Must-read about the war the Left refuses to admit we’re waging *UPDATED*

That war, of course, is the United States of America (and all the freedoms for which it stands) versus Sharia.  After you’ve read this Andrew McCarthy article summarizing Newt’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute, you may want to link to it at your own blog, tweet it, email it to friends, or use whatever other social networks you have available.

UPDATE:  McCarthy took Newt’s ideas and ran with them.  Now Roger Kimball takes McCarthy’s ideas and runs with them.  You know how I feel on the subject.

Nancy’s sounding desperate

Nancy Pelosi may be mad at Robert Gibbs for admitting that the upcoming elections aren’t going to result in Democratic gains, but the fact is that she sounds pretty desperate herself in this email I got begging for funds:

Midnight tonight is your last chance to contribute to the DCCC before one of the most critical FEC deadlines of this election and the first since Republicans have experienced a surge in their fundraising.

It’s critical that House Democrats have a strong showing this month. The media and Washington pundits will view our fundraising totals as an indication of our strength to take on Republicans and their powerful special interest supporters in November.

Republicans have been claiming to have the momentum. We know that’s not true, and if you stand with me at this decisive moment in our campaign, we will make this clear to the world. We are just $35,919 away from our goal and are so committed to making this goal that all gifts today will be matched 2-to-1 by a group of generous Democratic donors.

[snip]

This election comes down to a choice between going forward or going back to Republican rule and the same exact failed policies of the Bush agenda.

My question for you: Does she really think that, 18 months into Obama’s presidency, and 6 years into a Democratic controlled Congress, “blame Bush” is still a workable tactic?

Anne Rice and neo-paganism *UPDATED*

My book club group met the other night to discuss William Manchester’s book A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age. The title is something of a misnomer. It’s only a “portrait of an age” if you want to read a thousand years of medieval history crammed into a single chapter, and written in a style that’s a cross between the National Enquirer (in its pre-Carol Burnett, dishonest days) and Vanity Fair (in “full disdain for conservative shibboleths” mode).  The book is distinguished by being salacious, ill-informed, and anti-Catholic — and it is, for a history book, a very easy read.  I think all these factors explain why it is a regular part of high school and college curricula.

Of course, not all of Manchester’s book is a biased muddle.  One of the things he does well is to describe the way in which the Roman world, with its Christian sub-set, collided with the pagan world.  This collision, and the subsequent “conversion” of the pagans, resulted in the medieval Catholic faith.

The word conversion in the previous paragraph deserves those scare quotes because most of those conversions did not involve informed people making a genuine commitment to the new Christian faith.  Instead, the vast majority of those conversions were nominal only.  If a pagan king converted, all of his subjects “converted” too, although few, if any of them, embraced Christianity’s teachings — including monotheism and the acceptance of Christ as their savior.

The end result was that these newly baptized Christians, many of whom inevitably ended up working within the Church itself, simply grafted their still-existing pagan beliefs onto the completely unfamiliar gospels.  Sometimes this grafting was innocuous.  an good example was the way in which Christ’s birth, which didn’t have a fixed date in the Bible, ended up getting blended with the date of a pagan winter celebration.  No harm, no foul.  Sometimes this grafting was magnificent, since the doctrine of transubstantiation put a final end to the pagan obsession with both animal and human sacrifice.  I don’t know about you, but I consider that one of the greatest leaps forward in human civilization.

Sometimes, however, the intermingling of paganism and Christianity was quite damaging.  The specific damage I’m thinking of is the way the pagans co-opted Christianity as an arm of the state.  I don’t need to remind any of you that this was not Christ’s intent.  He anticipated the founding fathers by more than 1,700 years when he said “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”  (Matthew 22:21.)  In the pagan world, however, church and state had long been inextricably intertwined, and the newly Christianized pagan rulers continued to believe that religion and the state were one and the same.

This meant that pagan political and social ideologies were woven into Christian doctrine.  Now, I’m not Christian, and I haven’t read the New Testament closely in about 30 years, but I’m pretty darn sure that Christ never talked about the Augustinian notion of forced conversions and the merits of religious war, about death for heretics, about saints and relics, or about myriad other practices and procedures that became regular fare, both inside and outside of the walls of the medieval church.  Christ’s silence notwithstanding, all of these beliefs and practices became, in the minds of the common people, core religious doctrine, inseparable from Christ’s teachings.  In other words, popular culture became one with the Gospels, never mind what the Gospels themselves actually said.

Anyway, that’s my take on the worst excesses of the medieval Catholic church, excesses that were cleared away by both the Protestant reformation and by the Catholic Church’s own counter reformation in the wake of the 16th century upheavals.  While Christianity may ostensibly have been in the ascendant by the 6th century or so, the fact is that paganism itself didn’t really vanish for another 1,000 years.

And where does Anne Rice come into all of this?  She comes in because, after her much-heralded “kiss and make up” with the church of her childhood (an announcement that allowed her to publicize a new line of books imagining Christ’s life), she’s now in the process of a much-heralded “break up” from the church of her childhood.  On facebook (what better place to discuss faith), she announces thusly (emphasis mine):

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

In other words, Rice is upset that the Christian churches refuse to layer over Christ’s teachings the beliefs of modern liberalism.  Just as the pagan rulers wanted (and were able to) overlay their political and religious belief systems directly onto Christ’s original message, Anne Rice wants to put the modern Democratic playbook into Christ’s mouth.

The Bible (Old Testament and New, together) was written over the course of almost about 1,500 years, with the first 1,000 years encompassing the Old Testament, followed by a few centuries’ pause, followed by the short window in time during which the New Testament came into being.  There are, therefore, thousands of ideas and edicts in the combined books of the Bible, although I’d argue that the core tenets that inform modern Judeo-Christian culture are the Ten Commandments and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

However, much to Rice’s manifest distress, in all those books, and all those hundreds of years, neither God, nor the Prophets, nor Christ himself remembered to say the following:

We will lead to defeat the epochal, man-made threat to the planet: climate change. Without dramatic changes, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions around the world. Warmer temperatures and declining rainfall will reduce crop yields, increasing conflict, famine, disease, and poverty. By 2050, famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide. That means increased instability in some of the most volatile parts of the world. Never again will we sit on the sidelines, or stand in the way of collective action to tackle this global challenge. Getting our own house in order is only a first step. We will invest in efficient and clean technologies at home while using our assistance policies and export promotions to help developing countries preserve biodiversity, curb deforestation, and leapfrog the carbonenergy-intensive stage of development.

We will reach out to the leaders of the biggest carbon emitting nations and ask them to join a new Global Energy Forum that will lay the foundation for the next generation of climate protocols. China has replaced America as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Clean energy development must be a central focus in our relationships with major countries in Europe and Asia. We need a global response to climate change that includes binding and enforceable commitments to reducing emissions, especially for those that pollute the most: the United States, China, India, the European Union, and Russia.

This challenge is massive, but rising to it will also bring new benefits to America. By 2050, global demand for low-carbon energy could create an annual market worth $500 billion. Meeting that demand would open new frontiers for American entrepreneurs and workers.

You may recognize that language as coming directly from the Democratic Party platform for 2008. When Rice castigates the Church for being “anti-Democrat”, it’s pretty obvious that she thinks that modern Christian Churches ought to make  the above words part of their official doctrinal position, tracing them right back to the Sermon on the Mount.

In other words, Rice is a neo-Pagan.  She doesn’t want to take the Bible on its own terms.  Instead, she wants to graft her own belief systems right onto the Bible.  This is quite different from our (appropriate) modern decisions to ignore some of the Bible’s more difficult passages, such as its instructions to kill witches.  Cherry-picking a little is one thing.  Doing what the pagans did, and simply grafting non-Biblical values on top the old, is something else entirely.

UPDATE:  The Anchoress, who has a deep and rich knowledge of Catholicism, and an abiding love for the faith, takes Rice to task for her silly outburst.  Bruce Kesler weighs in too, quite beautifully, in both poetry and prose.

UPDATE II:  Since I opened this post by saying that William Manchester’s anti-Catholic diatribe is required reading at many schools, this seems like an appropriate place to link to a take-down of Howard Zinn, who dominates America’s U.S. History studies.

Palestinian corruption — on your dime *UPDATED*

I’m sorry I didn’t blog today.  I have a half finished post on my screen, but can’t seem to get it entirely finished.  Sometimes, when that happens, I just abandon the idea and move on to other things, but sometimes I just get mentally blocked up.  I seem to need to work this one out before I can move on.

Anyway, so that today isn’t a total blank slate, I’d like you to check out a video at Brutally Honest.  Lots of people should see it.

Also, if you’re in the mood for upsetting videos, get the inside look at a protest against the Arizona law.  (It took a lot of courage to shoot this footage, by the way.)

UPDATE:  While I’m still organizing my thoughts, you can depress yourself by reading how the Obama Justice Department is hard at work to get the vote to felons (reliable Democratic voters), while it shows a malevolent apathy towards the voting rights of those who fight and are willing to die for this country (who tend to vote more conservative).

What I’m reading from the Watcher’s Council

Wonderful stuff:

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

While I’m getting up to speed…. *UPDATED*

All this family and socializing stuff has left me way behind on my news reading.  However, I do have some stuff that you might find interesting while I regroup (and my thanks to all who sent these links):

The NEA urges its members to read Alinksy.  Are we really surprised?

Several years ago, I spent some nightmarish time working on a law suit involving a family that was actually trying to comply with California’s union written laws governing home care for the elderly and disabled.  (And no, I don’t know if they were really union written, but I say that because they certainly could have been.)  The laws basically give families two options:  bankrupt grandma to pay for ostensibly reputable home care or fly entirely under the radar, getting off the street care and the risk, in any event, of a lawsuit.  Not only individuals are at risk.  Whole useful corporations can be taken down, a story that Michael Fumento describes in chilling detail.

I hope that, in my enthusiasm for the military mission, I never, ever forget the sacrifices our troops make on our behalf — and I’m not just talking about the fact that they are willing to make what the Victorians used to call, euphemistically “the ultimate sacrifice.”

I’m always amused when, on the Left, the Gospels so conveniently intersect with Marx, Alinsky and the Democratic platform.

(More to follow, unless I discover within me a bigger, stand-alone post.  Also, please feel to treat this as an open thread and to add your own links in the comments.)

UPDATES (ongoing):

Can we clone Chris Christie?

There is a totally awesome raffle out there

I love thrift shops.  I’m in a Goodwill three to four times a month looking for “dispose-a-books” — cheap novels that I can read like mental candy, and then turn around and donate right back to Goodwill again.  When my kids need Halloween costumes, I’m also at Goodwill, buying interesting used clothes that can be shaped into cheap, imaginative and fun costumes.  The cool thing about this is that, even as I’m getting what I want at prices that can’t be beat, I’m also contributing to the Goodwill mission of aiding those less fortunate than I am.  It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship.

I come by my love of thrift shops honestly.  When I was a child, my Dad used to take my sister and me regularly to the St. Vincent De Paul store in San Francisco.  He and I would happily root through the piles of stuff there.  In those days, before everyone got savvy about antiques, I could still find antique photos and prints (my childhood hobby), and it was my father who looked for books (although his tastes were much more erudite than mine).  We spent many happy hours in St. Vincent De Paul, coming home tired, dusty, only slightly poorer than when we left, and lugging armloads of goodies.

St. Vincent De Paul’s is on my mind today because it is running a magnificent raffle.  As John Hawkins says, you know it’s an amazing raffle when the third prize is Superbowl Tickets.  Here are the prizes being offered:

GRAND PRIZE

The Winner Wins for Two!

The winner of Meet Me in Manhattan will bring the companion of his/her choice to share the entire prize package.

Air Travel:

The Meet Me in Manhattan winner will receive roundtrip airfare for two to New York.  Airline to be determined after city or town of residence of winner is identified.

Meet Bill O’Reilly

The Meet Me in Manhattan winner will visit Fox News Channel’s studios in Manhattan and meet Bill O’Reilly.  Mr. O’Reilly is the undisputed king of cable television news.  For the past ten years, “The O’Reilly Factor” has reigned as the world’s top-ranked cable TV news program, breaking records for “most viewers” in almost every measurable category.  A wildly successful author, Mr. O’Reilly’s 9th book will be released in the fall of 2010.  Four of his books zoomed to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.  Mr. O’Reilly has made countless appearances as a guest on such national programs as Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The View and Oprah. He has traveled to all 50 states and 72 foreign countries, and has earned Master’s degrees from both Boston University and Harvard.  The Meet Me in Manhattan winner will enjoy the experience of watching Bill O’Reilly host an edition of “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Four days/three nights of accommodations at the world renowned Essex House

The Meet Me in Manhattan winner will enjoy never-to-be forgotten, three-night accommodations in a luxury two-bedroom apartment, a spectacular property from the famous Lauren Berger Collection, overlooking Central Park at the world renowned Essex House.

Dinner at BoBo Restaurant hosted by celebrity chef Patrick Connolly

Winner will enjoy dinner at the acclaimed upscale restaurant, BoBo, where one of America’s top chefs, Patrick Connolly, rules the kitchen. Patrick’s brother, Dan, is a 318-pound lineman for the NFL’s New England Patriots.  Dan knows how to eat, and Patrick knows how to cook! A native of St. Louis, Patrick achieved smashing success at Radius in Boston.  After winning the James Beard award as the top chef in the northeastern United States, Patrick moved to BoBo in New York where his inventive cuisine has wowed patrons and critics alike.  In recent months, Patrick has exhibited his culinary creations on ABC-TVs Nightline, NBC-TV’s Today Show, and CBS-TV’s Early Show. An unforgettable dining experience will be enjoyed by the Meet Me in Manhattan winner at BoBo.

Two Tickets to a Major League Baseball Game at Yankee Stadium

In 2009, the House That Ruth Built, Yankee Stadium, was replaced by the new Yankee Stadium.  Debuting in the most expensive and elaborate baseball stadium ever built, the legendary Yankees won the World Series in their first season in their new home.  America’s Great Raffle winner will see the Yankees take on the Tampa Rays, who stunned the baseball world with their first ever trip to the World Series in 2008.  With the Rays getting off to the best start in the Major Leagues in 2010, their rivalry with the Yanks is heating up in the American League Eastern Division.  There’s nothing like September baseball at Yankee Stadium in New York during the heat of a pennant race!

Two Tickets to a Broadway Show

Imagine walking on Broadway in the autumn air to one of many legendary theaters to see some of the world’s greatest stars perform.  In the last year, more than 12 million people paid more than $1 billion to see the stars on Broadway. Pending ticket availability, the Meet Me in Manhattan winner will have excellent seats at the Broadway show of their choice!

A $3,000 Shopping Spree

In the world of shopping, there’s nothing like strolling down 5th Avenue to shop at some of the finest stores in the world.  Try on the Manolo Blahnik shoes at Niemen Marcus, or shop Saks 5th Avenue (the original!), Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany’s, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier, FAO Schwarz and countless others.  Stuffed with $3,000 of  Meet Me in Manhattan prize money, the winner will engage in a shopping spree to remember forever!

SECOND PRIZE

Round-trip airfare for two anywhere in the continental U.S.

THIRD PRIZE

Two tickets to the 2011 Super Bowl .

FOURTH PRIZE

Two tickets to the 2011 MLB All-Star game.

FIFTH PRIZE

$1000 furniture shopping spree at Weekends Only.

My mind is boggling. That’s an incredible grand prize — so good, in fact, that I think my uber-liberal husband would even tolerate meeting Bill O’Reilly for the pleasure of everything else that comes with it.

The cool thing is that, just as with my book-buying junkets, there is a very cool symbiotic relationship going on here.  A raffle ticket costs only $100.  For that price, even if you don’t win (and the possibility of winning is a pretty darn good inducement for buying the ticket), look what your money does:

* Utility assistance, medications, medical transportation, car repairs, cars to the working poor, home repairs, free legal assistance, free budget assistance, hospital visits, prison visits

* Housing for homeless veterans and people with mental disabilities

* Aid for those who have been downsized, lost their jobs, suffered through a divorce, a foreclosure

* Food for the needy through 83 food pantries

* Furniture, clothing, household goods for those in need through our Thrift Stores

* Home visits to comfort and aid those who are suffering

St. Vincent De Paul is now, and always has been, a true service organization. Now’s your chance to help it advance its goals, even as you get in line for the possibility of a fantasy vacation.  So, if you’re interested, go here, and take a chance for charity.

(Post script:  If you’re a blogger and help publicize this raffle, be sure to link to this Right Wing News post as part of that publicity, email to John Hawkins that you’ve done so, and you’ll find yourself in a little contest of your own.  John has promised to give away two tickets to a blogger who helps publicize the raffle.  That’s really cool.)

What’s the opposite of schadenfreude?

You can always trust the Germans to have a word for complex, and negative, emotional feelings.  Today’s word is schadenfreude: “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.”  I can’t say that I’m immune to it, of course.  If the person suffering misfortune is an evil person, I certainly won’t weep for him.  However, I can flatter myself that I am not one of those who wishes friends and acquaintances ill, simply so that I can feel some sense of superiority about myself and my life when compared to them.

I make this little philosophical and self-serving rumination because I’ve become aware this past year that many of the people I grew up and went to school with have gone on to have very distinguished careers.  As someone who is remarkably undistinguished (suburban Mom is a good life, but doesn’t have much resume value), I think it’s awesome that people I know have done more interesting things.  At a selfish level, I love the name dropping.  “My friend the Colonel.”  “My friend the U.S. Attorney.”  “My friend the Admiral.”  You know, if you can’t be important, you may as well have important friends, right?

But at a somewhat more mature level, I’m enormously pleased that people I always liked have found fulfilling and rewarding careers.  I think it’s awesome that the young boys I knew, with skinny legs and squeaky voices, or the bewildered young law students I met, proved to be, not just nice people, but dedicated, committed, and self-disciplined people.  It’s like seeing a little sapling grow into a magnificent tree.  Although I have absolutely nothing to do with the tree’s development, I feel a sort of vicarious pride that I was in on its growth.

Our childhood friends’ distinctions are also one of the benefits of aging.  If you hang around enough people for enough years, the good ones are going to rise to the top.  Just for having stuck it out through life, you end up with friends who give you boasting rights.

These friends, incidentally, are part of why I haven’t been blogging, because I’ve been spending time with some of them.  And since it is a rare pleasure to visit with people I’ve known for decades but see infrequently, that trumps blogging.  And after all, I just didn’t feel today like writing about Obama and The View.  I’m not even that surprised.  Our last Democratic president, as you may recall, advertised to the world the kind of underwear he wore.  We don’t expect dignity from that crowd.

Renee Ellmers explains where the money is and, sadly, where it isn’t

My blog friend Lorie Byrd is working for Renee Ellmers, who is opposing Bob “Who are you?” Etheridge.  Ellmers has put out a plea for campaign money, which you can give voluntarily.  This is an important point, because her video is a reminder of the way in which Washington abuses the money it forces out of you through brute government power:

Etheridge may be sleazy, but he’s raking in the money (which kind of confuses me because I’m sure Obama and Pelosi, et al keep telling us Republicans are the party of the rich), so any help you can give would be great.

When theory and fact fail to intersect

If you are a student of architecture, or if you have ever visited Marin County, or if you simply like Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, you may know that the Marin County Civic Center was Wright’s last commission — so last, in fact, that the ground breaking happened in 1960, after Wright had already died.

Wright, true to his architectural creed, aspired to design a building that harmonized with, rather than dominated, the landscaping.  He certainly achieved this with the Civic Center, which nestles into the rolling California hills, rather than towering ominously above those same hills.  The building is set so low to the ground that, if you’re driving by on the freeway and you’re not at precisely the right elevation, you may not even notice it.

Wright achieved this “oneness” with the hills by elongating the building so that it stretches out over three city blocks.  Depending on a given hill’s elevation, some of the building’s wings are four stories, some two, and some still remain a mystery to me.

The building’s interior is like a giant atrium, since a vast domed sun roof runs the length of every wing.  The building’s details — the door ways, windows, grate covers, elevators, etc. — are exquisite examples of architecture from the late 1950s and early 1960s.  This is the design reality to which TV’s Mad Men aspires.

The Civic Center is an absolutely beautiful building — and it is also a completely awful building.  Navigating this snake-like structure as it wends its way through the hills is exhausting and confusing.  Finding stairways and elevators is an effort, and you’re never really sure where you’re going to be once you exit those same stairways and elevators.  If you head off in the wrong direction, or enter in the wrong wing, you may find yourself hustling this way and that down endless hallways as you desperately try to reach your goal.  If you’re not a regular at the Superior Court (which is housed in the Civic Center), you better give yourself a lot of lead time should you have a hearing or trial, because you are going to get lost.

Not only will you get lost, you will get hot.  This isn’t just because you’re running madly down endless hallways.  It’s also because those beautiful domed glass ceilings, the ones that let in that lovely sunlight, turn the place into a giant hothouse.  It’s tropical in the Civic Center.

Those same domes also add to the mileage you’ll put on.  You see, in order for the light to penetrate the lower levels, there are long openings in the middle of the upper floors.  It’s rather like a suburban shopping mall, which is also built atrium style.  This architecture means shoppers cannot cross laterally from one side of the mall to another.  Instead, even if their destination is seconds as the crow lies, they have to walk down the length of the atrium on one side, and up its length on the other side, to get to their destination.  It’s a pain for the shoppers, but merchants love it because it forces the shoppers to pass by their windows — and one never knows what might capture the eye of someone on a forced march.

What’s good for a mall, though, is lousy for a civic building.  I don’t want to have to hike miles to cross a hallway.  I’m in good shape, but the combination of tropical heat and, inevitably, time pressure, means that these indirect approaches to an easily seen objective are nothing more than frustrating.

I’m actually venting about the civic center for a reason, and it’s not just because I spent a ridiculous amount time there today running civic oriented errands.  The building put me forcibly in mind of progressive policies.

Progressive policies look so lovely on paper and sound so lovely in theory.  They promise to end poverty, end hunger, care for all the children, give everyone health care and, oh-by-the-way, ensure world peace.

As this exquisitely imagined ideological structure is being built, everyone oohs and aahs over its wonders.  The details are so great.  The good will so immense.  The goals so admirable.  And once it’s built, it may have a certain superficial charm.

But these dreamy structures, the ones built to suit ideological goals, don’t function so well.  They put enormous, and sometimes impossible, strains on the people dealing with them.  They are inefficient, ineffectual and, periodically downright cruel.  They are also invariably expensive, not only to design and to build, but to maintain.  (Incidentally, it’s no secret that at least some of Wright’s buildings are famous for being maintenance disasters, that impose vast expenses and sometimes overwhelming burdens on their owners.)

How much better to have a structure that looks at what is and what needs to be, and then goes about trying to implement what needs to be in the most practical and humane way possible.  There’s no reason for it to be ugly; instead, it can be quite beautiful but it is, always, practical and functional.  This is a building that, while it does not aspire to starry ideological heights, actually works, leaving the people within it happy and satisfied that their needs are met.

(And no, I don’t know what it says about my mind that I draw political lessons from buildings.)

What if they gave a socialist party and nobody cared?

The big news in the world of conservative publishing today is Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-in-Chief. It’s not actually out yet — that will happen on October 19 — but you can pre-order at the link I provided.  According to the press release, the book proves completely that Obama, despite his denials, is in fact a socialist, and not just a run of the mill “liberal Democrat” or a “progressive”:

Part biography, part history, part detective story, RADICAL-IN-CHIEF reveals the carefully hidden tale of Barack Obama’s political past. Stanley Kurtz, whose research helped inject the Bill Ayers and ACORN issues into the 2008 presidential campaign, presents the results of more than two years of digging into President Obama’s radical political world. The book is filled with previously unknown information about the president’s past, tied together by a bold argument about what Obama’s deepest political convictions really are.

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF marshals a wide array of never-before-seen evidence to establish that the president of the United States is indeed a socialist. Tracing an unbroken thread of socialist activities and political partnerships, from Obama’s youth through his community organizing days and beyond, the book confirms that the president’s harshest critics have been right about his socialism all along.

RADICAL-IN-CHIEF also exposes the truth about community organizers–the socialist beliefs they hold and hide, and how they trained and groomed a president. Obama’s community organizer colleagues had a strategy for slowly and stealthily turning the United States into a socialist nation. The Obama administration is carrying out that strategy today.

This book will forever change our national debate about who Barack Obama is.

For those of us who followed Stanley Kurtz’s writing in the run-up to the 2008 election, much of this is familiar stuff. Kurtz promises, however, that he has new research and revelations to bolster his already strong arguments about Obama’s political identity.  I have no doubt that the book will make for fascinating and informative reading.

The book’s October 19 release date is obviously timed to help educate voters in the lead-up to the November election.  I have a concern, however, one I’ve voiced before:  I’m pretty sure that the American public, indoctrinated for 40 years in the American public education system and the Ivy League universities, really doesn’t care about the word “socialist.”

While earlier generations of Americans understood the word to describe a political system that coincides with the diminution of personal and economic freedom, too many Americans hear the word and simply think of it as an alternative economic system.  They think Europe, with its pretty buildings and, until recently, high standard of living.

These same Americans do not think of the USSR and the Gulags, or the Nazis and the concentration camps, or the Norks and their concentration camps, or the Cubans and their political prisons, or the Chinese and their political slave labor.  All of those, Americans would say, were communist, which is different, never mind that it’s not.

I can already hear some of you saying right now that Americans are proving, with their hostility to the Obama/Democrat agenda, that they hate socialism.  But I’m talking semantics.  They’ll say they hate “Big Government,” or taxes, or government inefficiency, or too much government spending, but they will be utterly blase about “socialism.”  The word has lost its power.  The underlying concepts may bother Americans, but to say Obama is a socialist probably has as much meaning as to say he eats potatoes.

So while I think it’s fascinating that Kurtz can and will prove the ties that bind Obama to the hard Left, the fact is that, unless we can get Americans understand what that actually means, the book will be a nine day wonder that will not affect the ladies who rot their minds watching The View.

Another day in the suburbs

Honest to Gawd, I think summer vacation is making my brains evaporate.  It’s not just the endless small interruptions and tasks.  Those are fixtures in my life.  Nor is it the fact that the kids and their friends are around non-stop.  Indeed, having the friends around is a good thing, because they engage with each other, rather than nudniking me.

The problem for me is the irregular schedule.  One of the things I love about the school year is the rhythm of life.  There’s their time and my time.  The blurring of those times during the summer befuddles me.

This befuddlement means that, at almost 11:00, I’m still trying to read the news.  The phone’s been ringing, the repair man has come and gone, the kids have been nagged (or, should I say, politely reminded) to do this and that, the errands are lined up, and my brain is functioning like an old 33 rpm record played at 16 — very, very slowly.

Incidentally, I’ve given up trying to explain to my kids the whole 16, 33 and 78 rpm thing.  They just don’t get the principle, so the analogies inevitably fail.

Anyhoo, as always, I’m reading, trying to think, and longing to write.  All will happen, but in their own good time, not mine.

Until then, of course, here’s your open thread.  I have long felt that, for those of you who regularly comment here, this is as much your blog as it is mine.

Of course, I never panicked

You might have noticed here a paucity of posts about the Gulf Oil spill.  Except for its providing further evidence of Obama’s tin ear, I found it uninteresting.  Why?  Because the environmentalists were hysterical.  Experience has shown me that, unlike even a stopped clock, they are almost invariably wrong.  That meant that the only real risk seemed to be (as I opined earlier) that Obama would use the spill to justify destroying the oil industry — or, at the very least, to destroy the Gulf states that didn’t vote for him.

It turns out that my sanguine attitude, arrived at through nothing more than pig-headed bias against the screaming enviro-nuts, may have been right on the money.  I don’t doubt that the pristine Gulf shores will be oil stained for years, or even decades, which is something that rests squarely on the shoulders of Obama and his fellow federales, but the scope of the disaster is a drop in the ocean’s big bucket.

Another week of Watcher’s Winners (7/23/10, this time)

The Council has voted again, and I’m very flattered that my fellow Council members thought my post on burqas was good enough to take first place.  As it is, I didn’t think I’d rank anywhere near the top, since the other submissions were so good.

Here are all the winners for last week:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

How Journolist and Oliver Stone each serve to highlight the other’s insanity

While the MSM would clearly like the whole Journolist discussion to vanish (as evidence by the fact that I haven’t found mention or, at least, prominent mention of it in any traditional print media), the fact  remains that it’s out there and it’s ugly.  The bits and pieces we’ve seen show major journalists and their academic counterparts to be petty, irrational, paranoid and illiterate, which really isn’t what you want in the journalist class of a healthy democracy.

While I’m sure that not all of the 400 participants necessary showed all, or any, of these behaviors at all, or any, times, it is sufficient that a critical mass showed these behaviors and personal failings at significant times — such as the times in 2008 that they were actively engaging in massaging the news to ensure that their chosen candidate had a clear path to the White House.

What’s also disturbing for me about the Journolist is the fact that so many of its members have Jewish names.  You’ll notice my careful phrasing there.  I don’t know if they’re actually Jewish or not.  I don’t know if those who are Jewish actually practice the religion.  And of those who practice the religion, I don’t know whether they practice the religion in a way that has traditional religious resonance, or is just the Jewish liberal bow to Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and the Sabbath candles.  As to the latter group, assuming it existed on the Journolist, it’s easy to claim religion when you just go through the rituals.  It’s a little harder when you try to align your Torah with the Democratic handbook and the Alinsky rules for living.

I mention the Jewish thing here, not because I want to feed the minute, but venomous, Patrick Buchanan wing of the conservative party, but because it’s such a perfect foil to the latest lunacy from Oliver Stone.  During an interview with London’s Sunday Times, Oliver Stone — who is planning a helpful miniseries to put Hitler and Stalin “in context” — let loose with some old-fashioned antisemitic venom (emphasis mine):

The 10-part documentary [which Stone is planning] will address Stalin and Hitler “in context”, he says. “Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.”

He also seeks to put his atrocities in proportion: “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30m.”

Why such a focus on the Holocaust then? “The Jewish domination of the media,” he says. “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f***** up United States foreign policy for years.”

Goebbels couldn’t have put it better.

What’s so funny, in a sick, sad way, is that, looking at the Journolist, it really does seem as if there is Jewish domination of the media — except that the Jews doing the so-called domination are completely in sync politically with Oliver Stone.  They’re all left, left and more left.  They’re just all too dumb to realize that, when you get as far Left as Stone, the antisemitism stops being coy little references to capitalism, Israeli imperialism and Palestinian victimhood.  Instead, it becomes the active antisemitism that travels from Chavez’s attacks on Jewish businesses, to Stalin’s periodic kangaroo court purges and suppression of religion, to Hitler’s final solution.  (And I mention those three Leftist antisemites here because Stone specifically speaks of them as either admirable or misunderstood, or both.)

If you want to get away from “Jewish domination” and get into a more balanced media, with representatives of all sectors in American society you have to go to the conservative media.  There, you’ll find as mixed a bunch of people as you can ever hope for:  Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Hindu, Jewish, Atheist, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim (a few), male, female, gay, straight, and some I know I’ve forgotten or haven’t even imagined.

These truly diverse voices part ways on some issues, especially social ones, but they remain remarkably unified on the core principles that have always defined America (whether not America has always been successful in practicing these principles):  small government, small taxes, maximum personal freedom, equal justice under the law for all American citizens, and strong national security.

Anyway, if you’d like more information about the journalists on the Journolist, I highly recommend this article on Noisy Room, which gives a clear indication of their media preeminence (and, therefore, their power to influence public opinion).

Letting my brain lie fallow

Normally, I open one of these posts by apologizing for not blogging because, honestly, I really meant to blog.  Not this time, though.  I’ve been letting my brain go fallow this weekend.  Aside from it being the dog days of summer, meaning that the politic scene is running stupid, but shallow, I simply need to give my brain a rest.

My misunderstanding of Don Quixote’s very clear statement about the ramifications of SSI is a sign that I just need to slow down, at least mentally, for a few days.  If I’m not listening well to DQ, who is one of the smartest and most interesting people I know, that tells me loud and clear that I’m going to make a hash out of understanding and analyzing dry political articles and news.

I’ll probably be back and in fine fettle tomorrow, but for right now, I’m going to continue to let my brain cells air out on this lovely summer day.

For those who would like an Open Thread, this is it.  I’ve been absolutely delighted by the discussions you all have been having at my other posts, and by the links you’ve been including — especially the old Harper’s magazine article about “Who Goes Nazi.“  Thanks for that one, g6loq.

Yeah, that’s the problem with JournoList

Those on the Left and the RINO “right” (Frum, Parker, etc.)  are defending JournoList vigorously by saying that there’s nothing wrong with them having opinions and talking amongst friends.  That’s absolutely true.  But that wasn’t what the JournoList people were doing.  IBD sums it up beautifully (emphasis mine):

In essence, all these left-leaning journalists, an estimated 400 in all, used the JournoList site to refine their messages for maximum effect. It was an exercise in mass propaganda, getting everyone to sing from the same ideological hymnal — which explains the tedious sameness of the mainstream media’s 2008 election coverage.

In short, they were fraudulently selling you political opinion and propaganda disguised as fair-minded “news.”

The problem with Islam

Andrew McCarthy writes compellingly about the problems — the big problems — we in America should have with the proposed Ground Zero mosque.  What I like is his pithy summary of the reason Islam is different from all other religions, and this is primarily because, while it calls itself a religion, it isn’t really.  Instead, it’s a complex governmental system and world domination system that simply points to God as its ultimate authority:

Dawa, whether done from the rubble of the World Trade Center or elsewhere, is the missionary work by which Islam is spread. As explained in my recent book, The Grand Jihad, dawa is proselytism, but not involving only spiritual elements — for Islam is not merely a religion, and spiritual elements are just a small part of its doctrine. In truth, Islam is a comprehensive political, social, and economic system with its own authoritarian legal framework, sharia, which aspires to govern all aspects of life.

This framework rejects core tenets of American constitutional republicanism: for example, individual liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom to govern ourselves irrespective of any theocratic code, equality of men and women, equality of Muslims and non-Muslims, and economic liberty, including the uses of private property (in Islam, owners hold property only as a custodians for the umma, the universal Muslim nation, and are beholden to the Islamic state regarding its use). Sharia prohibits the preaching of creeds other than Islam, the renunciation of Islam, any actions that divide the umma, and homosexuality. Its penalties are draconian, including savagely executed death sentences for apostates, homosexuals, and adulterers.

Read the rest here, please.

Americans who push back against Muslim demands on public life are not religious bigots.  Instead, they show their understanding that, in a pluralist society, an ordinary religion imposes its strictures on its own followers, not on everyone else in town.  Islam is no ordinary religion and we are wrong to treat it as such.  Its practitioners should, of course, be allowed to engage in their own religious practices peacefully and without government imposed conditions.  We, however, must guard vigilantly against any attempts Muslims makes to change the lifestyle of non-Muslims within that same community.

You don’t like pork?  Fine, but then don’t get a job at the meat counter of a super market — and then demand that the super market stop carrying meat or that the market assign you to a different job for which you never applied.  You don’t like alcohol?  Fine, but then don’t get a job as a taxi driver and then refuse to carry people who have alcohol?  These demands, and the hundreds (thousands?) like it that we routinely read about from Europe and, increasingly, America, are not about religious freedom.  They are about a religious minority trying to shape the dominant culture into a brutal, limiting sharia mold.

Knee jerk jerks — or, the current state of racism in America

By now, we’re all familiar with the Sherrod story.  Andrew Breitbart was sent an edited video that made it look as if Sherrod was boasting to an NAACP gathering about denying government aid to white farmers.  The audience laughed complicitly when Sherrod made that confession.

Breitbart held onto that video clip until the NAACP announced that, in the absence of any evidence showing Tea Party racism, it was going to denounce Tea Party racism.  In the face of the NAACP’s knee jerk attack to policies with which it disagrees, Breitbart published the video.

It turned out, though, that Breitbart might have been knee jerking it too, since the video turned out to be part of a longer presentation during which Sherrod had confessed that she had abandoned her old racist ways.  To the extent that he was trying to highlight NAACP conduct, not Sherrod’s, Breitbart still had a point with that knowing laughter the audience gave during Sherrod’s confession.  Be that as it may, it looked as if Breitbart owed Sherrod an apology.

Interestingly, the NAACP was so panicked by the video — despite the fact that it had the entire speech in its possession — that it immediately denounced Sherrod.  This was yet another example of knee jerk idiocy, giving the NAACP two knee jerk points, the first for attacking the Tea Party, and the second for trying to disassociate itself from Sherrod before taking 15 minutes to get the facts.

The Obama administration also went into knee jerk mode, explicitly claiming fear of Fox and Glenn Beck.  Without bothering to investigate, it humiliated and then fired Sherrod.  When the whole video transcript came out, the administration had to engage in a massive belly crawl to Sherrod.  No surprise here.  Almost two years of Obamaness has shown us that the administration is focused on its goals, but a little hazy on the details.

Obama himself went into knee jerk mode when he castigated Secretary Tom Vilsack for acting “stupidly.” While this was almost certainly true, it was a bad choice of words for Obama who, as you may recall, went into knee jerk mode when, after admitting he knew nothing, he nevertheless castigated Cambridge police officers for acting “stupidly” with regard to the Henry Louis Gates arrest.  I’m pretty sure that Obama, if pressed, would describe most people around him as stupid, but that’s another story for another day.

Up until this morning, I would have said that the only person who came out of this little race incident in America was Sherrod.  While she has confessed that she was once a racist, she had announced publicly, in a slightly confused but heart-wrenching speech, that she was no longer.  For her honesty and remorse, she had wrongly been embarrassed and punished for confessing her sins. 

Except that this narrative is not true.  It turns out that, remorseful confession notwithstanding, Sherrod is still a race sinner, whose default, knee jerk setting is to cry racism.  Check it out.  She’s no rose and she’s not repentant.  When push comes to shove, Sherrod is every bit as bad as the rest of them.

Race in America is poisonous, not because most Americans are racists, but because the Left believes that most Americans are racists.  I am reminded of Maria Van Trapp’s autobiography, which I read decades ago.  Before she fell into the hands of the “good” nuns, the ones who achieved Hollywood fame, Maria was sent to a school run by fairly sadistic nuns.  These nuns beat the children daily on the principle that children were inherently evil and, whether or not one caught them making mischief, one could assume that they had made mischief, so they should be punished accordingly.

My father had a similar experience with nuns back in Berlin in 1924, when he was 5.  His mother, who was not bright, meant to leave him for a week with a Jewish charity while she had to go away.  Lord alone knows how, but she managed to leave him with a group of nuns in the same building.  They too beat him, and all the other little ones, daily.

Both Maria and my father had the exact same response to the experience of all punishment, no crime:  They concluded that, if they were going to be beaten for being bad, whether or not they had, in fact, been bad, they might as well be bad.  At least then the beating would have meaning and maybe they’d have some fun along the way.

If you constantly castigate honorable Americans as racists, they will eventually confirm to your standards.  That’s all.

Hmmm *UPDATED*

The parts I’ve highlighted make this sound like a very expensive proposition and, as I explain below, I’m worried that the bureaucratic rigidity that controls these types of things is part of what will make it so ridiculously expensive:

Corte Madera must put a $3 million to $4 million revenue measure before voters by the end of 2015 to fund curb, sidewalk and other disability access improvements after a federal judge signed off on a settlement agreement Thursday.

The deal between Corte Madera and disability rights advocate Richard Skaff also requires the town to make numerous street, seating and disabled parking improvements by June 30, 2011, including repairing the sidewalk on Redwood Avenue, installing wheelchair seating in the gazebo at Old Corte Madera Square and putting in a curb ramp at Tamalpais Drive and Willow Avenue.

That work will be part of a street reconstruction project worth approximately $700,000 already included in the 2010-2011 budget, said George Warman, Corte Madera’s director of finance.

“The decree into which we’ve entered provides further assurance that the town will continue to work with due diligence to comply with state and federal disability laws,” Mayor Carla Condon said. “It is our utmost goal to remove any impediments to anyone with any disability.”

The settlement “is going to impact the town financially, but the long-term results will be in everyone’s interests,” she added.

Filed in 2008 in U.S. District Court, Skaff’s lawsuit contended that Corte Madera streets, sidewalks, trails and parking lots violated state and federal law guaranteeing access to people with disabilities. In a July 6 closed session, the council unanimously approved the settlement, which includes no admission of liability.

After the first phase of projects are completed next year, Corte Madera must establish a fund for subsequent work, the agreement said. The town will then put aside annual sums of either $50,000 or 50 percent of specific gas tax revenues, whichever is greater, and 10 percent of its unrestricted capital improvement expenditures from the fiscal year two years earlier until the revenue measure goes before voters some time between 2011 and the end of 2015.

Corte Madera’s unrestricted capital improvement expenditures came to zero last year because of the town’s financial problems, which include a projected $3.6 million deficit by the end of the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Warman said.

Skaff is a 66-year-old Mill Valley resident and former Corte Madera mayor who has sued numerous public agencies and businesses to get disability access. He said he hopes town officials frame the revenue measure in a positive light, highlighting its benefits for all residents.

“The sidewalks are just a horrendous mess. There has not been any work done on those for a long time,” Skaff said. “This (revenue measure) will give the town management the opportunity and the funding to do that.”

Under the settlement, Corte Madera will pay $200,000 in attorney and expert fees to Skaff as well as $25,000 in damages.

Skaff said he plans to put the $25,000 into his nonprofit Designing Accessible Communities, from which he draws no salary.

“We aren’t getting any enforcement by the California Department of Justice, so it ends up that individuals have to do the enforcement,” Skaff said. “It’s really frustrating because I’m one person, and trying to change the world as one person doesn’t work very well.”

Should the voters reject the revenue measure, the plaintiff will decide whether to continue bankrolling the work through the gas tax and capital improvement expenditures for 15 more years or to seek alternate funding sources, according to the settlement.

Read the rest here.

I’ve written before at this blog about the occasional insanity of bureaucratically imposed handicapped access.  When we got a north-south stop sign installed at our street, it cost the town a fortune because the town had to install wheel chair ramps at each of the four corners of the intersection — although there were broad driveways within 5-10 feet of each corner.  Because of the cost of the ramps, there was no money for the four way stop signs residents had actually requested to stop speeding cars that routinely drove through the east-west access.  So, for something like $40,000 taxpayer dollars, we got four redundant wheelchair ramps and two useless stop signs, which do nothing to slow the speeders.

My point is that, while I think handicapped access is a good thing, especially since those wheelchair ramps serve double duty for mothers with strollers, once the bureaucracy gets a hold of it, lunacy results — at taxpayer’s expense.  I have my doubts about the benefits of this whole thing.

UPDATE:  The town of Corte Madera was forced into this by a lawsuit, although I’m complaining, not about wheelchair accessibility, but about the fact that I’m sure the price is estimated to be so high because of inevitable bureaucratic foolishness in execution.  What’s Ann Arbor’s excuse for destroying its treasury and making its decisions?