Tuesday, April 8, 2014


1. Rand Paul and 2016.

InstaPundit posted the following yesterday evening:

SOME THOUGHTS ON 2016 FROM AN ANONYMOUS JOURNALIST READER: “As delighted as I am professionally at the prospect of a Bush-Clinton extravaganza, I see the pending spectacle as another sign of the decline and fall of the American empire. Two tired old dynasties running two ponderous bloodless parties with advanced cases of syphilis. Bush-Clinton is the best these people can do, on the heels of this current farce? I’d be more enthusiastic about Rand Paul but I have no tolerance for any whiff of isolationism, and I’m afraid the whack apple hasn’t rolled far enough from the whack tree.”

It would appear that, whether accurately or not, Senator Paul's critics have succeeded in tarring him as an "isolationist" -- whatever that means in a world webbed by innumerable alliances and whose trade conduits run between and among all two hundred of the nations of the world. The word itself carries some unpleasant connotations, but the central questions to be explored include another of equal or greater importance:

What are Rand Paul's actual foreign-policy views?

If Senator Paul is merely more reluctant to intervene militarily in foreign conflicts than the most recent Republican presidents and presidential candidates, I'm with him. We reach for our military too easily; we tend to forget that the effects of even a clearly victorious war don't end with the signing of the armistice that ends live fire. But if he's of the true isolationist persuasion -- the one that says America should never send its military outside its borders unless American soil has been attacked -- then he's unsuitable for the White House.

Another point Senator Paul must clarify arises from his recent comments on Operation Iraqi Freedom. Does he hold that the war was morally wrong, morally acceptable but contrary to America's interests, or morally acceptable but followed up incorrectly? The United States has yet to engage in a war that's plainly immoral; we've gone to war for just causes only, even those wars that were unwise and obviously so in hindsight. Americans know it, and will not abide being told otherwise.

2016 is nearer than you think, Senator.

2. Rationality and Religion.

At PJ Media today, this old chestnut has been resuscitated:

Which is More Rational: Belief in God or Atheism?

And of course, the fur is already flying in the comments. So I just had to add my two cents:

"Which is more rational?" is a question that's inapplicable to the existence (or not) of God. The matter resides in the domain of faith -- i.e., the domain of non-verifiable, non-falsifiable propositions. One must accept or reject the existence of God without being able to prove one's conclusion by evidentiary or logical means.

It would be rational to believe in God if there were a way to prove His existence. It would be rational to disbelieve in God if there were a way to disprove His existence. However, the postulated nature of God excludes both those possibilities. Which is why there's no point in arguing about it with an atheist (if you're a believer) or with a theist (if you're a disbeliever).

There've been no rejoinders yet, whether for or against. We shall see.

3. Minorities that harbor really bad minorities.

Yesterday's piece about "favorite fruits" has, just as you might expect, drawn the usual river of venom. It rolls off my back, of course; after a certain amount of denunciation as a thoroughly evil person, you sort of get used to it, have buttons and T-shirts made up, and join the Cthulhu for President campaign ("Because You're Tired Of Choosing The Lesser Of Two Evils"). But it also got me thinking about activist minorities within "larger" minorities whose not-so-strident members wish the activists would pipe down, stop terrorizing cathedrals, stop blowing people up, et cetera ad nauseam infinitam.

A minority that remains to some degree excluded from general participation in American society needs to be on its best behavior. Angry "inner" minorities tend to spoil that for the rest. The implication is obvious: the larger group must find a way to discipline the smaller, more vocal one, in recognition of the media's incentives to give the angry group all the column-inches, thus ruining the larger group's image in outsiders' eyes.

This is particularly difficult in the case of Islam. Indeed, it might not be possible, because of the incentives and dynamics within that group. But American homosexuals might have a shot. Once again, we shall see.

4. A Request For My Readers.

I've begun a project that has a data-collection need I'm finding difficult to meet. Those Gentle Readers in locales other than New York are requested to help. It's not hard:

Please email me the price of a pound loaf of high-quality bread in your area.

Yes, this is about inflation and the value of the precious metals. Thanks in advance.


lelnet said...

Not sure which email you'd prefer we use for #4, so I'll just say here that earlier this week I bought precisely that, and the price was $1.89 (plus 7% sales tax). The location was Highland, IN. Prices may vary slightly from store to store or week to week, but this one was neither atypically low nor atypically high, for the area.

(No need to actually publish this comment unless you feel like it.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Fran,
This is what is on sale at Fareway in Iowa.
Fareway sliced French bread 16.99 oz. $1.88
Sara Lee Classic white 20 oz. $1.98
Sara Lee 100% whole wheat 20 oz. $2.88
Brownberry/Oroweat wide pan bread 24 oz. $2.88

Take care,
Dennis in Iowa

Spartacusz said...

Texas loaf of quality bread is $2.89

AuricTech said...

"Please email me the price of a pound loaf of high-quality bread in your area."

What do you consider "high-quality bread"?

Anonymous said...

Hi Francis. In Abilene Tx a loaf of Orowheat Wheat Nut bread sells for 3.13 with no tax on food. Have a great day, Ed, Texas

KG said...

Not that it's relevant, but a loaf of high quality bread here in Australia runs to about A$5.

Dale said...

From field reporter Dale in Blue Springs, Missouri--Oroweat Whole Wheat loaf is $3.19 (1lb 8 oz, standard loaf).

Magnus said...

Hi Fran,

You often speak of the venomous emails you receive, but you ought to publish a few of the choice ones from time to time. I don't think we quite understand / appreciate what you deal with.

Also, do you find that most criticism comes from the radical left or from so-called conservatives?

Thanks for all you do!

Anonymous said...

Pep farm is over 4 in NH.

Anonymous said...

You're trying to determine which other state you might want to migrate to?

Here in Jacksonville, FL -
Pepperidge Farm's Whole Grain 1.5 lb loaf is 4.29 at Publix. Cobblestone Mill New York Style Jewish Rye runs 3.29 at Winn Dixie, but 2.79 at Publix.

Rick C said...

I paid $2.49 yesterday at Kroger for Mrs Baird's Honey Wheat; the other flavors were the same price.

Tim Turner said...

East Bay (north of Berkeley, CA)

1 lb. 8 oz "off-brand" Honey Wheatberry - $2.99

2 lb. Oroweat Honey Wheatberry - $4.99