Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dead Center

With the announcement Tuesday by Maine's Republican Senator Olympia Snowe that she will not be seeking re-election this fall, some in the media are pointing once again (with either feigned concern or a concern born of ignorance) to the ever-shrinking "Vital Center" in American politics.  Snowe joins similarly described Democrat Senators Joe Lieberman, Kent Conrad, and Ben Nelson in forswearing yet another run for office.

First, please know that the "center" in American domestic politics has been decidedly left of center since the New Deal at least.  Even the coiner of the phrase "The Vital Center", the late Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., an unapologetic man of the Left, felt compelled eventually to clarify that his term should properly be restricted to the area of foreign policy.  And up until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, his description was more or less apt.  But, as I say, with respect to domestic policy it has not been the case for some time now.

So, what then will these retirements bring to our politics?

Clarity...and will no matter who replaces them.

While it's true that each of these senators speaks publicly in a less overtly ideological and partisan  fashion than do many of their colleagues, it's also true that when when the vote is tough, when push comes to shove, when party loyalty and identity really matter, they all, to include Senator Snowe,  vote with the Democrats.  (I'll concede that you can probably find a few exceptions to this rule, but they are exceptional precisely because of the rule.)

In major league, hardball politics, it's very important to know who's on your team.  While the Democrats could be more or less sure of their roster, with senators like Olympia Snowe, the Republicans could not.

The Great Reckoning continues.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Liberal Firsters

Have you been keeping up with the Media Matters saga?   No?  Can't blame you.  Its head David Brock has struck me as a passing strange and pathetic fugure ever since he famously moved from the Right to the Left in the mid-90s. 

Anyway, to make matters worse (hey, I just punned without meaning to), it seems they've got Harvard Law Professor and fellow uber-liberal Alan Dershowitz on their back as well, and quite publicly so.  For him, the charge against the organization is one of anti-Semitism for among other reasons the group's use of the term "Israel Firster" to describe and discredit American Jews whose primary loyalty they think is to...well, you get it.

Alana Goodman over at conservative Commentary apparently thinks that as a result there may well be some political hay to be made for our side:
A vocal campaign against Media Matters, especially if it includes other prominent Democrats in the Jewish community, could cause major problems for Media Matters and increase pressure on Obama to distance himself from the group. 
But it will also be a test of whether Democrats are willing to call out anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing within their own ranks. After former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block criticized Media Matters staffers for making anti-Semitic comments late last year, the Truman Institute cuts its association with him, claiming Block was trying to shut down “honest debate.” Will Democratic Party institutions side with Dershowitz on this issue? Or will they continue to stay silent on the uncomfortable but very real Israel problem at Media Matters?
My guess is they'll do both and neither.

I recall many years ago watching Dershowitz on a split-screen with the late Jerry Fallwell.  They were debating either the verdict in the O.J. trial or the verdict came up and Fallwell said something like, "That jury would have acquitted O.J. even if the murder charge had been made by Mother Teresa herself and the entire crime captured on video-tape."  Before he could even finish the sentence, Dershowitz was yelling, "That's racist!  That's racist!"  Like so many Lefties, Dershowitz is a bully and reflexively reaches for his weapon of choice, one always kept very close at hand, i.e., charges of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, etc.  Hence, when someone, when anyone, even an ideological ally, criticizes something dear to him, in this case Israel itself, he just starts swinging.  He'll think about it later.   And when he does,...?

While I enjoy as much as any conservative these episodic family feuds among liberal, I wouldn't count on them having much effect.  The Democrat Party's support for Israel has been soft since the Carter Adminstration at least, while the GOP's support for the country has remained steadfast for even longer.  Does anyone honestly think that, as a result, Alan Dershowitz of all people will ever vote anything other than "Democrat" in an election?
Liberal ideologues, whether they be Jew or gentile, are liberals first and last.  Fidelity to their ideology supercedes, and easily so, all other ties that bind.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Howling All the Way to the Bank

There are few pastimes I enjoy more that poking fun at the various pretensions and sundry hypocrisies of the avant-garde artiste.  His love-hate relationship with capitalism is a particularly target-rich environment as when after pointing his venomous pen at the money men, he without flinching then passes them the bill for the effort.  And fools that so many of them are (foolish because they're rich no doubt), as often as not they quite happily fork over the cash for the singular pleasure of being insulted.  Go figure.

But not so much anymore, and especially so in the case of poetry.  Which brings us to the question we've been asking for as long as I can remember:  Why don't Americans read poetry?  Or, perhaps more to the point, why don't poets write verse that Americans read?

Professor Micah Mattix ventures a partial answer.  (By the way, he does so in such gentle and measured a fashion that the thought did cross my mind that he, like the angry poets he describes, was playing me as reader for a fool as well.)  At any rate, my favorite paragraph is one in which he describes and explains the first of two common responses these poets make to what they see as the evil of capitalism:
One of those responses has been for poets to create poems that rail against hierarchy and morality in an effort to free their audience from the shackles of the great capitalistic machine. The form of these poems is usually highly experimental, using repetition and fragmentation, along with taboo subject matter, to supposedly create a poem that both resists commodification and shocks the middle-class into seeing that property ownership, marital fidelity, proper grammar, and so forth are all constructs that restrict personal and, importantly for poets, aesthetic freedom.
"Property ownership, marital fidelity, proper grammar, and so forth..."?

I love it.

Empty as a Pocket

Britain's Broke!

Or so concedes George Osborne, the country's Chancellor of the Exchequer.  My favorite sentence in the piece reporting the news:
Mr Osborne made it clear that due to the parlous state of the public finances the best hope for economic growth was to encourage businesses to flourish and hire more workers.
Uhh, ya think?

The truth is that Great Britain, along with every other country in the West has been broke for some time now.  The real news is not that Britain or the rest of us have run out of money, it's that we've run out of creditors, you know, saps who will loan us money.

I haven't mentioned it for some time, but little has changed, the Great Reckoning continues apace.

BTW, what's the source of my title?

Who's Sorry Now?

I've noticed that even a few liberal commentators are expressing reservations about the Obama Administration's persistent groveling before the Afghan people, before the world. 

But they, and certainly we, should not be surprised by this behaviour. 

Unlike his Democrat predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama is an essentially honest man and his adherence to left-wing ideology has been consistent throughout his Administration, during his '08 campaign for the presidency, indeed for the entirety of his adult life:  He believes that at best our country is fundamentally flawed and has been since its founding.  At worst, as the richest and most powerful nation on earth, we are the fountainhead of the lion's share of the world's injustice.  As a result, he feels we owe the world an apology and so long as he's president he aims to pay that debt.

And yes, it's as simple as that.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Counsel of Fear

I've said it before, in this very blog in fact:  I like Mona Charen.

BUT (you knew it was coming) her counsel in her most recent NRO post is fundamentally a counsel of fear.  It's useful, however, because as such, it serves to highlight that which is wrong with the GOP as well.  The Republican Party not only lacks the courage of the convictions that describe it, it also lacks courage, plain and simple.  It is afraid and it operates almost invariably from a posture of fear.

Charen's piece is titled "Don't Pick Rick" and while she lists many quite sound reasons why Rick Santorum would make a poor candidate against Barack Obama this fall, the problem with her reasoning is that it springs in the first instance from this consideration:
Because he has phrased his socially conservative views in vivid terms, he is precisely the sort of candidate who will evoke a Pavlovian response from the press. Just as they were driven mad by Sarah Palin, they will be outraged by Rick Santorum.
To my mind, this very point serves more, much more in fact, to recommend rather than disqualify Santorum.

When, oh when, will the too many conservative pundits to count and virtually every professional Republican ever learn?  The "press" has not been for some very long time, is not now, and will not be in any foreseeable future, an ally of conservatism.  Nor, so long, that is, as any conservative remnant continues to reside chiefly in the GOP, will it ever be an ally of the party either.

Appeasing the press is a fool's errand and would be even if it were attempted from a position of confidence.  But coming as it does from a posture of fear, it not only fails to inspire undecided voters, it disgusts the party's conservative base as well.

Short Memory

For the record...

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today defended President Obama's apology to President Karzai and the Afghan people after GOP presidential candidates Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney each criticized him for making it:
"I find it somewhat troubling that our politics would inflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan."
But then Senator Clinton had these words for General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker during their Senate Committee Hearing appearance in September 2007:
"I want to thank both of you, General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, for your long and distinguished service to our nation. Nobody believes that your jobs or the jobs of the thousands of American forces and civilian personnel in Iraq are anything but incredibly difficult."  
"But today you are testifying about the current status of our policy in Iraq and the prospects of that policy. It is a policy that you have been ordered to implement by the president. And you have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy."  
"Despite what I view as your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Only in Liberal America

This is one of those stories where you simply have to shake your head and say, "You can't make this stuff up."

Apparently, in or somewhere near Boston, three lesbians beat up a gay man and for it are being charged with committing a hate crime.  An ACLU staff lawyer (who else?) helpfully explained: "Someone who is Jewish can be anti-Semitic. The mere fact that someone is a member of the same class doesn’t mean they could not be motivated by hatred for their very own group.”

I guess now we'll have to add the new category of the self-loathing homosexual alongside the old trope about the self-loathing Jew.

But wait, now that I think of it, maybe you can make it up.

I rarely watch it, but some time back my son told me of a very funny skit on comedian Dave Chappelle's show in which Chappelle (I think it was him) played a blind black guy who not only didn't know he was black, but was a racist bigot to boot.  When he finally realized that he was in fact black, he divorced his wife.  Why?  Because, as he explained, he "wouldn't have a woman who would sleep with a n*****."

Chappelle played the absurdity of it all for a laugh.  And while I'm tempted to chuckle at the story from Boston like I did the skit, there's really nothing funny at all about the crazy country the Left is slowly but surely creating.

Right About Rights

Mark Steyn again.  God love him.  I've said it before, but I swear he and Jonah Goldberg bring more sanity to the written page than any two other men currently scribbling.  So, one more time:  God lov'em.

Anyway, this week's NRO piece is about how we've turned our understanding of rights entirely on its head.  Rights have ceased to be mostly about constraining the government and have somehow become in this topsy-turvy world of ours about empowering it, empowering it to compel.

As always, he's worth the read.

Chinese Checkers

Language checkers, that is.

It seems the Asian American Journalists Association (no, really, there is one) has produced language guidelines for reporters and commentators informing them of what is and is not acceptable when referring to Asian Americans either in print or on the air.  (My title is no doubt unacceptable.)  This, of course, comes in the wake of the sudden celebrity of New York Knick point guard and Chinese-American Jeremy Lin, who, by all accounts is not only a good basketball player, but a great guy to boot.

Anyway, back to the AAJA, something tells me these guys are liberals and it highlights yet another signal of genuine conservatism.  No conservative would waste one minute of his life's precious time worrying about what words and phrases should and should not insult him.  Sticks and stones...

Left-wingers who slip up from time to time and say stupid things like the ESPN reporter did last week should be mocked for their hypocrisy.  It's important that we do so.  But no one should become the object of language police, not in this country.

Lighten up America!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Did I Hear Him Right?

Speaking of defending various tax proposals, Mitt Romney had this to say the other day in defense of his own:
"In order to limit any impact on the deficit, because I do not want to add to the deficit, and also to make sure we continue to have progressivity in our tax code, I’m going to limit the deductions and exemptions, particularly for high-income folks."
Make sure we continue to have progressivity in our tax code?

Look, I'll vote for him.  I may have no choice but to vote for him. 

But please, don't insult me, nor embarrass yourself, by continuing to insist that Mitt Romney's a conservative.

"The Privilege of Being an American"

Thus said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Why does this formulation grate so?

First, the larger context of the comment is one in which the Secretary is defending increased taxation.  As if, one had to purchase one's birthright.

Second, in this particular Secretary's case, it comes from one who could not himself pay his taxes honestly.

Third, coming from any representative of this most liberal of administrations, the even larger context is more than a bit ironic.  What, pray tell, could possibly be the "privilege" of membership in a country so seriously flawed?  A country that needs to be "transformed" after all?

Fourth, coming, again, from any representative of this most liberal of administrations, one is entitled to wonder if they are not confusing "nation" with "state".  "America" is a nation--"We the people"-- that formed a state, a government, in order to secure individual rights, chief among them life, liberty, and property.  For liberals, however, "America" is principally a state that dispenses, via redistribution, entitlements from one group to another.

Fifth, one more time, according to this most liberal of administrations, native-born citizens enjoy only the "privilege" of citizenship, a privilege for which they must pay through taxation.  Illegal immigrants, by contrast, have rights, to include the right to the fruit of said redistribution, not to mention the right to a smooth and easy path to citizenship.

Sixth, had the Secretary said "the blessing of being an American" instead, it might have grated less, but only for a moment.  Soon we would have remembered that liberals don't believe in God and that he was only playing us for suckers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

And causes you to forget that in 2005, Newsweek falsely reported that US interrogators at Guantanamo, as part of their "torture" regimen, were flushing copies of the Koran down the toilet.  On cue, the liberal wing of the chattering class said, once again, but ever more loudly, "See, we told you so.  If this is not a Bush policy, it's at least being done with the Administration's tacit approval."

This time there's nothing false about the reports from Afghanistan of our burning copies of the Koran.  We've even apologized for it.

And I'm still waiting for the outrage from the left wing of the chattering class.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I'm guessing that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney watched and took inspiration from the first episode of the PBS Clinton documentary which aired just last night.

With a "I-dare-you-to-contradict-me" look on his face, he disciplined his focus on the gathering of reporters in front of him today and said, "I did not have sex with that woman...."

Oops, sorry.  He did it so well, I'm getting confused.

I'll get it right this time. What he did say was:  "In terms of Keystone, as you all know, the history here is pretty clear. And the fact is because Republicans decided to play political with Keystone, their action essentially forced the administration to deny the permit process because they insisted on a time frame in which it was impossible to completely approve the pipeline."

Waiting to Exhale

This review of a Netflix-released Norwegian black comedy television series called Lilyhammer intrigued me.  The reviewer, Lars Walker, sets it up well enough:
Imagine a television comedy about an American who moves to an exotic foreign country. He utterly refuses to assimilate, flouts the local laws, beats up people who offend him (including, in a scene that shocked even me, a Muslim who simply refused to shake a woman's hand), acts in pretty much every way as the stereotypical Ugly American, and yet comes out as a sort of a hero?  And imagine that this series was produced, not by some jingoistic American company, but by people from that very foreign land?And what if most of their countrymen loved it?  That's the peculiar phenomenon we contemplate in Netflix's maiden exclusive series, Lilyhammer, which set viewing records on Norwegian state television, and whose full first season of eight episodes is now available to subscribers.
So, why do they love it?   Walker wonders, but never quite answers.  He even ends the piece with the lingering question: "Were they really trying to say what they seem to be saying?"

I'll hazard a guess.  Yes, they really were trying to say what they seem to be saying and, what's even more telling, the Norwegian viewers really liked what they heard.

And what they heard was this:  We Norwegians, we proud heirs of the Western tradition, are oh so sick and tired of political correctness.  We may not be quite ready to stand up and fight against it just yet, but we do enjoy mocking its pretensions from time to time.  

Hear me well:  Exactly the same underlying sentiment is alive and well in the United States--even more so I'd say--and the politician (slouching toward Bethlehem to be born?) who can tap into it and give voice to it will, if he or she wants it, be our President one day.  

Crime Wave

Check out this Washington Times headline and story:  "Violent Crime Surges in DC in 2012"

Imagine the statistics had they included what happened inside the Capitol building last year.

Sorry, that was just too easy, wasn't it?  But it was sitting there all big and fat and juicy, so....  Forgive me.  Won't happen again.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Bismark Said

To extend and successfully communicate even the slightest measure of dignity to anything associated with the Clinton Administration is quite an accomplishment.  PBS managed to do just that this evening (all evidence to the contrary) and the network should be congratulated for it.  I have no reason to believe Episode Two will be any less successful.

But please recall that Bill Clinton in 1992 was a transparent fraud when first he ran and later was elected our president.  Only an extreme partisan or a fool could vote for him then.  Four years later, only a fool could do so.  Nevertheless, he was re-elected with 49% of the vote in 1996.

May God forever bless, and protect, the United States of America.

ESPN on the Couch

I'm guessing that by now most of you have at heard of New York Knick phenom Jeremy Lin.  I haven't watched an NBA basketball game in I don't know how long and even I tuned in to see the young Asian-American (first in the league of Chinese descent) point guard score 28 points, 14 assists, and lead the Knicks to a 7-point victory over the league's defending champion Dallas Mavericks.  I must admit, it was very exciting.

I'm also guessing that at least a few of you have heard of the controversy stirred this weekend when an ESPN headline writer lead a column about the Knicks loss on Friday night to the New Orleans Hornets, their first loss since Lin became a starter, with "Chink in the Armor." 

The reporter who wrote the headline was fired and the one who read it on the air was suspended.  Lin, for his part, has just shrugged the whole thing off.

But even before the "headline" episode exploded over the weekend, I was intrigued by the sport media's treatment of Jeremy Lin, more particularly in its treatment of him vice that of Tim Tebow in the just completed NFL season.  If you didn't already know it, Tebow and Lin have in common a very devout Christian faith, a faith they're not shy about talking about publicly.

One more thing you need to know if you don't already, but elite sports media is no less liberal than elite news media.  If you listen to Rush Limbaugh at all, he makes the point quite often.  But even if you don't, just watch a few minutes of any game or contest on any of the major sports networks.  I have always found them more than a bit embarrassing and usually cringe when their reporters and announcers strive to demonstrate how, one, serious they are, and, two, how seriously "progressive" they are, about racism, about sexism, about almost any left-wing "ism" that comes to mind.

So, I wondered, why were they treating outspoken Christian Lin, when his star rose, with so much respect, while when outspoken Christian Tebow's rose, they missed few if any opportunities to dismiss his success altogether, as well as to predict his ultimate failure?

They're Lefties, or their institution is Leftist anyway, so successful, outspoken Christians must be silenced, or diminished at least.  But then, they're Lefties, so all races, other than Caucasian of course, must be respected, elevated even. 

As a result, I feel a measure of sympathy for the ESPN reporter.  He was conflicted; he wasn't sure which was the appropriate dogma to to follow.  But, in a pinch, he chose to denigrate the Christian.  Usually the safer course.


GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum certainly caused a kerfuffle by questioning the other day President Obama's interpretation of the Christian faith.  Santorum called it "some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology."

The elite media is, of course, shocked and outraged.

Give me a break.

Didn't the president just a mere two weeks ago lecture (sermonize?) us all, at the National Prayer Breakfast no less, about how his proposed tax policy was more consistent with genuine Christianity than that of his detractors?:  "For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus' teaching that 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.'"

BCP at 350

Hmm.  I just learned from The American Spectator's Jonathan Aitken that this year, only a year after the King James Bible celebrated its 400th anniversary, the Book of Common Prayer is celebrating its 350th.  Actually, it's a little older than that, but the 1662 edition was the edition for a very long time. Anyway, do give Aitken's piece a look.

I don't know about you, but I've always preferred my religion (if I may, for just a moment, distinguish it from my faith) grand.  I wanted that what I, along with others, actually do in church, and especially on Sundays, be something altogether different (otherworldly?) from what I do outside the building and on other days.  I longed for robes and rhythmic ritual.  I wanted the moment to be solemnized and sacralized.

I noticed this attraction in myself even as a kid.  While I was reared in informal protestant evangelicalism, I was always drawn, through film and television mostly, to Roman Catholic and Anglican/Episcopalian trappings and pageantry.  Those people, I thought, may not have their theology quite right, but man do they know how to do church.

I knew full well the dangers of compartmentalizing my religion and my faith, one at the expense of the other.  But, as I saw it then, and still do now, serious ceremony is just as likely to reinforce one's faith as it is to dilute it.

At any rate, I remain securely within informal protestant evangelicalism--can't get over the theological hurdles--but am nevertheless heartened when our pastor includes in our church bulletin/order of worship from time to time the "General Confession" from the Book of Common Prayer.  (Although, alas, it's usually the more contemporary version.)   From the 1928 version, consider (pray?), these words and then tell me they're not sublime.
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So Many More To Lie To

I always thought the title chosen by the late Christopher Hitchens for his book about the Clintons hands down the most apropos: No One Left To Lie To.  (Although R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Boy Clinton is a very good second place.)  But the years have flown by, hence the title of this post.

Anyway, on the eve of a four-hour PBS documentary about our 42nd president that from what I gather will ignore more than a few inconvenient facts, The Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson is to be congratulated for reminding us once again what a truly "Big Creep" Bill Clinton was and remains. Please take a few minutes to refresh your memory, would you?

My only problem with the piece is that it fails to remind us as well of the pivotal role played in Bill's countless crimes and cover-ups by his serial enabler and long-suffering spouse, Hillary Clinton née Rodham.  Her one-plus term as the Senator from New York, coupled with her current position as Secretary of State have served to launder successfully her once equally sordid reputation.  But then, had it not been for Bill, the world would never have heard of Hillary.

Oh that we'd never heard of either of them.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gay Like Me...again

It seems that Pinal County Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu is a homosexual.   You know him.  He's the always uniformed, very lean, bald guy who appears on FOX News alot loudly complaining about how the Obama Administration is not doing enough to combat illegal immigration or secure the borders, the same guy who's also currently running as a Republican for the 4th Congressional District seat in Arizona.  Yea, him.

Well, he's gay after all and he admits it.  Of course he had to after an expose was published just last week by the good government types at the The Phoenix New Times, along with an accompanying story about how he threatened his illegal immigrant former lover with deportation for refusing to promise never to discuss publicly their relationship.

If you're a liberal Democrat, this story has to seem almost too good to be true.  (Seems that way to me too.)  It's already got David Catanese over at POLITICO furrowing his brow:  "The entire episode will likely raise larger questions about closeted Republican candidates and officeholders and the political risks of remaining in the closet."

Hmm.  I think I know what's going on here.

I've recommended this course of action before and it always makes my wife uncomfortable when I bring it up again.  What the hell, here goes:

Like Sheriff Babeu, I'm gay too.

C'mon Sage, you can't be gay.  You're married, got kids.  There's no evidence that you're gay.

I'm repressed.


Yep, so repressed in fact that I'm opposed to the whole militant homosexual agenda to include same-sex marriage.  So stridently opposed am I to all of it that I simply must be a homophobe.  And, as the left-wing media keeps telling us, homophobia is the surest sign of latent homosexuality.  You've seen American Beauty, haven't you?  Won an Oscar.

So, you heard me right, like Sheriff Babeu, I'm gay too.  I have to be.

Illinois, You're Killing Me

This is no joke. In liberal Illinois, necrophilia will soon be officially illegal as Democrats move to close a loophole that currently make the practice unprosecutable.

While the trend in progressive states seems to be in the direction of expanding the right to sexual relations between any and all adults, the fact that dead people were unable to demonstrate their consent moved lawmakers to make it against the law nevertheless.
Of course, dead people voting in the Land of Lincoln is another matter altogether, a time-honored tradition in fact, so there's no parallel movement ongoing to proscribe it.  Legal scholars helpfully point out the important distinction between having it done to you and doing it to others.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Operators are Standing By

I don't do this very often, but I want to recommend to you a new book:  "Rush to Judgment" by Stephen F. Knott, professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College.

With a little over three years distance from the Bush presidency (seems like more, doesn't it?), the time is just now becoming ripe enough for a more sober assessment of his administration, and more particularly, his conduct of the War on Terror.  Certainly most of that assessment during his time in office was anything but sober, and I'm not referring here to the harsh treatment Bush received at the hand of partisans.  That's their job after all and to be expected.  Instead, I'm referring to the often way-over-the-top criticism that came from far too many within academe and the elite media, institutions that retain, or should retain, an enduring professional obligation toward the honest pursuit of objectivity.  As we know, when it came to George W. Bush, they lost it--literally--and Knott calls them on it.

He calls them on it because they know, because it's their business to know, otherwise. To my mind, Knott's book is most important not so much as a defense of Bush's wartime policies, about which men and women of good will could and still do disagree.  But rather, it's important because it is a careful explanation of how those policies were formulated and implemented from well within the boundaries drawn by our Constitution, as well as the now long tradition that makes those lines clear.

Tolle lege.  (Look it up)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Palin for President?

I'm sure I'm not the first one to think this, but I just watched Sarah Palin make a surprise appearance on the FOX News show, "The Five", and I'm becoming increasingly convinced that she planning a run for the presidency.

First, while her conservative rhetoric remains the same, confrontational and reliably so, I think her public image has softened a great deal nevertheless.  Through her considerable media exposure everyone in America now knows who Sarah Palin is.  As a result, it's no longer possible for the Left and their allies in the elite press to sustain the same caricature they created in 2008.  Moreover, it'll be much more difficult for them to manufacture a new one.  Most importantly, I think she knows all of this as well.

Next, whether you agree with her views or not, it's plain that over the past four years she's very  deliberately educated herself about national and international issues.  She now speaks and writes of them with more fluency and more authority than she did when she first became a national figure.

Third, she very publicly encouraged a vote for Newt in the South Carolina party for the explicit purpose of lengthening the GOP culling process.  Now, she consistently, and I think coyly,  argues that it's better for the party and for the country that the process continue, through the summer if necessary.

All of which suggests to me that she's banking on a brokered convention in Tampa from which she'll emerge the Republican nominee by acclamation.

Stay tuned! 

A Mother's Love

Without comment:  "Deputies: Marine's mom stole $4,000 from him while he was deployed"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Got Milk? Then Get Your Hands Up!

It's probably not fair to associate this story with the Obama Administration...alone.

Don't know for sure, but I suspect BIG MILK is involved as well.  You know, altruistically lobbying the Congress to protect us from ourselves.  The fact that by doing so they're also keeping the  competition at bay is merely a coincidence, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, people still stubbornly persist in thinking that business interests are allied with the GOP only.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Right to "Privacy" My A**

The Left insists on an imagined constitutional right to "privacy" and then, with a straight face, demands that you pay for everyone else's "contraceptives", Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) research and treatment thereof, not to mention the whole host of social services necessary for the rearing of the ever-growing number of children victimized by our sexually incontinent age.

Tell me, what the hell is "private" about that?

For a less, um, emotional outburst--but only a little less--see George Weigel's latest piece on the Left's real goal at NRO.

Too Damn Big...PERIOD!

A friend sent along this piece by Matthew J. Franck who, with many others, found serious fault with the Administration's  announcement last Friday of a "compromise" with religious leaders over their objections to the contraception insurance mandate currently included in Obamacare.  He argues that not only politically powerful religious institutions, but also individuals who have moral objections to the mandate, religiously informed or not, should be accommodated as well.

Overall, I'm sympathetic to Franck's argument.  Moreoever, I applaud him for highlighting as well a very important distinction:
This is not, by the way, anything like the argument sometimes heard that “I should be able to withhold the share of my tax dollars that goes to” some purpose the speaker strongly disapproves on some moral ground. Our representative government collects taxes, and spends the public fisc, on those purposes that are deemed, by the processes of majoritarian democracy and the rule of law, to be part of the common good. When Caesar spends his coin, even though much of it is raised by taxing the faithful, the taxpayers are not individually ensnared in the commission of any wrongful acts from which they may claim a right to disengage themselves. Their responsibility as citizens, in such a case, is to try to turn Caesar toward doing right instead of wrong. This is the principle involved in consistent federal refusals to fund abortion directly (the Hyde Amendment) or to fund the destruction of embryos for research (the Dickey-Wicker Amendment). 
But in the present circumstances we have something different—not taxing and spending on an evil, but bureaucratically coerced personal and institutional involvement in the commission of an evil. This is an affront to every American, religious or non-religious, pro-life or pro-choice.
However, as important as this distinction is, I doubt it will hold up under scrutiny.  Our legislators quite routinely through "the processes of majoritarian democracy and the rule of law, [as] part of the common good", empower all the bureaucracies and their chiefs to rule and regulate as they see fit.  This practice has been the bane of conservatives since the New Deal at least and our record of success for objecting to it has been spotty at best.

I'm afraid the real problem is even more fundamental than this current affront to religious liberty or individual conscience, that is, the national government is just too damn big and over-reaching, PERIOD!  The point of constitutionally limited government is to constrain its grasp and keep it as far away as possible from the individual, his conscience, his family, his more local communities and free associations, thereby avoiding, or at least minimizing occassions for this kind of conflict in the first place.

A relevant analogy can be found in how we conservatives fret over the size of the capital gains tax rate, or agitate for a flatter, less progressive income tax rate.  While both of these are important battles to wage, we should be careful about doing so if it means losing sight of the real issue.  And the real issue is not so much HOW the government taxes us, but rather HOW MUCH it taxes us.

Anyway, despite my qualifications, if this issue, even as its being argued, serves to galvanize the Right, I'll take it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pulp Faction

Film star Samuel L. Jackson admits that he voted for President Obama for one reason only:  Because he's black like Jackson.  Jackson explains:
I voted for Barack because he was black. 'Cuz that's why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them ... That's American politics, pure and simple. [Obama's] message didn't mean [bleep] to me.
Um, then why did so many white people vote for him too?

Better to just read the script Sam.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Appeal and the Abuse

Of power, that is.  Some things never change.

I've held off commenting on the revelations via book and book tour of Mimi Alford, the then 19-year old White House intern who had an affair with JFK while he was president.  Although, from what I've seen and read, I wouldn't exactly describe their relationship as an affair.  According to her, they never kissed.  For him, she was a very young, pretty, adoring, vulnerable, and easily available sexual release.  For her, he was an older, experienced, handsome, and very powerful man.  If the potential for mutual attraction in that sounds like the stuff of a fairly familiar story, it's because it is.  And in John Kennedy's case, as we have come to know, the story is almost tediously familiar.

I grew up admiring JFK along with just about everyone else because we were supposed to, right?  But as I came of age, I noticed that neither my mother nor my father shared in the general public adulation.  And they weren't right-wing Kennedy haters either.  In fact, neither ever showed much interest in politics at all.  It's just that they weren't into hero worship.  In my mother's case, it came mostly from her Christian faith, "All have sinned...."  My father, on the other hand, was just a natural cynic.

Anyway, as a teenager I once asked my dad what he thought of the Kennedy presidency and he just shrugged his shoulders and said he couldn't say because he wasn't the president long enough to make a serious judgment.  (Historians could learn an important thing or two from that.)

But JFK is the less interesting part of this story.  Why, fifty tears after the fact, is Ms. Alford telling us all of this now?

Is she trying to make a buck?  Is she starved for attention?  Is she trying to atone?  Settle scores?  If so, with whom?

I'm afraid none of these reasons are good enough for me.  What about her own family, aren't some things best kept to yourself?

Truly we live in a tawdry age.    

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Real Cost

Let's be honest, the "foreclosure abuse" settlement announced yesterday was basically the product of a shakedown of five of the country's largest banks by the Obama Administration.  While the agreement comes with a big price tag, the dollar amount is the least of its costs. 

But first folks, please understand that no bank will ever pay any part of the $25 billion settlement.  Basic economics:  It's their customers who will pay; it's only their customers who can pay.

And who are these customers?  Why, they're the paying customers of course, exactly the same people who borrowed only what they could afford in the first place, and who, despite the hard times, continue to pony up to their obligations routinely.

Which brings us to the real costs, two of'em, of the agreement, as well as of every bailout that preceded it.

First, it encourages precisely the same irresponsible behavior it's supposed to rectify.  Rescued once, and in a big way, from suffering the consequences of risky action, you can be sure it will occur again...and again...and again...and again, unless and until those consequences are in fact suffered.

Second, to the injury of making the very people who acted responsibly underwrite the recklessness of those who did not, it adds this insult:  "You fools!  You stupid fools!  Look at us, we had our cake and ate it too.  You acted the adult, you played by the rules, and what did it get you?  Will you ever learn?"

Will we?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Way Evil Creeps

I was watching FOX News tonight and was struck by the report that PETA was filing suing over the "slavery" of performing whales. They're arguing that not only people, but whales too are protected by the Constitution from just such, uh, arrangements.

What struck me was not the craziness of PETA, nothing new in that, but the way in which FOX News anchorman Bret Baier reported the story. It was obvious that he was struggling gamely to keep a straight face as he spoke. And he did. Why?

Such a story deserves being reported with derision and mockery.  If, that is, it deserves being reported at all. If now even the editors at FOX News think they have to at least pretend to seriousness over something like this, then, mark my words, in fairly short order it'll be before the courts and soon thereafter on the ballot as well.

Don't believe me. Pause for just a moment and think of some other issue that only a few years ago would have been quickly dismissed as ridiculously over the top. "Homosexual "marriage", for one, comes to mind.

This is what evil does, it creeps. It rarely slaps you in the face. If it did, you'd strike back immediately, or better yet, you'd scoff.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Third and Very Long

Did you watch the Super Bowl yesterday? Great game. Well, not so much if you're a Patriot fan.

Anyway, if you did watch it, did you catch the Clint Eastwood "It's halftime in America" commercial?  Well, with this current lineup, I can believe we have only 30 minutes left.

Clint Eastwood!? God help us.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Low Eye Cue

Check out this headline and story: "Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism"

It's not my fault then, correct?

So where do I go to get my subsidy started?  Who do I see about my government grant?  Does this mean they'll forgive my mortgage?  Shouldn't there be a tax break?  Where's the block on this form to mark "Low I.Q."?  How much more time will I get to take the exam?  The "passing" score's lower, right?  Ain't I entitled to a parking space?  When will the first check arrive?  Huh?  When?  I got my rights you know?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why Does the Left Hate Vigilante Films?

Anthony Paletta tackles the question for us and it's worth a quick read.  (Remember, I'm a movie buff.)

Actually, it's an old question that arose most prominently in the early 1970s when liberal (what else?) film critics uniformly disparaged two of the most famous of the genre, Death Wish and Dirty Harry.  But I'd suggest asking the question the other way.  That is, why do most people love vigilante films?

The answer is easy.  The appeal is justice itself. 

Justice denied for any reason, even for the sound reason of a decent society taking great care to afford the accused due process, a jury trial, and an opportunity for appeal is still justice denied and justice denied wounds the body politic.  When people know it's being denied, but then witness it being delivered, even, or perhaps especially, in the form of a well-crafted movie melodrama, they almost reflexively cheer.

There is absolutely nothing unusual about that.

What is unusual, perverse actually, is an ideological posture so rigid that one disciplines oneself to not only sit on one's hands, but even to hiss and boo when the bad guy finally gets it.


Paletta arrives here as well, but I would also say that, among many other things, that perverse informing ideology can be defined by an insistence that all or most crime can be explained and excused by poverty or some other "root cause", along with a stubborn refusal to accept anything like the notion that evil may actually exist.

Which put me in mind of a telling exchange from another great film, The Dark Knight, the second in the most recent Batman series, the one with Heath Ledger as the "Joker".  The conversation is between Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Michael Caine as Alfred, Wayne's butler.

Wayne:  Targeting me won't get their money back. I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line.

Alfred:  You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation, they turned to a man (the Joker) they didn't fully understand.

Wayne:  Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he's after.

Alfred:  With respect, sir, perhaps this is a man that you don't fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So, we went looking for the stones. But in three months, we never met anybody who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Wayne:  So why steal them?

Alfred:  Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. (my italics)

The ONLY Case for Romney

If you've read this blog for very long at all, you'll know that I'm a big fan of National Review's Jonah Goldberg.  I respect very much his opinions about subjects serious and silly and even when we disagree, which is not often, I still have no doubt about which side ultimately he's on.  (I wish I could say the same about a host of other "conservative" commentators.)  Anyway, today's he's to be congratulated for struggling mightily to make "The Case for Romney."   His argument is captured in his subtitle:  "A president who owes you is better than one who owns you".

In a nutshell, if we conservatives swallow hard and vote for Romney despite our many reservations and objections, then he'll owe us, he'll know that he owes us, and as such we'll own him.

I'm afraid, however, that the truth, and the evidence to support it, is just the opposite.

In 1988, George H. W. Bush was forced by GOP conservatives who were leery of him to swear publicly, "Read my lips, no new taxes."   We voted for him and he owed us, right?  How'd that deal turn out for us?

Son George's similar departures this past decade from conservative orthodoxy in domestic policy left us holding the bag yet again, both feeling and looking ridiculous as we were forced to defend or at least pretend we didn't notice the obscene growth in government that occurred during his watch.

And, as I learned just yesterday, if Romney is elected we may well find ourselves defending among other things routine cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) to the minimum wage. 

No, this kind of Faustian bargain, or "transaction" as Goldberg calls it, i.e., my vote for your promise, invariably redounds to the benefit of the candidate.  Once elected, he can always take back his promises, and often does, but we can never take back our votes.

It seems to me that the only reasonable case that can be made to a conservative for the Romney candidacy is an outright appeal to patriotism. (And I'm not sure that'll work either.)  It goes something like this:  It's true, Romney is not a conservative, never has been, and has even bragged about that fact.  Nevertheless, in an imperfect world of imperfect choices, Romney is clearly the lesser evil.  While the damage he'll do to the party and to the party label may well be irreparable, at least, maybe, we hope, please God, the damage he'll do to the country will be less than is currently being done, and much less than will be done with another Obama term.

*Goldberg defines, quite cleverly, an "establishment" Republican as "someone who has made peace with his disappointment prematurely."  While I use "establishment" Republican like most everyone else, I prefer "professional" Republican.  No matter.  What I think might be a better definition of either is someone who can look you square in the face and say without blinking or winking that Mitt Romney is a conservative.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Novel Experiences

The American Spectator's Christopher Orlet wonders why it is that he no longer reads novels.  As I read his piece, I remembered that when I was an undergraduate I once heard that JFK never, or rarely, read them himself, preferring instead biographies and non-fiction generally.  At the time, I thought that sounded wise and all grown up, so for a while I tried to pretend that I preferred non-fiction as well.

I say "pretend" because I still read novels anyway, quite often finding non-fiction tedious, a piling on of fact after fact in order to make a point that could have been made in a single page or two.  Later I was relieved to learn that really smart people, you know, the kind of people I longed to be lumped with, read fiction after all, almost exclusively in fact, to include novels and short stories, even poetry.  The result for me was that I had to learn to affect a whole other persona.  Being young and insecure can be oh such a burden (and a bore) at times.

Now, largely as a result of writing this blog I must confess, I find that I read less and less, fiction and non-fiction alike.  Instead, I spend far too much of my idle time mining the Internet, cable TV news, and talk radio for small nuggets (fool's gold?) about which to make some timely and cogent remarks.  (You're the judge.)

Anyway, I worry about that.  I'm old enough to know that my time is increasingly limited and so I don't want to waste it on ephemera, from whichever genre it comes.  But I do still want to read, especially those works that have stood the test of the passage of at least some descent interval of time.  In other words, I want mostly to read the classics and quasi-classics.

Among the latter, I would without hesitation include Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.  So, it gives me pause when I read that Mr. Orlet couldn't quite make it through the book.

I introduced my children to McCarthy a few years back and they were hooked at once.  But they  noticed an important distinction between those who immediately appreciated McCarthy as they did and those who did not.  Such was the distinction thast now my son (mid-twenties) uses people's reaction to Blood Meridian as a test of their relative intelligence.  If they are not at least engaged by the novel, well, then they must be a little bit slow.

If I just insulted you, too bad.  Being old and fairly secure can be oh so liberating.

"Groundhog Day"?

Imagine some foreign visitor to America struggling not only with the English, but also, and most especially, with our uncountable idiomatic words and phrases like, "Whatever", "back seat driver", "New York minute", "Groundhog Day".

"Groundhog Day"?

Yep, "Groundhog Day": a description of a day, or a situation, which seems exactly, in a dull, monotonous way, as the day before.  I suspect that now almost all Americans use the phrase in just that fashion.

But we didn't do so before 1993 when the eponymous film starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell was first aired.  That we do now is testimony to the enduring appeal and power of the movie.  If you haven't seen it, you really should make time for it.  It's underlying conceit is cute, it's reliably funny, it's romantic, and, if you're so inclined, it's quite provocative intellectually as well.

Whether you've seen it or not, do read this short essay about the film by National Review's Jonah Goldberg.  It was first published in 2005 and now is reissued each year, on the 2nd day of February, without fail, again, and again, and again....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Little Engine that Could

I had to shake my head after I read this piece yesterday or the day before about the California Controller's letter to his state's lawmakers informing them that they would run out of cash in March instead of June as previously expected.

I say I had to shake my head because despite that news, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown along with the Democrat-controlled state legislature seem determined nevertheless to continue with plans to build a Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail system.  A system many think incapable of paying its way once completed, even if the state were not so, uh, let us say, cash-strapped.

But I turned from shaking my head to grinning from ear to ear when I read this smart-alecky riff by National Review's James Lilek.  Smart alecky?   No, I take that back.  Actually, this could pass for cutting-edge analysis.  Enjoy:
Trains are romantic:  We have a vision of sleek streamlined steel machines slicing through the night, the mournful whistle wafting through the farmer's dreams.  But we do not wear fedoras or listen to Fibber McGee and Molly on the radio or exhibit other traits of the bygone era.  We drive or we fly.  Nevertheless, California is keen on a hypersonic choo-choo, as you've no doubt heard--and while locals are starting to question the wisdom of spending a tenth of a trillion on the project, it staggers on.  The government is behind it.  The unions are behind it.  People who believe there is a direct relationship between the number of cars that drive to Sacramento and a polar bear drowning in 2027 A.D. are behind it.  The only thing that could stop the train is the discovery that it endangers gay brine shrimp, but even then they'd just go 30 miles around the pond and call the route the Diversity Bend.  Like many ideas from the first few decades of the previous century, trains are perfectly progressive.  There's no individual decision on direction or duration, no competition, no penalty for poor performance, and the money to run the thing is exacted from the unwilling by the force of the state.  If that's not enlightenment, what is?