How seriously can you take a presidential candidate who announces on a late night talk show? There’s a lack of gravitas here that I find disturbing, both when I think about McCain and when I think about the whole American election process.
Archives for February 2007
Because the Left is so exquisitely attuned to pejorative words, a Florida Democrat wants to ban the State government’s use of the phrase “illegal alien,” preferring the oh so much more polite and non-judgmental “undocumented immigrant.” Please pass me the barf bag. This attempt to dress up illegal conduct in pretty words is making me sick. But it’s also giving me ideas. No more “murderers.” Instead, we’ll have “life relievers.” Forget “robbers.” We’ll have “unauthorized property attainers.” “Rapists” no more. I”m going to call them “non-consensual penetrators.” Hey, this is fun! Join me in the comments section.
UPDATE: In a similar vein, see this story out of England. While I’ll agree that the defendant behaved heinously, and undoubtedly broke existing laws about threatening behavior, the “racist” tag again is one for the language police.
Hat tip: Drudge
We finally got around to watching something TV captured for us last week: a PBS program profiling the Marines. What was amazing about the show, considering the source, was how laudatory both Mr. Bookworm and I thought it was. It could not emphasize enough the rigors of training, the camaraderie, the bravery, the history and the honesty and morality of the Marines. I truly enjoyed the show, especially because it dovetailed so perfectly with my understanding of the men who fought at Tripoli, who captured Iwo Jima and who cleaned out Fallujah.
What was really interesting was Mr. Bookworm’s reaction. As readers new to my blog don’t know, while I crossed the Rubicon from liberal to conservative (or, I prefer to think, as the parties’ ethos shifted, the parties rejiggered themselves around me), Mr. Bookworm remained a die-hard liberal. Just to give you an idea, the Times is his browser’s home page! Mr. Bookworm hated the show. While he is fascinated by things military, he thought it was just awful to have a show treating the Marines with such respect, and not dishing out any dirt. After going on for a while about the show’s failings (“it’s just a recruiting film”), his final statement was “and on public television, of all places.” I had to laugh.
It did occur to me this morning, though, that Mr. Bookworm’s reaction may just have been because the show was, in fact, somewhat saccharine. He’s very attuned to movie scores, and the music they chose was this soaring, “inspiring” music tht just went on and on. That kind of thing is always irritating, especially if you pay attention to the music. What I did realize is that, if you’re a die-hard anti-War, anti-military nut, the show would probably please you too, because of the emphasis on the Marines’ warrior culture. After all, if you’re anti-War, the mere fact that a warrior culture exists would drive you crazy, wouldn’t it?
UPDATE: On the radio this morning, I heard an NPR story that probably comports a lot more with the “progressive” view of Marines than does the TV show, since it focuses on a Marine who is on trial for killing an Iraqi civilian (and mentions a few other ongoing military trials in the same vein).
Incidentally, am I the only one who finds it impressive that there are so few of these types of stories about military abuse of power? Considering the military’s demographics — young, male, armed, stressed — it’ s testament to our military that these stories are rare enough to be “man bites dog” headline grabbers, rather than “dog bites man” ho-hum stories.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. –William Shakespeare
Have you ever noticed that, while conservative publications refer to the “Left” and the “Right,” and to “Liberals” and “Conservatives,” liberal publications never do? They refer to the “Right,” but not the “Left,” and to “Conservatives,” but not to “Liberals.” In other words, they never apply a label to themselves. This NYT’s article, describing a negative documentary that liberals made about Michael Moore, perfectly demonstrates this verbal dance (emphasis mine):
MICHAEL MOORE, who carries around controversy the way Paul Bunyan toted an ax, has won legions of fans for being a ball-cap-wearing fly in the ointment of Republican politics. For tweaking the documentary form. Even for making millions of dollars in the traditionally poverty-stricken genre of nonfiction film.
Many despise him for the same reasons.
The Toronto-based documentary filmmakers Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk started out in the first camp. But during the course of making an unauthorized film about Mr. Moore they wound up somewhere in between. In the process, their experience has added a twist to the long-running story of an abrasive social critic who has frequently been criticized from the right, but far less often, as is the case with Ms. Melnyk and Mr. Caine, from his own end of the political spectrum.
“What he’s done for documentaries is amazing,” said Ms. Melnyk, 48, a native of Toronto and a freelance TV producer, who even now expounds on the good he says Mr. Moore has done. “People go to see documentaries now and, as documentary makers, we’re grateful.”
But according to Mr. Caine, 46, an Ohio-born journalist and cameraman, the freewheeling persona cultivated by Mr. Moore, and the free-thinking rhetoric expounded by his friends and associates were not quite what they encountered when they decided to examine his work. “As investigative documentarists we always thought we could look at anything we wanted,” Mr. Caine said. “But when we turned the cameras on one of the leading figures in our own industry, the people we wanted to talk to were like: ‘What are you doing? Why are you throwing stones at the parade leader?’ ”
Ms. Melnyk added, “We were very lonely.”
That link contains a refutation of a number of complaints taken up by conservatives regarding “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but the Melnyk-Caine movie isn’t really about that. “We didn’t want to refute anything,” Ms. Melnyk said. “We just wanted to take a look at Michael Moore and his films. It was only by talking to people that we found out this other stuff.”
This is just one article, but I’ve been aware of it time after time when I read the Times or The New Yorker, or listen to an NPR story. Always, conservatives get labeled; always, the author or speaker, gracefully or awkwardly, works to avoid applying a political label to those who are not conservative.
Please tell me if you think I’m imagining this, or if you’ve seen the same pattern. If I’m right, I have my guesses as to why this is so, but I’d love to hear your guesses first.
When you’re dealing with people in an alternate universe, they’ll often try to convince you that the evidence of your own eyes is wrong and that black is actually white or vice versa. This is happening on the far Left side of the blogosphere where the new meme, apparently, is that LGF is anti-Semitic. The reasoning is that, by highlighting Muslim atrocities, LGF is trying to foment hatred against the Jews who are forcing the Muslims to commit these atrocities. (I’m not kidding. Check it out here.)
Because we’ve all learned that you need to defend yourself against even the most stupid attacks — and that it’s nice if your friends help out — let me just say, as a Jew who likes being Jewish, that LGF is just about the most rational, pro-Jewish site there is. Please note the use of the word “rational.” In other words, LGF’s positive attitude towards Jews is not the mirror image of the irrational anti-Semitism that exists on so many sites. It’s a manifestation of an intelligent brain that has examined the world stituation and concluded, rightly, that Jews are not the enemies.
UPDATE: Welcome, LGF readers! Thank you for dropping by. Needless to say, I’d be delighted if you took a minute to look around. If you’re a conservative thinker, you might like what you see.
Two personal anecdotes and then I’ll get to my point.
1. When my first Little Bookworm was born, I went into a fairly deep funk. She was a lousy sleeper, and I’m generally not very good at handling change in my life. Between fatigue and my own personal inflexibility, all I could do — very vocally –was mourn the passing of my easy, well-ordered life before a baby came along. Mr. Bookworm put up with my whining quite patiently for a long time, but he finally had it. On night, he turned to me and said words that completely rejiggered my thinking about motherhood: “This is your life now. Get used to it.” In other words, you can mourn the past as much as you want, but you live in the present. I operate with that philosophy on a regular basis now.
2. I can walk into a room and instantly tell you what’s wrong with it: the colors are ugly, the furniture doesn’t fit the room, the paintings are poor quality. Whatever. Just don’t ask me to fix it. My decorating talents are purely destructive, not constructive. I don’t have the slightest ability to make a room look good (which is why I turn to my mother, who is very talented in that direction).
Those are the anecdotes. This is my point: The press is making much of the fact that Barack Obama is one of the candidates who can boast to the base that he
voted against never supported the war. That’s all well and good, but it ignores the fact that, while he may have opposed it, we’re now in the midst of one. Anti-war people can mourn the 2003 votes as much as possible, wishing that they had gone otherwise, but the present is war.
Which gets me to my second point. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Obama was right and the war is wrong, he hasn’t given any indication whatsoever that he has the ability to deal with the present reality. Like me with a room, it’s easy to point out errors, and much, much harder to provide solutions. Until Obama gives a sign that he’s functioning in the present and not trying to rewrite 2003, and until he shows that he can do more than complain about the situation, I continue to be unimpressed with him as a viable wartime candidate.
My long-ago post about the Marin County NIMBYs who were upset that Habitat for Humanity was coming to their neck of the woods, sparked quite a debate. The very first comment, which I understand was tongue in cheek, struck me strongly, though. Because I agreed with the NIMBYs, who feel you can’t just go around dumping poor people in affluent communities in the hope of social engineer, Helen jokingly concluded that I must not like poor people, with the further implication that I don’t care what becomes of them.
Helen’s is an interesting point because I think it’s consistent with the liberal belief system that conservatives hate the poor and downtrodden, thereby explaining why conservatives keep shooting down all liberal legislation aimed at aiding the poor and downtrodden. I believe that conclusion is profoundly in error.
As far as I can tell, conservatives — including ex-liberals like me — would love to see the poverty problem resolved, making it a goal we share with the liberals. However, where we differ, is that we do not believe liberal means, which amount to government intervention in the marketplace and to wealth reallocation, will achieve this goal. And to give conservatives their due, this belief isn’t just grounded in theory, it arises from watching the myriad failures of 40 years of Great Society experimentation.
So, it seems to me that one of the great divides between liberals and conservatives is the liberals’ belief that, if you don’t buy into their economic means, you must be rejecting their economic ends. If you don’t want wealth reallocation, you must hate the poor. If you don’t believe in unlimited welfare, you must hate the poor. If you believe corporations should be taxed within an inch of the corporate lives, you must hate the poor.
All of this swirled to the fore of my brain when I began reading Thomas Edsall’s Building Red America : The New Conservative Colation and the Drive for Permanent Power, a very well-written book that attempts to understand conservative successes over the last 40 years, and to come up with ideas about how Democrats can again grab political power. By well-written, I mean factually accurate, well-organized, with a lot of manifestly correct analyses. It’s also a profoundly wrong-headed book, to my way of thinking, in that it assumes that Republicans have done well, not because their ideas are better and more appealing, but because they’ve sold a false bill of goods to the American people. That is, in the author’s mind, only manipulation could get the American people to turn their back on high taxes, wealth reallocation, and government intervention in economics. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that the American people might have concluded have 40 years that these heavy-handed government based systems don’t work.
It turns out that I’m not the only one who has noticed that, on the Left, there are certain core beliefs that exist regardless of practical experience or hard evidence. Robert Godwin, writing at the blog One Cosmos, has done a lengthy post regarding the academic Left’s rigid adherence to theory over fact. (Hat tip: American Thinker.) I think you should read the whole post, but I’m quoting one section of it here to emphasize my point about flawed erroneous premises:
Why is it that the the smartest people are often the most unintelligent? Why is academia full of presumably bright people with such foolish or shallow ideas? And why do so many of them think the same way? Why are they so predictable? (And please, I am speaking of generalities here; I am well aware of the exceptions.)
Academia seems to be a culture, like the MSM, that is simply so permeated with the leftist worldview — and all of its many hidden assumptions — that it is utterly blind to those assumptions. And because academics mostly associate with their own psychoclass, they come to regard their worldview as normative instead of an aberration — even an illness of the soul. Thus, they may not be so much arrogant as clueless. And the more elite the university, the more predictable they are. For example, professors at so-called “elite” universities are much more likely to be irreligious than those from junior colleges and state universities. It’s like a Darwinian process of natural selction, in which the dark academic environment selects only the metaphysically blind, who are somehow able to “see” there, like those fish at the bottom of the sea.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a relative by marriage who is a renowned historian. I remember once having a conversation with him in which I brought up the obvious innate differences between male and female nature. Not only did he disagree with me, but he insisted that I show him the data that I relied upon to arrive at this conclusion. There seems to be a sort of mental disability that can afflict the overly-educated person, so that he can no longer understand certain things that have always been known — and in a way, cannot not be known. Something interferes with the “naturally supernatural” process of direct “internal” knowing, and must be replaced from the outside with “data” or an empirical study. I suppose it’s analogous to someone who only ate processed food. Eventually they would lose their taste for natural foods. Compared to a fried academic Snickers bar, an intuitive apple just won’t do.
The whole means versus ends thinking also appears in connection with dictators and other murderous government types around the world. At Contentions, the excellent new Commentary Magazine blog, one of my favorite writers, Joshua Murvachik, wrote a post about a dark horse Democratic candidate, General Wesley Clark. It’s not a general post, but a very specific one, focusing on Clark’s cozy chit chat with General Ratko Mladic, one of the Serbian mass murderers. The post got me thinking about the fact that liberals have, for decades, had a truly distasteful habit of cozying up with the worst of the worst. Chamberlain, in 1938, was convinced that Hitler was a friend and Truman, who learned from his mistake, believed that Joe Stalin was a good guy. (In Truman’s defense, Stalin was certainly a necessary, although unsavory, ally once Hitler turned on the Russians.)
In recent years, the liberal/murderer friendships have come thick and fast. Carter leads the pack, of course, holding hands and making kissy faces at anyone who is evil. But you can run out of fingers (and toes), counting the famous liberals who have made nice with today’s bad guys. Every liberal loves Castro and the Che chic on the Left is an embarrassment, lauding as it does one of Castro’s mass murderers. Gore and Kerry fly around the world, to the most repressive regimes, where they denounce America. (And, if Kerry is to be believed, he conducted private peace talks with the lovable East Asian Communists during the Vietnam War.) Cindy Sheehan, of course, has regular love-fests with Venezuela’s despicable Hugo Chavez and, just recently, the LA Times denounced the United States for picking on the beleaguered Iran and their innocent (and, to the LA Times, unproven) nuclear program. This mind view exists even when we stop talking about nations and start talking about individuals. It doesn’t take a very long memory to recall liberal horror that the State of California was going to execute Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a Crips founder, who was convicted of murdering four people, and who doubtless killed dozens more during LA gang wars.
It would be easy to say that liberals love dictators and killers, but I think that’s unfair. Decent liberals (and I think most are) hate dictators and murderers every bit as much as every other right thinking person. Thus, both liberals and conservatives envision the same end, which is the cessation of the bad acts that these dictators (and murderers) commit. The difference is the way in which liberals and conservatives think these bad people should be treated. Conservatives believe them to be inherently evil and think that they should be removed from power, whether the power to rule a nation (Ahmadinijad, for example) or the power to control a gang (Tookie or Che). Liberals, however, simply think that these evil-doers are misunderstood, and that if we could just figure out what they really want, they’d stop doing such bad things. In liberal land, it’s inconceivable that what these bad guys might really want is, in fact, unlimited power, and the ability to kill and torture people both at home and abroad.
Nor do liberals change their minds in the face of evidence contradicting their premise. In 1938, Chamberlain gave Hitler what he wanted. World War II resulted. Since 1994, with Carter’s connivance, America has repeatedly given N. Korea what she demands, with the result that N. Korea continuously escalated its nuclear program to the point where it can no longer be stopped. The same holds true for the naive West’s dealings with Iran and the Palestinian. Every time, we think that we’re stopping their need for blood by satisfying some deep psychological urge (an urge that, coincidentally, usually requires money, arms, and room to use them), only to be surprised that, instead of getting better, they get worse.
Putting aside poverty and war, I suspect one can come up with dozens of examples in which, contrary to the liberal view, liberals and conservatives do in fact seek the same goal (quality education comes to mind), but they pursue very different ends to achieve those goals. And having myself achieved a comfortable middle age, and having seen the means put forward by both liberals and conservatives to achieve those goals, I’ll come down on the side of the conservatives every time. Contrary to Thomas Edsall’s view that conservative achievements are just luck, and that their stated principles are nothing more than canards meant to deceive the American people, I think that conservative achievements result from a hard-headed pragmatism that desires positive ends, but that recognizes that all people have some vices, and that some people are all vice, and that then works with those human foibles, rather than pretending they don’t exist.
UPDATE: Here’s Hans Blix pretty much making my point about the Left’s habit of using therapy to deal with bad guys.
My Jewish readers may enjoy this one, which I got from a friend:
In keeping up with the Levy’s and the Zimmerman’s,
It is with great stress, emotional and physical fatigue and incredible financial sacrifice beyond comprehension, that we invite you to join us as our wonderful son
is called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah.
Saturday, May 12th –
(yes we realize its Mother’s Day Weekend)
Temple Beth Israel
14 XXXXXXXX Road
at the ungodly hour of 9 am even though you don’t really need to be there until 10:20am to catch the real action.
If you make it through the 3 hour service, please skip the kiddush (its just cookies and cake) and join us instead for an overly large and ostentatious Kosher (my husband’s idea) evening meal, which starts at 7 PM, (not 8 PM.. or you will miss out on the 2000 canapes).
XXXXXXXX Country Club
25 Smith Drive
Westport, CT 06880
(which we had to join just for this event and you would not believe the initiation fees)
You will be in the presence of lots of boisterous and expensive entertainment and 60 to 70 unruly pre-teens wearing expensive dresses, funny hats, fake bling and brand new white ankle socks … as well as 80-100 middle aged+ adults, some balding, some with bad toupees, most will be professionally coiffed, designer attire galore, lots of REAL bling, and most “tootsed” to the nines. At least 1/3 will be hormonally challenged and some will act stupid while under the influence. Some will not even know where or who they are. Some will complain about the food. Blah Blah Blah.
Please have the courtesy of showing up if you RSVP that you are attending, or you will be billed for $210.00 a plate if you are a no-show. Please RSVP as soon as you get this and not a day before the cut-off date. I can’t take the stress.
Hope you can make it! Judy and David Gold
Dress: Black Tie optional
Theme: Star Wars
BYO Kippot. I don’t have the strength.
Light blogging continues as I re-immerse myself into the news world. Last night, thanks to the miracle that is TiVo, we caught up on all the Jay Leno shows that we missed. It was a weak week’s worth of shows, but I enjoyed a moment when Mitch Fatel, one of Leno’s funnier contributors, visited to the NBA All-Stars Game (or whatever it was called). He was interviewing Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, when he suddenly asked “Since you’re French, do you ever just want to surrender in the middle of a game?” Parker was not amused, but Mr. Bookworm and I were.
I’m back — and have been so busy unpacking and tidying, that I haven’t even read the headlines. I did, however, want to tell you that, if you find yourself near Goleta, California (north of Santa Barbara) in winter, you absolutely must visit the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. Tens of thousands of monarch butterflies spend the winter there, and it is one of nature’s more amazing sights. We didn’t get to see too many butterflies this time, both because it’s a bit late in the season and because so many died several years ago during a bad storm, but it’s still impressive. At any given moment, hundreds flutter about in the air, and those clusters of orange leaves you see on the eucalyptus trees aren’t leaves at all, but thousands of butterflies. It’s both peaceful and exhilarating.
Except in the rare circumstance when genocide is the goal, war is never an end in itself. It is always a means to the end of a better negotiating position. Someone in one of these threads mentioned the old saying that war is diplomacy by other means. With this in mind, consider Judyrose’s question, asked twice now but not answered, of what we could offer to the jihadists at the negotiating table. If we take the approach of the liberals, who would withdraw from Iraq and, essentially, abandon war and the threat of war as negotiating tools, we would have nothing to offer.
The plain truth is the jihadists want to destroy us, our society, our freedoms, our religion, our way of life. They’ve said so over and over again. They have proven over and over again that they are deadly serious. Assuming we are not willing to surrender those things, we really do have nothing to offer that they would be interested in. The only other alternative I see is to “persuade” them to abandon those goals. I’m absolutely certain that talking nicely to them won’t do that. They aren’t interested in the usual bribe-like financial incentives. They don’t want to join our modern-day materialistic society; they want to destroy it.
The only way we can persuade them to give up their goals is by persuading them that (a) they cannot possibly achieve those goals, and (b) we will make it so painful for them to even try that they should abandon the effort. Obviously, we can do this only by displaying a commitment to war and a ruthlessness that we have thus far utterly failed to show. We have the power to really “shock and awe” but we have never unleashed it or even threatened serious to do so. Until we do so, the jihadist threat will grow. Attempting to appease or persuade them with anything short of the use, or serious threat of use, of all of our power will surely fail.
This leads to a serious question, though. The American public has shown conclusively that they are not nearly ruthless enough. They will not even support the limited effort we are making in Iraq. They are not about to support the kind of military effort it would take to have any deterrent effect on the jihadists.
So, two questions: (1) are there any other alternatives to serious warfare which will result in the johadists giving up? (2) If not, how do we persuade the American people (and the rest of the non-Muslim world, for that matter) that such a serious, grim and ruthless effort is necessary?
I was told yesterday that I am a “warmonger.” I opposed the invasion of Iraq. But I’m a warmonger. I believe that war should be used only as a last resort. But I am a warmonger. Why? Well, because I refuse to denounce all war as evil. Because I believe that when someone declares war on me, my nation, my culture, my way of life, self defense is a valid, moral response. Because I self-identify as a conservative. I am a warmonger.
Modern day leftists devalue the language with meaning-twisting, Alice in Wonderland word play. The same person tells me I’m a racist because I committed the sin of being born with white skin and I can only hope, if I completely denounce my whiteness, to aspire to the title of recovering racist. Yet those who actively and openly discriminate are not racists; as long as they discriminate against white folks, they’re just engaged in “affirmative action.” If a women causes the foetus in her womb to be removed, she’s merely exercising a “right to choose” as if the choice, not the act, is all that matters . . . as if thieves are merely exercising their right to choose to steal, murderers are merely exercising their right to kill, dishonest businessmen are merely exercising their right to make money.
If we are going to communicate with each other we have to speak a common language. Perhaps we can start by giving words their proper and common meaning instead of twisting them into meaninglessness. Let’s talk. But let’s speak English, okay?