Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Less We Can"

Gotta give credit to columnist George Will for bringing this one to our attention. (I'm referring to my title.)

It's the slogan of Libertarian Party candidate Mark Grannis, who's running for Maryland's 8th Congressional District.


Friday, October 29, 2010

The Era of Hand Wringing is Over

No sooner do I blog about the significance of Tuesday's election, than a fellow conservative counsels humility, and no matter the result.  Mona Charen, of all people, is worried about Republican hubris.
I am as delighted as any conservative could be about predictions for Tuesday’s election. But the exultation of some on the right is making me nervous. It’s not just superstition. The votes haven’t even been counted, and yet some are already interpreting Republican victories as a thorough repudiation of everything Democratic, socialist, and liberal. The era of big government is over . . . again.
I'm sorry Mona, and every other conservative who's already starting to "go wobbly", but if next Tuesday's election plays out the way most polls suggest it will, then it will not only be a mandate, it will be a demand.  If those newly elected, or newly re-elected, begin their term of office by temporizing, they will find their tenure in Washington short indeed.

Republican reach-across-the-aisle, split-the-difference, don't-want-to-make-waves deal making is a large part of the reason we're in the mess we're in.  The professional pols inside the GOP just knew that tacking always to what they judged to be the middle was the surest way to electoral success.  But they were wrong.  They were wrong because, in fact, it didn't insure electoral success, and they were wrong because they were terrible judges of what constituted the middle.  To them, it seems, the middle was always somewhere between the left and the far left.

Now is definitely not the time for more confusing and ultimately dispiriting ambiguity.  The stakes are simply too high.  As I've said before, I increasingly believe we are in the midst of a Great Reckoning.  Like perhaps no time in my life, the people of America are not only ready to make a clear choice, they are, in fact, eager to do so. 

I, for one, do not fear that choice.  That, Mona, is confidence, not hubris.     

What Kind of People are We?

Charles Krauthammer has penned a great column pointing out to us all just how important next Tuesday's election really is.  He labels this election season, "The Great Campaign of 2010"   Among his observations:
What is the point of a two-party democracy if not to present clear, alternative views of the role of government and, more fundamentally, the balance between liberty and equality — the central issue for any democracy?

The beauty of this year’s campaign, and the coming one in 2012, is that they actually have a point. Despite the noise, the nonsense, the distractions, the amusements — who will not miss New York’s seven-person gubernatorial circus act? — this is a deeply serious campaign about a profoundly serious political question.

Obama, to his credit, did not get elected to do midnight basketball or school uniforms. No Bill Clinton, he. Obama thinks large. (This, by the way, is chief among the reasons why, although I vehemently disagree with him over just about everything, I can at least stomach Obama, but never Clinton.)  He wants to be a consequential president on the order of Ronald Reagan. His forthright attempt to undo the Reagan revolution with a new burst of expansive liberal governance is the theme animating this entire election.
To his credit, Florida Republican US Senate candidate Marco Rubio sees the election in much the same terms.  I saw him interviewed on one of today's morning shows for his reaction to the reports that Bill Clinton had lobbied Rep. Kendrick Meek, Rubio's Democrat opponent, to pull out of the race altogether in order to improve the chances of independent candidate Governor Bill Crist.  In the course of offering his opinion about the story, Rubio reminded the viewers that this election is not just about who'll be in charge.  Rather, it's about what kind of people we intend to be.

Amen to that!  You've got the weekend and a day to finalize your choices.  Don't waste the time. When Tuesday finally arrives, be ready, be eager, to pull the lever, punch the card, or touch the screen for the kind of people you think we ought to be.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Separation Anxiety

Do you suspect, like Republican Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell suspects, that there's something fundamentally wrong with the contemporary notion that our constitution imposes a rigid and unbreachable "wall of separation" between church and state?  If you do, then you might want to check out Thomas Sowell's cogent and concise argument supporting your suspicion at NationalReviewOnline.

Made of the Finest Steele

You really must read this piece by Shelby Steele about Barack Obama, his Administration, and the Democrat Party.  The pull quote: "...Mr. Obama and the Democrats [have placed themselves] in the position of forever redeeming a fallen nation, rather than leading a great nation."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The View from this Angle

Thank you Joy Behar.  Thank you so much.

After Ms. Behar's on-screen tirade calling Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle a "bitch", Ms. Angle sent her a nice flower arrangement with an accompanying note of thanks.  It seems the incident served to increase Ms. Angle's campaign coffers by at least $150,000.

But it served to do more than just that.

What Joy Behar, John Stewart, Bill Maher, et al, can't quite seem to grasp is that with every snide, sarcastic, and mocking response to the very existence of people like Sharron Angle and their involvement in politics, they further inspire that involvement, they further reveal how very far from the mainstream of American life they are, and they further cement in the hearts and minds of their targets the determination to defeat them.

So, again, thank you Joy.  And do, please do, keep talking.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Are the New Elites Different from You and Me?

I suspect you're familiar with the apocryphal, but still enlightening exchange between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.  Fitzgerald is supposed to have commented to Hemingway that, "The rich are different from you and me."  To which Hemingway replied, "Yes, they have more money."

While focused on their relative wealth not at all, can the Tea Partiers' suspicion that the country's ruling elites are nevertheless different from you and me, different from America, be just as easily dismissed as Hemingway dismissed Fitzgerald?  Are all the many distinctives that describe them merely incidental or are they essential?

Political scientist Charles Murray thinks they're essential.  Without indicting or even impugning the "New Elites", as he calls them, Murray maintains that the Tea Partiers are in fact right about them.  He writes:
We know, for one thing, that the New Elite clusters in a comparatively small number of cities and in selected neighborhoods in those cities. This concentration isn't limited to the elite neighborhoods of Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. It extends to university cities with ancillary high-tech jobs, such as Austin and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle.

With geographical clustering goes cultural clustering. Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows -- "Mad Men" now, "The Sopranos" a few years ago. But they haven't any idea who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right." They know who Oprah is, but they've never watched one of her shows from beginning to end.

Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

They can talk about books endlessly, but they've never read a "Left Behind" novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans).

They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, but they wouldn't be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). They have never heard of Branson, Mo.

There are so many quintessentially American things that few members of the New Elite have experienced. They probably haven't ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club, or lived for at least a year in a small town (college doesn't count) or in an urban neighborhood in which most of their neighbors did not have college degrees (gentrifying neighborhoods don't count). They are unlikely to have spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line (graduate school doesn't count) or to have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian. They are unlikely to have even visited a factory floor, let alone worked on one.

Taken individually, members of the New Elite are isolated from mainstream America as a result of lifestyle choices that are nobody's business but their own. But add them all up, and they mean that the New Elite lives in a world that doesn't intersect with mainstream America in many important ways. When the tea party says the New Elite doesn't get America, there is some truth in the accusation.

Part of the isolation is political. In that Harvard survey I mentioned, 72 percent of Harvard seniors said their beliefs were to the left of the nation as a whole, compared with 10 percent who said theirs were to the right of it. The political preferences of academics and journalists among the New Elite also conform to the suspicions of the tea party.

But the politics of the New Elite are not the main point. When it comes to the schools where they were educated, the degrees they hold, the Zip codes where they reside and the television shows they watch, I doubt if there is much to differentiate the staff of the conservative Weekly Standard from that of the liberal New Republic, or the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute from those of the Brookings Institution, or Republican senators from Democratic ones.

The bubble that encases the New Elite crosses ideological lines and includes far too many of the people who have influence, great or small, on the course of the nation. They are not defective in their patriotism or lacking a generous spirit toward their fellow citizens. They are merely isolated and ignorant. The members of the New Elite may love America, but, increasingly, they are not of it. (my italics)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Carter Confusion

After opining that the country had not improved substantially over the past three decades, former President Jimmy Carter let loose with this whopper about the state of the nation while he was in office: "We had almost complete harmony with every nation on Earth."

If the on-going Cold War, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the resulting US boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, not to mention several other contentious foreign policy issues the country faced at the time, can be called instances of harmonious international relations, then, I suppose, we  should pine for the halcyon days that were the Carter Administration.

But they weren't and we shouldn't.

One hesitates to say much more than that.  The old man is obviously failing and it becomes increasingly unseemly to pile on.

Cornering the Noncitizen Vote

Guess which party is championing this initiative?

Rhode Island Red

A very angry Frank Caprio, Rhode Island Democrat gubernatorial candidate, told President Obama just what he could do with his political endorsement.  It seems Obama decided not to endorse him during his Monday visit to the Ocean State.

This proves once again that, contrary to what many maintain nevertheless, Obama is no hyper-partisan.  Rather, he's a DINO (Democrat in name only) because he's actually a hyper-ideologue and Caprio just isn't  liberal enough for him.

Next week's not only going to be a landslide, it's going to be an earthquake.  Can you hear the Democrats cracking?

Standing On Our Hind Legs

James Gannon, over at The American Spectator, posts a rallying cry for Tea Party enthusiasts that recalls a speech of actor Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark in the 1949 film All The King's Men.  The image is just too rich for me to leave alone.

The speech follows Stark's realization that he's been duped.  That "those fellows in the striped pants" encouraging him to run for office have been using him all along.
All those fellows in the striped pants, they saw that hick and they took him in...Now, listen to me, you hicks. Yeah, you're hicks too, and they fooled you a thousand times, just like they fooled me. But this time, I'm gonna fool somebody. I'm gonna stay in this race. I'm on my own and I'm out for blood. Now listen to me, you hicks! Listen to me, and lift up your eyes and look at God's blessed and unfly-blown truth. And this is the truth. You're a hick, and nobody ever helped a hick but a hick himself!...I'm the hick they were gonna use to split the hick vote. Well, I'm standin' here now on my hind legs. Even a dog can learn to do that. Are you standin' on your hind legs? Have you learned to do that much yet?
Some of you out there will no doubt use this to make the point that all this Tea Party folderol is nothing more than the latest spasm of old-fashioned American populism.  After all, All The King's Men is really about Louisiana Governor and US Senator Huey P. Long and we know what a redistribute-the-wealth demagogue he was.

But you'd be wrong.  I ask again, if populism this is, who's the lead demagogue?  Name him.  Point to him.  If populism this is, where's the demand to soak the rich and spread it to the poor?  It's a strange populism that demands mostly only to be left alone.

No, the Tea Party is the coming of age of the Silent Majority and here we are, standing on our hind legs, baying loudly at the moon. the only thing left illuminating the dark night of liberalism.  You laugh as it all looks so unnatural for us.  Well maybe it is.  But next Tuesday we'll learn whether or not it was effective nonetheless.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Card Check

The prosecution rests again: "President Bill Clinton Lost Nuclear Codes While in Office, New Book Claims"

But no one noticed, nor even much cared.  You'll recall that while this clown was leading the free world, the rest of us were busy enjoying our long overdue, so we told ourselves, "holiday from history".  An unserious man for an unserious time. We got what we deserved, I guess.

"Progressive " Taxation

Well, it seems that oh so liberal, oh so progressive, Google Inc. avoids paying its "fair share" of taxes after all.  And they're pretty good at it too.

I say again: Hypocrisy is essential to all leftist politics, liberal, progressive, socialist,...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why Do Women Enjoy Tea Parties?

More specifically, why are there so many women running this year as unapologetic conservative, Tea Party-backed, Republicans?  Tammy Bruce boils it down to this:  They, like everyone else, are simply sick and tired of high taxes and the big government it funds, or encourages even if it doesn't quite fund. 

This is no doubt true, but still doesn't answer the question.  I mean, a whole lot of men, I suspect more than women, are just as angry about high taxes and big government.  So the question remains:  Why so many women candidates?

I think conservative women candidates enjoy a huge tactical advantage in any political campaign.  Unlike conservative men, their very presence blunts the Left's tired, but predictable play of the racist, sexist, homophobe, nativist, etc., card.  Sure, the Left will play it anyway, but it's less effective when used against a woman.  As a result, we can expect to see more and more of them on the ballot in the future.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Angry White Male Mail

Is there a suspicious trend to early and absentee voting?  Consider this headline and story: White GOP men stand out in early voting

The heck with New Black Panther Party polling station intimidation, this is the kind of potential voting fraud case the Obama Administration can really sink its teeth into.  Standby for an exclusive Attorney General Holder press conference.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Meaning of Christine O'Donnell

With just two weeks left until election day, it's beginning to look more and more like Christine O'Donnell, the Delaware Republican Party nominee for the US Senate, will be unable to close the gap between herself and the Democrat nominee Chris Coons after all.  Does this prove the professional Republicans correct?  Was the nomination of O'Donnell vice that of establishment candidate Mike Castle a mistake?  Did the Tea Partiers foolishly forfeit an otherwise sure GOP victory?

I think not.

The issue that drove the nomination of O'Donnell, not to mention Angle, Paladino, Iott, Rubio, (we conveniently forget that just a few months ago Mario Rubio was the upstart, Tea Party-backed crazy) , and others, was never their electability as individual candidates. Rather, the issue was the ideological integrity of the Republican Party.  Would it remain the party of limited government, lower taxes, strong defense, and unapologetic patriotism, or would it continue its aimless, but sure, drift toward the principles that define the Democrat Party?

If it had, and if it had signaled that it had by nominating candidates like Castle who were virtually indistinguishable from most Democrats, it would have so dispirited its membership, across the entire nation, that more, many more, contests than just that for the Delaware senate seat would now be in jeopardy.

As it is, with the imposition of Tea Party-discipline since the spring of a year ago, and the infusion of Tea Party-enthusiasm all along, the GOP stands to make historic gains in a couple weeks.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Christine O'Donnell, and many others like her, is all about, whether she wins or loses.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Obamacare Strikes!

Since the passage of Obamacare last spring, America has been much like a nation once at war but no longer, receiving, as it has, credible word from the front lines that its army has been defeated.  The terms of surrender, however, remain unclear and, as a result, the people have been anxiously passing the time, nervously waiting for the enemy soldiers to arrive and impose whatever order they see fit.  Well, the trucks have finally rolled into town.

An old high school buddy of mine runs a small, and heretofore successful, business.  Including himself, he employs fifteen people full time.  That full-time employment includes, among other benefits, a health-care insurance plan.

Presently, it's the time of year when many businesses, large and small, settle on next year's employee benefits packages.  I, for example, work for a large, national company and by the end of next month I must decide on one of the several health-care insurance plans offered.  On a much smaller scale, my buddy is currently going through the same process with his employees.

Well, he finally received word from his health-care insurance provider just what the terms of next year's plan will be.  The bottom line is that in order for his business to remain viable, he'll have to make four of his fifteen positions part-time instead of full, with those part-time positions forfeiting health-care insurance and other benefits as well.

While Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration will doubtless blame this unfortunate outcome on the "greedy and dishonest" insurance company, the fact is that without the passage of Obamacare my buddy would have been able to retain all fifteen full-time positions, along with their health-care benefits.  With its passage, he can't.

Now multiply that same story by untold thousands across the land and imagine the consequences.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Elite Company

Here's an enlightening exchange you really need to follow.  It begins with a column of a day or two ago by Anne Applebaum attacking the Tea Partiers for their anti-elitism.  National Review's Jonah Goldberg responds to her argument.  She punches back.  He does the same.  Follow it in order and I'm sure you'll be wanting to high-five the irreplaceable Goldberg.

1. Applebaum
2. Goldberg
3. Applebaum
4. Goldberg

Toilet Training

The enlightened liberal Democrats who control the New York City Council have moved to require the  installation of "dual-flush" toilets beginning in the summer of 2012.  A dual-flush toilet is one that offers the option of either a low- or high-pressure flush depending on the, uh, nature of its use.

Talk about your "Nanny State".  At a future session, can we expect the Council to require also the installation, alongside the toilets, of automatic M&M dispensers in order to reward those citizens who make the appropriate choice?

Again, these people MUST be stopped.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Eden as Anthill

If you don't already know who E.O Wilson is, you need to.  Read this short sympathetic piece in order to get started, but let me help.  You need to know who Wilson is because he's not alone.  Rather, he's representative of a type, almost a caricature of a type, that would, because "science" demands it, reorganize all of human existence into something akin to life in a zoo.  A clean, modern, almost-like-nature zoo, to be sure, but a zoo nonetheless.

Wilson is the famous Harvard champion of sociobiology, the discipline that seeks to explain the social behavior of species with appeals to evolutionary theory.  "Darwin II" as novelist Tom Wolfe called him.  He earned his professional stripes studying the lowly ant and thinks the social life of such insects has much to recommend it to us homo sapiens.  Ah, if only a human were more like an ant.

Let me be clear:  I would rather spend an entire lifetime, hungry and homeless, consigned to little more than crawling on my bloodied hands and knees, wheezing and coughing, desperately sucking in and out whatever remained of adequately oxygenated "clean" air, but as a Free Man still, than spend one day with my belly satisfyingly full, superior health care and housing at hand, locked behind the bars of a pristine zoo, all for my own and everyone else's good, of course, and all altruistically managed by the likes of E.O. Wilson.

Hurricane Camille

You'll find an interesting article by one Sarah Ruden at National Review Online about scholar, writer, and social critic Camille Paglia.  If you haven't heard of Ms. Paglia, she's one of these public intellectuals who, in her case, made a public name for herself chiefly as a self-described "anti-feminist feminist".  And it's true, the professional feminists despise her.  She also has an antic quality about her that, if you see her on TV, you'll not forget.  If she was anything like that as an adolescent, she was the very picture of someone suffering with ADD, or ADHD, or whatever it is they call hyperactive children these days.

She's also sex-obsessed, about which Ms. Ruden has much to say that is less than affirming.  On that subject, I think she's correct in her critique.  Still, Paglia remains an interesting figure to me and to many other conservatives as well.  How so?

Part of it is no doubt because she regularly, and adroitly, skewers much of what describes contemporary liberalism and feminism.  You know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  But I think it's more than just that.

What makes Camille Paglia attractive, if I may use that word, is that she resolutely refuses to play the victim.  Moreover, if there is any one thing about contemporary liberalism and feminism that she detests, it is precisely that defining characteristic and the bullying strategy that descends from it.

For that contribution alone, I'll forgive her a few sins and more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The March Toward Realism

Over at David Paul Kuhn has a piece analyzing the cynical turn of the nation's youth toward politics.  (I say "analyzing" as I find his tone just short of lamenting.  You decide.)  The source of  their cynicism?  Dashed idealism, in particular the frustration of the idealistic spirit they brought to the campaign and presidency of Barack Obama.  I don't think he's quite right about this.

First of all, insofar as he is correct, the seeds of that cynicism were first sown, and have been carefully cultivated ever since, by the Left.  At least since the 1950s, when it began to take hold in popular culture, think the Beat Generation and "Catcher in the Rye", and especially since the 1960s, recall "Don't trust anyone over thirty", when it became aggressive, the Left has inculcated this "hermeneutic of suspicion", the notion that nothing, no idea, no institution, is ever as it appears.  Among those who fathered this abiding contemporary cynicism we should include, of course, the usual suspects of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.

Moreover, again, insofar as Kuhn is correct, liberalism has always carried with it a sure dose of cynicism along with its idealistic prescriptions.  Why?  Because it over-promises.  Liberalism intends to remake the world and it always fails in that enterprise because man, alone, is simply not up to the task.  He is, let us say, ill-equipped.  Think "original sin".

Nevertheless, as I say, I believe Kuhn misses the mark.  Cynicism in the young, especially the young of America, is for the most part simply a pose, a way to look "cool".  But needing to look cool will be for most of them, as it was for most of us who are a little longer in the tooth, a passing phase, a passage to maturity.

As I've said before, I believe, I hope, we, as a nation, are in the midst of a Great Reckoning.  As such, we all, young and old alike, are marching not toward an ultimately useless cynicism, but rather toward a refreshing and liberating realism.  The bill has finally come due.  I don't like having to pay it any more than you do.  But when I do, I feel good.  I feel like a grown man.  Really.

End of an Era

Well, my Atlanta Braves lost their National League Division Series to the San Francisco Giants 3-2 last night, thus ending not only their season, but manager Bobby Cox's stellar career as well.

Leading the team to a record 14 straight division titles along the way, Cox is not only highly respected in all of baseball, he's uniformly beloved as well.  It never did make any sense that such a man could also hold the record for being tossed out of games, but baseball's funny that way.  He will be sorely missed and his shoes  almost impossible to fill.  I already feel more than a bit sorry for the man selected to take the reins from him.

Oh well, spring training is just around the corner and I find I already can't wait.  Play ball!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Raising Flags

This story hits close to home.  Very close, in fact, as King, NC is only 15-20 miles from where the Sage hangs his hat.

So what's happening in King, NC?  The city council has just voted to remove the flag symbolizing Christianity from the group of flags that routinely fly over the town's Veterans War Memorial.  The act has become newsworthy because the citizens of King, in overwhelming numbers, don't like it one bit.

But then neither do the council members, who, it seems, are simply following the advice of their attorney.  He warns them that to continue flying the flag and fight in court the ACLU, which is threatening to sue the city over what it maintains is a clear violation of the First Amendment's non-establishment clause, will cost the town an estimated $200,000-300,000.

What have we come to?   Noone within a hundred-mile radius, at least, of the small community of King is offended by the presence of that flag save those looking to be offended by it.  Or should I say, pretending to be offended by it?

Those who persist in using the First Amendment as a blunt instrument with which a minority can bully a  majority need to be reminded of one cold, hard fact:  The efficacy of that Amendment as a protector of the rights of minorities is only as strong as the good will and support it enjoys from the majority.  One day you will push too far.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Black Like Me

Friday's Washington Post included a piece by columnist Eugene Robinson that was truly pathetic.  Finally admitting to himself (I'm guessing) the sure Democrat Party disaster coming next month, Robinson lashes out in frustration at Republicans for....  Well, his title will tell you. "Why won't the GOP compete for African American votes?

It apparently occurred to Robinson that as the Democrat Party routinely receives 90-95% of the black vote,  it can fairly safely take that vote for granted.  And, as the Republicans have demonstrated their ability to win elections without the black vote, like they will do again in large numbers this fall, it doesn't need to pursue it.  Recognizing that this is not a good position to be in, early in the piece Robinson concedes that as competition is a good thing generally, maybe it would also be a good thing for black Americans if the two major parties actually competed for their vote.

But then, making no sense at all, he proceeds to call the GOP's success as a party, at least since the 1960s, a direct result of deliberately racist policies. He goes on to dismiss the party's current leadership by African American Michael Steele as a sure sign of tokenism.  (I suspect that as Colin Powell supported the candidacy of Barack Obama, the general is no longer a token.)  Finally, he is sure nevertheless that the liberalism of the Democrats remains superior to the conservatism of the Republicans.  Therefore, his conclusion is that blacks, whose interests are, in his judgment, better served by liberalism, would be foolish to vote against those interests by voting for the GOP.

I don't think he realizes it, but Robinson doesn't really want the Republican Party to court the vote of African Americans.  What he really wants is for the Republican Party to become more like the Democrat Party.  What he doesn't seem to realize, however, is that if this were to happen, there would be no real difference between the parties and, as a result, no real choice either.

But then there are still far too many white Republicans who think exactly the same way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Him Again?

America lost an eloquent conservative voice last week with the passing of columnist and author Joseph Sobran.  The Skinny Blond Bomber Ann Coulter, a good friend of his, pays a very nice tribute at her website and does so mostly by posting a sampler of some of his best and most acerbic wit and wisdom.  My favorite will not surprise any of you who follow this blog regularly.  On then President Bill Clinton during his impeachment:
Once again, his defenders, furiously attacking the prosecution and equating opposition with 'conspiracy,' don't dare mount the best defense: 'He's not that sort of man.' It's because Clinton is, supremely, 'that sort of man' that this whole thing has happened. He's a lying lecher, a prevaricating pervert, an utterly slimy crook, without a trace of honor or loyalty, desperately trying to save his own skin one last time.
Sobran knew one when he saw one.  RIP.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cooling Hot Tea

There's a famous exchange between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson where our first president asks our third about the constitutional purpose of the Senate.  Jefferson replied that it was to cool the hot tea of the House.

As a well-intentioned stab at cooling the boiling brew that is the Tea Party uprising, Ron Chernow, author of the very well-received Alexander Hamilton biography of a few years ago, as well as a forthcoming new one on Washington, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times a couple of weeks ago about the current movement's tendency, along with many other popular insurgencies throughout our history, to wrap itself in the mantle of the founders.  Chernow warns against such an inclination.
But any movement that regularly summons the ghosts of the founders as a like-minded group of theorists ends up promoting an uncomfortably one-sided reading of history.

The truth is that the disputatious founders — who were revolutionaries, not choir boys — seldom agreed about anything. Never has the country produced a more brilliantly argumentative, individualistic or opinionated group of politicians. Far from being a soft-spoken epoch of genteel sages, the founding period was noisy and clamorous, rife with vitriolic polemics and partisan backbiting. Instead of bequeathing to posterity a set of universally shared opinions, engraved in marble, the founders shaped a series of fiercely fought debates that reverberate down to the present day. Right along with the rest of America, the Tea Party has inherited these open-ended feuds, which are profoundly embedded in our political culture.
Fair enough.  But surely Mr. Chernow does not mean to imply that because the feuds were open-ended that the founders meant to establish an "open-ended society", a society that at once stood for both everything and nothing.  That their intention was to birth a nation, if such a one could exist, that would honor liberty in one generation and dishonor it in the next. 

As Chernow reports, the debates between the Hamiltonians and the Jeffersonians, as well as those that recur between their intellectual heirs, while heated, remained largely intramural, were contested chiefly within the constitutional framework.  Contemporary liberalism, by contrast, informed as it is by a long progressive pedigree, sees the Constitution instead as either a meaningless guide toward, or an outright impediment to its as-yet-unfulfilled dream of statist utopia.

Whatever else Hamilton and Jefferson disagreed about, no honest scholar would claim that either of them could look at our current Leviathan and be anything other than shocked.  And from what I gather, Ron Chernow is an honest scholar.

Monday, October 4, 2010

China Syndrome

Foreign Policy magazine just published a new article by one Ethan Devinewith this title and this header:
The Japan Syndrome
China's teetering on the verge of its own lost decade, and a meltdown in Beijing would make Japan's economic malaise look like child's play.
Has anyone told Tom Friedman?

The Greening of America

By now you've seen the pictures or heard the reports of what the participants of the John Stewart "One Nation" Rally did to the DC Mall and its surroundings.  This was brought to you by the people who, unlike you and me, really and truly care about the environment.

Proving, once again, that EVERYTHING about liberalism is phony, false, fraudulent, affected, bogus, counterfeit, forged, pseudo, sham, insincere, unreal, disingenuous, artificial, fake, hollow, specious, manufactured, deceitful, dishonest, duplicitous, empty, fixed, foul, spurious, contrived, rotten, contrived, two-faced, underhanded, perfidious, unethical, unprincipled, corrupt, misleading, bologna, bull$#!+,(C'mon, help me out!),...

Scratching My Head

I just read a piece by Jay Cost over at The Weekly Standard that left me puzzled.  Its title is "What We Learned from Obama's Rolling Stone Interview" and therein Cost wonders how such a steadfastly post-partisan fellow like Barack Obama became the hyper-partisan Democrat revealed in the interview.  (BTW, while I take Cost's point, in Obama's case I think hyper-ideologue is more apt than hyper-partisan.  As every poll demonstrates, his agenda has not served his party well at all.)

In his opening paragraph, Cost remarks: "Certainly, even those most skeptical of President Obama in January 2009 would have been a little surprised to read an interview that drips with contempt for so many of the president's fellow citizens."

Huh?  Has Cost forgotten Obama's "bitter-clinger" comments during the campaign, his 20-year association with the racist Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his marriage to the "not proud 'til now" Michelle, etc.?  How can anyone justly say they are surprised?  Well, I was among "those most skeptical" in January 2009 and there is nothing about the interview that surprises me.

I do, however, find myself scratching my head over another aspect of Cost's piece.  Before he proceeds to demonstrate Obama's hyper-partisanship, he's quick to make the point that the parties are actually much the same.
The Republican and Democratic stories are substantively different, but formally quite similar.  For instance:
(a) Each believes the other side has perfidious motivations. 
(b) Each believes that, to the extent that the opposition is acting on principle, they are  radical or foolish principles. 
(c) Each believes that the other typically conducts the dirtier campaign.
(d) Each reserves to its own side all the credit for policy successes, and pushes to the opposition all the blame for policy failures.
(e) Each has a Manichean view of American politics and history, with its own side representing the forces of light and the opposition representing the forces of darkness. 
This bugs me.  One problem with the list is that it communicates not just that the parties are similar, but that between them, there really is no difference.  And another is that it says nothing about whether, in their judgments of the other, one side is correct or not.  While both may think the other has perfidious motivations, one may indeed have them.  Distinctions such as this make all the difference in the world when one is deciding how to vote.

But what really bugs me is this: I cannot for the life of me understand this disposition, this reflex it seems,  displayed here by Cost, and elsewhere by far too many others hailing from the American political Right.  I'm referring to the willingness, the eagerness even, to establish and maintain an appearance of even-handedness, and to do so by pronouncing these "a pox on both your houses" judgments.  Judgments that are not only intellectually hazy and lazy, but, more importantly, do real harm to our side.

This past summer Sports Illustrated ran a retrospective on Hall-of-Famer Stan Musial. In the piece, fellow Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson was asked about his teammate.  His reply: "Stan Musial is the nicest man I ever met in baseball and, to be honest, I can't relate to that. I never knew that nice and baseball went together."  Sure, Gibson was kidding a bit.  By all accounts, Gibson conducted himself honorably not only off, but on the field as well.  But he understood always that the object of the game is to win.  On the mound, Gibson's competitive spirit, as is well chronicled, was second to none.  He knew that a baseball game, like any game, is not a performance, it's a contest.

Gibson, a power pitcher, was famous for sometimes throwing two "knockdown" pitches in a row.  If a hitter was digging in, if he was too aggressive at the plate, Gibson would throw a fastball directly at the hitter in order to move him away from the plate and make him a little less aggressive the next time, after he got up, dusted himself off, and stepped back into the batter's box.  But Gibson, unlike almost any other pitcher, would then do it again, making clear to the hitter that the previous pitch was no mistake, that the ball hadn't merely slipped out of his hand.  Bob Gibson intended to win.

Politics is not a game; the stakes are far more serious.  But it is a contest.  And the object of a contest is to win.  I wish more on our side understood that.

Ya think Bob Gibson might be interested in running for political office?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tea Party Anarchism?

This is from a couple of weeks ago now, but Newsweek and Slate uber-liberal columnist Jacob Weisberg (along with many others, I'm sure) sees an anarchic, anti-authority bent to the Tea Party movement.  Is he serious?

First, a charge such as this coming from anyone on the Left is just plain funny.  Whatever happened to sticking it to the Man?  Power to the People?  Workers of the world unite?  You know, the rallying cries of leftist demagogues for generations.

The only thing anarchic about the Tea Party uprising is the movement itself.  Its provenance gives new meaning to the word spontaneous.  To this point, try as they might, the leftists have been unable to identify successfully any single populariser they can then isolate and demonize.  Neither have they located any group or individual responsible for funding the whole operation.  Someone like, oh, I don't know, George Soros, for example.  They haven't, because there is none.

Finally, only a Lefty could confuse a demand for a return to constitutional government, a government of limited and enumerated powers, anarchy.

But then, maybe not.  If I understood the Constitution to be nothing more than a point-less rough draft of general guidelines that, in any case, could not be meaningfully interpreted even one minute after the ink with which it was written was dry, then maybe I'd think a return to it was anarchic too.