Mar 182014
 

animalwelfareI read a remarkable opinion piece several months ago that has since had me thinking every day about relationships between human beings and animals. I encourage you to read it at the link in the previous sentence. (Be warned that it will likely make you uncomfortable.)

Regular readers may remember the first or second time I blogged about it. I’ve mentioned a time or two since then that I’d like to do my next post series on how we treat animals. I think I’m finally ready to do that. This is the introduction to that series, intended to give you the lay of the land and let you know what to expect. I will begin the series proper next Tuesday. I think there are eight installments following. There may be as many as ten.

You need to know where I’m coming from. I have identified as right of center on a great many things for most of my adult life, and animal welfare is one of them. I believe that human beings have dominion over animals. I believe it is right and proper for animals to serve our needs (and to some degree, our wants).

What are those needs and wants? I can identify three broad areas:

  • We consume animals. Well, most of us do. We eat them. We also use products made from them.
  • We work with animals. From the battlefield to the laboratory, animals help us get things done.
  • We play with animals. Animals entertain us in many ways.

Large majorities of us are just fine with each of these bullets. I am fine with each of these bullets.

But the devil is in the details. (-5.)

Reading and reflecting on the above essay rammed a couple of things home for me:

  • You don’t have to be an extreme leftist nut case to have strong, yet reasonable, convictions on animal welfare.
  • There are several entities actively working to keep you as ignorant as possible on what really happens to animals in their purview, because it is in said entities’ respective financial interests to do so.

Of all species on Earth, only human beings have any deep understanding of ethics or morals. There are a few intriguing cases in the animal kingdom that hint otherwise, but for the most part, nature is neither kind nor cruel. Nature merely is. Kindness and cruelty are mentally significant for us and us alone.

It is for precisely that reason that we have a responsibility to maximize the quality of the lives of the animals serving our needs and wants. We are capable of contemplating and acting upon the concept. So we should.

I hope you’re intrigued enough to come with me on this exploration. Part I lands a week from today.

 Posted by at 6:54 pm
Mar 082014
 

jonstewartJon Stewart used to be funny.

I don’t mean on MTV. I mean on HBO. He played a slightly fictionalized version of himself during the last season or two of The Larry Sanders Show—as of 2014, the second-best television show ever made—and he was very good.

Of course, he’s most known for The Daily Show today. Stewart’s shtick now is anything but sophisticated. Wear a nice suit. Rock once in a while, maybe with a rehearsed wince or deliberate pause. (See David Letterman, ca. 1987.) Tell variations of the same four or five jokes. Flirt with substance once in a while, but when faced with any serious rhetorical return fire, quickly retreat to that hey-this-is-all-in-good-fun place.

Repeat.

Kevin Williamson just wrote one of the funniest, most dead-on pieces I’ve read in months. It is a viciously accurate deconstruction of Jon Stewart, and his audience, called The Destroyer Cometh. Read. Enjoy.

Now if you enjoy The Daily Show and have your head on straight and know what you’re viewing, then fantastic. My observation is that there are a whole lot of you who don’t know what you’re viewing. You see, Stewart’s program looks enough like a news show that many of his viewers take it as just that (or enough of it to partially check that mental box). Huge swaths of his audience are being “kept comfortable” and don’t even realize it.

A bit back, the great Jay Nordlinger actually quoted me in a column (though anonymously). He had solicited his readership for their “go-to lefty,” i.e. who did they read/listen to/watch to get the other side(s) of something? Here is the part of the email I sent him that he quoted:

I look at CNN and listen to NPR to see what the liberal who believes he is getting political variety is being fed. I read The Nation to see what the current liberal red meat is, and also because Katrina vanden Heuvel is gorgeous.

Now I know many, many more right-leaning folks with such habits—regularly and deliberately exposing themselves to opposing views—than I do left-leaning ones. In my experience, if a liberal even bothers to consider the value of such, s/he will do something like name three sources, all left of center, as evidence that s/he is consuming a balanced diet of ideas. Anything any further starboard than CNN is right-wing propaganda and instantly dismissed as valueless (or worse, inciting the ignorant passions of the knuckle-dragging racist misogynist chicken-hawk elitist gay-hating hypocritical conservatives).

(Throw in a “Faux News” as if you wrote it and invite us to enjoy that ceaselessly hilarious witticism while you’re at it.)

Here it is: I can discuss The Daily Show, The Nation, NPR, and any number of other left-of-center outlets intelligently, because I actually consume them. I almost never encounter a liberal who can demonstrate even passing familiarity with Fox News programming, National Review, or The Rush Limbaugh Show. They parrot what they’ve heard from people ideologically identical to themselves. They utterly implode when I invite them off script.

Is it Stewart’s occasional Obama joke that head-fakes his audience into thinking they’re getting anything but leftist pap? Is it just a desire to cement that with which they’re initially proceeding? I wrote several years ago about the ease with which you can validate anything. If you think x is true, then for practically any value of x, you’ll be able to find a web page, or a show, or a book that agrees. Is that as far as some people go?

Is that what keeps this smirking jackass on television?

 Posted by at 10:42 am
Mar 072014
 

“No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation.” – Barack Obama, September 23, 2009 I was reminded of that stupefyingly naive comment, from Obama’s first address to the United Nations, in Dr. Krauthammer’s recent column on our current state of foreign affairs. Our esteemed president is not such a fan of American [...]

 Posted by at 8:35 am
Jan 282014
 

I gave some thought to live-blogging tonight’s State of the Union address on Twitter, but decided to pass. I could write it, frankly. Our esteemed president is relentlessly predictable. I expect zero surprises. What would surprise me, though? Hmmm… “By any reasonable measure, the Affordable Care Act is a failure. I look forward to working [...]

 Posted by at 2:39 pm

BoWilliams.com is using WP-Gravatar