Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Boy Hitler Removed From Home

Allahpundit passes the news item along: "New Jersey child services seizes boy named after Hitler from parents." You may remember little Adolph Hitler Campbell from this story, wherein little Dolphie's parents try and fail to get a local bakery to put his name on a birthday cake, after which they settle on Wal-Mart. Now the state Division of Youth and Family Services has taken the children from the home. Allahpundit's link doesn't seem to contain the quote he highlights--at least, it doesn't anymore--that "(the children) did not show outward signs of abuse or neglect." It does say, however, that local police sergeant John Harris "said DYFS did not tell police the reason the children were removed."

Now, I think naming your kid "Adolph Hitler" is extremely offensive, for obvious reasons. And of course, it will doom the child, regardless of whatever his own personal beliefs end up being, to a certain ignominy even if he manages to get the name changed. However, if the names are really the reason these kids were taken away--one of his sisters, who were also taken, is named "Joycelynn Aryan Nation"--then we are approaching some seriously slippery ground. Yes, I think society at large can agree that these names are not only distasteful, but all-around offensive. But can we use the state's coercive power to enforce public taste and decency, and when? When do we run the risk of moving further toward a tyranny of the majority, a totalitarian democracy that demands not only compliance with laws sanctioned by popular will, but also with popular taste?

One other note. This story that I found about the earlier birthday cake affair contains a interesting tidbit, from interviews on what locals thought about the whole thing. "'I hate it! I hate it, but how can you say they aren't allowed. If you are going to allow these freedoms that are in our constitution, sometimes it goes against what we believe,' said shopper Denise Ackley from Easton." The Constitution contains no freedom to have a store decorate a cake any way you might want. Actually, the store has the constitutional right not to serve you if they don't want.

More interesting: "'If his parents named him Jesus Christ, I'm sure they would put Jesus Christ on the cake,' Lambert said." I'm not sure what he's saying here. Is he saying that naming a child "Jesus Christ" is just as offensive as naming him "Adolph Hitler"? Or that printing it on a cake would be just as offensive? Anyway, interesting reactions all around.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


So, earlier today I hosted my first ever LiveChat, with a smashing turnout of one person...which was one person more than I expected. And that's fine, because it was mostly a test run to see how it works. But my discovery of CoverItLive LiveChat has caused me to wonder what else Michigan bloggers are missing as far as communications tools go.

This is especially important because the Michigan Republican Party needs to be shaken up a little bit. They're getting a little stale. Crusty. It's not pretty. There's a lot of energy among young conservatives in this state, but it doesn't seem like it has anywhere to go. That's where bloggers come in. We know technology. (Okay, other bloggers know technology. I'm just glad that other people know it so I don't have to.) And we have the energy to organize.

So...why don't we? Granted, we have jobs, some of us own businesses. I'm, horrifyingly, a grad student. Yet surely we can organize regular get-togethers, maybe invite speakers. Reporting and opining on the ether is definitely a good thing, but face-to-face interaction is where it all happens. The Michigan blogosphere could go on tour in the summer--have meetings in cities all over Michigan. Go from Benton Harbor to Grand Haven to Muskegon to Grand Rapids, Lansing, Brighton, Ann Arbor, Detroit...go around and meet the people who want to get involved, want to be connected, but don't know how.

Let's be thinking about this stuff, youse guys.

Friday, December 19, 2008

LiveChat, 12/20/2008

Suggested Topics: Auto Industry; The Future of Conservatism (Caps!)

Saturday Afternoon LiveChat (And New HaloScan Commenting)

Because I can.

I just figured out how to host a LiveChat on my blog, and in celebration I shall host a LiveChat tomorrow, Saturday, December 20, from 2-3 PM.

How it works: The LiveChat box will be on my latest blog post. Click on it, enter a username, and start chatting. As moderator, I will have the option to allow or disallow comments before they appear in the box. (Considering the small number of people who will likely participate, there is little chance of comments being disallowed, unless someone I do not know begins posting hateful or offensive speech. Host your own LiveChat if you're interested in that sort of thing.) Leave comments if you have ideas for discussion topics. Already on the agenda: the auto industry and the Michigan economy, the future of conservatism.

ALSO...this reminds me. Do not be alarmed by the new HaloScan commenting system. It's easier for me, easier for you, and nice-looking. Just do what it says, and no harm will come to you.

Great Headline Of The Day

Courtesy of the BBC: "Mice suspected in deadly cat fire."

After years of oppression of mice, sectarian violence between the two bitterly opposed species has finally escalated in Canada. Noted one stiff-upper-lip commenter--the spokesman for the Toronto Humane Society--"It's unfortunate and ironic that mice caused the fire that killed the cats." He also noted the shocking nature of the assault: "Unfortunately, the mice probably perished in the fire as well." A suicide mission!

The End For The UAW?

John Hinderaker of PowerLine Blog today writes about the "silver lining" in the possible auto industry collapse--namely, the United Auto Workers collapse.

Most conservatives I've talked to here in Michigan have the same struggle I do. None of us want to see thousands of people out of jobs, unable to support their families, and potentially having to move. On the other hand, there seems to be very little hope, economically, for the state of Michigan until the politically powerful unions lose influence. My friends here at the U seem to think the Big Three's problems are mostly due to poor business planning, and don't seem able to grasp that an enormous dead weight of extra benefits U.S. automakers have to pay might cause inefficient business models.

Unfortunately, no state government in Michigan can make these problems go away. (No national government can, either.) The companies must be allowed to restructure under bankruptcy and hopefully become actually profitable, or they must be allowed to fail. (And why don't we ever see start-up American car companies? Hmm....perhaps a lot of the regulatory and union overhead ought to be slashed.) It will hurt Michigan in the shorter run; but in the long run, this hard policy will be less painful than the alternative.

In the meantime, perhaps we can find private solutions for the people who are going to be out of jobs. Ideas?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Next Generation Conservatives

Jay Nordlinger's "Impromptus" (which he has been producing at a delightfully rapid pace this week so far) included (scroll down a bit) a letter today from "someone with a close knowledge of Harvard Law School." This paragraph in the letter struck me:
One thing that really bothers me is that the brightest students seem to really want to have a cause to pursue. The Left gives them many causes, but the Right offers little — very few alternatives. I guess conservatives generally just go to the business world (or big law firms, in the case of law-school graduates). Maybe this works out in the end, but it still feels like this generation of college students is being lost even more to the left-wingers than before.
There is a stereotype out there that has some small truth to it: Last generation's conservatives just wanted the government to leave them alone while they worked at their jobs and raised their families. This generation, as a whole--conservatives and liberals--want a sense of wider community. And rightly so. But I don't think modern conservatism--which, of all "political philosophies," ought to be the most about community--has done a good job of offering that. And conservatism, of all "political philosophies," is the least about ideology, the most about lifestyle and relationships.

We younger generation of conservatives need to find ways to be involved in our communities, find causes that are about people. We've all seen how many people the Left is willing to hurt in their crusade for abstractions--equality, liberty, fraternity, as it were. How is it that they are the ones who are seen as having a monopoly on compassion? It's time to stop blaming society for seeing liberals as the compassionate ones, and ask ourselves what we can do to change a perception that we know to be false.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Save Our Shows

The good ones, I mean! I've become concerned about society recently, for two reasons. And they're both from the same web page. A prominent video website recently placed CBS's The Big Bang Theory and NBC's Chuck on their list of best TV shows you aren't watching. I hope this doesn't mean you, gentle reader. For, although The Office and 30 Rock are finally truly funny again, although Scrubs is coming back (this time on ABC) for a half-season, and although Battlestar Galactica returns in January for the final half-season of its story arc, my two favorite TV shows right now are still these two. The ones about loveable geeks (and non-loveable geeks) spying and/or being really geeky. (I wonder why?) Instead, everyone seems to be watching the inane Heroes and, erm, Gossip Girl. (Yes. Really.)

Why are these my favorite shows? The same reason I love any show. They aren't very serious; the writing is fantastic. The actors were perfectly cast. Honestly, Sheldon Cooper and Penny on Big Bang Theory and Chuck Bartowski, John Casey (Adam Baldwin, of Firefly and Serenity fame), and Morgan Grimes are some of the best characters on TV right now. Sadly, Chuck and The Big Bang Theory run opposite each other on Monday; the former being an hour-long show starting at 8, and the latter a half-hour show starting at the same time. If you must only choose one, pick Chuck, which has better characters and production quality and boasts a more promising storyline; but full episodes of Chuck are available on, whereas the episodes of The Big Bang Theory can only be found, ahem, subversively.

Yes, I hear what you're saying...good shows only ever get cancelled by FOX! (*sigh* Firefly, Arrested Development....tragedies...) But with Pushing Daisies and some others, there is now precedent for even non-FOX networks' cancelling shows with small but loyal followings. Give these shows a try!

WATCH! Chuck episodes, webisodes, and episode re-caps can be found here, for those wishing to catch up on the action; CBS's much poorer Big Bang website, sans full episodes, can be found here.

Okay, guys...

Hey-o. Back. I wish I didn't have to begin posts like this so often, but nobody told me: Grad school takes a lot of your time. Hm.

That said, I'm very nearly done with my first semester. (Oh, how the definition of "very nearly" has changed since I came!) And since it seems probable that I'll never have a semester as stressful as this one until I'm actually a student-teacher, I should have plenty more time for blogging. And that's a good thing, because your local newspapers are PROBABLY going to go bankrupt sometime soon. Mm.

Some bullets:

  • Michigan's football team finished 3-9, but was not the worst team in the Big Ten. *Sigh*. That would still be Indiana. Scott Shafer then resigned as defensive coordinator, and we're most likely going to replace him with Jay Hopson, whose resume is seriously less impressive. Although "good resume" hasn't really flown with this football team so far...maybe it will work? REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY!
  • Michigan's basketball team is 7-2 and sitting at #26 in the AP; Marquette's recent loss means that we should crack the Top 25 for the first time in forever--as long as we beat Oakland at The Palace on Saturday. I wish I'd bought tickets, except--oh yeah, I'd get to feel terrible because I should really finish my paper on Callimachus's Aetia. That will be Laval Lucas-Perry's debut as a! If you can!
  • No, don't ask me what Callimachus's Aetia is. I want to think about it as little as possible.
  • Our president had a shoe thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist; this is the highest insult possible in Iraqi culture. Irony: Which would have worse results, doing this to George Bush, or doing this to Moqtada al-Sadr? Hmmm....
  • The cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has, unfortunately, gotten worse. The Robert Mugabe epidemic has, unfortunately, remained stable.
  • Chris Muir's Day By Day cartoon has now shown Sam wearing a "Room Temp" Che T-shirt several times; WHY IS THERE NO "ROOM TEMP" CHE T-SHIRT AVAILABLE FOR SALE YET?? (THAT I'M AWARE OF??) Of course, I couldn't buy one; that is an invitation for my roommate to dynamite my bedroom. And what was left of me, the rest of Ann Arbor's peaceable inhabitants would take care of.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

BCS Thoughts

Some thoughts on the present BCS discontents.

ESPN wants a playoff. Brian at MgoBlog wants a playoff. Actually, it seems that most people want a playoff. Most people agree that almost anything would be better than what we have now. I will say this: There are good plans out there—notably Brian Cook’s plan—that are fairly good, because they take into account many of the things that any postseason scheme has to take into account.

I write this because of the plan’s “jdee” placed into the ether. I want to note a few errors there before plunging into my own discourse. “Undefeated Ball State, Utah, and Boise St would NOT have vied for a national title under the previous system either…” This isn’t true; BYU, for example, won the national title in 1984 by going undefeated and beating Bo Schembechler’s worst down-year Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl. This year, most major teams will play 12 or 13 games, plus several will play an extra game for the conference championship.” I’m not aware of any team playing 13 regular-season games, apart from conference championships. The NCAA extended the regular season by a week, I believe, a few years ago, so that teams could play twelve games instead of eleven. “who really watches the Motor City Bowl anyway? So lets give some of the games some importance.....” Small-school programs like, say, Central Michigan, benefit greatly from these bowl games, in terms of money, fan-base loyalty, and recruiting. “Really, who ever complains about the team that didn't make the March Madness tournament?” Hmm. “Quarterfinals will be played as part of four minor bowls around Christmas time. Semifinals will be two major New Years Day bowl games and the Championship game a week or two later at another major bowl.” I will tell you how to make the bowl games meaningless; make them first stops for big schools on the way to games you actually want to play in. “Bowl games can rotate the way they do now in the BCS system.” Nope. There is a BCS Championship Game, and then the four “traditional” (ahem) BCS bowls: the Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta. No rotation.

There are something over 125 teams in Division IA football, and they each play, usually, 12 games. In the NFL, 32 teams play 16 games; the NBA, (I think) 32 teams play 82 games each—playoffs make sense in these two, not so much for college football. Even in NCAA basketball, around 350 teams play 30 or so games, excluding conference tournaments. A bit under 20% of teams go to the NCAA Tournament. College football can neither have conference tournaments nor send a fifth of its teams to a post-season playoff.

We need to realize there is no “solution” for college football postseason. Any conceivable plan will offend someone’s wishes. Putting a lot of emphasis on crowning a national champion will, like it or not, make a uniquely regional sport into even more of a national one. Incorporating human polls in a major way will anger anyone who wants it all to be decided on the field—which is, of course, impossible anyway. A small playoff will offend people who want to include small-conference undefeateds, and a large playoff will irreparably damage the bowl system that everyone loves.

I think, anyway, that people looking for a way to crown a “legitimate champion” (whatever that means in college football) might very well find themselves giving up much of what made college football unique. Part of what has been great about college football is its craziness—independent bowls, bowl tie-ins negotiated by conferences, entire stadiums basically dedicated to one massive game a year. Choosing national champions based on human polls. How much less would we have to talk about in college football if we started getting rid of those things?

I’ve said it before: we should go back to the old system. Yes, I know it will never happen. But that is the best “solution.” I’ll stick with that. Next time you demand a change be made to college football in the interest of choosing a national champion fairly, ask yourself, “Why?” I’ve never found a good answer to that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Here's my game summary:

And with that out of the way, some thoughts about college football.

College football is like the ancient world, and I love them both for similar reasons. Everyone has their city-state. Each city-state has its peculiar rituals, cults, symbols. They go out to fight each other. Victory is more than just victory, and defeat more than just defeat. Everything that happens has a relation to the mythical figures and events of the distant past that also help construct your identity and the cohesion of the community. Every action has a context beyond the normal. It's the poetry that colors a prosaic world.

We treat college football the same way; at least, some of us do. Michigan fans use the hiring of Bo Schembechler as a template for Rich Rodriguez. He's a great coach because he's making them work hard like Bo did; he's a terrible coach because he isn't from Bo's coaching lineage. Charles Woodson became like a second Desmond Howard when he ran back the punt against Ohio State and then won the Heisman. You stand outside until the final whistle of a miserable game in the miserable cold, because if you're honest, it isn't about being entertained--it's about being part of something bigger than you. ("The team!" -- Bo.)

The colors, the songs, the places the former players and coaches--it all combines into a complex and vibrant tapestry of legend and tradition capable of evoking everything that is highest and lowest in humanity. (It's important for Michigan fans frustrated with this season and contemplating Coach Rod to remember the "lowest" and strive for the "highest.")

All this said, it's important to have a sense of perspective. The kingdom of God is so incredibly important compared to these earthly things. Unlike our sports teams, it will never pass away, and it has the power to change people's lives.

Still, in a society that seems determined to make life as mediocre and prosaic as possible, college football has a way of calling us out of our materialistic, individualistic slumber. And for that reason, this silly but violent game provides real value.

Anyway...there goes another year. The worst year in decades for U-M. Nothing left but to have patience, look to the future.

Oh, and root against all the teams we hate that are still in it.


Sorry I haven't been posting lately; this grad school thing takes a lot of your time, as it turns out. Next semester should be better...

But in the Today is The Game. The beleaguered Wolverines, who will miss a bowl game for the first time since 1974, travel to Columbus to look for redemption against their arch-rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are playing for yet another Big Ten championship. Michigan's starting QB is Nick Sheridan, a former walk-on without size or arm strength. Ohio State's starter is Terrelle Pryor, 6'6", 235 lbs, with a sub-4.4 forty, who chose Ohio State over Michigan in the spring. Ohio State has won four straight and is likely to make it five today against first-year coach Rich Rodriguez.

Oh. And it's the biggest rivalry in American sports.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Conservative Revolution

Since I seem to have come under some scrutiny for my posts recently, I thought I'd write a bit about where I am now that the election is over and we've all had some time to think about conservatism going forward.

My staunch conservative friends who read this blog know I'm not one of those mushy-headed folks who thinks that Republicans should sacrifice principle for electoral gain. Not in the least. And the seeds of my change in thinking were not planted by my moving to Ann Arbor, but during the summer when I read, among other things, The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk.

No, I do not think Republicans in general are heartless, or that they don't care about the poor. I think they are extremely well-intentioned and personally charitable people, more so than their left-wing counterparts. But as far as politics goes, they lack vision, and seem to exist largely to try to stop the advance of socialism. For that reason, it seems that, these days, conservatives are just libertarians who also want to stop abortions.

But conservatives have a competing vision for society. We believe government exists to advance human dignity. We believe human dignity is composed of many things, things which cannot be summed up in a political program or tract. They include, but are not limited to, certain freedoms, obligations, and relationships. These things that comprise human dignity are best worked out on a local, community and family basis; the results of these negotations--tradition--generally ought to be respected. We believe dependence on government, family and community breakdown, and callousness toward the most vulnerable in society destroy human dignity.

But since the introduction of welfare especially, the game has changed. Those local-level negotiations have gone out the window as government has subsidized an overly individualistic, materialistic lifestyle. Social institutions that could take the place of the government dole hardly exist anymore, having been crowded out by government. These are truths that conservatives cannot afford to ignore.

The game has changed. The danger with left-wing politics is that it doesn't just destroy what could be a truly liberal also destroys the foundations upon which the entire edifice of a healthy civilizations stands. Before we rebuild that civilization, we're going to have to lay many of the foundations anew.

Lowering taxes and eliminating federal programs is desirable, but not in the short run. We may not like people being dependent on government, but we should be similarly conscious of the human toll that blind implementation of ideological programs will exact.

Winning Again

That's what The Shadow-Liner wants to talk to conservatives about, and he starts things off with an excellent post about defeatism. (Read it all!) Here's part:

A sense of history is important at times like these. Society, as Burke wrote, is ". . . a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society." We do dishonor to mankind as a whole--past, present, and future--if we flee before all hope is lost, perhaps even when all hope is lost.


Republicans were rightly booted by the American people. Now it's time to figure out how better to apply our time-honored principles to the problems of American society today. That, I believe, is what my next post will be about. Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Rise of Radical Secularism

Just read a fantastic book review on NRO by Joseph Morrison Skelly about Herb London's new book, America's Secular Challenge: The Rise of a New National Religion. (Psst: You should read it, too.) Obligatory excerpt, but it's all worth reading:

London identifies five developments in our time that have paved the way for the ascendancy of radical secularism. They include the rise of multiculturalism; the decay of traditional religion; the degeneration of the liberal virtue of tolerance into an unwillingness to discriminate (relativism, in other words); transnationalism, which is “the effort to reduce or eliminate the national heritage of European states through continental harmonization” — and a phenomenon creeping into American life; and “a loss of existential confidence that is at the same time a failure of nerve.” There is a historical dimension to this process, too, since the assault upon established religion has deep roots in the West, including Friedrich Nietzsche, as mentioned above, and extending back to the radical French branch of the Enlightenment, which the author acknowledges early on in his book.

This is reason number one why no thoughtful Christian, in my estimation, should be voting Democratic. I think a lot of Christians see the Democrats as caring more for the disadvantaged--something Republicans surely need to work on. But Christians also need to be aware of the philosophical underpinnings of the modern liberal movement and understand where the Democratic Party--Barack Obama included, emphatically--wants to take us.


Well, Western Michigan (!) beat us in hockey last night, 2-1, at Yost. I thought that was bad.

But nothing can compare to sitting through a game in which Michigan football solidifies its most losing season ever--8 losses, never happened before here in A-squared--in (by my estimation) negative-45 degree weather. At least it happened against a team that, even when they're likely to have an 8-win season, brings approximately ten fans--that includes the marching band--to its games. It'd be a lot worse if it happened against somehow-ubiquitous drunken, meatheaded fans like Wisconsin's. The Northwestern fans always look grateful to win, even if it's against the fourth-best team in a given state.

Anyway, this brings us to our offical Hope for the Future section that I just made up.

1) Eerily similar to Rodriguez's first season at West Virginia, plus a much better incoming recruiting class.

2) Two potentially big-time dual-threat QB recruits coming in. Not sure how this will shape up--Forcier is a bigtime passer with apparently good speed, while Shavodrick is bigger and could be a better runner--but we will have Decent Options again.

3) The O-line is playing much better, and everyone comes back. Plus, the many freshmen that didn't see time this year will have a year under their belts, eliminating much chance of having true frosh on the 2-deep.

4) Our only true slot receiver is Odoms this year, but next year we'll have true freshman Jeremy Gallon and we'll have Terrence Robinson back, a 4.4 forty runner who was lost for the season with (I think) a knee injury.

The defense could be an issue, but I have confidence that Shafer will improve our defense even granted the personnel losses we'll have.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wait...Who Is It That Hates, Again?

Because I'm getting confused.

(H/t to Michelle Malkin, and from there Diana West.)

I mean, I know the Right is just totally hateful, racist, bigoted, all that stuff. But then things like this happen in California. Or this, at Augsburg College. Also, things like this, in Philly, and this, in Illinois. And you start to wonder just who it is that takes abstract beliefs and enforces them on people. You start to wonder just who it is that beats opposition into the ground. You start to wonder about a lot of things, if you have any intellectual honesty whatsoever.

It's a good thing our president-elect is such a unifier...

Live Dangerously Advocates Living Dangerously

And he's so, so right:

This should be viewed as a war. As in any war troops on the ground are vital. I would of thought that the Surge proved that to us. The internet is there as a tool to help facilitate the gathering of volunteers. A means to get them on board in the first place. Secondly to show them how to meet locally with others, and thirdly how to make a difference in their community. We all need to cultivate that “fire in the belly” that is mandatory to any type of change from the status quo. That “fire in the belly” in an off election year comes best and most convincingly from our belief in our core beliefs as conservatives, that has already bubbled up and we need it to be proudly proclaimed at the top and I might add believed in at the top.

Blogging is great, but we need to match what what we say in what we do. Like our friend Live Dangerously, we've got to be involved in the local party, and from there go out and engage the community. Find out where and when your local GOP meets, meet the candidates, and take the initiative with innovative ways to reach voters we haven't been reaching!

Perhaps we bloggers, who represent a broad cross-section of conservatism in a state where conservatism has no business losing elections, need a forum of some kind to present and discuss new practical ideas for spreading a common-sense conservative message...