh's, it's this. Oh no. You fooled a fish, congratulations."

We know they get used to lures. They can probably get used to anything. When they stop fighting, won't we just begin to feel foolish?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why I Am Not a Liberal #6,598

Words from the martyr Mary Mapes, Sixty Minutes ex-producer, again via Powerline (yes I range far for my raw material, the better to serve you the reader):

"On Web sites such as Powerline, INDC Journal, Allahpundit, and Spacetownusa, the bravehearts of the blogging world worked anonymously in what appeared to be huge numbers, in unison, to destroy the Bush-Guard story, to uphold one another's wild and hateful claims, to outshout, outargue, and outblog anyone who dared to disagree. "

The left accuses the right of rank dishonesty, and of employing hateful, vilifying language and tactics. I say: Left, there it is, right there. Soak in it. Taste it. Realize it. Know it.

I do have a mind that multiplies the smallest matter, of course.

Update: A good string of amazed, bemused comments here. I gather her book provides quite a supply of direct and specific nonsense to back up the generalized carpet-bombing nonsense like the above. I'd guess, with all due respect, that for the majority of well-read liberals roundabout these parts, the simply fact of a Mapes response seemingly on substance will be enough. This will be how they think about it now.

If this gets covered, of course. It's not a hot story anymore. Will it make its way in via The Nation? Kos? Book readings? Solemn gatherings at houses of worship?

Why I Am A Conservative or Am I?

From Powerline today, in a recommendation of a book concerning the Iranian hostage episode:

"Given his position with the student group, Bowden surmises that (current Iranian president) Ahmadinejad was one of its ringleaders. Moreover, he was identified as one of the group's ringleaders by every one of the dozen or so hostage takers Bowden interviewed in Tehran... Thus Iran not only presents one of the greatest threats to American security in the world. The United States has a debt of honor to settle with its odious president."

"Hm," I go. Do we? Or would that be playing the part of a still-pissed-at-the-Colonies, powder-boy poofta member of the House of Lords in 1817? Could be. On the other hand, perhaps it's more like this guy.

If I don't turn back, I'll try to land at least somewhere in between the two possibilities. That'd be okay. Some of those dessicated, gap-toothed landed royals aren't such bad guys I'll bet! (But I kid the landed monarchy, of course.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

(Work In Progress)

Sunday morning, and a pleasant one it is in Minneapolis. A little damp early, but now the sun is breaking through and it’s chilly but a nice warm chilly, maybe 43. Hey, there’s a bank thermometer: 43! (I have a knack.) So I’m out for a drive, heading up the west side of Lake Calhoun. Slate blue, and shining black tree trunks with a few red leaves. Looks like we’re in for a swell November.

What’s this guy in front of me doing? Oh! He’s stopping. For a young mother in spandex with a baby in a stroller, set to go running and rolling on the lake path. The very essence of south Minneapolis: the mom, the baby, the spandex, the mandated crosswalk stopping…

Of course this isn’t a completely cost-free project time-wise.

The woman (an alert sort already waiting for our cars to pass, so there was little inherent danger, thank God) paused to make sure this gentleman was actually stopping. So I have to confess, and it galls me to admit it: there was a twinge of impatience. In me. Am I anti-spandex-mom-and-baby? No, goodness, no. The entire exchange took all of thirteen seconds, from slow-down to acceleration. With maybe – again, I quantify quickly, who knows why, I always have – six of those seconds taken up with the woman waiting before walking.

And I suppose from our point of view, we stopped drivers whether voluntary or no, maybe tack on four seconds as we got ourselves back up to speed. I forgot that.

So at most, it cost me and this “No War On Iraq” fellow (around here they sell cars with the sticker already affixed) maybe 17 seconds. For a total of 34 seconds lost, there being the two of us. What could be more trivial.

And consider the gains from the other side. Had mother been forced to wait for us to pass (we were the only two cars in sight), that might have taken up as many as four seconds! So now she only had to wait six seconds to walk, instead of four! See?

So I can’t see that it matters, the increased pollution that will result from 34 seconds of idling cars. And the quarter minute of lost time for each of us.

Still, I had to chuckle. Because by luck when the citizen ahead of me hit full stop, his car’s rear end came to rest just far enough back that I was utterly unable to make the turn I had intended into a parking lot (it’s a shortcut I know). A matter of inches. Funny, really, when you think about it. Not the guy’s fault at all, of course, and had he moved closer than 15 feet to the cross-walking Madonna with child, they might have been startled. That would be bad.

So it was a relaxed and mellow Sunday and I continued on my way, not even becoming angry when I just missed the long, long light at the other end of my timesaver secret path. Oh well! Look, it’s 44 now!

(It’s about a seventeen-minute light, so that gets added on I could argue, if I wanted to, which I don’t.)

After reflection, I reconciled the episode in my mind with a few overlapping conclusions and observations offered for peer review. As ever, further research is required:

- Pedestrian crosswalk laws can be a fine idea.

- They seem never to be followed universally, and unless they are, any gain in pedestrian security is perhaps less than it might be.

- In fact St. Paul’s dominant quaint commercial strip features harsh fluorescent sandwich board crosswalk law reminders in the middle of the street and is a time bomb. Were the stop-always-for-all-pedestrian laws actually obeyed, the result would be a flood of career-destroying rear-enders. Or at least a lot more local pollution. That seems guaranteed. The neighborhood would be characterized by idling Volvos. Granted, on the plus side, there would be the extra time afforded bystanders to take in the idea that Peace Is Patriotic.

- So are the laws bad ideas? Good ideas? I’m not sure. One would need to tote up the direct and indirect ramifications of every such situation.

- Or at least think about it.

- Which I’m not convinced the citizen activists and city planners who promote these laws necessarily do.

Am I willing to go all the way and posit that the main benefit and intent of these laws is in fact the mandated opportunity it gives us all to genuflect toward pedestrians? Like we would bow to a Cardinal in a hallway at the Vatican, especially if we’re just some schmuck, which I am?

Maybe not. And the guy in front of me, he was just following the law. A law that not everybody follows, but he chose to. Meaning that we both followed another law, a law that is always followed no matter what. It’s that one about Unintended Consequences. (I’ll leave it to you to multiply 34 seconds times 40,000; reasoning available upon request.)

By the way, mom was already in great shape, so I’m not sure she even needed to go running. But of course that’s her decision. The baby was like me, he just had to go along with whatever.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Poem To The Day

Don’t be careless with
Dazzling days like today
You just never know

(I'm counting "dazzling" as three syllables.)

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Much like the day that recently occurred in Madison, Wisconsin, 200 miles southeast of here. Saturday, I believe it was.

Ann Althouse is quite a woman, by the way. A law prof there. Anyone looking to dip a toe into a far more skillful and embracing take on thinking similar to my own could do worse than to wander around Ann for a while.

Those Weird Riots In Paris

You know, those riots described quite carefully on BBC International last night as involving "people" and "youths" and "immigrants."

Roger L. Simon muses about them today, from the perspective of his own small experience in the largely Muslim ghetto-suburbs of Paris. "There cannot be 'no-go' areas in the republic," says a government spokeman. "But there are," says Roger:

"When I visited the banlieu a couple of years back, I didn't see one gendarme. I was told they were frightened to go in there. I can't blame them. I was too. I have been in Ramallah and the back streets of Cairo and I was more tense in Monfleury."

Of course, we have areas not entirely dissimilar over here. But our neighborhoods are not identified as Muslim. The angry young men are not adherents of angry Islam. So we're okay. Right?

Update: Is it fair to assume a primarily Islamic tinge to these riots, based on the participants being primarily Muslim? Maybe they're just good ol' poor person affairs, featuring persons who happen to be Muslim. It's a decent question. Yet I think it's fair to suspect something else, and the simultaneous disturbances in Holland may provide some evidence that way (via Little Green Footballs): "The police has to stay away. This is our area. We decide what goes down here."

Yet a Glenn Reynolds reader thinks the French version could become something more, absorbing other sources of rage and frustration in a country prone to periodic explosions. In a strange way that might be healthy. (I'm reaching for sunshine there, I acknowledge.) (But that's just my nature!)