Congratulations, Mr. Favre

There’s almost no chance that Brett Favre won’t break Dan Marino’s record for most TD passes in a career in today’s game at the Metrodome, Vikings fans are merely hoping that he also breaks George Blanda’s record for most INTs in a career as well.

In both cases, it would be fitting. I remember seeing many a Favre interception in the Hump back when I had season tickets; I can still recall correctly calling his first interception in his first pass in the Pro Bowl before the ball was snapped. Hey, the NFC had the ball on the twenty yard line, the game doesn’t count, where else is he going to do but drill the ball into the end zone as hard as he can? As the Sports Guy points out, after 16 years, he’s not playing any differently, he’s not managing the game, he’s going out as a gunslinger and you have to respect that.

Although we’d all love to see an upset today – how typical that the line for a Vikes-Packers game should open at 1 even though the Pack is 3-0 and the Vikes are 1-2 – Vikings fans like and respect Favre and it won’t surprise me at all if they give him a standing ovation when he breaks Marino’s record. And they DEFINITELY will give him one if he manages to break Blanda’s.

Leadership secrets

The Leadership Secrets of Satanas Rex

by His Nethereal Majesty Lucifer the Satan I, Lord of Hell, God of This Age, Prince of This World, and by divine proclamation Accursed of God, Banished From Heaven and Condemned to the Pit.

Do you seriously expect to learn anything about leadership from some pinhead who managed to suck his way up to straight As in high school, snowed the admissions board with a cheesy essay about how much he wants to change the world, then rode the Ivy League gravy train into a fast-track slot at a Fortune 500 company? Are you genuinely impressed by petty little pikers whose silver tongues let them grab the brass ring just long enough to jump with a golden parachute before their corporations crash and burn?

I eat guys like that for breakfast. Literally. Their souls, anyhow. Let’s just say you don’t see a lot of Chief Executive Officers in Heaven. Or lawyers.

You want leadership? Then answer me this. Where do you think the world heading right now? To Hell, exactly. And guess who’s taking it there? You’re damned right it’s me!

You want vision? I’ve been planning this global governance thing for more than six thousand years. One world, one humanity, one leader – me! You want foresight? Hell, I saw what needed to be done back when you mortals were running around in bear skins with your bare asses hanging out, divided into fifty thousand different tribes and clans, and every rock big enough to take a dump on was claimed by its own so-called king.

You want management? Let’s see you try ruling over two-thirds of the fallen Host of Heaven, from Seraphim to Succubi. It’s like herding cats, if cats were immortal rebels with the power to destroy entire nations. And if you think you’ve got HR problems, try having secretaries who never wear clothes and are so damn hot that it’s a sexual harassment suit in the making just to stand in the same office with them. (And you’ve seen the statues, let’s face it, ain’t no hiding that thing when the blood gets flowing, you know what I’m saying? Plus, I don’t usually wear pants.)

You want charisma? Who do you think talked the angelic Host into falling in the first place? Here’s the first secret, you don’t talk people into following you, you make them think it’s impossible to not follow you. Hell, even God’s kid knows that, deep down, everybody wants to follow an Alpha. But no one’s more Alpha than Alpha than me, I’m the original O.G.. Look, whose sign is that everybody makes with their hands when they’re banging their heads and rocking out? That’s right. Mine, motherfucker, mine!

…to be continued

Does he have the stones?

Ahmadinejad extends the invite:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has extended an invitation to U.S. President George W. Bush to speak at an Iranian university if the American leader ever traveled to the Islamic Republic, state-run television reported Friday.

I am no fan of the president’s, but I’d be impressed with him if he did accept the offer. And while I’m utterly opposed to the idea of attacking Iran – strategically speaking, it would cross the border of insanity on which the administration’s foreign policy has been hitherto tap-dancing – but I have to admit it would be incredibly impressive in the grand imperial manner if Bush showed up, spoke at the university, and concluded with informing the mullahs that if they didn’t comply with his demands, he’d be back for an encore, accompanied by the U.S. Marines, in three months time.

If you’re going to be oppressed by an imperial dictator, it might as well be an imperial dictator with a sense of style.

Just as we imagined

The Fraters Libertas have lost their punching bag, but on his way out, Jim Boyd admits that the action behind the scenes at the Star & Sickle was pretty much as everyone to the right of Barbara Streisand had assumed:

If you’ve ever heard the Star Tribune called the Red Star, you can probably blame Jim Boyd, at least in part. As deputy editor of the paper’s editorial page, he’s one of a handful of editorial writers who plots out its official stance on issues from Iraq to a statewide smoking ban to political endorsements. This morning, Minnesota Monitor confirmed that Boyd will be taking a voluntary buyout and leaving the paper after nearly 27 years of service, and that the editorial page staff of 12.5 full-time positions will be trimmed by five….

McClatchy didn’t approve of the Star Tribune’s outspoken editorials, he [Boyd] said, mainly because they “hated any kind of nail sticking up” and felt the editorials were harming the company financially. So they instituted what editorial page staffers jokingly call the “codpiece” — the “conservative of the day.”

“They ordained that we would have a conservative of the day. I’ve got to tell you, you run out of good ones real quick,” he said. “You’ve got Steve Chapman, whom I really like, who’s a libertarian and a good guy. So you didn’t mind running him, but you kind of held your nose when you ran Mona Charon or Debra Saunders. I mean, good grief. Jonah Goldberg? Finally, we were able to get rid of that bugger.

The amusing thing is that I’ve been nationally syndicated twice, which is twice more than nearly every other Minnesota columnist including those at the Star Tribune. Of course, I never bothered submitting an op/ed column to the Red Star; since I grew up reading it, I knew there was a better chance that I’d be named heir to the British throne.

I did send a sample column into the Pioneer Press when there was a vacancy on the editorial page back when I was writing for them, but I wasn’t too surprised to be politely informed that “it just wasn’t what they were looking for”. As it happened, I had submitted a column that opposed the public financing of stadiums on the very week that they were running a series of front page stories explaining how desperately important it was for Minnesota taxpayers to fund Carl Pohlad’s hobby.

But the good old Pioneer Press did give me nearly half the editorial page once. Apparently, when the Unibomber’s manifesto came out, no one on the editorial board could make heads or tails of what he was talking about. Someone finally had the bright idea of turning it over to the strange guy with the mohawk who writes about games.

Faith and the bullet

An English atheist observes the events in Burma:

Something old is playing out. On one side, shaved heads and ranks of red robes; on the other, frightened and angry young men in uniforms, banging their batons against their riot shields and raising their rifles. Barricades, plumes of smoke from teargas canisters. And Buddhist monks, wearing sandals, staring down the guns.

It’s very moving. But more than that, it is food for thought. This – these monks staring down the guns – presents a problem for a militant secularist in the Dawkins or Hitchens mould. I don’t mean that it has any bearing on the argument about whether there is or is not a God. Buddhist monks don’t worship anything resembling the God on whom the Dawkins guns are trained in any case; and the fact that they stare down the guns doesn’t make a difference to whether or not what they believe is true.

But stare down those guns they do – and their behaviour does have a strong bearing on the question of whether religious belief “poisons everything”, as Hitchens puts it. I’d submit, as an irreligious bystander, that one of the things that helps those monks hold the line is faith. The form that their resistance takes is shaped by that faith – and it is uniquely powerful.

The reason that religious faith and totalitarianism will always be at odds is because the entire point of totalitarianism is its demand that there is nothing greater than the State. The Italian Fascists put it most succinctly: Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato.

But God and even the supernatural are things beyond the inherently material State, at least in the absence of a god-king. (None of whom, historically, have ever been totalitarian rulers; Hitchens’s example of the Japanese emperor is downright amusing when one considers how little power the Japanese emperors posssessed since the Taira and the Minamoto were fighting over the Shogunate in 1160.) Uneasy lies the regime that sets itself against religion, as we have often seen, such uneasiness usually devolves into violence.

That winning atheist charm

So Christopher Hitchens is a drunken, uncouthe buffoon. This isn’t exactly news, of course:

Eyewitnesses report that Hitchens erupted into a drunken rage at a recent promotional event for his book. Hitchens reportedly descended from the stage, visibly inebriated, approached a Roman Catholic priest in the audience, and began shouting at him, only inches from his face. Hitchens’ manner appeared so physically menacing, witnesses say, that a plainclothes bodyguard on duty at the event rushed in and escorted the drunken scribe from the room.

All of this happened four and a half months ago, on May 1. It was never reported in the press. A conspiracy of silence shielded the bestselling author from the negative publicity his behavior seemingly should have earned him. Indeed, the world at large would know nothing of this incident, had Hitchens himself not chosen to mention it in the September 2007 issue of Vanity Fair….

One eyewitness states that Hitchens’ “drunken, rambling, anti-Semitic, bigoted and foul-mouthed rant” caused “two-thirds of the people to leave in disgust” before the talk had ended.

Hitchens responds thusly: “You probably know that the charge against me is a standard and oft-repeated one, which would either mean that I am always incapable with drink (in which case one wonders how I manage to meet all my deadlines) or that a cliché is at work.”

Now, Hitchens is far too literate to be unaware that the drunken asshole who nevertheless manages to write interesting prose while intoxicated is somewhat of a cliché in itself. His denial at the linked site is interesting in that it isn’t so much a denial as an attempt to deflect the subject. It seems he may actually be a little ashamed of his behavior, since he was trying to spin it even though he was given the every chance to put it behind him.

But being a socially autistic bully, he just couldn’t pass up the chance to take a free shot in print at a priest. Given that there was a room full of people at the event, I have a feeling the story of his boorish behavior will be confirmed in due time. But what is more troubling than Hitchens’s behavior is that no one saw fit to speak up about it until Hitchens himself decided to drew attention to the incident in his Vanity Fair piece.

It’s a pity that no matter how drunk Hitchens might get during a debate with me, he still wouldn’t dare to get in my face. I’m just not sure if it’s my stunning good looks or the 17-inch guns.

Here’s the transcript; I found the following exchange to be rather more interesting than the brouhaha:

Unidentified Audience Member: [inaudible] wasn’t the Marxist dialectical materialism a form of religion?

Christopher Hitchens: I won’t have a word said against Marxist dialectical materialism.

Unidentified Audience Member: Repeat the question, please?

Christopher Hitchens: The lady asked, Wasn’t Marxist dialectical materialism a form of religion? Well, the answer to that is that yes, in a way, it was. It was designed as it was to be the negation of faith.

Here’s the common misquotation in modern discourse. Who here has not heard it said that Marx said that religion was the opium of the people? Hands up who hasn’t heard that. Good. He said absolutely no such thing. In his contribution to the — his introduction, actually, to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right– Karl Marx says the following about religion. He says, “Religion is the heart of the heartless world, the spirit of the spiritless situation,” and adds that religion “has plucked the flowers from the chain, not so that we shall bear the chain without any consolation, but so that we shall break the chain and cull the living flower.” It’s very important that you understand that difference.

And the lady asked me as a supplementary question, Isn’t it the case that he learned all this from, as it were, Western civilization? It’s true to an extent. I mean, he was the son of a rabbi, but he repudiated Judaism. But it is the — I think you’ll see it’s the absolute negation of the vulgar parody of what Marx is supposed to have believed.

And for this reason, of course, I would say, to declare oneself a Marxist in any sense at all is to say, No, it’s not a religion; it is defined as a non-belief in the supernatural and as a repudiation of anything could be called a faith. Marxism’s great mistake was it believed it had found material evidence for a past, a present and a future; and that material means alone could install it. You could say that that was a terrible idea, but you can’t call it a religion.

So not only does Hitchens nearly attack a priest, but he also manages to undercut Sam Harris’s attempt to delink atheism from Communism.

Wheeling while black

This has to be the funniest mismatch between the audio and the video that I’ve ever seen. If the humor is lost on you because you don’t follow the NFL, it might help to know that Buffalo tight end Kevin Everett fractured his spine and was thought to be permanently paralyzed in the Bills game against the Broncos a few weeks ago.

Mailvox: flipping the order

Billy is out of order:

[I]t’s a startling coincidence that the wealthiest, freest countries in the world – generally speaking – are functioning democracies or on that path.

I don’t see it as a coincidence, I merely conclude you have the causal order reversed. From what I have observed, I conclude that freedom leads to wealth, which may or may not lead to democracy, which subsequently leads to decadence, tyranny and societal collapse.

The United States has more democracy as measured by the number of voters enfranchised but less freedom and economic growth than it had at the end of the 19th century. A century from now, I expect it will have very little of the three, assuming it even exists as a sovereign nation.

Freedom and democracy are not synonymous, from ancient Athens to modern Switzerland there are many examples demonstrating how the relationship is intrinsicly hostile. Consider the results of three of the most one-sided democratic results ever recorded on a national level: averaging 95.9 approval with 95.5 percent of the registered voters showing up to vote, the German Reichskanzler was able to affirm that the will of the German people supported his decisions to assume dictatorial rule, seize the Rhineland, and annex Austria.

An unnecessary war

Saddam Hussein offered to step down and go into exile one month before the invasion of Iraq, it was claimed last night. Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion). The extraordinary offer was revealed yesterday in a transcript of talks in February 2003 between George Bush and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the President’s Texas ranch….

“The Eqyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein,” said Mr Bush. It seems he’s indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he’s allowed to take $1billion and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction.”

Asked by the Spanish premier whether Saddam – who was executed in December last year – could really leave, the President replied: “Yes, that possibility exists. Or he might even be assassinated.”

But he added that whatever happened: “We’ll be in Baghdad by the end of March.”

I imagine Hussein would have settled for the money, since we now know that he was bluffing about having any nuclear weapons. (If chemical weapons are WMDs, you probably have the necessary ingredients in your house.) Of course, taking him out the cheap and easy way wouldn’t have allowed the neocons to thump their chests and play Masters of the Universe, so it was never an option that the world democratic revolutionaries were likely to choose.

After all, it’s no fun to occupy a country if you don’t get to blow things up first.

UPDATE: Contrary to what some Bush defenders are claiming, the full transcript clearly shows that Bush had no interest in negotiating with Hussein:

Bush: Saddam won’t change and will keep playing games. The moment of getting rid of him has arrived. That’s it….

Aznar: An exile with some kind of guarantees?

Bush: No guarantees. He’s a thief, a terrorist, a war criminal.