30 December 2008


This site was stillborn from the start. It's been through a number of strange iterations, and I don't think I want to deal with it anymore. If anyone reads this, you can find my new blog at http://destructiveanachronism.blogspot.com/. The design might look familiar, but the intent has changed, and so, I hope, will the outcome.

So this is the end for the Dawn Treader. Who wants to ape C.S. Lewis anyway? Thanks to anyone who has dropped by from time to time, and I hope you follow the new work. I look forward to interactions with anyone interested in anything relevant, and hope that you can challenge me.

20 November 2008

rawr msm

jon stewart inane? yes it happens. comedy-based political commentary is one thing, complete mockery of the political process is something else.

Jon Stewart makes himself silly.

05 November 2008


Yes we can. Yes we can! Yes we did!!!

Even the more sane pundits at the Corner recognize how momentous this night truly was. President Obama faces a tremendous challenge, but at least we can unite as Americans and be proud of what was accomplished here today. McCain's moving concession speech should be a guidepost both to sceptical conservatives and exuberant Obama voters. This country has its work cut out for it, but we're hopeful, and we can say again that it's morning in America.

04 November 2008

The Fierce Urgency of Now

Please go vote.

Yes we can.

30 October 2008

"How to Say It Without Saying It"

Excellent analysis of the campaign to ban gay marriage in California by T.A. Frank, writing in the New Republic, and focusing on the extent to which proponents of Proposition 8 have used code words and civility to garner support for their agenda.

Of course, the usual suspects on the Christian fringe are present as well.

29 October 2008


McCain in Miami.


I've noticed that my template is screwy and lines are appearing where they shouldn't be. When I get a chance (tomorrow evening, I hope), I will fix this.

Question of the Day

Sorry, no posts at all today -- work was miserable, and I didn't get home until 10:45.

Here's something I was thinking about on the drive home tonight.

If planned obsolescence was the great innovation of capitalism in the 1950s and since, what will be the next innovation regarding product durability and replacement? I was thinking something like a shift toward temporary platforms and subscription services which are always becoming obsolete, but instead of purchasing new goods/hardware, the consumer is grafted onto a system of perpetual replacement and updates, for which he or she pays a flat subscription fee. What does that mean for the technological economy? Will it have broader implications for the real economy as more and more of the "real" becomes virtual? How will that shift, if it will be the case, affect human social interactions and economic behavior?

28 October 2008

Dispatch from the Aging Frontier

A video report from Die Zeit -- in my opinion, the premier newspaper in the world -- from a retirement home in Belle Fourche, S.D. In English with German subtitles. A side of America you don't get in daily media, be it MSM or otherwise.

27 October 2008


Ross Douthat gets it:
The bigger point (and I know I'm a broken record here) is this. Whatever direction you think conservatism should be going in from here on out, the absolute worst thing the members of a losing political movement can do - if they ever want to win again, at least - is attempt to pre-emptively close off debate about the movement's future. Conservatives need to have arguments, not promise excommunications, or else pretty soon there won't be very much worth arguing over.

Stevens Found Guilty

Convicted on all seven charges, faces up to five years in prison.

Top Ten Reasons for Conservatives to Vote for Obama

From Andrew Sullivan, and most of them are pretty applicable to progressives. A solid argument nonetheless, especially when compared to the other side.

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a
quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the
environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the
environment and won't touch defense of entitlements. And his refusal to touch
taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain's plans will add more to the debt over four years than Obama's. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain's knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his
brinksmanship over Iran's nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for
conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between
George H.W. Bush's first term and George W.'s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially cmopared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama's fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith,
is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today's Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excresence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America's reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.

Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.

Most Absurd Item of the Day

What the hell is an 8-year-old boy doing firing an Uzi?

Nice work, NRA. This is the kind of idiocy that your lobbyists push for.

WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting
himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult
at a gun fair.

The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine
Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, police Lt.
Lawrence Vallierpratte said.

Police said the boy, Christopher Bizilj (Bah-SEAL) of Ashford, Conn., was
with a certified instructor and called the death a ''self-inflicted accidental

As the boy fired the Uzi, ''the front end of the weapon went up with the
backfire and he ended up receiving a round in his head,'' police Lt. Hipolito
Nunez said. The boy died at a hospital.

The boy's father and older brother were also there at the time, a gun club
member and school official said. Francis Mitchell, a longtime member and trustee
of the club, said he was told the boy's father was supporting his son from
behind when the shooting happened.

Update: Aside from the stunning absurdity that it's legal for an eight-year-old to fire a submachine gun -- or, for that matter, that submachine guns are available on the market -- what the hell was this kid's father thinking? Common sense would come to the quick conclusion that that constitutes reckless endangerment, but the gun laws in this country aren't written by common sense; they're written by the gun lobby.

The Upcoming Palin Purge

The breakdown and panic on the right continues full speed, and it's getting a little scary.

Jim Nuzzo, a White House aide to the first President Bush, dismissed Mrs
Palin's critics as "cocktail party conservatives" who "give aid and comfort to
the enemy".

He told The Sunday Telegraph: "There's going to be a bloodbath. A
lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and
Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party. The litmus test will be:
where did you stand on Palin?"

Wealth Redistribution

Anyone else thoroughly unimpressed by this supposedly "devastating" tape of Obama speaking about redistributing the wealth in 2001? Drudge is wetting his pants over it, but this really doesn't seem like much of an issue. By definition, any tax redistributes wealth, whether it's from the affluent to the less affluent, from individuals to the government, from the government to the affluent, etc. "Wealth redistribution" doesn't equate to socialism -- it's a necessary element in the structure of the modern state system. The fact of the matter is that, in the past decade or so, wealth redistribution has been rampant -- just in the direction of the government and the less affluent to the affluent. If you think that's equitable wealth redistribution, fine, but don't pretend like redistribution only exists when it comes to extending unemployment benefits or erecting a national health care system.

Obama's point seems to be a much narrower view of the extent to which social change and progressive wealth redistribution is possible through the judicial system -- and, as Orin Kerr points out, it's not entirely clear what Obama concludes.

Arizona in Play?

New polls have McCain up just +2 and +4 in his home state of Arizona.

How nice would that be?

26 October 2008

Sign of the Times

The New York Times published a feature in the Sunday Styles section on "pundit school," where individuals interested in manipulating and obscuring public debate can hone their skills in delivering pithy one-liners, distorting their opponents' positions, and reducing complex discussions into empty sound bites.

The piece profiles J. P. Freire, a 26-year old managing editor at The American Spectator, who apparently needs to brush up on his ability to get air time on Hannity & Colmes. Because nothing says "anti-elitist" like spoon-feeding viewers premade opinions in pseudo-debate that they can mindlessly spout at rallies.

It's sad that political discourse has sunk to a level so low that both sides feel the need to train their talking heads to manage opinion.

But He's Not George W. Bush!

Private Property and Social Liberalization in China

Interesting post connecting the dots among greater rights to private property and broader acceptance of homosexuality in urban China. Courtesy of the Volokh Conspiracy.

I think there's definitely a strong argument to be made for the relationship between private space and the expression of viewpoints or behaviors contrary to broad social norms. Legally protected private space is indispensable to liberty, so long as it's thoroughly sacrosanct; the number of tools available today to violate private space demands extra safeguards and vocal defense. Private property may provide the wellspring of personal and intellectual freedom, but it's incorrect to argue from that to the superiority of an unfettered market. Only with proper safeguards and regulation to protect the inviolability of that private space can it fulfill its potential. That means restricting the ability of corporations to engage in data mining and of governments to wiretap and invade privacy.

No More Eliza Doolittle, eh?

Catch Sarah Palin falling all over herself trying to provide a rationale for the cool $150,000 in clothing the RNC picked up for her. They're not really my clothes -- I'm just a down to earth hockey mom! Against the backdrop of the recent rumors regarding increasing tension between McCain and Palin, it's hard to see this as anything but Palin attempting to do damage control and position her damaged brand as standing to benefit from McCain's loss. Palin's trying to out-maverick the "maverick," in a telling display of political opportunism and the every man for himself attitude on the right.

Here's the video:


You can almost see the foam in the corners of Mark Steyn's mouth. Socialism! European-style social systems! Health care for everybody!

Oh noes!!!

25 October 2008

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Nate Silver's take on McCain's possible winning strategies. There aren't many of them.

Speak, Memory (No More?)

Chinese scientists are hard at work developing a drug that could allow for the permanent erasure of painful or unpleasant memories. Personally, that's what I always thought alcohol was for. But all joking aside, the potential applicability of such a drug to humans raises a number of ethical questions, most of them frightening. The broader question -- and one which a number of scientific innovations in the pipelines, such as genetic modification and biological-technological interfaces -- is to what extent is the instrumental manipulation of the human condition appropriate?

Responsible Conservatism

I realize I'm a week behind on this, but I just watched Colin Powell's CNN interview again, and it really is a striking example of the difference between a responsible conservatism predicated on policy differences and the fulminations of the new McCarthyites on the right.