March 30, 2007

Pick Your Battles

In today's AmSpec column, I worry that President Bush is spending political capital on Alberto Gonzales that he ought to be saving for more important things.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:51 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2007

Sympathy for the Hillary

I confess my concern for the well-being of Hillary Clinton's campaign, today at Brainwash.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2007

Family-Friendly Gangsta Rap

Here's the funniest thing I've seen in a while:

Posted by John Tabin at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

Parsing Plame

In today's AmSpec column, I take at a look at Valerie Plame Wilson's fishy testimony on Capitol Hill last week.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:08 AM | Comments (3)

March 12, 2007

This is Sparta!

300 has its share of problems -- the pacing is a bit odd, and I think one or two of the many honor/glory/freedom speeches could have been dropped without losing anything. But the visuals are truly stunning. "It's most silly when it's trying to be a movie, and it's most beautiful when it's trying to be a graphic novel. Fortunately, it mostly just tries to be a graphic novel," says this reader of Andrew Sullivan's, and he's right. The over-the-top reaction of some critics -- racist! fascist! -- is totally absurd. (Dana Stevens -- not surprisingly, given her feminine aversion to war movies -- wins the dumbest-of-the-dumb award in that set.) It's hard not to wonder if some of these reviewers just can't stand the message that some things are worth fighting for.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:20 PM | Comments (1)

March 07, 2007

Four Out of Five Ain't Good

My take on the Libby verdict is in today's AmSpec.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:03 AM | Comments (5)

March 06, 2007

Shifty Shape-Shifters

Last night on Heroes we met Candace, a character who can assume the shape of other people -- and who is clearly not on the side of good. The shape-shifter is a common conceit in science fiction, and it's interesting that these characters are almost always bad. Mystique in the X-Men is a terrorist, the T-1000 in Terminator 2 is a killing machine, Martia in Star Trek VI betrays Kirk and McCoy. Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is one of the good guys, but, tellingly, his shape-shifting powers are limited -- he can turn into objects but can't imitate people very well. The more powerful Changelings who show up later in the series are less benign; most of them are the rulers of the Dominion, which ends up at war with the Federation.

Remember the legend of Gyges's ring from Plato's Republic, the ring that has the power to turn the wearer invisible? Glaucon argues that someone who had the ring and exercised the ability to be evil without consequences could be just as happy as a good person, prompting Socrates to mount his extended defense of the just life.

I wouldn't say that sci-fi writers agree with Glaucon, exactly, but it says something about human nature -- at least as artists view it -- that it's so hard to imagine a shape-shifter who agrees with Socrates with enough conviction to be good.

Posted by John Tabin at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2007

Sean Hackbarth's Open Letter to CPAC

As you might guess from my Brainwash column, I endorse this:

Conservatism treats humans as they are, as moral creatures possessing rational minds and capable of discerning right from wrong. There comes a time when we must speak out in the defense of the conservative movement, and make a stand for political civility. This is one of those times.

Ann Coulter used to serve the movement well. She was telegenic, intelligent, and witty. She was also fearless: saying provocative things to inspire deeper thought and cutting through the haze of competing information has its uses. But Coulter’s fearlessness has become an addiction to shock value. She draws attention to herself, rather than placing the spotlight on conservative ideas.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2006, Coulter referred to Iranians as “ragheads.” She is one of the most prominent women in the conservative movement; for her to employ such reckless language reinforces the stereotype that conservatives are racists.

At CPAC 2007 Coulter decided to turn up the volume by referring to John Edwards, a former U.S. Senator and current Presidential candidate, as a “faggot.” Such offensive language–and the cavalier attitude that lies behind it–is intolerable to us. It may be tolerated on liberal websites but not at the nation’s premier conservative gathering.

The legendary conservative thinker Richard Weaver wrote a book entitled Ideas Have Consequences. Rush Limbaugh has said again and again that “words mean things.” Both phrases apply to Coulter’s awful remarks.

Coulter’s vicious word choice tells the world she care little about the feelings of a large group that often feels marginalized and despised. Her word choice forces conservatives to waste time defending themselves against charges of homophobia rather than advancing conservative ideas.

Within a day of Coulter’s remark John Edwards sent out a fundraising email that used Coulter’s words to raise money for his faltering campaign. She is helping those she claims to oppose. How does that advance any of the causes we hold dear?

Denouncing Coulter is not enough. After her “raghead” remark in 2006 she took some heat. Yet she did not grow and learn. We should have been more forceful. This year she used a gay slur. What is next? If Senator Barack Obama is the de facto Democratic Presidential nominee next year will Coulter feel free to use a racial slur? How does that help conservatism?

One of the points of CPAC is the opportunity it gives college students to meet other young conservatives and learn from our leaders. Unlike on their campuses—where they often feel alone—at CPAC they know they are part of a vibrant political movement. What example is set when one highlight of the conference is finding out what shocking phrase will emerge from Ann Coulter’s mouth? How can we teach young conservatives to fight for their principles with civility and respect when Ann Coulter is allowed to address the conference? Coulter’s invective is a sign of weak thinking and unprincipled politicking.

CPAC sponsors, the Age of Ann has passed. We, the undersigned, request that CPAC speaking invitations no longer be extended to Ann Coulter. Her words and attitude simply do too much damage.

Posted by John Tabin at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)


Okay, I did a CPAC wrap-up podcast, but just as I was finishing it up I lost it in a computer crashed. I'm just going to cut my losses; for those of you who felt the two columns and the days of blogging just weren't enough CPAC coverage, I'm sorry.

Posted by John Tabin at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

Playing Rough

In today's AmSpec column, I review this year's rough-and-tumble CPAC.

By the way, Phil Klein, Jim Antle, Jeremy Lott, and The Prowler all have good stuff on CPAC at AmSpec, so be sure to check out the whole site.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:30 AM | Comments (3)

'Tis a Pity She's a Whore

Today marks my first contribution to Brainwash, the America's Future Foundation's web weekly, where I take on Ann Coulter's much-discussed CPAC speech.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2007

Non-Podcasting Update

I have recorded stuff, and I'll try to get around to cutting it together tonight or tomorrow. There just hasn't been time; there being a presidential race on, I've been a lot busier than last year.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2007


The first day at CPAC (which I and others have been blogging about at AmSpecBlog) has been a bit slow; the speeches by presidential candidates, for example, don't start until tomorrow. I am planning on doing some podcasting, but I'm having trouble uploading the material I recorded today. I'll try to fix that before things get interesting.

Posted by John Tabin at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)