Friday, September 28, 2007

A Query

How can those who don't respect the traditions of Western civilization (i.e. most liberal Democrats) be expected to defend a nation that was built upon those very traditions from people actively seeking to destroy it, as in the Islamic radicals?

Democrats, if ever they have their way, will either fail to defend the nation altogether and eventually it will be conquered from without

or,

Democrats will attempt (are attempting) to remake the nation in their own image by jettisoning our nation's core values and embracing all the trappings of socialism, multiculturalism, political correctness, militant atheism etc. Then, and only then, would there be something worth defending.

And as for avoiding such dreadful scenarios, Carthago delenda est must be the guiding maxim for all dealings with Democrats in '08 and beyond.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The War


Ken Burns put together a magnificent documentary on WWII entitled The War. It's airing on PBS for the next couple weeks and runs approximately fourteen hours. The War recounts the epic battles of the Second World War and ties them together with the stories of a number of soldiers from four American towns. The documentary is loaded with interviews of survivors of the D-Day invasion and the numerous, costly battles in the Pacific.

While watching this powerful series, I'm struck at how "ordinary" men became heroes, not by ignoring their humanity or through superman-like affectations, but by forging ahead in spite of mortal dangers and very real fears. Real people fought and died. The War is also complimented with beautiful music. Norah Jones sings a haunting rendition of Gene Scheer's American Anthem. The following lyrics, accompanied by a lonely piano and grainy, black and white photos of young American soldiers spoke volumes.

Each generation from the plains to distant shores,
With the gifts they were given were determined to leave more.
Battles fought together, acts of conscience fought alone,
These are the seeds from which America has grown.
Let them say of me I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.
America, America, I gave my best to you.


http://www.pbs.org/thewar/

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Giuliani Shows Us the Real Mrs. Clinton

I'm not in the Giuliani camp but I have to applaud his standing up to Hillary Clinton and the fringe left's unconscionable attack on General Petraeus. Giuliani purchased a full-page ad in the New York Times today and it packs a punch. You'll need to click on the image to see it clearly.

Noonan on the General

Worth a read:

http://opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110010599

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Era of First Principles


About a year ago, I wrote an article entitled Pope Benedict’s Back-to-Basics Strategy. In it, I explored the pope’s well-placed desire to summon Catholics back to the fundamentals of the faith; namely, the Real Presence, the irreplaceable role of the liturgy and the Sacraments in the life of the Church and finally, the importance of prayer in the day-to-day life of every Christian. The best way to move forward is to start with a crystal-clear knowledge of what we believe as Catholics. I also traced the disturbing currents of the past thirty years that have witnessed the emergence of various “Cafeteria Catholic” movements. The leaders of such campaigns cast themselves as righteous revolutionaries, standing up to the antiquated, oppressive and patriarchal customs of a bygone era. Subsequently, the Church became fettered by the confining and myopic prism of a power struggle between the soi-disant hidebound Bishops and the enlightened, progressive faithful.

Scholars and academics have spilled buckets of ink analyzing the root causes of this movement. The ideology of revolution, so popular in the sixties, always took as its starting point the need for liberation from an oppressive extant order. Authentic change, real progress, was impossible so long as the yoke of this or that institution remained. The Church, like many other visible organizational bodies in the world, fell prey to this cause.


But it’s not just the pope who is calling for a renewal of first principles. Recently, much media attention has focused on the candidacy of Fred Thompson. The former senator from Tennessee has surged in the polls to a statistical dead-heat with front-runner Rudy Giuliani. Thompson is hoping to fill a void in the Republican field for an authentic conservative, someone who understands and has a profound reverence for age-old American traditions and customs. Early speeches have touched on the need to return to what he bills as the nation’s “first principles.” There are two overriding tenets of Thompson’s “first principles” approach to governing: First, authentic rights are derived from God and not the federal government. The second touches on the importance of federalism, which holds that the powers of government are to be divided, not only between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, but also between the federal and state governments. The remarkable success of Thompson’s inchoate campaign signals to a strong desire on the part of many Americans to return to the basics of our constitutional arrangement. There is widespread recognition that our political leaders in Washington have wandered far off the path of right governance. The arrogance of the federal government and the virtual omnipotence of the court system are only the most glaring of many deficiencies in our present state of affairs. Fred Thompson has set out to realign the mast of our nation’s political priorities, placing them in agreement with the ingenious wisdom of our original constitutional order.

I believe we are entering into what I call an Era of First Principles. For the past several years, Pope Benedict has hammered home a message of Catholic essentials. He has a well-known fondness for the writings of Saint Augustine and the early Church Fathers. He believes that, by returning to their simple, unvarnished message we can discover much about being Catholic in the modern world. The hackneyed rhetoric of revolution has run its course and the ideology of bogus Church “reform” is, Deo Gratias, in its final and long-overdue death throes. But how have Catholics responded to Benedict’s proposal? Well, for starters, his weekly audiences regularly garner larger crowds than those of Pope John Paul II, which certainly says something. Following a similar vein, in the political arena Fred Thompson has grounded his entire campaign on a harkening back to America’s time-tested first principles. Elite, deeply entrenched Washington politicos have jumped the track of constitutional propriety for too long. It’s an exciting time to be Catholic and to be an American. It may very well be that the emerging Era of First Principles will turn out to be another Era of Good Feeling.

Here's the link to the article I wrote on Pope Benedict XVI:
http://www.catholicherald.com/articles/06articles/berry0713.htm

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

World War IV?

Noted scholar and unabashed neoconservative Norman Podhoretz believes the United States is engaged in a new world war, this time against the forces of Islamofascism. Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review interviewed him. I haven't reached a conclusion yet but I'm seriously considering his thesis. This response in particular struck me:
I think that Bush will someday be recognized as a great president, much as it has been the case with Harry Truman, with whom he has a lot in common. Having said that, I will stipulate that we needed more clarity than he gave us both in naming the enemy and in naming the war. For this a very steep price has been paid in the coin of confusion about Iraq. Instead of being seen in its proper context as a single front or theater in a much broader conflict, it has been treated as a self-contained war in its own right. And instead of being understood as part of a long-range strategy to “drain the swamps” in which Islamofascism breeds, it has been misrepresented as the wrong place in which to fight terrorism.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjUwNGQ4ZDRmNWU4NjhkYTg2MmQ0ZDE0YmE5ZjUzYmM=

Pass the Wine


I've always thought it totally absurd, while perhaps good for humility, that I'm required to show my ID to order a beer or buy a bottle of wine, especially when the gal carding me is several years younger than me. When I returned from Italy, I experienced something of a reverse culture shock when I had to present my ID for a glass of wine. First there was the question: "Can I see some ID?" Followed by an awkward silence as I thought, "What did she say?" Then, remembering where I was once again, I fumbled clumsily for my wallet and handed over my drivers licence. Are you kidding? In Italy, Spain or Poland, I could get a drink with greater ease than figuring out where the bathroom was. Ordering alcohol in Europe is a non-issue. Here in the US it's another story. More vexing still is when stores here adopt a Soviet-like policy of carding anyone, even the old ladies keen on a glass of brandy in the evening: one of those little pleasures in life, isn't it?

A good friend of mine from Italy sent me the following link. The article discusses the consequences of the dated and puritanical drinking laws in the United States. To be certain, these silly laws are the direct result of irrational and scrupulous Protestant fears of one of life's great pleasures. Countries in Europe (most notably the Catholic ones) that take a less uptight approach toward drinking ages experience far fewer problems with binge drinking typically associated with youth.
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110010555

Monday, September 10, 2007

Choosing Sides

General Petraeus delivered a highly anticipated report to Congress regarding the status of the situation on the ground in Iraq, post-surge. He, along with Ambassador Crocker, pummeled senators with a dizzying number of facts, statistics, charts and anecdotes, all of which signaled remarkable progress in Iraq. Disappointed and delusional Democrats, salivating with dreams of an American military defeat, were hard at work for the past week trying to undermine the Patraeus report even before he had the chance to deliver it. Democrats and left-wing groups teamed up and roundly impugned the General's integrity. It's a crafty strategy, as it allows elected Democrats to cover their true shades and offer lip service to the troops and to the General, all the while freeing up the operatives in their fringe base to spew forth venomous calumny. Today, the New York Times featured a despicable full-page add sponsored by Moveon.org (surprise) that mercilessly slandered the General and played with his name, referring to him as "General Betray Us."

Moveon.org and many Democratic members of Congress, abandoning any pretext of patriotism and objectivity, implied that the esteemed General was a nothing but a White House proxy, sent by Bush to "cook the books" and deceive Americans into supporting a "failed" mission. The add went on to say:

"Cooking the books for the White House: General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts."

Today, Democratic Congressman Lantos lectured the General with icy words:

"The fact remains, gentlemen, that the administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two committees and the Congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say: I don't buy it."

Democratic Majority Leader Reid said the following about Petraeus:

"He's made a number of statements over the...years that have not proven to be factual. I have every belief that this good man, General Petraeus, will give us, uh, what he feels, uh, is the right thing to do in this report that is now not his report, it's -- it's President Bush's report."

Democrat Senator Durbin had this to say:

"By carefully manipulating the statistics, the Bush-Petraeus report will try to persuade us that violence in Iraq is decreasing and the surge is working. Even if the figures are right, the conclusion's wrong."

Whatever that means.

And to round off the pageant of cantankerous Democrats we have Senator Biden, commenting on Petraeus:

"I think he's dead, flat, wrong. The fact of the matter is that there is -- that this idea of the security gains that we've made have had no impact on the underlying sectarian dynamic. None! None! Whatsoever."

Even during General Petraeus' presentation, malcontents from the communist-leaning group Code Pink repeatedly interrupted with insane outbursts and shrills: "That's a lie!" "General Petraeus, Americans don't believe you!"

So Americans can choose with whom to side: General Petraeus or the deranged band of irrelevant clowns on full display this afternoon in Congress. Gen. Petraeus was brilliant; his report shines like the magnificent silver stars and accoutrements on his uniform. The Democrats and the paunchy protesters, with their pink paper tiaras, were simply being themselves: a laughable and hopelessly passé bunch of intransigents. Irony reaches a lofty peak when we contemplate that it is the American soldier who fights for the freedom of expression that allows treacherous gangs like these to make fools of themselves. Et tu Brute?



Sunday, September 09, 2007

Discovery in Jerusalem


Archaeologists discovered an escape hatch in Jerusalem. It dates from the city's destruction by the Romans in 70 AD. It's a pretty neat story.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070909/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_ancient_escape_hatch

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Grasping at Straws


Here's only the latest drivel from a prominent American Democratic Senator, Chuck Schumer, commenting on the surge:
"And let me be clear: the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al Qaeda, said to these tribes: 'We have to fight al Qaeda ourselves.' It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords had to create a temporary peace here on their own."
This is beyond the pale and is literally stunning in its audacity. There is universal consensus among intelligent observers, those who supported and those who opposed the initial invasion of Iraq, that the increased stability there is directly a result of the surge and the immense sacrifices of the US military. So beyond the sheer stupidity of Schumer's remark are heavy vestiges of treason. The overall intent here is to undermine, to sabotage, the report General Petraeus is set to deliver to Congress next week. It is widely believed that the report will relay the successes and accomplishments that have unfolded in Iraq since the surge took effect. Democrats have already dismissed the report in toto since it doesn't jibe with their template of defeat and hopelessness.

Perfect Timing


At last night’s Republican debate, candidates took lighthearted jabs at Fred Thompson for skipping another GOP forum, choosing instead to appear on Jay Leno to officially announce that he is running for the nomination. I’ve long been of the opinion that Thompson knows exactly what he is doing, in terms of his "late" entry into the game. I loved his comment last night on Leno that compared the average American’s willingness to deal with a politician to the same realization that he has to go to the dentist. We don’t like doing it, but eventually, we have to…but we’ll put it off as long as possible and go on living our lives. I think the “Thompson entered too late” line is a bunch of bunk. It’s still very early. His delay has only helped to energize more excitement about his campaign. By staying above the fray of the silly debates (and they are silly), he comes across as a more serious, circumspect and unifying individual. Thompson, as I see it, has enormous potential. Style, delivery and presence are not everything in politics, but in a tight race, these factors can tip the balance one way or another.

For once, conservative Republicans have a candidate who can communicate effectively. Bush Sr. was intelligent and could give a speech, but he came across as a boring professor who granted, may have known his material in and out but couldn’t energize other people about his message. Bob Dole was the same; he never stood a chance against the youthful, slick yet extraordinarily good communicator that was Bill Clinton. As for George W. Bush, we’re just lucky the other side offered up such reject candidates as Gore and Kerry. But let's be honest, who doesn’t cringe as Bush opens his mouth to deliver a major speech? It’s simply painful to watch. One of the first rules in effective communication is the importance of connecting with your audience and making them interested in what you’re talking about via your own passion. Like Reagan before him, Fred Thompson does this very well.

A word on the debate last night: I was unimpressed with everyone. There was a superabundance of pandering, bad attempts at humor by old people and car salesman slickness. Romney came across as a hollow game show host, circa 1985, McCain was McCain: boring, stiff, awkward, clumsy, etc. Giuliani sounded like a broken record, “I saved New York, elect me.” The other second and third-tier Lilliputians don’t stand a chance and aren’t worth a mention.

Enter Thompson

Watch his announcement.
http://www.fred08.com/index.aspx

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Christianity, Diana and a Soulless Great Britain


George Weigel comments on the Princess Diana hysteria, the famed and sex-obsessed British paparazzi and the grim outlook for a Godless nation.
That emptiness [of contemporary British life] helped wreck the Wales' marriage; it was embodied, with unintentional irony, in the decision to have Sir Elton John sing at Diana's funeral in Westminster Abbey, scants yards from the mortal remains of Edward the Confessor.

http://eppc.org/publications/pubID.3083/pub_detail.asp

A Lighter Moment

In the grander scheme of things this is an insignificant moment, but I do wish more Republicans had the courage (and wit) to take on such inane questions . . . Not only would it earn them respect, it would make politics much more interesting.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

American Wealth

It is certainly true that Americans are blessed with unparalleled opportunities and resources. Affluence is not a problematic quality, per se, indeed, correctly understood, it should be encouraged when absent and applauded when achieved. But I've long held that a concomitant risk of the exceptional prosperity we enjoy in America is the easy temptation to tune ourselves out to problems in the world simply because we can afford, or choose, not to listen. I think most notably of the very real threat of Islamic terror.

Regardless, here's a fascinating study by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation: "How Poor are America's Poor?" We often hear about the plight of the "poor" in America, but such is the state of our prosperity that even the "poor" here have it pretty darn good: hearty diets, multiple color television sets, cars, microwaves, cell phones, etc.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/bg2064.cfm

Monday, September 03, 2007

Do Muslims Enjoy a 'Privileged Status'?

Map of the Muslim World

I came across this article from last year that traces the historical implications of Christian, Muslim and Jewish territorial conquests. I think it makes some powerful points. When it comes to much of the Muslim world, reciprocity is very much a one-way street. Here's an excerpt, but the entire article is worth reading.
All this illustrates the privileged status that many Muslims expect in the international arena. When Muslims conquer non-Muslim territories — such as Constantinople, not to mention all of North Africa, Spain and southwest Asia — those whom they have conquered as well as their descendants are not to expect any apologies, let alone political or territorial concessions.
Herein lies the conundrum. When Islamists wage jihad — past, present and future — conquering and consolidating non-Muslim territories and centers in the name of Islam, never once considering to cede them back to their previous owners, they ultimately demonstrate that they live by the age-old adage "might makes right." That's fine; many people agree with this Hobbesian view.
But if we live in a world where the strong rule and the weak submit, why is it that whenever Muslim regions are conquered, such as in the case of Palestine, the same Islamists who would never concede one inch of Islam's conquests resort to the United Nations and the court of public opinion, demanding justice, restitutions, rights and so forth?
Put another way, when Muslims beat infidels, it's just too bad for the latter; they must submit to their new overlords' rules with all the attendant discrimination and humiliation mandated for non-Muslims. Yet when Islam is beaten, demands for apologies and concessions are expected from the infidel world at large.
Double standards do not make for international justice. Either territorial conquests are always unjust and should therefore be ameliorated through concessions, or else they are merely a manifestation of the natural order of things — that is, survival of the fittest.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ibrahim5dec05,0,5108432.story?coll=la-opinion-center