"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crashing the Inquest

Have you been following the Paris inquest into the passing of the late Princess of Wales, Lady Diana? I find it to be the most fascinating exercise. As an opinion journalist I have nothing to add to the record itself; no bravura pronouncements, no penetrating insights, no whizbang deductions, no counterintuitive analysis. But as a person, as a student of life, I see here an earth-shattering event of Biblical proportions. I see the Tower of Babel, Jacob wrestling the angel and Moses demanding to know why he was sent.
This is mankind railing against Fate, rebelling against majesty, trying to put romanticism before Romance, literalism before literature. There is such rage against her death not because it was illogical and jarring, but because it was so sharply logical that it shouts out the dominance of a higher order.
Consider. Diana accepted the proposal of Charles, Prince of Wales, and was apotheosized in a grandiose processional marriage seen by most of humankind. She could do no wrong with the British populace ever after, her visage on that magic day holding them in thrall. She bore two princes, one of them a potential king. She made various formal appearances, generally true to her depiction of the aethereal fairy-tale princess.
Suddenly things went awfully awry. Word came that people were drinking and drugging and straying, that Diana was bucking Buckingham. Then the usual tawdry palace affairs, the princess with the equestrian and the prince with a married noblewoman. Butlers and valets and lady’s maids were talking to the tabloids, and relationships deteriorated all around. Charles’ brother Andrew married a similar woman, affectionately dubbed Fergie, and their marriage followed about the same pattern. Eventually everyone decided to give bills of divorce all around and the madness settled into a routine that came to simulate normalcy.
To make matters worse, or more sordid anyway, an audio tape surfaced with Charles and his paramour cooing at each other in the sort of amorous jargon for which privacy was invented. Once and for all it could be said that Charles had humiliated Diana, Diana had humiliated Charles, both of them had humiliated their parents and their children, and all this was true regardless of who could be faulted in the breakdown and the breakup.
Still, all the dirt was royal dirt. Pathetic, derivative, cliché, history-repeating-itself (to the point that Camilla introduced herself to Charles by reminding him her grandmother was his grandfather’s mistress), boring dirt, but within the traditional gamut of royal obliviousness and stupidity. Everyone could still walk around pretending no change of substance had occurred. There may have been a few extra princesses in the deck, but all that was still ace.
Then suddenly Diana is dating a pretender, a nobody, a nothing, a rich Arab living off his father’s dubious money, an international playboy, a man without purpose, without talent, without credentials, without substance, without depth, what the old Yiddish speakers used to call “a pusteh keli (empty vessel)”. His father had assumed ownership of Harrod’s with money whose provenance could not be traced, making numerous representations about himself and his family that all proved false when probed. So the gadabout son of a spurious financier wins the heart of the princess: whuh?
On the day she died, he died, they died, her beau slipped off into the jewelers to pick up the magnificent engagement ring he would present. Who knows what blood ran over that diamond, what sweat of the downtrodden, what tears of the oppressed, what heinous fraud, what vile treachery, what inequity and iniquity? That was Romance? Bull, Lady Love shunned Lady Diana that night, just as Cupid scorned the cupidity of her suitor.
It was not possible for this world, if it is indeed a created place, a place of purpose and dignity, a place where kingship confers a spiritual stature, where majesty is a reflection of godliness, to suffer such an affront. Fate cried out in anguish, Romance wilted in despair, Poetry waxed plaintive and Literature was florid in protest. This could not stand.
In his new book, biographer David Michaelis explains why Charles Schulz died on the day his farewell Peanuts strip was published. “To the very end his life had been inseparable from his art. In the moment of ceasing to be a cartoonist, he ceased to be.” How much more true is that of a princess! The day she ceased to be a princess is the day she ceased to be. And now, if you don’t mind, I will bang the gavel. Inquest concluded.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Odd and Interesting World that is Academics

Academia is a strange place. There's really no other way to describe it. I was perusing the job announcements at the Chronicle of Higher Education and came across this announcement for a job at the University of Ottawa. (Not really interested in living in the northern reaches of the American Cultural Empire, but gotta look anyway...) Now, most job announcements have the typical boilerplate about especially wanting minorities and women to apply, but this one had a bit of a different wrinkle. It says: "The University of Ottawa is committed to diversity and encourages applications from women, aboriginal peoples, members of visible minorities and persons with disabilities." (emphasis added)

"Visible" minorities? Why add the "visible"? What sort of work is that doing?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is Fred Really This Good?

I recently here asked the question “Is Fred Thompson Really That Bad?” in response to a withering attack by Dick Morris. You would have thought that Thompson was the worst candidate in the history of the world. Thompson has his defenders, but it seems from the Beltway buzz that he’s toast. It’s nice to see a different perspective on Thompson that comes to different conclusions.

A piece in The American Thinker this weekend was just that, and more. J. Peter Mulhern believes that not only will Fred win the nomination, but that he’s a lock to win the presidency. I don’t think many people share his confidence, but his points are worth considering because we’ll have a choice in three or four months, and we want to make sure we put the best horse in the race to take on the Clinton machine.

Some of the criticism claims that Thompson is too laid back. The contrast with Guiliani couldn’t be more stark, but given the environment could laid back be more appealing to the general electorate? Mulhern tries to make that case. A liberal writer in the New York Magazine thinks that Giuliani is too much like the current administration in his bellicose pronouncements, so maybe a calmer appeal may be more attractive to most apolitical voters.

Seeing these two in debates as the voting nears will be very interesting (the first is next Tuesday in Michigan). There will be a lot to consider who will best represent the conservative cause before we cast our vote. I agree with Mulhern that McCain and Romney probably are not it, but of the other two I’m not sure.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Are you Yankee or Dixie? Here's the quiz. I'm 81% Dixie...Mr. Watson?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Jena Six: This Tangled Web We've Weaved

I'm not much for reblogging, but the mainstream media has done a crap job of putting forth the full facts about the current goings-on in Jena, Louisiana, and this gentlewoman of the left has done a conscientious job of trying to suss it all out for us.

Look, this is the sort of Jim Crow town where the white barbershop discourages black customers because the white regulars don't want their hair cut using the same tools. True story, according to Newsweek.

There are no good guys here: the Jena Six kicked the pus out of some white boy with their Adidas (not jackboots). But they were charged with attempted murder even though said Caucasian attended a school function that very night.

And I'm not an advocate of "hate crimes" legislation, but leading up to this, the new black kid in Jena sat himself one day under the tree where the white kids usually hung out. The next day, three nooses dangled from the tree.

Now, it's largely unknown by American Caucasoids, but as a result of the thousands of lynchings in the Bad Old Days, especially in the bad Old South, the symbolism of the noose drives black folk more nuts than even a burning cross. Let us not forget Clarence Thomas's dissent in the Virginia cross-burning case of Virginia v. Black, where the majority allowed it under "freedom of speech." Thomas saw it differently, that the symbol was “intended to cause fear and terrorize a population.”

The kids who hung the nooses received a slap on the wrist---high spirits, a prank---and it was this that led to the escalation of racial tensions in Jena, Louisiana.

Now maybe some stupid kids somewhere could spraypaint a swastika on a synagogue as a relatively brainless and harmless prank because they don't fully understand what that means, but it defies the imagination that kids in a town where they don't cut black people's hair in a white barbershop are equally ignorant of the meaning of the noose. It just doesn't figure.

Now, the GOP has been MIA on this one, and I think they (we) are missing our own Sister Souljah moment in this. The facts are complicated, but something surely stinks in Jena that cannot just be explained away. The GOP---the Party of Lincoln---is now popularly known, and not unfairly, as the party of racism, because it took the Dixiecrats in, the 1960s Democrats who fought tooth and nail against integration and civil rights.

Now mebbe if the GOP stood up against the stink in Jena, some of its noose-hanging voters might stay home in 2008. Perhaps it might cost the next election. But this is a Wilberforce moment, and a missed opportunity to stand up for the principle of human dignity, from which all the rest of our principles flow.


Editor's Note: TVD will be on leave for the next few weeks, recording the album he's been threatening to inflict on the world for quite some time now. In the meantime, his co-contributors will continue to pick up his considerable slack.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Will the Real Fred Thompson Please Stand Up

I asked the question a couple days ago if Fred Thompson could really be as pathetic as Dick Morris claims he is. As I said I take whatever Morris says with a large grain of salt, so it comes with some satisfaction that I see Morris purposefully distorted numerous issues he took Thompson to ask for.

ay Robison at The American Thinker has a completely different take on the issues that were the focus of Morris’ attack. I would hope that conservatives would be more careful in their assessments, but it seems that some aren’t. We have plenty of time before we have to vote, so let’s let the real Fred Thompson emerge and cast our votes accordingly.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Civil Rights and Religious Liberty

To my mind, the most important question to be faced in thinking about the contours of religious liberty is not whether the Tallapoosa County Commission can put up a photocopy of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse breezeway, or whether little Johnny can say "Jesus" in his valedictory speech, but the degree to which religious organizations (churches, parachurch groups, service centers, etc.) will have their institutional autonomy protected or whether federal, staet, and local authorities will be given free reign to impose non-discrimination standards and force those organizations to hire and keep people whose views or lives do not match the organization's. Earlier this week, New Jersey revoked the tax-exempt status of a Methodist-run pavilion because it refused to allow same-sex "weddings" there. Yesterday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that a Jewish Community Center was exempt from civil rights laws on the basis of Title VII exemptions. I suspect, alas, that this will be the pattern for things to come. Courts will grant exemptions for a wide range of religious organizations from civil rights laws, but state and local authorities will use their tax and regulatory powers to try and coerce those same organizations into conforming nonetheless, especially with respect to homosexuality.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Belichk as Nixon?

Now, I'm much more of a college football fan, but I've been pretty interested in the cheating scandal surrounding the NE Patriots. People may differ on how serious this is, but Greg Easterbrook, writing over at ESPN's TMQ, has to take the cake when he makes Belichik out to be a "Nixon," throwing all sorts of wild (and entirely unsubstantiated in the column) claims about "secret" information and spying and so on. And then suggesting that the Patriots' coach might not last the season because he has raised the specter of "cheating" in the NFL.

Well, excuse me if I remain unpersuaded. It's quite true that the Patriots cheated by filming the Jets' signs and it's likely they've been doing it for a while. What's more, it's likely that they have in the past tried to pump former players for information and engaged in all sorts of skullduggery. Can we ask: so what? What team doesn't try to figure out what plays their opponent will run? Is there really a difference between peering over to the their sideline to see what kooky arm signals are being used versus looking at their player packages? It's only an unfair advantage to the degree that no one else can do it? Besides, *of course* teams cheat in the NFL. Teams teach their linemen to go as far as they can (and a bit over the line) in using their hands illegally. Defensive backs grab, pull and bump so long as they think they won't get called for a penalty. C'mon, if stealing signs is going to bring down a league, then it's not much worth defending in the first place...

Is Thompson Really This Bad?

Dick Morris is annoying and clearly not a conservative or a friend of conservatives, so I take everything he says with a large grain of salt. Yet sometimes he is right on. I read his article “Thompson is Clearly in Over His Head” and wasn’t quite sure how to take it. Which Dick Morris wrote this, the one who has decent political instincts, or the one who is clearly not on the right side of the political spectrum? He makes Thompson appear completely incompetent.

I’ve read stuff like this about Thompson, and I’m wondering how much truth there is to it all. Either way, if it gets said enough, long enough, it will gain a critical mass and he’ll have no chance at the nomination. What think ye?

25 Skills Every Man Should Know

From Popular Mechanics. For the record, I'm good on all but one, bleeding brakes. But I bet I can figure it out.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Is Giuliani the Hillary Slayer?

What is it that makes Rudy Giuliani so attractive to so many conservatives despite his less than conservative stands on social issues? Last week gives us a perfect example of why. While the Democrats and their left-wing allies were slandering a four star general, Republicans and conservatives, including those on the campaign trail for president, were strongly voicing their condemnation, many in writing and on the air. But only one person took action and actually did something about it. That would be Rudy.

Philip Klein in the American Spectator has a wonderful article that nicely captures why so many conservatives love the guy, and why he just might be the only one that can take down the Clinton machine. Not only did Giuliani challenge the New York Times to give him the same ad space for the same price, he also created a Web ad slamming Clinton for her flip-flops on the war (you can find links to these in the article). Klein believes that because of his background and who he is that he has a much better chance of defeating Hillary than do the other candidates in the race.

As demoralized conservatives begin to fear that another Clinton presidency is inevitable, this episode demonstrates that Giuliani may represent the Republicans' best shot at defeating Hillary in next year's election.

Throughout his career, Giuliani has excelled at relentlessly pursuing opponents, whether in the courtroom or political arena. . . .

Giuliani's background as a prosecutor and gift for speaking plainly and with clarity makes him ideally suited to cut through the type of word parsing for which the Clintons are legendary.

While it is popular for conservatives to lament the existence of the liberal media, Giuliani understands that it is a reality. Rather than belly-ache about it, or, as the Bush administration often has done, ignore attacks by assuming people aren't paying attention and they will go away, Giuliani understands that conservatives need to simply be better at using the media to their advantage, as he did when he fought entrenched liberal interest groups as mayor.

"If I run against Hillary Clinton, I'm perfectly prepared to carry this battle, not expecting that the New York Times or the major networks…are going to give us anywhere the same kind of favorable coverage they will give her," Giuliani told Hugh Hewitt last week. "I'm a realist, I'm not saying that in any way where I have a chip on my shoulder. I've lived with this all during the time I was mayor of New York City. The reality is we just have to be better at communicating."

He also points out that he has more of the kind of experience that gets presidents elected than anybody else in the race, including Clinton and Obama, who have very weak resumes. The same goes for the two Senators in the primaries who are his closest rivals and another who was governor, Mr. Romney.

As much as I’m conflicted about Giuliani I have to say Klein is very persuasive. I have until the Illinois primary to make up my mind, but the only other candidate I would vote for is Thompson, although I could live with Romney. He’s made the right changes, be they for the wrong reasons or not. But I must say that hearing about these episodes last week and reading this piece got me all pumped up. The Clinton machine is a powerful and deceptive force, and it’s going to take a real fighter to bring it down.

While there are certainly many factors that conservatives will have to consider when choosing the Republican nominee, all they have to do is look at the reincarnated HillaryCare plan that is being unveiled today to recognize that the ability of a Republican candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton should be a major consideration.

It’s hard to argue with Giuliani’s track record in combat with elitist leftist culture, and that he relishes the battle. That is certainly something to consider.