Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saving the Crucifix

From the BBC:
The Italian government is appealing to the European court of human rights to overturn a ban on classroom crucifixes.

This case against crucifixes was brought by a woman who argued that her children had a right to a secular education under Italy's constitution.

Last year the court agreed with the mother, saying parents should be able to bring up children as they saw fit.

Her victory caused uproar in Italy, where 90% of the population describe themselves as Christian.

Italy will start its appeal against the court's ruling - which was widely interpreted as interference in the country's culture, history and religion - on Wednesday.

Evaluating Obamanomics

From The Wall Street Journal:
The administration's stimulus program has failed. Growth is slow and unemployment remains high. The president, his friends and advisers talk endlessly about the circumstances they inherited as a way of avoiding responsibility for the 18 months for which they are responsible.

But they want new stimulus measures—which is convincing evidence that they too recognize that the earlier measures failed. And so the U.S. was odd-man out at the G-20 meeting over the weekend, continuing to call for more government spending in the face of European resistance.

The contrast with President Reagan's antirecession and pro-growth measures in 1981 is striking. Reagan reduced marginal and corporate tax rates and slowed the growth of nondefense spending. Recovery began about a year later. After 18 months, the economy grew more than 9% and it continued to expand above trend rates.

Two overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First, administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the administration and Congress have through their deeds and words heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Core Beliefs

Writing for National Review Online, Mark Steyn takes a look at "the unengaged president."
“It can seem that at the heart of Barack Obama’s foreign policy is no heart at all,” wrote Richard Cohen in the Washington Post last week. “For instance, it’s not clear that Obama is appalled by China’s appalling human rights record. He seems hardly stirred about continued repression in Russia. . . . The president seems to stand foursquare for nothing much.

“This, of course, is the Obama enigma: Who is this guy? What are his core beliefs?”

Gee, if only your newspaper had thought to ask those fascinating questions oh, say, a month before the Iowa caucuses...

To return to [Richard] Cohen’s question: “Who is this guy? What are his core beliefs?” Well, he’s a guy who was wafted ever upward from the Harvard Law Review to state legislator to United States senator without ever lingering long enough to accomplish anything. “Who is this guy?” Well, when a guy becomes a credible presidential candidate by his mid-forties with no accomplishments other than a couple of memoirs, he evidently has an extraordinary talent for self-promotion, if nothing else. “What are his core beliefs?” It would seem likely that his core belief is in himself. It’s the “nothing else” that the likes of Cohen are belatedly noticing.

Where is Arizona?

An elected Democrat in Milwaukee is a little confused here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Rubbish for History's Ash Heap

From the Associated Press:
TBILISI, Georgia – Authorities in Georgia have torn down a monument to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in his birthplace of Gori to make way for a memorial to the fallen in the Russian-Georgian war of 2008.

Gori is just a few kilometers from the separatist enclave of South Ossetia, where Russian forces crushed the Georgian army in a brief conflict in August 2008.

Officials say the overnight dismantlement of the towering bronze statue, approved last week by the city's parliament, was spurred by the appeals of a younger generation who have embraced Western ideals of freedom.

"A memorial to Stalin has no place in the Georgia of the 21st Century," President Mikhail Saakashvili said in televised comments.
Zvaid Khmaladze, chairman of the local legislature, told The Associated Press the monument will be relocated to the town's Josef Stalin Museum.

"It's about time, too," local teacher Iya Kotetishvili said. The 31-year-old expressed regret that pervades the town that its most famous son wrought great suffering upon millions.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not Again

What appears to be the latest in the line of "Coexist" bumper stickers emanating from the quarters of the left.

Do any serious Christians, Jews, Muslims, or whatever put these finger-waging statements on their car? Of course, there's value to genuine tolerance and all, but am I the only one who finds these things irritating and condescending?

In the Year of Our Lord

From FoxNews:
Seniors at a New Haven, Conn., high school will not be graduating “in the year of our Lord” this year – or any future years, according to the superintendent of schools.

The school district has removed the traditional phrase from high school diplomas after someone complained.

“It’s a religious thing,” Superintendent Reginald Mayo told the New Haven Register. “I’m surprised it took this long for someone to notice it. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone.”

Last year, former alderwoman Ina Silverman filed a complaint about “in the year of our Lord" when her daughter was a student at Wilbur Cross High School. According to the newspaper, Silverman took her concerns to the mayor, who then asked the superintendent to remove the words.

Mayo told the newspaper it was a small change – but it was a necessary change. The American Humanist Association heralded the decision.

“It removes the bias toward Christianity and puts all New Haven students on an equal plane without religious bias,” Bob Ritter, a staff lawyer with the American Humanist Association, told FOX News Radio.

What nonsense.

Latest Polling

Polls are fickle, but this clip certainly highlights a growing trend.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting Around Not Having the Votes

If Congress can't muster the votes for immigration reform, Obama, true to form, is considering another, less democratic option. From Fox News:
Eight Republican senators and an independent group that supports tighter limits on immigration are warning that the Obama administration is drafting a plan to "unilaterally" issue blanket amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants as it struggles to win support in Congress for an overhaul of immigration laws.

The senators who wrote the White House on Monday say they are concerned that the administration is readying a "Plan B" in case a comprehensive reform bill cannot win enough support to clear Congress.

"It seems more real than just bullying (Republicans) into a bill -- that it's a plan that they can actually put forward ... circumventing Congress," an aide told on Wednesday.

In their letter, the senators... urge the president to "abandon" what they say is a move to "unilaterally extend either deferred action or parole to millions of illegal aliens in the United States."

"Such a move would further erode the American public's confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books," they wrote.

Deferred action and parole, which give illegal immigrants the ability to seek a work permit and temporary legal status, are normally granted on a case-by-case basis. But the aide said the lawmakers have learned from "sources" that the administration is considering flexing its authority to grant the status on a mass basis...

"They're trying to figure out ways around a vote," she [Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations with Numbers USA] said.

"Any attempt to force an amnesty on the American people using this underhanded method smacks of despotism," reads the fax the group is urging supporters to sign.

Which begs the question: Does anyone in this administration really care about the Constitution?

Coffee Talk

From Live Science:
From lowered cancer risks to a sharper memory, more studies are showing that coffee is good for you - but why?

Regular coffee drinkers have a 39 percent decreased risk of head and neck cancer, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Those who drank an estimated four or more cups a day had significantly fewer cancers of the mouth and throat than non coffee drinkers, the study found.

"Coffee contains more than a thousand chemicals, some of which have antioxidant and antimutagenic activities," Mia Hashibe, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Utah and the study's lead researcher, told Life's Little Mysteries. "Further research is necessary to identify which ingredients in coffee are responsible for the results we observed in our study."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ancient Icons of Peter and Paul Discovered

From the Associated Press:
ROME – The earliest known icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul have been discovered in a catacomb under an eight-story modern office building in a working-class neighborhood of Rome, Vatican officials said Tuesday.

The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were discovered on the ceiling of a tomb that also includes the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew. They were uncovered using a new laser technique that allowed restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the dark colors of the original paintings underneath.

McChrystal's Snafu

What surprises me most about the now-famous Rolling Stone interview with General McChrystal is not that he was so reckless as to make flippant, unflattering remarks about the president and his sorry team. No, I am far more surprised to learn that he actually voted for Obama. How could a man with McChrystal's vast, impressive background in military culture think that someone like Obama, given what we knew about his positions, his past associations, his plans for the military, etc., would be a better leader of the armed forces than John McCain? So many of us, with absolutely zero military experience knew long before the election what McChrystal inexplicably did not. Unfortunately for McChrystal (and for the rest of us), he saw the light only when it was too late. But at least we civvies are free to air our views about Obama without fear of a White House summons. Many Americans didn't require four stars to know that Obama would be a total disaster for the nation.

That said, McChrystal's Rolling Stone criticisms, while appallingly inappropriate given his position and his duty to the commander in chief, are mostly valid in their substance. Again, the real shocker, at least to me, is that it took him so long to figure this out.

Writing for the Washington Examiner, Byron York offers his thoughts on McChrystal.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ineffectual Executive Thuggery

Michael Barone, writing for National Review Online, pins the tail on the donkey in this biting piece on Obama's engagement with BP:
There already are laws in place to ensure that BP will be held responsible for damages, and the company has said it will comply. So what we have is government transferring property from one party, an admittedly unattractive one, to others, not based on preexisting laws but on decisions by one man, pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.

Feinberg gets good reviews from everyone. But the Constitution does not command “no person . . . shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law — except by the decision of a person as wise and capable as Kenneth Feinberg.” The Framers stopped at “due process of law.”

Obama doesn’t. “If he sees any impropriety in politicians ordering executives about, upstaging the courts and threatening confiscation, he has not said so,” write the editors of The Economist, who then suggest that markets see Obama as “an American version of Vladimir Putin.” Except that Putin is an effective thug.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BP, the UK and the USA

As the previous posts have demonstrated, there is increased ire being aimed squarely at the president from our allies in the UK, who are getting tired of his repeated, gratuitous slaps at their national pride. From the Telegraph:
This is an administration that has consistently insulted Britain, and has even sided with her foes in some cases, most notably in its wholehearted support for Argentina’s call for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, a position that has been strongly backed by Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez. Time and time again, the Obama team has undercut America’s key allies, from London to Prague to Jerusalem, while kowtowing to the enemies of the United States in the name of engagement. It is a disastrous foreign policy that not only weakens American global power, but generates resentment and anger in nations that have traditionally stood shoulder to shoulder with America.

The Anglo-American Special Relationship, the most successful partnership of modern times, will survive long after President Obama departs the White House. It is far bigger than any one president or prime minister. But there can be no doubt that it is being significantly damaged and weakened at this moment by the Obama administration’s sneering approach towards Great Britain, at a time when British and American soldiers are fighting and dying alongside each other in a major war in Afghanistan. President Obama needs to see the big picture and understand that his anti-British posturing is hugely counter-productive and highly offensive. He is already one of the least popular US presidents of modern times, not only in the eyes of the American people, but now the people of Britain as well.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Feeling the Sting

From Janet Daley, writing in the Telegraph, here's an excoriating commentary on Obama's feckless presidency:
The BBC reports of Barack Obama’s speech last night are about as derisive as it would be possible to be about someone you were describing only a few months ago as the incarnation of Hope and Optimism. Yes indeed, the romance is over. The British media have decided that it was all a cruel deception: Obama is just one more ranting populist president who will do anything to divert attention from his own failure to get a grip. And this is not just about BP and the fate of all those pension funds.

Nor is it simply the demonising of Big Oil – which makes the US president sound as if he were recruiting his speech writers direct from the student union – that has evoked the UK media’s collective sneer. What has been much commented upon – especially by those fastidiously liberal BBC correspondents – is Obama’s pointedly bellicose language: the US is apparently engaged in a “battle” to be waged in very personal, anthropomorphic terms “against an oil spill that is assaulting” its coast. Considering how relentlessly the Bush “war on terror” was ridiculed, how long will it take before the Obama “war on an oil slick” is labelled as absurd? Given the tone of this morning’s coverage, perhaps not very long at all.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Exploiting a Disaster for a Political Agenda

From CBSNews:
The president spent a significant portion of his remarks pressing for a transition away from fossil fuels, though, notably, stopped short of specifying what he would like to see in a climate and energy bill.

"Now, there are costs associated with this transition," Mr. Obama said. "And some believe we can't afford those costs right now. I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy - because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater."

Cap-and-trade is coming. Republicans had better gear up for battle.

Liberals Stunned by Disastrous Obama Speech

Obama: a president adrift

A must-see video clip from MSNBC:

RealClearPolitics - Video - MSNBC Trashes Obama's Address: Compared To Carter, "I Don't Sense Executive Command"

Are things starting to come undone?

A Journalist's Mea Culpa

From Daniel Hannan, writing from across the pond, for the Telegraph:
In three and a half years of blogging, this has been my single most unpopular post. There’s little point, I know, in reminding readers that my support for Barack Obama was qualified; that I simultaneously endorsed GOP Congressional candidates; that I never saw Obama as a messiah and, indeed, was repelled by the millenarian fervour of his supporters. Nor is there much purpose in rehearsing John McCain’s shortcomings. The fact remains that I backed the Democrat.

I was wrong. Not that Obama is without his good points, obviously. His commitment to school choice is unfeigned. His foreign policy has been a jolly sight cheaper than McCain’s would have been. The election of a mixed-race president who opposed the Iraq war has made the USA slightly more popular.

None of these advantages, however, can make up for the single most important fact of Obama’s presidency, namely that the federal government is 30 per cent larger than it was two years ago. was Obama who massively extended that policy against united Republican opposition. It was he who chose, in defiance of public opinion, to establish a state-run healthcare system. It was he who presumed to tell private sector employees what they could earn, he who adopted the asinine cap-and-trade rules, and he who re-federalised social security, thereby reversing the single most beneficial reform of the Clinton years.

These errors are not random. They amount to a comprehensive strategy of Europeanisation: Euro-carbon taxes, Euro-disarmament, Euro-healthcare, Euro-welfare, Euro-spending levels, Euro-tax levels and, inevitably, Euro-unemployment levels. Any American reader who wants to know where Obamification will lead should spend a week with me in the European Parliament. I’m working in your future and, believe me, you won’t like it.

Latin's Comeback

From The Guardian:
The grassroots interest in all things Latin is in no doubt. Hollywood follows the money, and has no fewer than eight classically themed movies in production. Minimus – the textbooks that introduce primary-school kids to Latin, has clocked up its 110,000th British sale. Yet whereas the majority of the Lib-Con cabinet benefited from a classical education, we're in danger of denying this opportunity to modern Britain.

In a recent survey of 1,000 schools, 75% of parents and teachers said they would welcome the reintroduction of Latin. The benefits are tangible. When, in 1989, I was roughed up by the Romanian secret police, I negotiated my way out in pidgin Latin. Thanks to the Latin base of all Romance languages, I'd have a similar chance in 36 other countries. In the United States, surveys have revealed that children from disadvantaged backgrounds do better not just in languages but also maths and English once they have studied a year of Latin.

Now, if we can just convince the American bishops and parish priests of the beauty of Latin, once more.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Bush Women

Barbara Bush (the daughter, not the mother) "surprised" the news world today by commenting that she was "glad" that the health bill passed. Sheesh!

Barbara's revelation comes on the heels of Laura Bush, who recently blabbed that she supports abortion "rights" and gay "marriage." Is Barbara planning to sell a book also? Call me cynical, but it seems a bit curious that Mrs. Bush made these controversial statements just as her book was being put out. Can you say "Creating headlines for $$?" That said, it is another reminder of why we need to look elsewhere for truly conservative leadership and definitively close the chapter on the Bush era. After all, how whole-heartedly committed to conservative causes could President Bush himself have been, given his (influential) wife and her radically different views on such important things? Does Harriet Miers ring a bell?

Pro-Life Women Set to Storm DC (finally)

A hopeful piece from Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in The New York Times:
The number of pro-life women running for office has increased, perhaps paradoxically, because of the social changes of the last few decades. The first generation of women to become active in politics strongly identified as feminist and considered abortion rights central to their feminism. Pro-life women were more likely to be full-time homemakers. Their invisibility on the public stage contributed to an impression that the vast majority of women were pro-choice.

These days socially conservative women are likely to have careers, too. The growing number of Americans who consider themselves pro-life suggests that fewer people, of either sex, consider access to abortion to be crucial to women’s economic success. The pro-life stance generally wins Republicans votes in general elections, because pro-lifers are more likely to vote on the issue than pro-choicers are.

That advantage is likely to be more pronounced for pro-life women running for office. Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, says that her surveys have found that voters respond more positively to the pro-life message when it comes from women. Pro-life women won’t be suspected, or credibly accused, of opposing abortion because they want to keep women in their place; they can therefore talk about the issue less defensively than male pro-lifers sometimes do.

Pro-life women can also soften the message: Ms. Fiorina has said, “I myself was not able to have children of my own, and so I know what a precious gift life is.” It’s hard to imagine a male politician making that comment. These women will make it easier for pro-lifers to discuss the issue in the terms we want to discuss it: as a plea for justice for a vulnerable group.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Who Is Barack Obama?

Mark Steyn provides some answers in his latest for National Review Online:
In recent months, a lot of Americans have said to me that they had no idea the new president would feel so “weird.” But, in fact, he’s not weird. True, he’s not, even in Democratic terms, a political figure — as, say, Clinton or Biden are. Instead, he’s the product of the broader culture: There are millions of people like Barack Obama, the eternal students of a vast lethargic transnational campus for whom global compassion and the multicultural pose are merely the modish gloss on a cult of radical grandiose narcissism. As someone once said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” When you’ve spent that long waiting in line for yourself, it’s bound to be a disappointment.

The West and Confidence

A West that sees in its past nothing but pathology, racism, colonialism, religious wars and persecutions, sexism, and all the rest, is a West that cannot and almost certainly will not, defend its present. -An excerpt from George Weigel's Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism.

Friday, June 11, 2010

JPII Showtime!

From the BBC:
Elvis Presley, Eva Peron, Buddy Holly have all had one. Now, so too, does Pope John Paul II: a musical dedicated to his life.

Actually entitled Non Abbiate Paura, or Don't Be Scared, this show, like the others, is bustling with show-stopping songs, dance routines and drama.

It is an attempt to cram the 84 years of his life into two hours.

The musical was written by two priests, one who wrote the script, the other who crafted the songs.

Should be interesting.

No Shame

Is there a politician out there who can match Florida Governor Charlie Crist for total abandonment of principle, save that which serves his own calculated maneuvering for political advancement? The very same governor who once boasted of his pro-life credentials has just vetoed a bill that would have required women considering an abortion to get an ultrasound first. (The first link here was taken from Crist's own website prior to leaving the Republican Party. To appease the liberals no doubt, the page was subsequently purged from his campaign site, but not before Marco Rubio's people made a copy of it.)

Crist said repeatedly that he would run as a Republican, and then, perceiving that he was set to be trounced by Marco Rubio, he jilted the Party and decided to run as an Independent. Ever since then, he has been shifting ever further to the left. His shameless posturing knows no bounds. It's a sad thing to behold. Machiavellian politicians like Crist are the paragon of everything that is askew with our political culture.

Hopefully, Floridians will take note and elect Rubio, thereby ejecting Crist from relevance once and for all.

The New Anti-Semitism

Victor Davis Hanson on the Jewish people, Helen Thomas and Turkey: the last two decades especially, the Left has made anti-Semitism respectable in intellectual circles. The fascistic nature of various Palestinian liberation groups was forgotten, as the “occupied” Palestinians grafted their cause onto that of American blacks, Mexican-Americans, and Asian-Americans. Slurring post-Holocaust Jews was still infra dig, but damning the nation-state of Israel as imperialistic and oppressive was considered principled. No one ever cared to ask: Why Israel and not other, far more egregious examples? In other words, one could now focus inordinately on the Jews by emphasizing that one’s criticism was predicated on cosmic issues of human rights and justice. And by defaming Israel the nation, one could vent one’s dislike of Jews without being stuck with the traditional boorish label of anti-Semite.

On the future of the Department of Education

Writing for National Review Online, Mona Charen offers a shrewd look at the history of the DOE.
Newly minted Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle is a kook: That’s what Sen. Harry Reid’s people are telling reporters. ABC, CNN, and other outlets seem to agree, noting that Mrs. Angle wants to shutter the federal Department of Education, get the U.S. out of the U.N., phase out Social Security, and eliminate the IRS.

We haven’t yet heard her explanations of these positions — many of which can be justified in the proper context. It’s certainly possible that she is a little eccentric (that prison massage program doesn’t pass the smell test). But this much is certain: It is not kooky to favor the elimination of the Department of Education. That this proposal is routinely labeled “extremist” is a reminder of the one-way ratchet that operates in government. Enshrine something in a federal agency, and it becomes sacrosanct. Democrats cheerlead for federal programs because they are the party of government, and Republicans quietly go along because they’re afraid.

For far too long, Republicans have accepted liberal premises, and the policies that spring from them, out of fear of being labeled by the left as callous. The party needs to shake this habit asap. With the current crop of new faces emerging in our ranks, this could become more of a possibility.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Great Unveiling

Here's an excerpt from a nicely written piece by Dorothy Rabinowitz that appears in The Wall Street Journal:
A great part of America now understands that this president's sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

One of his first reforms was to rid the White House of the bust of Winston Churchill—a gift from Tony Blair—by packing it back off to 10 Downing Street. A cloudlet of mystery has surrounded the subject ever since, but the central fact stands clear. The new administration had apparently found no place in our national house of many rooms for the British leader who lives on so vividly in the American mind. Churchill, face of our shared wartime struggle, dauntless rallier of his nation who continues, so remarkably, to speak to ours. For a president to whom such associations are alien, ridding the White House of Churchill would, of course, have raised no second thoughts.

More Buffoonery

Hillary Clinton hobnobbed with a cadre of leftist agitators in Latin America. She didn't disappoint them either. From the Guardian:
It is a call you would expect from Fidel Castro or Hugo Chávez: soak Latin America's rich to help the poor and build a fairer society. "In many places it is a simple fact that the wealthy do not pay their fair share. We can't mince words about this."

The latest newspaper column from Cuba's retired communist leader? Another anti-capitalist broadside from Venezuela's president?

Step forward Hillary Clinton, secretary of state for the gringo empire, aka the United States.

Clinton has made tax equity a theme of a four-nation tour through the region this week, saying wealthy elites are starving governments of funds for infrastructure and poverty relief.

When will it end?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"Bertrand de Jouvenel indicates that contemporary liberals fail to see that government based on free discussion and free opinion presupposes the human capacity to distinguish truth from falsehood and to define general principles of justice that transcend the human desire for power."

"European chivalry had tied manliness to gentleness and had 'subdued the fierceness of pride and power.' In Christian Europe, authority had been tamed by elegance and 'subdued by manners.' But modern rationalist philosophy, vulgarized by the revolutionaries, had no place for taste, elegance, or even moral self-restraint. Its cold, calculating rationality undermined the 'love, veneration, admiration, or attachment' that connect people to their commonwealth. In Burke’s view, public affections, combined with manners, are required as 'supplements,' 'correctives” and 'aids' to the law. The French Revolution left 'another inheritance, it…hallowed violence.'"

-Taken from Daniel J. Mahoney's excellent book on Jouvenel, Bertrand De Jouvenel: Conserative Liberal & Illusions Of Modernity

Strength in Numbers...

Well, if that adage is true then we needn't worry too much about the impact of the dyspeptic gals that took to the Vatican today to call for, you'll never guess, women's ordination.

At least they had enough of a presence to carry their sign.

Count 'em, one, two, that number four back there?

Perhaps they should worry about our numbers...

Follow-up to last post

From US News and World Report:
Not everybody was pleased with President Obama's uncharacteristic line on the Today Show, spoken in the pre-school hours Tuesday morning, that he wants some "ass to kick" in the Gulf oil crisis.

Becky Quick, who co-hosts Squawk Box with lead anchor Joe Kernen and co-host Carl Quintanilla, slapped Obama for using unpresidential language in an interview he knew would be aired as children prepared for school.

"If you're the president of the United States and you go on the Today Show which is a morning show, where you're going to have a lot of kids sitting around watching this, I think you choose your words more carefully," said Quick. "Using the A word when you are on the Today Show talking with Matt Lauer, yeah, that disturbs me. But I also think that this is a way of trying to prove that I'm mad, to do exactly what everybody's been pushing me to do, and it doesn't ring true."

Monday, June 07, 2010

Unpresidential, again

From CNN:
"I don't sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

Did the President of the United States actually just say that? It's hard to imagine any other self-possessed president, secure in his role as leader, making such an uncouth, sophomoric statement on the record. It smacks of insecurity. Beyond that though, Obama just isn't an intimidating man by any stretch, as opposed to say, Theodore Roosevelt or Andrew Jackson, so to hear him say "so I know whose ass to kick" borders on the comical and pathetic. This ranks right up there with the cringe-worthy "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?" moment from the press conference a couple weeks ago. After that schmaltzy line, to now hear him wax macho, talking about ass kickin', well it just doesn't work.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Polish Martyr Beatified

From the AP:
WARSAW, Poland – Thousands of Poles filled a vast sunbathed square in Warsaw on Sunday for the beatification of Jerzy Popieluszko, a charismatic priest tortured and killed in 1984 by communist Poland's secret police for supporting Lech Walesa's Solidarity freedom movement.

The head of the Vatican's saint-making office, Archbishop Angelo Amato, presided over the Mass at Pilsudski Square that was also celebrated by 120 bishops and 1,600 priests. Popieluszko's 90-year-old mother Marianna, his sister and brothers, were among some 140,000 attending that included Walesa.

Amato read out Pope Benedict XVI's declaration that made Popieluszko blessed for his martyrdom in giving his life to defend good. The crowd applauded when Popieluszko's portrait was unveiled.

The pope, on a visit to Cyprus, said Popieluszko's "zealous service and his martyrdom are a special sign of the victory of good over evil."

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Shifting Paradigm

While starry-eyed Europeans are still smitten with Obama, more Americans are starting to come around. From the Telegraph:
Polls show that around 10 per cent of those who voted for Obama in 2008 now disapprove of his performance and the heavy turnout of young people and black voters among the 69 million who back him will not be repeated again...

It is an irony of Obama's presidency - which came into being because he was the unBush - that it shares some of the worst traits of his predecessor's administration. Among these are insularity and a blinkered arrogance.

The young Texans who seemed genetically incapable of viewing any criticism of George W Bush as less than treason may have gone but a similar cult has replaced them. The Obamatrons who now populate Washington have iPads under their arms and greet each other with fist bumps. Earnest, geeky types, they look upon anyone who does not worship Obama with pity – such a being must be too stupid or bigoted to know better.

Obama has never been wracked by self-doubt and he is unusually self-contained for a politician. He seems not to need people or reassurance. In office, this is dangerous – he sometimes seems to be living in a cocoon.

The White House's attempts to deal criticisms of Obama's detachment have been comical. First there was Obama's own cringeworthy (and doubtless bogus) anecdote about his 11-year-old daughter Malia asking: "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"

Running Low on Water

The narrator of this BBC report extolls the everyday Cuban's penchant for survival, despite "fifty years of an economic blockade." (In other words, the US is the bad guy in the narrative.) But what about having to survive some fifty years under the iron fist of a malevolent dictator, and being denied the most basic freedoms? Might the policies of Communism in and of themselves have a thing or two to do with the harsh conditions faced daily by Cubans? "Balderdash!" says the BBC.

False Sense of Stability

Mark Steyn gets it right on the money (again) with his sobering assessment of Turkey's intentions. From National Review Online:
Unfortunately, back in what passes for the real world, there is no stability. History is always on the march, and, if it’s not moving in your direction, it’s generally moving in the other fellow’s. Take this “humanitarian” “aid” flotilla. Much of what went on — the dissembling of the Palestinian propagandists, the hysteria of the U.N. and the Euro-ninnies — was just business as usual. But what was most striking was the behavior of the Turks. In the wake of the Israeli raid, Ankara promised to provide Turkish naval protection for the next “aid” convoy to Gaza. This would be, in effect, an act of war — more to the point, an act of war by a NATO member against the State of Israel.

Ten years ago, Turkey’s behavior would have been unthinkable. Ankara was Israel’s best friend in a region where every other neighbor wishes, to one degree or another, the Jewish state’s destruction. Even when Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP was elected to power eight years ago, the experts assured us there was no need to worry. I remember sitting in a plush bar late one night with a former Turkish foreign minister, who told me, in between passing round the cigars and chugging back the Scotch, that, yes, the new crowd weren’t quite so convivial in the wee small hours but, other than that, they knew where their interests lay. Like many Turkish movers and shakers of his generation, my drinking companion loved the Israelis. “They’re tough hombres,” he said admiringly. “You have to be in this part of the world.” If you had suggested to him that in six years’ time the Turkish prime minister would be telling the Israeli president to his face that “I know well how you kill children on beaches,” he would have dismissed it as a fantasy concoction for some alternative universe.

Yet it happened. Erdogan said those words to Shimon Peres at Davos last year and then flounced off stage. Day by day what was formerly the Zionist entity’s staunchest pal talks more and more like just another cookie-cutter death-to-the-Great-Satan stan-of-the-month.

Friday, June 04, 2010

So What's Next?

So much for "Yes we can!" From the AP:
WASHINGTON - America's vaunted can-do spirit is badly frayed.

From the Gulf oil spill to the war in Afghanistan, from lost jobs to soaring budget deficits, cascading crises are defying easy resolution and undermining faith in the future...

That gusher, which can be seen around the clock on live video feeds from the ocean floor, stands as a vivid image of the limits of modern technology and governance. We can fly through space and walk on the moon — but can't stop a crude oil leak that has grown into the nation's worst environmental catastrophe.

Then there's the economy. Many months after the recession was said to be over, Friday's jobless figures showed the nation still in the grip of frighteningly high unemployment. Despite Obama administration insistence that no problem is getting more attention.

Abroad, the U.S. still hasn't defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan after nearly 10 years of trying. We seem unable to slow the nuclear march of Iran and North Korea. And efforts to broker peace in the Middle East keep slipping from our grasp.

When you set yourself up as a political messiah, as "the one", and nurture narcissism in your followers with "we're the ones we've been waiting for" blather, disappointment will inevitably set in. Never having believed in Obama at all, it's nice to experience immunity from the disappointment.

Wasted TIME

Standing in line at the supermarket the other day, my eyes fell upon the cover of the latest issue of TIME Magazine. The image on the cover was a striking one, featuring a shot from behind of the mitre-capped Holy Father. The obnoxious title of the cover story was rather elongated and clumsy: Why Popes Never Have to Ask for Forgiveness: the limits of atonement. Or something like that. It was one of those profound "ugh" moments. I thought to myself, "Is any other religion so singularly examined for public humiliation and scrutiny?" Of course not, and there's a reason. For but a second, I thought about snatching up the remaining copies in order to spare others like myself from the sheer annoyance and to shield the ignorant from the deceptive poison. The consolation of TIME's ever-dwindling circulation was mitigated somewhat by the realization that many shoppers passing through store check-out lines across America, while perhaps not purchasing the piece of journalistic flotsam and saving the three bucks, will nonetheless be drawn to it and smugly concur with the absurd assertion stated in bold on the cover.

The editors of TIME are not interested in eliciting apologies but rather in advancing an agenda; a sordid agenda that the Pope's moral authority and intellectual arsenal severely threaten and undermine. So the solution lies in destroying the man and the institution he helms. "The gates of hell..." We cannot forget that.

For the record, the Pope has absolutely nothing for which to apologize personally. Fr. Raymond J. de Souza's excellent defense of Pope Benedict clearly passed by the selective eyes of the editors of TIME, wholly unnoticed. Jay Scott Newman and George Weigel also took a wrecking ball to the spurious charges against the Pope.

Gov. Jobs Way Up

In terms of sustainable, long-term employment in the private sector, the job market continues to look grim, the fruit of Obamanomics. From Politico:
The nation's economy added 431,000 jobs in the month of May, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent, the government reported Friday.

That’s less job growth than many expected, and will not provide a boost to the Obama administration, which has been struggling to demonstrate that its economic policies are helping to ease the nation's epic unemployment probelem.

The government said that 411,000 of the jobs created in May were temporary positions with the once-a-decade US Census, and not the kind of employment that can drive a sustained economic recovery. That meant that the overall private sector employment growth for the month was anemic – up by just 41,000.

And the president's reaction:
HYATTSVILLE, Md. (AP) - President Barack Obama says the addition of 431,000 new jobs in May shows "the economy is getting stronger by the day."

Speaking at a trucking company outside Washington, Obama embraced the Labor Department's new employment snapshot, released Friday morning. A burst of census hiring lifted payrolls last month, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent.

This is embarrassing.

Thursday, June 03, 2010 best

From Politico:
Obama’s detached performance with respect to this massive and growing crisis — the ripple effects of which could still be with us on Election Day 2012 — is generally portrayed as a PR meltdown and a simple failure to step up by an understandably beleaguered Obama...

Obama’s failure to convey any hint of genuine emotion, to rouse the American people to turn their hearts toward the Gulf and to assure them that their world — still built on the plentiful supply of fossil fuels — is not falling apart, is a profound failure of leadership.

Instead of offering reassurance, the president is using the crisis to promote his political agenda, hankering for alternative energy and climate change legislation in Congress — though there won’t be any significant replacement of carbon-based power sources for years to come.

Madison vs. Wilson

For the moment, the Wilsonians have the upper hand. Here's an excerpt from an excellent article by George Will, writing for The Washington Post:
Lack of "a limiting principle" is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book "Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State." The Founders, he writes, believed that free government's purpose, and the threats to it, are found in nature. The threats are desires for untrammeled power, desires which, Madison said, are "sown in the nature of man." Government's limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness.

Wilsonian progressives believe that History is a proper noun, an autonomous thing. It, rather than nature, defines government's ever-evolving and unlimited purposes. Government exists to dispense an ever-expanding menu of rights -- entitlements that serve an open-ended understanding of material and even spiritual well-being.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A Pattern Emerges

This is how Chicago-style politics operates. We shouldn't be surprised. From Politico:
Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff confirmed Wednesday that Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, suggested three administration jobs that would be available to him last September if he dropped his plans to run against U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who had the support of the White House.

Romanoff said he informed the White House that he would stay in the race. The revelation comes days after the White House confirmed that Rep. Joe Sestak was approached about an unpaid position in the administration if he dropped his campaign against Sen. Arlen Specter. But in this case, Romanoff was offered paid positions in the administration, a clear difference from the Sestak case.

Nota Bene

A new Gallup poll augurs well for the GOP.
With five months to go before the general election, a new poll finds that Republicans have opened their widest lead yet when it comes to which party voters prefer this fall. Gallup's generic congressional ballot finds that the number of voters who say they will vote GOP has jumped to 49 percent, compared with 43 percent for Democrats. That's not only the biggest lead Gallup has recorded for the GOP this election cycle, it's the largest lead Republicans have ever had in the poll, which Gallup has run since 1950.

Why are Republicans surging?
According to Gallup, the GOP gained 3 percentage points in the poll over the last week, while Dems fell 4 points. All of this happened as President Obama's approval rating took a hit, especially with his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Gallup puts Obama's approval rating at 46 percent — not exactly in George W. Bush territory, but low for this White House.

Spills and Perspective

Here's a helpful chart prepared by climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer that puts the current Gulf oil spill disaster in perspective:

More British Saints to Come?

From The Independent:
Tucked away on a side street on the east bank of the Tiber, the Casa di Santa Brigidia guesthouse has specialised in welcoming weary travellers for much of the past century.

Run by the Bridgettine nuns, it is a place of tranquillity in the heart of Rome. During the Second World War the guesthouse's reputation as a sanctuary was cemented when the nuns risked their lives to harbour more than 60 Jewish refugees following the arrival of German troops in 1943.

Now, more than 65 years after the nuns opened their doors to those refugees, the Vatican has signalled its plans to put three of the order's most prominent figures, two of whom were British, on the road to sainthood. On 5 July the Vatican will declare Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough and Sister Katherine Flanagan as "servants of God", the first official step towards sainthood.

Clueless at the Helm

Dick Morris marvels at Obama's fecklessness and detachment in this blistering piece from The Hill:
Conservatives are so enraged at Obama’s socialism and radicalism that they are increasingly surprised to learn that he is incompetent as well. The sight of his blithering and blustering while the most massive oil spill in history moves closer to America’s beaches not only reminds one of Bush’s terrible performance during Katrina, but calls to mind Jimmy Carter’s incompetence in the face of the hostage crisis.

America is watching the president alternate between wringing his hands in helplessness and pointing his finger in blame when he should be solving the most pressing environmental problem America has faced in the past 50 years. We are watching generations of environmental protection swept away as marshes, fisheries, vacation spots, recreational beaches, wetlands, hatcheries and sanctuaries fall prey to the oil spill invasion. And, all the while, the president acts like a spectator, interrupting his basketball games only to excoriate BP for its failure to contain the spill...

Some presidents have failed because of their stubbornness (Johnson and Bush-43). Others because of their character flaws (Clinton and Nixon). Still others because of their insensitivity to domestic problems (Bush-41). But now we have a president who is failing because he is incompetent. It is Jimmy Carter all over again.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The "Moderate" Threat

Andrew McCarthy's latest book, entitled "The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America", is a must read. Here's a piece by McCarthy appearing in The New York Post that touches on the major points in "The Grand Jihad":
Yes, 31 years after the Iranian revolution, 17 years after Islamists declared war on the United States by bombing the World Trade Center and nine years after the 9/11 atrocities, the American people are still in the dark about the daunting challenge we face. Under jihadist siege for decades, we still don't even get what jihad is and why it isn't just about "violent extremists" -- the politically correct term now used by government officials in their desperation to bleach the Islam out of Islamist terror...

And effectively allied with the jihadists is the hard left across the West. For all their differences (e.g., on abortion and the rights of women and homosexuals) Islam and the Left are in essential harmony when it comes to their vision of authoritarian government and their perception of the immediate obstacle to their designs: American constitutional democracy.

Nobody's business but the Turks

Ralph Peters gets it right in his observations on the Israeli raid yesterday. Writing for the New York Post:
Yesterday's "aid convoy" incident off the coast of Gaza wasn't about bringing humanitarian supplies to the terrorist-ruled territory. It wasn't even about Israel.

It was about Turkey's determination to position itself as the leading Muslim state in the Middle East.

Three ships of that six-ship pro-terror convoy flew Turkish flags and were crowded with Turkish citizens. The Ankara government -- led by Islamists these days -- sponsored the "aid" operation in a move to position itself as the new champion of the Palestinians.

And Turkish decision-makers knew Israel would have to react -- and were waiting to exploit the inevitable clash. The provocation was as cynical as it was carefully orchestrated.

Islam, Jihad and the Administration

A piece that is well-worth reading, by Andrew McCarthy, writing for National Review Online:
While our top officials imagine an Islam that isn’t, jihad is something the rest of us needn’t imagine, because it is all too real. And it is simple. Jihad is, always and everywhere, the mission to implement, spread, or defend sharia, the Islamic legal code. It is not exclusively violent; an army doesn’t need to be violent if its enemies are willing to give ground. But jihad only “means to purify oneself or one’s community” in a very narrow sense. It is not the syrupy quest to become a better person but the command to become a better Muslim; it is not the smiley-face mission to “purify” one’s community of crime but the command to cleanse one’s community of non-Islamic influences.

The inextricable bond between jihad and sharia is also easily explained. In Muslim doctrine, sharia is deemed the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society. Islam’s designs are hegemonic: Even in its less threatening iterations, it is taken as a given that believers must call all of humanity to the faith. What separates the true moderates from the faux moderates and the terrorists are the lengths to which one is willing to go in carrying out that injunction. That it is an injunction, however, is not open to debate.

Our political leaders can continue to trivialize jihad as if it were some benign struggle to brush after every meal. They can continue to ignore the core tenets that make sharia antithetical to a free, self-determining society. But they can’t do that and do the only job we need them to do: protect our lives and our liberties.

Vatican Library Opens Up

Here's an article from Telegraph on the Vatican Archives. It's very interesting, so long as you ignore the requisite broadsides about the Church during WWII, Dan Brown and the current priest scandal. Disappointing, but it is a British paper, after all.
This is the Vatican secret archive, possibly the most mysterious collection of documents in the world.

Here you can find accounts of the trial of the Knights Templar held at Chinon in August 1308; a threatening note from 1246 in which Ghengis Khan’s grandson demands that Pope Innocent IV travel to Asia to ‘pay service and homage; a letter from Lucretia Borgia to Pope Alexander VI; Papal Bulls excommunicating Martin Luther; correspondence between the Court of Henry VIII and Clement VII; and an exchange of letters between Michelangelo and Paul III.

There are also letters from Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, St Bernadette, Voltaire and Abraham Lincoln.