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More interesting articles that you might have missed this week!

15 February 2009

If you missed these, you missed some interesting insights about our rapidly changing world.

  1. Baby Trashed After Botched Abortion“, CBS News, 6 February 2009 — “23-Week-Old Delivered While Teen Waited For Late Doctor; Clinic Owner Tossed Infant In Garbage.”  In my nightmares I often wonder if Hitler was not “wrong”, just “early.”
  2. Warrior in Drug Fight Soon Becomes a Victim“, Washington Post, 9 February 2009 — “Mexican General Seized, Slain in Cancun”
  3. The Meaning of Sarah Palin“, Yuval Levin, Commentary, February 2009 — Mostly conservative fantasizing, but the conclusion is insightful.
  4. The Persistence of Ideology“, Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Winter 2009 — “Grand ideas still drive history.”

For those of you following the unusual activity of solar cycle 24, see “Code Blue: 10.7 centimeter solar radio flux is flatlining” by Anthony Watts, Watts Up with That, 14 February 2009.  “Code Blue” is hospital jargon for patient requiring immediate resuscitation. For a more technical but accurate analysis see “When is Minimum?“, Leif Svalgaard, March 2007 and updated February 2009 — esp see the graph at the end.

Excerpts

(1)  Baby Trashed After Botched Abortion“, CBS News, 6 February 2009 — “23-Week-Old Delivered While Teen Waited For Late Doctor; Clinic Owner Tossed Infant In Garbage.”  In my nightmares I often wonder if Hitler was not “wrong”, just “early.”  What is wrong with Ms. Sterner’s reaction? Excerpt:

“It really disturbed me,” said Joanne Sterner, president of the Broward County chapter of the National Organization for Women, after reviewing the administrative complaint against Renelique. “I know that there are clinics out there like this. And I hope that we can keep (women) from going to these types of clinics.”

(2)  Warrior in Drug Fight Soon Becomes a Victim“, Washington Post, 9 February 2009 — “Mexican General Seized, Slain in Cancun”

The general didn’t get much time. After a long, controversial career, Brig. Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello Quiñones retired from active duty last month and moved to this Caribbean playground to work for the Cancun mayor and fight the drug cartels that have penetrated much of Mexican society. He lasted a week.

Tello, 63, along with his bodyguard and a driver, were kidnapped in downtown Cancun last Monday evening, taken to a hidden location, methodically tortured, then driven out to the jungle and shot in the head. Their bodies were found Tuesday in the cab of a pickup truck on the side of a highway leading out of town. An autopsy revealed that both the general’s arms and legs had been broken.

The audacious kidnapping and killing of one of the highest-ranking military officers in Mexico drew immediate expressions of outrage from the top echelons of the Mexican government, which pledged to continue the fight against organized crime that took the lives of more than 5,300 people last year.

(3)  The Meaning of Sarah Palin“, Yuval Levin, Commentary, February 2009 — Mostly fantasy, but the conclusion is interesting.

The sense of potential that accompanied Palin’s introduction, and the feeling that she might really reverse the momentum of the campaign, were not illusory. For two weeks or so, the polls moved markedly in McCain’s direction, as it seemed that his running mate was something genuinely new in American politics: a lower-middle-class woman who spoke the language of the country’s ordinary voters and had a profound personal understanding of the hopes and worries of a vast swath of the public. She really did seize the attention of swing voters, as McCain’s team had hoped she might. Her convention speech, her interviews, and her debate performance drew unprecedented audiences.

But having finally gotten voters to listen, neither Palin nor McCain could think of anything to say to them. Palin’s reformism, like McCain’s, was essentially an attitude devoid of substance. Both Republican candidates told us they hated corruption and would cut excess and waste. But separately and together, they offered no overarching vision of America, no consistent view of the role of government, no clear description of what a free society should look like, and no coherent policy ideas that might actually address the concerns of American families and offer solutions to the serious problems of the moment. Palin’s populism was not her weakness, but her strength. Her weakness was that she failed to tie her populism to anything deeper. A successful conservative reformism has to draw on cultural populism, but it has also to draw on a worldview, on ideas about society and government, and on a policy agenda. This would make it more intellectual, but not necessarily less populist.

McCain’s advisers were right about Palin: she was a mirror image of John McCain. She was not a visionary politician, or a programmatic politician, but an attitude politician with an appealing biography. In the end, she was no more able than McCain to offer a coherent rationale for his presidency.

That was not her job, though; it was his. The striking thing about the last two months of the 2008 presidential race was not Palin’s inability to turn things around decisively for McCain, but her success in giving McCain a lead for even a short while. She seized the imagination of the public in a way that scared the Left, and rightly so. It is not Palin’s fault that McCain was incapable of harnessing the phenomenal response to his running mate to his own advantage.

(4)  The Persistence of Ideology“, Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Winter 2009 — “Grand ideas still drive history.”  Note that the phenomenon he describes exists in America as well as the Middle East, and was a major theme of Socrates. Excerpt:

In 1989, as the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were reforming—indeed collapsing—so rapidly that it became clear that Communism could not long survive anywhere in Europe, Francis Fukuyama went one step beyond Bell and wrote an essay for The National Interest titled “The End of History?” {Summer 1989}

… At the end of his essay, however, Fukuyama—more concerned to understand the world than to change it, by contrast with Marx—implicitly raised the question of the role of ideology in the world’s moral economy. With no ideological struggles to occupy their minds, what will intellectuals have to do or think about?

… Who, then, are ideologists? They are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself. The desire for transcendence does not occur to many people struggling for a livelihood. Avoiding material failure gives quite sufficient meaning to their lives. By contrast, ideologists have few fears about finding their daily bread. Their difficulty with life is less concrete. Their security gives them the leisure, their education the need, and no doubt their temperament the inclination, to find something above and beyond the flux of daily life.

If this is true, then ideology should flourish where education is widespread, and especially where opportunities are limited for the educated to lose themselves in grand projects, or to take leadership roles to which they believe that their education entitles them. The attractions of ideology are not so much to be found in the state of the world—always lamentable, but sometimes improving, at least in certain respects—but in states of mind.

Afterword

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. electrophoresis permalink
    15 February 2009 6:00 pm

    Even more significant than “Warrior in drug fight soon becomes a victim” is this headline, “Mexico top drug official killed first day on job.” Notice the proximity in the dates: 5 February and 9 February.

    As usual our worthless media don’t connect the dots, less out of incompetence than out of fear that we’ll realize what’s really going on. (America’s war on drugs is blowing Mexico apart.)

    Obviously the Mexican cartels now feel powerful and wealthy enough to challenge the Mexican government directly. Clearly, these two assassinations (probably on the same day) of top Mexican anti-drug officials are meant to send a message: mess with our drug traffic, and we’ll kill you all.

    Offhand I would guess that a whole group of top Mexican anti-drug officials have been simultaneously assassinated in an organized campaign by one (or possibly all) of the Mexican drug cartels. We don’t know the names of the other murdered Mexican law enforcement and army officers because the U.S. press isn’t doing its job and obviously Mexican journalists can’t report this stuff, otherwise they’ll wind up with their heads thrown onto the floor of a local disco too. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on. The Mexican cartels have now decided to directly confront the Mexican government as a whole and in effect issue an ultimatum, signed in blood.

    Next stop: Columbia redux. Civil war in Mexico. Look for massive crime waves spilling over the U.S.-Mexican border, lots of heads tossed onto disco floors in El Paso and Nogales. It won’t be pretty.

    Like

  2. Thomas Casey permalink
    15 February 2009 6:10 pm

    The “Baby Trashed” story, horrific as it is, really only details that the baby was “trashed” irregularly, not in accordance with prevailing law and aproved medical practice.

    When ethical and moral principles are already in the dumpster, this isn’t that much further down the slope. Anyday now we will be throwing kids into a heated, brazen Moloch. Probably on live TV.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I considered the reaction to the story more significant than the incident itself.

    Like

  3. McCracken permalink
    15 February 2009 10:44 pm

    Odd that Sarah Palin would be seen as potentially tipping the balance when she was a mere VP candidate. Yet that is how she was seen and treated by the news media, who were unabashedly supporting the Democratic Party ticket in 2008. Palin was thoroughly trashed in the media, while Biden was essentially ignored and Obama treated as a demigod.

    As the rolling disaster of the Obama presidency gathers momentum down the canyonside, there will be time to think back on the role of both the news and entertainment media in shaping the unconscious prejudices of voters of all classes and educational levels. Whether these dimwits of the media carnival will ever be held to account depends upon citizens making rather simple connections. In other words, not likely.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I would say that Palin did most of the trashing of Palin.

    “As the rolling disaster of the Obama presidency gathers momentum down the canyonside”

    Is this prophecy, or just absurd exaggeration?

    Like

  4. tim maguire permalink
    16 February 2009 7:24 pm

    I think Levin gets a bit ahead of himself when he says Palin had no “overarching vision of America.” She seemed to at first, but then she disappeared for a while, and when she came back, she just spun her wheels spouting cliches and embarrassing groaners for a few weeks, never again reaching the rhetorical levels promised at her unveiling.

    That may be her fault, but it may also be McCain’s and we won’t know which until 2012. We’ll see Palin again and next time she’ll be her own woman. If her failings were her own, then she will be written off as a novelty act. But if she shines the way she seemed to at convention time, then McCain’s candidacy will be that much more reviled by conservatives. And deservedly so.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: On what basis do you say “She seemed to at first”? Her first interviews on the national stage displayed little but ‘spouting cliches and embarrassing groaners”. See these for details:

    * Alaska is near Russia, and Gov Palin’s other foreign policy experience, 1 September 2008
    * Governor Palin as an archetype for our time, 9 September 2008
    * Before we reignite the cold war, what happened in Georgia?, 12 September 2008 — Notes from Palin’s first interview.
    * Stratfor says that our war in Pakistan grows hotter; Palin seems OK with that, 12 September 2008 — More from the ABC interview.
    * Campaign Update – news from the front, 25 September 2008 — Includes part 1 of Couric’s interview of Palin.
    * Gov Palin speaks about foreign policy, 26 September 2008 — Part 2 of Couric’s interview.

    Like

  5. Jackson Brun permalink
    16 February 2009 9:33 pm

    Touching how much trust FM puts in the big corporate news hashers. That misplaced trust will burn him soon, but no matter. Tim McGuire has a far clearer look at this issue than FM, who betrays his naivete on how the newscorps can shape and edit the news and public perceptions.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: What is even more touching is your confidence in saying something so obviously incorrect.

    Articles about information operations run against us
    * News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2007
    * The media discover info ops, with outrage!, 22 April 2008
    * Concrete evidence of government info ops against us, but it’s OK because we are sheep, 2 December 2008
    Another one is coming this week.

    a few of the articles about the mainstream media on the FM site
    * Only our amnesia makes reading the newspapers bearable, 30 April 2008
    * “Elegy for a rubber stamp” by Lewis Lapham, 24 August 2008
    * “The Death of Deep Throat and the Crisis of Journalism”, 23 December 2008
    Another one is coming this week.

    Like

  6. mclaren permalink
    16 February 2009 10:32 pm

    FM note: I recommend reading this comment!

    This one should be making national headlines in all the major news outlets — but isn’t. “Epidemic of kidnappings in Phoenix AZ, LA Times, 12 February 2009 — Excerpt:

    In broad daylight one January afternoon, on a street of ranch-style houses with kidney-shaped swimming pools, Juan Francisco Perez-Torres was kidnapped in front of his wife, daughter and three neighbors.

    Two men with a gun grabbed the 34-year-old from his van and dragged him 50 yards to a waiting SUV. His wife threw rocks at the car, then gave chase in her own SUV. … On the phone later, as detectives listened in, kidnappers said Perez-Torres had stolen someone’s marijuana.

    It was Phoenix, after all: More ransom kidnappings happen here than in any other town in America, according to local and federal law enforcement authorities. Most every victim and suspect is connected to the drug-smuggling world, usually tracing back to the western Mexican state of Sinaloa, Phoenix police report.

    Turns out there were 366 kidnappings for random in Phoenix AZ last year, all of them involving Mexican nationals living in Phoenix, and all of them perpetrated by Mexican nationals, most based in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. This is the long-awaited spillover of drug violence from Mexico into America.

    How long do Americans think we can pursue failed durg prohibition policies that are destroying Mexico before the violence leaks over across the border into America and routinely occurs on American soil? In Phonexix AZ we’re starting to see the answer.

    Like

  7. Matt Jones permalink
    17 February 2009 8:53 pm

    On Palin — I think you nailed it with your comment on conservative fantasizing. She was really neither here nor there; she was interesting to the public for a brief period, but since her running mate failed to craft a coherent platform, she quickly became, for practical purposes, irrelevant. I think one of the principal fantasies Levin indulges is the one that holds Palin somehow represents “real” America in some obvious sense. I’m not sure the demographics of the country today bear that out; the reaction against here was by no means limited to some media elite.

    Like

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