Thursday, May 31, 2007
They are of course wrong, because where else would conservatives of any stripe go? The Democrat Party? That’s funny. A Third Party? A perfect recipe for irrelevance. Sit out and let Democrats win? Hardly a solution that will show the Republican Party they mean business. Be assured that if Giuliani does get the nomination some, maybe many, will sit out the election. This is what is known as sacrificing the better for the best. How anyone could imagine that Hillary Clinton would be a better choice than Giuliani is beside me.
Of course they wouldn’t actually think that. Rather it would be a “to hell with the Republican Party” move. That’s great. We get Hillary and a Democrat Congress and Senate. This would certainly show the Republican Party that alienating social conservatives is not a good move, but it would be too big a price to pay for proving a point. I would rather put my chips on Giuliani knowing that the acceptance of his social liberalism is an aberration due to our war on Islamic radicalism.
But it looks like we may have another option very soon. Fred Thompson made it known on Monday that he is going to be a candidate for the nomination. I would say that many social conservatives are very happy this will be the case. This gives us another option for a candidate who looks and sounds presidential and who is a solid conservative.
It is going to be very interesting how Thompson plays Giuliani’s social liberalism, whether he attacks it, ignores it or takes pot shots here and there. Social conservatives will be closely attuned to how he handles this. My guess is that he will make the argument against Rudy by playing up his own socially conservative bone fides, with maybe a pot shot here and there. I would further guess, that if Thompson plays his cards right Giuliani is in trouble. His 9/11 credentials are formidable and impressive, as is his standing up to liberal interest groups while he was governor. Yet his social liberalism is a huge liability in Republican primaries. Thompson brings none of the liabilities of McCain or Romney and as many or more strengths. Things are going to get very interesting.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Summer of Love hits its 40th birthday this year and is getting damned cranky. Ex-hippies have bought into the bohemian enclave of San Francisco's legendary Haight-Ashbury district, at a cool million plus a pop for a modest Victorian. Unfortunately, "gutter punks," the addled and addicted spawn of the 60s, are taking all the cache out of being underwashed, unemployed and unsheltered.
"I'm sick of stepping over gangs of kids, only to be told 'Die, yuppie!' A lot of us were flower children, but we grew up," said Robert Shadoian, 58, a retired family therapist. "There are responsibilities in this world you have to meet. You can't be drugged out 24/7 and expect the world to take care of you."
It's a beautiful thing, karma. The reporter notes that "one ex-hippie who returns frequently for its bohemian vibe said he makes a point to hand out cash to panhandlers:"
This used to be a place where kids could come to reinvent themselves, 'Like a rolling stone, like a complete unknown, no direction home.'
Now the Haight is a grittier, less forgiving reality. But these are still our kids. You don't help them by deporting them. You do it right in your own neighborhood. If any place can do this, it's Haight-Ashbury.---Peter Coyote
Mr. Coyote lives across the bridge, in Mill Valley.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
First up is Al Gore's latest assault on reason, The Assault on Reason. True to form, it's reviewed by ubiquitous southpaw Joe Conason (the Nation, Salon, HuffPo, truthdig, the Prospect). Conason's latest polemic, It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush, was already obsolete when it hit the presses this year, unless Dubya gets his keister in gear. So many constitutional protections to dismantle, so little time.
The only surprise, then, is learning that if there's one thing even better than Al Gore's book, it's the "always unusually smart and farsighted" Al Gore himself, who speaks with "the moral authority of a man who many believe was wrongly barred from the presidency." The moral authority of a mook who lost an unlosable election, then lost every bit of national sympathy by trying to get votes from the military disqualified, I reckon.
Gore's book is about Bush and global warming and news media concentration and the vacuousness of television and stuff. Gore prefers "facts to metaphysics," we're told, so that's a relief. But when Conason tells us that Gore's "insistence on detail and thoroughness...is rooted in his conviction that most Americans have little understanding of the world in which they live," the educated consumer of Times-ese unearths the review part at last: Gore thinks we're all ignorant and Conason admits the book is boring.
For a review of the new Reagan Diaries, it's over to that renowned expert on political philosophy and history, the Times' Fox News-denigrating media writer Tim Rutten. He allows that Reagan was a nice guy and not ego-driven in the least, and doesn't drag in Iran-Contra until the ninth paragraph! This is the only mention Rutten makes of the Cold War except for Reagan's affinity for the refuseniks. Reykjavik, John Paul, Solidarity? The Sandinista government slipping Cuban arms into El Salvador? Nah. (Rutten does like the bit about Nancy Reagan throwing out the first ball at the World Series, though.)
"Reagan's conservatism runs through his observations less as an ideology than as a deeply felt emotion," writes Rutten, Reagan apparently preferring metaphysics to facts. "He believed communism was evil..."
As if Reagan didn't know his Hayek. It is questionable whether Rutten does, though, which makes one think Al Gore might have a point about people who don't understand the world in which they live. Especially those who are paid to write about it for us.
Fortunately, here's a nice batch of excerpts from The Reagan Diaries. It's a pity that because of the concentration of the news media in so few (and hostile) hands, the readers of the LA Times will have little idea of what's actually in them. We pajama folk will have to point the way.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
But here's what interested me: according to Gaidar, when Saudi Arabia began producing more oil in 1985, the USSR lost $20 billion in oil revenues from the resulting drop in oil prices. And that's what started the whole ball rolling. Get that? $20 billion. If I've done the calculations right, that's $38 billion in today's prices. Can you imagine our whole system folding on account of a $38 billion hit? With a federal budget somewhere north of $2 trillion, that's chump-change. A rounding error, right?
The USSR was done in by a rounding error. Talk about ignonimous endings...
Friday, May 18, 2007
Orthodox priest John Parker resents ("Benediction Fiction") being asked/required to leave Jesus Christ out of his benediction at the University of South Carolina med school's chapel, in favor of a "We Dig God, Whoever He Might Be" speech. He declined the honor.
Parker has somewhat of a point when it comes to the sectarian origins of private institutions. One should not feel embarrassed about speaking about Christ in a chapel with a cross on it, nor feel an obligation to skip Him over.
I'd not be insulted if I heard about Allah or Vishnu in an appropriately dedicated chapel.
But to the heart of the matter, about generic benedictions in the public square per Ben Franklin's American "civil religion": I would cringe on behalf of my Jewish friends if Parker started his prayer as intended, "O Lord Jesus Christ our God..."
If Parker felt the need, in a non-sectarian milieu, to testify for Jesus Christ as God, anyone in the audience with a theological disagreement with that "Truth" would be well within his own needs to get up and testify to the contrary, or in the least, walk out.
We, as a society, don't need that noise. We've done everything we can to get around it.
Now we might discuss the Founding's "civil religion," that America has some established culturally Judeo-Christian/monotheistic foundation, and that appealing to the gods or The Goddess---whoever She might be (or perhaps....SATAN??!!!), might likewise be an unnecessary provocation in the public square. But that would needlessly complicate things, eh?
But we love needless complications these days.
What I would say is that the Judeo-Christian God is our cultural baseline. There is One of Him, and He looks after us. The Founders were OK with that.
Look, if a Jewish friend is over for dinner, we say grace in some universalist fashion. Of course. But I admit that the atheists get the whole "through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen" deal. What the hell---in for a penny, in for a pound, and besides, to accommodate their sensibilities would require me to negate all of my own. It's one thing to show respect, another to put a bullet through your own head.
Besides, the food's always great at Casa TVD due to the divinely-inspired Missus. Nobody's complained around here yet, and me, I think they like the grace being said. Makes the food taste better. Like life. And Mrs. TVD doesn't mind atall when the thanks get directed slightly upward.
Who knew? Ahmadinejad, Bin Laden, Hamas, Hizballah, all of them: They're nothing more than we-are-the-world greenies. And that's the real reason the Iranians want nuclear reactors.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The "All Fred All the Time" newsticker on our right side panel
was put in as a lark, since Fred is the X-Factor and things have been fairly predictable in the GOP nomination race.
But Fred has just tied John McCain for second place at 18%. Although Rudy still enjoys a massive lead (at 38%), if Fred keeps not running like he is, he'll be taking that oath of office in January '09, fer sure.
Late add: Like me (see comments to Dr. Zycher's post below), Fred prefers no immigration bill to this one---“With this bill, the American people are going to think they are being sold the same bill of goods as before on border security. We should scrap this bill and the whole debate until we can convince the American people that we have secured the borders or at least have made great headway.”
Like a fungus or a future spouse, Fred kinda grows on you...
And even were such a monstrous action possible, the inevitable news clips of such family misery would destroy public support. Far better to get rid of the disincentives to assimilation: bilingual education, bilingual ballots, welfare for the native-born children of illegals, ad infinitum. Even with such policies, the evidence is strong that substantial assimilation in the form of English language skills and the like is the norm by the second or third generation.
And let us not forget that people who come to America to work do us no harm in the aggregate, while the substitution of a wall in place of the Statue of Liberty as the symbol of America is hardly salutary. The rantings of such as Michelle Malkin---who, as I believe I have mentioned before, does not appear to have had any ancestors on the Mayflower---are devoid of analytic content, curiously analogous to the rantings of the ineffable Al Gore, Laurie David, and Cheryl Crow in the context of purported anthropogenic climate change, and thus are fundamentally religious in nature.
Yes, a nation is far more than a labor market. But the labor market is not irrelevant, and it is leftist multiculturalism that is the real threat to a nation united around the ideal of equal opportunity. That "conservatives" now are rallying around an outlook so destructive is deeply disturbing.
The founders of the American republic and their dear Mr. John Locke were quite sanguine with Christianity (specifically non-miraculous Jesusian principles) as their nation's foundation. FDR didn't have to deal with the decay of virtue that modernity ushered in during the latter half of the 20th century. Order and societal cohesion gave way to the language of "rights."
But the Founders wouldn't have been particularly concerned with Rev. Jerry. Falwell's wildest statements were coherent with even theological outliers like Tom Paine and that notorious sybarite Jefferson, both of whom accepted a Providential God (and Who conforms most closely to the Judeo-Christian one above all others), and Who favored the virtuous and allowed the wicked to fall from His favor.
Jefferson himself suspected that the young republic might soon be punished for its toleration of the "peculiar institution." The punishment, if it was such, was grave indeed, today commonly called The Civil War. We can say that even Rev. Falwell's opportunistic/inopportune statement about 9-11 being a result of the United States' fall from virtue isn't terribly out of line with even the most skeptical of the Founders. Go figure.
Jerry Falwell was unsophisticated to be sure, and the moderns will miss kicking him to the curb, since he was pretty easy pickin's. Dear Mr. Locke may not prove to be such a cakewalk, because when one speaks of America, one cannot push him out of the way, one must go through him.
Unless one chooses a path through the gutter, of course. Jerry Falwell would have liked that linked essay, I think, and so, R.I.P. In the end, his public life (not his ministry, which never made the papers) wasn't about Trinitarianism or heaven or hell. It was about virtue.
I'm out on a limb here, but I think even Jefferson would have found some sort of good word to say about him. Certainly George Washington would've:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports...[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.---Farewell Address, 1796
The Rev. Falwell has passed from the scene. His Bible, John Locke, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson have not. The dialogue, and the inquiry, sustain. We cannot relieve man's estate while ignoring his soul.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I was never a big fan of Falwell as my theology is quite a bit different than his, but the man did a lot of good for a lot of people and never harmed anyone. But to the Liberal Hate Machine he is Satan himself.
What’s amazing about liberal bile is that so little of it is reserved for Muslim terrorists who are our real enemies. For some reason, probably that they just aren’t Christians, Muslims get a pass even though everything they believe is antithetical to liberal Western culture and life. Not to mention that a certain subset of Islam wants to wipe us and everything we believe off the face of the earth. No big deal, as long as they aren’t Christian fundamentalists.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I wrote it up for American Spectator.
Despite the moment described above, I fully agree with those who think the Giuliani campaign is over and doesn't know it, yet. Read the rest of the article for the explanation.
A baby burbled audibly in the silent crowd. Perhaps it was pure serendipity that the child wore a t-shirt proclaiming "I love NY," but I remembered the old stories of LBJ's campaign appearances where he exhibited tremendous flair by tossing a gorgeous white Stetson into the assembled mass. What the folks never knew was that the greatest of Texas campaigners had practiced his aim and had a staffer charged with the task of catching that hat at every stop. When Giuliani walked over to the baby, mugged with it, and jumped back to the podium proclaiming, "Hey, I am a politician!" to the obvious delight of the audience, I wondered how often such happy accidents occur. Nobody at HBU was skeptical. They loved it and the ice was broken.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
First there is – here I rise to point a quivering forefinger – the defendant, Conrad Black. Or Lord Black, of the House of Lords; Baron Black of Crossharbour is the technical title. His sesquipedalian prepotency is a synecdoche among scriveners; he knows a lot of big words. In fact, his friends knew in 1992 he was besotted with Barbara Amiel when he told them she was “quite pulchritudinous”. His media empire included the Telegraph of London, the Jerusalem Post and most of Canada’s newspapers.
He is being prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald, fresh from jailing Scooter Libby. The accusation is he defrauded stockholders by writing personal bonuses into deeds of sale and disguising them as non-compete payments.
Need help? Okay. Say I create the Miami Scroll to compete with the Herald and quickly gain a million readers. Murdoch offers fifty million to buy it from my company. My fifty-one percent share of the stock would be worth 25.5 million. So we rewrite the deal for 40M and add a 10M personal payment for my promise not to start another paper. My take now: 30.4 million.
Barbara Amiel is the loyal second wife, since he became her fourth husband in ’92. She was the Ann Coulter of Canada, the right-wing bomb-throwing columnist who thrived on being out of step with the liberal media. She played a very important role for high society men, that of the beautiful-woman-smart-enough-to-be-squired-around-by-a-billionaire-without-looking-like-a-dope-who-fell-for-a-Las-Vegas-showgirl. Black was the final feather in her cap and to her credit she is sticking.
The word on the street is that her spending habits put the financial pressure on Black to accelerate his earning. Angry at a delay in a British Airways flight, she prodded her husband to buy a Gulfstream that could cross the Atlantic. There was only one bathroom on the plane for passengers and crew, so a new one was installed to the tune of a quarter-mil. As for her attitude to staff, the following anecdote gives a clue. When each new third butler was given a tour of the house by senior butler Andrew Lightwood, he would take them to the roof and remind them to keep the “landing lights” on at all times: “Madame takes off from here on her broomstick looking for cats.” She grew up poor, you see.
Still, we love her for her prose. In defending soccer players accused of pushing a girl around, she wrote: “Female groupies in see-through tops and micro-minis, trawling spots where footballers hang out, are tinsel-wrapped bait. One can hardly blame footballers for their inability to resist what middle-aged Presidents of the United States cannot.”
The defense attorney, by a special dispensation, is the Canadian superstar “Fast Eddie” Greenspan. To get the court to accept the foreign attorney, Black had to sign a waiver ceding his right to appeal based on inadequate representation. Fast Eddie started slow in the early going, but came on strong last week, humiliating economist-socialite Marie-Josee Kravitz and former Illinois Governor “Big Jim” Thompson on the witness stand. The two of them, members of the auditor board of Black’s company, were testifying for the prosecution to the effect they were gulled by his shenanigans.
Greenspan identified eleven separate reports that each of them had signed which openly included the non-compete payments. Their only response was they had failed to notice them. Greenspan ran them through the wringer, document by document, making them testify again and again they had missed the key entries. Thompson tried to use some bravado by saying he had “skimmed” rather than read. Fast Eddie lighted on that word and asked him one by one whether he had skimmed it; a man has very little credibility with a jury after saying eleven times he had skimmed over multi-million dollar transactions.
Perhaps the best line came when Greenspan asked Thompson if his role as head of the auditing committee gave him extra responsibility. “No, it was a very democratic committee,” said Jim.
“Even in a democracy someone has to be the governor,” was Fast Eddie’s fast rejoinder.
This week, Black’s partner and supposed co-conspirator David Radler, not so affectionately nicknamed “the Rat” by their journalist employees, has taken the stand. He cut a deal with the government to talk in return for getting only 29 months in a Canadian jail and paying back umpteen millions. He began Monday with the early history of their partnership in the 1970s and continued Tuesday and Wednesday painting himself as a dupe, guilty only of not asking enough questions about all the millions he was getting. Cross-examination began yesterday with Greenspan establishing Radler had lied to at least 24 different investigators. Stay tuned.
Make him CIA director and sic him on the bad guys. But not President, no way.
The Iraq thing sucks. The deficits suck.
---But the economy goes ticking along, even though it should have slid into recession after the dotcom bust and the CEO scandal/robberies ala Enron.
---After 9-11, there hasn't been another major Islamicismist attack on American soil.
---And Bush appointed a critical mass to the Supreme Court which finally ruled that piercing viable babies' skulls and sucking their brains out is barbaric, and must end.
He could have done a whole helluva lot of things better, but I don't know a president who couldn't have done things a lot better. As for the money, well, every family goes into debt when an emergency arises. And though we've lost over 3000 brave American lives in Iraq over 4 years, now 4 to 5000 innocent babies might not get their brains sucked out each and every year.
Mebbe we should have left Saddam in place. Mebbe we could have saved the money. Mebbe there was some clever way to handle the threat, like sitting home and inspecting cargo containers. But balancing the scales, I'm OK with Dubya. No attacks, the end of partial birth abortions. It's about our babies, stupid. They're why we do what we do, why we get up in the morning and go off to work and then come right home to bounce them on our knees. I don't even have any children, but they're why I vote like I do.
Which is why I might have to wait on Rudy Giuliani, and look for somebody---anybody---else. I think he'll be great on national security and good on the economy too. But there's that other thing. The babies.
I don't think he would've lifted a finger to save them.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Well, in case you're not entirely convinced by former Sen. Edwards' Richie-rich sorta-faux populism, let me suggest another reason for his working for a NEW YORK hedge fund...donations, donations, donations. The article notes that the employees at his former fund constitute now his single biggest group of contributors. What better way to cut into the Wall Street crowd and lure some campaign contributions than to be shoulder to shoulder with them?
That's just ridiculous.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."
36% of the public would correlate with Rasmussen's 61% of Democrats, and is even more alarming than Rasmussen's total of 22% of all Americans. This is bad.
Philosoraptor makes a rational defense of such irrationality, that Bush drove 'em crazy, what with stealing the 2000 election and lying us into war and all. Still, it can no longer be denied that Bush Derangement Syndrome indeed exists, and is far more virulent than first suspected.
On the other hand, the lefty "netroots" must be ecstatic. They apparently got their message out, and how. They must be very proud of how they've changed the country.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure.
61% of the reality-based community believe that is or may be a FACT? And almost a quarter of our whole nation? No wonder they hate Bush's guts. I would too, if I were that deranged.
I just can't wrap my mind around this yet, and my astonishment is genuine. I had no idea, really. It's one thing for Harry Reid to shoot his mouth off for the netroots. It's one thing for the lefties to cocoon themselves against any and all dissent to enjoy the self-pleasure of bashing the other guys. But folks, this is national madness. We are one nation, come unglued.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Let us be very clear and very blunt: The readership decline is driven by the biases and ignorance inherent in modern journalism. The LA Times in particular is a swamp of leftist assumptions, analytic ignorance, and pedantic silliness masquerading as "reporting." An example: The recent front-page, above-the-fold tear-jerking stories about the injuries suffered by a man and his daughter at the claws of a bear. Was this story really worth something on the order of 7000-8000 words or more? And then there are the editorials, not quite as knee-jerk leftist as a couple of years ago, but still pretty silly. And the op-ed page: a repository of high-minded ignorance from the likes of Rosa Brooks and Erin Aubry Kaplan and other worthies with little to say, poor writing skills, little information to reveal, few analytic talents, but a column to file each week. Even the ineffable Robert Scheer was worth more space than this crew. The problems of modern newspapers are far deeper than any tension between the newsroom and the accoutants. I have said it once before and I am happy to repeat: Modern journalism is a swamp of ignorance, stupidity, laziness, dishonesty, bias, and arrogance. And they wonder why their business model is failing. Actually, I suspect that they do not wonder; it would be no surprise if they blame it on the perceived ignorance of the masses.
But fair warning: if you're interested in being a professor, be careful with what you write.