Dear Mr. Brooks: The program you are looking for is the draft

I want a job at the New York Times.  It is clearly a place that pays people to be stupid.  David Brooks gives Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 a very nice review.  Coming Apart claims that there is a big divide between rich Americans and poor Americans.  I like Charles Murray, and think he is frequently brilliant, but the heads up for him here is that there are always divides.  They’ve been by class, geography, politics, culture, etc.  To look at income and NASCAR in 2012, is awfully limited.

But I was talking about Brooks.  Brooks is horrified by the divide and has a rousing, and “NYT stupid,” conclusion:

I doubt Murray would agree, but we need a National Service Program. We need a program that would force members of the upper tribe and the lower tribe to live together, if only for a few years. We need a program in which people from both tribes work together to spread out the values, practices and institutions that lead to achievement.

If we could jam the tribes together, we’d have a better elite and a better mass.

And there you have my post title.  In the years between WWI and WWII and Vietnam, the big mixer-upper was the draft.  No draft, no mixing up.  We don’t have a new cultural divide.  We have an old, 19th Century era cultural divide.

Some are thinking the draft might be a good thing, but I don’t think our military deserves to have foisted upon it a random sampling of the current younger generation.

By the way, if you’re thinking that this is an unusually sour and snarky post, even by my standards, you’re right.  Both Brooks’ column and Murray’s premise rubbed me the wrong way.

When it comes to the climate crowd, Zombie proves that it’s the same words, with a slightly different melody

I’m not the most observant person in the world.  It was probably in around 1976 when I suddenly realized that the CBS nightly news, which my parents watched religiously, was no longer giving daily updates about the number of dead and wounded in Vietnam.  That information had provided a backdrop to my childhood dinners, so much so that I completely tuned it out.  When the numbers vanished, I was still tuned out.

Thinking about it, I also missed the transition from Global Freezing, which was the nightmare scenario of my 1970s youth (along with nuclear Holocaust, of course), to Global Warming, which is the nightmare scenario of my own children’s youth.  Perhaps, though, it wasn’t that I was so absent minded, it was also that the message with both calamitous scenarios has been precisely the same.  Zombie has written a very detailed post (not to worry, though, ’cause it’s also fascinating) comparing the two climate movements.  I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I saw that Zombie’s thesis is as follows:

In both cases, proponents of the theory-du-jour say that in order to stave off disaster, we must reverse the march of civilization, stop our profligate use of carbon-based fuels, cede power and money from the First World to the Third World, and wherever possible revert to a Luddite pre-industrial lifestyle.

I realized: The solution (commit civilizational suicide) always remains the same; all that differs are the wildly divergent purported “crises” proffered up to justify the imposition of the solution.

Seen from this angle, the entire Climate Change field should be more properly reframed thus:

In order to weaken and eventually destroy the existing industrialized nations, we must devise an ecological “crisis” so severe that only voluntary economic suicide can solve it; and if this first crisis doesn’t materialize as planned, then devise another, and another, even if they flatly contradict our previous claims.

Watcher’s Council winners for January 27, 2012

In last week’s Watcher’s Council vote, true courage took the lead, with The Mellow Jihadi’s moving post about Marine Lance Corporal Donald Hogan, who died in Afghanistan saving his comrades, winning first place.  Lots of other good stuff, too, so if you haven’t read these posts, you should:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

The Passover story writ large in the elites’ approach to the Tea Party and the OWS movement

Over the years, I’ve written more than 10,000 posts.  (Yeah, that’s a scary thought, isn’t it.)  They do tend to run together in my mind, but there are a few standouts.  These are the posts in which I felt that I offered an insight or analysis that is genuinely helpful to considering a serious issue of the day.  One of my all-time favorite posts in this vein is Pharaoh, the Ten Plagues, and Iran.  In it, I tackled Mr. Bookworm’s complaint that Passover is a barbaric holiday, because it celebrates the massacre of the First Born Egyptians.  Certainly, the Pharaoh’s intransigence, despite the many plagues sent to bedevil his people (plagues that surely brought death in their wake) culminates with a mass die-off in Egypt.

The death of the innocent Egyptian first born is certainly tragic, but the Bible story, I said, has a much larger and more important point:

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him.  The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals.  It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

From that point, I drew analogies to Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and current day Iran.

Today, Duane Lester found proof that, when it comes to the current crop of Leftist elites, in government and in the media, the same thinking holds true:  they do not care if the people suffer; they only care if the elites suffer.

So next time you hear some Progressive speaker go on and on and on about “the people,” ask him which worries him more:  massive mob violence on the street aimed at bringing down the capitalist system, or a single conservative loon who might get too close to someone in D.C.

Israel and a nuclear Iran

The choice before the Cambridge Debating Society was whether one should choose war to stop Iran from going nuclear, or simply accept a nuclear Iran.  Douglas Murray offers a devastating rebuttal to those who say, “Who cares if Iran goes nuclear?”  The 11 minute video starts out good and, halfway through, gets great:

Hat tip:  Seraphic Secret

As a companion piece, please watch a different video that Robert Avrech posted about challenging Muslim ideology vis a vis the Jews and Israel.

 

Barbara Boxer’s Orwellian defense of the way in which the new healthcare mandate advances religious freedom *UPDATED*

Barbara Boxer has taken to the pages of the Huffington Post to explain why the administration’s mandate that all insurers provide birth control, including drugs that induce abortion, advances rather than restricts, religious freedom.  If you like Orwell’s Newspeak, Boxer’s writing is a thing of beauty and will certainly be a joy forever as a model of obfuscation and deceit.  I think it deserves a nice fisking, I really do:

When President Obama announced that because of health care reform, birth control would soon be available for free in new insurance plans, you would have expected universal approval.

[Why in the world would there be universal approval for a policy that requires people to underwrite birth control for everyone, including the 1%?  It's not as if birth control was unavailable before ObamaCare.  Nor is birth control expensive.  Condoms will not break anyone's bank and the pill is one of the cheapest products around.  So remind me again why I'm celebrating being forced to pay for other people's personal birth control choices?]

After all, virtually all women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used birth control at some point in their lives and 71 percent of American voters, including 77 percent of Catholic women voters, support this policy.

[See above.  It's not about who uses birth control, Catholic women included.  It's about who pays for birth control.  Welcome to Boxer's first piece of Orwellian sleight of hand.]

That is why I was stunned to read E.J. Dionne’s column in the Washington Post today denouncing a decision that should instead be lauded, especially by those of us who care about religious freedom, women’s health, and economic fairness.

[Now we get to it:  the policy advances "religious freedom . . . and economic fairness."  I'm completely unclear what's economically fair about a working class Mom or a small business having to fund a policy that will help Paris Hilton get her birth control for free.  But let's get to the real meat.  Let's find out how, in Obama/Orwell land, forcing everyone to pay for birth control and abortion pills advancing religious freedom.]

The truth is, the president’s decision respects the diverse religious views of the American people, who deserve the right to follow their own conscience and choose whether to obtain contraceptives, regardless of where they work. [Uh, Babs -- nobody is banning them from getting contraceptives now.  Last I looked, I could walk into any pharmacy and, for a very affordable price, get myriad over-the-counter contraceptives.  And I can go to my doctor and get a prescription for other affordable contraceptives.  This isn't about access; it's about funding.]  And that is what this policy guarantees — with one carefully drawn exception. This decision respects the deeply-held views of religious institutions. If their mission is primarily religious and the majority of their employees and clients share that faith, religious institutions do not have to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees.  [Here's where the real double-speak lies, since it overlooks the fact that the only entirely religious institutions are convents and monasteries.  Whether we're talking a vast Catholic educational institution, a soup kitchen, or the local parish, outside of ministering positions, the Catholic Church is required by law to hire people of different religions.  In any event, my understanding is that, again outside of the core religious functionaries, the Church freely hires those who are willing to accommodate its vision and goals.  In other words, the so-called "exception" probably covers six convents and a monastery.]

So, despite what his critics claim, the president’s policy does in fact respect religious freedom. [No, it doesn't, because it aims to prevent any Catholic institutions from competing in the employment marketplace, by intentionally creating a situation in which Catholic institutions can no longer give their employees insurance coverage.]  In addition, opponents of this policy shockingly ignore the facts: that it will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in our country — a goal I thought we all shared.  [Non sequitur.  We're not talking about reducing unintended pregnancies.  We're talking about a government policy that forces a religious organization to fund a practice that is doctrinally abhorrent.]

The president followed the advice of the Institute of Medicine and other independent medical experts who recommended that health plans cover preventive services that women cannot afford to miss, including annual exams, HIV screening and, yes, contraception. These experts know the truth: The best way to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions is to make birth control more accessible to women and men. Period. Without birth control, a couple has an 85 percent chance of having an unintended pregnancy within a year.

[See my last comment, above.  This is mixing Marxist apples with religious oranges.  We have a free country in which women already have access to birth control, sterilization, and abortion.  It's just that, until today, the government hasn't forced religious organizations to sponsor these practices.  It also ignores the fact that the Church believes that the best way to protect women is to teach them to treat sex as a sacred obligation within the bounds of marriage.  In other words, the Church's birth control is to take a stand against a promiscuous, hook-up culture.]

Finally, this decision will help working families by giving them access to free birth control. The cost of birth control can be prohibitive for many women, particularly in these difficult economic times. In fact, 34 percent of women voters report having struggled with the cost of prescription birth control. Surprisingly, Dionne glosses over the crucial issue of cost by recommending that the President simply require plans that won’t cover birth control to tell their employees where else they can buy it. He dismisses it as a “modest cost.” Well, tell that to the woman making minimum wage and struggling to buy groceries for her children — paying an extra $600 a year for birth control pills is a major expense for her, not a “modest cost.”

[Another red herring.  I have a suggestion, Babs.  Rather than making the Church pay for this "modest cost," why don't you tell the President to authorize the Keystone Pipeline?  That will create thousands of jobs and substantially drop the cost of oil.  This latter cost drives up the price of everything.  But it's clear that the President would rather attack the Catholic's core doctrines, than the Gaia worshippers' core doctrines.]

Improving access to affordable birth control is not a controversial issue for the American people, the vast majority of whom support family planning. The president’s decision should bring all sides together because it will help millions of women and their families. Certainly, that is a policy worthy of our praise.

[Doublespeak, doublespeak, doublespeak.  We have complete access in this country to birth control.  We have women who might be struggling to meet the cost because Obama's policies, including the stimulus and the refusal to exploit our energy resources, have made many things more expensive for many people.  Forcing religious institutions to fund practices that are morally abhorrent is not the way to balance out Obama's economic failings.]

Okay, enough with wandering around the cesspool that is Boxer’s brain and moral decency. If you really want to know what’s going on, I recommend Elizabeth Scalia’s article on the opening salvo in Obama’s war against the Catholic Church (and, of course, other religious organizations).

UPDATE:  Welcome, David Hogberg readers!

Why America’s cultural divide is a gaping chasm, not a shallow ditch

It’s already old news to you that statistical data shows that Obama is the most polarizing president ever.  Much as I’d like to blame Obama, it seems that, rather than causing the polarization, he reflects it:

One Gallup chart ranks presidents from Eisenhower to Obama on polarization during their third year in office. Obama is at the very top, with a 68-point “party gap.” The three least polarized presidents were Jimmy Carter in 1979, Lyndon Johnson in 1965 and Ike in 1955. Carter was very unpopular (24% approval among Republicans, 46% among Democrats), Ike was very popular (91% and 57%), and LBJ’s popularity was middling (34% and 68%).

In a polarized electorate, then, partisans not only are more likely to disapprove of a president of the other party but also to approve of one from their own party. Cilizza and Blake note that “out of the ten most partisan years in terms of presidential job approval in Gallup data, seven–yes, seven–have come since 2004. [George W.] Bush had a run between 2004 and 2007 in which the partisan disparity of his job approval was at 70 points or higher.” What they don’t note is that polarization declined significantly in 2008 (to a 61-point gap), when even Republicans had started to turn against Bush.

Obama’s fault, then, lies in promising during his campaign to end this great divide and then in violating that promise by using his executive office to perpetuate it.

If you’re wondering how this chasm happened, a reader send me some information that might give us a clue:

I supervise a USC School of Social Work intern. I was filling out my evaluation for her today.

Here are two of the categories that I had to “grade” her on.

“Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structure and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power in shaping life experiences.”

“Identifies the forms, mechanisms and interconnections of oppression and discrimination and is knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights.”

Our very expensive educational institutions are fomenting class warfare.  This young woman, when she gets her degree and goes out into the world, will disseminate this Marxist view of social issues.  She won’t be a bad person.  She’ll be a dangerously indoctrinated useful idiot in a position to do a lot of damage to the fabric of our culture.

Is Ron Paul correct that the U.S. is at fault when it comes to Iran’s intransigent hatred for our country?

According to Barry Rubin, who has forgotten more about the Middle East than most people (including State Department employees) will know in a lifetime, Ron Paul is Wrong Paul when it comes to Iran.  First, what’s happened in the last decade is irrelevant, since Iran hatred long preceded that.  The real issue is whether the U.S. decision in 1953 to put the Shah in power was the trigger that deserved the animus that now comes our way.  Rubin, with access to key contemporary documents, says it is not.  Not only was it a rational and reasonable decision at the time, the mullahs wanted it:

What is especially interesting in retrospect is that one of the main supporters of the move were the Iranian Muslim clerics, including Ayatollah Kashani, the man who would be a role model for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. I saw how he and his colleagues met with U.S. officials and urged a coup, since they also feared a Communist regime. It is ironic for Islamists to complain about a U.S. policy that they actively backed at the time.

Read the whole thing, which succinctly summarizes decades of Iran policy. It’s fascinating.

And while you’re at it, you might want to check out Barry Rubin’s new book, which got a great review in the latest edition of Commentary Magazine:

ObamaCare, the Catholic Church, and mandatory abortion payments

In the halcyon pre-Obama days, when Prop. 8 meant that gay marriage was a hot blogging issue, I argued that religion organizations, not the state, should be allowed to define what constitutes a “marriage,” with states confined to authorizing “civil unions.”  In that context, I commented upon the religious implications of the government mandating that a church engage in something that touches upon a core doctrinal belief:

The second problem right now with the emphasis on changing state definitions of marriage, rather than religious definitions, is the risk that there will be direct challenges between church and state. A lawyer I know assured me that this couldn’t happen because, for example, the Catholic church does not get sued because it opposes abortion.  That was facile reasoning.  While abortions may be a civil right, the Catholic church does not provide abortions.  What the Catholic church provides is communion, which is not a civil right, so the church can withhold it at will.  What happens, though, when the church provides something which is both a core doctrinal belief (marriage) and a state right (marriage)?  It’s a head-on collision, and I can guarantee you that the courts will get involved and that some activist judge will state that the Catholic Church is constitutionally required to marry gay couples.  (Emphasis added.)

I was prescient.  Mandating that the Catholic Church provide abortions is precisely what the Obama administration is doing.  Institutions such as the Catholic Church, which considers the right to life one of its core beliefs, must nevertheless fund abortions by providing insurance that makes abortion drugs available to all women on demand.  Funding an act is tantamount to committing that act yourself.

Whether you support a woman’s right to have an abortion or not, surely anyone who is intellectually honest must see that it is morally wrong to make a religious institution fund it.  To use an extreme analogy, this is the beginning of a continuum that ends with Jews being forced to dig their own mass burial pits before being lined upon along the edge of those pit and shot.

I assume that those who are celebrating this mandate will contend that, throughout the Bush years, they were forced to see their tax dollars go to fund a war they did not support, one that saw thousands of people die.  Likewise, those who oppose the death penalty must nevertheless pay taxes that fund the judicial and prison system.  That argument is a red herring.  The Constitution explicitly authorizes both war and capital punishment, which are legitimate government powers.  Those who don’t like that reality are welcome to try a Constitutional amendment to wipe out the government’s war powers and do away with capital punishment.  I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

There is nothing in the Constitution, however, that authorizes the Federal government (and, by extension through the 14th Amendment, any state government) to mandate that a religious institution be complicit in an act it believes constitutes murder.  More to the point, the Constitutional grant of religious freedom, by which the government agrees to stay out of managing a religious institutions affairs, either practical or doctrinal, should prohibit such conduct entirely.  This is one more example, as if we needed it, of the Obama administration’s fundamental lawlessness.

 

Sleep warfare

I am really, really mad at Mr. Bookworm today.  If I’m completely honest with myself, it’s not that he did anything to me.  It’s that he has something I don’t have — namely, a good night of sleep under his belt.  I’m a fairly chronic insomniac, and he is not.  Last night was an even less good night than usual for me while he, the lucky son of a gun, not only slept through the night but managed to stay in bed an extra 2.5 hours after I’d already gotten up with the kids and gotten the household going.  He’s refreshed and perky; I’m yawning and dragging.

It’s just so unfair!!!

At this point, I have two options for handling this situation in the future.  The first is to keep him awake while I struggle to fall asleep, and then I can wake him whenever I wake up, whether it’s six times during the night, or that final wake-up at 6 in the morning.  Doing so won’t give me any more sleep, of course, but I’m sure I’ll feel better knowing that he’s suffering too.  After all, if we’re both suffering, that’s fair, right?  And really, who cares if the fall-out for penalizing him for having the temerity to sleep through the night is that, lacking that sleep, he’s unable to carry out the job that supports our family?  I’m sure his employer will just keep giving him money . . . or maybe someone else will.  I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  Under this scenario, all that’s important is that, because I can’t seem to reach Mr. Bookworm’s high level of sleep, I need to bring him down to mine.

Alternatively, I can continue my search for sleep, and leave him alone, so that he can sleep, be refreshed, and earn money to support our family.  Right now, I’m tending my garden:  I exercise, eat fairly right, take Melatonin, and do whatever else is healthy for me and consistent with sleeping well.  It might also behoove me to reconcile myself to the fact that, with the best will in the world, sleep is not going to be a part of my life in the short-term — or maybe ever.  Destroying Mr. Bookworm’s sleep isn’t going to change that unpleasant fact.

Yes, it’s unfair, but as I say to my children, life isn’t fair.

(For those wondering, the first paragraph of this post is absolutely true.  When Don Quixote called this morning and asked “How are you?” my answer was pretty much verbatim what I typed in the first paragraph.  Don Quixote laughed and said “sleep envy,” which phrase was, of course, the genesis for the rest of this post.)

What do you do when you don’t think your favorite candidate can win?

I don’t have an answer to the question in my post title.  All I have is some limited data showing that, while conservatives don’t like Romney, and favor either Gingrich or Santorum, they have a sneaking suspicion that only Romney can win.

I’m thinking that sometimes, as the Victorians said, it’s possible to be “too smart by half.”  Trying to predict what voters will do in November is fruitless, because so much can happen between now and then.  Decide what matters to you, and pick the candidate who meshes most closely with those values.

And then, for the approximately 60% of us who don’t get our chosen candidate, hold your nose, and vote to get Obama out of office.

Voters are left helpless and bereft when the political experts form a circular firing squad

I’m planning a trip this summer to Japan, a country about which I know nothing.  Actually that’s an overstatement.  I know some things:  it’s beautiful, historic, and clean (I love that part), and comes complete with great food and well-mannered people.  But that’s all I know.

Toji Pagoda

I don’t have this tabula rasa problem when I go to Europe.  Whether England, Germany, France, Belgium, or Italy, I have in my head enough information about the country to  be a little picky. It helps, too, that Rick Steves has published a series of European travel guides.  He’s not shy about being opinionated.  Indeed, that’s why people turn to him.  They have faith that they can trust his judgment so that, if he says a city is good and requires at least three days time, they can immediately book a hotel (one he recommends, of course) for two nights.  Likewise, if he says “don’t bother with such and such,” his readers know that Rick saved them time and money on a short, expensive trip.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

So far, I haven’t found a Rick Steves for Japan.  All the travel books make everything sound wonderful, without any rankings or priorities.  And I’m sure that, if I had unlimited time and money, I would enjoy traveling to every town, shrine and museum Japan offers.  But that’s not the reality of vacation travel, and I’m currently overwhelmed by the choices. Yikes!

My Japan conundrum isn’t unique.  In a world awash in information, there is no way one person can master all the data necessary to make important life decisions.  Inevitably, in various areas such as education, travel, politics, finances, etc., we select experts whom we trust and assume that, when they state an ultimate conclusion about their subject, we can rely on that conclusion.  This works both ways, of course.  Since I’ve long thought AlBore to be a rather foolish man with enough feral instincts to be a successful snake oil salesman, I have never believed in global warming.  Likewise, a friend of mine refuses to accept the rising tide of evidence against global warming, because it’s been published in “Republican” and “conservative” outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail.  The fact that AlBore’s theories are based on computer models while the evidence against global warming is based upon actual data disturbs him not a whit.  He’s found his reliable sources, and he’s sticking with them.

Right now, my reliance upon political experts is creating a dilemma for me, because my “experts” are turning on each other.  Before the primaries, they were all united in their profound dislike for Barack Obama.  Now, though, the circular firing squad isn’t limited just to the Republican candidates themselves.  The shoot-outs are taking place at every major conservative website, not to mention many of my favorite blogs.  Just check out PJ Media’s front page at any given minute to see astute political commentators, all of whom I respect, battering away at each other and the candidates.

To some commentators, Mitt is a RINO’s RINO, who flops, then flips, while Newt is the fiery voice of conservative truth who can reclaim America.  To others, Newt is an unprincipled loose cannon, while Mitt is a steady, conservative politician whose problem-solving skills make him the only one who can defeat Obama.  Still others see both Mitt and Newt as RINOs (one of whom has a backbone of noodle, while the other has the ethics of an alley cat), while Rick Santorum is the only true conservative in the house — never mind the fact, say entirely different pundits, that Rick’s conservative stances on social issues assure that he’ll lose to Obama.

I find all of the above viewpoints both interesting and credible.  Newt is an exciting speaker who articulates core truths about America, the economy, and national security that too many Americans, intimated by the PC police, have been stifling for years.  His fund of knowledge is impressive and enjoyable.  And of course, he’s the man whose insider skills in the 1990s forced the entire political system slightly to the right.  On the other side of the scale, he’s a man who has cheated on at least two wives (and I really don’t want to find out if he’s been cheating on a third), he’s known to be a terrible manager, his relationship to truth can be distant at best, he’s erratic, he too often sees Big Government as the vehicle for his own eclectic brilliance, and so on and so forth.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Then there’s Mitt.  We all know and appreciate the Good Mitt.  This is the Mitt who understands the market; the Mitt who has impressive organizational abilities; the Mitt who has proven to be an adept, albeit unexciting candidate; the Mitt who makes the Republican establishment feel loved; and the Mitt who, we are told, can entice the independents whom Newt frightens.  But all is not wonderful in Mitt land.  There’s also the Less Good Mitt, the unrepentant architect of RomneyCare; the man who, when he isn’t flipping, is flopping; the man whose Mormonism worries those who believe he is committing a profound doctrinal error that reflects on his judgment and intelligence; and, which might be the worst thing of all in a hyper-media age, the man who has the charm and warmth of a first generation android.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

And what about Rick?  My God, the man is a Boy Scout, and I mean that in a good way.  He’s honest, loyal, decent, moral, and truly conservative.  He’s definitely what we conservatives want.  Except for that little problem he has of fading into the woodwork, not to mention the fact that, with the nation trending further and further left on social issues, there’s the strong likelihood, say many, that he’ll be the poison pill candidate for independent voters.

(Image by Gage Skidmore)

Darn those independent voters!  They’re the real problem, because all three conservative candidate (and, yes, I am ignoring Ron Paul entirely) could easily win against Obama if we could automatically co-opt independents into conservativism.  We can’t, though, which paralyzes the Republican primary.  While the independents seem to dislike Obama with ever greater intensity, the mainstream media has trained them, like tens of thousands of Pavlovian dogs, to be very hostile to certain stand-out traits in the last three Republicans standing:  Newt is the evil architect of the Contract with America; Mitt is the evil Mormon; and Rick is the evil Christian who will imprison all your gay friends and relatives.  Evil!  Evil!  Evil!

The worst thing of all, though, considering all the alleged evil the MSM keeps highlighting, is the fact that America’s premier conservative commentators aren’t doing anything to help.  Rather than building up their candidate of choice, they too are just as busy as the MSM, and the candidates themselves, in the savagery of their attacks against the candidates they don’t like.

It’s worth remembering that Newt rose to prominence during the debates because, in the beginning, he kept a laser-like focus on Obama.  He pointed out Obama’s myriad, manifest flaws and failings, and articulated ideas that promised to help America recover from her experiment with a true Leftist in the White House.  His numbers rose.  When Romney went negative, though, so did Newt — and so did everyone else.  In the last couple of months, the flesh-ripping on the debate stage is sickening, and the political commentators, rather than stepping in to help focus the voters on their chosen candidate’s attributes, are standing at the base of the stage drinking up the flowing blood.

THIS IS NOT HELPFUL.  If you’re going to have an opinion, advance useful information that helps affirmative decision-making and that helps staunch the sanguinary stream we’re currently giving as a gift to the MSM.  Yes, it’s good for the candidates to get groomed to fight the dirty fight, because it’s going to be very dirty indeed when they stand on a stage opposite Barack Obama.  I think, though, that we can comfortably conclude that the current batch has the grit to take the hits.  It’s time now to give the voters the help they need to choose the best candidate, rather than just to avoid the worst.

When parody sounds real — Tom Elia’s “When Lobsters Take Flight”

I mentioned yesterday that we live in such strange times that it’s often difficult to distinguish fake news from real.  It occurred to me that, by making this statement, I missed the opportunity to alert you to a book full of fake news — very funny, sometimes prescient fake news.

Tom Elia, who blogs at The New Editor, has written an ebook called When Lobsters Take Flight: A skeptic parodies politicians, ‘progressives,’ potentates, and the press reporting on them all.  At $2.99, it costs less than a cup of Starbuck’s coffee.  Like that delightful Starbuck’s cup, it will boost your spirits.  It will also do something even Starbuck’s can’t do:  give you a fresh take on the lunacy outside your front door.

With the 2012 election heating up, it must be “cry racism” season again

Despite the fact that Republicans are currently busy working the circular firing squad, making outside efforts to destroy them somewhat redundant, the Progressives/Democrats/Media/Usual Suspects aren’t taking any chances about the November 2012 election and have already brought out the big gun:  They’re crying racism.

The racism claim that got the biggest headline this week is the study that purports to show that conservatism, racism and stupidity are a package deal.  If you’re conservative, you must be racist and stupid.  If you’re stupid, you must be racist and conservative.  And if you’re racist, you must be stupid and conservative.

Cedric the Entertainer — well known racist (and idiot and conservative?)

Hold in your mind for a second that last thought:  If you’re racist, you must be stupid and conservative.  Racism, of course, means to hold a negative belief about someone, or to insult someone, based solely upon their race (although I’ll have more on that definition in a minute).  That being the case, how do the usual suspects account for the fact that Cedric the Entertainer, that noted Progressive, launched a foul mouthed attack against a black woman — which focuses solely, and negatively, upon her race, a race that happens to be African American?  And no, as is so often the case when I’m talking about lunacy from the Left, I’m not kidding.  As John Nolte says

Crystal Wright is an accomplished commentator and writer who holds a  Masters from Georgetown. But she just happens to be black and female and Republican, so therefore …. this gets fired out to nearly a quarter of a million people:

African-Americans, especially African-American women, pay a very high price for stepping off the Progressive plantation.

It’s going to get worse, too, before it gets better, and that’s because the Left is now taking the Orwellian position of remove race from racism entirely, so as to ensure that all conservative words or acts can be properly castigated as racist, justifying ostracism, insults and reeducation.  Incidentally, I understand that the preceding sentence makes no sense, but that’s not my fault.  When Newspeak controls the discourse, the issue isn’t sense, but censorship or, more specifically, getting conservatives to shut up:

Color Blind Racism” was the title of a recent article in the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on-line publication, The Root.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. last appeared on this blog for his outrageous charge of racism against a policeman for following protocol, and The Root was last mentioned on this blog for its list of blacks whom they would like to see erased from history.  The list was a who’s who of murders, cannibals and despicable people, and included both Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and right wing black politician Alan Keyes.

So what is “color blind racism?”  According to The Root, it is ”a racial ideology that expresses itself in seemingly nonracial terms. As such, it is most practiced by people who never see themselves outside their own myopic worldview. ”  What that means in practice is a redefinition of racism from its actual meaning, a belief that a particular race is inherently inferior, into a wholly new arena, where, mirabile dictu, criticism directed towards blacks, and indeed, the mere mention of any inconvenient fact, is inherently racist.  The “Orwellian term, ‘color blind racism.’” is, as James Taranto at the WSJ describes it, ”the pithiest summation we’ve ever encountered of the absurdity of contemporary left-liberal racial dogma.”

Read the rest here, so that you can fully understand the brave new world in which you are about to live.  George Orwell wouldn’t have been proud — since what he feared has come to pass — but Big Brother would have been very proud indeed.

No more smiles from George Orwell in our Newspeak world

What would happen if President Obama starred in the Jim Carrey Movie “Liar, Liar”.

Did you ever see Liar Liar?  In it, Jim Carrey (before he got pompous) plays an attorney who lies compulsively but, because of a spell his son places on him, is unable to tell a lie for 24 hours.  It’s a rather amusing movie especially the courtroom scenes.

Sultan Knish clearly had a dream that President Obama suddenly had the starring role in Liar Liar, because he has published a State of the Union speech that contemplates the president actually telling the truth.

When it comes to the Obama administration, Sultan Knish is not the only one trying his hand at satire.  The Anchoress although threw her satirical hat into the ring, taking on the administration’s food police.

What’s kind of weird about all the Anchoress’ effort is that its hard to tell its satire.  The Obama administration has done so many extreme and peculiar things that there is no longer a clear line separating reality from good political satire.

If Liam Neeson converts, I’m going to have to think long and hard about watching the Narnia movies again. Sigh.

Liam Neeson’s flirting with converting to Islam, a religious quest made possible by the fact that the religion has great calls to prayer and everyone does it (at least in Muslim countries) — and, no, I’m not exaggerating when I belittle his expressed motive when he contemplates abandoning the Catholicism of his childhood in exchange for the religion of perpetual outrage:

On filming in Istanbul, Neeson told British rag The Sun: “The call to prayer happens five times a day, and for the first week, it drives you crazy, and then it just gets into your spirit, and it’s the most beautiful, beautiful thing… There are 4,000 mosques in the city. Some are just stunning, and it really makes me think about becoming a Muslim.”

Just to be clear, Neeson makes no mention of spiritual or doctrinal failings in his childhood faith, nor does he speak in any way of the profound procedural and moral changes he’d have to make to his life if he did indeed convert.

Thinking about it, Neeson may be on to something here, with his shallow belief that he can go on as before, just singing a slightly different song along with the muezzin.  As my cousin, who spent years ministering as a prison chaplain, wrote me in connection with prison conversions to Islam:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

Prisoners use conversion to justify their rage. Neeson’s admiring little speech indicates that at least one movie star type seems to being using it to justify just how shallow he really, truly is.

The only thing I find disheartening about this piece of idiocy is that it might affect my viewing habits.  For example, I never listen to Cat Stevens’ music.  It’s not conscious censorship on my part, as in “Everyone should boycott that man because he converted to Islam.”  It’s a more informal, visceral response.  Every time I hear one of his songs lovey-dovey 1970s pop songs, I get hacked off at the fact that he is now a vocal, proselytzing enthusiast for the whole Muslim package:  death to the Jews, death to America, women wrapped in tents, dead gays, etc.  My blood pressure shoots up, and then I turn the music off.  Fortunately, Snoop Doggs’ conversion doesn’t affect me because I wouldn’t have listened to his songs before conversion, and I’m certainly not going to listen to them now.

But Neeson . . . ummm.  You see, I like the Narnia movies.  I love the first, like the second, and am looking forward to watching the third (the delay is a Netflix thing, meaning that I put it on the list and Mr. Bookworm takes it off).  It was bad enough when Neeson foolishly denied that Aslan was an allegorical Christ.  It’s high blood pressure time, though, if the actor who voices the allegorical Christ has converted to a faith antithetical to everything C.S. Lewis intended to convey through those wonderful books.

Stuff, all of which is depressing, about Democrat government and Democrat party-line media

In no particular order:

Listen to Richard Epstein and John Yoo explain why ObamaCare is a more heinous government policy than any ever before imposed on the American people.  Pay special attention to Richard Epstein’s point about the dangers lurking in rule by waiver, which is antithetical to rule by law.  (This is in the last video.)  (Hat tip:  JKB)

Don’t let the cheerful numbers about GDP, etc., mislead you.  Everything that’s improving in the economy (and things are improving) is being sucked up by government spending and debt.  Oh, joy!

Tom Elia caught the PBS Newshour in something that can politely be called deceit by omission.

I think I need to have some quiet time with my dog.  This all depresses me.

Using good money to go after bad ideas

Here’s a really bad idea:  name a United States Navy after Representative John Murtha (deceased), the man who cheerfully, and without any credible evidence, castigated American Marines as cold-blooded killers in the wake of the Haditha massacre.  The Marines, of course, were all exonerated but for Frank Wuterich, who accepted a slap on the wrist plea bargain, something he no doubt did because he has three small children at home and could not risk the vagaries of a full trial.  Add to that Murtha’s history of political corruption, and it sounds to me as if any ship that bears his name is going to be an unlucky ship indeed — not to mention a ship that is an insult to both our military and our taxpayers. *

My feeling is that, if you have a bad idea, and it’s been brought to your attention that it really is a bad — indeed, indefensible — idea, you should retreat as quickly and as gracefully as possible.  Of course, that’s not how political bureaucracies work, so Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is standing strong behind his bad — indeed, highly offensive — idea.

Some Navy vets, accustomed to battle, are not walking away from this specific engagement.  They’ve started a website called “No Murtha Ship.”  If you go there, you can get the story about Murtha, obtain contact information for the Office of the Secretary of the Navy (please, be polite), sign a petition, and make a donation.

I made a donation, and that’s thanks to you guys.  As I’ve mentioned before, because my husband is the major breadwinner in the family, and because he’s hostile to my political views, I’ve always thought it tacky to take his salary and donate it to the political causes I support.  I know it’s community property and I know that I contribute to the community by doing everything but make lots of money, but he’s a bit territorial, so I don’t do it.  When I want to donate to causes, I go to my little PayPal account, which you guys fund when you make a donation to this blog.  Yes, I know that is also community property, but I’m territorial too, and the money in there feels like mine, mine, mine.  I consider it good money, and I use it to go after bad ideas or, even better, t0 support good causes.

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*And yes, I know that Murtha served bravely in Vietnam, but the steel backbone he developed there seems to have rusted away in the swampy air of Washington’s Foggy Bottom.

No, you weren’t imagining the strident class warfare in Obama’s SOTU speech.

We tend to find what we’re looking for.  Since conservatives know that Obama comes from a socialist background, has advanced policies that are antithetical to capitalism, and has defeated opportunities and initiatives that are supportive of capitalism, we’re going to assume that, in any speech he gives, ordinary statements are actually code for a socialist agenda.  Having this predisposition (“to a hammer, everything is a nail”) can damage ones credibility.  Monomania is not normally associated with reliable analysis.

Except that, with regard to Obama’s recent State of the Union speech, I can tell you with a certain amount of assurance that all those conservatives who saw in it a strident call to class warfare, the end of an American system based upon equality of opportunity, and the destruction of the free market were probably right.  Or, if they weren’t right, they’ve met an equal, although completely opposite, monomania that manages to read the same message into Obama’s speech.

(Come on, Bookworm, spit it out!  What are you saying?)

What I’m saying is that the Occupy crowd is thrilled with Obama’s speech, which they see as a high level articulation of their beliefs and agenda:

Linking the dominant themes in Obama’s nationally televised address Tuesday to the mantras of the Occupy Wall Street movement would have been unthinkable five months ago. But in having its message echoed in the State of the Union address, the Occupy movement reached a milestone in changing the national conversation.

“Once you say the definition of my campaign is fairness, you don’t have to say anything else,” said Lawrence Rosenthal, an expert on social movements who directs UC Berkeley’s Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements. “It is the central tenet” of the Occupy movement, he added.

[snip]

Obama never specifically mentioned Occupy – and probably won’t, analysts said, because the term remains politically divisive. For some, the dominant images of Occupy are of street activists confronting police and committing vandalism, as has occurred several times after Occupy demonstrations in Oakland.

“He won’t, because given half a chance, the Republicans would try to link him to everything that’s gone on with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations,” said James Miller, a professor of politics at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Still, analysts found Obama’s speech full of several Occupy-related themes: The president said he would not reward multinational corporations who “remove jobs from this country” and demanded “no bailouts, no handouts, no copouts.” Obama even outed himself as a member of the monied class when he said that “we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes.”

“Tax reform should follow the ‘Buffett rule,’ ” Obama said, referring to billionaire Warren Buffett, who has volunteered to pay more taxes. “If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.”

When Obama said Tuesday that “if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up,” Rosenthal said, “it’d be hard not to say that he was alluding to the Occupy movement.”

(Read the rest here.)

Apparently while Occupy the White House was a bust from the sidewalk point of view, it worked perfectly when it came to occupying the Oval Office.

 

The usual great stuff from the Watcher’s Council

I have family business to take care of this morning, so I won’t be blogging until this afternoon.  Fear not, though, as I still have very interesting stuff to recommend to you, personally selected by the crew at the Watcher’s Council:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Figuring out the subtext in Obama’s SOTU

Clark S. Judge sent to Hugh Hewitt a great note analyzing what Obama really said during the SOTU.  I’m going to do something here that I almost never do, which is to reprint the note in its entirety at my own blog, albeit reformatted from the original.  Why?  Because the paragraph breaks vanished at Hugh Hewitt’s site, making it very difficult for those of us who are struggling with glasses versus computer glasses versus bifocals to read the darn thing:

SOTU: Did I hear that right?

By Clark S. Judge: managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute.

It sounded like such a soft, even conservative speech.

But let me get this straight:

1) banks will be punished (do I understand this right, by a committee headed by Eric Holder?) if their lending is too risky,

2) and they will be required (by the same committee) to give more home loans (meaning, it must be, to people who would otherwise not qualify for the loans, or else the government would not have to be involved) at lower rates (which means rates that do not compensate them as much as the market says they need to be compensated for the risks they are taking, all of which sounds like a new edition of the policies that brought on the financial collapse),

3) which must mean that they will have to pull back on risky lending someplace other than homes,

4) the only place that most banks would be able to pull back on riskier customers would be loans to small and new businesses,

5) but these are the businesses that have created just about all the jobs over the last 20 years and he said early in the speech he wants to encourage them,

6) so maybe their growth capital will come from selling stock to the kinds of people who invest in new and small businesses,

7) but through the Buffet Rule he’s going to double the tax rate on investment income for those people, meaning that, like the banks, they can’t be fully compensated for the risk of backing small and new businesses,

8) so they will not invest more in small and new companies but in big established firms,

9) so more of those small and new firms will have to turn to the government for capital,

10) which luckily he said would up its investing in early stage businesses with “the best” ideas,

11) “the best” ideas meaning, I guess, as with Solyndra, ideas that advance his agenda through companies whose owners support his candidacy),

11.2) or maybe it would be companies that agree to invite unionization (since the unions have failed to organize the new and dynamic sectors of the economy, which is why they have been shrinking),

12) but then with the big businesses, he wants to punish American companies if they invest overseas,

13) and he wants to increase exports,

14) but being competitive in the global markets often means having part of your production near your markets, which is why many companies have opened production facilities abroad and many foreign companies (BMW and Honda, for example) have opened their facilities here,

15) so he’ll make these companies less competitive, meaning less able to export anything that might be paired with some other product the company makes abroad in order to attract buyers,

16) and it also means he’ll have the U.S. ignoring many of the international trading rules of which we have been the principal sponsor since the end of WWII, rules that have led to an incredible growth in widely shared wealth all over the planet,

17) which means that, if he follows through, he’ll blow up the post-WWII global economic system,

18) which in the very short run may help the uncompetitive American labor unions but in the not-so-long run would devastate every economy on earth,

19) but it would also mean he would be in a position to decide where big companies could invest, and when, just as he’ll be in control of all new and small businesses, too,

20) meanwhile he is going to tell states and localities what their budget priorities should be,

21) and make them adopt his policies for running their schools, leaving me to wonder, when he’s through, what won’t he control?

I believe that’s what I heard the president advocate last night. But one term I didn’t hear, maybe I missed it: “The Constitution.” Then again, wasn’t he suggesting that, in brave times like these, we need to put aside those old rules. Do I have this straight?

The list of political luminaries at the screening of an anti-military film is telling

I’m not surprised that there is a fair amount of rape in today’s military.  The facts on the ground readily explain, although they never excuse, it.

To begin within, our troops have grown up and lived in a hypersexualized culture.  Up until a few decades ago, in movies and on TV screens, even married couples didn’t sleep together and they never shared more than a chaste kiss.  Now, every aspect of culture is saturated with rampant, no strings, no respect, no relationship sex.  By the time our kids are teens, they’ve listened to songs, seen shows, and been exposed to news stories that contain more graphic sex (think of blue dresses and cigars) than previous generations saw (or heard) in their entire lifetimes.

If you take these kids — or, more accurately, these young men — and, during their peak testosterone years, place them in a hermetically sealed environment, where the straight guys are living cheek by jowl with women, and the gay guys are living cheek by jowl with men, there’s going to be sex.  Some of it will be consensual; some of it will be maybe consensual as long as one party doesn’t subsequently change his or her mind; and some of it will be out-and-out rape.  My statements are not meant to excuse rape, but to note its inevitably in the current military world.

It’s also inevitable that liberal film makers,* charged with the self-imposed responsibility of clipping the military’s wings, will make a film about it, and that the film, The Invisible War, will appear at the Sundance Film Festival. Less inevitable, although perhaps more disturbing, is that American Democrat politicians will attend the screening in significant numbers:

Politicians such as Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio attended the film’s premiere in Park City, Utah.

One gets the feeling that these same politicians are readying themselves for something and, as far as the military goes, I’m sure it’s not good.  The military must act aggressively to prevent and punish rapes, but I’m always suspicious when the Democrats suddenly find a new area for military reform.

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*The film makers are Kirby Dick, who directed, and Amy Ziering, who produced.  Dick’s roster of films includes Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, a film with a title that says it all; Outrage, a movie attacking closeted gay politicians who lobby for anti-gay legislation, which means Dick believes it’s immoral for individual gays to put their beliefs about society ahead of their personal desires; and Twist of Faith, about a man dealing with having been sexually abused by a priest; Derrida, an homage to the French philosopher and deconstructionist whose ideas probably did more than just about anyone else’s to help the Marxists take over academia; and Private Practices : The Story of a Sex Surrogate; .  One does not come away with the feeling that Dick would be the type of person who is kindly disposed to the military.

Ziering’s resume is substantially shorter, but one gets the same whiff of Leftist agitator/community organizer from her work.  The only two films for which I could find any information were Taylor’s Campaign, which was was about the homeless and had, as narrator, that Leftist stalwart, Martin Sheen, and Derrida, which she co-directed with Kirby Dick.

Breaking the Obama party hold on America’s political system

I’ve been corresponding with a group of conservatives who are very strongly divided between Romney and Gingrich.  I’m pleased to say that, while the debate is substantively heated, it also never veers away from common decency and civility.  My latest contribution to the email string, right after mention of a brokered convention, was as follows:

“Allen West!  Allen West!  Allen West!  A proven leader.”

(I can dream, can’t I?)

For all the doom and gloom predictions right now, with various factions in the conservative movement unable to envision themselves voting for the other guy come next November, I continue to believe that, as is usually the case once the fecal matter stops spraying off the fan, that conservatives will coalesce around the Republican candidate.  I’ve said from the beginning, sitting here in California where primaries are really over by the time they get to my state, that my candidate is the guy named ABO (Anybody But Obama).  It’ll be a tough call if the ABO candidate is Ron Paul, who is as awful in foreign policy as Obama, but I still think it’s important to break the Obama political infrastructure before it becomes an inextricable part of the American body politic.