Quick question about arming rebels

Does the administration’s decision to arm the Libyan rebels remind you of anything?  It does me.  It reminds me of the Reagan administration’s decision to arm the rebels in Afghanistan.

Back then, the rebels were not our enemy, and they were fighting a sworn enemy against whom we’d been engaged in myriad proxy wars for decades.  This time, the rebels are our enemy, killing our civilians and soldiers all over the world, and they’re fighting a government that hasn’t does us any active harm in recent years.

Somehow, despite our pure and fairly reasonable thinking back in 1980s, I seem to recall that our decision to arm and train radical Islamists proved to have bad and lasting consequences for us.  (Hint:  the Taliban.)  This time around, we don’t even have the excuse of ignorance.  The Libyan rebels we’re arming, comprised of useful idiots, Al Qaeda operatives, and Muslim brotherhood members, were our active enemy yesterday; they’re our active enemy today; and tomorrow, pumped up with our weapons and supplies, they’ll still be our active enemy, only more dangerous.

The fun never ends at the Watcher of Weasels place

In a sec, I’ll link to the cool blog posts I get to read today as part of my gig on the Watcher’s Council.  However, I also wanted to give you a heads up about a debate the Watcher’s Council hosted on the merits of the President’s decision to repeal DADT during war time.  Since the debaters — Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye and Tom White of Virginia Right! — are civil and logical, you’ll probably find it very interesting.

And now to this week’s nominations:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Happy Day.

I started wearing contacts when I was twelve.  In those days, hard contacts were so thick they were like little pebbles in ones eyes, but I didn’t care.  I was finally out from behind my coke bottle-bottom glasses.  Over the years, I switched to soft lenses, which didn’t correct my astigmatism, and finally ended up with gas permeable lenses:  more comfortable than hard lenses, with all the vision correction lacking in soft lenses.

For 24 years, I wore contacts from morning ’til night.  Then I got pregnant and things started going wrong with my eyes.  Apparently pregnancy triggered dry eyes.  I could still wear contacts, but it was an effort, because they just hurt too much.  By the time my son was born, I gave up.  I retreated behind my glasses again.  Glasses worked — no pain, good near and middle vision, adequate far vision. For martial arts, I got a very special pair of expensive soft contact lenses that sort of corrected my vision without interfering with my dry eye.

Early this year, three things changed.  My astigmatism worsened, I got to the point where I needed bifocals (or trifocals, depending on my vision goals), and I started taking Omega 3, ’cause a friend’s doctor recommended it to her after Lasik surgery.  My new options seemed to be limited to ever more complicated glasses, whether bifocals or trifocals, or two or three pairs of glasses.  Since glasses for me are always hellishly expensive, and since my health care eye benefits don’t kick in for several months, I decided to see what could be done in the contacts world.

It turns out that a lot could be done.  The Omega 3 treats my dry eye so well I effectively have no dry eye.  That dramatically increases the types of soft contact lenses available for me.  (My eyes are still too sensitive ever to return to gas permeable.)  I ended up walking out with contacts that, while they don’t directly correct my astigmatism, nevertheless mask its effects.  Also, to solve the long range/short range problem, my dominant eye is corrected for long range vision, and my other eye is corrected for close vision.  For the first time in over a decade, I can see both far and near without putting glasses on or taking them off.

Next week, I go back in to check if my eyes are happy with the new arrangement.  I know that I’m happy.  I don’t think I’ll ever again be able to wear contacts 12 or 16 hours a day, but I might be able to wear them a significant part of the day and see really well, whether I’m doing far sighted things such as driving a car or watching ballet, or near sighted things such as reading a book or working at my computer.

There are a lot more crow’s feet around my eyes than the last time I seriously wore contacts, but I’m still thrilled at the thought that I’ll be able to wear eye make-up again.  I’ve always liked eye make-up (applied with subtlety, of course), and I’ve missed it for the past decade.

So this has been a very happy day.

Pregnant girls, by guest blogger Lulu

There is a pregnancy epidemic right now at the high school where I used to run a girls’ group. All the time I am shocked and saddened to see another young girl with a growing belly or another with babe in arms.

There is no stigma at all. Whatever happened to shame or pressuring boys to “do the right thing”? Gone are the rumors, the marginalization, the “slut” comments, the judgment of others, the pressure of peers that encourage waiting and responsibility. There simply is no stigma. In fact, the boys strut like proud roosters with their girl. The girl basks in the attention of her friends as they swarm around the mommy to be and kiss her belly.

And thanks to enforced ‘tolerance” and a determination not to marginalize girls who get pregnant in high-school, there is no longer any shame in it at all. That stinks because I believe shame is a very important emotion and shaper of our behavior.

The boys need to feel ashamed of themselves for using girls like objects, impregnating them, and then thinking their role as father is to drop in and buy pampers once in a while. The girls should be ashamed for casually bringing life into the world for their own selfish reasons (someone to love me, etc) instead of waiting until they could create an environment for the child that could provide stability and proper care.

I am angry with the school for not enforcing its own dress code. The low cut tops. The short shorts. The spaghetti straps. These are against the rules, but no one says anything. No one insists the girls cover up with an old hideous shirt from the lost and found, or old gym shorts. But they should.

Where are the staff to stop the fondling and making out on steps in full view of everyone on campus? Boys and girls. Girls and girls. No boundaries. No values.

So sad.

One exercise I did with my girls’ group a month or so ago was designed to have them explore their values versus their behavior. I wrote on the board these words:

Marriage
Sex
Relationship
Love
Dating
Living together
Baby

I asked the girls to make two lists. One was to put the words in the order in which they thought they should take place according to their values, and the other was to put the words in the order that they saw people actually following. They were allowed to leave words off if necessary.

Without fail, and to my surprise, all the girls wrote that the order things should take place in was this:

Dating, love, relationship, marriage, sex, living together, baby.

This is a very traditional view and I hadn’t expected it.

The list of what was actually happening was less sunny:

“Dating”, sex, relationship (all admitted this stage sometimes did not occur), baby.

I pointed out to them that there was a huge discrepancy between their values and their behavior. I asked them why they thought that was. Some looked so sad as they described the pressures to perform sexually or to end up alone. (Of course, they were alone anyway as these “relationships” did not last).

Will these kids ever be able to have a healthy relationship? A sex life with a caring and loving partner? What about their children who will grow up in a world of single moms, with children from multiple dads, all with different last names?

I can’t help but look at this and want to scream at the faculty, at the entire educational institution, for failing these children so egregiously, for failing to teach any moral standards at all. These kids are steeped in political correctness. Lord knows, they’ve had tons of diversity education, safe sex talks, say no to drugs, global warming awareness, and Identity politics. But at home and at school, no one seems to be willing to provide moral standards. No one is willing to upset the darlings by reminding them that having a baby too young is grossly irresponsible and even tragic. Shouldn’t society put some peer pressure on them to remember that a baby is a human being and not a doll? It’s not a Paris Hilton Chihuahua status symbol to dress nicely and neglect. A baby is a human that requires immense amounts of time and energy to raise.

They forget that a baby doesn’t stay a baby for long. Soon it will become a child that will require discipline, education, supervision, guidance, a future. What kind of environment is best for raising this child? Would it be a fifteen year old girl, no longer with the baby’s father, leaving the bulk of child rearing to her own resentful mother, and bitter because she can’t do fun teenage activities any more, or a stable, committed, financially secure, adult couple?

No one has told them how a baby interferes with fun and parties. Young mommies either have to stay home and care for the baby or drag it along- but it hasn’t occurred to them that their friends won’t want a baby along screaming in McDonald’s or an arcade. Babies are demanding, not logical, and if young mommies or daddies scream and ht them will only cry more. Once a teen has a baby, life will never be the same again. Finishing school and achieving life goals are do-able mainly for those girls who have parents willing to care for the baby for them.

Maybe if pregnant girls were once again shuffled off campus to a pregnant girl school it would be less glamorous and rewarding. Maybe the dads could be instantly shuffled into family court to be forced to take responsibility. Maybe along with sex ed the kids could get some values. Maybe the church should rise to the challenge and let young men know that impregnating girls is not a sign of manhood. Having sperm is no great accomplishment. Waiting to make a baby until you are mature and self-sufficient, and creating a whole and intact family, however, is a sign of manhood and maturity. We need to return societal pressure and judgment. Kids are falling apart from a lack of boundaries and moral standards. And they will take society with them.

I have yet to meet parents who say they wish their daughter became pregnant in high school (or even middle school), or that their son became an absentee father.

A final thought. In the past, and not so very long ago, girls were expected to marry as virgins. OK, many didn’t make it, but many did. Fear of pregnancy, social stigma, and wanting to be a “good” rather than a “fast” girl had a lot to do with it. But beyond that, by withholding sex and making the guys work for it- earn it, really- by getting a job and by marriage, the girls were forcing the guys to become civilized. Sex is a huge human drive and guys will work very hard to get it, and if becoming a responsible man and provider is the way to get it, by golly, guys will do it.

Now there is no incentive to be civilized. All the sex a guy can get without even buying her a soda, getting girls pregnant is a notch on a guy’s studly belt (so to speak), and he really has no parenting or financial obligations. Hey, it’s optional. And everyone is degraded. The babies suffer because they are born to a child and a shadow.

Has this generation degenerated to the human equivalent of dogs humping?

So very very sad.

I will keep you posted. I, for one, plan to react and bring in a series of speakers, former teen moms, their moms, and so on, to bring the kids a taste of reality. How will they know, if no one teaches them?

How does the military feel about Libya?

Under George Bush, our troops were told that they were going to Iraq and Afghanistan to protect American interests.  One can, of course, quibble with whether those wars have served American interests (which is not a quibble I want to have at this post).  But the point I want to make is that our young men and women were told that they were putting their lives on the line for their country.  They were protecting and defending.

In Libya, Defense Secretary Gates has stated explicitly that Libya itself has nothing to do with America’s vital interests, although it’s in a region that is important.  As best as I can tell, he hasn’t taken the next step, which is to say that what happens in Libya, though, will necessarily affect America’s interests in that region.

Obama has come out with a mountain of mush which boils down to a claim that the U.N. thinks this is a good idea for protecting some people in Libya, and we want Qaddafi out of there, although we won’t do anything actually to get him out of there, because that’s not our mission, even though we plan on having him leave.  We’ve since learned that significant sectors amongst the people who want Qaddafi out even more than Obama does — i.e., our allies — are Al Qaeda. For people with long memories, we’re fighting Al Qaeda all over the world, with American troops actively under fire in Afghanistan.

With those thoughts in mind about Libya — it’s an internationalist mission with no clear goals, that doesn’t necessarily benefit America, that sees us helping the same people who are trying to kill our guys in Afghanistan, one has to ask whether American troops have a sense of mission here?  Are they feeling the warm glow of altruistic humanitarians who are in the line of fire for people who have little to do with America and her interests (or are even routinely trying to kill Americans?  Do they have any sense that they are fulfilling their mission to protect and defend” if the people they’re protecting and defending are neither Americans nor American allies?  Or are they simply people who are doing their jobs, without a whole lot of mission analysis?

I’m a highly politicized, conservative, anti-Obama, pro-American, middle-aged armchair warrior.  With that bias, I know that I would not be happy to have my life on the line so that Libyan oil can flow to France and Al Qaeda can take over the Libyan government.  But that’s just me.  Do any of you have any sense about the boots on the ground thinking?

Michael Yon takes on Rolling Stone

Years ago, in another life, I dated a man who had worked for Rolling Stone and personally knew Jann Wenner.  (My ex-boyfriend claimed that a well-known Rolling Stone photographer was the one who introduced him to and got him hooked on cocaine.  I have no idea if he was telling the truth or not, but it made for a good story.)

My old boyfriend had cleaned up his act by the time I met him, and was decently reticent about his past, but it was pretty clear from the few stories he told that (a) Rolling Stone personnel, at least at one time, had embraced the drug culture with gusto and (b) that it was a sleazy, counter-culture magazine.  Today, all you need to do to know that it is still a sleazy, counter-culture (read:  anti-American) magazine is to buy a copy at the store — or, better yet, leaf through one and then abandon it without bothering to buy it.  As for the drug issues that were once a part of the magazine’s culture, perhaps the drugs’ legacy lives on and helps explain the shoddy, vicious journalism that routinely emanates from that saggy, flabby, 1960s era hangover.

Don’t believe me about shoddy, vicious journalism?  I understand that.  My old boyfriend’s stories about the magazine’s past are pure hearsay.  But right now, today, Michael Yon has actual percipient witness journalism on his side when it comes to challenging Rolling Stone’s most recent smear piece about our troops in Afghanistan.  Read Yon and your blood will boil.

Huge kudos to Yon, not only for his own journalism, but for his willingness to take on one of the old media’s sacred cows.

Yes, there is an Obama doctrine

Ed Morrissey has put together a very useful post summarizing various liberal media attempts to understand the Obama doctrine.  Morrissey concludes at the end that, try as hard as one likes, “There really is no doctrine.”

Morrissey is correct that there is no doctrine if one is looking for a verbally articulated doctrine.  Obama says everything, and Obama says nothing, and Obama says it all as boringly as possible.

The mere fact that the greatest communicator since Abraham Lincoln (that’s sarcasm, by the way) is incapable of articulating a doctrine, though, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one.  Indeed, if one buys for one minute into the whole greatest communicator shtick, it’s pretty clear that, as I said in my earlier post, that Obama intentionally obfuscates in his speeches because he doesn’t want people to know what the doctrine is.

Fortunately, because actions speak louder than words, we can arrive at the Obama Middle Eastern doctrine without any actual verbal help from Obama.  Here goes:

America can no longer selfishly engage in wars that directly affect (i.e., improve) her national interests.  To prevent her from doing so, she must always sublimate her sovereignty to the U.N.  A small number of U.N. players, most notably Europeans who are dependent on Libyan oil, have decided that Qaddafi must go.  Even though the number is smaller than the number that joined with Bush on Iraq, they’re the “in” crowd, so Obama must follow where they lead.  Hewing to the popular kid theory, these “cool” U.N. players matter more than the American Congress, which is made up of rubes and hicks, who lack that European savoir faire, even the useful idiots who hew to Obama’s political ideology.

A subset of this Obama doctrine is that, while America must never mine or drill her own energy resources, it is incumbent upon America to dig into her pockets to enable other countries to get to their energy resources, which America will then buy back at a premium.  This is American charity at its best.  If you want to feed a man for a day, buy him a fish.  If you want to feed him for a lifetime, teach him to fish, buy all his fishing equipment, stock the lake with trout, break all your fishing equipment, make it illegal to fish in your own lakes, and then buy that man’s fish back from him at the highest possible price.

And whatever else you do, make sure you kick Israel around . . . a lot.  That will make the cool kids (e.g., the Euro-trash and the Mullahs) happy.  It never pays to lose sight of your true constituency.

The vision thing

Whether or not one liked him, Ronald Reagan got “the vision thing.”  He had an extremely strong sense of America and her place in the world, and was never afraid to share that narrative.  America was the shining city on the hill, the bastion of true republican democracy, and the world leader in exporting freedom and wealth.  The Communists were, simply, evil.  They were the antithesis of America because they were the antithesis of freedom.

Sophisticates sneered at Reagan’s simple, (old) Hollywood vision of the world.  To ordinary Americans, though, Reagan’s clearly and repeatedly articulated vision of this country instilled in them a deep sense of pride that ran comfortably alongside an economic boom resulting from the policies that underlay Reagan’s vision.  Just as importantly, in gulags and prisons around the world, prisoners, and dissenters, and dreamers heard Reagan’s words too.  They understood that, not only was he describing something better than their totalitarian governments had to offer, but also that the leader of the most powerful nation in the world understood and willingly articulated that truth.

Obama also gets the vision thing.  His education, career and presidential trajectory show it very, very clearly.  His vision is that America is an arrogant nation rife with internal inequities.  Domestically, his job as president is to equalize people’s status within the country, which is best done through redistributive financial policies.  On the international side of things, his job is to subordinate America to the United Nations, making it just one nation among many.  ObamaCare and the Libya War stand as hallmarks of these domestic and foreign visions.

Obama’s vision is of America as Europe — not Europe during her imperialistic heyday, but a post-WWII Europe, socialist and humbled.  Of course, what he doesn’t seem to realize is that post-WWII Europe survived only as long as it did because America footed the bill.  No America, no post-WWII Europe.  He hasn’t grappled with that economic reality as he’s pushed America out of her financier mode and into her begging socialist mode.

What’s interesting about Obama is that, while he is consistent in his vision, and unfailing in his willingness to put it in effect, he refuses to articulate that vision.  Put him in front of a teleprompter, and he simply mouths platitudes about “America is great.”  Unscripted, he slips up periodically and talks about “sharing the wealth,” and the fact that there’s nothing exceptional about America.  Overall, though, he’s coy.

Reagan braved the ridicule of the world’s intellectuals to sell his vision to the world.  Obama already has the world’s intellectuals on board.  His vision about America and her place in the world is exactly the same as their vision.  He’s coy, then, not because he fears media and Ivory Tower derision, but because he knows that ordinary Americans will not buy what he would be selling were he to speak.  How much better to skip the sales pitch and just force the product on a credulous public?  Obama also doesn’t sell his vision because he knows that, abroad, while the Euro-trash and Muslim Brotherhood eat up what he has to say, the people languishing in prisons, in China, in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Iran, etc., would recognize his vision for what it is — not even snake oil, but pure venom.

The President embraces Newspeak

An illegal alien is, by definition, a criminal:  the person snuck into the United States in the dead of night (so to speak), and has no right to be here.

That’s not how our president sees it:

A student, who appeared via Skype, asked: “My question for the president is, why [is the government] saying that deportations have stopped — or the detention of many students like me, why is it that we are still receiving deportation letters like this one?”

Obama answered, “We have redesigned our enforcement practices under the law to make sure that we’re focusing primarily on criminals, and so our deportation of criminals are up about 70 percent. Our deportation of non-criminals are down, and that’s because we want to focus our resources on those folks who are destructive to the community.

“And for a young person like that young woman that we just spoke to who’s going to school, doing all the right things, we want them to succeed,” Obama said.

Hmm.  So the thief breaks into your house.  He doesn’t attack you physically.  You might not even know he’s there.  He simply empties your refrigerator, takes money from your safe, goes through your medicine cabinet and takes your books.  You call the police, but they tell you that, now that he’s in your house, and since he hasn’t hurt you, you should just be cool.  Indeed, they say, with luck, he’ll take all your possessions, and set himself up in his own house, with his own refrigerator, medicine cabinet, money and books.

I don’t like our president.  The more I learn about him, the less I like him.  I just keep telling myself that we (America and poor Israel) just have to hang in there for another 18 months.  Of course, considering that the American people imposed this walking disaster on us in the first place, perhaps I’m being foolishly optimistic in assuming they’ll collectively wise up by 2012.

I’m not the only one, incidentally, who is finding it unnerving to peer into the president’s psyche.  Zombie peered too, and finally figured out what’s going on (graphic reprinted with permission):

Been there, done that (and a little bit about R2P) *UPDATED*

As I said yesterday, part of my blog silence has been that I was very actively engaged in wrapping up my book for e-publishing.  It’s been an amazing amount of work.  Starting last August, I went back and reviewed all 6,500+ of my old posts.  A lot of them are little nothings (“Hey, look at this cool post by someone else!”), but a fair number were substantive.  I copied all the substantive ones into the world’s biggest Word document, and then started reading them all to winnow out wheat from chaff.  After several months, I ended up with 100,000 words worth of posts, which makes for a long book.  I figured, though, that it would be nice to provide bang for the buck.

After the winnowing, came the editing.  As I repeatedly demonstrate here, I’m not the world’s best proofreader, something made worse by the fact that blog posts don’t tend to be carefully cultivated documents in the first place.  They’re responsive to the moment, so I slam them out.  I used Word’s spell and grammar checkers in the first pass (even though they’re deeply flawed), had Don Quixote read things, and then read everything myself five or six times.  Again, very, very time-consuming.

This past weekend I made the final push, which involved getting everything in e-publish ready format.  I’d done most of that already, since I’m a fairly meticulous word processor, but there was still a lot of coding (and un-coding) required to get the book up and out.  Now I wait, since Smashwords, which I chose as my outlet, is processing the material I uploaded.  When I have links, I’ll let you know.  To be honest, you all have been with me every step of the way for this book, as it consists of posts that you guys have read, commented upon, contributed to, etc.  If you buy the book, it will be an act of charity, since you won’t be getting anything you haven’t already gotten before.

It’s that “anything you haven’t already gotten before” factor that’s also slowed my blogging in the last few days.  Although there are new events unfolding (Libya, UN, economy, healthcare debate, etc.), I keep having a feeling of deja vu all over again.  I’ve written before about the Middle East’s theocratic tyrannies, about the UN’s anti-American and anti-Israeli animus, about Obama’s fecklessness and anti-Americanism, and about the disaster that is government spending.  I can write about the latest news, but my conclusions are unchanging:  Obama is a disaster, big government is dangerous, the Middle East is a cesspool of Islamic antisemitism, ObamaCare won’t work and will drive up costs, the UN is a fundamentally evil institution, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I’ll get my groove back and start blogging substantively, I promise, but for the next day or say, it may take me a little while to shake off the deja vu feeling that’s haunting everything I read.

Until then, I’d like to recommend very highly Trevor Loudon’s post about the insanity of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine that Obama used to justify sending American troops into war without even a nod to Congress.

The doctrine, by the way, isn’t a new one.  It’s been around several years.  It was originally framed as a response to such atrocities as Rwanda or the Balkans, where genocide occurred within a nation’s own borders.  The world watched these genocides and dithered.  The question, of course, was “shouldn’t we step in to save these poor people?”  The R2P doctrine says, “yes, we should.”  Except the UN is deciding who gets saved and who doesn’t.  This means two things:  The UN becomes a supranation, superseding all other nations; and the UN decides who is a victim and who isn’t.  You’ll notice that the UN didn’t bother with the R2P doctrine when the Sudanese government was systematically slaughtering first Christians and then black Muslims.  It didn’t step in when Iran was murdering its own citizens.  For reasons as yet unclear to me, the UN doesn’t like Qaddafi, so he suddenly gets bombed under R2P.  I’m not saying he’s not a foul little guy, but his depredations don’t affect most of the world.

What’s very clear is that R2P, with Obama’s guiding hand, will inevitably be used to justify a UN attack against Israel.  After all, 90% of the UN’s efforts are to protect the poor, simple, innocent, peaceful Palestinians from evil, aggressive, genocidal Israel murder.  It’s a situation ripe for the R2P doctrine.  Bush and Bolton would have stopped that.  Obama and Powers will say “bring it on.”

Also, it turns out that Tom, a Watcher’s Council member, is also a musician and musical parodist.  Check this one out.

UPDATE:  The inevitable — a call to wage war against Israel based upon R2P principles — has begun.

Watcher of Weasels winners, 3/25/11 edition

World crisis is unnerving, but it certainly stimulates good political writing and analysis.  Witness the winners of this past week’s Watcher’ Council vote:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Lousy law professor, but lots of money and power now

She was the third worst professor I had at law school.  The first worst was a guy who was hopped up on Quaaludes.  The second worst was a guy who spent 9/10 of the year on a single case, and then crammed the rest of the book into that last 1/10.  And then there was Elizabeth Warren, who was almost uniquely unintelligible.  Or maybe, as this article indicates about her communication style, it was just that I didn’t believe her lies.

Mark Steyn on Obama’s war

The whole thing is good (of course), but I enjoyed this bit especially:

“That’s why building this international coalition has been so important,” [Obama] said the other day. “It is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally.”

That’s great news. Who doesn’t enjoy volunteering other people?

The Arab League, for reasons best known to itself, decided that Col. Gadhafi had outlived his sell-by date. Granted that the region’s squalid polities haven’t had a decent military commander since King Hussein fired Gen. John Glubb half a century back, how difficult could it be even for Arab armies to knock off a psychotic transvestite guarded by Austin Powers fembots?

But no: Instead, the Arab League decided to volunteer the U.S. military.

Michael Ramirez

I didn’t blog today because I did something fun:  I went into the City to hear Michael Ramirez give a talk at a luncheon that the Pacific Research Institute hosted.  The lunch took place at the Ritz-Carlton, which is indeed a very ritzy hotel, so that was quite the inducement (not to mention having a very good parking lot nearby).

The real draw, of course, was Michael Ramirez himself.  I’ve learned to love his editorial cartoons through the Investor’s Business Daily editorial page.  They are amazing cartoons.  The first thing one notices is that they’re beautifully drawn.  Ramirez is a gifted artist.  Visual beauty, though, won’t go very far if one wants to make a career as a political cartoonist.  One needs a depth and breadth of knowledge, wit, and the ability to distill complex ideas into very short phrases without losing anything.  Ramirez does it all.  It’s no wonder that he’s won two Pulitzer Prizes.  Although I don’t think much of the Pulitzer lately, Ramirez’s wins give it some cachet.

The fact that a person is a gifted artist and satirist is no guarantee that he will be a good speaker.  I went in hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.  I got lucky, in that Ramirez realized my hopes, rather than confirming my fears.  He is a delightful speaker:  informed, funny, elegant, passionate and fluid.  He talked about Reagan’s greatness, about the media’s dishonesty, about Obama’s ineptitude, and myriad other subjects in between.

In the small amount of time remaining at the end of his talk, he showed some cartoons from his recently published book Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion.  We in the audience roared with laughter, we groaned with political pain, and we fell silent at the moving cartoons that acknowledged the big tragedies that have hit the Western world.

If Ramirez comes to your town, make the time to hear him speak (even if he’s not speaking at your local Ritz-Carlton).  He’s a master at the art of editorial cartooning, and a delight as a speaker.  So, really, can you do better than that?  Oh, and of course you should buy the book.