Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What DO Men and Women Want?

Before Christmas, NRO's Dennis Prager gave women a very strong hint about what their men might want to find under the tree.  Now he schools men on what their women might like for, oh I don't know, Valentine's Day...if not sooner.

WARNING:  Prepare to be offended if you've embraced any of the politically correct feminist doctrines of the past 50 or so years.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Reflection

As I understand it, the entire Christmas season as we currently celebrate it is chiefly a product of the Victorian era.  Think of those Currier & Ives postcards.  Prior to the 19th Century, Easter was the more significant Christian holiday and was recognized as such by nearly everyone in the West.  If you are a Christian today, Easter remains, at least theologically, the more important of the two occasions and if you were asked, you would no doubt concede as much.  But, as a consequence, the fact that we don't invest the same emotional energy, let alone all the attendant folderol, in Easter as we do Christmas, serves to shame us  a bit.  Should it?

Perhaps.  But I think there's a more substantive reason for the disparity than the mere fact that we've become foolishly trapped in a tradition that is actually of fairly recent vintage, or even that we've simply fallen victim to the siren song of commercialism. ("Make a buck, make a buck.")

Theologians sometimes refer to the "already and not yet" character of the Christian faith.  That is, in Christ's life, death, and resurrection the final victory is "already" won.  Righteousness and life have triumphed forever over sin and death.  Christ's perfect sacrifice is indeed "once for all".

But, as we know, and cannot deny, in this life, on this side of Paradise, sin still abounds and death's sting still abides.  Therefore, the victory assured by the empty tomb of Easter remains for us in a very real sense "not yet".

As a result, the Christian life we actually live retains much of the feel of "promise" about it.  That is, we experience it more like a journey than a journey's end.

 I think Christmas, as it marks the beginning of the Life whose end would make all the difference, retains that feel.  At Christmas, we remember and celebrate the beginning of the Life that is then not yet finished, even as our new life is not yet finished as well.

Might it be the case that we have come to celebrate Christmas more than we do Easter at least in part because we can identify with it more?  If so, then whatever sin we are guilty of for that inequity, I'm confident we'll find mercy nonetheless.  Why?  Because for what purpose other did God become man than to secure our forgiveness, forgiveness even for this?  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Delta Blues?

Maybe, maybe not. 

If you haven't already heard this, you will soon enough.  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is a racist.  Just ask the New York Times, and a rapidly increasing number of other Main Stream Media outlets as well. 

The Grey Lady published a hit piece yesterday insinuating that the Governor was sanitizing the history of his hometown's, Yazoo City, school desegregation and integration process that occurred during the late-1960s and early-1970s.  According to Barbour, it all went pretty smoothly.  And, as a matter of fact, it all did go  pretty smoothly.

So, what does this mean?  Or, should I say, what is it supposed to mean?  It means, of course, that Haley Barbour is not fit to be president.

But, if you can read between the lines, what it really means is that the liberal establishment is very afraid of a Haley Barbour candidacy.

For the Man Who Has Almost Everything

Ladies, still struggling to find just the right gift for your man this Christmas.  Read this column, deliver, and he'll worship you for it.  Men really are that uncomplicated.

If you can't deliver, then learn to fake it.  He'll still worship you for it.  As I said, men really are that uncomplicated.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back to the Numbers

The New York Times has produced a nice chart and map highlighting the changes in congressional representation the new census numbers will require.

I just noticed that Massachusetts is among those states that will lose a representative.  Is it possible that redistricting will eliminate Barney Frank's seat?  Or is that asking too much of Santa?

FCC Power Grab

"FCC Approves Plan to Regulate Internet"

I think this story is hugely important but not because it involves serious First Amendment issues of freedom of speech, or even because it may further harm the still struggling national economy.  (And not even because it, once again, demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of liberal Democrats.)  Think about it, by a narrow one-vote margin, three, count'em, three unelected bureaucrats have just decided US law...and we ain't just talkin' about the speed limit on the interstate.

In a more virile era, small "r" republicans across the nation would have immediately recognized this abomination for what it is and demanded a stop to it.  In such an era, the legislative power would have been jealously guarded by the legislators themselves and never, never, relinquished in its entirety to an administrative agency.  As it is, our legislators either obsequiously rooted for the FCC to begin regulating or did little more than petulantly stomp their feet while at the same time wring their hands hoping it would not.  This is disgusting.  This is embarrassing.

I posted some time back about my concern that the men and women we elect today seem to be missing something, missing, that is, the "personal motives", that James Madison addressed in Federalist #51, necessary to protect their office.  Instead, they seem  far too willing, because they are content, unconcerned, lazy, weak--I don't know, you tell me--to simply relinquish their power, and the duty that comes with it, just so long as they retain the perquisites of office.

If none of this really bothers you, then just wait.  Kathleen Sebelius, or whoever follows her, will soon be telling you precisely what is and what is not acceptable health care.  When you complain, count on your congressman just shrugging his shoulders.

The Numbers All Add Up

The census numbers, that is, which are to be released today.  As the Wall Street Journal and most other media outlets believe, they should add up to substantial gains for the GOP in 2012, and throughout the rest of the decade as well.  The country's population shift continues from the Rust Belt, a Democrat Party stronghold, to the more GOP-friendly Sun Belt.

But the numbers all adding up depends, of course, on whether the Republican Party elders encourage candidates who represent a real choice for the voters or, instead, forward more moderate, "No Label", whole wheat, low cal, Laodicean (see Book of Revelation 3:15-16), RINOs.

We're counting on them...and watching them too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Paragon of Virtue

"PETA Honors Bill Clinton"

Justice is served.  The "ethics" of our former president are at last recognized and rewarded.

"Life in the State of Nature..."

As some famous wag once put it, "is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."  And so it finally dawns as well on one erstwhile lover of nature, a professor of psychology no less, that it ain't all good, all the time.
Nonetheless, in resisting many things that I view as "unnatural"—nuclear weapons, global warming, chemical pollution, habitat destruction—while also honoring, respecting, defending, admiring, and nearly worshiping many things that are natural (sometimes just because they are natural), it is all too easy to get carried away, to forget that much in the world of nature is unpleasant, indeed odious. Consider typhoid, cholera, polio, plague, and HIV: What can be more natural than viruses or bacteria, composed as they are of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and the like? Do you object to vaccination? You'd probably object even more to smallpox.
On the other hand, when we learned just last week from an official report issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services that even second-hand tobacco smoke kills, and sometimes it does so immediately, we learned also that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 deadly chemical compounds.  When I heard that, I was reminded of a magazine advertisement of some 25-30 years ago.  The ad was a picture was of a beautiful and appetizing orange.  Beneath the picture was a long list of all the chemicals that naturally constitute an orange.  H2O, H2C4O3, that sort of thing, on and on, filling the rest of the page.  It  all looked pretty scary, but the point of the ad was that it needn't be, it was quite natural.

No one ever argued, including the Ancients, that using nature as a guide was clear and easy.  At the very least, we need always to distinguish human nature from the rest.  And then we need to distinguish even that nature from before the Fall and after it.

But then you're typical contemporary secular intellectual could never abide either of those important distinctions, could he?

John Henry Newman

If you're interested in such things (that's becoming a catchphrase of mine, isn't it?), I recommend to you a review by Eamon Duffy of John Cornwell's new biography of John Henry Newman.  The occasion of the biography is the recent move by Pope Benedict XVI towards the beatification of Newman.  I haven't read the biography itself, and probably won't, but the review is very well-written and highlights much, if you're sensitive to it, about the history of the church, the important differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, and how Newman was acutely aware of each's shortcomings.
Cornwell is of course the author as well of the controversial Hitler's Pope in which he argues that Pope Pius XII, in effect, aided and abetted the Nazis.  I realize that conservative Catholics may stop right there, but, according to Duffy anyway, Cornwell, while still hostile to the Church--according to him, Newman's  beatification is itself a move by the Church to tame him--is mostly sympathetic to the Victorian theologian and thinker. 

I should warn you that the first few paragraphs of the review are about the charge that Newman was (what else?) a closet homosexual.  But Duffy (and Cornwell) dismisses the charge as at best anachronistic and then quickly moves on to much more interesting matters.  Give it a read.    

Gay Like Me

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I suspect the military will somehow muddle through the multiple, and as yet unimaginable, challenges presented to it with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".  I do worry, however, that the repeal has in some fashion legitimated the absurd argument that the push for homosexual rights is at root much the same as that which the country experienced with the black civil rights movement.

Rush Limbaugh used to joke about being a "male lesbian."  You know, a woman, trapped in man's body, who prefers women.  He was joking, I'm not.

In order to put to the lie the crazy notion that being a homosexual is no different than being black, I would like to begin today a mass national movement.  Henceforward, when asked about our sexual orientation by any pollster, government official, or nosy reporter, and especially when filling out a census form or employment application, all of us, every adult male and female, should respond with a proud "You bet, I'm gay."  If the questioner resists, either because you don't look or act gay, or because the evidence of your life, a heterosexual marriage with two well-adjusted children, for example, suggests otherwise, the easy, the proper, answer is, "I'm repressed."

There's an added benefit as well.  The chattering class loves that kind of drama.  If a homosexual is a sympathetic figure entitled to a whole new panoply of rights and legal protections, then a repressed homosexual...  Why, the sky's the limit.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What Have We Wrought?

I'm guessing that by now you've heard about the fellow who broke into a school board meeting in Florida and opened fire.  He eventually killed himself, but only after being confronted and shot at by a security guard.  A comment made by the guard to the press after the fact is telling:
The first time I shot him, he had his back to me...and I was like 'I'm going to jail,'" Jones said. "I've been an investigator for 20 years and then a policeman for 35 years altogether, and it still ran through my mind. I couldn't help it.
This fellow's heroic action should be an occasion for unqualified celebration.  Instead, we have created, or tolerated the creation of, an environment in which not only does the guard question himself after the fact, but even during the crisis, he hesitates.  Had he hesitated just a moment more, innocent people might have been killed.

An environment such as this has to change...and it will.  The Great Reckoning continues.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Like a Sad Song

I'm just familiar enough with music to know that if it's sad song I want to write, I'd best begin by strumming a minor chord on my guitar.  That's what everybody says anyway.

But what everybody says may not be true at all.  If you're interested in such things, check out Daniel Wattenberg's interesting piece in The Atlantic in which he reports evidence that the convention of minor keys evoking sadness may indeed be wrong, or at least too simplistic to rightly be a convention.

But then I should have already known that.  While it's true that you can complicate it by adding minors here and there, Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is written in a major key and none other than Elvis himself called it the saddest song he'd ever heard.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Electronic Grunts"

My esteem for Victor Davis Hanson continues to grow.  His latest piece is a welcome defense of the tradition of focusing on the liberal arts in undergraduate education.

According to Hanson, among the most important things we lose when we fail to concentrate on them is the ability to communicate effectively.
The more instantaneous our technology, the more we are losing the ability to communicate. Twitter and text-messaging result in economy of expression, not in clarity or beauty. Millions are becoming premodern — communicating in electronic grunts that substitute for effective and dignified expression.
Contemporary discourse has become largely a series of "premodern...electronic grunts".  Perfect.  Wish I'd written that.

Until the Sun Goes Down..., cont.

The NRO's Victor Davis Hanson compares the current state of California with the one in which he grew up.  They are two very different places.

If ever conditions anywhere were ripe for a change of political/ideological direction, one would think California's would be so now.  And yet Democrats still swept all the major offices last month.

Can you say death wish?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Obama and Clinton and Bush

It appears that almost everyone in the chattering class is preoccupied with the "optics" (the silly new inside baseball word) of President Obama turning over the podium to former President Clinton and how that diminished Obama and how Clinton smirked and...

Has it occurred to no one that the real substance of that press conference is that now both of these world class tax-and-spend liberal Democrats find themselves in the supremely ironic position of defending the Bush tax cuts?  You know, the same cuts that ended the Clinton-era tax rates and that Obama vigorously ran against?

Who snookered whom?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Malthus Mistake

David Brooks' latest column directs the reader to a very interesting, and entertaining, video that shows how the world has become steadily healthier and wealthier since 1810.  Do check it out; it's short.

Brooks uses the information therein to make a different point, but as I watched it, it occurred to me how thoroughly it discredited the dire predictions of Thomas Malthus.  As fate would have it, Malthus began prophesying certain global decline at almost precisely the same time as the data in the video begins.  Basically, Malthus argued that global population growth would outpace the agricultural production necessary to sustain it and, as a result, catastrophe loomed.  Even without the formal data, we've known for a long while now that he was wrong.

Nevertheless, many embrace his general theory still and the Malthusians alive today are mostly found among the environmentalist crazies who see little but gloom and doom in our future.  1810 was chosen as the starting point for the data because it afforded a nice, round, 200-year look back, and because it coincided, more or less, with the acceleration of the already ongoing Industrial Revolution.  You know, the Revolution that started spilling all those unsustainable levels of carbon-monoxide and -dioxide into our atmosphere.  But, as the data demonstrates, the world has not only survived the Industrial Revolution, it has positively benefited from it.  Heck, one might even go so far as to argue that the more of Blake's "dark Satanic Mills" we constructed, the better off we would be.  But I won't.

Don't misunderstand, this is no brief for capital "P" Progressivism.  Just because we're undeniably healthier and wealthier, doesn't mean we're any the wiser.  But we all need to know nevertheless, that this ubiquitous counsel of despair, coming mostly, and ironically, from contemporary Progressives, is wholly unfounded.

Fear not!

White Man's Burden

Two items in the news struck me today and for whatever reason I ended up pulling them together. 

First, this from a brief obituary by NRO's Victor Davis Hanson on the occasion of the passing of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke:
He clearly represented a wing of the Democratic party that used to be its mainstream: his unabashed and idealistic confidence in the utility of American power, and his faith that his sometimes flawed nation was far better than the alternative and did not have to be perfect to be quite good.
Next, this headline and the attending story from the Sudan: "Police arrest women protesting at flogging video"

Together, they made me pine for a time when the West was more self-confident and less captive to the idiocies of multiculturalism and political correctness.  In another time, prompted by this story from the Sudan, and given the general state of women in most Islamic countries, some hard-boiled diplomat and/or geopolitically sensitive prime minister or president might have been moved to lobby their legislatures actually to hire Christian missionaries to send to the Sudan and spread the gospel.  They would have done so without a hint of sentimentalism, or even imperialism in the more strict, and honest, sense of that word.  They would simply have been convinced that establishing a beachhead of Christianity in that sad region of the world would have been good for them and good for us.

(Standing by for the charges of bigotry that are sure to follow.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Will Remembers Well

If you want a succinct record of the facts that lead to the 2000 election fiasco, please see George Will's recollection.  (When I read it, I started boiling all over again.)

Will ends his piece with this paragraph:
Hard cases, it is said, make bad law. But this difficult case seems to have made little discernible law. That is good because it means no comparable electoral crisis has occurred. What the Supreme Court majority said on Dec. 12, 2000 - "our consideration is limited to the present circumstances" - has proved true. And may remain true, at least until the next time possession of the presidency turns on less than one ten-thousandth of a state's vote.
I think his last sentence needs elaboration.  What happened in 2000 was not simply the result of a very close election.  It was also, and mostly, the product of very bad faith on the part of the Democrats.

"A Confederacy of Gangsters"

Yesterday made it twelve years since the US Supreme Court handed down its famous Bush v. Gore decision that ended, both justly and mercifully, the madness that was the 2000 presidential election.  Fox News presented a retrospective this weekend and watching it served to bring my blood temperature up to the boiling point once again.

In my adult life, two events have taught me like no others just exactly who the Left is and what they are capable of doing.  The first was the Senate Judicial Committee hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the High Court.  From very the beginning the Left was determined to sabotage his nomination and when it looked as though all their effort was for naught, they produced, at the eleventh hour, one Ms. Anita Hill, a reluctant witness against Thomas who made unprovable charges of disgusting conduct on his part.

If you're old enough to remember the drama that surrounded that event, you'll recall that it captured the nation's sustained attention like few others.  At the time, many who had been around in the early 1950s as well, compared it to the famous Alger Hiss case in its effect.  Ideological lines became solidly drawn and starkly clear.  You knew where everyone stood.

The second was of course the Left's drive to overturn the results of the Florida vote in 2000, and thereby the results of the national election as well.  As I watched the story recounted this weekend, I thought I remembered something Democrat pollster and television commentator Pat Caddell had said at the time.  Even he was embarrassed by and disgusted with his party's behaviour.  A quick Google search and there it was.
I'm a liberal Democrat. I started in Florida politics. I worked for George McGovern. I worked for Jimmy Carter. I've worked for Ted Kennedy, Mario Cuomo. Nobody can question, I think, my credentials and my convictions. But I have to tell you, at this point it's hard to believe that my party, the party I've belonged to since my great, great grandfather of my family, has become no longer the party of principles, but has been hijacked by a confederacy of gangsters who need to take power by whatever means and whatever canards they can say.
Who is the Left?  They are the ideological heirs of Lenin and Stalin.  Follow their pedigrees; they always lead there.  Those formerly among them who finally became disillusioned with the tactics of Uncle Joe and a thousand other atrocities besides expressed their own "second thoughts" many years ago now.

What will they do?  As their genealogy demonstrates, they'll do whatever is necessary to capture and retain the power they need to institute their hideous dream of the omnicompetent state.  It's not simply a case of the ends justifying the means.  Rather, because the end is a dream, that is, it's neither real nor grounded in reality, any and all means are justified.  The only constraint they recognize is whether or not the means are effective. 

Anyway, Republicans who continue to insist on compromise, on reaching across the aisle, on making a deal, would do well to remember this about most of their opponents.  Or, if they can't, at least recall what happened just ten short years ago.

(Phew!  I told you that show got my blood to boiling.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

They Huff and They Puff

Even the most occasional smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes "immediate damage" to your body that can lead to serious illness or death, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
There's a technical, scientific word for a report such as this:  Bull$#!+

I'll ask for patience from those of you who know me and have heard me make this argument before.  For the rest of you, here goes:

If I were to force, at gunpoint if necessary, a teenage boy to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for an entire year, but at the end of that year he were to stop and never smoke again, the odds of him suffering any ill effects whatever for the practice would be so small as to be virtually meaningless.  As a result, the long-term effects on his life would be meaningless as well.  I defy anyone, HHS scientist or not, to prove otherwise.

However, if that same teenage boy were to engage in sexual intercourse, even once, the chances of him actually contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or getting the girl pregnant, though small, are still very real indeed.  If either or both of these things happened, his life would never be the same again.

Similarly, if he were to use heroin, again, even one time, then, out of his right mind (that is the point, correct?), he may well do something like wreck a car, or engage in sexual intercourse, that could change, or end, his life forever.

So how does the Left react to undeniable facts such as these?  In the case of tobacco, they rail against its use, and against the companies that produce it, as though it were a global conspiracy of evil.  Meanwhile, in the cases of sex and drugs, they urge passing out government-funded condoms and needles and counsel the rest of us to get over our puritan hangups.

Again I say, liberalism is "a sickness unto death."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Weiner's a Winner

Watch this exchange between Representative Anthony Weiner, D-NY, and Fox New's Megyn Kelly. 

While I can't bear much of anything for which this unfortunately named fellow stands, at least he stands for it.  If only we had a few more on our side who were as feisty and unapologetic. 


It appears Senate Democrats will awaken in at least sufficient numbers to stop the the so-called DREAM Act which would, in true liberal fashion, not only excuse lawbreaking, you know, root causes and all, but actually reward it.

Once again, this is who they are and this is what they do.  If the GOP can't make political hay out of this, they oughta be...well, they just better make political hay out of it.

No Guts, No Glory

The American Spectator's Bob Tyrrell thinks last month's election returns are a harbinger of the future.  That is, the results signal that the Democrats will soon be out of power altogether and will remain so for at least a generation.  While I certainly hope he's correct, I'm not so sure.

Among the evidence he marshals to make the point is that, when asked, Americans consistently self-identify as conservatives rather than liberals at a 40% to 20% rate.  "Consistently" here means that this number has held more or less steady for about 25-30 years.

As this is an inarguably huge difference, why hasn't it redounded to the Republican's perennial benefit?  Why have national elections remained so stubbornly close?  How did the Dems win the White House in '92, '96, and '08?  The Congress in 2006?

Could it be because the ideological position of the Republican candidate is not always undeniably conservative?  And might that be because the Republican Party is not actually run by conservatives?  Or, if it is run by conservatives, might those conservatives lack the courage of their convictions?  And could that lack of courage mean they reflexively favor the more moderate candidate and, in any case, counsel all candidates to temporize and assume a more moderate pose?

I'm just asking.

"A Time for Choosing"

Didn't a famous former president once give a speech with that title?

Jonah Goldberg writes a nice piece at NationalReviewOnline highlighting the fatuousness of the "No Label", uh, label.  Check it out.

In my experience, those who say they eschew labels are almost invariably liberals.  They are almost just as invariably people who, by doing so, think they're demonstrating their intellectual superiority.  But I repeat myself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Is Multiculturalism Dead?

Roger Scruton thinks it might be and it's worth your time to read why.  (This guy is really good on just about every subject he tackles.)

I'm guessing, and hoping, that he may well be correct; that it's all part of The Great Reckoning.  But I do still worry a bit.

Is the death of multiculturalism mostly a consequence of the presence of a very real and common enemy--jihadism--or have we finally come more fully to our senses and recognized the great and good thing that is Western civilization, or Christendom, for what it is?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Canadian Cat Crap Coffee

I kid you not.  And I'm actually scheduled to be in Calgary next week.

So, when I order a cup and complain that, "This tastes like $#!+", can I expect the waitress to say, "Exactly"?

Neither Fair, Nor Balanced

If Fox News were to air a segment in which a talking head from, say, the Family Research Council was interviewed alongside some creep from the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) about lowering or eliminating altogether the age of consent, would you consider it, thereby, an episode of fair and balanced reporting?  The visual image would certainly suggest that it was: Two men, from opposing positions, asked essentially the same questions, allotted equal amounts of time to answer.  They report, you decide.  Right?

Wrong.  It would neither be fair nor balanced because the whole presentation would leave you with the impression that the issue was a more or less 50-50 proposition, reflecting, as it were, a similar division of opinion across the country.  That impression would be incorrect because, as we know even without polling data to prove it, the real disposition of opinion is more like 99-1 (or even less than 1) against lowering the age.  Therefore, airing the episode in the manner I suggested would, in effect, communicate a falsehood.

I say all this to point out a similar problem with a piece by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat praising the efforts of the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission. (BTW, for this piece and another he penned last week about ideology and partisanship, I'm placing Douthat alongside David Brooks and several other "conservatives" in the "take'em-with-a-grain-of-salt" category.)   

In the piece, Douthat breaks down the issue of tackling the deficit into the need for simultaneously raising taxes, or increasing revenue as liberals euphemistically call it, and cutting spending.  No real news there, but he presents the champions of both positions, liberals for raising taxes and conservatives for cutting spending, as basically two entrenched antagonists who, sooner or later, must compromise if they are to save the country from fiscal ruin.

But that, like my imaginary Fox News segment, misrepresents the problem entirely.

Does anyone still seriously think, other than a few from the shrinking and recalcitrant Left, that our problem is essentially one of taxing too little, that we don't send enough money to Washington already?  What makes the efforts of the Bowles-Simpson Commission laudable thus far is that even its leaders, a tax-and-spend Democrat and a tax-and-spend-just-a-bit-less Republican, agree that the lion's share of the problem is over-spending, that for every $1 of tax increases, there must be something like $3 of decreased spending.

To frame the issue, as Douthat does, as one in which both sides are caricatured as stubborn adolescents who, wether they realize it or not, will one day have to meet in the middle, is not only wrong because, in the end, it aids and abets the Left, it's wrong because it's not true.  And because it not true, neither will it solve our problem.

Shocking (Yawn), Ain't It?

Heard about the controversy over the "artsy" video of a crucifix crawling with ants that was exhibited by Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery?  Maybe?  Heard that they removed it?  Maybe again? 

That's the point of Eric Ferlton's near perfect reaction to the, uh, reaction, or subdued reaction, or non-reaction to the whole episode.  What happens when the work of artists, who too many believe their very raison d'etre is to transgress, becomes banal?  It would appear that over the course of the last century they've upped the ante so many times, that they've finally run out of ante, or paint, or dung maybe.

As pleased as I am to learn about the sad plight of the world of modern art, I do still worry about the rest of us.  Does the shrug of our shoulders mean we are now beyond good and evil as well?   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Growing Up Fast"

Do read Victor Davis Hanson's NRO column "Obama & Co., Growing Up Fast".

That's his title.  Mine would be, you guessed it, "The Great Reckoning, cont."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Even Think About It

I suspect that some of you were wondering why I haven't weighed in on this subject already.  It's because it's bigger than I am.

In many ways, the beginning of my military career marked the end of an era.  The new era that began closely on the heels of my own swearing-in would be defined in large part by the aggressive integration of women into the armed forces.  With the current push to accommodate open homosexuality, I sense a parallel dynamic at work.

A dozen or so years into my career, a woman officer who I happened to work with at the time, and who was just a bit junior to me, asked me what I had thought about that integration process when it was first occurring in the mid-1970s.  She asked me because she knew, first, that my career straddled the change in policy, but also because I was quite conservative and traditional.  I knew that she was someone who had benefited considerably from that change and I was very aware that the question was loaded with landmines.  I also knew, because I had learned the lesson very well over the years, that if one couldn't enthusiastically support the new policy, the safest course was always to keep one's mouth shut.  But I answered her nevertheless.  I told her that I had no opinion at the time, which was true, I didn't, because I realized even then that the whole thing was so much bigger than I.

The current effort to integrate openly practicing homosexuals into the military has the same feel about it and the Pentagon report presented last week by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs only confirmed it.  Right or wrong, prudent or foolhardy, the integration of openly practicing homosexual is in the zeitgeist and it's going to happen whether I, or you, like it or not.  It's bigger than we are.

For the record, I don't like it, I think it's wrong, and I think it's foolish.  To explain why, I can't do any better than Mac Owens does in his reaction over at The Weekly Standard.  Along with pointing out the many problems with the report, Owens also brings to our attention the substance of an e-mail written by a Marine colonel that was apparently making the rounds several months ago.  The colonel asks a series of questions about what, exactly, a change in policy would mean.  What conduct would and would not be permitted?  Could a cross-dressing male homosexual, for example, where a skirt to the PX?  Some months ago, I posted a blog about the possibility of transsexuals serving openly.  I wondered, only half-jokingly, which uniform they might wear.  The male, the female, or something in-between?

But, as I say, such objections don't appear to matter much, if at all.  And, to be fair, I suspect whatever hodgepodge of exceptions and adjustments that are eventually made to make the new policy "work", we'll still manage somehow to field the best fighting force in the world, a force against which no other existing army would be a credible match.  The integration of open homosexuals will simply present one more problem with which a commander must deal, much like the integration of women is an additional challenge with which he currently has to attend.  To be sure, it'll unnecessarily complicate the task, but he'll somehow manage nevertheless.  Moreover, as the real number of homosexuals is undoubtedly far smaller than the progressive elite would like us to believe, it'll be a problem that occurs mostly here and there.

Which all leads to what, as far as I'm concerned, is the real crux of Owens' piece and the real issue:
The Pentagon report notwithstanding, the current arrangement seems to work quite well. So why the push to repeal the law and reverse the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy compromise? The short answer seems to be that this is not about individual homosexuals serving in the military but about a broader homosexual agenda.
Much as the integration of women into the armed forces that began 35 or so years ago had more to do with the broader feminist agenda than, more simply, whether or not individual women could serve, the "broader homosexual agenda", i.e., the crusade to normalize homosexuality, is what this contemporary push is really all about, although few will say it directly. 

So here's a shot across the bow that, because the issue is bigger than I, I'll concede even before I type it, will change absolutely nothing.

Imagine that tomorrow morning every man, woman, and child in the United States woke with an entirely new opinion on this subject, an opinion in which they decided not only to tolerate homosexuality, but to actively affirm it as well, to celebrate it even.  What would that change in opinion mean to any particular homosexual, to a homosexual you actually know, to one you might even hold dear?  When compared to the overwhelming majority of all Americans, their sexual inclinations would still remain different, odd, or, dare I say, "queer".  Openly pursuing and practicing those inclinations would not, for that reason, make them any less queer.  Nor would the approbation of their fellow citizens relieve, in any meaningful sense or for anything longer than  perhaps a passing moment, their essential pain.  In fact, it would likely make it worse, because we, and they, would know it to be a lie.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sorry Charlie

A year ago I would have bet the mortgage against it, but it looks as though a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will complete the process after all and actually censure one of their own, long-time New York Congressman Charlie Rangel.  You can be sure that the evidence against him is overwhelming or the Dems would have simply issued a pass.  As it is, even censure is a tap on the wrist.  You or I would be in jail.

Rangel, of course, continues to insist on his essential innocence.  Mistakes were made, but...blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.  I have to admit, however, that while justice is indeed being carried out, there is still something nevertheless believable about his protestations.

To me, Rangel and this entire saga represent one more episode in the slow but steady disappearance of a particular species of politician.  A similar example can be found in the fate of the late Dan Rostenkowski, also a former Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.  These politicians are, and almost invariably so, older men, Democrats, who hail from big cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, etc., where machine politics was once the only order of the day.  (Still is to some degree.)  For them, politics was almost entirely about rewarding their friends, and themselves, and about punishing their enemies.  If you charged them with corruption for doing so, they would look at you like we look at Captain Renault in Casablanca when he shuts down Rick's cafe because he is "shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"  Hence, when they protest, they're not being disingenuous.  They really mean it when they say, "Are you kidding me?"

Don't misunderstand.  Rangel is getting what he deserves, or, well, almost anyway.  And it's way past time to discredit any and all rationalizations for taking from some in order to give to others.  But what makes the theft of old pols like Rangel and Rostenkowski somehow less objectionable is that they can look you in the eye and tell you that they do it simply because they can.  At least they won't bore or insult you with some highfalutin justification they learned as a graduate student from a quasi-Marxist professor.   

A Break in the Weather

"Pelosi Climate Panel Dies in Republican Sweep of House"

Ahhh.  Blue skies at last.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Politically Taxing

Tired of the debate over whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts?  Me too.  Maybe this'll cheer you up.

As you know, the Bush tax cuts came with an expiration date: 31 December 2010.  Since they were passed in 2001 and 2003, whatever their consequences for the US economy, they have proved nevertheless to be an extremely rich source of political leverage for both parties.

For Democrats, the talking point has been that they unfairly benefit the rich at the expense of the poor and working class.  Over the last decade or so, the phrase "tax cuts for the rich" has been uttered by Democrats untold thousands of times.  Moreover, as Democrats have also argued, the cuts deprived the government of revenue that could have been used to reduce the budget deficit and national debt.

For Republicans, at least until 2008, the cuts were held to be the most immediate reason for the robust economy, the extremely low unemployment rate that attended it, as well as the huge windfall of tax revenue that streamed into the federal government's coffers as a result.  Since 2008, their argument has been that it would be economically foolish even to consider raising taxes during a recession.  Consequently (and throughout both periods, actually), their looming expiration has served to provide the GOP with the reliable rallying cry, "Make the tax cuts permanent!"

It sounds to me, at least rhetorically, like a political win-win.  But, as we begin the last month of the Bush cuts today, does anyone seriously doubt that before New Years' Eve, the Democrats will finally cave and extend them? 

If this is so, is it possible that the Republicans have stumbled onto a winning strategy for passing tax cuts in the future?  It occurs to me that with every proposal of theirs to reduce tax rates, the Republicans should include just such a sunset provision.  Why?

Imagine a Democrat congressman or senator who occupies a marginal seat.  While he and his party remain ideologically opposed to cutting tax rates, when confronted with a bill to do just that, he, if not his party, finds it politically difficult to oppose.  If such a bill came with a sunset provision, however, it might offer him with a way to have his cake and eat it too.  If the bill included an expiration date, a provision that he could even be allowed to demand publicly and indignantly, he could seem thereby to remain more or less loyal to both his party and his ideology, while at the same time still provide his, "one-time", to be sure, vote for it. 

With this strategy, the GOP just might peel off enough Democrats to get such a bill passed.  But it gets even better.

When the expiration date finally approaches, in order to argue for extending them, the Republicans can use exactly the same rhetoric they're using now to extend the Bush tax cuts, and with exactly the same result, i.e., the Democrats will likely give in.  And while the Republicans should insist on making the making the cuts permanent, as they are also doing now, they can use that demand as a bargaining chip.  That is, if the Dems will vote to extend the tax cuts, the GOP will concede, again, an expiration date, and again, and again,....

The downside of this strategy is that uncertainty over the precise nature of next year's tax rates will cause many a business that might otherwise be prepared to risk producing a new product, building a new plant, or hiring a new employee, instead to wait and see what happens.  By doing so, it will have the effect of dampening the economy.  Uncertainty over the Bush tax cuts has accomplished precisely this and, as a result, served to prolong the recession.

But, I'm afraid, when it comes to economics, arguing with a Democrat is like arguing with a child.  And at least sometimes when dealing with a child, child psychology is warranted.   

The Golden Rule

From POLITICO:  "House Rookies a Millionaires Club"
[F]or the most part, the freshman class — one of the most conservative in a generation — comes to Congress having experienced significant financial success. Republicans in Washington say they represent the successful small businesses that are the pillars of the American economy.
Can you imagine the editors of POLITICO allowing just such a headline and just such a story when the Democrats recaptured control of the Congress in 2006 and then lengthened their lead in 2008?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rich Deserts

Ya think the New York Time's Frank Rich penned anything like this column when the Democrats took back the Congress in 2006, or when they lengthened their lead in 2008?

Don't waste your time doing a Google search, the answer is no.

Can you say "sour grapes"?

Until the Sun Goes Down...cont.

It seems that in 2010 at least 144 companies left the Golden State for a more hospitable business climate...and I'm not talking about sunshine.

Muskogee, Oklahoma perhaps?

The Great Reckoning continues.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Why DO They Love Sarah?

After being derided in the Main Stream Media for a slip-of-the-tongue in which she said North, instead of South, Korea was an ally of the US, Sarah Palin demonstrates, again, why she is a darling of so many on the Right.

While many, if not all, conservatives would be explaining away, back-pedalling from, or apologizing for a similar gaffe, and thereby exasperating the conservative base, Palin, as she says, does not retreat, instead she reloads.

Consider her Facebook entry in the wake of the hubbub titled "A Thanksgiving Message to All 57 States":
My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate – from the FBI’s 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. And let’s face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that…

Of course, the paragraph above is based on a series of misstatements and verbal gaffes made by Barack Obama (I didn’t have enough time to do one for Joe Biden). YouTube links are provided just in case you doubt the accuracy of these all too human slips-of-the-tongue. If you can’t remember hearing about them, that’s because for the most part the media didn’t consider them newsworthy. I have no complaint about that. Everybody makes the occasional verbal gaffe – even news anchors.

Obviously, I would have been even more impressed if the media showed some consistency on this issue. Unfortunately, it seems they couldn’t resist the temptation to turn a simple one word slip-of-the-tongue of mine into a major political headline. The one word slip occurred yesterday during one of my seven back-to-back interviews wherein I was privileged to speak to the American public about the important, world-changing issues before us.

If the media had bothered to actually listen to all of my remarks on Glenn Beck’s radio show, they would have noticed that I refer to South Korea as our ally throughout, that I corrected myself seconds after my slip-of-the-tongue, and that I made it abundantly clear that pressure should be put on China to restrict energy exports to the North Korean regime. The media could even have done due diligence and checked my previous statements on the subject, which have always been consistent, and in fact even ahead of the curve. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? (And for that matter, why not just make up stories out of thin air – like the totally false hard news story which has run for three days now reporting that I lobbied the producers of “Dancing with the Stars” to cast a former Senate candidate on their show. That lie is further clear proof that the media completely makes things up without doing even rudimentary fact-checking.)

“Hope springs eternal” as the poet says. Let’s hope that perhaps, just maybe, they might get it right next time. When we the people are effective in holding America’s free press accountable for responsible and truthful reporting, then we shall all have even more to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
If you're one of those conservatives who is uncomfortable with the likes of Sarah Palin, then I doubt you'll be able to understand, or appreciate, the appeal to so many of just such a response as hers.  And I also doubt, as such, you'll ever be able to create, deliver, and sustain a governing majority.

Le Mot Juste

The American Spectator's Bob Tyrrell issues a sincere mea culpa for the other day challenging those  across this liberty-loving land increasingly upset with the TSA's new airport security line procedures.

But that's not what this is about.  Rather, it's about a great line he uses to describe the Left's routine and numerous hypocrisies.  To highlight their workaday phoniness, I, like many others, typically refer to them simply as Limousine Liberals.  Another, older, but less used, moniker is Champagne Socialists.

Tyrell provides an altogether catchy new phrase when, after conceding that the lack of targeted profiling is the most serious shortcoming of the TSA's procedures, he let's loose with this: "This hang-up about profiling is at the root of our problem. It is a false piety practiced by the ancien régime."

"A false piety practised by the ancien régime."  Just think of the number of liberal bromides that phrase would accurately capture. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for American Exceptionalism

It's Thanksgiving eve and I had planned a post encouraging gratitude not only for America, but also for oft- maligned American Exceptionalism.  But I get up this morning, log on to The American Spectator, and find that Mark Tooley beat me to it.

Oh well, might I elaborate a bit anyway?

The Left has long been uncomfortable with, if not outright hostile to, any notion that even suggested the uniqueness of America.  President Obama's own publicly expressed ambivalence about American Exceptionalism is certainly not the first time the idea has been questioned.  (Although it is probably the first time such has been heard from a sitting US president.) But with this position, they are not only at odds with most of their fellow citizens, as Tooley points out, they are also guilty of a glaring inconsistency in their thinking.

A reflexive pride in one's self and one's own is not only natural and understandable, it is also critical to sound emotional health. The Left, which has lectured us for a couple of generations now about the importance of high self-esteem in individuals, forgets this point, however, when it comes to their country.  Here, it seems no amount of criticism is too much.  For them, serially confessing and atoning for sins real or imagined, current or more than two-hundred years old, serves a very useful public function.  It eliminates, or at least mitigates against an over-reaching national pride, or, as they like to say, the temptation to hubris.

Fair enough, I suppose, to a point.  As Tooley notes, and I would like to highlight, the appeal to, as opposed to the denial of, American Exceptionalism also serves a very important public function.  Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to cite just two examples, had precisely the exceptional nature of America in mind when they reminded us to seek "the better angels of our nature" and called the nation to "rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed."  Because we thought of ourselves as different, their appeals carried with them the potential to shame us.  Had we thought of our country as fundamentally the same as any other in human history, that shaming would have gained very little purchase on the soul of America.

Which leads to a related, but important point about the irony of the Left's position.  It is because the public still embraces American Exceptionalism, and apparently stubbornly so, that the Left's abiding challenge to it continues to have any resonance at all.  As soon as we, as a country, take the Left seriously and start thinking of our nation as no different, and no better, than any other, then we will begin to behave as such, and feel justified in doing so.  That sad day will ill-serve both ourselves and the world.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!        

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Right to be Happy

Ever wonder why so many lefties seem perpetually unhappy?  And why, as polling data confirms, conservatives appear just the opposite?  Dennis Prager offers at least four reasons.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Limp Excuses

The Administration is fighting back.  Consider this headline: "White House: Terrorists Have Discussed Use of Prosthetics to Conceal Explosives"

Explosives hidden in prosthetics attached to elderly, white, females?

Do You Support Chris Christie?

Jim Geraghty, reporting from a National Review-sponsored cruise, overheard this perfect response to a question about the presidential potential of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:
People ask me if I support Chris Christie. He’s direct, his mouth gets him in trouble, he knows what he wants and he’s determined to get it, and he looks like he eats too much. Do I support Chris Christie? I am Chris Christie.

Never Mind

Arriving no doubt by limousine for the interview, former vice-president Al Gore admitted that he now regrets supporting subsidies for corn-based ethanol production.  "First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small."  And, "It's hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."  One more, "The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices."

No sweat Mr. Vice-President.  We've always got food stamps.  Thanks anyway.  Uh, fill'er up?

Gloria All Red

Ladies and gentlemen, the voice of contemporary feminism.

Early Thanksgiving Day Best Wishes

“I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it,” says billionaire Warren Buffet.

Really?  Well, what are you waiting for Warren?  There's no need for a law to be passed, or not passed in the case of extending the Bush tax cuts.  Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so, as a gesture of good will during this holiday season when so many of your fellow citizens are hurting, why don't you, Bill Gates, and a few other of your uber-rich buddies pitch in and pick up the nation's tax tab?  C'mon Warren, show us the way.

You know, I was going to wait 'til Wednesday to post a "Happy Thanksgiving" note, but today seems as good a day as any.

My fellow Americans, might we all pause at least for a moment this Thursday and thank the Almighty for the tremendous blessing that is this great nation.  So great, in fact, that even people as dense as Warren Buffet can achieve and maintain fantastic wealth?  What a country!

Bush from Britain

Or at least from one pretty important Brit, Alastair Campbell, former Prime Minister Tony Blair's longtime ccommunications chief.  Campbell was in a position to know and from this review of George W. Bush's new memoir, it's clear he very much respects the man.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Breaking in Line

George Will writes an excellent column about the current dust up over airport security line procedures.  As far as he's concerned, the entire TSA process is "mostly security theater, a pageant to reassure passengers that flying is safe."  With this column, he admirably takes up where Charles Krauthammer left off just a day ago.

But Will uses the occasion as well to invoke the memory and thought of William F. Buckley, Jr.  (Almost always a wise gambit.)  He reminds his readers of a story Buckley once told of riding a commuter train from New York to his home in Connecticut.  As it was winter, the car heater was on, but either the temperature gauge was set too high or the unit was malfunctioning because the car was unbearably hot.  What Buckley noticed was that in spite of the conditions, no one took it up with the conductor, even though at one point he walked through the car, directly in front of all the passengers.  For Buckley this said something disquieting about America itself, about what it had become.
It isn't just the commuters, whom we have come to visualize as a supine breed who have got onto the trick of suspending their sensory faculties twice a day while they submit to the creeping dissolution of the railroad industry. It isn't just they who have given up trying to rectify irrational vexations. It is the American people everywhere.
I think something very like this happened on 9/11.  We, as a society, have been conditioned for several generations now, to suffer quietly all manner of discomfort, indignity, and injustice, to simply take it, to swallow it, to sit and to wait for the proper authorities to arrive and handle it.  "In a more virile age", as Buckley had it, confronted on even an airplane by a couple of punks armed with nothing more than box-cutters, one, two, maybe ten men would have scoffed, stood directly up, and returned the challenge with a robust, "the hell you are!"

This is not to mock the poor souls who lost their lives that terrible day, and certainly not those of Flight 93 who, once they understood what was happening, did stand up and take matters into their own hands.  On the contrary, one likes to think that on that day something changed for the average American.  For the first time in a long time, he stood erect.  He began to peel away the layers upon layers of schooling, training, and outright propaganda that always drilled the exact same lesson:  Wait.  The authorities will take care of it.  You are not responsible.  You are not competent to this task.  Your passion will mislead you to pursue vengeance instead of justice.  Wait.

Is "Don't touch my junk!" another way of saying "I'm tired of waiting.  So why the hell is this line moving so slowly?"   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A New Newsweek?

If you follow this blog, you'll know that New York Times columnist and writer David Brooks often, uh, frustrates me.  Friends tell me that, no, he really is a conservative, so I look for it, but still find too many of his sympathies and sensibilities suspiciously liberal to be convinced.

I say "too many" because sometimes he manages to prove me wrong despite my wariness and one good example is this column about the death of Newsweek magazine.  Unlike most who think that, because of technology chiefly, the days of a successful, middlebrow, general interest, news magazine are numbered, Brooks makes the case that the country may indeed be ready, hungry even, for the birth, or rebirth, of a good one.  As he sees it, the bursting of  the "bubble" has served to restore a healthy measure of economic and even moral sanity to the country.  Hence, there abides a growing desire for the higher things, for the permanent things, which a good magazine like Newsweek, Time, The Saturday Evening Post, and a host of others used to provide.

I'm not sure he's right about that...yet.  The Great Reckoning continues.  Nevertheless, if you're of a certain age, the column offers as well a pleasant ride down memory lane.  I, for one, can remember as a boy how the presence from time to time of such a magazine in our working class home would excite in me a desire for more.  It was mostly vanity, to be sure, but still I wanted it.  Anyway, give it a look.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Party Purity

Over at The Daily Beast, Samuel Jacobs seems to think the Democrats could well lose control of the Senate in 2012, just as they lost the House this year.  Why?  Well, for one, more currently Democrat-occupied seats (21) than Republican will be up for re-election.  But more important than the raw numbers are the candidates themselves.  For Jacobs, three "unorthodox" (his word for moderate) Democrat senators standout:  Montana’s Jon Tester, Virginia’s Jim Webb, and Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey Jr.

Their lack of liberal orthodoxy is no real problem for them within the Democrat Party.  But given what Jacobs expects to be a continuing backlash, within the general electorate, their conservative ideological shortcomings will be.  The net result is that the Democrats will likely lose seats and the party that remains will be even more ideologically pure, i.e., liberal, than it is today. (Is that even possible?)

It is precisely this kind analysis, but in reverse, that is usually applied to the GOP.  The result is that  Republican Party professionals start fretting about a shrinking tent, that is, they begin to worry that the Party and its candidates are too conservative to capture the votes of the independents who determine an election's outcome.

Liberal pundits and pols can be counted on to encourage this kind of thinking because it serves to water down the GOP's message and blur the distinctions between the parties.  They do this because they know that this is, and has been for some time now, much more of a political problem for Democrats than it is for Republicans.  On this point, Jacobs quotes former Representative Dan Glickman, who served as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Agriculture:  “If we are monolithic and liberal, then we won’t be the majority party.”

Assume, as a great deal of evidence indicates anyway, that this country is essentially center-right in its ideological orientation. (I think it's more so, but will make that case another time.)  What this means is that a majority of Americans consider themselves essentially conservative, while only a minority identify with liberalism.  If this is in fact true, then even if both parties, not just the Democrats, become more ideologically monolithic, then the numbers will necessarily fall out to the GOP's advantage.

Now, if we can just convince the GOP professionals to stop temporizing, to communicate a consistent and unapologetic conservative message, then we just may be able to build a governing majority that will last a generation or two.  Or at least, we pray, long enough to clean up this mess.

A Fifth of the Country?

So, nearly 20% of all Americans suffer from some form of mental illness.  Hmm?  Actually, that's not so surprising.  Democrat Party base, right?

Thank You Charles

The incomparable Charles Krauthammer sums up (and more) much of what I was trying to say yesterday about the airport security line process with this paragraph:
[E]veryone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness. Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Wizened seniors strain to untie their shoes; beltless salesmen struggle comically to hold up their pants; three-year-olds scream while being searched insanely for explosives, when everyone — everyone — knows that none of these people is a threat.
Krauthammer connects the "Don't touch my junk" episode, and the sentiment it expressed, with the whole of the Tea Party Uprising. Might the dam of insanity finally be breaking?  We can hope.


This summer Virginia Senator James Webb penned an op-ed piece disagreeing with his chosen party, the Democrats, over quotas and racial set-aside policies.  Now, as the first of the terrorists has been convicted on but one of the more than 280 counts for which he was charged, Webb posts on his website another convenient article, this time one that distinguishes himself from his liberal colleagues on the wisdom of trying terrorists in US civilian courts.  Can you say "I'm up for re-election 2012"?

Senator Webb left the Republican Party in 2006 in an opportunistic fit.  He knew then that, of the two parties, the GOP was the one seriously struggling to fight the war on terror, even if he did disagree with many of President Bush's policies.  He knew then that the Democrats had, almost from the first day after 9/11, irresponsibly, cynically, and unforgivably used the war chiefly as a political wedge issue, and often as little more than a campaign punch line.

He knew then and he made his nest with them anyway.  Now, he must lie in it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Just Liberals

The title of  S.E. Cupp's piece says it all: "Sarah Palin's happiness is what really irks liberals"

Well, not quite all. I'm afraid her happiness irks more than a few conservatives as well.

And still at it...

Yet another puzzler is this:  How in the world did this government, run, as it is, from top to bottom by liberal Democrats, ever get charged with anything like pursuing overly aggressive policies in the war on terror?  For heaven's sake, they resolutely avoid using even the word "war" or the word "terror".  Moreover, they routinely dismiss the whole enterprise as a regrettable product of Bush Administration hysteria and unconstitutional overreach.

Very strange.

While I'm at it...

One thing about this uproar over the body-scanning and frisking does puzzle me a bit, however. 

We were attacked on 9/11.  Many thousands of Americans were killed.  Moreover, several other attempts at similar violence and murder via airline travel have been attempted.  As a result, I, for one, am prepared to give the government a bit more constitutional latitude in this particular area.  After all, however clumsily they may be doing it, it is still broadly consistent with "providing for the common defence."

What I can't figure is why similar outrage is not expressed when the government, local, state, or federal, moves to control, for example, the amount of salt or trans-fats permitted in your food, where, and even if you can smoke, not to mention the provision of the nation's health-care delivery system.  Because the control of these items, and countless others like them, seem more or less benign, I find their takeover even more of a threat to our liberty.

But in this, I suspect I'm mostly just talking to myself.

A Clearer Picture Maybe

Over at The American Spectator, Bob Tyrrell is at least one conservative who's taking issue with all the brouhaha  surrounding the Transportation Security Administration's new procedures with body scanners and body searches.  He reminds his readers that we are in fact still at war and that much of the scandal is DrudgeReport-manufactured anyway.

While there's some truth in what he writes, he does reach a bit when he compares our situation and our response to it with the Israelis.  From what I gather, the Israelis do not use the scanner, and perform body searches only when they're indicated.  (More about that in a moment.)

I think what's happening is not so much a national re-assertion of constitutional rights as the government crosses some invisible line.  Nor is it even an expression of collective anger caused by an unfortunate coincidence of TSA errors and abuses.  Rather, it's simply an eruption of pent-up frustration.

As a function of the living I make, I fly a great deal, far more than the average American.  Just last week, as I went through the security line at a major US international airport, for the first time in many years, I had to remove my belt.  This past spring, as my wife and I left for a vacation, we had to purchase at the airport one-quart clear plastic bags in order to display our toiletries to the TSA inspectors.  The one-gallon clear plastic bags we had brought for that purpose, and had used before on previous trips, were no longer acceptable.  To make matters worse, not once since that episode have I ever been required to show my shaving cream, cologne, etc., in any bag, of any size.

The frustration is this:  Everything about the government's handling of airport and airline security feels (pardon the pun) arbitrary and capricious.  As such, it comes to appear as little more than an opportunity for the abuse of power, if not by "Big Sis", Secretary Janet Napolitano herself, then at least by some petty entrepreneur from your local TSA.  (How do those supposedly immediately-erased, nearly-naked pictures make it to Drudge anyway?)

And even if the arbitrary and capricious nature of the regulations is not an occasion for abuse, it at least communicates to us all a lack of seriousness.  First, if the policies can change from airport to airport, and even at the same airport, from day to day, then skepticism is in order.

Secondly, and more importantly, the substance of many, if not all, of those policies seem chiefly to be the product of the unwritten codes of Political Correctness.  God forbid we target for particular scrutiny young, middle-eastern, Muslim men.  You know, the profile of nearly every known anti-American terrorist for the last quarter-century.  Profiling of that sort is precisely what the Israelis do and largely explains why their population may be less inclined to grumble.  So long as we persist, against all common sense, in the body-scanning and frisking of grandmas, nuns, and little girls, outbursts of frustration, like the one we're witnessing now, will continue.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roger That

In an interview with The Daily Beast, FOX News chief Roger Ailes reveals that he thinks President Obama is different from the rest of us. “He just has a different belief system than most Americans,” says Ailes.

Technically, I suppose, he's correct.  Obama does think differently than most Americans.  Unfortunately for us, however, he thinks exactly like almost every other liberal Democrat, only more so.

Take, for example, former Clinton chief of staff  and Obama transition team chief John Podesta.  Reflecting on the results of the "shellacking" Obama and his party took during the recent election, Podesta counseled not humility, but rather for the president to "push the country to a better place."

While "push", shove, force, demand, etc., is not the language, and certainly not the thinking, of your average American, it's actually quite familiar when it comes from the mouth and mind of a liberal Democrat.   

Until the Sun Goes Down Over Santa Monica Boulevard

Even as the price of gold soars, the stock of the Golden State plummets.  But, as the election returns of two weeks ago demonstrate, the majority of the people of California are still not serious, still not quite feeling the pain.  The legalization of medical marijuana, perhaps?

Anyway, give it time.  Absent a subsidizing sugar daddy, i.e., the rest of the country, liberalism invariably destroys everything it touches.  And it's not only touching California, it's got it in a choke hold.  The state's short-term problem is that it's just too big and the rest of the country is just too broke.

Long term?  Well, the Great Reckoning continues.  The bills keep coming due and they have to be paid.  But California remains huge, resource rich, and almost idyllically beautiful.  Check it out.  Land there is getting cheaper every day.

Be Fruitful and Multiply

Phillip Longman writes about a demographic reality, and supreme irony, with huge implications.

The reality:  The more fundamentally religious one is, the more likely, biologically, to not only reproduce, but multiply as well.  The more fundamentally secular one is, the less so.

The irony:  While the proselytization of religious fundamentalism increases its number, the spread of secularism, over time, reduces its..

Who, again, are the enlightened champions of capital "P" Progress?

"A sickness unto death," I tell you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rusty Gates

Let me get this straight:  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is convinced that a military strike against an Iran determined to secure nuclear weapons would only serve to make them determined to secure nuclear weapons.

Time to retire maybe?

Palin Envy

All-but-senator-re-elect Lisa Murkowski took a shot at fellow Alaskan Sarah Palin by insisting that the former governor lacks the "intellectual curiosity" to govern effectively.  Well, when I'm reminded of Ms. Murkowski's intentions regarding the current Administration--"I will tell you, I am not one of those who wants Obama to fail. If he does well, that means the country's doing well"--then I can only conclude that she lacks the intellectual capacity to legislate.

The GOP congressional leadership had better make this woman pay for her disloyalty.  If they don't,...

Cupcake Crimes

"New Castle Councilman Calls Cops on Boys' Cupcake Sale"
Would anyone care to guess this fellow's political party affiliation?

It's easy to make jokes, but this is inescapably who they are, how they think, and what they do. 

Return of the Reluctant Hero

George Washington established the role for the American political stage and we've seen it reprised countless times in film, mostly Westerns, always to great satisfaction.  You know, a band of bad guys terrorizes the town and the only fellow who can do something about it would rather not.  Finally, the bad guys go too far and the good guy's sense of duty overcomes his desire to otherwise be left alone, a desire, importantly, that informs and nourishes that same sense of duty.  Anyway, he rises up in righteous anger, rids the town of the vermin, and then, true to character, rides off into the sunset determined to be left alone again.

P.J. O'Rourke, in a way only he can, reminds us that this is who we really are, that this represents, always, the very best in us.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Slick Willie on the Silver Screen

Could anything be more predictable than Bill Clinton agreeing to a cameo appearance in the sequel to...Mr.Smith Goes to WashingtonYoung Mr. LincolnSeven Days in May?   No, no, and, uh, no.  Instead, look for the former president this spring in The Hangover 2.

Bottoms up!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vanity or Pride?

"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us."  Jane Austen, from Pride and Prejudice
OK, maybe I'm just quibbling, but Jonathan Last's latest in The Weekly Standard got me to thinking.  Is President Obama guilty of vanity, as Last suggests, or is it pride that vexes him, and us?  I think it's pride.

To be precise, we should note that these categories are not exactly "either-or".  If I may correct Ms. Austen just a bit, while a person may indeed be proud without being vain, he may also be both, that is, proud and vain at the same time.  So, it might be better to ask whether Obama is more proud or more vain?  I still say it's pride.

Think about it, does Obama appear to exhibit any concern whatever about what people think of him?  In his public life, has he ever?  Even after the "shellacking" he and his party took almost two weeks ago, has he thus far focused, in any meaningful sense, on wooing back the voters who were once so enchanted by him?
By way of contrast, think of Bill Clinton, the quintessential vain politician.  There is an old story about a comment President Kennedy made to a White House gathering of Nobel Laureates.  He joked that the event was "the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."  When William Jefferson was president, I used to wonder, when he dined alone at the White House, not about his IQ, but whether anyone was there at all.

But this begs an important question: Which is more dangerous?  A proud president or a vain president?  While both make the list of the seven deadliest, Scripture and the Church have long taught that pride is the worst of all sins.  Therefore, Obama, if he is indeed more proud than vain, is not only worse that Clinton, he's more dangerous as well.

While I would never challenge directly the truths of either the Scriptures or the Church, I would still hasten to point out that, as far as I can tell, a proud man enjoys at least one major advantage over a vain one:  He's more honest.  In fact, for a proud man to lie to a public that he understands to be beneath him, is, well, beneath him.  A vain man, by contrast, is almost defined by mendacity.  He's a chameleon, a man who doesn't know who he is, because he can't know who he is. His audience determines it. As a result, you have to ask yourself each time you confront him, who it is, exactly, you're dealing with.

So, while a proud president may be worse, and even more dangerous than a vain one, I'll take him nevertheless.  He's the devil you know.

How about you?

Schoolin' Peggy Noonan

About a week ago I let loose with a diatribe that took Peggy Noonan to task for condescendingly interpreting the recent election results as a vote for maturity.  A vote, that is, against the immaturity expressed by the Tea Party and some of its favorite candidates, and most especially a vote against the movement's darling, at least as Ms. Noonan understands her, Sarah Palin.  Following up, she now intends to tell us just what those mature people look like and, not surprisingly, for her they look like people who are acceptable to the Main Stream Media (MSM).
The mainstream media already has a story line in its head, and it is that a lot of these new Congress critters are a little radical, a little nutty. Media bias is what we all know it is, largely political but also having to do with the needs of editors and producers. The media is looking for drama. They are looking for a colorful story. They want to do reporting that isn’t bland, that has a certain edge. We saw this throughout the past year as they covered big tea party rallies. A reporter would be walking along with a cameraman. At one picnic blanket she sees a sober fellow and his handsome family. He looks like an orthodontist or a midlevel manager. His family looks happy, normal, pleasant. Right next to them, on a foldout lawn chair, is a scowling woman in a big straw bonnet with a dozen tea bags hanging from the brim. She’s holding a sign, a picture of Obama in a Hitler mustache. Who does the reporter choose to interview? I think we know. A better question might be who would you pick if you were that reporter and had a producer back in the newsroom who wanted interesting copy, colorful characters and vivid pictures. The mainstream media this January will be looking for the nuts....The point is when they want to paint you as nuts and yahoos, don’t help them paint you as nuts and yahoos.
No, Ms. Noonan, and all like-minded pundits, that's not what the point is.

My favorite sign from one of the Tea Party rallies held this past year read: "It doesn't matter what I put on this sign, they'll call it racist anyway."  By "they", the sign-holder meant, of course, the MSM.

That's part of what the point is.  Another part is this.

I remember watching during the early 1990's an episode of Bill Buckley's TV show Firing Line in which his guest was the political scientist James Q. Wilson.  At one point in the interview, Buckley asked him what he thought about Rush Limbaugh who was just then emerging as a conservative phenomenon.  I can't recall what Wilson said, but Buckley offered that Limbaugh reminded him a bit of Ronald Reagan in one important respect.  That is, Limbaugh, like Reagan, did not care what the New York Times thought of him.  Not that either decided not to care, or was determined not to care, but, rather, that they simply didn't give the Times any thought at all, one way or the other.

If not from me, then take a lesson from your hero Ronald Reagan, Peggy.  First, the only way any conservative's behavior will ever be acceptable to the MSM is when it's, well, liberal.  And even then they'll mock you for being a hypocrite.  Second, why would you ever want to give them the power to call the tune?  We want them reacting to us, not the other way around.

Peggy Noonan and the many others who are supposed to be on our side should stick to their fear and loathing of Sarah Palin.  She'll continue to get richer for it and the rest of us can remain focused on saving the country.   

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering Our Veterans

As a veteran, this may come across as a bit self-serving, but the point stands in any case.

Many years ago I fell upon a copy of a speech delivered by the famous novelist Herman Wouk to, if I remember correctly, a gathering at the US Naval War College. We were then still in the midst of the Cold War and Wouk observed that the mostly "cold" nature of the war meant there would be few opportunities, if that's the right word, for those serving ever to engage in actual combat.  Many in his audience would pass their entire careers without ever hearing the "mournful mutter of the battlefield", much less afforded the chance to test their mettle in a real contest of arms. As he had himself served in the US Navy during World War II, Wouk knew that for a soldier, especially a career soldier, that possibility would create a nagging regret and numerous occasions for a measure of what can only be called shame

As he was aware of this, Wouk wanted very much to make a point of saluting those who served honorably nevertheless. If you're familiar with Wouk's The Caine Mutiny, either the novel, the play, or the film adapted from them, you'll recall that one of his themes was that whatever the sad end to the career of the troubled Captain Queeg, his long service to the country was invaluable nonetheless. As dangerous as the struggle for control of the Pacific was during the war with Japan, it afforded for its participants numerous opportunities for fame and glory. Not so were the twenty-plus years that passed between the First and Second World Wars. During those years a whole host of careers began and ended in virtual anonymity. But, Wouk insisted, their service was not for that reason without meaning or dignity.

So, taking a cue from Herman Wouk, let us salute again our veterans, all of those who served, in whatever capacity, whether in harms way or not.  Had it become necessary, they were available, they were prepared, and they were willing. The least we owe them on this one day each year is a heartfelt expression of gratitude.

Don't Know Much About Friedrich Nietzsche

This is definitely not for everyone, but if you're so inclined, try Jonathan Ree's concise introduction to Nietzsche by way of book review.  Ree doesn't much care for the two recent books on Nietzsche by Julian Young, who, he argues, trys a bit too hard to domesticate the mad German professor/philosopher.  But as you read Ree flesh that out, you'll come away from the review with a pretty good introduction to Nietszche's life and thought.

Not to mention, it's darned good writing.  I particularly liked this sentence: "If an argument looks rough and murky, it may be best to leave it that way, and interpreters who buff it up till they can see their faces in it may be doing their author a disservice."