Saturday, September 29, 2012

Phoning It In

As soon as I saw the now viral "Obama Phone Video", I wondered just how long it would be before the Left played the race card in protest.

Not long it would appear.  In this Atlantic online piece by one Elspeth Reeve we're carefully schooled about why airing the unedited video is over the line nevertheless. 

Um, as a rule, if it takes eight paragraphs to explain why something is racist, it's not.

Clash of Civilizations

A headline and story that can only make you shake your head:

"Muslims in Michigan to Rally Against First Amendment"

Shake your head and load your gun.


That's what Mrs. Sage is.  After learning of the abuse Ann Coulter had to endure from the assembled viragos on "The View", from Whoopi Goldberg in particular, the Mrs. wondered aloud, and again, why it is that the conservative cause today is defended most boldly chiefly by women:  Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin, et al.  Where, she asks, are the men?

The simple answer is of course Political Correctness

Conservative women are afforded a measure at least of immunity from elite liberal media persecution because they are a women.  And that immunity is not limited to gender.  Imagine any and all politically correct categories and the same protections apply.  Race: Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Congressman Alan West.  Ethnicity:  Dinesh D'souza, Governor Nikki Haley.  Religion (other than Christianity):  Norman Podhoretz, Michael Medved.  Disability:  Charles Krauthammer (also Jewish, a two-fer)   

Which, by the way, makes Rush Limbaugh and his success an even more amazing story.

The Sage is back.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Profiles in Courage

"France to Close Embassies in Fear of Cartoon Backlash"

Oh well, it's the French after all.

But are we far behind?

They Lost it at the Movies?

From the same people who tell us time and again that it's only a movie.

Anyway, Jonah Goldberg focuses in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Who's Responsible?

...for the tearing down of the American flag in Cairo and the murder of our ambassador and three others in Benghazi, that is?

As the elite liberal media are busy circling the wagons around the Obama administration, focusing their disparate frustrations instead on Mitt Romney for having the temerity to express a negative opinion about the American embassy's apology issued to Muslim extremists, a woman called Rush Limbaugh's show today and asked a terrific question.  (So good was it in fact that Rush rewarded her with a free IPad.)

She asked:  If the Obama administration is so worried about offending tender Muslim sensibilities, why does it, along with the Democrat Party entire and the American Left as well, brag incessantly about killing Osama bin Laden?

Don't misunderstand.  At this point for sure, I could not possibly care less about offending Muslim sensibilities.  But I do care very much about liberal hypocrisy.

And you should too, because in this case it could get people killed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Down in the lower left corner of this morning's USA Today is a color graph.  You know, the same corner the editors place interesting trivia like how many people studiously follow Snooki's escapades.

This morning's fun fact, however, was a register of the percentage of US births to unmarried females.  The figures since 1990 are:

1990:  28%
1995:  32.2%
2000:  33.2%
2005:  36.9%
2010:  40.8%

The data for 2012 are not yet available, but does anyone care to bet the trend is in the other direction?

This is not a disaster waiting to happen.  This is already a disaster.

God help us.

Monday, September 10, 2012

If You're Interested in Such Things

I hear there's a film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road in the works.  Not sure I'll go see it.  I finally got around to reading the famous book about 20 years ago.  I didn't get it.

However, maybe you did and even if you didn't you might be interested still in this short piece by Robert Dean Lurie.  He makes a case for Kerouac' essential conservatism and, to me, it rings true. 

A dear friend of the family is, like Kerouac, a French Canadian from Lowell, Massachusetts and her late husband grew up with him there, mostly playing baseball together.  It seems Kerouac was a decent athlete too.  When I first learned of this many years ago, I asked him about the famous Beat writer and I remember him smiling with a touch of sadness and saying something like, "He was a good guy, drank too much."  Unfortunately, he passed away not long thereafter and I was never able to probe any further his relationship with him.

Anyway, if you're interested.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Just So

Leave it to Charles Krauthammer to cogently capture it all.  All, that is, of the Obama presidency, his election and reelection campaigns, and of the man himself.

Lend Me Your Ears (and Four More Years while you're at it)

I listened to the President's speech last night, well, most of it.  An area thunderstorm interrupted the TV reception at the beginning.  I also watched, believe it or not, the end, a goodly portion too, of Joe Biden's.

As there was nothing essentially surprising in either man's words, I began wondering as I watched what is it that makes for a good speech anyway.  Assuming it has a theme and is sensibly organized, what makes a speech work?  Both men, and Bill Clinton too, know how to stand and speak comfortably in front of a crowd.  While that's critical, it's only the first item in the recipe.  The weight of the occasion is equally important and they each had that going for them.  The receptivity of the audience is critical too and there's no doubt the assembled were all ears.  (I'm less sure about the viewing audience.)

As I say, I watched Biden speak, I didn't, because I couldn't, really listen to him, however.  I place Biden in exactly the same camp as I do Bill Clinton, which is why I didn't watch him the night before.  They are both such transparent gasbaggers, I simply cannot take either man seriously.  Moreover, I'm forever amazed that anyone does, which serves to irritate me as well.  But then I was always amazed, and irritated, that the pretty girl at the party took the obviously BS-ing guy seriously too, but she often did.

My own taste in speechmaking tends more toward the style of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.  You can expect no rhetorical flights from either man.  Gary Cooper-like, they confidently say what they mean and then dare you to disagree with them.  I love it.  While George W. Bush had, I think, very good speechwriters and always seemed comfortable in front of a crowd, he rarely seemed comfortable delivering a speech.  Speechmaking is a subset of acting, of pretending, and I wager it always made him feel more than a bit phony.  When that happens and one becomes self-conscience, the whole thing is in danger of falling apart.

Back to last night's speech:  In a sense, Obama had everything going for him.  High expectations can be dangerous, but they also mean everyone is listening.  In the end, however, I'd have to say he failed.  While competently delivered, the speech contained no surprises and no memorable lines or phrases.  It simply reemphasized the campaign's already well-developed theme:  It's still Bush and the Republicans' fault--It was worse than I thought--I promise the same, only more--I need more time.

Time, thankfully, is running out for the President.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Clinton's Speech

Umm, I watched the Cowboys beat the Giants 24-17.

Good game.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lest Anyone Misunderstand... agreement with the editors of NRO that "Obama is no Bill Clinton" does not mean that I'm pining for the halcyon days of Clinton.

Bill Clinton moderated his positions after the 1994 elections when the GOP took control of the Congress not because he was at heart a moderate.  Rather, he moderated his positions because he was, and remains, unprincipled.  His personal political survival was at stake and for Bill Clinton and his kind the political is always personal.

"Obama is no Bil Clinton"

The editors at NRO have very succinctly reminded us all that despite the Democrats' intention with former President Bill Clinton's speech to the convention tonight to wrap the Obama administration in the heady economic times that obtained during Clinton's tenure in office, the comparison is unwarranted.
We have not seen an advance copy of President Clinton’s speech, scheduled for tonight, but we already know the message Democrats wish to convey with it. They seek to associate President Obama with the prosperity of the Clinton years. Democratic policies worked in the 1990s, they will argue, and they can work again. This story won’t sell, because the gap between Obama’s record and Clinton’s is so vast and obvious.
Clinton bucked most House Democrats to liberalize trade. He signed Republican bills to reform welfare, restrain spending, and cut taxes on investment. Obama has done none of these things. He has weakened welfare reform by telling states that the administration will waive work requirements. He has greatly increased spending. He has raised taxes on investment and wants to raise them more. Obama is no Bill Clinton: good news for the first lady, not so much for the rest of us. 
The main continuity between the two Democrats’ economic policies is that Clinton raised the top income-tax rate and Obama wants to do so as well. It is certainly true that we had both stronger economic growth and higher tax rates in the 1990s. It does not follow that the higher tax rates contributed to that growth then, or that they would do no damage now. The country enjoyed favorable circumstances in the ’90s — technological, demographic, and geopolitical — that we do not now enjoy and cannot replicate. Hiking taxes would likely lead to worse results today than it did then. 
The argument for Clintonomics was that raising taxes would lower the deficit, a lower deficit would bring down interest rates, and lower interest rates would bring economic growth. It didn’t actually work that way in the ’90s: Interest rates fell only when Republicans took control of Congress. The logic is in any case inapplicable now, because interest rates are already very low. 
Clinton knows, we suspect, that higher taxes will not bring back the economy of the 1990s. He knows too that Obama has not governed — has never had any interest in governing — as Clinton did. It will be fascinating to see how the Clintonite wing of the Democratic party will react if Obama loses. In that case we will be listening to Clinton with close attention, after the election.

On Christian Pacifism

In the middle of the Democrat's national convention and the larger presidential election campaign this topic may seem a little, um, too heavy.  But Mrs. Sage directed my attention to a piece by Mark Tooley and thought it warranted a comment at least.

Tooley reports briefly on pacifist Duke University theologian Stanley Hauerwas's critique of non-pacifist just war defender C.S. Lewis.  (Such is Lewis's status today that everyone seems to feel the need to bounce off of him.  I find that interesting, but another topic altogether.)  As Tooley points out, Hauerwas's pacifism comes chiefly from his teacher, Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder.  Tooley doesn't so much rehearse the relevant arguments as he defends Lewis for speaking for the common man--Lewis did write "Mere Christianity" after all--while attacking Hauerwas for speaking mostly for more or less cloistered academics.  He ends his piece with this:
Lewis is vastly popular across church traditions because he strove to convey essential truths to broad audiences. The far more narrow Hauerwas/Yoder attempt to redefine Christian orthodoxy is provocative and sophisticated. But will it endure?
Will it endure?  I think not.  The counsel to pacifism has always been a minority report even within the Christian tradition and I think the reasons are at least two-fold.

First, any thinking Christian would readily concede that, for example, Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount commanding us to "turn the other cheek" is revolutionary.  But, and this is critical for any orthodox believer, the rest of scripture is less clear on that point.

Second, and to my mind even more critical, is that to command one to forswear the use of violent force when necessary to defend the innocent, when necessary to defend and even establish justice itself, is to command a human to be, well, in-human, in effect to command him to do violence to his very soul.  The reflex to come immediately and violently if necessary to the defense of one being treated unjustly is simply too strong, too compelling.

So compelling is it in fact, that the same thinking Christian is left to ponder at least what exactly did Jesus mean.  The God who became Man cannot be commanding us to be less than men.  So, for the Christian, Jesus' meaning remains an open, if still uncomfortable, question.

In the meantime, while we Christians may feel saddened, and extremely so, at the sometime need for the use of  violent force, we will use it nevertheless. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

No Doubt

I haven't gotten around to reading Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, but Thomas Sowell finally has and he found it revealing.
After reading Barack Obama's book Dreams from My Father, it became painfully clear that he has not been searching for the truth, because he assumed from an early age that he had already found the truth -- and now it was just a question of filling in the details and deciding how to change things.
Among the details that Obama got wrong, for example, are those that inform the simplistic story beginning in the 16th century of West European "exploitation" of the rest of the world.  That's not surprising.  The President and I are about the same age and I've heard that same story from self-loathing liberals my entire life.

However, Obama, apparently, has never seriously questioned any of those details, nor the many others that complete his liberal worldview.  He's just too sure of himself and that, for Sowell, for all of us, is a problem.
Barack Obama is one of those people who are often wrong but never in doubt. When he burst upon the national political scene as a presidential candidate in 2008, even some conservatives were impressed by his confidence. 
But confident ignorance is one of the most dangerous qualities in a leader of a nation. If he has the rhetorical skills to inspire the same confidence in himself by others, then you have the ingredients for national disaster.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Race Card

Joe Klein thinks it's high time President Obama played the race card.

First, Obama is not above playing it.  Two instances that immediately spring to mind, and I'm sure there are more, are when, early in his administration, he came to the defense of his friend Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates when Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct outside his own home.  More recently are his comments in the wake of the the shooting death of young Trayvon Martin.

However, it's true, Obama usually eschews it.  But why?

Because he knows that if he plays the race card too overtly and too often it will make for a political disaster.  Had he played it in 2008, he would never have been nominated by his party, much less elected.  While liberals swim in this swamp, most other Americans still find, thank God, it distasteful in the very least. 

And what was true in 2008 is still true in 2012.  The fact that Klein would so publicly encourage the president in this way should alone tell you how desperate they are becoming.