Maybe I’m not so paranoid after all

Last year, when I wrote about my decision to keep my newfound conservatism under wraps in my bluest of blue communities, I got three types of responses.  The first came from people who could completely relate to my concern about verbal attacks and social isolation.  The second came from people, braver than I, who urged me to suffer those slings and arrows.  I admire these people, but that’s not my temperament.  The third response came from people who assured me (always politely) that I was just being silly, and that my political reorientation shouldn’t affect my relationships within my community.  I wasn’t so sure about this last viewpoint, and I’m even less sure now after reading today’s Best of the Web.

There, I learn that the New York Times ran an article today about social divides due to politics:

FOR years, Sheri Langham looked at the Republican politics of her parents as a tolerable quirk, one she could roll her eyes at and turn away from when the disagreements grew a bit deep.

But earlier this year, Ms. Langham, 37, an ardent Democrat, found herself suddenly unable even to speak to her 65-year-old mother, a retiree in Arizona who, as an enthusiastic supporter of President Bush, “became the face of the enemy,” she said.

“Things were getting to me, and it became such a moral litmus test that all I could think about was, ‘How can she support these people?’ ” said Ms. Langham, a stay-at-home mother in suburban Virginia.

The mother and daughter had been close, but suddenly they stopped talking and exchanging e-mail messages. The freeze lasted almost a month.

As part of the same piece, Best of the Web points to Josh Trevino’s observation that, although the NYTimes article is anxious to show this divide as being bipartisan, the fact is that “every person in the piece who actively rejects a friend or family member over politics is a Democrat.”  That is, while the piece riffs on both Republicans and Democrats who drift away from tedious, polarized social situations, it also speaks of some Democrats who are so very angry they actively sever relationships:

The red-blue/50-50 nation thing has been done to death, not least by peddlers of reductionist theses like David Brooks, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to it. This Anne Kornblut NYT piece on the fraying of friendships and relationships between Democrats and Republicans has both the ring of truth and a rather troubling subtext: every person in the piece who actively rejects a friend or family member over politics is a Democrat. This coincides rather well with my own experience, but that means nothing, as no Republican friend is going to eschew me for being Republican. And I have more than a few longsuffering Democratic friends, not the least of whom is my own wife, who continue to tolerate my active espousal of things wrongly abhorrent to them. Bless them all.

Still, if the subject at hand is not truly quantifiable, we can nonetheless discuss it and try to draw some conclusions. Chief among them here is the observation that the American left — which we’ll posit as synonymous with Democrats here — is sincerely angry, and the anger goes beyond reason in a surprising number of cases. The conservative view of politics holds that it does not encompass all spheres of human activity. (As an aside, the apolitical realm is not the “private” sphere advanced by the modern left.) There is no sound reason, for example, to reject association with like-minded parents, or friendships with co-workers, or the company of one’s own mother, on the grounds of political disagreements. Yet we see emphatic Democrats doing all these things in Kornblut’s piece. Why? We can only hypothesize, with the caveat that perhaps, if the tables were turned, Republicans and conservatives might behave the same way toward their family and neighbors — even if, in the last comparable period, from January 1993 through January 1995, it doesn’t seem they did.

A core leftist tenet may be expressed in the old feminist cliché, “the personal is political.” This gets muddied a bit by the left’s predilection for espousing “privacy,” as found in some metaphysical emanation or penumbra of the Constitution; but the net — and discrete — effect of this espousal is not a depoliticizing of the “private” sphere. Precisely the opposite: where “privacy” is invoked, it is toward a definite politicized end, be it the legitimization of arbitrary couplings under the rubric of marriage, or the breaking-down of the social structures necessary for the maintenance of a conservative order. In this context, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to maintain relationships with people with whom one disagrees on political or ideological grounds.

There is an internal consistency here, but it’s pitiable nonetheless. The spectacle of a grown woman rejecting her own aged mother over their conflicting opinions on the Bush Administration, to take just one anecdote from Kornblut’s piece, is at best an affront to piety borne of a monumental lack of perspective.

As I wrote a long time ago, I vote my conscience, but I live in my community — and I’m not going to make my day to day life a potentially unpleasant experience when I don’t have to.

Open mouth, insert foot

I was also thinking of titling this post “when you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Either expression would apply to Kerry’s recent press conference. Given the chance to explain his musings about education and the military, he stated that he was, in fact, attacking Bush.

Considering that Bush graduated from Kerry’s alma mater, doing better than Kerry did, and that the President then went on to get an MBA from Harvard, it’s hard to accept that it was the President to whom he referred when he said “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” That Kerry is retrofitting madly is also evident from the fact that he was giving advice to young students — that is, he seemed to be saying to them that their career choice (not the President’s) was to go to college or be in the military.

Kerry would have done much better just to apologize gracefully. As it is, he just can’t help being the gift that keeps on giving.

UPDATE: Allahpundit has video footage of Kerry’s refusal to apologize for anything but failing to get off his punch line correctly. Oh, and by the way, it’s all George Bush’s fault. You know, if Kerry didn’t have George Bush to kick around, he’d have to invent him.

I also know that the amen corner on the Democratic side of the aisle is in a delirious uproar over Kerry’s brave stand against Right Wing nuts (and no, I don’t think it’s nice for a Senator to refer to American voters as nuts) — that goes without saying. What I’m wondering is how this is playing out to the middle.

UPDATE IIFlopping Aces has great coverage of John Kerry’s return to prominence, as well as a reminder about the economic distance between Kerry and just about everyone else in the world.  When you live in that kind of bubble, maybe it’s not surprising that you constantly misspeak, that you waffle, that you’re rude and insulting, etc.  You’re really not a part of the normal human condition, and are pretty much just pretending — kind of like a Martian doing research on planet earth.  Kerry is Lt. Data without the humanity.

On marriage

I think traditional marriage, which often includes children, is the glue that holds a stable society together. Married couples, especially those with or planning to have children, have an enormous incentive to hold jobs, save money, create safe communities, look to the future politically, and to crave non-revolutionary continuity when it comes to social and political issues. They’re the antidote to anarchy. That’s why I’ve been so opposed to gay marriage. It’s not because I think gays should be punished. I’ve long said that I support extending certain legal benefits (and concomitant burdens) to committed gay couples. My opposition comes about because I’ve seen gay marriage as a slippery slope, a wedge issue, aimed at doing away with traditional marriage entirely, with all that this radical change implies.

Stanley Kurtz now writes a lengthy article that essentially says my instincts are right. While many gays just want to “get married,” the intellectuals behind the gay marriage movement have much larger plans that really go to destroying marriage all together. And because I think traditional marriage is one of the single most important aspects of a healthy society, I’m baulking completely at heading down the gay marriage path. I’m not homophobic; I’m traditional marriage-philic!

As an aside, I’ve realized that this issue, too, fits into my handy-dandy Leftist morality matrix. On the feelings side of the morality discussion, Leftists let us know that, even though some in our culture have embraced a non-traditional lifestyle, it hurts their feelings that we exclude them from the marriage tradition. It’s just soooo not fair. I agree that it may be hurtful, but I don’t agree that these feelings justify a radical change to a social, moral and religious institution. There may be other reasons to change the institution, but hurt feelings don’t qualify in the argument.

On the hierarchy side, of course, gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc., are downtrodden — they’re small in number, they’re the victim of more crimes, they have higher levels of partner abuse and substance abuse, and they may have a higher suicide rate. Therefore, Leftist morality ordains them on the side of “right,” and they deserve to prevail. I, however, say that while these statistics are grim, and I’d like to see them change, but (a) I doubt free-for-all-marriage will force the change and (b) this underdog status is still not a valid argument for changing traditional marriage as we know it.

UPDATE:  Perhaps in response to this post, a friend sent me a link to an adulatory LA Times story about two men and their journey to have a baby:

It was their fifth attempt in 15 months to create a pregnancy through a gestational surrogacy arrangement. To get to this point, they had gone through two egg retrievals, 58 eggs, 43 embryos, two embryo freezes, three frozen embryo thaws, four failed embryo transfers, two surrogates and more than $100,000.

My friend was less enchanted than the LA Times writer.  His comment?  “One word for it: SELFISH!  Though other words come to mind…”

I’m all for having babies, and Chad and David sound like fiscally sound people who desperately want a child.  In many ways, they’re ideal.  Nevertheless, this whole brave new world, with scientists drifting in and out of women’s bodies to create a baby for two men is unnerving, to say the least.

Sometimes death is a blessing

Read this story about child abuse only if you have a very, very strong tolerance for the worst kind of sadism visited on the most innocent of victims. I point it out only because the child’s abuser (his mother) was in her mid teens when she had him, has another child, and there is no father in the picture. Aside from the fact that the mother appears to be either completely insane or irredeemably evil, she must also have been under tremendous pressure — pressure that might have been avoided if she hadn’t been a child, alone, having children.

R.I.P., Raijon Daniels, 8

Vote, vote, vote, vote (Republican, of course)

If you’re planning on sitting this one out, please read Selwyn Duke’s article before you do:

So many wrong things feel so right. “You know, I really told my brother-in-law off the other day and, boy, did it feel good.” Of course, what has changed? Your brother-in-law is still the pain he always was. One change, though, is that now your family politics has descended into the abyss.

This occurs to me when I hear my political soulmates talk of sitting on their hands this election cycle. I hear pundits and plebeians both make pronouncements about how we have to “clean house” and teach the straying Republican Party a lesson. “Why, we’ll show ‘em! Take us for granted, will you!”

Now, perhaps my grasp of the principles of hygiene is flawed, but my understanding is that you can’t clean a house by replacing the dust with toxic waste. So, let’s see if we can learn a lesson here today.

I’m as disappointed in the liberal tendencies of the neo-con lot as you are. Personally, I’d like to be crowned as king and have the Weimar Republicans perform menial labor around the palace. And maybe Lindsey Graham could be my court jester. But you know what is even more amusing about this fantasy than the scenario itself? It’s just slightly more fanciful than the notion that replacing neo-cons with neo-communists will, in a political galaxy not so far, far away, yield better government.

The rest is here.

More on the myth about our army

Maybe there’s a reason our troops voted overwhelmingly for Bush. Could it be because they knew that Kerry thinks of them as stupid, uneducated yokels?

In any event, this is just more proof of my theory about the hierarchical morality that colors the Democratic/Leftist view of the conflict right now: that is, the Left believes that stupid American kids are being used as pawns in the vast military complex that is imposing American imperialism against innocent Islamic soldiers/countries that are even more poor, stupid and uneducated than the American soldier. (So, using my algorithm, you can tell which side deserves to lose. Hint: it isn’t the Islamists.)

Hat tip: Drudge

UPDATE: One of Michelle Malkin’s readers found statistics about the American military, which support my earlier argument that, contrary to the stereotypes on the Left, our troops are quality human beings who join the military, not because they’re too dumb to know better, but for a complex mix of economic, patriotic, family and social reasons.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

There’s nothing wrong with a newspaper being partisan.  There is something wrong, though, with a partisan newspaper pretending that it has no ideological bias.  Now that the New York Times has refused to endorse any Republicans in the upcoming election — a first in more than 30 years — do you think it might be willing to admit that it writes with and for a certain point of view?

Hat tip:  Drudge

Everything old is new again — a dreadful thought

As part of my random, brief blogging for the evening, let me commend to your attention VictorDavis Hanson’s article reminding us (a) that Extremist Islam is making modern the worst barbarisms of the past and (b) that the Enlightenment is a fragile concept that can easily be overwhelmed through apathy and fear.

Also, a friend urged me to link to a 12 minute video previewing Obsession : Radical Islam’s War Against the West. My friend was right. It’s chilling and well worth watching, and I’ve finally got a link. This video and Hanson’s article together create a scary reminder of the precipice on which the West now stands, and the energy with which the forces of darkness are pushing against us.

Must-read about Iran

Fortunately for those who don’t subscribe to Commentary Magazine, you can still read Amir Taheri’s article urging regime change in Iran. Taheri exposes decades of failed policies vis a vis Iran — not just American, UN and European policies, but also Russian and Turkish policies — and suggests that regime change is not only the answer, but is possible.

Seeing red

I know I shouldn’t be this angry, but I am. My little dog last week developed a very nasty habit: if we leave the kitchen for a minute, she jumps on the table to get the food. I discovered today that a ten year old neighbor taught her to do this. Instead, of apologizing when I confronted him, he gave me a convoluted rationale about dogs that are new learning new things. I was too angry to say anything. When I’m that mad, silence is always the best option.

I’m generally fed up with this kid. The rule is no shoes in the house, but he can’t seem to grasp it (and I have the sand on the carpet to prove it). He also has no sense of privacy and, even as I’m hollering at him to stay out of a room, he’ll just walk into it. I suspect he has mild Asperger’s. I’ve said that from the day I met him — although social, there’s something wrong with his affect — but I’m becoming increasingly certain that I’m right.

So, I know I shouldn’t be mad, because he’s just a kid and I think he has a mild neurological deficit, but I’m still mad, because I now have a dog who jumps on my kitchen table and steals food. Calm me down someone. I’ll take a nice “there, there,” or some practical information about how to deal with a boy who is an important part of the neighborhood social set and who, although a little “off,” is basically a nice little guy who just happens to ignor any boundaries (and who has now taught my dog to ignore an important boundary).

Sometimes you just need to rip the bandaid off

We all know that the only thing more painful than ripping a bandaid off is taking it off ever so slowly.

We all know that you treat cancers by swiftly removing the whole tumor (if possible), and not by gently nudging out one cancerous cell at a time.

We all know (don’t we?) that you fight wars to win.  To that, I’d add that there’s probably more humanity in getting a war over swiftly, even if that means bringing in a lot of upfront firepower against enemy troops, than dragging a war out forever in order to spare as many enemy troop lives as possible.  That is, I’d be willing to bet that, if you could play the two war scenarios out in alternative universes, the swift, but more brutal war, would end up with fewer casualties than the attentuated, but kinder war.

In any event, because I believe that principle, I was gratified to see this story:

NATO troops fought a six-hour battle with insurgents in southern Afghanistan Monday in a firefight that left 55 militants and one NATO soldier dead, the Western alliance said.

Twenty militants also were wounded in the fight in the Daychopan district of Zabul province, NATO said. The nationality of the dead NATO soldier was not released, though many of the Western troops in Zabul are American.

The battle came on the heels of another major fight between militants and NATO and Afghan troops Saturday in neighboring Uruzgan province in which 70 insurgents were killed after they attacked a military base north of Tarin Kowt.

Maj. Luke Knittig, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, said troops in southern Afghanistan are moving into areas where insurgents are active in order to set security conditions to allow reconstruction and development.

“We’re not going to get fixated on a scoreboard tally of insurgents killed,” he said. “What’s more important is getting an accountable government in place.”

NATO and Afghan troops are pressing ahead with a new joint offensive called Operation Eagle, aimed at keeping pressure on the Taliban through the fall and winter and to pave the way for long-promised development after the harshest fighting since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban.

The 32,000-strong NATO-led force took command of security operations in all of Afghanistan last month and has been battling resurgent Taliban militants in the south and east.

There’s more, but the point seems to be that NATO has figured out that you don’t win a war against a determined enemy by dropping a desultory bomb or two on a mule.

And no, I do not feel sorry for the Talibanis who died.  This is war, for God sakes!  Their goal is to kill us; our goal is to kill them first.  They’ve put themselves in the line of fire.  If they’d go away, and leave the beleaguered Afghani people to enjoy the fruits of democracy (and, of course, stop trying to kill NATO troops), we’d leave them alone.  And just to keep the dead Talibani’s voluntary appearance on the battlefield in perspective, remember that the Taliban worked closely with Al Qaeda in 2001, not to kill soldiers in a declared war, but to massacre as many American civilians as possible.

The same situation applies in Afghanistan as it does in Israel.  As you know, the saying there is that, if the Palestinians stopped fighting, peace would come to that land; if the Israelis stopped fighting, they’d all be massacred.  War is never just about killing.  It’s always about the reasons behind the killing and the impetus or lack thereof to continue with the killing.