The very last Terry Schiavo item

One should let the poor woman die and rest. Yes. And that is done.

But the case--is that laid to rest? Not yet: Governor Voodoo-Medicine so loved it that he brought it back for one more bow as a zombie. Now you've seen the news stories about how his Attorney General has dropped the case, and that's all. Isn't it?

Do you really think you can bury one of the Undead without bothering to put the stake through its heart? Out of boredom and perhaps even decency, the respectable media are trying to do that. But maybe the thing will stay buried longer if people see what the AG said. Thanks to JRH (and thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for pointing me to his blog), you can read the handwriting on the stake.

I'd take exception to JRH's description of the tone, which he says sounds like a lecture. The affect of the piece (as we 18th-century music types like to say) is not pure academic exposition; it is exasperation. Here you can find out how, if you are a lawyer holding a responsible office, speaking with dignity and coherence and full backing of evidence, you pronounce B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T.


Kevin Drum made a very decent and reasonable suggestion that all the blogosphere should lay off the politicking, the "political point scoring over the London attacks. Just for a day." Other good people followed.

Dadahead thinks otherwise, that politics is not a parlor game, but a matter of life and death. He's right. Of course the Right came out running in all directions and screaming political obscenities, and that would make it harder to behave oneself; but that's not the point.
'Politics' is, for most of us, simply the practice of critically analyzing the most important issues of our time. Asking us to put aside politics for the day is tantamount to calling for a moratorium on rational thought.

Which, of course, is precisely what the Right would like, and precisely what they got in the aftermath of 9/11.
It's not too early, though, to think about what one will do the next time. Here is a modest proposwal that would show respect for the dead and for the living. For one day, anyway: No gloating; no invective; no demonstrating how your favorite irrelevant issue is proved by the day's unpleasant events; no clever jokes, please.

The rules naturally do not apply so strictly to those who are there and suffering. And the one about jokes doesn't apply at all to Londoners, God bless 'em, who, it's said, were coming up with jokes two hours after the bombs went off.

Back here where nobody's getting hurt, Debra Saunders, our own aspiring Michelle Malkin clone, really rose to the occasion. Read it yourself if you're a masochist. Her general idea is that if the people who bomb Planned Parenthood offices and murder doctors were to do something this bad to us, we Liberals would can all this dumb civil liberties stuff and understanding-the-reasons, and we'd go and hang us some Christians from the nearest lamppost. At least, that's what's implied by her knowledge that we'd have the sense to go out and kill somebody who's somehow vaguely or tenuously or fictitiously connected with the crime, the way she wants to do and George does. Perhaps she's mistaken.

So you can tell, the day is over. Now I want to ask anyone who has the stomach to follow these things: did someone, somewhere on the Right, say anything decent yesterday? There is a sort of Anglophilia that's obligatory in the respectable Right, after all; so, was anyone at the National Review, or a Boston brahmin who speaks only to Cabots or possibly to God, or a pillar of the Eastern prep schools, or any of the people who love Winston Churchill not only for saving civilization but for trying to preserve the Empire in India and upholding the Gold Standard, moved to express himself about England, and London, even before thinking what a good time it would be to buy on the market's downtick or writing about how it all proved that Liberals are evil?

Lefties who have no use for aristocracy or empire were moved to express themselves about the sceptered isle with Shakespeare's help, or on their own (see below). Surely some Righties did the same; I'd be glad to hear about it.

Meanwhile, are the terrorists getting it wrong? New York is not the first place to choose if you want to imtimidate people or drive them to despair. Lots of media action, but quite disappointing effects as to toppling New York. Or London! The Blitz (42,000 dead) and the past 30 years of terrorism from their own archipelago: a great prospect for demoralization and chaos there.

And I can't write Madrilenos without hearing:
Madrid, qué bien resistes,
Madrid, qué bien resistes,
Madrid, qué bien resistes,
mamita mía,
los bombardeos.
los bombardeos.

De las bombas se ríen,
de las bombas se ríen,
de las bombas se ríen,
mamita mía,
los madrileños.
los madrileños.

Well, they didn't laugh at the bombs in Madrid; but there's something about these cities that's hard to beat down. (Text is from "Los Cuatro Generales", song from the Spanis Civil War.)

Something rather different

Would someone like to recommend a blog-consolidator other than Bloglines? I am damn well sick of seeing their freakin Bloglines Plumber. If they can't afford a backup system or just can't make their software work for two or three days at a time, I'm willing to pay [gasp] for someone who can do it.

Exploding flypaper

In case it's not immediately obvious, the title refers to the Flypaper Theory, under which we're drawing the enemy into Iraq where we wipe them out and keep them from attacking us here at home (sorry about that, Iraqis, but at least we're safe).

The best I can say to the horror is what Billmon said over at This Modern World:
"We are all New Yorkers, we are all Madrilenos, we are all Baghdadis. But I was a Londoner from the time I learned how to read. I know it shouldn't make any difference, but it does."

Meanwhile, the discontent of the American people with the war was leading, even before the failure of the great Presidential bucking-up speech and its lukewarm reception by the soldiers, to more speculation about Vietnam. I was reading in the last 24 hours about the historical parallels, and how the Tipping Point for public opinion (not policy, of course) was reached suddenly with the Tet Offensive: the enemy made a hugely successful attack which the public knew was simply impossible because we had been making such progress; and the game was up. Later, the authorities managed to prove the TO was a failure; an exercise in irrelevancy that's a candidate for Guinness.

The Iraqi insurgents, or resistance, certainly can't duplicate such an offensive now, as the commentators were saying. So the Tipping Point will be reached more gradually.

Or something.

Le quatre juillet. Please rise and sing the Marseillaise

Everyone knows how France financed our Revolution, which could not possibly have succeeded without money to buy esssential supplies, particularly gunpowder.

When I say everyone, I mean, of course, at least half a dozen people in each state. Each of the larger Blue states.

But I had failed to notice, till I read a review of Lavoisier in the Year One by Madison Smartt Bell, who it was that provided that gunpowder. After some embarrassments in the Seven Years' War (which we call the French and Indian War), France decided to expand its gunpowder-making facilities by applying the latest Enlightenment science. The new production came on-line in time to supply the Americans, thanks to its director : Antoine Lavoisier.

Well, this republic, at least, had need of savants; and on this day we should thank him of whom (according to the apocryphal story) the French one decided it had no need.

Nations, of course, never do good things for entirely pure motives. France did not support our revolution out of devotion to Enlightenment ideals of Liberty, whether those of Locke or of Voltaire et al; nor out of fondness for the British colonists, their recent enemies on the North American continent where the French empire suffered such a disastrous loss. It wanted to weaken the British, that's all. Nor need we overlook that the money provided for purchase of powder went right back to France to buy powder, setting the classic pattern for 20th-century American foreign aid.

Then, as to repaying our debt to France (people really did use that phrase once upon a time), the United States did not come running to save European civilization in 1914 and 1939, but held out, as our English friends never tire of telling us, for years in the First war, and until the other guys declared war on us in the Second.

But, T. S. Eliot or none, there is something to be said for eventually doing the right thing if your reasons aren't entirely wrong. Some people who were also France did love Liberty; and the US got around to doing some damn fine things in Europe when it got around to it. (Shall we just forget Versailles? No one comes out a winner there. Well, maybe John Maynard Keynes.)

Jacques Chirac is said to have had very naughty profit-seeking motives in 2002-2003; but in fact the French made a serious effort to stop our government from pursuing a disastrous military adventure based entirely on the most dubious grounds, except for those grounds that were not even dubious. They failed; had their hearts been pure enough to give them the strength of ten, they still would have failed; but they seriously tried. Today I'll raise a toast to them; maybe I'll save the Marseillaise till the 14th when I run a video of Casablanca.

A master of meiosis

Lord Peter Wimsey, sensing that a break is needed in the growing tension among the group in his parlor, calls for liquid refreshment all around, even though it's still morning. Offering some sherry to Miss Twitterton, he quiets her protestations about taking a drink at that time by assuring her, "you will find it as mild as your own parsnip wine."

The new-wedded lord then gives a glass to Lady Peter, who has also sampled that lady's parsnip wine, and who comments, sotto voce, "You are a master of meiosis."

In case any of the rabid evolutionists should stop by, let me note that meiosis is "a figure of speech by which the impression is intentionally conveyed that a thing is less in size, importance,etc., that it really is"; also, a synonym for litotes. And the meaning goes a long way back before biology latched onto it. (Cf. ellipsis, parable, and hyperbole.)

In other news, Russia and China had a friendly summit meeting and issued a friendly communiqué decrying monopoly and domination in world politics and calling for an end to "attempts to divide nations into leaders and those being led." This, coming from Russia and China, is as hilarious as is the idea of long-term cooperation between those two imperial powers. But hey, a politician's gotta do what a politician's gotta do.

The hilarity dies down when you contemplate the specific issues on which they pledge cooperation against unnamed hegemonists' evil interference: Chechnya and Taiwan.

But the commentators bring the fun back. At the New Eurasia Foundation in Moscow, Andrei Kortunov tells us that the statement means that Russia and China "don't quite believe the sincerity of the second Bush administration's attempts to break its image of being a proponent of unilateral actions and decisions." As if that weren't enough, he adds that "This may be connected with the unilateral actions of Washington in the Middle East, its latest decisions on increasing its defense budget and some others."

A master of meiosis.

Requiem for an airhead

Bill Kaysing, who originated the hoax that the Moon landings were a hoax, is dead. Has been for months, but it was just announced. The Bad Astronomy blog has a report that has an interesting take: in addition to being a gentleman who observes de mortuis nil nisi bonum, the BABlogger finds that that abominable bit of work has had good side effects in getting many people interested in the reality of the Apollo program.

Read the comments, too. It's a bit of a shock to see how many people testify to their own birth or rebirth of interest thanks to Kaysing et al. Even more of a hoot: when a comment finally treats the old fraud as roughly as he deserves, it's by a Canadian! Sorry about the stereotyping, and happy Canada Day; Porlock Senior didn't take out Canadian citizenship for nothing.

The truth about blogging

You've probably seen this already, but if not, Leiter Reports now has the real story on blogs, persuasion, and invective.

I cling to the hope that it may be right not to agree 100% with his view. There is always the chance that some person who isn't already a partisan might drop by and possibly be persuaded. Or maybe not, in blogs. More likely in newsgroups, and I'm well aware of what I'm saying when I say that.

Thomas Jefferson and C. S. Lewis both wrote of the uncertain nature of persuasion; and they were talking about the reactions of reasonable people. I think John Locke did also, though I doubt I could ever find the quote.

But hey, as long as persuasion is such a completely uncertain business, why not just blast away at the idiots and criminals and not worry about wounding the feelings of innocents who happen by? There are hard questions and easy questions, as Leiter says. So off I go to indulge my current favorite guilty pleasure, the Rude Pundit.

Update: Been hearing enough lately about how Baghdad is just like Houston? Oops, I wouldn't want someone to read a hidden attack on Houston into that; we pundits just mean Baghdad has this crime rate that's not so bad compared to this or that US city. Now, with a tip of the hat to Leiter again, read what the United States government says about vehicular travel in Iraq.