Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Warrantless Blogtapping Program

Issue:'s Banning of Ron Paul Supporters from Posting Comments

John Hawkins, in a piece that discusses banning Ron Paul supporters from commenting on blogs, wrote this:

So, was Redstate right to ban Ron Paul's supporters? Well, it's not the way I would have gone -- ehr, I think -- but, then again, if I had lots of RP supporters posting on RWN regularly, I might be tempted to go that route myself.
I don't want to even get into whether or not Redstate is right or wrong to ban Ron Paul supporters. What I want to point out is the brazen hypocrisy of John Hawkins. He "pretends" to be probably more noble and committed to dissent on his own blog. The fact is that he is happy to ban critics for much, much less. Hawkins bans people like me just because, I think, he takes a personal dislike to criticism that cuts too close to home, makes him uncomfortable, is intelligently expressed, and makes sense. Unlike Ron Paul supporters, I've never called anyone, much less Hawkins, a fascist just because we disagree politically. I don't think I've ever used profanity on RWN's comment boards. I've always tried to stay away from gratuitous ad hominem attacks. I try to stay away from juvenile rants, drive-bys, flame wars, and trollishness on blogs. I've always owned up to my mistakes of fact, and I always apologized when my passions caused me to step over lines of propriety at times and others called me on it. And I always try to express myself in complete sentences, logically, and with proper grammar and punctuation. As for Hawkins, he can't even be bothered by the intellectual exercise of conversation and dialogue. He almost never descends from his lofty blog-throne to explain himself, to respond to criticism, or to engage the comment dialogue on his own blog.

I think his behavior in banning me and then his pretense to be so tolerant of dissent for those who behave much, much worse makes him out to be a fraud and a hypocrite. And he's also an intellectual coward. In fact, although I disagree with Redstate's position on banning the Ron Paul supporters, I give Redstate some credit because at least the editor of the site stepped up and had the decency and the balls to give some explanation or reason for why the ban is in place there. Hawkins didn't even have the courage and the integrity to do that with me, even in a private email exchange, or with others who asked him for some explanation of my banning there.

I know there are some good people that I got to know from RWN who continue to visit my site and maintain a blog relationship with me, even while they continue to be active and supportive of Hawkins at RWN. I treasure and value that these folks still engage with me from time to time, and I wouldn't want to lose that. And I don't mean for my comments about Hawkins to offend these folks in any way, but I will not sit around and let this fraud Hawkins get away with such insincere claims about respecting dissent. It's just not true. And it's embarrassingly shameful. And it's sad that he gets away with it among his readership when he says it or implies it. And I'll continue to point this out whenever I see it surface at RWN, for my sake if for no one else's.

Global Warming

Is it true? Or merely a figment of the liberal imagination and Al Gore's fantasies?

If you have any doubt, watch this, from NASA's time-lapse photography of the North Pole:

I weep for the world ... and for Santa.

[Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Coulter Comes and Goes

Not much time for me to reflect on what I've gathered from my students who attended the event; but I will, at least, link to the story Tulane put out on it.

For the moment, let me say just that I am glad that I didn't go; and I am unsurprised that Coulter behaved true to form in belittling and debasing debate in full bully mode. How can one possibly respect someone who devolves into playground taunts like this:

As the evening turned more circus-like, Coulter said that “if things get out of hand I will start having to check the SAT requirements for the school where I’ll speak.”
Childish and embarrassing for her.

Here's some first-hand commentary from an attendee. If you visit this site's posting, make sure to check the comment thread for it, too.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Coulter Day

It has been raining torrentially since about 7:30am. The streets are flooding.

Given that Ann Coulter is scheduled to speak today, is this any surprise?

God has opened the heavens and deluged us.

Where's Noah and his Ark when you need them?

UPDATE: 5:06pm 10/22/2007 Will the Coulter show be cancelled due to inclement weather? Probably not, even though classes were cancelled. But unless folks will be handing out some fishing waders, I guarantee that it will be rather poorly attended, both by Coulter fans and by Coulter protesters. All the better, as far as I am concerned.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Huck Upchuck's Endorsements

GOVERNOR: Foster Campbell. I'm lukewarm on the Governor's race. I'm voting for Foster Campbell not out of any passion for him, but as the least bad of the lot. I just can't get beyond Walter Boasso's party switcheroo and that he's from "da Parish." I'm sorry, but I just don't trust very many people from "da Parish," especially the politician people. I know, I know ... silly of me, but so it is. Bobby Jindal seems to be earnest enough and intelligent enough, but it really, really bothers me that someone seemingly so smart could give in so readily to partisan hackery and could dance on tip-toe with some of the more unseemly folk on the rightwing of Louisiana politics. And John Georges is too mixed up with the anachronistic and patrician elites of New Orleans, for whom back-room dealing is a way of life, to be taken seriously as a governor committed to transparency.

LT. GOVERNOR: Mitch Landrieu. No questions, no doubts. Mitch should be Mayor of New Orleans. And he'd probably be the next Governor if he had decided to run. He's smart, eloquent, progressive, forward-thinking, and pragmatic.



NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE: Kaare Johnson - Because he knows his Louisiana sports! :) And he ain't afraid to speak out on controversial issues.

STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 94: Deborah Langhoff.

STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 95: Una Anderson. I know many NOLAbloggers don't like Una; but I do. She was a voice of sanity during some of the worst times in the dysfunction that was the Orleans Parish School Board when it was not easy to be so. I haven't forgotten that. However, I also like everything I hear about Percy Marchand, so take your pick.

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 5: Cheryl Gray. Yep, this woman's got it all. This is a no brainer.

All the other elections, I've no recommendations.

Coulter Visit Update

In my previous post, I mused over the rumor that Ann Coulter was coming to Tulane to give a talk. Well, I can confirm without a doubt that the rumor is no longer rumor, but a fact.

I was over in the University Kinko's copying store, having some things copied, when I noticed the young, college-age woman in front of me having a large poster printed about the Ann Coulter visit. I figured I'd strike up a conversation with this young woman. So, I started off my conversation by wishing her good luck with the event. In a very pleasant way, she thanked me. Then I asked her a question about something that the poster said. The posted exhorted people to come hear Ann Coulter speak on "Why liberals are wrong about everything." That's exactly what the poster said. So I politely asked this young woman if she really believed that liberals are wrong about everything, and she said, "Of course not." I just smiled and left it at that, but I was thinking: Why would someone who didn't believe this statement to be accurate seek to promote a talk where someone was going to be making precisely this claim? But I figured this pleasant young woman probably had enough to worry about, so I didn't push it.

I did, though, ask her how she was managing the controversy surrounding the event. Then, she really opened up and told me that, since she was directly responsible for organizing the event and for getting Ann Coulter to come, she had recieved all kinds of nasty comments and threats, so much so that she felt compelled to take down her facebook and myspace pages. I told her that it was wrong for her to be treated this way; but she seemed to be willing and able to take the heat.

Then she asked if I was planning to attend the event. And so I replied to her honestly and said that I wasn't going to go because I wasn't a fan of Ann Coulter and found many of the things she said to be offensive and not part of civil dialogue. The young woman seemed to understand. As she was about to leave the Kinko's I wished her good luck with the event again and expressed my hope that the event would proceed without disruption and with civility. She thanked me again, and then left.

I don't have much more to say on this. It is clear that I think Ann Coulter does a disservice to conservative opinion and civil debate in our society, and that she trafficks in platitudes of hate and disrespect. I honestly even think Ann Coulter is a racist and a bigot. And it saddens me that decent and good people buy into her vitriol. It's one thing to be a committed conservative; but it's another thing altogether to embrace someone as a spokesperson for conservatism who thinks some of the things she does about liberals and other peoples of the world.

I hope that liberals who oppose Ann Coulter don't engage in any silliness or violence during her presentation; but I imagine that some folks will. It's a shame if that happens because it will only confirm the worst that conservatives would like to think about liberals. But Ann Coulter is part and parcel of this unfortunate kind of reaction because she brings the debate down to this level by her own reprehensive, direspectful, and offensive behavior. She taunts people like a schoolyard bully. And sometimes people just lose their cool and behave in unfortunate ways when faced with her taunts and bullying.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rumor Has It ...

that Ann Coulter is coming to the hood.

She's apparently coming to highlight the "liberal" bias on college campuses while she speaks about "Islamo-fascism" at the end of the Muslim Ramadan.

I find it ironic that every "liberal" college campus has a College Republican group that sponsors lectures by folks such as Coulter. That's sure evidence of a liberal bias, let me tell you. And, yet, there are conservative colleges where a College Democrat group simply does not exist

As someone who spends just about every day at College, I'll be the first to admit that the college environment generally trends liberal. But that's a far cry from claiming that there is systematic liberal bias on college campuses. It would be like me saying that the US military exercises a conservative bias because it trends conservative.

And it baffles me even more that conservatives decry the cult of victimhood, yet almost always, without fail, speak of their victimization by the "liberal" academy.

Still, it baffles me that conservatives who want to be taken seriously would bring someone like Coulter to represent their movement and speak on their behalf. Believe me, Coulter is not sympathetic to an open exchange of ideas. She is about as far removed from the idea that different critical points of view, and the people who espouse them, deserve a respectful hearing and platform.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Warrantless Blogtapping Program

BLOG UNDER SURVEILLANCE: Word Around the Net ...
Issue: Profiles in Commenting

Although I have Word Around the Net on my Con-Blogger blogroll, I don't think I've ever mentioned Christopher Taylor's blog here in a posting at The Huck Upchuck. And that's an omission I need to correct. I have known Christopher Taylor through blogs for some time now. He is a committed and principled conservative, so we disagree a lot, and we've even had some bouts of very harsh exchanges, but I have to say that he's definitely not a partisan ideologue. He listens to opposing viewpoints with an open mind and he always responds thoughtfully and civilly in any controversial debate.

In any event, Christopher Taylor has his own blog that I think is excellent as a window to thoughtful conservative positions. It is also a blog based on a very creative concept of perusing the exchange of ideas that take place in comment boxes at particular blogs on issues that Christopher Taylor finds interesting. I'm sure that my liberal friends will find a lot on this blog to disagree with, but I'm also sure that anyone who visits this blog will appreciate the thoughtfulness that goes into his writing. I am amazed that Christopher Taylor can find the time to write very lengthy and well-researched essays with as much regularity as he does. You should check it out.

But the real reason for my writing this post is to highlight one of the aspects of Christopher Taylor's blog that I find to be an unparalleled resource for anyone who visits blogs and likes to leave comments. This is his Profiles in Commenting series. It is a fantastic description of the numerous types of comments and commenters that exist in the blogosphere, as well a very good guide on commenting etiquette. And Christopher Taylor regularly updates and adds to this list as he uncovers something new in the blog commenting world.

I just wanted to highlight this for readers of The Huck Upchuck, and encourage you to visit Christopher Taylor's blog.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Huckupchuck for Barack Obama

It's time. The Huckupchuck is officially declaring for Barack Obama in the primary. I just can't help thinking that Barack represents the best option liberals have to offer. I find him to be sincere, thoughtful, and refreshing. I find his ideas to be impressive. But, most of all, I find things like this about Obama to be truly inspirational.

About 5 years ago or so, conceding that George W. Bush was likely to be re-elected, I bet a friend $100 that Hillary Clinton would not only be the Democratic candidate for the 2008 elections, but that she would also be the next President. And I'll vote for Hillary if it comes to that.

But I'd rather lose $100 and have Obama in the White House than any other scenario. So, until the primary race is settled, I'm for Obama. You should be, too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Orleans Saints Go 0 for 4

Man, oh, man. It's inexplicable. What a difference a year makes. :-(

My Problem with Ayn Rand

My blog surfing this weekend has brought me across some gushing commentary on Ayn Rand and her magnus opus, Atlas Shrugged. I read that book some years ago. Although I found the writing itself to be mostly klunky, oppressive, tedious, and lacking subtlety and grace, it did have its moments of inspiration in the realm of ideas, if not in the realm of literary aesthetics. I can appreciate the regenerative and indefatigable individualism that she constantly beats over the reader's head. It's a very Teddy Rooseveltian kind of thing that I have some admiration for. But this individualism, presented in the untempered and unreflective way that she does, has its nasty side, too, which, unfortunately, dominates the narrative. Outside of some of my problems with the substance of her positions, which I'll get to in a moment, Rand tells a story in Atlas Shrugs that lacks joy and contentment. Her heroes, Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, and John Galt are basically unhappy and unfulfilled human beings. They are angry and bitter with the world and with their fellow human beings such that they just opt out of the world. The entire story and its characters, including both the heroes and the villains, are devoid of love, empathy, and satisfaction. That's one thing.

The other has to do with the underlying point of the whole story, which is, when you boil it down to its essentials, to make a virtue out of selfishness. Her characters lack a kind of spirituality that nourishes souls. Call it a lack of religious faith, if you will, and the elevation and worshipping of the human will above all else. As a philosopher, Ayn Rand is nothing more than a poor man's Nietzsche. And Atlas Shrugged is a rather plebian version of the majestic Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Now don't get me wrong ... I'm not a great Nietzsche fan either, but one cannot deny the grandeur of his writing. On purely aesthetic and artistic grounds as a writer, Nietzsche puts Rand to shame. But I'm getting sidetracked. Back to the point. The virtue of selfishness characteristic of the "Objectivist" philosophy that Rand promotes in her writings allows no room for the virtue of altruism.

It is no wonder that Ayn Rand is wildly popular among the 16 to 24 year old demographic. Most of this demographic don't really understand unconditional love and the responsibilities, not to mention personal fulfillment, that come with it. Personally, I find it telling that Rand never had children. It would be hard for Rand to explain, much less embrace, her philosophy when faced with the selflessness and lifelong unconditional giving that not only comes with parenting and lasts a lifetime, even after kids are grown and independent, but which also actually provides joy to parents.

There is value in altruistic selflessness. It propels individuals to charity, it solidifies in human beings a sense of justice, and it cultivates a belief in the inherent dignity and worth of fellow human beings. It creates hope and provides a path to personal redemption. A healthy individualism has its place; but it should never replace unconditional love. It is a cold and lonely job that Atlas does, bearing the world on his shoulders like he does; but no one says it has to be that way.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mexico: A Global Studies Handbook

Well, after a long and difficult road, my book on Mexico is done and is turned in to the Publisher for the final editorial stage. I'm sure I'll have to do some cleaning up a bit, but it's done. It'll be the last in a series of country studies that I helped to put together. If you want to get a preview of the series, check out the website for the series that the Publisher (ABC-Clio) has set up for it.

The Warrantless Blogtapping Program

Issue: The Obama Candidacy and Race

Rightwing Blogger John Hawkins, in response to a question about why Hillary leads Obama in most head-to-head state polls, had this to say:

As to why Hillary is beating Obama, well, aside from the fact that he has slightly less experience than Hillary, black Americans make up roughly a quarter of Democratic voters, but there are only a handful of black Democrats in Congress who've been elected in Democratic districts that aren't majority black. In other words, liberals support programs like Affirmative Action because they think blacks are inferior to whites and they don't want people they regard as their inferiors representing them in Congress -- or as their nominee in 2008. Obama has been a rock star during the primary season, but the racists in the Democratic Party will probably prevent him from getting elected.
Notice two things here. First, Hawkins presumes that the only likely way a black Democrat can get elected is if he or she runs in a majority black district. In other words, black people vote for black people because they are black. He doesn't talk about black candidates being elected on the substance of their positions or on the issues relevant to the local community. He's not interested in this. Heck, he doesn't even consider this as a possibility. Second, Hawkins also thinks liberal preference for Hillary over Obama is because liberals think blacks are inferior. What? Are blacks such the "objects" in Hawkins' mind that they can't be thought of as holding an independent ideology, that they can't be included among the category of "liberals"? Think about it, by Hawkins' logic, black voters who prefer Hillary over Obama must think that they themselves are inferior to whites. In fact, Hawkins doesn't even consider that there are black folk who support Hillary. He just assumes that black Democrats, if they don't consider themselves inferior to whites, must have to vote for the black guy.

In short, I look at the way Hawkins phrases his arguments and I wonder: who is it that is making surface-level racist assumptions about voting behavior and candidate preference here? Hint: it ain't white liberal Democrats.

Rush the Disingenuous Dissembler

Rush Limbaugh is now saying that he never called Brian McGough a "suicide bomber" as if his use of the specific words "suicide bomber" is what makes it so. Well, it is true that Rush never called him a "suicide bomber," he just described him exactly in the terms as one would describe a "suicide bomber." Here's exactly what Rush said. You make up your mind if Rush is being disingenuous:

You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media and a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into.
How can anyone defend Rush here? If I were an honest conservative, I'd be embarrassed by Rush, not only with this pathetic dissembling, but also by his presuming that this soldier is just a mindless dupe of the left who is incapable of thinking for himself.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rush Limbaugh on Soldier Intelligence

I wonder if the Dittoheads and other rightwing pundits and bloggers will jump all over Rush for his patronizing disrespect of US soldiers. I mean, really, not only did Rush Limbaugh basically accuse a soldier of being unable to think for himself and of being the dupe of the left, he also likens the soldier to a suicide bomber. Really.

Rush, with his "talent on loan from God" majestic and omniscient "wisdom," spins this soldier's opinions and thoughts according to his own convoluted logic. Of course, in Rush's myopic worldview it is just impossible to be a decorated Purple Heart veteran of the Iraq War AND a critic of the war. Hence, this soldier must be a feeble dupe of the anti-war left. What's Rush likely to say next about this soldier? That his anti-war stance is a product of brain damage caused by the shrapnel he took to his head while serving in Iraq? Puh-leeze!

That's bad enough as it is, but then look at how Rush tries to then turn around this soldier's sacrifice and equate the man to a suicide bomber! It's just stunningly and brazenly disrespectful of this soldier when you think about it. I mean, this guy comes out with some strong and powerful criticism of Rush, and what does Rush do? He basically calls the guy a suicide bomber who can't think for himself. To listen to Rush speak, this U.S. soldier is, in effect, the worst kind of enemy to Rush Limbaugh and all that is good and strong about America that Rush thinks he himself epitomizes. It's pathetic and vile, really. Rush removes any kind of agency from this soldier, which disrespects this man's intelligence, and then he likens him to some of the vilest of America's enemies -- an enemy, in fact, that actually gave the soldier the very injury that earned him his Purple Heart. Ain't Rush sweet?

And Rush has the gall to pretend that it's the left who thinks soldiers are fools and who "use" the military for their own political purposes.

I wonder what the Dittoheads and the rightwing blogosphere will say about Rush now? I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Phony Soldiers versus Stuck in Iraq

Rush Limbaugh is on the hot seat for appearing to believe that U.S. Iraq War veterans who criticize the war are "phony soldiers."

Oh, but wait ... Apparently, when Rush referred to phony soldiers, he didn't really mean it in the plural, although that's precisely what he said. He didn't really mean to refer to "these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media," although that's precisely what he said. No, instead, he really just meant one soldier in particular: Jesse MacBeth. But you can't blame people for thinking otherwise. Let's review: when Rush made the "phony soldiers" comment, it was in direct response to a caller on his show who was complaining in sweeping, general terms that "they [leftist critics of the war] never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue —"

Really?!? Leftist critics "never" talk to real soldiers? Am I to understand that the only "soldiers" leftists talk to are the phony soldiers? That's what Rush says! And, you know what the converse of this claim is, don't you? Well, let me tell you: those soldiers who do talk to leftists must be the "phony" ones, or else leftists wouldn't be talking to them, would they?

Well, my goodness! Excuse me for getting confused. Now, could it be that Rush Limbaugh really did mean just Jesse MacBeth, but simply "botched" the delivery of this meaning?

Maybe. Maybe. In fact, probably.

I'm willing to give Rush Limbaugh the benefit of the doubt, under one condition. That Rush Limbaugh and his defenders give John Kerry the benefit of the doubt that his "Stuck in Iraq" comment was, indeed, a botched joke referencing George W. Bush, which it most clearly was.

For all those Dittoheads who are now asking that the "context" of Rush's comment be taken into consideration and that the full transcript of his show be parsed and that we try to be sensitive to Rush's "intended" meaning of his "phony soliders" comment, even though the literal meaning of this comment is ambiguous, I ask for the same consideration of "context" as it refers to Kerry's "stuck in Iraq" comment, for the same attention to the full transcript of Kerry's speech and not just the unflattering soundbite, for the same sensitivity to Kerry's intended meaning of his "stuck in Iraq" comment.

If Kerry deserved being raked over the coals for his "botched joke," then Rush deserves it for this careless, ill-phrased, and ill-timed comment, too. And I hope the soldiers at are as relentless in their "Swiftboating" attacks on El Rushbo (see below) as he and his Dittoheads were on Kerry.

What goes around, comes around.