Friday, December 31, 2010

Nietzsche’s New Year's Resolution

Probably written on New Year's Day 1880 or 1881, and published in 1882's Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft (The Joyful Wisdom), my favorite of Nietzsche's books, this resolution beautifully sums up the internal struggles of a notorious nay-sayer who also aspires to be, and is, a yea-sayer -- a side of this alleged nihilist that's too often overlooked. Nietzsche has always struck me as the most human of the major philosophers. Here his humanity peeks out from behind the armoured exterior.

Nietzsche's New Year's Resolution:

"Today everybody permits himself the expression of his wish and his dearest thought; hence I, too, shall say what it is that I wish from myself today, and what was the first thought to run across my heart this year - what thought shall be for me the reason, warranty, and sweetness of my life henceforth. I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dead Sea Scrolls

"Archaeologists excavating the west side of the U.S. Capitol grounds reportedly have stumbled upon a frayed, faded, soiled old parchment, dating to the nation’s earliest days, which they say could have explosive implications for what goes on in the chambers above. Scholars hope the document, which they call “The Constitution,” may hold long-forgotten clues about what motivated the colonists to free themselves from British rule. It may, they say, even be the original blueprint, according to which the former republic was supposed to be organized. The political implications could be explosive, according to those who’ve read it, since it reportedly sets explicit limits on the size and scope of the central government and grants states and individuals a level of autonomy – a level of “freedom” – that is unthinkable today. In a related development, some members of Congress are threatening to open the next session by actually reading this so-called Constitution into the public record, which critics call a subversive, politically-motivated stunt designed to dredge-up old longings for liberty and sow doubts about the now-widely-accepted federalization of everything. It’s an interesting old relic, say most capital city insiders, but irrelevant to how things work in the modern era."

This parody of a (not-so-farfetched?) future news story is prompted by reports that subversives in the U.S. House of Representatives plan to open the 112th Congress by reading the U.S. Constitution, out loud and right in front a everybody, and have instituted new rules requiring that any new bill introduced cite some constitutional authority before the clerk will file it.

The moves, meant to show Tea Partiers that Republicans have gotten their pro-Constitution message, naturally evoke skepticism in certain quarters:

"I think it's entirely cosmetic," said Kevin Gutzman, a history professor at Western Connecticut State University who said he is a conservative libertarian and sympathizes with the tea party. "This is the way the establishment handles grass-roots movements," he added. "They humor people who are not expert or not fully cognizant. And then once they've humored them and those people go away, it's right back to business as usual. It looks like this will be business as usual - except for the half-hour or however long it takes to read the Constitution out loud."

But also enthusiasm:

""It's a big deal," said Brendan Steinhauser, director of federal and state campaigns at FreedomWorks. "That's a very basic starting point for all legislation - not only should we do it, can we afford to pay for it, but can we do it?"

Most, like me, probably will adopt a wait-and-see attitude about this renewed reverence for The Constitution. "You can do the talk, but you have to do the walk," one Connecticut Tea Party leader told the Post. "It may be an olive branch," said another. "People are excited to see that our leaders know there's a relevance to the Constitution in the process. But I don't think it will make people any less vigilant in looking at the laws that are being introduced."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"The Green Gavel" Not Quite Gone Yet

I wish this news item were reporting the retirement of U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, rather than just his shift to "senior" status, since he's long been the go-to guy for extreme greens looking for a friendly court and favorable ruling -- including, most recently, one restoring gray wolves to the endangered species list, even though they're overrunning many parts of the West.

Molloy is a not just an activist judge, he's the activist's judge -- a man whose radical, green-leaning rulings made him a virtual dictator of policy on millions of acres of public land. He's also a prime example of why the lifetime appointment of federal judges is a bad idea. Senior status means Molloy can take his act on the road, as a traveling judicial activist. "I imagine he will sit on the 9th Circuit by invitation," one colleague told The Billings Gazette, referring to the most notoriously-liberal court in the land.

He'll fit right in, no doubt.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

They Shoot Horses Don't They?

Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet reportedly fear that some important items for Colorado will fall along the wayside if the lame duck Congress fails to pass an omnibus, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink public lands bill by the time it adjourns. But I say let the lame duck session, and everything left unfinished, die, since little good can come from this sort of 11th-hour sausage-making. They shoot horses, don't they?

Most Americans still don't have a clue what was in the last catch-all public lands monstrosity, rammed through in early 2009 in similarly-rushed circumstances. That "omnibus" was a dumping ground for 160 bills that couldn't find any other way of garnering majority support. And here we are, less than 2 years later, engaged in the same tawdry exercise. The only reason Congress can get away with it is that this really is (what Gore Vidal called) The United States of Amnesia.

If the items Udall and Bennet seek have enough merit to win a majority the honest way -- and some might -- the senators should have a very good chance of reviving them in the next Congress. If the only way to pass good bills is to package them with bad ones, the system really is broken.

It's time to treat this lame duck just as we treat lame horses, by putting it out of its misery, before it can do any more harm. If these items have to die with it, so be it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Flirting with Disaster

As a Michigan native I'm partial to wolverines, even if they haven't won a Rose Bowl in too many years. But I still believe Colorado would be crazy to welcome reintroduction of the animals into the state, given the headaches we face with current listings and the obvious dysfunctionality of the Endangered Species Act. Until the law is fixed, we shouldn't invite any more trouble, no matter how cute and fuzzy-faced the creature may be.

We already have major problems with the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, as most locals know, and those problems just multiplied with the decision by the feds to expand "critical habitat" for a subspecies of questionable scientific validity. We're only now beginning to feel the impacts of Canada lynx reintroduction, even though we were promised, when the effort began, that Colorado would be spared the regulatory hammer if it went along with the experiment. That, we now know, was a bait and switch.

And it's only a matter of time before a significant number of federally-reintroduced wolves wander into the state, dragging Colorado into the political and legal quagmire faced by Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, as they try to manage the animals and force a de-listing through the courts. The wolf fight has demonstrated beyond a doubt that ESA is broken. And that problem will become Colorado's problem in not-too-many years.

No, no, hell no. Coloradans should vigorously oppose any effort to import wolverines into the state -- unless they come wearing maize and blue, with those hideously cool helmets, to open up a can of Big Ten-style whoopass on the hapless CU Buffs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Boulder Way

I guess Boulder's social engineers never heard the old adage about leading horses to water.

Gang Granola is trying to force healthier eating habits on area school kids, but the effort is faltering and losing money, according to this report in today's Daily Camera, indicating that the kids can't be force-fed jicama and beets and spaghetti squash (yum, yum!). The story doesn't say so, but the effort has probably spawned a booming black market in contraband Twinkies and Honey Buns at Sanchez Elementary School.

"If the adults are enthusiastic about it, the kids will try it," Sanchez Principal Doris Candelarie told the newspaper. "We're getting them to try different things. They've tried jicama, beets, apricots, plums. Many of them haven't had a lot of the fresher food. They've had to change their palates."

What planet is Candelarie living on? On the Earth I'm familiar with, there's a reverse correlation between the enthusiasms of adults and the tastes of their children. My mother's enthusiasm for liver and Castor oil never won me over, and I'm sure Candelarie's fondness for spaghetti squash is driving her young charges in the opposite direction.

Not to be deterred, the healthy food fanatics are collecting private donations in order to keep the food torture going. If curtailing options and subsidies won't work, the next step will probably turn coercive -- strapping members of the Healthy Food Resistance into modified dentist chairs, perhaps, and force-feeding them tofu burgers.

That's the Boulder way, after all -- better living through government intervention.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Confession of Al Gore

Energy realist Robert Bryce (author of several excellent books on energy issues) writes about Al Gore's alcohol problem in the Daily Beast. It wasn't the devil, but raw presidential ambition, that lured the former divinity student over to the dark side. But now he's come clean, by joining an Ethanolics Anonymous 12-step program. It had to be good for his soul.

I seriously doubt this admission of fallibility by the High Priest of Environmental Hype will lead to other recantations, but one can always hope.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Useful Idiots

R. Emmet Tyrell writes an epitaph for liberalism in today's Wall Street Journal, but it's less than convincing, given the nation's steady (if sometimes fitful) drift toward Euro-Socialism. The problem isn't self-described liberals or leftists, but (as with the former Soviet Union) the fellow travelers -- those who don't openly espouse a doctrine but consciously or unconsciously advance the agenda, because it serves their interests or lines their pockets.

The problem isn't the zealots -- it's the "useful idiots," in Lenin's words. And liberalism has an army of those marching with it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Something To Be Proud Of

This item in Men's Health Magazine is sure to fuel false perceptions about the influence Christian conservatives supposedly wield in Colorado Springs, but it also spotlights one of the city's underappreciated virtues. The magazine based its ranking not just on how many religious organizations we host, but on how generously locals volunteer and give to charity. That's what landed us on the top of the list.

"While it's true that Colorado, at 5,980 feet above sea level, is closer to heaven than even the Mile High City, we used a different set of numbers to divine our findings. We scoured the U.S. Census and the yellow pages ( for places of worship per capita. Then we tallied up religious organizations (U.S. Census) and the number of volunteers who support these groups ( Finally, we considered the amount of money donated to religious organizations (Bureau of Labor Statistics and spent on religious books (Mediamark Research)."

This is a city where people render assistance to others in a very hands-on way, working through a wide variety of associations and organizations, secular as well as religious. It's been reported before that Springs residents tend to donate and volunteer at levels above the national average. This ranking confirms it. And while Springs-bashers may seize on the item to paint a simplistic and inaccurate portrait of this great and generous city, I count it as another feather in our caps.