wJeremiads
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wTuesday, September 30, 2003


WURD: Merriam-Webster Online has a Word of the Day feature. The entry for September 30 is near and dear to my cold black heart. Drumroll please:

The Word of the Day for September 30 is:

jeremiad • \jeh-ruh-MY-ud\ • noun
: a prolonged lamentation or complaint; also : a cautionary or angry harangue

Example sentence:
Mrs. Whinge waggled a finger at us and launched into a doleful jeremiad about how we would come to no good end.

Did you know?
Jeremiah was a naysayer. That Jewish prophet, who lived from about 650 to 570 B.C., spent his days lambasting the Hebrews for their false worship and social injustice and denouncing the king for his selfishness, materialism, and inequities. When not calling on his people to quit their wicked ways, he was lamenting his own lot; a portion of the Old Testament's Book of Jeremiah is devoted to his "confessions," a series of lamentations on the hardships endured by a prophet with an unpopular message. Nowadays, English speakers use "Jeremiah" for a pessimistic person and "jeremiad" for the way these Jeremiahs carry on. The word "jeremiad" was actually borrowed from the French, who coined it as "jérémiade."

posted by Jeremy at 7:05 PM


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HOW 'BOUT A 'DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT' LIST?: Spectator super intern Shawn Macomber has produced a second piece for the website. This one is on the spanking the national Do Not Call list has been taking in the courts:

The feds were incredulous. Once again, the Constitution was standing in the way of a perfectly good photo-op and a crowd-pleasing constituent mailing. "I do not believe that our Constitution dictates such an illogical result," Federal Trade Commission Chairman Timothy Muris said. "To the contrary, our Constitution allows consumers to choose not to receive commercial telemarketing calls." Senator Charles Schumer called the ruling "goofy." He expounded, "Fifty million people can't all be wrong"

To which the only possible response is, Oh yes they can. About many things. Several times a day. One problem with a federal Do Not Call registry is that it is none of the federal government's business. It's an expansion of government powers -- albeit a wildly popular expansion of the government's powers -- that was never conceived in the text or spirit of this nation's founding documents.

But never mind that; by pressing forward with the Do Not Call registry, the federal government may have insured that people's shake and bake dinners will be interrupted for years to come. In fact, 37 states already had their own Do Not Call registries, which were functioning well enough. In states that don't have a list, consumers could simply ask to be put on telemarketers' own Do Not Call lists. Until last week, these could provide some measure of protection against nuisance calls. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 6:33 AM


wSunday, September 28, 2003


SUNDAY SILLINESS: Let's see if I can get this to work. The first is another cartoon by Dave Munger. The second is a regular strip by a guy named Ryan Higgins (the website is here):





posted by Jeremy at 9:33 PM


wSaturday, September 27, 2003


BURN THIS BLOG: Chris Mooney has completely redesigned his website. The blog part of it includes a link to this site with the tagline, "The case for book burning."

New readers may scratch their heads at that one. He's referring to a piece by yours truly in the March 2002 issue of Reason in which I argued that, in a liberal democracy, book burning promotes free speech. The hook was a public book burning of the latest Harry Potter novel at a fundy church in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and the protest it drew:

Upward of 800 demonstrators -- including a coalition of Unitarians, Pagans, Democrats, Methodists, Presbyterians, and one Adolf Hitler impersonator -- protested the wanton destruction of best-selling literature. (Other items burned included J.R.R. Tolkein novels and the works of Shakespeare.) As the 400 members of the Christ Community Church put flame to paper in a private ceremony, one agitator held up a sandwich board sign that read "'God' hates book burners," and another claimed to have surreptitiously saved a Stephen King novel from the flames.

Many of the demonstrators said that the book burning reminded them of Fahrenheit 451, the Taliban’s destruction of ancient Buddha statues, and similar acts of cultural repression. The protesters could draw on a long, sad string of historic precedents by which to denounce the event. Even John Calvin, that great exponent of Christian liberty, famously forced his godless opponents to burn their own books publicly in order to escape execution.

But to characterize the book burning as a serious threat to free expression, as several demonstrators and many outside commentators did, is to misunderstand completely how such actions resonate in contemporary America. The United States has certain features built into its legal framework, including theoretically inviolable property rights and freedoms of speech and the press, that make it very difficult for would-be Ayatollahs to coerce the rejection of certain writings or ideas. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 11:00 AM


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WHAT DAVE MUNGER'S BEEN UP TO:



posted by Jeremy at 10:51 AM


wFriday, September 26, 2003


WHAT I LEARNED FROM NICK GILLESPIE: Last night, at the AFF happy hour, I found myself sitting at a table with a bunch of people, including an occasionally tetchy German with a passion for opera and political theory. When I took my leave for the evening, we shook hands and then, well...

HIM: Nice meeting you. Get over that religious thing.

ME: Yeah, it was fun. Get over that Eurotrash thing.

posted by Jeremy at 7:02 AM


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INTERNS, WE'VE GOT INTERNS: And they write articles. New kid on the block Shawn Macomber turns in a piece on the Democratic "house parties" sprouting up all over New Hampshire. After mixing it up with finger-pointing socialites, Brooks Brothers-wearing Marxists, and John Edwards, he delivers an imaginary rant "straight from the trailer parks" and then closes with this:

As I said, it was an impulse I suppressed, usually by tearing into an assortment of crackers and cheese. After all, I needed the income that stringing provided. For all their talk of equality, the rich may be different from the rest of us in one very important way: They can afford to say any old thing that comes out of their mouths. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 6:51 AM


wWednesday, September 24, 2003


DANCING BEARS AND LIPSTICK LESBIANS, OH MY: Well, yesterday's Spectator had an unintentional animal theme. My piece was titled Send in the Dancing Bears and old Reportster Kevin Michael Grace weighed in with And They Call it Puppy Love. I like my title better but KMG's article was definitely the better, and more original, of the two. Read his first -

Gay-Yee's favorite color is red. Eos' favorite food is Thai green curry. Haylie's favorite animal is a "poodie cat" named Moo Shoo. Tania's favorite color is blue. Gay-Yee, Eos, Haylie, and Tania, in case you hadn't guessed, are members of a string quartet. They are called bond. bond's collective likes include lipstick lesbian posturing; collective dislikes include being photographed wearing clothes. The bond girls are, if Decca Records has anything to say about it, the future of classical music.

Some old fogies, such as those at CIN, the organization that administers the British record charts, disagree. bond's first recording, born, reached No. 2 on the British classical album chart, before anyone at CIN discovered it is actually disco music. bond is no more "classical" than the Electric Light Orchestra's "Roll Over Beethoven" or Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven." [more]

- and if you have time, take a look at my take on those crazy Californians:

Oy. The full ninth circuit has now reversed the ruling of three of its more creative members and allowed the October 7 statewide California recall election to proceed as scheduled. Punch card voting, it turns out, is not a violation of civil rights. This came as a relief to the hundreds of thousands of voters who had already cast absentee ballots.

And, if we needed any evidence that the three ring circus had resumed, Darrell Issa, bankroller of the recall campaign, has now come out against his own effort, unless one of the two Republicans does the gentlemanly thing and fall on his own sword. In the current divided field, the election of hated lieutenant governor Cruz "what Chicano activists?" Bustamante is a real possibility.

But the choice of who should go is almost Solomonic in its complexity. As Matt Welch, associate editor of the Los Angeles-based Reason magazine, observed yesterday, this election is functionally a part of the local Republican civil war that has raged since the primaries of 2002, when both the local Democrats and the national GOP wouldn't butt out and let the local elephants make up their own minds. The Bush-backed establishmentarian Richard Riordan was trounced by the conservative political neophyte Bill Simon, who then went on to narrowly lose to Davis in the general. Massive recriminations followed.
[more]

posted by Jeremy at 11:37 PM


wMonday, September 22, 2003


CRASHING THE PARTY: The Spectator today has a piece that I'm proud to have had a small part in. It's a Johnny-on-the-spot analysis of the recent Cancun anti-globo protests by my friend Thomas Pearson:

Cancun -- Activists from all over the world converged on this Mexican resort town to protest the latest meeting of the World Trade Organization. Self-styled anarchists in black balaclavas mingled with third world farmers, paid union activists, and American college student Indymedia types with cellphones. Press estimates put their numbers as high as 150,000, but by the time I arrived Thursday, on the second day of talks, the anniversary of September 11, the crowd must have shrunk considerably -- maybe 15,000 still agitated for change. One taxi driver said that though these protesters were bad, they were nowhere near as crazy as the Spring Break crowd, which was ironic, considering that these illegitimate spawn of Che Guevera actually meant to take it to the streets. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 7:16 AM


wSunday, September 21, 2003


BACK: Well, Isabel knocked out the power in my townhouse, but we had a backup generator. Internet finally came back this morning. And all is well.

posted by Jeremy at 2:09 PM


wThursday, September 18, 2003


HEH:



posted by Jeremy at 10:24 AM


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GAME CALLED ON ACCOUNT OF THE PARK BLOWING AWAY: From my column this week:

They tell me that Isabel may be extreme even by D.C. standards. Virginia declared a state of emergency. The local schools have pre-emptively closed and the Metro will shut down at 11 a.m. today in anticipation of the flooding. Utilities are preparing for massive power outages. Store shelves are being emptied of non-perishable food, candles, and boards even as I type. Employees of the Spectator have been advised to fend for ourselves and most of us have decided to do that fending from home. We've become the de facto equivalent of the federal workforce, which too has been told to take the day off.

posted by Jeremy at 1:20 AM


wWednesday, September 17, 2003


SCHOOL'S OUT: I love the opening of this Heather Roscoe piece in today's Spectator:

For the children of Marysville, Washington, school ought to have started on Tuesday, September 2nd. Something feels inexplicably wrong now, more than a week later, when one drives through the main hub of the city. In much of the state, kids are busy in school learning their ABC's and how to put condoms on bananas, but in Marysville, in the middle of the day, a curly haired high school boy darts through traffic on his bike. A startlingly purple, dual exhaust Chevy truck, complete with hack-sawed suspension crammed with pimply high school boys, growls down State Street past a teenage couple stopped on a bridge for an impromptu make out session. These kids are bored. [more]


posted by Jeremy at 10:19 AM


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WHY TWO THIRDS OF SEATTLEITES AREN'T SO CRAZY: From the Seattle Times:

Whether it was love of latte or a belief that it was the wrong way to pay for day care and preschool, , Seattle's Initiative 77 was soundly defeated last night.

By more than 2-to-1, voters rejected a 10-cent-a-cup tax on espresso drinks, ending a local debate and, perhaps, national amusement over whether Seattle would put a surcharge on its beloved beverage. [more}



posted by Jeremy at 10:16 AM


wMonday, September 15, 2003


WHY SEATTLEITES ARE CRAZY: Tech Central Station has a piece by yours truly today on how the latte levy, in addition to being evil, may not add up to a huge windfall for the children:

[I]f preschool did make an important difference, I-77 still wouldn't make a huge dent. Supporters expect the levy will raise $7-10 million a year, but those figures are somewhat optimistic, to say the least. The city of Seattle estimates a much smaller windfall ($1.8-3.4 million). And the city's estimate may be over-optimistic yet, because it doesn't factor in things that could change espresso drinkers' buying patterns.

To wit, drinkers with limited pocket change may prefer one venti to two talls. For those who can choose between buying espresso coffee in Seattle or in the surrounding suburbs, the financial incentives will shift ever so slightly. Since drip coffee is a) cheaper and b) not subject to the espresso tax, well, there's more than one way to deliver the drug of choice of tens of thousands of Seattleites. Also, for reasons I'll explain shortly, there may soon be significantly fewer outlets in the Emerald City at which lattes may be purchased, further crimping sales and tax revenues.

Purely attitudinal factors may also work to drive down latte tax revenues. In an earlier digression on this topic, I joked about the "angry latte sipping male" demographic. But the reality of mass tax protests in Seattle is quite startling. A lot of latte drinkers and coffee shop owners are mad as hell and will be very, very reluctant to fork over the dime per cup that the referendum requires. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 9:42 AM


wSunday, September 14, 2003


CONVERSATION OVERHEARD IN MY HOME:

She: So what are you listening to?

Me: Pearl Jam.

She: That's because you're Jeremy the Wicked.

Me: That's KING Jeremy the Wicked.

posted by Jeremy at 4:54 PM


wSaturday, September 13, 2003


WHERE ARE MY MANNERS?: Another fellow blogger/writer whom I met last weekend was Eric Dixon. He writes about the encounter with Jim Henley, Eve Tushnet, and yours truly under the heading, "More People I Barely Know."



posted by Jeremy at 9:57 AM


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WHAT A WEEK, WHAT A GLORIOUS WEEK: Just finished week two at the Spectator, and -- what can I say? -- it was great. I'd been out of an office for so long that I forgot how much fun it could be to bounce ideas off of people in person, or snag them for lunch, or just stare out of the window into the traffic. Also, I'd like to thank a certain angelic Florence Nightingale impersonator for mending my abused right ankle. By the end of the week, that spring in my step was more than just metaphorical.

posted by Jeremy at 9:17 AM


wThursday, September 11, 2003


SEPTEMBER RAIN: Well, Kevin, it turns out I did have something to say after all on this, the second anniversary of an event that I'd just as soon forget:

What a day -- what a sad, retching, awful day -- it was two years ago when a group of Islamic militants seized four planes and slammed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. What a horrible thing it was for the nation and the world. God damn them, and I mean that in the fullest, theological sense of the word. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 3:42 PM


wTuesday, September 09, 2003


FRAME GAME: I don't know how I managed to forget about this today -- er, make that yesterday -- but I guess that's why they pay me the big bucks. My quasi monthly B&C review column was on William Saletan's Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War:

No it's not that kind of a victory. In his first book, Slate political correspondent William Saletan doesn't argue that prolifers are well on their way to a sweeping victory in this next or any subsequent election—though, given a number of trends, that may well happen. Rather, the conservatives who should declare victory in the abortion wars are a different voting bloc, "prochoice conservatives."

Prochoice conservatives differ from prochoice liberals in a number of ways. They tend to be drawn from the middle or upper classes, they are predominantly white, and they don't necessarily believe in a woman's right to choose as such. Rather, their support for abortion rights is grounded in the belief that the government should not interfere in the affairs—sometimes literally—of the family. Unlike liberals, they don't believe government funding should go to abortions or family planning, and they aren't averse to curtailing abortion at the edges.

So: Parental consent laws are popular because they strengthen the authority of the family (particularly the father). Partial birth abortions are condemned as infanticide, reviled in poll after poll, and then passed again into law after the Supreme Court strikes down the statutes of 29 separate states. Welfare programs discourage the birth of new children (and, according to some studies, cause more abortions). Democrats swear fealty to Roe v. Wade as a matter of course, and Republicans hem and haw and then say, meekly, that the country is not ready for drastic change just yet. All of this happens with massive public support. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 12:52 AM


wMonday, September 08, 2003


JESUS CHRIST TAX COLLECTOR?: My latest column is up.

According to Alabama governor Bob Riley, it's the best thing since Mother Teresa beer. What started as a plan to close a budget gap foisted on him by a previous profligate administration turned into a crusade to bring fairness to the state tax code and public services. Fairness in this case means at least $1.2 billion in new taxes, higher salaries for inner city school teachers, and more generous college scholarships for the state's youth.

What's more, Riley stops just short of telling voters that it's their Christian duty to vote for the referendum on September 9. He says that Jesus would vote for "the least of these" and places his plan firmly in this category. He points out that the state income tax kicks in at an absurd income level -- less than $5,000 -- and that statewide educational performance is arguably the worst in the nation.

But rather than calling for income sheltering (where government agrees not to go after the first x number of dollars of a family's income) and gradual education reform, his plan would lower the income taxes of the poor, raise property and luxury taxes, hike income taxes on the better off, and trade more education funding for flexibility in the hiring and firing of new teachers (the state teachers' union has acquiesced in this but expect them to move to gut the reform in the event that anything is passed). Some doubters have dubbed this plan the Jesus tax. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 7:06 AM


wSunday, September 07, 2003


CURSE YOU, CLOUDY CRYSTAL BALL: I think I should start going to sleep at midnight on the dot. Not sure if that would solve the problem of my accursed luck, but you never know. Good news first: Yes, Jesse Walker's party was a blast. I finally met Jim Henley and Eve Tushnet and they were both a lot of fun. (I complained to Jim that he never links to me anymore and he replied that I'm hardly in a position to criticize anyone for a dearth of links. True enough.)

But.

I'd been having trouble with my right ankle and it only seemed to get worse as the night wore on. I started limping and sat in a chair as often as I could manage. After a tumultuous car ride to southeast D.C., I caught the Metro -- the last of the night -- out to Fairfax. By the time I got to the station, all the taxi drivers had gone home for the night. So I hoofed it for the mile or so it takes to get to my place. My foot actually started to feel good, and by the time I went to bed I thought, hey, it looks like I dodged a bullet on this one.

Then I got up about three to go to the bathroom. Or, I should say, I tried to get up. When I put my right foot down, it a) hurt a whole lot and b) went out from under me, as it refused to bear any weight. I scrapped and crawled through my mess of a room to the bathroom and turned on the light to get a look at the thing. It was swollen all over, roughly the size of a small grapefruit. When a friend got a look at it the next day, she -- a veteran of many sports injuries -- told me I should ice it and elevate it and wrap it. If all goes well, I should be back to walking normally by Wednesday.

posted by Jeremy at 3:51 PM


wSaturday, September 06, 2003


BUT TONIGHT, TONIGHT WILL BE BETTER: Last night was sheer hell. At about 2 am, I went to the bathroom and started shaking uncontrollably -- most of my muscles spasmed out of control. My normal meager covers weren't up to the task of warming me up, so I had to empty my closet of towels and coats and pile them on. The fever was both temporarily debilitating and scary. I thought about waking one of my roommates up to borrow a cellphone to call for medical assistance, but I found I couldn't get out of bed, and I wasn't sure I could holler if it came to that. It finally broke a little after six but I had a lingering headache for the rest of the morning. Ever the fount of encouragement, Coshleupagus today suggested that I'm likely to get more of this in the next few months as my body gets used to pathogens that it has been isolated from lo these 24 short years. Ugh.

posted by Jeremy at 5:26 PM


wFriday, September 05, 2003


BLUE SKIES: I stepped out the door this morning prepared for heat, humidity, and rain. Instead, I was met with by a cool breeze, a clear blue sky, and air that wasn't nearly as loaded as I'd suspected. It was almost like the other Washington was paying us a visit.

posted by Jeremy at 10:17 AM


wThursday, September 04, 2003


LAST MINUTE CALL FOR INTERNS: If you live in D.C., Virginia, or the surrounding area and would like to intern at the American Spectator this fall, please drop a note with a resumE, clips, and contact info to Suzanne Shaffer at stsash-NOSPAM-at-aol.com pronto. And by pronto, I mean within the next 24 hours. I believe we ask for about a day a week (8-10 hours). You'll have the chance to work with a bunch of great conservative journalists (and one libertarian), to be involved in the production of the print mag, and to write original articles for the website, and possibly the magazine. In short, it would be good for the resume and good for our budget. If you think this would be for you, please don't hesitate to write.

posted by Jeremy at 3:34 PM


wWednesday, September 03, 2003


GOING NATIONAL: In honor of my move to D.C., the title of my column has been changed to "Latte Nation." The new one is about how geeks took over the world, and don't know quite what to do with it.



posted by Jeremy at 10:04 AM


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DIGNITY SCHMIGNITY: The current issue of Crisis has a review by moi on Jonathan Sacks' new book:

Isaiah Berlin and Jonathan Sacks must have struck some as an odd couple. Berlin was a British philosopher (or “historian of ideas”) who championed the cause of pluralism. Sacks is an orthodox rabbi (“not a liberal Jew”), sometimes derided by colleagues as a “fundamentalist.” And yet there they both were in November 1997, the rabbi saying Kaddish—the Jewish prayer for the dead—over his recently departed friend before the mourners at the funeral. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 7:25 AM


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IN BUT NOT OUT: Mediabistro.com posted an announcement yesterday, at the job board The Revolving Door, that George Neymayr and yours truly are the two newbies at the Spectator.

posted by Jeremy at 7:16 AM