Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breaking the Code

After first transgressing at NPR, and then multiplying his sins by taking a job at FOX News, I guess we shouldn't be surprised to learn that Juan Williams is trying hard to reestablish his liberal bona fides.

Writing for The Hill, Williams accuses the GOP of using racial "code" words:
The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values. 
The code also extends to attacks on legal immigrants, always carefully lumped in with illegal immigrants, as people seeking “amnesty” and taking jobs from Americans.
Good grief.

It seems to me that when used by a liberal the word "code" is code for "I'm about to play the race card."

Monday, January 30, 2012

End of the "Split the Difference Scenario"

When even a left-wing outlet like POLITICO says as much, you know things have changed.  And to my mind, the change is all for the better.

The scenario they're describing is of course the old Washington way of getting to the deal by splitting the difference between either the branches of government or, more significantly, between the governing parties and the ideologies that describe them.  (You really can't say define them, or at least you can't in the GOP's case.)

For conservatives this difference splitting has always come at a much greater cost to them than it has to liberals and you had to be a fool not to know it.

When the Right stands on the principle of constitutionally limited government and the Left does not, for the Right to split the difference, or even to concede the smallest point, it is by definition a victory for the Left.  In such a transaction, the Left has violated no principle at all.  The Right, by contrast, has sold a little or a lot of its very soul.

Moreover, even if you leave principle aside, if history demonstrates anything it demonstrates that even the smallest concession to the growth of government invariably results in something bigger, usually something much bigger than was originally planned.  It's typically not only bigger, but altogether different as well.

Slowly (oh so very slowly), but steadily, the description of the Republican Party has changed from one with a ruling majority of accommodationists (difference splitters) to one with a ruling majority of much more principled conservatives.

The immediate consequence of that change is of course gridlock in DC.  But, as even the reporters at POLITICO have noticed, it also means that we're finally in for a real fight.

Let's Roll!


I realize the season's over, but how did that old tune go again?

"Baby it's cold outside..."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Community" Does NOT Equal Government

As long as Ross Douthat stays away from contemporary politics and tries to make larger, more philosophical points (or reviews books and movies), he's OK.

But, in this article, even his contemporary political point is OK.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Driving in the Left Lane

With this latest self-imposed mandate, the once Golden State has moved from the death watch to the suicide watch.

When the Political is Personal

OK, so contrary to my earlier post, maybe Jeffrey Lord doesn't know after all.

At least that's what NRO's Rich Lowry asserts as he responds to Lord's response to Elliott Abrams' response to Newt Gingrich's claim to be a genuine Reaganite. (Confused yet?)  Actually, Lowry's response is more than just a correction to the record as he accuses Lord of "smearing" Abrams and "misrepresenting" Gingrich.

Look, there are plenty of sound reasons to prefer Mitt to Newt.  But this anti-Gingrich crusade is beginning to smell more and more like the settling of personal scores than it does a sincere concern over winning this fall's election.

If the Newt Gingrich of the 1980s and early 90s was not only a non-Reagan, but in fact an anti-Reagan crazy man, and this was known at the time, then how on earth did he rise to such prominence and get himself elected Speaker of the House by his fellow Republicans?

A Bucket of Cold Water

Using the Obama's SOTU address, along with Mitt's platitudes and Newt's pandering, as a launching pad, Mark Steyn, again, brings us back to earth.  The money quote is from the last paragraph:
There are times for dreaming big dreams, and there are times to wake up. This country will not be going to the moon, any more than the British or French do. Because, in decline, the horizons shrivel. The only thing that’s going to be on the moon is the debt ceiling. Before we can make any more giant leaps for mankind, we have to make one small, dull, prosaic, earthbound step here at home — and stop. Stop the massive expansion of micro-regulatory government, and then reverse it. Obama has vowed to press on. If Romney and Gingrich can’t get serious about it, he’ll get his way.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lord Knows

It appears that The American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord has, reluctantly I think, been thrust into the role of being one of Newt Gingrich's chief defenders.  The truth's defender is perhaps more accurate.  For all we know, Lord may well be a Romney man.

The last few days I've posted both for and against the former Speaker.  Full disclosure: My inclinations are mostly in the latter camp.  But even so, I think this long week of the long knives for Newt has been a bit much.  We do have a real foe in this contest after all, a clear and present danger to the country in fact, and he ain't Newt Gingrich.

Anyway, among the more serious stabs at Newt came from Elliott Abrams in the pages of NRO.  Abrams not only challenged Gingrich's claim to be a legitimate political heir to Ronald Reagan, but also charged him with being even at the time a caustic critic of the Reagan and his Administration.

Lord, a former Reagan White House insider himself who just the other day was moved to challenge this surprising anti-Gingrich blitzkrieg, has risen again to challenge specifically Abrams' account of Gingrich's role in the 1980s.  And from what I read, he seems to have the facts on his side.

Alas.  Makes you want to throw your hands up in the air, pronounce a pox on each of their houses, then turn away and walk off in disgust, doesn't it?

You can't. The stakes are to high.

Look, virtually all of the players here, pols, pundits, and wannabes alike, have huge egos the care and feeding of which the rest of us would find off putting if we had to witness it up close and personal every day.  But please know that thus has it ever been.

Keep your eye on the ball.  No matter how flawed or how wounded our eventual nominee ends up being, replacing Obama is the game.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Abu Ghraib Again?, cont.

While I'm on the subject of selective outrage, heard anything more about the scandal of the Afghanistan "pissing contest"?

Still nothing, huh?

I'm detecting a pretty strong pattern here, so this'll be my last update.

The prosecution rests.

One Little, Two Little...Indians

Does VP Joe Biden have something against Indians?  'Cause here he goes again.

No surprise there.  As they say, just Joe bein' Joe.

But what's that noise?  Listen for just a minute...imagine the dark side of the moon...yea, that noise...it's the sound of sanctimonious outrage being expressed by all the usual liberal grievance mongers along with their allies in the elite media. 

Listen hard,  I swear it's there.  Try holding your breath.

OK, We Heard You!

Just in case you've been stranded on some deserted island for the past few weeks and hadn't heard the news: Elite conservative punditry and professional Republicans alike don't much care for Newt Gingrich or his candicacy.  Now, even the left-wing POLITICO has noticed as much.

So, Newt's full of himself, erratic, virtue-challenged, and most importantly, not a conservative?

Got it.

But stop there, would you?  Don't insult me by insisting that Romney's the real deal.


"Increasingly one gets the impression that he is living in a third-world country."

So begins Christopher Orlet's cautionary tale from his experience with the Missouri DMV, a tale I suspect is repeated daily not just in Missouri, but across the fruited plane.

Please pause to connect the dots from Orlet's story to looming Obamacare, not to mention the thousand other government regulations and regulators in between.

In Mexico they call it la mordida, the "bite", the unofficial "tax" that attends successfully complying with virtually all government regulations or receiving any government service.  It's kind of a joke, but it's not funny.

The cost of such a tax is not just the "cost", the $50 bucks Orlet could have slipped the inspector in order to "fix" the problem with his car.  There are many other costs as well, costs that typically fall most heavily on the poor as Orlet points out.  But the real cost is a loss of respect for the the law, the entire law, even the laws that proscribe theft, battery, even murder.

Both parties and all politicians are guilty of multiplying just such nuisance rules and regulations.  But one party and the politicians that represent it is more guilty, much more guilty.  Remember that when you vote.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

And You Know What I Think of Clinton

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. let's us know what he thinks of Newt Gingrich.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Safer for Whom?

Consider this Reuters headline and story: "Abortion Safer than Giving Birth"

Seriously, does this mean that we can expect in the not so distant future for an OB doctor, after first informing a young woman that, yes, she is expecting after all, in his next sentence to be obligated by some  code of medical ethics to inform her as well that all things considered, her tears of joy aside, it would be better to terminate the pregnancy sooner rather than later?

God have mercy on us.

Money Mouth

Even as Mitt Romney apologizes, or doesn't, for the money he's made as a "vulture" capitalist, or hard-working businessman, CNN reports that the genuine Man of the People, our former Prez Bill Clinton, has now passed the $75 million mark in fees for delivering speeches across the globe.

Why anyone would pay this charlatan good money to speak remains beyond me?

Now, toss him a buck or two to shut up?  Well, I just might pony up for that.

A Small Point

Dennis Prager, a solid ally in the American Campaign (my new title for what is often called the "culture war"), makes a fair enough case about how Mitt Romney's Mormonism should have no place in our deciding either for or against his candidacy.. 

Frankly, I think his and other's worry about this is overdrawn, but, as I say, fair enough.

Anyway, along the way of making the point, he makes also "three observations" about what he, as a Jew, notices about the relationship between Mormons and evangelicals.  While his second observation is correct, his analogue is flawed.
Observation #2: I may be mistaken, but I believe that what most annoys evangelicals (and some other Christians) about Mormonism is that Mormons call themselves Christians. In order for Jews to better understand evangelicals — and for evangelicals to better understand Jews — I think there is a parallel here. The vast majority of Jews understand that in a free society, people convert to other religions. Therefore, some Christians convert to Judaism, and some Jews convert to Christianity. What particularly annoys Jews is not the existence of converts but the existence of “Jews for Jesus.” To most Jews, this is a misleading label, because people who come to believe in Christ should call themselves Christians, not Jews. (my italics)
I'm afraid the parallel does not hold.  One cannot honestly call oneself a Christian, or a Mormon either for that matter, if one does not claim allegiance to and identification with the explicitly religious practices and beliefs of that faith.  However, one may in all honesty identify as a Jew without practicing or believing any of the tenets of Judaism.  There is such a thing as an ethnic Jew.  There is no such thing, properly, as an ethnic Christian.  Hence, a Jew for Jesus is no less valid than an atheist Jew.

A small point.

Equal Time

Now that you've read the Pruden piece I mentioned in my previous post, be sure to complicate your consideration of Newt by reading as well this one by The American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord.

What's Wrong with this Non-Romney?

Who'd of thunk Newt Gingrich of all people would become the darling of the evangelical right?

Actually, I don't think he has. Instead, I think he's merely reaping the rewards of being the currently most plausible non-Romney.  And contrary to the apparently willful ignorance of much of elite conservative punditry and far too many professional Republicans alike, there's plenty to recommend the non-Romney, whomever he/she happens to be.  In fact, one of the chief recommendations is that the base of the GOP is screaming for him to emerge.

Anyway, lest you think I, a card-carrying member of the evangelical right, am similarly willfully ignorant, but in reverse, to the faults and failures of this particular non-Romney, consider this piece by The Washington Times' Wesley Pruden.  I'd say he does more than a pretty good job of making you wince for even thinking about voting for Newt.

Fair and balanced?

Monday, January 23, 2012

What's Wrong with Romney?

Even as elite conservative punditry and many members of the GOP "establishment" begin to sweat over the increasingly real possibility of a Gingrich nomination, Mark Steyn reminds them and us that the problem is neither with Newt nor the voters, the problem is, as it has been from the beginning, with Romney himself.

As for the quality of Romney's campaign, Steyn writes: "The finely calibrated inoffensiveness is kind of offensive."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Anti-Mormon Dodge

I'm watching the returns from the South Carolina Republican Primary, which it appears Gingrich will win handily, and I've noticed something peculiar about the reporting and the responses from "Establishment" Republican talking heads.

Out of nowhere, the "Do you think Romney's Mormonism was a factor?" question has come up from some of the reporters.  And from "Establishment" Republicans has come the dodge, "Oh, I hope not."

Both the question and the answer are of course intended to suggest just the opposite.  That is, too many of the GOP rank and file are anti-Mormon bigots and, therefore, Gingrich's Palmetto State victory is illegitimate, or at least questionable.

If, despite the SC loss, Mitt Romney goes on to win the Republican nomination and faces President Obama in the general election this fall, and then trails the president in the polls, you can be sure you'll never hear this question or anything like it from anyone in the elite media.  Or, if you do, you can be even surer that the talking head who answers the question will effectively feign shock, shock I'm telling you, that anyone would even suggest such a thing.

As they say, politics ain't beanbag.

Women and Children, First and Last

Mark Steyn is only partly right in his mining for meaning the events surrounding the sinking of the Costa Concordia.

It's true that "women and children first" was once a normative phrase that captured a code of conduct, a code that is fast becoming passé in the West.

What he leaves out is that it's become instead, and sadly so, an increasingly accurate descriptive phrase that captures perfectly a class of people who do go first, whether they should or not. (If, that is, it's even possible to use words like should or ought in a properly multicultural society.)  "Women and children" is now descriptive of, well, descriptive of almost everyone, male and female, young and old, able and infirm, etc..  We're all equal after all and that's exactly as it should be.  (Here's one place where should is not only allowed, but demanded.)

Out to Lunch

Yet another story in an apparently inexhaustible list to convincingly capture the pretentious, overly centralized, excessively bureaucratized, we-know-better-than-you, it's-other-peoples'-money-anyway, progressive/liberal mindset, as well as the kind of policies that invariably follow from it.  The results of which were altogether predictable, but not for that reason altered in any fashion.

Small stuff, you say.

Monstrous because it's petty, I say.

Meanwhile, the same people with the same mindset continue their Long March to control your health care as well...with similarly predictable results

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Can You Name One Thing...?

...for which President Obama deserves credit, that is?

Well, William McGurn points out one, and it's a big one.  It speaks for itself.

The Message of "The Iron Lady"

I've not yet seen The Iron Lady, the new film about the life of Margaret Thatcher, but Virginia Postrel has and in it she detects what for her is an annoying moral, a moral which I think is a commonplace:
Contrary to the critics, framing Thatcher’s story with her current dementia, which her daughter has written about, is not intrinsically disrespectful. Nor does it necessarily undercut her accomplishments. 
The problem, rather, is that grafted on to what could be an affecting story of greatness and decline is an invidious, and gratuitous, moral. Call it the Gospel According to Anna Quindlen, the writer and columnist who enshrined its maxims in a commencement speech she wrote in 1999 and eventually turned into the best-selling book “A Short Guide to a Happy Life.” “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office,” she instructed. “Don’t ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: ‘If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.’” 
The film presents Thatcher as just such a rat -- a woman who too zealously pursued public achievement and spent way too much time at the office. Rather than universal loss, the loneliness of her old age represents a kind of karmic payback for her hubris in seeking to leave something more to history than her genes. 
...No wonder she wound up lonely and demented. The Iron Lady was just out for herself, a self-centered rat who missed the important things in life. At least that’s what a viewer who knew only the movie might suppose.
While Postrel ends her review by focusing on its feminist (or anti-feminist?) implications, I think she was more on the mark with where she began.

That we all, perhaps most especially women, have to make choices in our otherwise circumscribed  lives, and that those choices have consequences, some good, some not so good, that involve paying costs, some quite dear, and that we must be prepared to live, and die, with those consequences and costs is an abiding and inescapable truth.  It is for that reason also, as I say, a commonplace moral.  I don't fault Hollywood for tackling, once again, this tragic aspect of life.

My issue with this film, at least from what I can gather without actually seeing it, simply is that I cannot imagine Hollywood making a similar point in such a powerful and compelling a fashion about any woman who happened to be a liberal icon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just Their Imagination

A while back I posted on why I didn't "believe" in evolution.  One of my objections was the theory's heavy reliance on a "back in the mists of time" argument, or on the necessity of the passing of untold billions and billions of years for anything to actually evolve.  Well, it seems even ole Charles Darwin himself was aware of this problem and addressed it in On the Origin of the Species.

After "Rereading Darwin" , Robert Dorit tackles the subject for us in the American Scientist.  As I said, he first notes that Darwin was sensitive to the objection.
What Darwin realized was that a youthful Earth was appealing not only because it adhered to the biblical time line, but also because it was simply easier to imagine. He knew that his own argument for natural selection depended on vast conceptions of time, and he also understood that the time spans required would be nearly impossible to comprehend. In a section of the Origin entitled “On the Lapse of Time,” he wrote:
It is hardly possible for me even to recall to the reader, who may not be a practical geologist, the facts leading the mind feebly to comprehend the lapse of time. He who can read Sir Charles Lyell’s grand work on the Principles of Geology … yet does not admit how incomprehensibly vast have been the past periods of time, may at once close this volume.
Darwin feared that his readers would be unable to understand the deep time over which natural selection acts, and that their failure would be problematic for his argument. Those with limited imaginations might as well put away his book at once. (my italics)
I giggled when I read that last sentence.

First, I've got no problem with criticising those with "limited imaginations", I was just surprised to discover that scientists put any stock in its use, limited or not.  Facts, empirical evidence, matter and the void and nothing in between, that's the stuff of science, right? 

But of course Dorit's piece isn't really about Darwin, or the lapse of time problem, or really anything remotely scientific.  It's a hit piece directed at mouth breathers like me...and maybe you too.  Although I honestly don't think he meant to, Dorit finally gives this all away:
Still, when I recently reread the Origin, I was struck by a subtler blow the book delivers to human hubris. The Origin remains, even in the 21st century, a radical work, which argues that the fundamental forces driving life on this planet occur on timescales that render the span of a human life insignificant. Furthermore, although the effects of natural selection are there for all to see, its daily operation is almost completely hidden from view. Both our life spans and our five senses are inadequate to the task of comprehension: The most powerful mechanism of organic change lies well beyond our everyday experience.
While the Origin may be a blow to ordinary human hubris, it seems not to be similarly successful when it comes to the hubris of scientists.  As Dorit contends, the most powerful mechanism of organic change may well lie beyond our everyday experience, but it most certainly is not beyond the experience, the comprehension, or the unlimited imaginations of our enlightened scientists.

Abu Ghraib Again?, cont.

Heard anything more about the Afghanistan "pissing contest"?

Didn't think so.

Got a Question for You

For you GOP professionals and conservative elite media pundits most particularly, but any of you can jump in.

Now that Jon Huntsman has quit the Republican race, why was his candidacy ever any more serious, any less quixotic, or less self-serving than the candidacy of Herman Cain?  To make the question more pointed, I'm talking about the Cain candidacy before the "bimbo" eruptions.

If the answer is that it was essentially no different, then why was it that Hunstman's campaign was only very rarely disparaged, and then never to the same degree as Cain's?  Or, conversely, why was it that Cain's was never afforded the same level of respect?

The answers just might reveal the already obvious.   

MLK, Jr. and Me

I posted this a year ago on the same occasion and was encouraged by a friend to do so again. I tried to polish it up a bit (one often winces when reading something one wrote even an hour ago), but you'll have to be the judge.


My relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is complicated. Not that I ever met the man. His too-short life ended while I was still a boy, taken from him by an assassin's bullet in Memphis in 1968. I grew up thereafter with the notion, solidly inculcated by the public schools and the elite media, that he was indeed a great American, a great man. Although I am white and from the South, my parents were not political in any sense and it never occurred to me to challenge the prevailing view.

But by the early 1980s, when the controversy arose over establishing a national holiday recognizing King's birthday and thereby celebrating his life, I was a young man and by then also a confirmed conservative. As most of the opposition to establishing the new holiday came from my side of the aisle, I was forced to reevaluate.

My initial conclusion was that he was not deserving. First, I thought we simply could not afford yet another paid day off. While I never did the math myself, I accepted the conclusions of those who did and there were many who argued this way. Second, as significant as King may have been, his importance to the country could never equal that of any of the Founders, most conspicuously Thomas Jefferson, for whom we had never established a formal national day of recognition. Finally, by then King's public biography was less sanitized than it had been previously and we could no longer pretend not to know about his, ahem, "woman" problem.

Nevertheless, Congress passed and President Reagan signed into law the bill establishing the third Monday of each January, close to his actual birthday of 15 January, as "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day". We've enjoyed the day off ever since.

Later, I changed my mind about all this. It seemed we could afford the holiday after all. Moreover, the ending of Jim Crow was an undeniably proud and watershed moment in our country's history and King was absolutely indispensable to its legal termination. Finally, at a personal level, I found the grace to forgive him his sexual indiscretions. I recognized that he was a flawed man just like all the other national heroes we celebrate and, more importantly, I recognized that he was also a flawed man just like me. Importantly, his moral lapses were chiefly private in nature and never resulted, so far as I'm aware, of any instances of public corruption

Still later I was to change my mind yet again, but not about the holiday or King's deserving of it. As I learned more and thought about it more, it occurred to me that what complicated King's legacy the most, as well as the entire Civil Rights Movement for which he was the single most important public face, was that after the passage of the famous Civil Rights Acts of the mid-1960s, he and the Movement he represented somehow morphed into becoming identified as well with the anti-Vietnam War effort, replete with its far-too-often inexcusably anti-American rhetoric.

In his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" , King wrote movingly of "bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence." But later, after taking up the anti-war mantle, he once said in a speech that the US was "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." Sadly, language such as that sullied for many Americans, myself included, the otherwise wholly noble cause we had come to associate chiefly with the person of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the struggle he lead to secure equal rights for all Americans. Regrettably, this continues to complicate his legacy.

But even after acknowledging and weighing that complication, I still think he deserves his due and his day. On balance, America would be a much poorer place without him and his sacrifice and because of that I can say, without hesitation, Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Enemy of My Enemy

In a most condescending fashion, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scolds the GOP, admonishing it to, among other things, abandon its Tea Party "extremism".

Unfortunately, many in the Republican "establishment", along with a good number of elite media conservatives as well, agree with him.

Which, ironically, explains the existence of the Tea Party in the first place.

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down

Because it's early Sunday morning as I post this, that's why.

The American Spectator's David Catron paints a bleak picture as he compares the current fate of the GOP to that iconic last scene from the film Thelma & Louise:
Witnessing the GOP contests in Iowa and New Hampshire has been much like watching Louise stomp on the accelerator of that beautiful car. It's so easy to foresee the slow-motion descent into the electoral abyss and so seemingly impossible to prevent what should be an unnecessary tragedy. 
 Barack Obama should be facing, as he himself phrased it, "a one-term proposition." His incompetence has reached depths that render the feckless Jimmy Carter positively Washingtonian by comparison, the sheer lawlessness of his administration evokes nostalgia for the merely corrupt Clinton years, and the state of the nation is worse by any objective measure than it was in on the day he took office. The GOP should be well positioned to send the President into retirement. Instead, the party's nomination process has become a bloody battle in which the candidates are viciously attacking one another rather than Obama, denouncing core conservative principles rather than the failures of big-government, and seems to be on the verge of producing a "winner" who has no prayer of defeating the incumbent.
  I'm going back to bed. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Conservative: More or Less

Yet another poll confirms what the poll before it confirmed:  Americans self-identify as conservative over liberal by a margin of 2-to-1.  Meanwhile, moderates, the group the elites of every ideological flavor trumpet as the truest source of political wisdom and the real deciders of the political course the country will actually take, continues to shrink.

The fact that the numbers of self-described moderates continues to shrink rings true.  Our politics do seem more and more polarized.  But that conservatives outnumber liberals 2-to-1 warrants skepticism.  If that were actually so, then how on earth did we elelct this president, this Senate, and even the House until just a year and a half ago?

Unfortunately, for pollsters anyway, to ask someone if they are conservative has become something like asking them if they enjoy and follow the NFL.  The answer is very likely to be "Yes."  But that answer tells us very little to almost nothing about whether or not they support an active or restrained federal government.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Abu Ghraib Again?, cont.

Rep. Allen West, (R-FL), a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, offers his own thoughts about the "pissing contest" in Afghanistan:
I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq? 
The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter. 
As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.

Evil or Not?

NRO's Kevin Williamson writes a provocative piece, "Obama: Incompetent or Evil?".  I urge you to read it, but then be sure to read at least a sampling of some of the thoughtful responses it, well, responses it provokes.

As you probably guessed, it provoked me as well, but I'll limit myself here to just a few of those provocations.  (Tired of the word "provoke" yet?)

First, it presents a false dilemma.  Obama can be both incompetent and evil. 

Second, I resent the implication that if one strongly disagrees with Barack Obama, then one necessarily thinks him evil.

Third, I resent even more the implication that to think him merely incompetent is somehow reasonable, while disagreeing with him passionately is a sure sign of certifiable derangement.

Fourth, I'm not sure if this was original with Bill Buckley, but I do know that I heard him repeat it at least once.  He said that if one is not in principle a conservative, then one will inexorably drift, if not not march, toward liberalism.  I agree with that and think that it suggests a corollary:  If one cannot, or will not, see the evil, yes, evil, that invariably attends socialism, especially after a more than 100-year record of serial failures and atrocities, then one will, necessarily, accommodate it.  Which means, just in case you got lost in that last sentence, accommodating evil.

Fifth (five's enough), even if it could be demonstrated that socialism, pure and simple, or any variant thereof, was the system of economics/government most consistent with the Platonic Ideal of economics/government, it would still be inconsistent with our founding principles.  For that reason alone, it would merit our resistance.  Or at least it would until such a time when our founding constitution were amended suitably to accommodate it.

Sixth,..wait!  I said five was enough, didn't I?

Abu Ghraib Again?

So, will the reports and video of US soldiers urinating on three dead Taliban fighters provoke the same national and global firestorm as did the behavior of US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq several years ago?

Not likely. This outrage occurred on President Obama's watch. Hence, the American Left's response will be muted, if, that is, we hear anything from them at all.

In any event, you can be sure the elite media will strive for balanced reporting, regularly pointing out that this kind of behavior is neither US policy, nor implicitly condoned by the authorities, and that the perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

You know, everything they didn't do during the Bush Administration.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

CLINTON: The Movie

Like his presidency, it'll doubtless be rated "R".

POLITICO reports  of PBS's "coming soon" four-hour documentary that chronicles the life and times of William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, apparently warts and all.

Genital warts and all?  The jury's out.  We're talking about PBS after all.

And we're also talking about POLITICO.

Remember that old TV program that would show B-movie horror/sci-fi flicks through the silhouettes of three aliens who would made sarcastic comments throughout?  One could imagine usefully employing much the same technique while reading the POLITICO piece.  Consider, for example, this comment from the report:
The film covers Clinton’s life in its entirety — from his childhood in Arkansas to his first runs for office to his election as governor of Arkansas to his presidency — but almost a full hour of the documentary focuses on Clinton’s personal struggles with fidelity, coupled with harsh, blunt language from many of his colleagues and chroniclers. (my italics)
As if Clinton's serial womanizing was more or less like his passion for fast and fatty foods.  Poor guy. 

Or this comment from Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich:
“I’ve asked myself a number of times why he put himself and his presidency in jeopardy in such a careless way. … Maybe Bill Clinton, who so much needed and wanted to be loved, couldn’t say no to someone who was going to give him affection and wanted affection back.”
He wasn't a lecher actually, but rather a man who couldn't resist the desperate advances of adoring women.  Good grief.

Like I say, we'll see. 

Or maybe we won't.  Given the content, it can't be aired until after prime time and I just can't stay up that late anymore.

"Masters of Passive Virtue"

Love that.

It's Christopher Orlet's and you really need to enjoy him poking fun at city-dwelling multiculti preeners who only rarely practice what they preach.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Romney Reservations

With his convincing Granite State primary victory yesterday, it's looking more and more like Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for this fall's election.  If so, he'll win or lose while engendering the least amount of excitement among the party faithful since the candidacy of, well, I guess since the candidacy of John McCain just four years ago.  But before that...oh...W wasn't exactly a barn-burner either, was he?  Bob Dole?  ZZzz   George the First?  zzzz 

OK, since Reagan, the GOP hasn't exactly nominated any leg-tingling standard bearers, has it?

BUT, and this is VERY important, that slate of candidate's inability to produce enthusiastic supporters had in every case less, MUCH less, to do with their lack of rhetorical skill than it had to do with their various departures from conservative orthodoxy.

In Romney's case, those departures have been serious and all-too-public, which makes pretending they're not what they are, or never happened at all, difficult, if not impossible.

As a result, with a Romney nomination, the best hope for Republicans this fall will be that the Democrats will suffer from a similar absence of ardor. 

What's a "Zionist"?

NRO's Jay Nordlinger tries to pin down the meaning of the elusive word.

Along the way, he writes this sentence:  "Few academics, artists, and cool teens would want to be known as Zionists."

Academics, artists, and cool teens

Can you think of a more natural and expressive a grouping?  Beautiful.


This just in from POLITICO: "Newt Gingrich signaled Wednesday that he believes his criticism of Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital is a mistake — and that he’s created an impression that he was echoing Democratic rhetoric."

Now, if Governor Perry would have the same epiphany.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tim vs. Tom

That's next week's matchup and what, pray tell, is at least one thing the two quarterbacks have in common? 

The "experts" didn't think either were good enough for the NFL.  (Tom was drafted in the 6th round, 199th overall.)

If Tim hangs in there like Tom did and eventually enjoys anything like his level of success (Tom's set the bar pretty high), you can be sure those same "experts" will be patting themselves on the back for knowing it all along.  Uh, upon further review....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

More Than Just Math

If you thought it was in the main good that the GOP seemed finally to be coalescing around the candidacy of Mitt Romney, consider this sobering post by Michale Walsh over the NRO's The Corner blog.  He titles the post "Simple Arithmetic", but the way he ends it says something more than that:
As I said on the most recent NR cruise, if Romney is the nominee, he will lose. He has no idea what Axelrod & Co. are capable of, nor of the depths to which they will stoop to destroy him. They will attack him as a flip-flopper, as a panderer, as a rapacious and heartless one percenter, and, yes, as a Mormon. They will damn him with faint praise as a liberal accomodationist, as the spiritual father of Obamacare. He’s a gentleman in a mug’s game, and this is no time for gentlemen.

How Much Ruin Is Left?

That's the question to Adam Smith's (yep, that Adam Smith) answer to a young correspondent worried about the direction of Great Britain.  Smith: "There's a great deal of ruin in a nation."

Many thanks to Ken Thomas at NLT blog for directing us to this piece by Charles Murray in The New Criterion
The anecdote about Smith comes at the end of the article which is adapted from Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.  After taking in its less than sanguine argument about the future of American society, especially its divergence into something of a class system, one is tempted to say something on the order of, "Well, duh!" 

But I'm guessing liberals, not conservatives are his target audience and let's hope he somehow manages to convince the otherwise un-convincible.

Guns or Butter?

After President Obama announced his plans for big cuts in the nation's armed forces, Rush Limbaugh asked why it is that cuts in the military, even huge cuts, are good, OK, or at least fiscally necessary, while even the smallest cuts in a whole host of otherwise non-essential bureaucracies is so devastating.

Yet another of the Left's uncountable hypocrisies. 

Evil with a Capital "E"

Many thanks to Mark Steyn for highlighting the Left's decided lack of empathy (you know, the trait they pride themselves for having a monopoly of) in the case of the newly prominent GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.  I'm referring to their shameless use of the details of the birth and very short life in 1996 of the Santorum's son Gabriel and, more to the point, of how Santorum and his wife decided to deal with their grief.
I was watching FOX News the other day when I first heard both the story and the mocking of it by the very liberal talking head Alan Colmes.  I was speechless, but thankfully National Review's Rich Lowry, who was appearing alongside Colmes at the time, was not and he quickly and forcefully expressed disgust with Colmes for bringing it up.

While I was speechless, my mind was still working just fine and my first thought was to wonder, of all the things with which and for which they could attack Rick Santorum, why this?  It was just too obscure an anecdote to be anything other than a very calculated talking point.  They were somehow ready for this, even waiting for it.  Which made me ask myself once again, why?  The answer came just as quickly: This is about abortion, the "right" to a dead baby.  It is now clear that Santorum is perceived by the Left as a potential threat to this "right" and as a result he must, at all costs, be stopped, stopped even before he gets started.

Just in case it wasn't already obvious, abortion is the defining issue of contemporary liberalism.  As others have described it, it is the sacrament of the church of the Left.  Think about it, among Leftists almost any departure from strict liberal orthodoxy is tolerated...save one.

But even knowing that beforehand, I was still amazed in this case at the raw speed with which the Left responded.  As we know, Santorum didn't even win Iowa.  Nevertheless, the Left's spokesmen were already armed with information intended to discredit him with voters, make him too "weird" for the presidency, as columnist Eugene Robinson said while appearing on MSNBC (where else?) to continue the attack.  

As I said, this is disgusting to me, but it's more than that as well.  My sense is that it's bigger than Alan Colmes, Eugene Robinson, and even Rachel Maddow, who was effectively high-fiving Robinson when he made his comments on her show.  How big is it?  See my title.

I remember that when Mother Teresa won her Noble Prize she used her moment in the sun of an already bright and shining life to bring attention to the evil that is abortion.  Among the many things she said about and against the practice, one of the most important and profound was this (forgive me as I'm paraphrasing from memory): "If a mother can take the life of her own child, then you can kill me and I can kill you."

Let me unpack that for you.  If the social bond that exists between a mother and child, the most natural and reflexive, and therefore the strongest, of all social bonds can be broken because it has come to seem inconvenient, then no other social bond of any kind can ever be expected to hold, not the bond between brother and sister, between husband and wife, between fellow countrymen, and certainly not the bond between generic human beings.  When we find any of those relationships inconvenient, we will break them, by any means necessary, to include murder.  What is worse, we will not only excuse, we will actually justify ourselves in the breaking of them.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is unalloyed Evil and it ought very much to frighten you.  It does me.  But it also frightens me for people who on occasions like the current success of the Santorum campaign reveal themselves to be so zealously Pro-Choice.  My hope and prayer for them is that they really don't know what they are doing.

I'm reminded of two scenes from two famous films, both, as it happens, by British Director David Lean: The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia.  In the latter, in order to forestall a severe complication to his military plan, Peter O'Toole as Lawrence kills in cold blood a man he had earlier very heroically risked his own life to save.  Later, in the scene I'm thinking of, he is very disturbed by what he has done because, as he confesses, he realizes that he actually enjoyed killing the man.

The second scene I have in mind is from The Bridge on the River Kwai and is the film's very last.  Alec Guinness as Colonel Nicholson is confronted by the dying presence of William Holden who has returned to blow up the eponymous bridge.  Nicholson finally realizes that his otherwise inspiring effort to raise the morale of his men through the construction of the bridge has in fact resulted in his unwittingly assisting the enemy in their prosecution of the war.  Just before collapsing in death on the detonator that triggers the destruction of the bridge, he memorably intones, "What have I done?"

As I say, my hope and prayer is that one day the Left will awaken to the truth that is the Evil of abortion.  That, like Lawrence and Nicholson in the films, they will one day achieve a similar self-awareness and, who knows, perhapos begin their journey to redemption with the very same question: "What have I done?"

ID Check

This from Chicago:  "New Law Requires Photo ID to Buy Drain Cleaner"

Voting requirements in the Windy City, however, will remain as, uh, liberal, as necessary.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is it OK?

I'm guessing that by now you've heard about the young mother in rural Oklahoma who, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, saved herself and her three-month old baby from two intruders by killing one and thereby persuading the other to flee.

Hooray for her, but do note the question she had for the 911 operator she called before actually pulling the trigger: “I’ve got two guns in my hand...Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in the door?”

"Is it OK?"?

As it happened, the dispatcher told her to do what she had to in order to protect herself and the baby.  But what if the operator had demurred, or worse, had told her to wait until "competent authority" arrived?

If you recall, there were a spate of stories this past summer about the authorities in various communities fining kids for operating street-side lemonade stands without first obtaining the appropriate permits.

If we've come to place in this country where our reflex is to ask for permission first in even the most extreme circumstances, circumstances that demand immediate action, or to wish we would have done so for the most petty of practices, then I submit that in any meaningful sense, we are no longer a free people.

How Do You Handle a Hungry Man?

This Washingtonian headline made me giggle: "Former White House Pastry Chef Recalls Bill Clinton's 'Scary' Appetite"

And he was only talking about food.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lawless, cont.

President Obama yesterday to a crowd in Shaker Heights, Ohio:
But when Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as President to do what I can without them.  I’ve got an obligation to act on behalf of the American people. And I’m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve.  Not with so much at stake, not at this make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans. We’re not going to let that happen.
Reluctant hero or megalomaniac?


By now you've heard at least something about President Obama ignoring both the Constitution and tradition by making a "recess" appointment while the Congress is not yet in recess.  The details can get arcane, which is exactly what the White House is counting on lest you become curious and upset.  But it doesn't matter very much anyway.

If there's a law on the books in your community that prohibits the parking of a car along the curb and the sheriff doesn't enforce it, is it really a law?  Similarly, if the Republican members of Congress choose to do nothing more about this violation of the Constitution than whine a little bit here at outset, is the President really in violation?

I, for one, will be more than a little surprised if the current GOP leadership does anything more than whine a bit here at the outset?

The Courage of One's Convictions

Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic's literary editor, begins his review of Alex Rosenberg's The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions with a list of very serious questions followed by smug, quite unserious answers that derive from the same book:
Is there a god? No. What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is. What is the purpose of the universe? There is none. What is the meaning of life? Ditto. Why am I here? Just dumb luck. Is there a soul? Is it immortal? Are you kidding? Is there free will? Not a chance! What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There is no moral difference between them. Why should I be moral? Because it makes you feel better than being immoral. Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes. What is love, and how can I find it? Love is the solution to a strategic interaction problem. Don’t look for it; it will find you when you need it. Does history have any meaning or purpose? It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing.
He continues:
I take this cutting-edge wisdom from the worst book of the year, a shallow and supercilious thing...The book is a catechism for people who believe they have emancipated themselves from catechisms. The faith that it dogmatically expounds is scientism. It is a fine example of how the religion of science can turn an intelligent man into a fool.
After this, you read on thinking perhaps you've found an ally in the ongoing struggle against the Left's stubborn secularism. Not so:
Not long ago the prestige of science was nastily contested by American politics, as conservatism’s war on evolution, environmental science, and other forms of empirical research threatened to confound the American sense of reality. It was George W. Bush against Francis Bacon. Against this obscurantism—which has long held sway over significant portions of the American electorate—it was necessary to offer a ferocious defense of the premises, and the blessings, of scientific inquiry. Unfortunately, the defense of science became corrupted in certain quarters into a defense of scientism, which is the expansion of scientific methods and concepts into realms of human life in which they do not belong.
First, I'm sorry, but skepticism about "evolution, environmental science, and other forms of empirical research", all of which from the Left's point of view have profound political consequences, does not make one an "obscurantist." (I didn't think the Left used that old charge anymore, preferring instead the more contemporary and loaded "fundamentalist.")

Nevertheless, Wieseltier is right to censure Rosenberg for writing a "shabby book" as he senses that something is very wrong about its simplistic endorsement of what the author calls "nice nihilism."

Nihilism, Rosenberg seems to think, is tame after all. By embracing it, one can finally enjoy the frisson that is genuine liberty. (How many times have we heard that before?) He pretends that he has faced the questions Wieseltier poses at the beginning of his review and the glib answers he offers are sufficient. But those answers are not sufficient as they beg, scream actually, yet another question: Can a human live under such conditions? That is, is it really possible to live a human life without some sense of meaning, if not before or after, at least during one's existence?

Wieseltier's problem is that his review may be almost as smug as Rosenberg's book. Before harrumphing too loudly and confidently, I think he might do well to read some Hume and especially Nietzsche, both of whom stuck their noses out over the nihilistic abyss about as far as anyone can without actually taking the next step. 

Wieseltier, like so many others on the Left, imagines he can successfully weave a Third Way, a via media, between theism and thoroughgoing materialistic atheism. But I'm afraid his secularism will inevitably lead him to the same place it does Rosenberg. I suspect, however, that once there, his moral seriousness at least will save him.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hawks' Eye View

Congratulations to Rick Santorum for doggedly hanging in and hanging on for an oh-so-close second-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses behind the GOP's national frontrunner Mitt Romney.

A thought:  Did Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty fold too early?  He had more money, a bigger staff, and paw-lenty of elite media (left and right) goodwill to start.  Some complain that his early departure  demonstrates how the caucus system is flawed.  Might it show how Tim Pawlenty is flawed instead? 


OK, I just heard another otherwise conservative pundit cut NBC's Andrea Mitchell some slack for her unfortunate Iowa is "too white, too evangelical, and too rural" comment of the other day.

For the record, I think it unlikely that Andrea Mitchell is a self-loathing reverse bigot.  (Wait, I'm not so sure about that "self-loathing" part.)  What is undeniable, however, is that she is an extremely biased liberal reporter.  Can you imagine her, or anyone else from the elite media, ever saying of, oh I don't know, Dearborn, Michigan, for example, that it's too black, too Muslim, and too urban?

You can't.

It's in the Cards

Even amidst reports that US officials are "pressuring rank-and-file officers to rubber-stamp immigrants’ visa applications, sometimes against the officers’ will", you can be sure the Democrats won't be championing amnesty for this Mexican any time soon.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is there a GOP "Establishment"?

I like Mona Charen.  I've even confessed in this very blog that I had a "thing" for her.  That hasn't changed.  (Shucks, as long as I'm confessing, I have a "thing" for almost all conservative women who are more or less my age.)  But I'm afraid in this piece about what she calls the "myth" of a "Republican Establishment" she's just wrong.

Look, no one imagines that there is anything like a secret GOP cabal that meets each morning via conference call to decide who will run, on what issues, taking which positions, etc.  Establishments don't work that way if for no other reason than they are made up of people who like all people are susceptible to personal and professional jealousies that often keep them at odds with one another.

As far as I can determine, that which best describes, if not defines, membership in the GOP "Establishment" are three things:  (1) An elite-school education, preferably Ivy League, (2) money, enough anyway, and  (3) an insular, at time almost incestuous "inside-the-beltway" or "DC-to-NY axis" worldview.  While an insularity borne of too much time in and around the nation's capital appears the most obviously definitive of the three traits, I'm not so sure that the undeniable "snobbish" quality of the Establishment springs first from its members' common scholastic pedigree and is the truest source of their cliquishness.  (It is also what sometimes leads its members to make common cause with liberal Democrats with whom they would otherwise disagree.)

At any rate, almost all of these people are at best extremely uncomfortable with, for lack of a better term, Tea Party conservatism.  So uncomfortable are they with it that even if it were inarguably clear that Tea Party conservatism were the surest path to electoral victory, they would still find some reason to argue against it, and would only begrudgingly acknowledge, much less accept its successes.

Finally, while I readily concede that there is no such thing as a formal Republican Establishment, it is not for that reason any less real or consequential than, for example, the "Main Stream Media", about which, I'm quite sure, Mona Charen has railed against very effectively through the years.  Which, by the way, is something I find very attractive in a woman.  But I repeat myself.


Watch Texas Governor Rick Perry respond to an anonymously-sourced charge/question from a POLITICO reporter about criticisms of his campaign from within.

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the way to do it.  I only hope the rest of the current field, along with the many more to come, learn the lesson as well.