Happy New Year

I’d meant to write a long, ruminative post about the end of a very painful 2009 and the beginning of what we hope is a better 2010. My husband, however, has commandeered my computer, so I am reduced to blogging on my iPhone. The best I can do, therefore, is to wish all of you a simple, but heartfelt, Happy New Year!!

The Watcher’s Council sees out the old year

We’ve been cleaning house like crazy.  My husband woke up this morning and announced that everything that was useless had to go.  Well, I say that every day (usually about the President), but no one listens to me.  With him in the driver’s seat, though, we had a frenzy of cleaning, which resulted in a full car for Goodwill, and a lot of stuff by the side of the house for the trash man.  I’ve got a minute now before the Goodwill run, and I’m using it, to my delight, to read this week’s submissions to the Watcher’s Council.  I can’t recommend better stuff to see out the old year and see in the new:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

San Francisco: America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

A quick, and personal, history of San Francisco’s decline from the 1960s to the present

I was born and grew up in San Francisco.  My very earliest memories of the City just predate the advent of the hippies.  At that time, the City was a solid amalgam of working class people, middle class people, and a nice handful of the very, very rich.  Barring the inevitable slums (and all cities have them), San Francisco was a well-maintained, fairly safe place.  Trips downtown (usually triggered by a visit to the doctor in the medical building at 450 Sutter) always ended with a visit to the beautiful City of Paris department store to admire the rotunda (which you can still see in the new Nieman Marcus on the same site), a stop at the marble bathrooms in I. Magnin’s (where Macy’s stands now), and treats at Blum’s Restaurant.  Women and men still wore hats in public places, and the women usually wore gloves too.  The sidewalks were clean, and there were no beggars.

I remember, too, when the hippies came along.  Initially, at least from a child’s point of view, it was kind of fun.  During the Summer of Love in 1967, colorfully dressed young people would be dancing in Golden Gate Park, waving banners, blowing bubbles and handing out flowers to all who passed by.  Of course, when they left the Park at the end of these pretty love-ins, the grass was torn to shreds, the flower beds were destroyed, and a few overdosed teens always lay scattered in the detritus left behind.  Soon, though, the magic (such as it was) vanished, and all that was left behind was the miserable slum that was the Haight Ashbury.

Because San Francisco was notorious for her hippies, whenever out-of-town friends came to visit, they’d insist on a tour of the Haight.  As a child, therefore, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I often found myself in that blighted neighborhood.  The streets were filthy, covered with a disgusting mixture of garbage, urine and feces.  Collapsed on the sidewalks, holding up the walls, were the drug addicts — stringy-haired, bleary eyed and smelly.  Because sidewalks are hard and cold, a lot of the druggies would migrate to the green strip of the Panhandle or into Golden Gate Park itself.  While the Panhandle quickly became off limits for us children, we still went to the Park quite often — but were always carefully warned about needles in the grass and bums in the bushes.

The hippies weren’t just an aberration.  They were the beginning of a deep rot that set into the City.  Some of them remained as anchors for the homeless who still pepper San Francisco’s streets, making those streets unsafe or just very, very unpleasant for ordinary people.  Others reformed their lifestyles, but kept their Leftist, SDS influenced politics.  They grew up, got jobs, bought homes, and became people of influence in the City.  Their influence wasn’t immediately obvious.  During the 1970s, the City just drifted along.  Self-realization and self-actualization and general self-involvement hit the middle class with a bang, with the result that everyone was running around seeking his bliss, pausing only periodically to do some navel gazing.

The City’s gays, contrary to the film Milk, weren’t in a perpetual state of political activism during the 1970s.  Instead, they were glorying in the hedonism that was part-and-parcel of escaping the dark closet in which they’d lived for so many years.  I can’t say that I blame them — it was a giddy feeling to be free to express a long-hidden sexuality — but the results were deleterious.  It’s not healthy for a City to have a neighborhood that’s dedicated to sex, a rather obvious principle that is entirely separate from the fact that the Castro and its myriad bathhouses proved to be perfect Petri dishes for a burgeoning fatal disease that would soon sweep the world.

I was gone from San Francisco during much of the early and mid-1980s, returning to the City only in the late 1980s.  Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was living a wonderfully self-absorbed yuppie lifestyle, but I still managed to figure out that several things had changed since I’d last lived in San Francisco.  The most obvious change was the presence of homeless people, not just in the Haight and in Golden Gate Park, but everywhere.  The City was no longer making any effort whatsoever to control the homeless problem.

A walk down Montgomery Street, the main artery in San Francisco’s business district, meant one was perpetually under siege from panhandlers, most of them odoriferous and many of them crawling with lice and fleas.  Many, if not all, were obviously mentally ill or deeply in thrall to drugs or alcohol.  I couldn’t blame them for being where they were.  The City’s temperate climate and unenforced vagrancy laws made San Francisco a natural environment for such people.

As for me, I’ve always thought it’s the hallmark of a civilized society that it doesn’t leave its sick and deranged people begging on sidewalks and sleeping in doorways.  The ACLU, however, begs to differ.  And yes, I know that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the idea first came to de-institutionalize the inebriate homes and insane asylums that were once part of the American landscape, it was an unholy alliance of both the Left and the Right that led the charge.  In the years since, however, as the damage to urban areas from de-institutionalization has become clear, the ACLU has come to own the issue, and has routinely insisted that America must allow the helpless insane to live in the street and grub in the garbage.  Apparently Leftist civil rights include ensuring that those least able to care for themselves get no help from the rest of us.

The City had also lost what limited control it once had over the worst neighborhoods in town.  Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in the area surrounding the venerable Cow Palace.  Admittedly, that area was never a very nice one, but I remember as a child going frequently to events at the Cow Palace, going to gymnastic meets at the neighborhood schools, dining on delicious Middle Eastern food at a family-owned restaurant, and visiting people’s houses in the area.  Although I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time, looking back I would characterize the neighborhood as lower working class.  By the late 1980s, it was just plain scary, with the housing projects dominating and blighting the area.  (The worst of those housing projects, incidentally, became so unsustainable that the City eventually destroyed them in an effort at urban renewal.  Those that remain are still appalling.)

By the late 1990s, I had left San Francisco for the Marin suburbs, and I’ve never looked back.  Marin is ridiculously overpriced, but it’s also beautiful, exquisitely well-maintained and very safe. Although separated from the City by only 12 miles and one bridge, it is another world.  The people here may be politically liberal (voting overwhelmingly Democratic), but they’re hardheaded, NIMBY-esque pragmatists when it comes to preserving their own expensive lifestyles.

For the first decade of my Marin life, my visits to the City were very targeted because of the children:  I pretty much went only to Golden Gate Park and the Marina District.  The Marina District has always been lovely, remaining peculiarly untouched by the City’s ongoing turmoil (perhaps because large parts of it have been under Federal control).  There are few things nicer than walking from the Marina waterfront to Fort Point.  Also during those years, Golden Gate Park, while unpleasant around the fringes, underwent a renaissance at its center that begin with a completely rebuilt De Young Museum, and ended with a completely rebuilt Academy of Sciences.  At times, the City, as Herb Caen would say, still knows how.

San Francisco establishes itself as the cutting edge city of America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, I find myself in the City more and more often.  I don’t visit the well-maintained spots that still charm tourists, though.  Instead, my children’s activities take me to parts of town other than the little Potemkin neighborhoods, neatly preserved for the tourists or the affluent liberals concerned with preserving lovely enclaves for themselves.  On these journeys, consistently, I am appalled by what I see.  The City has morphed into a crazy combination of anarchy and Leftist totalitarianism, all neatly wrapped into a package called “political correctness.”  This matters, not just because we’re witnessing the death of what used to be one of the most beautiful, desirable cities in the world, but because it perfectly represents the American Leftist paradigm.  In other words, San Francisco is the future of American Leftism, and it’s a very scary future indeed.

Before I go further, it’s useful to define some of the terms I’ll use here, particularly as they apply to San Francisco.  San Francisco would characterize itself as a “liberal” city.  “Liberal,” of course, is a misnomer.  Modern liberalism completely rejects the notion of individual freedom that is inherent in the linguistic root of the term (from the Latin līberālis, from līber, free).  Instead, today’s liberalism is a socialist movement that is predicated on placing all power in government.  And when all power resides in the government, you end up with totalitarianism or, as some people call it, fascism.

People who aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in the U.S. today think of totalitarianism solely in terms of Nazi Europe, Fascist Italy or, if they’re being honest, Soviet Eastern Europe.   If you play a word association game with most Americans, especially American liberals, and feed them the words totalitarian or fascist, they’ll come back with references to concentration camps, gulags, Gestapo and KGB agents.

Jonah Goldberg, however, in his splendid book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, figured out that modern western totalitarianism, of the kind practiced by Western European and American progressives/liberals has a more maternal cast than that practiced in Germany, the Soviet Union, China, or other non-Western countries cursed by all-powerful governments.

Unlike their Asian, Latin American or Eastern European counterparts, modern Western socialist governments aren’t going to round us up and shoot us.  Instead, they’re going to love us to death.  They’ll control what we buy, what we eat, how we get our health care, how we educate our children, what we watch on TV, what light bulbs we screw in, what cars we drive, what phones we use, what shopping bags we use, etc., all with the most beneficent of intentions.  We won’t be murdered by gun toting government-funded thugs in concentration camps.  Instead, we’ll just be infantilized to the point where we’re incapable of functioning without a Nanny state at our backs — and our fronts and our sides, and wherever else the State can insert itself into a citizen’s life.  (By the way, if you want to know what that will look like, just cast your mind back to images of Hurricane Katrina.  The self-reliant middle class sat on their porches with shotguns, protecting their families and homes.  The welfare classes, destroyed not by their race but by their decades-long dependence on government handouts, were incapable of even moving off the side of the road.)

The one thing that Jonah Goldberg’s book misses is the fact that the New Age, crystal-gazing American socialist utopia does not allow itself to control all people within its political borders.  Instead, in the name of political correctness, American socialist cities have a two-tiered system:  law-abiding citizens are on the receiving end of heavy-handed government control, while politically correct protected victim classes are removed from any controls whatsoever.  The result is the worst of all possible worlds, with law abiding citizens beaten down both by their own government and by those whom the government allows to roam free.  San Francisco provides a perfect example of this Western socialist dynamic.

San Francisco’s intense hostility to capitalism

Some of the contrasts between intense government control versus anarchy are very obvious in San Francisco.  On the control side, the City’s mandates pry into every area of business and even personal life.  At a macro level, the City is very, very hostile to business.  It has its own minimum wage law (SF Admin. Code, Secs. 12P, 12R, & Appx. 68), which controls anyone doing business in or with the City of San Francisco.  The City apparently feels it’s not a big enough burden on businesses to have the feds set wages too.  The minimum wage laws are great for those who can get jobs; but lousy for those who discover that, as a result of the hostile environment, there are fewer businesses around to provide jobs.

San Francisco has long had stringent rent control laws (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 37.1).  This is one of those things that benefits renters in the short term, by forcing below market rates for rental property, but that is a disaster in the long term.  Because it means that landlords cannot make reasonable money on property, cannot alienate property, and cannot evict tenants, there is no incentive to be a landlord or, if one is a landlord, to maintain the property beyond the bare minimum.  By interfering in the marketplace, San Francisco has ensured that there are fewer properties available, and that those available are minimally maintained.  It’s therefore lousy to be either a landlord or a tenant in the City.

San Francisco doesn’t just stick its liberal nose into the real estate market.  In the name of political correctness, it also makes doing business in and with the City very, very expensive.  For example, in its endless effort to promote business that are owned by women and minorities, the City mandates that women and minority owned businesses, when bidding for City work, get the benefit of a special discount in the bidding process (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 12D.A.)  While this might have made sense as a short term incentive to allow new businesses to break into a field that had become limited to a few permanent, old-time contractors, it’s now become a permanent and costly boondoggle, funding politically protected businesses on the San Francisco taxpayers’ collective backs.

San Francisco’s need to control its law-abiding citizens

The City also likes to make sure that its residents are environmentally pure.  In 2007, the City banned plastic shopping bags, a sop to environmentalists, but a burden to ordinary people:

“We need to get rid of a hell of a lot of this stuff,” Ora Gosey, 56, said outside an Albertsons in the Western Addition. As the retiree spoke, she inched away from a case of grape soda she had placed on the ground as if it didn’t belong to her. It was double-bagged in plastic.

“I needed something,” she admitted, “because it’s so heavy.”

Plastic checkout bags are pretty convenient, Gosey and others said. You can carry them easily down the sidewalk or on a bus, and they’re less prone to ripping than paper. At home, they come in handy for packing trash. And in the park, they’re good to have when you walk the dog.

According to the Film and Bag Federation, a plastics industry group, the bags can also be used to keep things dry in a canoe, make Christmas wreaths and kites, and assist in the nearly impossible task of putting on a wetsuit.

I know that I, personally, never, never throw away those plastic bags.  They have more uses in my household than I can count.  If I stop getting them free from stores, I’ll just have to go out and buy heavier, less environmentally-friendly plastic bags to use for the same purpose.  And sadly, that may be my future too, since Marin is planning on banning both plastic and paper bags.  I’ll soon have to become one of those crazy Marin bag ladies who marches into a grocery store carrying an armful of mismatched, costly, inconvenient bags of my own, all of which I have to remember to return to my car once I unload my groceries.  Feh!  I don’t mind it when serious-minded conservationists, whether liberal or conservative, do this because they want to.  I just don’t want to be forced to do so.

The City reserves special animus for smokers.  Now, I have to confess here that I loath the smell of cigarette smoke.  I don’t have a problem with a person making the decision to smoke, although I think it’s a foolish decision, both in terms of expense and health, but I’m still enough of a libertarian to allow people to make their own bad decisions.  The problem with cigarettes, though, is that the smoke doesn’t stay near the smoker.  If I’m in a room with you, and you’re smoking, I suddenly find myself enveloped in that foul smelling stuff, which makes me crazy.  Even when you leave the room, I can’t get rid of the smell, which has permeated my clothes, my hair and my skin.  I therefore don’t have a problem with San Francisco’s original smoking ban, which banned smoking in the workplace.  (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 8.)  The problem is that the Nanny City, not content with protecting me from your smoke (which I find reasonable), is now intent on protecting you from your smoke, which I find unreasonably intrusive.  Thus, a proposed new law would shut down smoking in the great outdoors too (among other venues within the City’s borders):

San Franciscans would see a bevy of more “no smoking” signs in The City if legislation introduced Tuesday is approved.

As The Examiner reported in November, Supervisor Eric Mar reignited the stalled legislation that would forbid smoking in a slew of new settings, adding to existing bans in bars, restaurants, parks, transit stops and taxis.

The bill would expand no-smoking zones to include farmers’ markets, outdoor seating areas of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, and common areas of multiunit housing complexes.

Smokers would have to light up farther away from entrances, exits, windows and vents of all buildings. And smoking would only be allowed at the curb of sidewalks, streets and alleys. If there is no curb, smoking would be prohibited within 15 feet of entrances or exits, according to the bill.

Smokers also would have to be at least 20 feet from transit shelters, boarding areas and ticket lines, including those for cable cars.

The legislation would ban smoking while waiting in lines at ATMs, theaters, athletic events, concert venues and cab stands.

Another way in which the City makes life difficult for the law abiding is parking.  It costs two dollars an hour to park at a downtown meter, which means carrying around a lot of quarters.  The high cost is necessitated, in part, by the fact that the City has handed out so many handicapped parking waivers, many meters make no money at all.

As it happens, the insanely expensive meters are the least of the parking problem.  The City is also hell on wheels for parking because of all the signs.  I’ve driven down blocks that have six or seven different parking control signs per block.  Clipping along at 25 or 30 miles per hour, trying to read all the signs, it’s impossible to tell whether you’re going to be barred from parking by the sign limiting parking to residents, the sign limiting parking to businesses, the sign limiting parking to certain hours of the day or night, or the sign limiting parking to certain days of the week because of street cleaning.  Decoding the signs might eventually tell you that it’s okay to park on the northern end of the block, but woe betide you if, at the wrong hour of the day, you park at the southern end.  And all this doesn’t even count the signs hidden in untrimmed trees, so that you have to guess as to what they say.

As part of its relentless drive to purify itself into a “liberal” paradise, the City also keeps trying to outlaw guns (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 73), ban the Blue Angels, bar the military from San Francisco schools (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 74), shut down JROTC (although a few stalwarts have managed to hold the line), impeach Republican administrations (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 76), and generally work to shut down avenues of protection or expression for any but the most liberal residents.

San Francisco extends special protections to law-breakers

While piling law after law after law onto the already law-abiding, San Francisco goes out of its way to protect the law breaking.  It refuses to enforce laws against marijuana (SF Admin. Code sec. 12X), a bit of civil disobedience by the city that ensures that every drug dealer within miles views San Francisco as a sort of commercial Mecca.  Whether one believes anti-drug laws are a good thing or a bad thing, I think all reasonable people recognize that, when a single city carves itself out as a dealer’s paradise, it’s setting itself up for drug usage problems of a more serious kind.  The same guy who comes here peddling pot isn’t going to leave his harder drugs far behind, since he knows that the wise police officer will ignore everything rather than get into a politically correct wrangle.

More seriously, San Francisco refuses to enforce federal immigration laws.  It has classed itself as an official “City and County of Refuge.”  (SF Admin. Code, sec. 12H.)  The practical effect of this is that, in the City’s own words,

No department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals in the City and County of San Francisco unless such assistance is required by federal or State statute, regulation or court decision.  (Sec. 12H.2.)

The City has effectively announced to the world that anyone whose first act upon entering America is to break American law is welcome in San Francisco.  As with the City’s refusal to enforce drug laws, people whose crimes go beyond “merely” entering the country illegally know that they are also welcome in San Francisco.  Anyone with half a brain (meaning no one on the SF Board of Stupidvisors) could have figured out that this sanctuary policy would end in tragedy.  The latest, and most horrible example, of the inevitable tragedy occurred when Edwin Ramos, who came to San Francisco illegally from El Salvador, committed a gangland murder against a father and his two sons, Anthony Bologna, 48, Michael Bologna, 20, and Matthew Bologna, 16, all three of whom were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at Ramos’ time.  The real horror wasn’t even Ramos’ illegal status.  It was that the City knew about his illegal status and his criminal propensities, but did nothing because of the Sanctuary Law:

The case prompted public outcry after it emerged that Ramos was convicted of two gang-related felonies when he was 17, but local officials did not contact federal agencies to determine his immigration status.

The Bologna family — or, I should say, what’s left of it after Ramos’ massacre — is suing.  I wish them luck, but even a lawsuit won’t change the City’s progressive mindset, one that, as a matter of political ideology, elevates lawbreakers over the law-abiding.

When San Francisco does have laws aimed at making life better for the ordinary citizen, it ignores them.  Although it has an official ban against aggressive solicitation (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 25, 69, which the voters forced on the City), that ban is seldom enforced, and the failure to enforce occurs entirely for PC reasons.  For example, on an annual basis the local paper reports about the Hell that is Haight Ashbury, a miserable situation that results, in large part, because of the aggressive homeless:

Haight-Ashbury may be its own worst enemy. The neighborhood that hosted the Summer of Love 40 years ago has developed a nasty edge. Sleepy stoner panhandlers have given way to aggressive street punks who stand in the path of pedestrians and demand payment. Park Station police Capt. Teresa Barrett suggests watching “Haight Street” on YouTube to see the mind-set. One kid says if you have the money to shop on Haight, you’d damn well better kick in $20.

The problem with the Haight isn’t lack of funds, or lack of laws.  Instead, the neighborhood is besieged because of the “liberals” who have bought into the whole root cause ideology when it comes to crime.  These anarchic nanny staters are certain that the bad behaviors that distress the Haight’s residents and visitors alike are a result of the malefactors’ victim status, and have nothing to do with the fact that the City puts no brakes on crime and brutality:

But the city – particularly Haight-Ashbury – has clung to its image as understanding and tolerant. Attempts to install a sit/lie law that would prohibit camping on the sidewalk for hours at a time have gone nowhere. Too mean, too restrictive, critics say.

This kind of urban horror story isn’t limited to the Haight.  Golden Gate Park, which also never recovered from the Summer of Love, is periodically in the papers too, again because the Liberals in the City, unable to break away from the theory that the homeless are all victims who just need to be left alone,  just can’t bear to get tough on vagrancy, begging, and out-and-out crime.  Sure, there are the periodic crackdowns when things become too terrible to contemplate, but then the liberal cycle of letting “victim classes” run the show begins all over again.

Because the City relentlessly defines the drug addicts, alcoholics, and crazy people as victims who can’t be touched, these people live on the streets in filth, eating out of garbage cans, terrorizing ordinary citizens.  Whether riding BART, walking down Montgomery Street, trying to catch a show at the Orpheum on Market Street, visiting the public library, going to City Hall, or going to Costco, the law-abiding, taxpaying Average Joe is assaulted by smells, disease, aggressive begging and, sometimes, actual assaults.  Still, in liberal eyes, it’s the perpetrators, not the solid citizens, who are defined as victim.

San Francisco ignores existing decency laws to protect sexual “victim classes”

The last thing in my litany of complaints about San Francisco’s reverence for law breakers and burdens on law abiders is the special status it accords licentious behavior.  In theory, the City has an obligation to enforce laws supporting public decency.  These are the laws that ban public nudity and public sex acts.  In fact, because the violations of these laws are routinely committed by gay men, the City turns a blind eye to them.  In the City, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals are a protected class, and that means that they get to break laws with impunity.  Incidentally, what follows is not meant to be a tirade against homosexuality.  The fact is that most of San Francisco’s gays are not running around naked, peeing in the streets (and on each other), or having sex in public.  Only a small percentage are doing so — but the kicker is that they do so because the City lets them!  This is, therefore, a tirade against a City that refuses to enforce public decency laws because of political correctness.

I’m not going to pollute this post with pictures of the truly appalling orgies that routinely take place in San Francisco’s streets.  Zombie has created long photo essays showing the Folsom Street Fair, and the Dore Up Your Alley Fair, both of which involve, not just nudity, but some perverse sexual practices I bet some of you haven’t even heard of — and all of them take place out in the open, on public streets.  The police are present (Zombie documents them), but it is obvious that they are under orders not to interfere.

It is possible (although difficult) to argue that two street fairs, which take place in a limited number of blocks in a carefully defined neighborhood should be ignored.  It’s much more difficult to ignore public licentiousness that takes over a long-standing San Francisco tradition, and that drags nudity and bizarre sexual practices right into Golden Gate Park.  Last year, my family went to see the crowd at the San Francisco Bay to Breakers race — a race that was started 96 years ago to commemorate the San Francisco Earthquake and that, for many years, was a fairly straightforward race, starting at the Bay, traversing the City (including Golden Gate Park), and ending at the Pacific.  About a decade ago, it became an occasion at which San Franciscans celebrate their joie de vivre, with many of them turning the event into a giant costume party.  Having heard about the fun costumes, my husband and I thought it would be fun to take the kids.  Boy, were we wrong!

What’s interesting about San Franciscans is that, when they get into costume, so many of them opt, not for charm or cleverness, but for perversion. Of course that doesn’t go for 100% of the race’s participants. It probably applies to only about 3% of them — but 3% of 100,000 is still about 3,000 people parading through San Francisco’s streets and parks celebrating their peculiar sexual fantasies.

That’s why, within seconds of entering Golden Gate Park, my children were confronted with the fascinating spectacle of an aged gentleman who had wrapped rings around himself, hugely inflating his scrotum, which he then proceeded to shake at the crowd. In a normal environment, he would have been arrested. Here, he was just part of the scenery.

This man wasn’t the only naked one. There were lots of naked people. Probably 90% of them had embarrassingly ugly bodies. Why is it always those with the most avoirdupois, the most pendulous breasts, the most bizarrely tufted body hair, the most mottled skin, and the smallest penises who feel this peculiar compulsion to parade around well-attended public spots in the altogether?

Was it any surprise then, that it was these exhibitionists, despite the vast array of porta-potties, who also felt the irresistible compulsion to pee in the bushes?

There was also a lot of drinking, lots and lots.

So, in the space of a few very painful minutes, we were confronted with public nudity, public urination, and public drunkenness — and the cops did nothing.

I don’t blame the San Francisco police officers for doing nothing.  Most of them, I know, are family people who probably find the spectacle of public nakedness, drunkenness and urination as off-putting as you and I do.  The fact is that they do nothing because they are instructed to stand aside and let politically correct classes — in this case, people who get a kick out of deviant exhibitionism — do their own thing without fear of civil retribution.  The fact that ordinary people are assaulted by the sights and the filth is irrelevant because, in the New Age, crystal gazing, politically correct Progressive world of American Leftism, ordinary people count for nothing.  They exist to be taxed and controlled, so that the others can live free.

Conclusion

This has been a really long post — the longest, I think, that I have ever written.  I write it as a tocsin, warning Americans that there is nothing benign about American Leftism, and that it is even more dangerous than the nanny state some people seem willing to accept as the price of living in the modern world.  Because American leftists are as committed to elevating the rights of the criminals, the crazies and the perverts as they are to taxing, quashing and directing the middle and working classes, we can anticipate the worst of all possible worlds:  an America in which ordinary people live under totalitarian control and socialist taxation, while the worst elements in every society are allowed to run rampant.

Keep this in mind as you head to the polling place in 2010.

Prayers for Rush Limbaugh *UPDATED*

Rush was taken to a Honolulu hospital in serious condition with chest pains.  I hope it’s nothing more than angina or indigestion.  He is a national treasure, something that becomes especially obvious when he has guest hosts sitting in, as he does now, during the holiday season.  No matter how good they are, they’re not as good as he is.

Hat tip:  Brutally Honest

UPDATE:  Since I’m getting links for this fairly bald little post, I feel as if I should add something.

The something I’d like to add is that I came late to Rush Limbaugh.  Throughout most of his broadcast history, my only knowledge of him came through the MSM and, especially, through Al Franken’s nasty attack on him which I, then a liberal, thought was the funniest book ever.

It’s only in the last few years that I’ve actually listed to Rush without having my opinion of him created and filtered by the Leftist media.  I’ve learned in those years that Rush is extremely well-organized mentally, which is a gift in someone who hosts a daily three hour radio show; he has an extraordinary knack of explaining, simply and correctly, current political events and political thinking; he’s incredibly funny, with the ego derided by the Left being a pose, rather than a personality trait; and he’s remarkably prescient, no doubt because of his his brains, analytical ability of fund of knowledge.  He is, as I said originally, a treasure, and it would be tragic if something were to happen to him at this pivotal moment in American history.

Yet another Tom Lehrer song proves to be prescient

I blogged the other day that Tom Lehrer’s MLF Lullaby, although about Germany, worked well with Islam in the starring role.  It turns out that Tom Leher was prescient about folk songs too.  First, the New York Times story:

When one of Cuba’s best-known musicians landed in the United States, his first appearance was not onstage, but on Capitol Hill.

Carlos Varela, often referred to as Cuba’s Bob Dylan, had come to remix an album with his good friend Jackson Browne. But he also hoped to help reshape relations between the United States and his homeland.

So before going to Hollywood to work on the album, he stopped in Washington early this month for meetings with legislators and a lunch with a senior White House official. Later he held a jam session in the House Budget Committee meeting room.

Almost everywhere Mr. Varela, 46, went during his weeks here, including at universities and policy institutes, small talk about music gave way to pressing, albeit polite, questions on policy.

“I don’t represent any government or political party,” he said. “But perhaps that’s why governments and politicians might be willing to listen to what I have to say.”

Yes, it is a Cuban folk song army. And yes, Tom Lehrer wrote more than forty years ago about folk song armies:

One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk-song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. The nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which I realize should be accompanied on a folk instrument in which category the piano does not alas qualify so imagine if you will that I am playing an 88 string guitar.

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs.
Yeah, but we regard ‘em with scorn.
The folks who sing ‘em have no social conscience.
Why they don’t even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don’t have to be clever,
And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!

He couldn’t bother with a tie? *UPDATED*

Maybe I’m being picky, but it seems to me that a president who makes an official statement three days after a terrorist attack on the United States could bother with a necktie?  I know he’s on vacation, but I’m really, really sure that, even if he didn’t pack a tie, someone could have run to the store and gotten him one.

There’s a whole new level of disrespect for the American people revealed in the fact that, after three days of thinking about a terrorist attack that could have incinerated 300 people he just couldn’t make that little extra effort.   Obama’s not even pretending any more to take the job seriously, is he?

UPDATE:  You know it’s bad when even the New York Times reporter expresses disdain for the President’s casual demeanor and flat affect, especially when contrasted with Americans suffering through airport security procedures that are nothing more than the barn doors closing behind long-vanished horses:

Until now, Mr. Obama had tried to strike a balance between signaling that he is on top of the situation and not drawing more attention to it than it already was generating. Each day since Friday, his staff accompanying him here in his home state put out statements indicating that the president was holding conference calls and requesting action of government agencies. But he declined for three days to address it in public himself, cognizant perhaps of warnings by some terrorism experts against elevating such incidents and by extension their authors.

Yet the visual contrasts have been jarring. Pictures of passengers enduring tougher security screening at the airport were juxtaposed against images of the president soaking in the sun and surf of this tropical getaway. Appearing at a Marine base near the Kailua beachfront house he has rented, Mr. Obama on Monday praised the “quick and heroic actions of passengers and crew” but made no attempt to defend the security system that allowed the suspect onto the plane with jerry-rigged explosives in the first place.

In the run-up to the election, I noted (as did a zillion other conservatives) that Obama has never held a job; he’s just gotten jobs.  He has never demonstrated any ability to do the hard work associated with actual employment.

Even in the first year of his presidency, when he had a compliant Congress that would willingly follow him of any cliff, as long it’s positioned to the Left, Obama couldn’t make himself do the hard work of leadership.  He played golf, he played basketball, he partied with the big shots, he went on TV — but he didn’t work.

And he’s still not working, even as the terrorists make ever greater ingresses on American security.  It’s no coincidence that, after George Bush kept us safe for 8 years, the terrorists are emboldened by Obama.  Even more than the fact that he’s trying to buddy up with the bad guys, they’ve figured out something important about him:  he’s so lazy, he just doesn’t care.

Right wing wackos misunderstand peaceful Muslims (I’m being sarcastic)

I got a letter from a good friend who not only linked me to this worth-reading Uncle Jimbo post, but who also added “Has anyone noticed that all of the airplane incidents since 9/11 have been perpetrated by muslims?”  Since I live with a liberal, and I know the score, my response to him was swift and assured.

Dear friend, you’ve been reading too many right wing wacko blogs.  These attacks haven’t been perpetrated by Muslims, who belong to a religion of peace (or do I mean pieces?).*  They’ve been committed by individual delusional men who just coincidentally happen to have misunderstood the profoundly peaceful (or do I mean pieceful?) doctrine that the Warlord . . . um, peace-bringer Muhammed created 1,400 years ago.  After all, in 1,400 years of Muslim history, organized Islam has consistently committed itself to peace.  Indeed, Islam’s peaceful tendencies strongly remind me of the lyrics in Tom Lehrer’s MLF (multi-lateral forces) Lullaby:

A considerable amount of commotion was stirred up during the past year over the prospect of a multi-lateral force, known to the headline writers as mlf. much of this discussion took place during Baseball season so the chronicle may not have covered it but it did get a certain amount of publicity, and the basic idea was that a bunch of us nations, the good guys, would get together on a Nuclear deterrent force including our current friends, like France, and our traditional friends, like Germany.   Here’s a song about that called the MLF Lullaby.

Sleep, baby, sleep, in peace may you slumber,
No danger lurks, your sleep to encumber,
We’ve got the missiles, peace to determine,
And one of the fingers on the button will be German.

Why shouldn’t they have nuclear warheads?
England says no, but they are all soreheads.
I say a bygone should be a bygone,
Let’s make peace the way we did in Stanleyville and Saigon.

Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
But that couldn’t happen again.
We taught them a lesson in nineteen eighteen,
And they’ve hardly bothered us since then.

So sleep well, my darling, the sandman can linger,
We know our buddies won’t give us the finger.
Heil–hail–the Wehrmacht, I mean the Bundeswehr,
Hail to our loyal ally!
MLF
Will scare Brezhnev,
I hope he is half as scared as I.


____________________________

* Just as a “by the way,” the proprietor of The Religion of Peace, a website that documents Muslim-inspired acts of terrorism committed just since 9/11, recently received a very graphic death threat from some practitioners of that same peaceful religion.  I guess that little experience falls into the same category as “the most dangerous place to be is a peacenik, anti-war rally.”  Those people are scary.

Christmas week results at the Watcher’s Council

It was a nice Christmas gift for me when my fellow Council members gave their votes to my post about the Communist secret behind the Climate Change mantra.  Considering the quality of the minds behind the Watcher’s Council, I always feel so honored when I win.  But enough about me.  Here’s the whole list.  As always, whether a post won, placed, showed or just fell back in the pack, each is worth reading:

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

Also, a reminder that, if you’re a blogger, and you have something to say that you’d like to see at the Watcher’s Council website, there is a way:

If you want to see your blog piece listed on the Watcher’s Council page as an honorable mention, our generous offer of link whorage remains open. Here’s how you take advantage of it:

  • Simply make a post linking to this week’s Council winners
  • Send me an e-mail with the subject line ‘link whorage’ at rmill2k@msn.com before 5PM next Tuesday, December 22nd. Include a link to that post and a link to the piece you want to appear in next week’s Honorable Mentions
  • The resulting fame, glory and increased traffic are yours for the taking.
  • Deconstructing Janet Napolitano’s fatuous statements *UPDATED*

    By now, you’ve all heard that Janet Napolitano, the head of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, is going around saying that the system worked perfectly when a guy on the US no-fly list, who had been turned in by his own father, boarded a plane and detonated a bomb, only to be foiled by a bad detonator and alert passengers.  I leave it to Jonah Goldberg to write the perfect obituary for the administration’s attempt to aggrandize itself on this one:

    Understandably, the White House is trying very hard to get out in front of the would-be Christmas bomber story. The head of the Department of Homeland Security isn’t helping. I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the pevious appearance. It is her basic position that the “system worked” because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was “foiled” by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is “working” when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them). Probably even fewer think it’s fair that they have to take off their shoes, endure delays and madness while a known Islamic radical — turned in by his own father — can waltz onto a plane (and into the country). DHS had no role whatsoever in assuring that this bomb didn’t go off. By her logic if the bomb had gone off, the system would have “worked” since it has done everything right.

    UPDATE: Wait! Wait! This just in: The system does in fact work. Known black Muslim security threats may be getting a pass, but our security forces are still targeting the real threat:  they’re going after rich blond women, just the way they should.

    The Princess and the Frog — Disney’s gift to American blacks

    I just returned from seeing Disney’s latest release, The Princess and the Frog. Looked at purely from an entertainment standpoint, the movie is a delight.  The hand drawn animation is imaginative and, at times, exquisitely beautiful.  When the Bayou lights up at sunset with fireflies, every little girl in the audience emits a rapturous “oooooh.”  The music, which Randy Newman composed, is a high energy blend of New Orleans jazz, Cajun zydeco and friendly pop.  You won’t leave the movie theater being able to sing any of the songs (those types of songs seem to have been banished from movies forever), but your brain will definitely be happy with the melodies that zip around, lighting up various synapses.

    As for the storyline, that’s where the real magic lies.   But to explain just how magical it is, I need to back up a little bit.  In pre-1960s America, the black community was sorely beaten down.  I don’t need to recite here the insults, indignities and limitations that came with Jim Crow.  Even outside of the South, black opportunities for economic advancement were limited, and blacks were routinely subjected to demeaning treatment.  Unsurprisingly, in the first half of the 20th century, American blacks beat out white Americans in every negative indicator:  compared to whites, black communities had more crime, more illegitimacy, more illiteracy and much, much more poverty.

    Despite these severe, externally imposed limitations on the American black community, throughout the early 20th century the story of American blacks was one that showed an upward trajectory.  (Although, thinking about it, maybe that resilience isn’t a surprise.  Just as the body strengthens only when it is exposed to resistance, it may be true that a community often finds strength if it must push back against hardship.)  The Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and the Chicago Renaissance in the 1950s revealed a black community that had a ferocious pride and intellectualism.

    Economic opportunities were also opening up.  For example, a job as a Pullman Porter provided an economic pathway to the middle class for those black man able to make the sacrifice of being on the road all the time.  Between decent (for blacks) salaries and good tips, the men who held those jobs could provide for their families.  The same job allowed blacks, formerly blinkered by geographic limitations, to see larger possibilities, both social and economic, in the world around them.  Blacks were also leaving an indelible musical mark on American culture, one that elevated their status amongst young whites, who were the up-and-coming generation.

    Looking at the strides blacks were making, in education, in employment, and in culture, it is obvious that the Civil Rights movement didn’t appear out of nowhere.  It was the logical trajectory for an increasingly educated, empowered, sophisticated American black community.

    One of the bizarre legacies of the Civil Rights movement, however, wasn’t the continued economic and social ascendancy of American blacks.  Instead, the Civil Rights signaled the reverse, which was the destruction of many sectors of the African American community.  I don’t say this to denigrate the important rights the movement affirmed belong to all Americans or the benefits that flowed to all of America from the recognition of black civil rights.  American law now properly ensures that blacks (and all races) have equal access to every available opportunity America has to offer.  Blacks, rightly, cannot be denied food, shelter, education or employment because of their skin color.  The same movement, however, that affirmed that all men are indeed created equal, also cheated blacks in ways no one anticipated back in 1964.

    In the wake of the 1964 Civil Rights bill, well-meaning liberals fanned out throughout black communities and told black people that, rather than working, they should take government handouts.  As they explained it to blacks who had clawed their way up the first few rungs of the economic ladder by relying on self-reliance and community pride, these government funds weren’t really handouts at all.  Instead, they were an appropriate form of retribution for the free labor blacks provided in America for hundreds of years.  By making this pitch to blacks to give up self-reliance and become dependent on the government, blacks were first introduced to, and then embraced, the notion that, since slavery was work, all work is slavery.  Work was no longer the measure of a man’s (or a woman’s) worth.  It was a symbol of oppression, and therefore to be avoided.

    The same held true in the world of education.  In an effort to jumpstart the black community on the path to professionalism, the guilt-ridden white middle class skipped the obvious, which was to focus its efforts on family, culture and early childhood education.  Instead, it decided that the best thing to do was to give adult blacks a free-ish path to the best educational institutions in America.  In the short run, it seemed like a brilliant idea, since we all know that a Harvard degree opens doors.  In the long run, it was a disaster.  As I wrote in my post about Barack Obama’s affirmative action presidency:

    [I]f you set the standards lower for one racial group than for others, three things will happen:  First, the race that has the lower hurdles will stop trying as hard.  After all, humans are rational creatures, and people working toward a goal are wise to work only as hard as they need, and no harder.  Why expend energy unnecessarily?

    Second, those members of the race who are fully capable of competing without a handicap will also behave rationally and conserve their energy, because it’s the smart thing to do.  This means that the lower hurdles will deprive them of the psychological opportunity to stretch and prove themselves.

    Third, a lot of people who would not normally have been in the race at all will bob up to the top, thanks to that handicap.  Worse, if there is a critical mass of mediocrity floating along on this tide of affirmative action, those mediocre people will inevitably, through sheer numbers, become representative of the racial group.  In other words, if you give enough mediocre people in a specific racial group a head start so that they win, it looks as if all the winners from that particular racial group are mediocre.

    The above realities mean that you end up with two dire situations for the racial group that affirmative action is infantilizing:  First, an enormous number of useless people become very poor representatives of their race.  And second, people who are genuinely good and deserving of recognition end up being thrown in the hopper of useless beneficiaries who achieved high status without ability or effort.

    So, in a generation, American blacks went from being a community that was forced at whip’s end to give away its labor for free, to one that was assured that there was true virtue in getting money for nothing. Likewise, the American black community that was for so long denied the opportunity to educate itself, learned that it could now get the degrees without bothering with the education.  Inevitably, America ended up with a black community that, at the thickest part of the bell curve, is averse to expending any effort to make money or learn.  Why bother, after all?  Common sense tells American blacks that money and meaningless degrees will come their way regardless of effort.

    The result of post-Civil Rights liberal meddling is 40+ years of learned helplessness in the black community, and the profound sense of inferiority that goes along with that kind of helplessness.  Blacks can talk about “Black pride,” and celebrate Black History month, but the savvy ones know it’s a sham.  Their wings have been clipped.  Pride comes from effort and achievement, not from largesse handed out by guilty white liberals.  (Incidentally, if anyone is getting the wrong idea at about this point, I am not arguing that blacks are inferior.  I believe that blacks are in every respect equal to whites, or any other race.  I am arguing that the legacy of the American Civil Rights movement is a black community that has been trained to be helpless and that therefore views itself as inferior.)

    And that’s where The Princess and the Frog comes in.  Early Disney fairy tales assured young girls that if they were very meek and worked hard to serve others, they would succeed.  (Snow White and Cinderella, for example.)  At least one movie emphasized sleep as a useful virtue (that would be Sleeping Beauty).  In recent years, girls have been encouraged to be feisty and to rebel against whatever it is their life happens to be.  (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Mulan spring to mind.)

    While the more recent movies have a much less passive message than the old ones (and I’m not knocking the old ones; I love them), they still don’t offer much in the way of life advice.  Rebellion, pretty much for the sake of rebellion, is not a useful tool.  This is especially true for the black community, which has locked itself in a victim mentality that routinely sees its members cutting off their noses to spite their faces, just to make the point that the white establishment can boss them around.  The relentless push for ebonics education, a sure way to keep blacks mired in the ghetto and out of the money jobs, is a perfect illustration of this reactive, rather than proactive, tendency.

    The Princess and the Frog, however, offers an entirely new message:  Find your talent, pick a goal, and work really, really hard.  Oh, and find support in your family values and your community.  And also . . . don’t rely on other people.  You are responsible for your own success.  If obstacles stand in your way, don’t give up.  Keep going . . . and going . . . and going.

    It’s rather embarrassing that this obvious life lesson — find a goal, work hard, and stay focused — had to come from a paternalistic white corporation.  Regardless of the source, however, the lesson is an important one for all people.  And, sadly, it’s an especially important one for youngsters in the black community, all of whom have been told for more than forty years that they way to get ahead is to be first in line at the government hand-out center.

    Cross-posted at Right Wing News

    Barack Obama and Interpol

    The other day, the most transparent administration ever did something very secretive and very bizarre:  without any fanfare, President Obama signed an Executive Order giving Interpol freedom to operate within United States borders.  Oh, yes, there was an announcement — of sorts.  The following is the press release that went out:

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary

    For Immediate Release
    December 17, 2009

    Executive Order — Amending Executive Order 12425

    EXECUTIVE ORDER
    - – – – – – -
    AMENDING EXECUTIVE ORDER 12425 DESIGNATING INTERPOL
    AS A PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION ENTITLED TO
    ENJOY CERTAIN PRIVILEGES, EXEMPTIONS, AND IMMUNITIES

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words “except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act” and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.

    BARACK OBAMA

    If you’re the ordinary reporter, who couldn’t care less what Obama does because everything he does is wonderful, your reaction to that dry and confusing little statement is going to be to ignore it — and that’s precisely what the media did. Some bloggers, though, were paying attention. Pierre Legrand, at the Pink Flamingo Room for one.  If he hadn’t raised the issue, I wouldn’t have known about it.

    But now, people are paying attention.  Terresa, at NoisyRoom, has compiled a massive post with tons of information about the President’s little executive order.  Here’s what I’ve been able to figure out….

    The order exempts Interpol from any oversight by America — even when it’s operating on American soil.  It is completely immune from American search and seizure laws.  It’s data cannot be subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.  Interpol, in other words, has gone from being an offshore information repository to which American and European law enforcement officials can have access, to being a freely operating investigation agency on US shores, with no US oversight.

    Please check out Terresa’s data.  It’s got interesting stuff, such as the Interpol/Nazi connection, the “what’s in it for Obama” line of reasoning, and general information about what this means.  It may be nothing or it may be something.  The one thing we do know is that our transparent administration, in the dark of night, gave an international police organization absolute freedom to operate within our borders and he’d better have a damn good explanation for doing so.

    Mark Steyn summarizes the end result of the Democrats’ health care “reforms”

    You can’t summarize the whole fiasco better than Mark Steyn did:

    We were told we had to do it because of the however many millions of uninsured, yet this bill will leave some 25 million Americans uninsured. On the other hand, millions of young fit healthy Americans in their first jobs who currently take the entirely reasonable view that they do not require health insurance at this stage in their lives will be forced to pay for coverage they neither want nor need. On the other other hand, those Americans who’ve done the boring responsible grown-up thing and have health plans Harry Reid determines to be excessively “generous” will be subject to punitive taxes up to 40 percent. On the other other other hand, if you’re the member of a union which enjoys privileged relations with Commissar Reid you’ll be exempt from that 40 percent shakedown. On the other other other other hand, if you’re already enjoying government health care, well, you’re 83 years old and, let’s face it, it’s hardly worth us giving you that surgery for the minimal contribution you make to society, so in the cause of extending government health care to millions of people who don’t currently get it we’re going to ration it for those currently entitled to it.

    Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise.

    [snip]

    As I’ve been saying for over a year now, “health care” is the fast-track to a permanent left-of-center political culture. The unlovely Democrats on public display in the week before Christmas may seem like just a bunch of jelly-spined opportunists, grubby wardheelers and rapacious kleptocrats, but the smarter ones are showing great strategic clarity. Alas for the rest of us, Euro-style government on a Harry Reid/Chris Dodd/Ben Nelson scale will lead to ruin.

    It’s no wonder that Steyn describes the bill as a “monstrous mountain of toxic pustules sprouting from greasy boils metastasizing from malign carbuncles.”

    The line of the night

    Christmas dinner (which was lovely), included in a brief foray into discussing the Senate’s health care bill.  A liberal friend let loose with this terrific line after I said that the Senate had raided Medicare and Medicare Advantage to make the bill ostensibly revenue neutral:  “I don’t know anything about the bill, but I know that you’re wrong.”

    Merry Christmas!

    The year 2009 has been a trying year for many of us.  In our personal lives, the recession has hurt people’s jobs, diminished their savings, and placed enormous stresses on their day-to-day functions.  Nationally, watching the Democrats at work at home and abroad has provided us with all the thrills of watching a polar bear rip apart a seal.  There’s a certain bizarre fascination with this spectacle, but it’s still sickening.  Today’s Senate vote was just the coup de grace in this Democrat blood sport.  But still….

    For those who are Christians, I know that this time of year goes well beyond gifts and lights and holiday sales.  It is about the birth of the Messiah — the moment in the earth’s darkness when a light burst forth upon the earth, with the promise of grace and redemption.  Every year, this celebration matters deeply but, in times of trouble, honoring Christ’s birthday has, I think, more resonance than usual.

    Even if we do not share in this celebration (whether because we worship in a different faith or in no faith at all), this should still be a time of light in the darkness.  For those of us who are Jewish, and who have just finished celebrating Hanukkah, this season is a reminder that a small band of committed warriors can take on and bring down an empire.  Whether God makes his hand visible, or acts invisibly through people who refuse to give up their beliefs really doesn’t matter — what matters is that we keep on fighting because we have faith in our commitment to America, a faith that translates, quite simply, to a bone-deep commitment to freedom.

    So to all of you, new friends and old, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, one that fills your heart with light and hope.  We have a new year coming to us and, if we keep the faith and the focus, we can — and will — make a difference in the coming months.

    355px-Christmas_Tree_Cluster(That’s the Christmas Tree Cluster, deep, deep in space, a reminder of the lasting miracles in the world around us.)

    Open thread centered around a very important question

    The holidays continue to make demands on me that take me away from my beloved computer and my blog.  I’ve managed to track enough news, though, to know that Reid managed to get his vote.  My question for you, and one I can’t answer myself, is this:

    Will the health care bill, even if it destroys the current crop of Democrat politicians, be an unstoppable juggernaut that will inevitably lead to socializing America, or is this bill the final straw on the electorate’s groaning back that will lead to the revitalization of conservatism in America?

    I’d like to think the second but, given the Republican party’s profound ineptitude and ideological weakness, I think Republicans are going to take lemonade and manage to reconstitute it as rotten, sour, unpalatable lemons.

    ***

    As I finished typing the last paragraph, I got an email from Rob, at JoshuaPundit, with a link to his post about the dangers of despair:

    Part of what fuels decadence (and eventual destruction and defeat) is the belief that everything is rotten beyond repair, so why even try anymore? If enough people feel that way, then they contribute to the defeat and it’s over. So it’s important to act with optimism and positive energy even when it seems hopeless.

    One of the things that surprised me in reading Winston Churchill’s history of World War II is how frequently he succumbed to despair during the run-up to the Second World War when he could see where things were headed, and afterward,when he finally took power and the Nazis were expected to invade at any moment.

    Sir Winston referred to these periods of depression as ‘the black dog’…but he made a point of never sharing these emotions with anyone, and indeed made a point of acting especially cheery and unperturbed when things seemed darkest. And there were plenty of such moments.

    He understood instinctively one of William James’ basic principles of psychology, that moods are infectious and affect others and that a positive attitude, even a partially feigned one, can have positive results.

    And there are positive results to be had. We have a country to win, and one that’s worth fighting for.

    Please read the rest of Rob’s post.  It will make you feel better, as it made me feel better.  We have a wonderful country, and we cannot and should not give up!

    The Watchers keep an eye on things at Christmas

    I’m going to be enjoying these Council submitted posts this morning, as I struggle to narrow my votes to two in each category:

    Council Submissions

    Non-Council Submissions

    Something special you can do for active duty bloggers

    Over at The Dawn Patrol, Greyhawk has put together a very special list:  he’s compiled links to (and holiday messages from) active duty bloggers serving at home and abroad.  He asks that you visit their blogs and send them holiday greetings in the comments section.  That sounds like a plan to me.  It’s such a little thing for me to do for those who give so much.

    Family, family, family, family — and Open Thread

    When the family is around, I get nothing done.  I haven’t even read the news today.  The earth could have reversed its rotation and I wouldn’t have known.  I am never left alone.  My presence is essential to all activities, whether it’s sitting, standing, or walking.  If I hear my name called again, I will start gibbering like a monkey.

    I will try desperately to peek at the news today, but I am not optimistic.

    You can hear Allen West on the radio tonight

    I know many of you enjoyed the video I uploaded of a speech by Col. Allen West (ret.).  Andrea Shea King is having him on her radio show tonight:

    Tonight we’ll talk with Col. Allen West (US Army Ret), Congressional House candidate for Florida’s District 22 (Jupiter, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray, Ft. Lauderdale).  West recently made headlines when a video of his straight-up speech went viral among political blogsites and cable news channels.

    Col. West returns to the Andrea Shea King Show with his take on the alarming events happening in our nation’s capitol, why he’s running, and what he intends to do if elected to Congress.

    Join us at 9 pm ET – link to listen here —> http://www.blogtalkradio.com:80/askshow/2009/12/23/the-andrea-shea-king-show