August 30, 2002

PAGLIAWATCH

PAGLIAWATCH: Camille dissects the decline of the Left, which in turn drags Andrew Sullivan out of his hammock to comment on the Iraq debate.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:39 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2002

A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND: Now you can have your human best friend turned into a diamond! A company in Chicago called LifeGem offers to turn the purified carbon from a cremated body into a synthetic diamond. Presumably, the more accurate appellation "DeathGem" struck them as too macabre. Check out the creepy animation on their website. The dissolving text goes:

I'll be there when you're sleeping
I'll be there when you awake
I'll be there when you're laughing
I'll be there when you need me most
I'll be there Forever.
Just what I want, to turn my dearly departed into an eternal stalker.

Posted by John Tabin at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2002

ANOTHER INTERN-BLOGGER

ANOTHER INTERN-BLOGGER: James Barnett of The Bill (of Rants) joined the Liberty team this week. He hasn't got an Internet link at home, so his posts will likely be even more infrequent than mine, but check his site once in a while anyway.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:02 AM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2002

PAGLIAWATCH

PAGLIAWATCH: Camille talks about music-- from Brahms to Velvet Underground-- in the current Interview (not online). She's interviewed by the editor-in-chief; in Interview, this is called a "column."

Posted by John Tabin at 03:46 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2002

PARTIAL-BIRTH FEDERALISM

PARTIAL-BIRTH FEDERALISM: The other day Ryan Vooris touted do-it-yourself lobbying on a partial-birth abortion ban with a form letter to Tom Daschle. But making abortion law isn't Daschle's job.

If you believe abortion is murder (which it isn't, nor does it have to be to be wrong, but that's a discussion for another day), then it should be proscribed by the same legislators who make laws against murder-- those of the states. As Jonathan Adler has pointed out in the Corner, banning partial-birth abortions which affect interstate commerce-- which is all the House bill does, and all that, constitutionally speaking, Congress can do (the same should go for cloning, by the way)-- is hardly a huge prize for the conservative movement.

Incidentally, shouldn't a mother's ability to conceive in the future be a factor in any truly pro-life policy on partial-birth abortion? The fact that this compromise between the "life of the mother" and "health of the mother" language during the Clinton years never seemed to occur to anyone indicates that the players were more interested in scoring political points against each other than in regulating a gruesome procedure.

Posted by John Tabin at 06:24 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2002

HALF A JEW

HALF A JEW: Over on Kesher Talk, Howard Fienberg cites articles in Ha'aretz and Moment discussing intermarriage and conversion. From the Ha'aretz piece, he pulls this nugget:

[According to a poll by Hillel of college students,] 90 percent of the young people with two Jewish parents defined themselves as Jews. On the other hand, when only the mother is Jewish, the number of young people identifying themselves as Jewish is just 40 percent. When the father is Jewish and the mother is non-Jewish, only 16 percent identified themselves as Jewish. These figures confirm the stronger influence of the mother in developing the child's awareness, and its significance is nothing new to Jewish experts either, even if the relatively small impact of the father's influence surprised many.

There's another factor at work here that neither Ha'aretz nor Howard mentions: the fact that everyone with a non-Jewish mother is told "you're not a real Jew" (an aspect of Jewish law abandoned by the Reform movement). A little halacha can be dangerous in the hands of cruel children.

I'm very much in favor of the spousal outreach common in Reform temples (they converted my mom), but I must admit I'm uncomfortable with outward proselytizing. It's not that I have a good argument against it, I just have a general cultural aversion to the idea. I'm not sure how valid the concern is that it would increase anti-Semitism; considering how a-religious types feel about Christian proselytizers, this might be worth thinking about.

Responding to the declining Jewish identity of halflings, many rabbis strongly discourage intermarriage. This annoys me for obvious reasons. When I was subjected to one such sermon at Conservative synagogue during a friend's bar mitzvah, I felt like I was being persecuted in temple. (Okay, I tended to overdramatize such things in my head as a 13-year-old.) Encouraging parents to instill at least some Jewish identity in their children is one thing, but if you ask people to choose between love and temple, don't be surprised when they turn their back on the religion.

Posted by John Tabin at 06:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2002

IRANWATCH

IRANWATCH: There were some pro-democracy rallies in Iran the other day, but details are sketchy because the major media are ignoring it. Glenn Frazier has a section of Iran Coverage where he's doing a pretty good job of keeping up.

UPDATE: Michael Ledeen wonders about the media blackout today on NRO.

Posted by John Tabin at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

YAHOOS IN CHINA

YAHOOS IN CHINA: I got an email from John Weidner of Random Jottings (cc'd to a bunch of other bloggers) calling for a boycott of Yahoo for acquiescing to Chinese censorship. I don't think this is a particularly good idea, for all the reasons that Aziz Poonwalla mentions in his/her comment below the boycott jotting.

Posted by John Tabin at 08:05 AM | Comments (1)

VOUCHIN'

VOUCHIN': Today's Wall Street Journal editorial picks up and runs with Juan Non-Volokh's point that the latest challenge to school vouchers, currently playing out in Florida, is based on state constitutional amendments authored by 19th century anti-Catholic bigots. (Scroll up from Juan's post on The Volokh Conspiracy to read why Eugene Volokh says these amendments may conflict with the U.S. Constitution.)

There's another irony here-- the voucher program they're targeting, as voucher programs go, is quite modest. Vouchers are only available to those schools deemed failing, and students are sent back to the public schools when they improve. Because of the humiliation of being deemed one of two or three failing schools in the state, the worst schools in Florida have been able to procure more funding and improve demonstrably.

The main problem with any voucher program, the inadequacies of many voucher-oriented schools in early years (perhaps extant because they're set up more to feed at the government trough than to educate children), is curtailed by minimizing the marginal benefit of setting up a school dependent on vouchers, and the public schools end up with more, not less, money. The fact that this is the program that's being targeted should give lie to the notion that teachers' unions are at all concerned with the well being of children or even the long-term viability of the public school system.

UPDATE: USA Today first expressed bullishness on the Florida vouchers (and doubts about the Cleveland program which was at the time before the US Supreme Court) in March (I talked about it on the old site-- scroll down to "VOCHING FOR...," about 6th from bottom). They're still on the case today.

Posted by John Tabin at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

COFFEEFADA

COFFEEFADA: Hot Flash, a web feature of the American Enterprise Institute, reports that Caribou Coffee is owned in large part by a Muslim bank, which is connected (by a board member in common) to an anti-Israel group. Meanwhile, Starbucks has been targeted for boycott by a Muslim group because their Chairman expressed pro-Israel sentiments in a speech at a temple-- for which Starbucks has issued an apology.

Seattle's Best, please.

Posted by John Tabin at 07:07 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2002

THIS JUST IN-- CASUS BELLI!

THIS JUST IN-- CASUS BELLI!: Yes, Atta met with an Iraqi agent in Prague, the White House says. Of course, though the FBI and CIA supposedly have "deep doubts," the Czech's have testily insisted for a long time that this story was legit. The same LA Times report (linked through the Seattle Times reprint because of the horrid LAT registration process) mentions that "Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a news conference that Iraq had 'a relationship' with al-Qaida, but declined to be more specific." Um, we knew that one, too.

For a while, I've had the feeling the administration was downplaying the Iraq-al Qaeda connection, lest they be pushed into a war on too many major fronts at once. They only now seem to be endorsing the connection, upon the occassion of the Senate hearings on Iraq. This probably means the war is coming soon, but it also means the executive branch has a bit too much control over war-making than might be appropriate.

Most who make that criticism seem to hope that Congress would restrain the war and insist upon coalitions and so forth, but I make it for the opposite reason: Congress is supposed to declare war, and in doing so in the formal, old fashioned, strict-constructist manner, it would give us more, not less, reason to fight upon our own terms. Without a declaration, there is much more risk of this becoming a multilateral morass. If, for example, the supposed casus belli is violation of UN rules, Saddam might come out unscathed just by letting in the ineffectual UN inspectors (yes, I realize that "ineffectual UN" is redundant). If, on the other hand, we declare war with our own legislature for our own reasons, we are more likely to fight our own war. Destroying clear dangers to the U.S., not enforcing a Eurocrat vision of "international law," should be the goal of any American war.

Posted by John Tabin at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2002

HAPPY BELATED 90th, MILT

HAPPY BELATED 90th, MILT: I forgot to wish Milton Friedman a happy birthday yesterday. Though I lean toward Robert Mundell's view in the Friedman-Mundell floating/fixed currency debate (PDF worth clicking through only for monetary policy nerds like me), due respect must be paid to the world's most effective promoter of liberty.

Posted by John Tabin at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)