Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dems Debate in Hollywood

I watched some of the Democratic debate that took place in Hollywood. I had to turn it off. The degree to which these candidates pander and ingratiate themselves with the public is so tiresome and transparent. Republicans are guilty of this as well, albeit to a far lesser degree. Obama and Clinton didn't miss a chance to curry favor via maudlin demagoguery and weren't beneath using race, gender and class to shape their arguments in opposition to the Republicans. This is populism and French Revolutionary-style Jacobism at its best, the choice modus operandi of Progressives. Jonah Golberberg put it nicely when he fleshed out Progressive notions of the "general will", rarefied abstractions of "the people" and populist overtures and their subsequent ties to modern totalitarianism, on full display in the American left:
The idea of the general will is the intellectual basis for all modern totalitarianisms. It created a true secular religion out of nationalism, a religion in which “the people” in effect worshipped themselves. The people’s existence lacked meaning and purpose except in relation to the collective.

War in Film

Andrew Klavan offers an impressive, and quite lengthy, overview of American war movies. His thesis is that films of the past were more likely to convey the belief in the existence of an existential struggle between good and evil, and that America, while a flawed nation, yes, nonetheless fights on the right side. Today however, political pressures, agendas and what Klavin deftly labels "fashionable leftism", have left little room for any conviction that America might actually go to war for a noble cause. In many ways, cynicism has replaced patriotism in Hollywood. His impressive piece of work is interlaced with some salient observations about American and European culture.
Though European intellectuals and their left-wing American acolytes are loath to admit it, the U.S. had already provided an excellent new rationale for that emotion [rooted in an atavistic nationalism as opposed to bland "cosmopolitanism"]. Our Founding redefined nationhood along social-contract lines that Europeans can still only theorize about. Our love of nation at its best was ethical, not ethnic. Our patriotism was loyalty not to race, or even to tradition, but to ideals of individual liberty and republican self-governance.

And speaking in reference to Clint Eastwood's recent war-movie projects, Klavan opines,
These films create the illusion of war’s futility through the ultimate act of cosmopolitanism: they delete the knowledge of good and evil. True, the Bible tells us that we lived in a peaceful paradise before we acquired that knowledge. But the Bible likewise tells us that the way back there is barred by a sword of fire.

Klavan leaves us with a reflection on the glory of the warrior's sacrifice:
That glory, however, is not the stuff of fantasy alone. The threat of global jihad is all too real, and the stakes are all too high. Liberty, tolerance, the harmony of conflicting voices—these things didn’t materialize suddenly out of the glowing heart of human decency. People thought of them, fought and died to establish them, not in the ether, but on solid ground. That ground has to be defended or the values themselves will die. The warriors willing to do this difficult work deserve to have their heroism acknowledged in our living thoughts and through our living arts. We should hear their voices every day, saying: Earn this. Earn it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Moving Forward" With Ted

The media is hyperventilating over news of Senator Ted Kennedy's upcoming plug for Senator Barack Obama. But the positive spin this endorsement is receiving strikes me as more than a little odd. Does Kennedy's Midas Touch necessarily help Obama? I'm not so sure. For starters, Obama is campaigning on two themes principally: "moving forward" and "change". But Kennedy, the "Old Lion of the Senate" stands as a paragon of a bygone era. The force of Obama's dual aspirations will only be blunted with Kennedy joining his bandwagon. Kennedy, as a politician, is an irrelevant blowhard with a thoroughbred record of unabashed liberalism rooted in the frozen-in-time idealism of the 1960's. Is someone like this a true catalyst for change? Does an angry man like Ted Kennedy inspire the masses to move forward with hope? My answer: Only if he's left behind, where he belongs. Kennedy is a disgrace and, were it not for his name (for that is all that has ever carried and saved him) right-minded politicians would be embarrassed by his tainted imprimatur. A pox on his virtues, for they have undone his Party and would do the same to his country!


Perhaps some clarification is in order here. Of course the Kennedy plug will help Obama in the primaries, when both right and left cater to their respective bases. That goes without saying. In the context of primary campaigning, Kennedy remains relevant because he is popular with the far left in America. The deeper point I am addressing is whether or not the endorsement of America's most liberal politician will prove deleterious in the long run, especially in a general election, should Obama get the nod from his Party.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Liberal Fascism"

I'm reading a hefty book by Jonah Goldberg entitled Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. His aim is to show how contemporary American liberalism, having been born of the Progressive Era of the 19th century, is heir to the fascist tradition. Goldberg goes to great lengths to stress that he is not equating all liberals with Nazis and the racism that fueled their terror. But he does set out to highlight common intellectual and ideological threads shared by the two. He tells the reader in the introduction that academics have a hard time nailing down a precise definition of "fascism" but he offers his definition and I think it's pretty good.
Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion best be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy. I will argue that contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.
- Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Viva l'Italia!

Today, the center-left government of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi fell after a vote of no confidence. I was in Spain when he was elected and distinctly remember mourning his ascent to power. I had hoped his fall would have come sooner, preferably while I was still in Rome, but this will have to do. As to what will happen now? Who knows, this is Italian politics after all. Hopefully a new election will be called and the conservative coalition, Forza Italia, will take over. All indicators point to a strong victory. Here's how the conservative opposition celebrated in the Senate after the vote, and further celebrations in the streets. The sign reads, "Prodi, to get home, call a taxi!!!" Conservative heavyweight Silvio Berlusconi summed up the reason for the left's fall: "It was an natural implosion resulting from inner contradictions." The left's coalition was a hodgepodge of Communists, moderate Catholics and environmentalists. They could rarely stop bickering among themselves to get anything done.

Forbes on Taxes

Here's a nice piece from Steve Forbes in today's Wall Street Journal Online on America's convoluted tax code.
Our Founders drafted the Constitution with fewer than 5,000 words; with later amendments it is about 8,000 words. The federal tax code is more than 9 million words. So the document that created the government is less than 0.1% as long as the tax code that funds it. Such is the state of Washington today.

In Defense of Archbishop Burke

While trying to make a proper evaluation of a particular issue, few things are more vexing in a public discourse than observing one side launch into accusations that simply don’t square with the facts. The troubles are amplified the moment those accusations turn into unwarranted, personal broadsides. Recently, Archbishop Raymond Burke has been on the receiving end of more than a little criticism for his objection to statements made by Rick Majerus, a successful basketball coach at Saint Louis University. Not too long ago, Majerus made it known that he is an ardent supporter of abortion-rights and embryonic stem-cell research. Now, it is no “Vatican Secret” that both practices are squarely at odds with Catholic teaching regarding the dignity and inviolability of human life. And yet, it never ceases to amaze me that such ballyhoo results when a Catholic prelate simply reiterates the perennial teaching of a 2,000 year-old institution, or when that prelate speaks out against individuals who support such practices. What’s getting folks so angry?

The issue here is really quite simple: Archbishop Burke is the appointed leader of the Saint Louis Archdiocese. He has a responsibility to publicly uphold and defend the Church’s teaching and further, to encourage Catholic individuals and institutions to similarly uphold and defend Church doctrine. The barely concealed intolerance, not to mention arrogance, of those caterwauling interminably about so-called “threats free to speech,” all the while shouting down the Archbishop with shrill plaints, is more than a little ironic. Objective observers will notice this inconsistency with rueful mirth, no doubt. But such is the vaunted tolerance of the Left that it extends no further than the narrow confines of its own small ideology. It seems that the freedom of speech I once had the temerity to believe was guaranteed to every American remains the exclusive province of Archbishop Burke’s fiercest critics. Certain gadflies in the local media, clearly more interested in fomenting acrimony than in objective reporting, are not much help either when it comes to deciphering the matter.

As I review what actually transpired these past few days, nowhere have I found a statement originating from Archbishop Burke claiming that Majerus cannot say what he believes. People can believe and profess what they wish. No one is calling for Majerus to be arrested but if I relied solely on the histrionics of the pundits and spin-doctors, I would be inclined to believe there was a warrant out for Majerus’ arrest. But back to the point: If a public figure wraps himself in the faith of the Catholic Church and at the same time takes up the cause of promoting morally objectionable practices, then he, not the Archbishop, is responsible for moving the issue into a different arena altogether. Then, it is no longer about “freedom of speech” but moral clarity. As an aside, the mewling on about threats to “free speech” is, frankly, getting old and is more than a little puerile. Mature thinkers in Saint Louis deserve better than the recycled, worn-out tactics of Archbishop Burke’s all-too-familiar critics. This issue at hand is about nothing less than a bishop’s responsibility as the public head of the local Church. For 2,000 years, bishops have been entrusted with the sacred duty of publicly witnessing to the Church’s teaching. He must be the primary source for moral clarity regarding Church teaching for Catholics entrusted to his pastoral care. This is his paramount responsibility. A good bishop simply cannot stand idly by as conflicting statements regarding issues of morality are tossed about under his watchful eye by people claiming to be Catholic. Confusion would be, and in many cases elsewhere has been, the inevitable result. Archbishop Burke is determined not to give free reign to confusion. As already has been intimated, what distinguishes this issue is the public dimension it entails. Catholics cannot be led into thinking, via statements such as Majerus’, that it is morally permissible to support abortion while at the same time publicly touting allegiance to the Catholic Church. Archbishop Burke sees it as his duty to make this very clear.

If someone doesn’t want to belong to the Catholic Church, he or she is free to leave. But once the decision has been made to join, it’s all or nothing when it comes to faith and morals because as Catholics see it, true freedom is tied to liberating the soul from sin. If you’re not interested in taking up that challenge, what’s the point in becoming Catholic? The ball is totally in the court of the individual, as to whether or not to come on-board. That’s why all this hue and cry about the Catholic Church not respecting the freedom of the individual has always struck me as absolute hokum. But upon entering the fold, don’t expect the Church to conform to personalized, “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” belief-systems. A spiritual delicatessen the Catholic Church is emphatically not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shattering Some Black Gold Myths

Robert Bryce of The Washington Post shoots down five common myths about oil in a nice piece aptly called Five Myths About Our Foreign Oil Habit. Here's the link.

Immigration, Part II: Thoughts on Assimilation

Now, when I talk about our “culture,” I speak to America’s language, literature, history, national heroes, customs and most importantly, religious values. In the context of the debate over immigration, the question becomes thus: Are immigrants willing to assimilate into our unique American culture, shaped by the various elements mentioned here? Or is the expectation that America is to bear the burden of bending and molding to cater to the amalgam of countless world cultures knocking at our borders' door? Our cultural distinctiveness as Americans has been brewing for over two centuries in a unique cauldron, a cauldron that contains some of Western Civilization’s most precious ingredients. To be sure, there have been rough patches and obstacles along the way. We are far from perfect, but our impressive list of monumental achievements over the relatively short period of time that we’ve existed as a nation certainly distinguishes us in world history. The majority of Americans insist that newcomers, while certainly welcome, must recognize that if they want to stay and reap the fruits of a good life in a free society, they must not only respect our distinct heritage but, going even further, allow themselves to be incorporated into it. All of this will require a certain “letting go.” Now, while “letting go” is not coterminous with the wholesale abandonment of one’s native culture, it certainly does require at least a modicum of humility and appreciation.

Further, the United States has a distinct political culture, as spelled out in our founding documents and the Federalist Papers. The cornerstone of that culture is rooted in the idea of limited government and a rugged individualism that places a high price on innovation, independence and self-reliance. The pandering of Democrats aside, immigrants to America should not arrive here with the expectation that the government exists to take care of them. This is emphatically not a nanny state. When I spoke earlier about the need for immigrants to "let go" of certain things, the victim/entitlement mentality would be an ideal place to start.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Abortion and Beyond

Here's an excerpt from a National Review symposium. The link follows.
For during the very period that pro-lifers have been winning on one front, another has opened. If we begin to mass-produce cloned human embryos — which would be living members of our species — to be destroyed in research, we could easily undo all of our success in reducing the number of legal killings in this country. And worse: It seems highly unlikely that a society that countenances such routinized destruction of human life would limit abortion.

It is commonly said that the public favors stem-cell research. But most people do not favor human cloning, and do not favor the creation of embryos for research purposes — at least when the subject is placed before them squarely and without euphemism. It has become increasingly clear that the medical benefits sought through cloning can be gained without violating ethical principles. Stem cells derived from the reprogramming of adult cells and from amniotic fluid both show great promise. Human cloning should be banned, and these alternatives encouraged.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Immigration, Part I

To suggest that illegal immigration is a touchy subject in America would be a pitiful understatement. Some analysts have gone so far as to say that illegal immigration and border security will prove to rank as the central issues in this year’s election. Politicians in Washington will testify that rarely have they seen such a tidal wave of protests coming in from their constituents as they did last Spring, when a highly controversial bill that would have legalized millions of illegal immigrants was killed at the last minute. Congressional phone lines were flooded in the wake of Congress' slapdash attempt at “comprehensive immigration reform.” The prospect of a lax immigration bill actually becoming law, derided by opponents as a “pathway-to-amnesty,” struck a hitherto overlooked and exposed nerve of the American people, not unlike the sharp pain of a newly discovered, throbbing cavity in the back molar. The intensity of the shock stunned the DC and media establishment. Attempts by legislators to scuttle the bill through passage sans debate or serious challenges smacked of a new “corrupt bargain” and only served to infuriate Americans even further. We were angry. Across the political spectrum, Americans rejected what they saw as camouflaged amnesty. Votes in favor of the bill started to flake away, as legislators recoiled from the political albatross the bill represented. A bruised Congress decided it was best to kick the legislative can down the road and leave it for another day. But the issue has hardly gone away. We’re still angry.

Supporters of the bill frequently resorted to an old attack plan to undermine the opposition. Their argument was, quite frankly, a sanctimonious and unfair generalization of the opposing view. The generalization implied that those opposed to the bill were somehow guilty of borderline xenophobia and perhaps even veiled racism. Yep, that’s all there is to it: either you are compassionate and support the plight of immigrants who after all, are just trying to “live the American dream” or you are a heartless, and perhaps racist, cad. It’s as simple as that. Discussion over.

But the immigration debate introduces a slew of wide-ranging questions that reach down to the very depths of our cultural identity as a nation. This one should require, even demand, some soul-searching at the national level. The sound-bite culture spawned by the mainstream media has little patience for the serious discussion of stubborn minutiae like culture and identity. Acrimony, traded back and forth in the guise of attention-grabbing headlines, sells far better than philosophy.

So if we want to get to the heart of the matter regarding the illegal immigration debate, the first order of business is to cut through the static of the oft-repeated catch-phrases like, “workers in the shadows” and “compassion” and talk seriously about assimilation. The question is this: Should immigrants to the United States be expected to assimilate to American society and culture? The relevance of assimilation has been woefully overlooked by politicians and pundits who are far too pre-occupied with corralling a new constituency of victims (Democrats) or the forging of a domestic legacy (President Bush).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Soldiers on a Rampage?

Not so long ago, the New York Times ran a risible story claiming that US soldiers returning from war are committing a staggering amount of murders. The basic gist of the story was to bemoan the psychological trauma inflicted on the troops while in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blaming the "problem" on mental trauma is a sly way for the Times to shield itself from accusations that it is indicting the troops, ultimately, they can't help it. This "crisis" is all Bush's fault for sending them there in the first place. Make no mistake about it, this is not so much about the soldiers, per se as it is about the media's attempt to find a way to further vilify President Bush. The premise and conclusion of the Times story are offensive at so many levels. Mark Steyn once again rises to the challenge and debunks this ludicrous story. Here's an excerpt and the link to the entire piece.
Our war has one of the lowest fatality rates of any war ever, and, when they get so low that even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid temporarily give up the quagmire bleating, the Times invents bogus stories to suggest that the few veterans lucky enough to make it out of Iraq alive are ticking timebombs ready to explode across every Main Street in the land.

A few days before the Times series began, The National Journal published the latest debunking of a notorious survey: in 2006, the medical journal The Lancet reported that the Iraq war had killed over 650,000 civilians, over 90 percent victims of the US military. That’s 500 civilians a day. Which is quite a smell test. The figure was over ten times the estimates even of hardcore antiwar left-wing groups. Who are these 500 daily victims? Why aren’t there mass riots by Iraqi civilians protesting the daily bloodbath?

Because it’s fake. It didn’t happen.

Yet it’s indestructible. I picked up a local paper in New Hampshire the other day, and a lady psychotherapist was twittering about our “mentally wounded” troops returning home after killing gazillions and bazillions of Iraqi civilians. In 1933, the debaters at Oxford were horrified by the real cost of war. In 2008, the editors of the Times, our college professors and Hollywood celebrities, are horrified by a fiction. Faced with an historically low cost of war, they retreat into fantasy. Who’s really suffering from mental trauma? Who needs the psychotherapy here? -Mark Steyn, Emphasis added

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Trouble with Being Honest

Senator Barack Obama made an excellent point the other day while campaigning. He recalled the answers given by Senators Clinton and Edwards in response to a question during a recent debate. The query was: "What is your greatest weakness?" Obama answered first by saying he kept a messy desk and at times required assistance in managing papers. Fair enough. Then came Clinton and Edwards. After searching the depths of her soul, Clinton revealed that her greatest weakness was that she often became impatient while waiting to deliver change to Americans. Edwards, not to be outdone, replied that his weakness was that he responds powerfully to people who are in pain. After the debate, Clinton and Edwards operatives suggested that Obama's reply betrayed a lack of preparation on his part for the nation's top job.

Obama had a nice retort to these vapid answers and to the criticism:

"Because I'm an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, 'What's your biggest weakness?' If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, 'Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.' Folks, they [Clinton and Edwards] don't tell you what they mean!"

While Obama's liberal stripes are as clearly defined as Clinton's or Edwards' (or perhaps even a tinge more so), the episode here at least demonstrates that he's a straight shooter. He'll be upfront with you. The calculated responses proffered by Clinton and Edwards are dripping with sanctimony and arrogance. Basically what they're saying is, "My greatest weakness is that I'm too good a person and the knowledge of my superiority sometimes propels me to impatience with the rest of you who are too slow and stupid to support me."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Politics and Pragmatism vs. Purity

Here's a timely piece by Victor Davis Hanson about the legacy of Ronald Reagan. In short, his point is that Republicans vying to wrap themselves in the robe of conservatism by invoking Reagan are ignoring the fact that Reagan was far from "perfect" when it came to strict adherence conservative orthodoxy. The smoke and incense that perpetually hangs in the air when Republicans enter the inner sanctum of "Reaganism" fogs the hard reality that Reagan, while both a great president and man, was more of a pragmatist and a politician than a purist. And that's ok, he was human. He picked and chose his battles. Sometimes he was right and sometimes, in retrospect, he was wrong. In other words, get over it GOP. Now, that's not to say we shouldn't follow Reagan as a conservative leader. For that he truly was. But let's be honest about him. To do otherwise would be a disservice to his true legacy. Republican candidates today should be more secure with themselves. Their own history and the values to which they are beholden, as reflected in their voting records, etc., should be sufficient evidence of their conservatism, without trying to out Reagan the great Ronald Reagan with cheap rhetorical platitudes and debate histrionics.

Oil in Alaska

Today, administration officials had the temerity to discuss the possibility of drilling for oil in Alaska. Oil extraction in that state is an initiative we should have accomplished long ago but liberals and environmentalists, two terms that are, for all intents and purposes, synonymous now, have protested vehemently with the intensity and petulancy of a spoiled child that such an act would destroy the state's pristine wilderness. The arguments are specious of course, that goes without saying. But they have been effective enough to intimidate politicians beholden to special interest groups to prevent the move from gaining any traction. These congressional hearings, not unlike the Oscars or Golden Globes, are prime opportunities to witness the buffoonery of the Left on full display. Anyone who frequents this blog has no doubt been amused by the sampling of images posted here. These are pretty good, but my favorite remains those incomparable and charming Code Pink gals who protested during General Petraeus' testimony, all dolled up as the Statue of Liberty or some crotchety old fairy (I still have trouble deciding which) .

And in case you've forgotten:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More from Dr. Spencer

Here's the latest from climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer on the "Reality Deniers" in the man-made global-warming movement. I've pulled some excerpts and included a link to the article.
I am astounded by the naiveté of those folks who seem to think there is some magic, non-polluting energy source out there that “Big Oil” has been hiding from us until all of the petroleum runs out. As these reality deniers continue to drive cars and fly in airplanes, they deny the fact that mankind’s dependence on oil is not out of choice, but necessity.

The only problem is, no matter how serious you think global warming will be, our current renewable-energy technologies and conservation will make virtually no difference to future global temperatures.

These efforts might make us feel better about ourselves, but don’t expect them to come anywhere close to solving the problem.

The energy demand by humanity is simply too large — and it is growing rapidly in developing countries like India and China. Electricity in the United States is supplied by the equivalent of 1,000 one-gigawatt power plants. It would be a major feat, both politically and monetarily, to replace 50 of those 1,000 power plants with solar and wind generation facilities.

Then, once we have patted ourselves on the back over that accomplishment, we could start working on replacing the other 95 percent of our electricity needs.

Monday, January 14, 2008

World War IV?

Today, Norman Podhoretz's latest book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, arrived in the mail. I've only begun to read it but a line in the prologue sums up well the opposing positions on the domestic front. To wit,
World War IV has given rise to a war of ideas on the home front. It is a war in which those of us who see Islamofascism as the latest mutation of the totalitarian threats to our civilization and who insist on the correlative necessity of meeting and defeating it, are pitted against those who think that the threat has been wildly exaggerated and does not in any case require a military response.

Having just finished Lone Survivor, I would only add that the problem on the home front lies, not only in convincing those well-intentioned Americans who, as Podhoretz suggests, do not recognize the threat or take it as seriously as they ought but also, and more importantly, defeating the insidious attempts by surly liberals in the media to sabotage the military dimension of the struggle via manipulation of public opinion. That is the real battle here. Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL who penned Lone Survivor, recounts how he and his team were deeply afraid, not of the murderous terrorists ensconced in the caves of the Hindu Kush, but of the effete, perfidious media back home. A stunning confession, I thought.

A Foray into Evening News

Just watched the Evening News. As soon as the very green NBC launched into a story on the melting ice-caps in Antarctica, I changed over to CBS. Long ago, NBC lost any objectivity when it comes to global warming, as their newscasts more often than not resemble an Al Gore pet-project rather than an objective look at hard news. Sorry, I won't drink that kool-aid, the man-made global warming myth, that is. So on to CBS. Sorry again folks, it wasn't much better here. The story was on the large-scale failure of Social Security to provide coverage for a growing number of disabled Americans filing for assistance. (First of all, the reason for the fiasco is because Social Security is a government constructed pyramid-scheme that is bound to bankrupt itself. The problem is the government and their obsessive meddling. Let the market take care of health care! But I digress.) Back to the story. The implication by CBS was obvious: Bush and his rapacious, money-grubbing cronies have stiffed those in need. To ensure "objectivity," the CBS reporter met up with the nefarious Social Security Commissioner in order to find out why he's denying so many claims from people who are disabled. Poor guy, he also had the misfortune of also being a white male, which doesn't bode well in the world of the attack-dog liberal media. After all, it's usually "women and minorities" who are "hit hardest" by bureaucratic incompetence, especially when a white Republican male is in charge. Then came the pièce de résistance. They featured a transition clip of this villainous commissioner walking down the hall in his office, and as he walked, he passed by a gargantuan picture of George Bush and a grinning Dick Cheney! Actually, it was more of a smirking Dick Cheney. I erupted in laughter for about two minutes. Again, the use of subliminal messaging was uncanny and well, not so subliminal after all, come to think of it. Bush and Cheney are doing nothing to help these afflicted souls, well, no, that's not true. They are fighting a cowboy-style, shoot-em-up "war for oil" while millions of Americans at home are suffering. No wonder I've largely given up on these networks. But it was funny.
"Let'em suffer!"


Here's an excerpt from a piece on National Review Online entitled, "Death Blow to the Defeatists" by Pete Hegseth. It's worth reading in its entirety.
As a result [of the surge], violence continues to plummet, with attacks throughout Iraq down 60 percent since June and civilian deaths down 75 percent from a year ago. Iraqis are returning home by the tens of thousands. The incoming flow of foreign fighters have been cut in half. And despite a “surge” of troops, American combat deaths are near all-time monthly lows in Iraq. This is all wonderful news.

All the while, the Defeat-o-cratic leadership in Congress (Reid, Pelosi, & co.) and the Defeat-o-cratic presidential candidates have done everything they can to deny — obvious — progress. I cite two very recent examples from the “clinging to defeat” caucus: First, four days ago Majority Leader Reid said in a statement, “As President Bush continues to cling stubbornly to his flawed strategy, al-Qaeda only grows stronger.” Tell that to al-Qaeda in Iraq, Mr. Majority Leader…those you can still find alive. And while a few defeated fighters may flee elsewhere, they have lost in Iraq. And losing is not an effective recruiting tool for jihadists.

Second, in a recent presidential debate, Senator Obama had the “audacity” to suggest that security improvements in Anbar Province were due to — you’re not going to believe this — the Democratic election gains in 2006! I’ve heard some twisted logic in my days, but that one takes the cake.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Here's something to chew on, from The Washington Post. Why has Sen. Barack Obama captivated so many Americans? David Greenburg's theory is that uppity white liberals are eager to cast their lot for Obama as a means of absolution for America's racist past. Another trait of the Left: sanctimonious, faux-guilt, which is really projected outward toward everyone else, not themselves. Whenever a liberal uses the pronoun "we" he really means everyone but me and those who think like me.

Frankly, whether or not Obama is black or white is irrelevant (actually he's both), instead, why don't we focus on the issues: namely, his across-the-board liberal voting record. This is a political race not a sociology seminar.
The Obama phenomenon, then, stems not from what he has done but who he is. As the social critic John McWhorter has written, "What gives people a jolt in their gut about the idea of President Obama is the idea that it would be a ringing symbol that racism no longer rules our land." He is the great white hope.

Similarly, Obama -- whose strongest appeal has thus far been to upscale white liberals -- allows those whites to feel good about themselves and their country. He lets them imagine that a nation founded for freedom yet built on slavery can be redeemed by pulling a lever. - David Greenburg

Friday, January 11, 2008

Church and State in Spain

Here's a pretty nice piece from The Economist, in the very least, it stirs the pot. It discusses the influence of the Catholic Church in Spain within the context of the upcoming elections between the center-right, conservative Popular Party and the governing Socialists. Unfortunately, the author, like many secular political pundits nowadays, confuses the defense of the traditional family (through arguments based on human anthropology, natural law and reason) on the part of the Church with excessive "Roman" interference in the minutia of state policy. Yawn! Can't these neophytes in the media get a new action-line? They've become so predictable.

For the record, and this should come as no big surprise to anyone familiar with my leanings, I've never liked Zapatero, the current Spanish Prime Minister. From his first day in office, this cunning, arch-liberal agnostic has made it his mission from on high to dismantle and sabotage Spain's most lasting and beautiful cultural inheritance: the Catholic Church. I also thought that his (and his Party's) disgusting capitulation to Islamic terrorists in the wake of the Madrid train bombings was one of the most reprehensible displays of cowardice in recent political memory. Chalk at least one victory up to Al-Qaida. I could go on about this guy. Suffice it to say, I look forward to seeing him crushed in this Spring's election like a plump grape that's pressed into oblivion for wine. Here's an excerpt from the piece:
Conservative Catholics have disliked Mr Zapatero from the moment he won election on March 14th 2004, just three days after Islamist bombers killed 191 people on Madrid trains. The church has noisily opposed laws to make divorce easier, allow gay marriage and take religion out of the obligatory school curriculum. Not that there is there anything new about Spain's left clashing with the Catholic church. Their battles long predate the civil war of the 1930s, when radicals killed more than 6,000 priests, nuns and monks.

This historical confrontation was meant to have ended with the rediscovery of democracy in the 1970s. But church conservatives now seem inspired by America's powerful religious right and by Italy's Roman Catholic bishops, who have never been scared of politics. In Spain, where three-quarters of people define themselves as Roman Catholic but fewer than one-fifth regularly attend church, some bishops clearly believe it is time to convert faith into political clout.

Yet Christian Family Day may have done little to dent Mr Zapatero's chances of winning re-election on March 9th. Indeed, it could help them. Even observant Spaniards are relatively relaxed about their Catholicism. They are not as conservative as Poles or Italians.

Well, that they are not as "conservative" is probably true but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the influence of the Church on societal currents, even in Spain.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thoughts on the GOP Debate

The Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The format for the primary debates (if you can even call them "debates") can only be described as frustrating and disappointing. I feel like I'm wasting my time watching them. They're so unsatisfying. These two-minute sound-byte responses forbid any serious, substantive discussion of the issues. Newt Gingrich is right when he laments the abysmal state of modern political debates. He has persistently called for a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates: no moderator, a series of single-issue forums, discussed back and forth for an hour or more. My fear is that the candidates of today, with the possible exception of Fred Thompson and Ron Paul (I disagree with him on several things but he's got the mind of an academic and can tilt lances with anyone) are sorely unqualified for such a format. I wonder if they would even want something like that. They've been groomed, cosseted even, for shallow, catchy talking points. No depth.

Lone Survivor, Part I

I'm reading a fascinating book called, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. It's authored, as the title suggests, by Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of a Navy SEAL team that, in 2005, was sent to the mountainous Pakistani border to hunt for a top Al-Qaeda target. The book is co-authored by Patrick Robinson, who is already renown for penning highly popular U.S. Navy-based novels, so Lone Survivor combines the peerless insights of a real Navy SEAL with the talent and skill of a great writer. I'd recommend it to anyone.

I've yet to reach the climax of the story; I'm still covering the famous training, Luttrell calls it a baptism by fire, that goes in to the minting of a US Navy SEAL. Simply reading about the excruciating details of what these men have to endure in order to become SEALs is exhausting in itself. I can almost feel the muscles in my own body ache and burn as Luttrell describes, in detail, the seemingly impossible obstacles and exercises he and his fellow teammates underwent for weeks on end. The descriptions offered by Luttrell of the strength-sapping, mind-grating exercises go on and on and on. Reading every detail of Luttrell's experience, I am left to wonder how it's physically, let alone mentally possible to accomplish such demanding trials. He leaves few details to the imagination, even the sharp pain of seeing friends and companions abandon their quest out of sheer exhaustion. Luttrell was determined not to quit; he says he would rather have died first. I guess that's what makes him, and the rest of them, different, even great.

Here's an endearing excerpt from the book. While discussing his faith, Luttrell says,
I thought the late Pope John Paul II was the holiest man in the world, an uncompromising Vicar of Christ, a man whose guidelines were unshakable. Tough old guy, John Paul. A lot too tough for the Russians. I've always thought if he hadn't been a vicar, he'd have made a good Navy SEAL. - From Lone Survivor


Check out these two trailers for a new documentary on Mrs. Clinton.

Here's how it's being billed:
Hillary The Movie is nearing completion! The movie you’ve been waiting for is about to explode onto the scene! With more than 40 in-depth interviews with experts, opinion makers, and many of the people who personally locked horns with the Clintons, this is the film you need! If you want to be fully educated about Hillary and Co., stay tuned!

The cast to end all casts includes: Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Gerth, Buzz Patterson, Michael Barone, Billy Dale, Cyrus Nowrasteh, Tony Blankley, Dick Armey, Bay Buchanan, Joe Connor, Mark Levin, Frank Gaffney, Peter Paul, Gary Aldrich, Dan Burton, John Mica, Michael Medved, Kathleen Willey, Kate O’Beirne, Larry Kudlow and more!

Reassessing the 60's

Thomas Sowell offers some thought-provoking observations in this Wall Street Journal piece.


Here's a worthwhile piece on the success of the surge in Iraq, by Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman and Republican Sen. John McCain.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The View

Exhibit A as to why pop-culture is the repository for all stupidity in America:

Joy Behar, on ABC's The View, said the following yesterday:

"I have a theory that you can’t find any saints anymore because of psychotropic medication. I think that [in] the old days, the saints were hearing voices and they didn’t have any Thorazine to calm them down. Now that we have all of this medication available to us, you can’t find a saint anymore."

When co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the show's solitary reasonable voice, pressed Behar to explain the example of Mother Teresa, Behar topped of her already insane rant with the following:

"That’s why Mother Teresa had issues. Let’s not forget, she didn’t really believe 100 percent like those saints who were hearing voices. She didn’t hear voices, So the church said ‘OK, she does good deeds. Let’s make her a saint.’ In the old days it used to be you heard voices. You can’t do that anymore."

Yikes! What can I say that hasn't already been said? Behar's stupidity, arrogance and capacity for making a total fool of herself, on full display here and everyday on The View is, quite simply, astounding.

Monday, January 07, 2008

"Swooning Over a Halo..."

Here's a piece from National Review Online by John Pitney Jr. about the soi-disant "positive tone" of the Obama campaign. The truth: his campaign has not been above resorting to nasty tricks, despite promises to unite Americans and to eschew the knee-capping of opponents. "Nasty" doesn't necessarily mean corrupt but it does mean politics as usual.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Politics of Change

There's been much ballyhoo on the left over the need for "change" in Washington. Senators Obama and Clinton are turning blue in the face through their attempts to convince voters that they, not the others, represent real change. But change as a catch phrase is a shallow thing. There certainly are things that should be fixed. But the remedy more often than not lies in extracting the talons of an over-reaching government in those things left best to the private sphere. Health care, education and the illegal immigration fiasco come to mind. But back to the Democrats: Within the context of the leading liberal patois, "change" from what exactly? If the war on terror is a prime concern for Americans, well, we are nearing the seven year anniversary since we were attacked and, since then, our homeland has been secure. Clearly someone's doing something right on that front. Or, is our impressive homeland security streak merely happenstance? As a matter of fact, no. Several terror plots have been ruptured before execution precisely because of the administration's bold authorization of fine-tuned methods for intercepting al-Qaida communiques. Somewhat ironically, liberals go into conniptions whenever talk of renewing the Patriot Act or broadening it's reach surfaces, yet it is this very law that has secured their liberty to behave so foolishly in the first place, mainly, in that they are safe and free to caterwaul at all. Being blown to bits by a suicide bomber will abruptly end future plans for taking to the street to decry "abuses" of the state. So then let's talk about "change" in the execution of the war on terror? Do we want to change our policy of successfully aborting extravagant terror schemes? Rational minds should know the answer. Our endeavor in Iraq is succeeding brilliantly, thanks to the magnificent performance of our troops and the peerless leadership of Gen. Petraeus. Should we "change" our policy there so as to undercut our substantial, costly gains, or "change" our policy by caving to the very wishes of those who are trying to break our will?

The War Against Jihadism

I just finished George Weigel's latest book, Faith, Reason and the War Against Jihadism. It's a short book, around 150 pages, but it is packed with flashes of brilliance. It was my hope that Weigel's observations would keep me busy for the duration of my Milwaukee to Saint Louis train ride. He didn't disappoint me. I've always admired Weigel's ability to combine erudition and realism, principle and pragmatism. The book, which Weigel describes as a "Call to Action," is comprised of 15 "lessons" that can be drawn from September 11, the war in Iraq and a host of other hot-button global issues. It's worth picking up.
Efforts to accelerate change in the Arab Islamic world by the administration of George W. Bush were shaped by a realistic assessment of the situation after 9/11. As Fouad Ajami notes, the "custodians of American power were under great pressure to force history's pace." To attempt to accelerate the transition to responsible and responsive government in the Middle East was neither an exercise in cowboy apocalypticism nor Wilsonian romanticism. It was a realistic objective, given an unacceptable status quo that was inherently unstable; that was unstable because it was corrupt; and that was producing terrorist and jihadists determined to challenge those corruptions.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

On Clarence Thomas

I'm in the middle of reading Clarence Thomas' stirring and provocative memoir, My Grandfather's Son. It was a birthday gift but I had been planning on buying it myself, eventually. I've always admired this quiet judge. It takes hutzpah for a minority to stand up to the established order of thinking within his race. Thomas is one of the very few prominent, conservative blacks in America and, as a conservative, he's been the principle target of, I think it's fair to say, unparalleled invective and unrelenting scorn from the liberal black establishment. One of the most persistent points made throughout the book is his emphasis on the deleterious and wide-ranging effects that the entitlement mentality, and the concomitant overreaching of the nanny state, have had on the black community in America. Equally prominent is the discussion of the swift and harsh retribution that is oft meted out on any black who dares think "outside the box" of the status quo.

The most stirring episode recounted by Thomas is, without question, that of his confirmation hearings. Thomas had already become the favorite punching bag of sanctimonious, white liberal politicians, who reveled in haranguing him throughout the course of the hearings over his "commitment" to civil rights. But the ordeal was made even more unbearable once Anita Hill unleashed her explosive and spurious charges of sexual harassment. Thomas' retelling of the episode in his memoir is nothing short of gut-wrenching. When I read his dramatic closing statement, delivered near the end of the inquisition, chills ran up and down my spine.

Senator...I think that this today is a travesty. I think that it is disgusting. I think that this hearing should never occur in America. This is a case in which this sleaze, this dirt, was searched for by staffers of members of this committee, was then leaked to the media, and this committee and this body validated it and displayed it in prime time across our entire nation. How would any member of this committee, or any person in this room, or any person in this country like sleaze said about him or her in this fashion, or this dirt dredged up, and this gossip and these lies displayed in this manner? How would any person like it? The Supreme Court is not worth it. No job is worth it. I am not here for that. I am here for my name, my family, my life and my integrity. I think something is dreadfully wrong with this country, when any person in this free country would be subjected to this. This is not a closed room. There was an FBI investigation. This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that, unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


For what it's worth, here are my predictions for the Iowa caucus/primary today:

1. Mike Huckabee
2. Mitt Romney
3. Fred Thompson

Who I would prefer to win:
1. Fred Thompson
2. Duncan Hunter, but this is simply not going to happen, so I'll say Mitt Romney
3. Anyone but Huckabee

1. Barack Obama
2. Hillary Clinton
3. John Edwards

While I'd love to see Clinton lose, given her sickening arrogance throughout the campaign, I think she'd actually be easier to defeat in the general election than Barack Obama. At least he has pretensions to character and while I disagree with him on every matter of policy, he is a likable fellow. Given his positive personality and high favorability ratings, he would be a much more difficult person to face next November. Even among Democrats, Hillary is not seen as a likable person. Like her husband, she is fundamentally dishonest.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Staying Healthy

Here's a nice article that offers 6 tips for avoiding illness this winter. It's common sense stuff, but good to remember.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Over 1 Million March in Madrid

“Founded in the indissoluble union between man and woman, it is the place in which human life is sheltered and protected from its beginning until its natural end." -Pope Benedict XVI

Supporters of traditional marriage came out in full force yesterday in Madrid, Spain. Pope Benedict XVI, echoing the Church's support for the family and the protection of life, addressed the demonstrators via live satellite connection. Here's the story: