"Go not for every grief to the physician, nor for every quarrel to the lawyer, nor for every thirst to the pot." —George Herbert (1593-1633)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Integrity at the LA Times

Well, now, Andres Martinez---blond and blue-eyed and who used to be Andrew Martinez until he arrived at the LA Times and discovered the career benefits of faux Hispanicness---has resigned as editor of the editorial and op-ed pages, as a result of the decision by higher-ups not to publish the "Current" (opinion) section this Sunday. Why? Well, someone had the bright idea of having a guest editor once a quarter, who was to have been some Hollywood gasbag this week, but it turns out that Martinez is dating that gasbag's publicist, and so this created an apparent conflict of interest, and the Times' integrity is its highest value and blah blah blah.

Oh, please. The Times almost daily prints blatant opinion columns in its news pages---the front page usually---and there was constant pressure from the news room to get the editorials on the same page, so to speak, as the news "reports." That the Times has timed the publication of innumerable stories so as to engender maximum political effect is beyond dispute. But now we are supposed to believe that integrity suddenly is all the rage. Give me break. What actually has happened is obvious: For all of Martinez' political correctitude, it is a fact that under his editorship the Times' editorials have become far less reflexively left-wing and Pavlovian than was the case for years. On rare occasions they actually were worth reading. And so it is obvious that the army of hard leftists that is the LA Times simply could not abide that; Martinez had to go and this was the opportunity to get rid of him. The Times sinks ever deeper into the swamp.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Christian Nation? Well, sorta, mebbe...

It's certainly a bridge too far to claim America for Trinitarianism, for orthodox Christianity as we know it, but Jesus as God has never been an issue in this here republic. That's why "Judeo-Christian" is used today, to remove the Trinity part.

However, despite Thomas Jefferson's protestations about his "influences" being non-Biblical, it cannot be disputed that John Locke was one of them.
A great many things which we have been bred up in the belief of, from our cradles, (and are notions grown familiar, and, as it were, natural to us, under the Gospel) we take for unquestionable obvious truths, and easily demonstrable; without considering how long we might have been in doubt or ignorance of them, had revelation been silent. And many are beholden to revelation, who do not acknowledge it.
---Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity

Here Locke confesses that his work and the work of his contemporaries is heavily indebted to "revelation," which can only be read as "Biblical principles."

Whether or not Jefferson had the same self-awareness (it seems not) as Locke is immaterial. You can't take the Locke out of Jefferson, and you can't take the Bible out of Locke.

The Lord's Prayer survived Jefferson's razor when he created the "Jefferson Bible," where he edited the Good Book and took out all the supernatural stuff.

But is The Lord's Prayer rational? Not by today's standards. Might as well swear by Grabthar's Hammer.

Jefferson is known mostly for his un-self-evident assertion on human rights, the endowed by their Creator thing, an assertion that bears a striking resemblance to the work of St. Robert Bellarmine, a notorious Christian. Jefferson is exactly the type Locke was referring to, "beholden to revelation, who do not acknowledge it."

Now, Locke makes no claim here or elsewhere that the Bible is historically true: even the Jewish medieval philosopher Maimonides excises the miracles from scripture. (We can dispense with Trinitarianism thusly, for the sake of discussion. For one thing, I wouldn't want the government to order everyone to believe Jesus was God. That would defeat the purpose of the whole faith thing, and neither the Father, the Son, nor the Holy Ghost would be pleased, I think.)

But "love your enemy" is not rational, nor is The Lord's Prayer, nor is the 1700-odd years of theology of the "human person" that led up to Jefferson's bold assertion.

We run the risk of turning Locke's statement, and the history of the Bible in western thought, into gibberish if we dismiss whatever we don't like as "irrational."
"Or whatever else was the cause, 'tis plain in fact, that human reason unassisted, failed men in its great and proper business of morality. It never, from unquestionable principles, by clear deductions, made out an entire body of the law of Nature. And he that shall collect all the moral rules of the philosophers, and compare them with those contained in the new testament, will find them to come short of the morality delivered by Our Saviour, and taught by his apostles; a college made up, for the most part, of ignorant, but inspired fishermen."---Locke, ibid.

It's not so much about what Locke himself believed, but the role of Judeo-Christian principles in founding the American republic. What Locke is saying here is that the Bible was further along than philosophy as a moral system.

Whether philosophy-slash-reason has caught up with the Bible is still questionable. I look at ethicist and philosopher Dr. Peter Singer of Princeton University, who believes in consciousness as the primary claim to rights (your dog has more self-awareness than your newborn son or daughter, after all) and I suspect it never will.

Peter Singer is a reasonable man,
So are they all, all reasonable men

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Poll Reveals Perception of Media Bias

Can you believe it; the vast majority of Americans believe the mainstream media is biased. I guess the MSM isn’t doing a very good job of convincing their audiences of how objective they are. I love the reaction journalists give when they are questioned about media bias. Basically they are incredulous. What? Us? Biased? Not a chance. Yet according to a new Zogby poll with a very large sample, 83% of likely voters believe bias is “alive and well” in the mainstream media. Who would of thunk it?

What is interesting about the poll is that while 64 percent believe there is a left-wing bias, 28 percent believes the press tilts right. What planet are they from? That 28 percent number is consistent with voters who are self-described liberals in many polls, which explains their divorce from reality.

Even though there was a partisan divide in the poll, a large majority of independents see a liberal bias. And where Republicans are uniformly of the conviction that there is liberal bias (97%), Democrats are not so uniformly convinced of the opposite. Which just goes to show that as hard as they might try to claim the mantel of high-minded objectivity, the MSM cannot pull the wool over many people’s eyes.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Prince Zsa Zsa Mans Up

Frederic von Anholt has filed court papers confessing he might be the late Anna Nicole Smith's baby daddy. Such Old World charm and gentlemanship.

Wouldn't this be an even more awesomely great country if the fathers filed the paternity suits instead of the mothers? We have so much to learn from the Europeans.

Bible Babble

From USA Today:

Sometimes dumb sounds cute: Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

Jesus Christ, man.

No wonder secular Christian-baiters goad me that America's Religious Party should be concerned with poverty instead of personal morality.

How do I tell 'em that if JC had been all about man's material needs, he'd have sat at a bench all day cranking out loaves and fishes or kitchen cabinets? That's just not what it was all about.

And as for the Jewish half (2/3, more like) of the Christian bible, why do they harp on G-d using the Israelites to punish the wicked Amalekites and ignore the part where Israel's own wickedness results in the Babylonian captivity? Chosen people, yeah, right. Few or none of us would volunteer to be held to a higher standard than everybody else. I appreciate the honor, Lord, but no thanks---being a Chosen People Person kinda sucks. They pogrom you when they're not sending you into captivity if not the ovens. If it's all the same to You, please choose somebody else.

Even leaving the theology out of it, I just read somewhere that there are 1,300 biblical references in Shakespeare. How can you understand Western Civilization and the world in which you live, hoping to scrape by on the CliffsNotes of the CliffsNotes of the Bible?

The brief answer would be, you can't, which explains a whole helluva lot right now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How to Shut Up a Lefty about Iraq

Mention Iran.

Works like a charm, I'll tellya. They have all the time in the world for the rush to war, cooked intelligence, the Downing St. Memo, Hans Blix, the sixteen words, unilateralism, not enough troops, the looting of museums, not enough electricity, Halliburton, Abu Ghraib, Valerie Plame, immoral, illegal, incompetent. (Well, the last one has some sting to it, but incompetence is inevitable wherever humans are involved.)

But just ask 'em what to do about a theocracy headed by a guy who believes his messiah and the Final Days are coming and wants to help it all along by developing nuclear weapons and...

...the sudden sound of crickets chirping is a welcome tonic to these mouthy times.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The NYT Hearts The Great Al Gore. Not.

I see that the NY Times yesterday, on the front page no less, reported that the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming is far less monolithic than The Great Al Gore, moral crusader and addict to heavily-subsidized Tennessee Valley Authority electricity, would have us believe. Thus did the Times call into question a central tenet of left-wing religion, to wit, the moral necessity of world government as a tool with which to temper the destructiveness of mankind. This truly is fascinating: It is virtually unprecedented for the Times to subject leftist nostrums to actual scrutiny. Why has this happened? Only one plausible answer comes to mind: The Times must favor Hillary for the Democratic nomination, viewing The Great Al Gore as a threat. And so the politicization of the Times' news "reporting" continues apace, masquerading in this instance as hard-nosed objectivity. Some things truly are eternal.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Truth about Libby and Plamegate

I have not seen anything this well put together to get at what actually happened in the sad affair of Scooter Libby being convicted of lying and obstruction of justice. In his inimitable way, Mark Steyn shows how utterly shameful was the conduct of Patrick Fitzgerald from the very beginning of this case. I believe the president himself and his administration deserves its fair share of the blame, but as Steyn so clearly argues Fitzgerald knew from the very beginning there was no cover up or conspiracy to “out” a covert CIA operative. But he nonetheless went on and on and on until he found somebody who slipped up.

It can’t be said any better than Steyn’s conclusion:

As for Scooter Libby, he faces up to 25 years in jail for the crime of failing to remember when he first heard the name of Valerie Plame -- whether by accident or intent no one can ever say for sure. But we also know that Joe Wilson failed to remember that his original briefing to the CIA after getting back from Niger was significantly different from the way he characterized it in his op-ed in the New York Times. We do know that the contemptible Armitage failed to come forward and clear the air as his colleagues were smeared for months on end. We do know that his boss Colin Powell sat by as the very character of the administration was corroded.

And we know that Patrick Fitzgerald knew all this and more as he frittered away the years, and the ''political blood lust'' (as National Review's Rich Lowry calls it) grew ever more disconnected from humdrum reality. The cloud over the White House is Fitzgerald's, and his closing remarks to the jury were highly revealing. If he dislikes Bush and Cheney and the Iraq war, whoopee: Run against them, or donate to the Democrats, or get a talk-radio show. Instead, he chose in full knowledge of the truth to maintain artificially a three-year cloud over the White House while the anti-Bush left frantically mistook its salivating for the first drops of a downpour. The result is the disgrace of Scooter Libby. Big deal. Patrick Fitzgerald's disgrace is the greater, and a huge victory not for justice or the law but for the criminalization of politics.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Common Ties (and the People who Wear Them)

As some of you may know, I have taken lately to selling my life on the installment plan. That is, I am writing short memoirs of episodes in my life for the wonderful magazine called Common Ties.

The most recent is The Kindest Cut of All, where I describe a very unusual circumcision in which I participated. Have a gander.

What set me off today was a story by author Beverly Carol Lucey. It is yet another shallow rehash of a Jewish childhood without a Jewish education, a ubiquitous genre of surpassing superficiality.

In response, I sent this letter:

Much as I hate to be critical, I really don’t get this at all.

It seems to be the story line should have been: Hi, my parents took me to an Orthodox synagogue as a kid, but they were too cheap or too short-sighted to send me to a Jewish school. Pressing, I discovered they were ignorant themselves and oddly at peace with their ignorance.

One day I woke up and asked myself: wait a second, isn’t Judaism a 3300 year old philosophical system that changed mankind? Wasn’t King David the most powerful poet who ever lived - and writing that poetry 1000 years before anyone else? Aren’t there 24 books in the Bible that have fascinated billions of people through the ages and inspired most of the great art and science in history? Aren’t there 20 volumes of Talmud explicating the laws taught briefly in the Bible, including an entire civil law system still active today in Rabbinical courts? Isn’t this a religion that prophesied its people would retake its land at the end of history despite the land being desolate and the people dirt poor, and then amazingly, astonishingly, that occurred? Aren’t there Jewish schools from k-12, followed by Jewish seminaries and colleges; they must be learning something more than what to mumble in Hebrew at which cue? Why does Hebrew feel dead to me when in fact it is the most miraculous language, the only language in history to be revived as the spoken language of a country after over 2000 years? A language that in its revival has been rich enough to breed an entire new generation of evocative poetry and beautiful songwriting, both religious and secular? Could it be possible that a religious system that sustained a nation of brilliant, talented people through 2000 years of exile and poverty is nothing more than a few Hebrew mumbles and bad trumpet blowing?

I concluded that my relatives were neglecting their heritage and stifling mine. I dropped what I was doing and went to Israel to study Judaism intensively for four years. I was amazed to discover an entire body of thought and law, a philosophy of life, a mission of great purpose. Having used energy and intelligence in this diligent investigation I am now prepared to intelligently opine that… x. Whatever x may be: I love it, I like it, I hate it, I’m indifferent to it.

Instead we get this. No one taught me why. They didn’t even know why. So I walked. And I have a vague idea that what I left was probably flawed. But for a minute there it gave me a warm feeling. And that’s kinda cool.

Hmmm.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Shot in the Dark

I have to admit I am a bit baffled by the lack of blogosphere coverage of today's groundbreaking, seriously important decision out of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the District's longstanding ban on handguns. How Appealing has some coverage, and as you would expect, that gun-lovin' wacko Instapundit gives out links but little independent analysis. He seems to have disabled the Volokh Conspiracy with a multi-pronged Instalanche, which is a damn shame. Eugene Volokh became the blawgger go-to guy on the Second Amendement by being that rarest of intellectuals: a guy who had an opinion, which he later changed on the basis of an honest look at the evidence.

The case was heard by a three judge panel, which split 2-1. It is interesting that the majority so wholeheartedly embraced the idea that the 2nd Amendment really does mean what it says, and confers an individual right that they earned an approving nod from the Cato Institute. The dissent seems to me, admittedly a non-lawyer, as just plain weird: Judge Henderson argues that the meaning of the 2nd Amendment in regards to the District of Columbia is purely academic, because the District of Columbia is not a state. I await rulings on what other constitutional provisions and amendments do not apply in the District of Columbia, with special interest in the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth. And given the eternal mouthiness of Eleanor Holmes Norton, possibly the Nineteenth.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Squandering the Art of the Clinton Legacy

Bill Clinton was perhaps the last great Democrat, as we understood "Democrat" before the left took it over at last. Although I didn't vote for him either time because I had (vindicated) doubts about his character starting with his exquisitely bald lie about not shtupping Gennifer Flowers (he did), politically I found him pretty much a centrist, not terribly different from Bush41 or Bob Dole.

He handled the peace and prosperity thing A-OK. He let some geopolitical threats fester, but hoping things might work themselves out on their own can be prudent, too. And he did the best thing a president can do when faced with the threat of prosperity---he didn't mess with it.

How his vice president and anointed successor Al Gore turned an election against an underqualified and subarticulate Republican challenger into a close call remains a puzzle for the ages. Gore should have won by 10 states and 20 points.

Bill Clinton was a leading light of the now-moribund Democratic Leadership Council. Friendly to economic growth, strong enough on national defense. FDR would have tolerated it, Truman and LBJ would have caught the national defense part, and John Freaking Kennedy would have been its pope.

But somewhere along the way, Al Gore lost the script. All he had to do was read from his as boringly as Bush41 read from Reagan's, and he'd be completing his second term about now.

True enough, though, he wouldn't have an Oscar. I guess it all depends on what you think is important.


Which leads us to Mistress Hillary.

Every Democrat in Washington and most every Democrat everywhere else owes Bill Clinton. The missus inherited a virtually unlimited fountain of cash and considerable karmic debts. But she seems determined to blow it. I have no idea how she could sit on stage for 30 years behind Bill Clinton's sweet political song and still remain tone-deaf.

She goes to Selma, Alabama the other day to speak on the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and uses an insultingly bad black accent and prattles on about global warming. I mean, not only does she butcher the tune, she doesn't even know the words.

When Hillary compared her own struggle as a woman (women got the vote in 1920) to what black folk use capital letters to describe as The Struggle (for practical purposes and as everybody knows, blacks only universally got the franchise with the Voting Rights Act of 1965), thousands of the African American eyeballs in attendance rolled painfully back in their respective heads.

After all this time, the first black president's wife knows absolutely zip about black folk.


Bill Clinton was the last of a breed, I think, at least among Democrats for awhile. Somebody who understood not just politics, but people. Not just the words, not just the tune, but the feeling that turns them both into music. Call it art.

Artists are rare in politics and are often flawed: FDR was a master, as were JFK, Ronald Reagan and of course Bill Clinton. There are solid artisans, like Truman, Eisenhower, Bush43, and don't underestimate LBJ and Nixon, who all except for Ike were undone more by their times than their flaws.

Barack Obama is an artist, let's make no mistake, although it's probably only a matter of time until his inexperience leads him to screw up under the brutal pressure. But I don't want to cynically bet against him because I like the fact that he seems interested in governing all the American people and not just those who agree with him. He wants to be my president, too, and I appreciate that, even though I agree with him politically on virtually nothing. I mean, Bill Clinton is far to Obama's right.

The other artist in the mix is Rudy Giuliani. He winks at the political game, has a screwed-up personal life, but as an artist he lets us all in on the joke and we love him for it.

If the Democrats are determined to squander Bill Clinton's legacy, Rudy Giuliani is happy to pick it up. The suit fits.

Pardon You. Not.

I see that El Presidente W wants to stay away from any talk of a pardon for Scooter Libby, at least until the legal machinery has stopped billing by the hour. This whole mess, of course, is largely W's fault: Instead of simply confronting Joe Wilson's lies directly, the White House decided to be subtle about it, with leaks and insinuations and all the rest. And then there was the cowardly act of bringing the special prosecutor aboard because, again, W did not want to have to get up and explain in plain English that the Justice Department was/is perfectly capable of conducting such investigations. And then there is the eternal failure of W to control his administration; and so we had the Armitage leak and subsequent silence on his part, and Powell's as well, about whence the fair Valerie's name. (Armitage and Powell are the scum of the earth.)

And so W's eternal inability to get up and make a case verbally has yielded the inevitable return of the roosting chickens, except it is not W but instead Libby who is getting cra**ed upon. Maybe W will pardon Libby during his last day in office; it is not just with respect to North Korea and the Iranians that W is looking more and more like Slick Willy every day.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The City and Burb

I'm not a suburb guy. I mean, I grew in different suburbs and they're fine, but if given the choice, I'd rather not live in them. But I can't stand the sort of sneering, condescending, holier-than-thou attitude taken by so many a faux intellectual who deem "urban" life ever so superior, ever so much more amenable to a proper human life. So I'm always happy to come across a good beating to such preeners and here James Lileks delivers one, with a side-dish against the ubiquitous urban planners that ruined so many American cities in the 1960s. Deee-lish...

Real Violations of Religious Liberty

We spend so much time mucking about and yelling at one another about whether we can place the Ten Commandments on the South or North wall of a courthouse or whether a Santa needs to be 3 or 6 feet away from the Christmas creche, that we often fail to recognize how fortunate we are that we live in a land where religious liberty is protected to a degree really unknown in history. So when a story like this pops up, it shakes things up a bit.

It appears that there's a Christian group at Savannah State U that (according to the link above)* got "suspended" because its members engaged in "hazing" rituals. What were those? Why it was that ol' fraternity prank of "foot-washing." Now, for those unfamiliar with this "Animal House" ritual, it was that first pledge bro' Jesus who washed his own disciples' feet at the group's big annual formal, otherwise known as the Last Supper. Boy, was that a good time, except for that one dude who ran off - big party pooper he turned out to be.

Well, then the group at SSU (motto: "You Can Get Anywhere From Here") got expelled because - get this - they went to a Christian concert off campus. Well, we can't be having that, can we? With all the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll on campus, anyone that goes off campus for a concert is clearly up to no good.

* I couldn't find any independent news on the web - just copies of the complaint and the ADL press release. There might be more to the university's side, of course.

Climate Change: What You Can Do

I've been on the fence about this thing until America's most highly-paid newsman wrote this on her blog:
And all the experts agree. Well, almost every expert. (There are a handful of scientists — many of them on the payroll of big oil companies — who wonder if global warming is a reality.)

Oil companies. I should have known. They want us all dead so they can have all the oil to themselves. Still, as a Republican, the question I really have to ask is, what's in it for me??

It's another perfect day here in Southern California, a nippy 69 degrees, and the value of my house has doubled in the last 5 years. What if everybody had nice weather, the chilling thought went down my chilled spine. My obscene profit, up in smoke like from the tailpipe of a Hummer. And if it gets as warm as Mexico here, why, they sell land as cheap as dirt!

We have to do something about this. Now. Like Al Gore said while snarfing up his well-deserved Oscar, this is a moral issue. Quicker than Gore flunked out of divinity school, I came up with this helpful list. Clip and save:


---Plug in your clocks only when you absolutely have to know what time it is. If you need the alarm, get up five minutes early to set it.

---Al Gore says cigarettes are a significant cause of global warming, so quit smoking and sell him the carbon credits.

---Your kids are useless for pushing your car up to highway speeds, but they can increase your mileage considerably around town. Use your headlights only when there's no moon, and remember, your horn uses less energy than your turn signal.

---Stairs make you huff and puff and expel carbon dioxide. Use the elevator. And sports are carbon-intensive too, so do 'em on your X-box.

---Take as long as you want browsing in the fridge. Leaving the door open cools the world down.

---Down more Slurpees, or better yet, nice frosty margaritas. See, this isn't so bad.


---Lower the thermostat in your Gulfstream jet, and make the help wear sweaters.

---We need our corn for ethanol. Switch from Fritos to pork rinds.

---Do not use a television or radio unless it's bicycle powered, like Gilligan's.


---Turn your computer off right now. Turn it off, get up out of your chair, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Then sit down quietly. Moving, talking and breathing should be kept to the absolute minimum. Human life is eco-unfriendly, and should be lived as little as possible. It's only moral.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Swiss Watch Winds Up Inaccurate

One of the funniest headlines of my lifetime: Swiss Troops Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein.

Funny, I sat next to Miss Lichtenstein in Brooklyn College in 1975 and no accidents of this sort occurred.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Congress Finally Doing Something to Help Out Black Americans

Of all the problems afflicting black America, it's clear that high on the list is making sure that there are plenty of black football coaches. Yep, that's right. Our ol' Congress - or at least some part thereof - seems to think that the dearth of black football coaches is a national crisis and that legislation might be needed. Now, I do think there is something not-so-nice in why black men don't get hired - I suspect that there's more than a little reluctance because administrators fear that they won't connect with boosters. But legislation? Could it even be done legally?

The best part here is that Myles Brand, the busybody head of the NCAA, is really exercised because:

Part of my personal frustration with this issue is the lack of direct control the NCAA has over the matter,” Brand responded. “The colleges and universities will not cede to the NCAA the authority to dictate who to interview or hire in athletics.”


Did he really say that? If you've ever had any doubts about the arrogance of the NCAA, that should erase them. Golly, you mean universities don't want to give up control over who they're going to hire for their multi-million dollar programs? What arrogance! What impertinence! We should ban their mascots! That'll show 'em...sheesh.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beware the Dread Religion

My apologies for my overlong hiatus from reviewing Heather MacDonald's screed, or perhaps screech. A veritable avalanche of work is upon me and I am struggling valiantly to dig out from under.

Until my return here is a sample of the dreaded soul-numbing faith-founded sensibility she fears is corrupting our otherwise tame existence. Courtesy of the poet Burns, his A Prayer in the Prospect of Death.

O Thou unknown, Almighty Cause
Of all my hope and fear!
In whose dread presence, ere an hour,
Perhaps I must appear!

If I have wander'd in those paths
Of life I ought to shun --
As something, loudly, in my breast,
Remonstrates I have done --

Thou know'st that Thou hast formed me
With passions wild and strong;
And list'ning to their witching voice
Has often led me wrong.

Where human weakness has come short,
Or frailty steps aside,
Do Thou, All-good - for such Thou art --
In shades of darkness hide.

Where with intention I have err'd,
No other plea I have,
But, Thou art good; and Goodness still
Delighteth to forgive.

Monday, February 26, 2007

So It's President Rudy, Then

Almost 2 years before the next Inauguration Day, every poll and every bit of conventional wisdom agrees: Rudy Da Man to lead Team GOP to victory.

He skates to the nomination: head evangelical honcho Dr. James Dobson hates John McCain for calling certain Christians "agents of intolerance," libertarianish tax freedomers hate John McCain for voting against the first and decisive round of Bush tax cuts, and Rush Limbaugh hates John McCain for McCain-Feingold, the Gang of 14, and a couple dozen well-deserved other things.

Such unanimity is rare in the Republican Party. John McCain is a consensus builder, let's give him that.

Mitt Romney's single term as governor of Massachusetts and a few years as steward for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, although estimable, make Barack Obama, who at least served in his state legislature, look like an elder statesman. Plus Romney subscribes to Mormonism, which unfortunately, Harrison Ford never made a movie about. Mitt would have better luck if he were Amish---although that would make it tough for Putin or the mullahs to get him on the red phone and he'd have to take a rowboat to summit meetings. But with one of those cool black hats and some whiskers, he'd look positively Lincolnesque.


The 2008 general election will be even easier for His Rudyness, because if there's one thing collectivists hate more than their opponents, it's each other. Most of America despises Mistress Hillary, even those who pretend to like her. Barackorama will find out that leading the free world is even harder than quitting smoking, although it's nearly a dead heat. He'll succeed at neither, if only because he's crazy to try both at the same time.

And if there's anybody who's no Jack Kennedy, it's John Edwards, who not only chased ambulances but caught them. He used the ensuing millions to score an entry-level job as a US senator, but after 6 agonizing years of clockwatching, bailed to send his resume out full time from a monstrous enviro-unfriendly compound instead. Forget about Jack Kennedy---Edwards isn't even a John Kerry, to whom "a lifetime of" certainly applies, even if "public service" doesn't.


So for now, it's President Rudy. Much can happen in two years, and the prostate cancer that sidelined Rudy from sending Mrs. Clinton to well-deserved political obscurity in the 2000 New York senate race could become a factor again. I meself am good with Sen. McCain, who is wrong on all the little things, but not the important ones. Such faint praise was heaped on Winston Churchill, and all he did was save the world.

But as a Republican, I wish we had some bench strength with guys like Bill Richardson or Evan Bayh: they're superbly qualified and probably not nuts. Their politics are often not the same as mine, but neither are heir apparent Rudy's, and the GOP has a lot, and too much, riding on our new quarterback's arm, head, and prostate gland.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

An Apt Comparison?

In a recent post at my blog (mdvoutlook.com), I ruminated about an article that argued that Rudy Giuliani is a new kind of social conservative. I wasn’t completely swayed by the author’s argument, but it is clear to me that Giuliani is in many ways a very solid conservative. For those who are troubled by his being labeled a “social liberal” I think that moniker is misleading.

Let’s compare him to another “social liberal” who has run for office in the last several years and has a track record governing America’s most populous state, California. Yes, I speak of Arnold (you know you’ve reached a special status in American culture you’re on a first name basis with everyone).

Actually there is no comparison. Arnold may be a “social liberal” but he is much worse. His kind is the bane of all conservatives, the “moderate.” Moderates are a strange breed; they claim to be down the middle, neither left nor right. Pragmatic is a word they often use to describe themselves. They have no time for ideology, and they think they possess a special gnosis that the more ideologically minded are blind to. From what I’ve seen of these types of politicians they always come down on the liberal side of the political spectrum when it comes to public policy. They are more secular-oriented than not and as such are easily rankled by religious conservatives.

Arnold is a classic "moderate." He talked a good game when he became governor, but when push came to shove, he had no conservative principles to keep him from moving left. At this point he doesn’t look all that much of an improvement over Gray Davis.

Rudy may take some socially liberal positions on a few issues, but that is where his liberalism ends. In my mind they are out of place with the rest of his worldview, but this may be an inconsistency many conservatives will be able to live with. He is by nature and philosophy a solid conservative everywhere else, and how he governed NYC reflected that. Will it be enough to secure the nomination? We’ll see, but that so many social conservatives are willing to seriously consider him is a testament to his conservative bona fides.