Saturday, July 26, 2008

Picking Apart the Obama Speech

John Bolton does a nice job here:
...urging greater U.S.-European cooperation, Obama said, "The burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together." Having earlier proclaimed himself "a fellow citizen of the world" with his German hosts, Obama explained that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Europe proved "that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one."

Perhaps Obama needs a remedial course in Cold War history, but the Berlin Wall most certainly did not come down because "the world stood as one." The wall fell because of a decades-long, existential struggle against one of the greatest totalitarian ideologies mankind has ever faced. It was a struggle in which strong and determined U.S. leadership was constantly questioned, both in Europe and by substantial segments of the senator's own Democratic Party. In Germany in the later years of the Cold War, Ostpolitik -- "eastern politics," a policy of rapprochement rather than resistance -- continuously risked a split in the Western alliance and might have allowed communism to survive. The U.S. president who made the final successful assault on communism, Ronald Reagan, was derided by many in Europe as not very bright, too unilateralist and too provocative.
Emphasis added,0,4549608.story

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hope for Iraq

Here's an excerpt from a piece appearing in the Wall Street Journal. It takes a look at Obama's speech yesterday in Berlin.
What Mr. Obama "knows now" is that the surge he opposed has saved Iraq, much as Harry Truman's airlift saved Berlin and underlined America's intention to defend Europe throughout the Cold War. The surge has also saved American lives in Iraq, with combat-related deaths (so far, there have been seven this month) at an all time low.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Anyone Surprised?

U.S. Editor Of The Daily Telegraph [UK] Said Obama "Designed By A Committee Of Europeans." "Toby Harnden, U.S. editor of the Daily Telegraph, told Politico that it's almost as if the overwhelmingly popular Obama had been 'designed by a committee of Europeans' with the goal of creating their ideal American presidential candidate." (Michael Calderone, "Foreign Press: All Obama, All The Time," The Politico, 7/22/08)

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Nota bene, from the Telegraph:
The biggest threat to the West is not al-Qa'eda, Afghanistan or Iran, but the country that, thanks to its laxity, has become the terrorists' chief hideout and breeding ground. Terrorists defeated in Afghanistan often regroup and rebuild across the border in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas. It's the threat to world peace that dares not speak its name.

We hear plenty about the dangers posed to our security by al-Qa'eda, Afghanistan and Iran. But when it comes to talking about the country that arguably constitutes the greatest threat to our everyday wellbeing, Pakistan hardly ever seems to merit a mention.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The mainstream media is giddy that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki "backs" Senator Obama's 16 month plan for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. This, we are told, bolsters Obama's claim to brilliance and prescience. What I'm going to say should be fairly obvious but I'll say it regardless. Would we even be talking about drastic reductions in Iraq if things weren't going so exceptionally well there? Why are things going so well? Because the surge has undeniably succeeded in its objectives. Obama opposed the surge strategy vociferously from the beginning, even going so far as to suggest that it would make matters worse. He was wrong and now he's trying to reap the benefits of the very strategy that he was set against during the primary.


From CNN
Iraqi PM Disputes Reports on Withdrawal Plan
"A spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks 'were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately.'

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Latest Acquisition

This promises to be good. Among many other things, the pope dedicates a good amount of time to the discussion of freedom, the Enlightenment, government and the proper Church-state balance.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama, Oprah and "Post-Masculine Charisma"

Here's an excerpt from a lengthy but provocative (and I might add right-on) piece by Michael Knox Beran on what Obama's popularity and modus operandi say about contemporary culture.
Unlike the English Whigs and the American Founders, the modern liberal regards suffering not as an unavoidable element of life but as an aberration to be corrected by up-to-date political, economic, and hygienic arrangements. Rather than acknowledge the limitations of our condition, the liberal continually contrives panaceas that will enable us to transcend it...The danger of Obama’s charismatic healer-redeemer fable lies in the hubris it encourages, the belief that gifted politicians can engender a selfless communitarian solidarity. Such a renovation of our national life would require not only a change in constitutional structure—the current system having been geared to conflict by the Founders, who believed that the clash of private interests helps preserve liberty—but also a change in human nature. Obama’s conviction that it is possible to create a beautiful politics, one in which Americans will selflessly pursue a shared vision of the common good, recalls the belief that Dostoyevsky attributed to the nineteenth-century Russian revolutionists: that, come the revolution, “all men will become righteous in one instant.” The perfection would begin.

In rejecting the Anglo-American politics of limits, Obama revives a political tradition that derives ultimately from Niccolò Machiavelli...The politics of consensus that Obama favors is incompatible with the Founders’ adversarial system, which permits those whom he disparages as “ideological minorities” to take stands on principle that, at times, frustrate the national consensus.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

To Ponder

"The most important legacy of the 1960s is liberal guilt. Guilt over leaving children, blacks, and the rest of the Coalition of the Oppressed 'behind.' Guilt is the most religious of emotions and has a way of rapidly devolving into a narcissistic God complex. Liberals were proud of how guilty they felt." -Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

Not a bad thought. This explains why liberals are so keen to harness the powers of government to meet their "beneficent" aims, i.e., social justice programs like welfare, minimum wage laws, affirmative action, etc.

Campaign Hijinks

Here is an excerpt from a rather convincing piece, aptly entitled Obama's Enigma, by David S. Broder that appears in the Washington Post.
In their effort to embarrass him, Republicans ask: Who is the real Barack Obama? Is he, as he claims, a fresh face, heralding a new era of post-partisan politics, or a cynical old-style pol making poll-driven adjustments with scant regard for principles? A protectionist or a free-trader? A corporate-basher or an ally of interest-group contributors? Is he a doctrinaire liberal, disguising himself as a late-blooming centrist?

Last week, the Republican National Committee, in a statement cataloguing some half-dozen recent Obama "flip-flops," threw up its hands without offering answers. The McCain campaign issued its own list of Obama's changed positions; it totaled 17 items but confessed that "nobody knows what Barack Obama truly believes."

I can do no better, and I confess that it is only speculation to suggest that Obama's recent performance is motivated by a desire to confuse the opposition. Candidates often change their emphasis, if not their basic positions, once they shift from running against others in their own party primaries and start thinking about a general election with millions more voters of all ideologies poised to weigh in...But Obama's case is more challenging than the typical candidate's post-primary adjustment. For one thing, he is more opaque than the usual nominee. No one in recent decades has emerged as the party standard-bearer from so truncated a political career: four years in the U.S. Senate, during which he has yet to lead on any major domestic or foreign policy issue, preceded by largely anonymous service in the Illinois state Senate.

Will the American voter take heed?

The Apology

It's difficult not to notice that certain groups in society busy themselves with the task of demanding apologies. Media coverage of the pope's participation in World Youth Day in Australia has focused almost singularly on an anticipated "apology" by the Holy Father for acts of sexual abuse committed by priests against minors in that country. Now, I will concede that there is a corollary between a leadership role and the assumption of responsibility within an institution and, in that sense, there may be room for discussion regarding the need for apologies. What the pope may say privately in Australia or has said, as in the case of his meeting in the US with victims of abuse, is relevant and very meaningful to those who truly were violated. But I don't think this is what the mainstream media and the left are after when they glib endlessly about "apologies." First of all, just from looking at the facts one may ask: For what exactly does Pope Benedict have to apologize? What did he do wrong? In the sense of being genuinely sorry that sexual abuse has transpired, yes he and everyone is sorry; it shouldn't have happened, period. As I see it, the obsession with extracting mea culpas seems to have more to do with an attempt to depict the Holy Father as somehow in the wrong personally and in need of the forgiveness of a more enlightened, secular world. And why is it that the pope and the Catholic Church (one could just as well toss in the president and the United States) are the solitary entities that are ever expected to grovel before the world and implore forgiveness for past transgressions? Even when apologies are issued, they hardly assuage the granitic wrath of those forces that are unwaveringly committed to overseeing a complete overhaul of the composition of the Church and her message. "See, the pope apologized, he admits he is wrong and with him his church!" The apologies, as they see them, are simply a helpful means toward discrediting and humiliating the Church and pope in the eyes of the world.

Honoring Service

Some thought-provoking observations from the Boston Globe:
Given that effusive show of respect for military experience in 2004, you would think no Democrat this year could even contemplate disparaging John McCain's far more extensive military career. The presumptive Republican nominee, after all, spent 22 years as a naval aviator; flew 23 combat missions over North Vietnam; earned numerous combat decorations, including the Silver Star and Legion of Merit; and demonstrated courage and self-sacrifice during five years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi.

Yet in recent months, one Democrat after another has gone out of his way to diminish or criticize McCain's war record.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Nation of Whiners?

Perhaps beginning with the impetuous yet endearing Alexander Hamilton, there have always emerged political commentators whose bluntness and lack of delicacy forever prevented an electoral ascendancy to high office. Former Senator Phil Gramm, a top economic advisor to John McCain said the following today:

“You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession. ... We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining, about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline. ... We've never been more dominant; we've never had more natural advantages than we have today.”

Predictably, the haughty Obama reacted harshly, as did McCain. Both rejected the statement. Could Gramm's assessment have been nuanced better? Yes. Could it have been better qualified? Yes. But I do believe that overall, his statement rings true, more when applied to the attitudes of the media and the far left than to the general public at large. Certainly the media's constant drumbeat of pessimism has had an adverse impact on the American disposition. Are things really as bad as we are to believe them to be?

Persons at Work?

I am convinced that there are people in the world who wake up each and every morning with the intent to search out ways of being offended by something, anything. I suppose it gives curmudgeons a sense of mission and purpose. The feminists are among the most adept at finding asinine reasons to protest this or that manifestation of rank patriarchy. What I find more irksome still is the significant number of weak-kneed citizens that, rather than laughing at them, shamelessly oblige "the offended" by caving to their peevish demands. Case in point:
Political correctness rules the road in Atlanta — which is replacing all its "Men at Work" signs with gender-neutral ones after a women's magazine editor complained of bias. The project, which involves painting over the existing 50 "Men at Work" and "Men Working" signs with those that say simply "Workers Ahead" or "Workers," will cost a total of $1,000, Atlanta Public Works Commissioner Joe Basista told,2933,379842,00.html

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Dr. Spencer, Redux

The man-made global warming crusade can surly be described as one of the most popular conformist movements of our time. Fortunately, there are places to go for the truth about the matter. Dr. Roy Spencer is a highly acclaimed climatologist and former NASA scientist. He has a fine website and the research presented there is a most welcome reprieve from the climate hysteria and histrionics that have infected both political Parties.

Obama on Iraq

This hits the nail on the head. Obama's advocacy for "change" is best displayed by the evolution of his own policies based on the whims of political expediency.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Anglicans are Slipping Away

A "Victory" for Women?

"Such a decision is a break with apostolic tradition maintained in all of the Churches in the first millennium, and is therefore a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England." -Cardinal Walter Kasper

What do Anglicans believe in anymore?
-Apostolic Tradition? No. (Green light to the ordination of women to the priesthood and soon, to the episcopate)

-Morality rooted in natural law? No. (Blesses same-sex marriages or at best is woefully ambivalent toward the subject, along with a host of other moral issues)

-What about the gradual introduction of Sharia law into the UK? Yes. (Rowan William's suggestion for "accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law" in the UK).

The murky Anglican communion is becoming the agora of choice for the milquetoast who don't believe in anything at all in the arena of morality. Their only firmly held conviction seems to be that Christianity, along with the West, must routinely cede ground and "accommodate" to the whims of society and to the Islamicization of Europe.

Obama's Plans for the Military

In his first in-depth interview touching exclusively on the military, Obama limns his plans for reshaping the military to his ends. Here's an excerpt and a link to the entire piece.
Obama also spoke of rocking the boat. In what seems certain to be one of his more controversial proposals for the military, Obama said he wants to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

Equity and fairness are part of the reason for lifting the ban on acknowledged homosexuals serving in the military, Obama said, but there are practical reasons, too — like getting “all hands on deck” when the nation needs people in uniform. “If we can’t field enough Arab linguists, we shouldn’t be preventing an Arab linguist from serving his or her country because of what they do in private,” he said, referring to the 2006 discharge of about 60 linguists for violating the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on service by homosexuals.

“I want to make sure that we are doing it in a thoughtful and principled way. But I do believe that at a time when we are short-handed, that everybody who is willing to lay down their lives on behalf of the United States and can do so effectively, can perform critical functions, should have the opportunity to do so.”

Asked how he would deal with opposition from within the Pentagon, Obama smiled and said: “Well, I’m a pretty persuasive guy.”

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Weight of Moral Issues

From no less an authority than the present pope, here is an excerpt from a letter flowing from the pen of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004 to the US bishops. I've posted this before but it bears repeated notice as memories often prove selective. The airwaves and cyberspace are abuzz with election news and the issues that drive voters to vote this way or that. How are Catholics to vote? Are all questions of "social justice," such as the fight against poverty, illiteracy, the death penalty, crime and the prevention of war to be gauged on equal footing with abortion and embryonic stem-cell research? If a candidate is pro-abortion, but against war and seems to care more about redressing the plight of the underprivileged, does support for x and y cancel out support for z? Those answering in the affirmative (many on the left, I must say) ignore the fundamental distinction between acts that are intrinsically evil and those acts whose moral character hinges on questions of circumstance. Here's what the pope has to say on the matter:
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

The problem is that those inclined to turn a blind eye to the nefarious deed of abortion are similarly inclined to give short shrift to authoritative statements from the Church. Relativism rears its ugly head once more. It's a laborious chore to debate with those predisposed to the selective application of principle and reason to the field of ethics.

A Visit to the Gardens

Who says conservatives can't be green? I paid a visit to the Missouri Botanical Gardens over the weekend. Admittance is free Saturday mornings to residents of the city and, given my pecuniary state as a recovering grad-student, admission issued gratis is always a most welcome offer. The trip was amazing. Featured here are lush acres of gardens set to various themes: Chinese, Japanese, Victorian, a "Plants of the Bible" exhibit, a tropical and Mediterranean arboretum, etc. The meticulously kept gardens are vast and almost prelapsarian in the utter tranquility they provide visitors. They offer a serene escape from the hubbub of a frenetic city.

Sista Pride: Divas of Distinction

Take a guess. A special series airing on Lifetime? A vh1 Behind the Music special on Rue Paul? No, this one comes to us from Saint Joan Antida, an all-girls Catholic high school in Milwaukee. I'd love to peruse the book club reading list for the worthies of the Sista Pride bunch. Call it a hunch, but I doubt it would include topics like the merits of John Paul II's New Feminism or the philosophy of Edith Stein. We've discussed before on this blog the lamentable decomposition of Catholic identity at most Catholic schools. A worthwhile question: Should a father want his daughter to aspire to divahood? Liberal hokum like this will only end when responsible parents stand up and say "Enough!"

Here's a link to an article by Mary Ann Glendon (now serving as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See) that takes a look at JPII's New Feminism. Perhaps someone can pass it on to the soul Sistas of St. Joan Antida.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Jesse Helms, R.I.P.

Following the lead of worthy predecessors Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Senator Jesse Helms made an appropriate departure from this earth on July 4, at the age of 86. For over thirty years he was a militantly conservative senator from North Carolina and, as a badge of honor, incurred the scorn of the nation's liberal fringe. Known as "Senator No," Helms was implacable in his opposition to U.N. machinations, Communism, liberalism, affirmative action and big government. He made some remarkable statements over the years that stoked heated ire from Democrats, one suggesting that the state of North Carolina erect a fence around a public university in order to wall in all the "liberals and kooks." A bad idea?

God's speed, Senator.

Happy Independence Day!

Peggy Noonan has a nice piece for the Fourth in the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Just a brief observation in the form of a (rhetorical?) question: Does the president's decision to sanction China's hosting of the Olympic Games, via his conspicuous presence at the opening ceremonies, conflict with or raise legitimate questions over his Administration's hard-line stance toward Cuba? Cuba to be certain, has been a bone in the throat of US policy and/or pride for decades now because of the island nation's fastidious adherence to Communist doctrine. China though, over the years, has proven itself a far more harmful recidivist and obstacle in the face of America's designs. I'm thinking of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts in particular. For the sake of brevity, we need not delve into China's atrocious human rights record which includes its subsidization of the genocide in Cambodia under Pol Pot.

My wish is not for the president to lighten up on Cuba but rather to clamp down on China. I'm not sure that we have a cogent, stern policy in our dealings with Communist China. To be sure, the Chinese have eased certain economic bonds in the face of the undeniable benefits that flow from the open economy but human rights remain in a severe state of jeopardy. Wouldn't the president's absence send just the right signal?

McCain Visits Our Lady of Guadalupe

I harbor a stubborn hostility to many of Sen. John McCain's positions and I don't think I'll ever shake this completely. He supports a swag of liberal premises, most notably the man-made global warming hoax, the remedy to which inevitably will lead to an uptick in the government meddling menacingly in our lives (the mandated use of new light bulbs, etc.), he is woefully lax on immigration and he repeatedly latches onto liberal senators (Feingold, Kennedy, Lieberman, etc.) to pass legislative boondoggle in order to prove his "bipartisan" creds. That said, I throw my support behind him without reserve in his epic battle against the most extreme arriviste in recent memory. Sen. McCain is pro-life, he unquestionably supports the military in its present endeavor against militant Islamic extremism (his son Jimmy McCain is serving admirably in the Marines) and he is by and large, a Conservative-leaning politician. McCain has principles, some of which I disagree with, others I wholeheartedly support, while those of Sen. Obama are, almost across the board, politically Marxist and morally diabolical.

McCain visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City today. We need not speculate what an Obama presidency portends for the pro-life movement. On this issue, at least on this issue, I believe that McCain can be trusted to stand pat. And what could be more important?

McCain receives a blessing from Msgr. Monroy

McCain touches a rose to an image of Our Lady

In the Family

Professor William Luckey has a newly minted blog, aptly called Catholic Truths on Economics. For years now, Luckey has been waging a relentless battle to encourage Catholics to assimilate the basics of economic inquiry. He would often tell his students and anyone who would listen that, "Learning economics is a civic duty." He is fueled by an intense love of the science coupled with an understandable frustration that many intelligent Catholics have scant understanding of the field and offer nothing but bilge wrapped in sanctimony when pontificating about the supposed ails of the free market economy. A book is in the works that will serve as an antidote to the most frequently misunderstood/construed dimensions of the free market economy.


The classic and very British gin and tonic has a special place in my heart as a great summertime drink. Light, ice-cold and refreshingly effervescent, it has long been thought of as the quintessential gentleman's drink for the steamy dog days of summer.

• 2 oz. London dry gin
• Tonic water (from a fresh bottle)
• 1-2 ample wedges of lime
• Plenty of cold ice cubes
• Highball glass

Read up on the history of the gin and tonic:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Love him or hate him, no one can deny Rush Limbaugh's unrivaled influence on American politics as a DC outsider. Even his most ardent foes express a grudging admiration for his considerable talents. New York Times Magazine is featuring a cover story on this radio phenom. It offers some curious insights into his life and views.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nearer, My God

The other day, I picked up William F. Buckley's Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith. In it, Buckley explores his Catholic journey, starting with his devout parents and atypical, almost idyllic youth. Brought up in a large and intensely Catholic family, the ever-inquisitive Buckley does a fabulous job investigating the perrenial questions of faith and human existence. It has been said that he "questioned but never doubted his faith" and one certainly gets this impression from reading Nearer, My God. With his sharp intellect and analytical skills, and very much in the style of his show, Firing Line, Buckley probes a slew of questions ranging from the purpose of human suffering, the Latin Mass and Vatican II, Lourdes and miracles, contraception, culture, church and state, Hollywood and more. While the book is scholarly in its breadth, it is written in a familiar, conversational style that renders it enjoyable to read. Buckley inserted the comma in the title so as to make it his prayer for himself. This is a beautiful read.