Tuesday, 1/5/16

  1. RFK’s seductive misappropriation
  2. Could this be good news in disguise?
  3. Public lands
  4. The novel virtue of going off half-cocked
  5. Brief, cynical legislative preview


Interesting tidbit about a Robert F. Kennedy quote — maybe his most famous — and Justice Scalia:

[Scalia] concluded his talk by recalling RFK’s quote, saying it originally came from Shaw’s relatively obscure play, Back to Methuselah and RFK misinterpreted its meaning. Said Scalia:

“Shaw’s line … goes as follows: “You see things and you say, ‘Why; but I dream things that never were and say, Why not?” Shaw had the good sense to know that this motto is tempting, but not really a sound guide to human action. You see, in the play, the lines are attributed to a serpent, and addressed to a woman named Eve.”

With that, he smiled, walked off the stage, and went to lunch.

I hope Scalia, il Magnifico, lives to be a hundred and ten, and dies on the bench, fighting.

Me, too.


West Lafayette got a really crummy rating from Human Rights Campaign Municipality Equality Index. I’m feeling a bit of schadenfreude for Republican Mayor John Dennis, who has bent over backward forward to keep and extend West Lafayette’s 20+ year record of pro-gay virtue signaling.

It’s not enough, of course. It’s never enough.

The leech has two daughters:
    Give and Give.
Three things are never satisfied;
    four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
    the land never satisfied with water,
    and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

(Proverbs 30:15-16) Add a fifth: Gay rights demands. (Diederot should have stopped at “man will never be free enough.”)

In one sense, this is nothing new. I think it was William F. Buckley who quipped that “the problem with liberals is they can’t tell you in what kind of world they’d be conservatives.” But roughly 50 years of quickly broken “all we want is” this or that promises — of dreaming things that never were and saying, Why not? — justify the sense that it runs deeper with gay rights demands.

Man up, Mayor Dennis, and tell them to go [insert something rude].


“We will be here for as long as it takes,” said Ryan Payne, an Army veteran who characterized the group’s action as a liberation of public lands. “People have talked about returning land to the people for a long time. Finally, someone is making an effort in that direction.”

Oh, gosh, thanks Mr. Payne! But could you do me a favor? Could you remind me when I had a chance to vote for or against you as the custodian of the people’s land?

Some are already asking why the group isn’t being called terrorists. Some Democrats are indeed calling them terrorists. But most sane people aren’t.

I suspect it’s for the same reason that other, chronologically younger, adolescents, known as “students,” aren’t called terrorists when they take over the college President’s office with demands. Nobody seems to be expecting casualties unless the ghost of Janet Reno possesses Loretta Lynch to reprise the Branch Davidian denoument.


Speaking of shooting our mouths off in quick partisan gut-reaction:

Anyway, a great many people are going off half-cocked on this issue; and what those emails I got remind me is that going off half-cocked is now widely perceived as a virtue, and the disinclination to do so as a vice. Moreover, that poorly informed and probably inflammatory statement of Your Incontrovertibly Correct Position must be on the internet — and according to my first protestor either directly on or accessible to Twitter — or it doesn’t count towards your treasury of merit.

(Alan Jacobs) The specific issue  Jacobs had in mind isn’t all that important. He continues:

I want to suggest some alternative ways of thinking about these matters, and related ones:

  • I don’t have to say something just because everyone around me is.
  • I don’t have to speak about things I know little or nothing about.
  • I don’t have to speak about issues that will be totally forgotten in a few weeks or months by the people who at this moment are most strenuously demanding a response.
  • I don’t have to spend my time in environments that press me to speak without knowledge.
  • If I can bring to an issue heat, but no light, it is probably best that I remain silent.
  • Private communication can be more valuable than public.
  • Delayed communication, made when people have had time to think and to calm their emotions, is almost always more valuable than immediate reaction.
  • Some conversations are be more meaningful and effective in living rooms, or at dinner tables, than in the middle of Main Street.

In short, peer pressure is always terrible, and social media are a megaphone for peer pressure. And when you use that megaphone all the time you tend to forget that it’s possible to speak at a normal volume

Read the whole thing. It puts social media in perspective pretty well.


The Indiana Legislature is convening Tuesday and I’m filled with foreboding.

The GOP is poised to capitulate to the demands of business mucky-mucks for gay rights laws because things like gay rights laws are the kinds of things people like that like. Period. Full stop. No more questions.

I have four legislators with enough local connection that local media routinely cover them. Three of the four are Republicans. Three of the four will not do anything without a finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. The overlap between the two three-quarters is not complete.

I call an elected official who always has a finger in the air a “politician.” I call an elected official who tries to do the right thing without a finger in the air a “statesman,” especially if he advocates and leads for the right things. Richard Lugar, for instance, was a Statesman, so of course in this partisan age he was knocked off by a partisan hack.

Being a “politician” seems to be a politically winning formula, as one of the four is going on 34 continuous years of “service” (or whatever the heck you call it). But I sure as heck wish we had three-quarters (or more) statesmen representing my fair locality.

Period. Full stop. No more questions.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.