Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
They’re playing to the lowest common denominator, and we’re letting them.
Both sides of the political aisle are guilty of pandering, posturing, and proselytizing to be sure, but does that really mean all ideas held, and all policies proposed, are equal in merit and practicality? (Or in flaw and impracticality?)
What this nation and her people need to rediscover isn’t necessarily that “Old Clinton Magic” of the 90’s or the “Glory Days” of Reagan’s Revolution in the 80’s, but a reinvigorated pursuit of real solutions, an appreciation and understanding of objective economic realities, and a renewed sense of the republican (small “r”) ideal that personal responsibility and civic duty are compatible and necessary prerequisites for a healthy America.
In short: we need to rediscover ideas.
The confidence I have in my conservative convictions didn’t come over night, and it would be a gross understatement to even say that I’m a long way off from being an expert on any topic other than what comes on a Chicago-style Hot Dog. But the road to discovery and understanding begins by taking that first step down what Robert Frost famously called the “path less traveled by.” This path only appears ominous from the vantage of that fork-in-the-road we all reach in life where it is no longer intellectually and emotionally satisfying to be blissfully oblivious as to why you believe any of the things you claim to.
A few clicks down the path you realize that so many great men and women throughout history have been there before you, and they’ve left maps and compasses along the way to aid you in your journey toward Truth. It’s comforting and inspiring.
Growing up in the suburbs of the Windy City, it was all too easy for my peers and I to accept the things we were taught, heard, or watched as gospel. This was the case in everything from Sunday School at my local church to the random snippets of “news” I would read for that split second it took me to flip past the front-page en route to the Sports section to see if perhaps the Cubs’ horrendous collapse in the 9th inning the evening before might have been a bad dream. If a teacher or parent said it, even if I appeared apathetic to it on the surface, I generally believed them to be telling the truth. This is the case for most teenagers and young adults in modern America.
I didn’t know any better when my 8th grade Social Studies teacher would say things like: “Communism is a good idea, but just has never been given a fair chance to work.” Sounds good to me, Mr. S. What’s for lunch? That was about the extent of my inquiry into the purported “facts” surrounding the (at that time) recent implosion of the USSR.
At church, when a Sunday School teacher or pastor (usually my own father) would explain theological doctrines like why it is that we as Christians believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, I was “busy” writing fake sicknesses on the “Prayer Request” cards (under the name of some kid I didn’t like) to tactfully place in the offering plates going by. Even by the time I graduated high school, my belief and faith in a Creator-Savior God was abstract, untenable, and weaker than the excuses I gave the deacons and church officials who would trace the bogus prayer cards back to me. (“Oh, I thought I had heard Ryan did have rickets, sir.”)
The problem I, and most Americans of my generation, found myself in was that I was a walking, talking contradiction of beliefs, narrowly held together with a hodge-podge of barely comprehensible talking-points. My logic was flawed (or non-existent), my facts were wrong (or misunderstood), and there was little-if-any application of my beliefs in my daily life. I was the physical manifestation of a Michael Moore film.
What finally got me turned around and set on the path of a life-long pursuit of truth and understanding was the empty feeling I discovered a year or two into college when the realization came over me that I couldn’t explain to anyone what it was I thought I believed. My 20-year love affair I had been having with myself (instead of Truth) had created an ignorant monster of my own making.
It would be unfair and untrue to lay the blame for my lack of understanding at the feet of my parents, or society, or my liberally-inclined teachers. I was the one accepting things at face value. I obsessed myself in sports and Nintendo instead of getting to know the writings of John Locke, Milton Friedman, or the Apostle Paul. I naively trusted, but rarely, if ever, verified.
“Disillusionment” might well be the epitaph of my generation because of our collective inability to not only articulate, but also to fully (or at least more fully) understand the reasoning and motivation for even getting out of bed in the morning. “Truth is relative”, and “God is dead” are mantras we are bombarded with from the time we enter junior high until we’re eligible for membership in the AARP.
We need and want more than this. It doesn’t sound or feel right, and when we put these “progressive” teachings into practice, we end up where we started: empty and desiring real answers.
Admittedly, the socio-political stances we as individual American voters hold on the “issues of the day” seem, at the surface, to be far removed from the discussion of philosophical (and in some cases, theological) concepts and questions each of us undoubtedly have in our lives. But are they really? We breeze right past developing what should be our central, core beliefs, and spend inordinate amounts of time fighting over the peripheral ones. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that someone’s view of their own purpose on this planet might affect their position on, oh, say, something like abortion?
The rabbit-hole, Alice, goes deeper than simply “thinking” about what you believe in. It’s a great start, but knowledge and contemplation alone do not ensure sound judgment and success. They are necessary preconditions for a decision (i.e. Who should I vote for? Is there a God?), not for that decision’s ultimate worthiness or validity.
And this is just the problem I’m trying to get at: too few of us have ever gotten to the point of “knowledge and contemplation”, let alone a discerning assessment of what real Truth might be. I’m not talking here about housewives needing to spend 4 hours of their hectic day in secluded study of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, or busy businessmen having to neglect their work at the office to pour over Platonic manuscripts and treatises on how governments ought to be run. The great ideas almost always lend themselves to reducible, intelligible levels for mass consumption. The problem is: so do the bad ones.
The only hope a representative democracy can have is if her citizens take it upon themselves to remain: vigilant of encroaching centralized power (in any areas not specified by the Constitution), cognizant of threats from abroad, and well-equipped with thoughtful considerations regarding the Judeo-Christian moral standards which, according to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, will either hold this republic together or tear it apart.
We have that duty. We have that obligation. We have that power.
USING THE "DETECTIVE"
I went through all the steps on the Internet Detective site and learned many interesting things. This was such a good use of my time here at Taylor and I am so glad that we get assignments where we can learn such new and exciting things like I did on this website. Then to have to write a one page paper on what I learned makes it all so much more enjoyable. This definitely is not busy work.
Monday, November 26, 2007
As a religious person myself, I have honestly respect for people who hold their prophets and teachers in such high regard. But when physical harm and verbal threats are the responses to presumed disrespect for one's own beliefs, a line has to be drawn.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The great tragedy of the drive to centralization, as of the drive to extend the scope of government in general, is that it is mostly led by men of good will who will be the first to regret its consequences." (Capitalism and Freedom)
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
If I were advising a candidate who was running against her, I would lay into her loudly and often with a challenge to her claim of experience. If she actually was managing the national economy from 1993-2000 from her perch as wife of the president, let her release White House documents showing her active participation in such management. When I worked in the Reagan White House, I wrote hundreds of memos on my areas of responsibility. There was a paper trail. If Hillary actually was doing what she implies she was doing, there will be a long paper trail of memos that she either wrote or commented upon."
Monday, November 19, 2007
Dear Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,
First of all, let me say right off the bat that I am a huge fan of you both. I must admit though, last year at this time, I was dismayed and disheartened at the prospects of your Party gaining control of my Congress. While I should have known better than to worry about your capabilities (or lack thereof), it has been a not-so-pleasant “surprise” to watch each of you run your respective houses of government into the proverbial ground.
Therefore, I wanted to begin this friendly letter by thanking you both for exhibiting the lack of courageous leadership that it requires to land your approval ratings in the “teens” (the lowest ever recorded and almost exactly half of what President Bush’s are).
As I reflected on the fact that Thanksgiving is upon us already this Fall, it recently occurred to me that neither of you, due to your insatiable desire to find the cloud in every silver lining, will have anything to say when your families go around the table to recite what each person is thankful for this year. So take a load off for the next few minutes and let this sagacious, conservative, optimist give you a few Gratitude Talking Points.
Thanksgiving Day Talking Point #1- I am so grateful for the fact that there are young men and women who are proudly willing to put their lives on the line to procure my freedom. Even if engaged in a war that I don’t fully agree with (understand), I can never thank the nearly 4,000 soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for liberty enough. It is by their blood, sweat, and tears that 50 million humans have been freed in areas of the world where human rights and dignity are as foreign to the soil as the sight of American G.I.’s upon it.
Now this first idea will be hard, and may even take some practice in front of the mirror to re-teach your face how to smile, but as it turns out, the situation in Iraq continues to improve at an impressive rate that even the (purposely) ambiguously defined “Neo-con’s” never predicted. When the topic of the war comes up as you pass your “green” green beans (to the left, of course), remind your guests that it isn’t just right-wingers who are reporting achievements aplenty in Baghdad and Anbar province, but things have gotten so good (bad, for Democrats) that even The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and U.S. News & World Report have all had to admit that the “surge” and General Petraeus (thus far) are smashing successes.
Thanksgiving Day Talking Point #2- A “Family” is the most precious social institution a society can participate in. It is the bedrock of our civilization and I thank God for my parents (each who was of a different sex), my children, my relatives, and the special friends and neighbors in my life that have become like family to me. Life is precious, and I know this to be true if for no other reason than the incredibly profound bonds that exist between my loved ones and me.
This second idea is more for you, Speaker Pelosi, than you, Senator Reid, because you remind us so often that you are a proud Italian Catholic grandmother, and that the reason you seem to do almost anything (and I mean anything), according to you, is “for the kids.” Madame Speaker, you’ll have to try and forget the fact that you have publicly supported lowering the age of sexual consent to 12, are in favor of complete federal funding of the anti-fetus practice known as murd…abortion, and have approved of the jihad against such provocative groups as the Boys and Girls Scouts of America simply because they don’t want homosexuals “den” leaders and mention “God” in their charter.
Thanksgiving Day Talking Point #3- I’ve been blessed with family, friends, power, prestige, and wealth above and beyond what any 10 men (or women) could hope for in a lifetime, and I realize my good fortune is temporal above all else. I appreciate the things I have, the platform I’ve been given, but know that power for the sake of power, and money for the sake of money, ultimately end in a selfish and lonely existence. I do not envy my neighbor, nor will I encourage anyone else to envy their own.
All right, please don’t put down this letter just yet. A Congressional leader with higher approval ratings might have tossed my heartfelt sentiments in the trash at least three paragraphs ago, but you know you can use the “image” points with, if no one else, your family. Something we conservatives believe in is that idea that Americans should embrace personal responsibility in conjunction with civic duty. This means that we are to hold ourselves (and each other) accountable for the decisions we make in our local spheres of influence.
Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi, you are both strong advocates of entirely Socialistic policies, but have both benefited immensely from the free market system you besmirch. Your family (especially your pro-capitalist-even-if-they-don’t-know-it kids) will be aware of your anti-growth stances as well, but are deep down grateful themselves that supply-side economics has consistently triumphed in America.
Thanksgiving Day Talking Point #4 (last one)- I am so appreciative for Founding Fathers who intuitively recognized that it was our Creator, not any one man (or groups of men), who was the grantor of equality and freedom. Our Judeo-Christian heritage is a blessing that, for better or worse (but mostly ‘better’), has shaped the social, political, and cultural landscape of this greatest nation on God’s green earth for some 230 years. All peoples and faiths are welcome, even those with no faith at all, but not all faiths played such an undeniably integral role in our formation, growth, and undeserving prosperity. God Bless America!
I could hear your gasps just now from my highly fortified bunker. Obviously as products of a self-obsessed, anti-establishment, anti-religious generation (the Boomers), you will have to deny every instinct in your liberally-indoctrinated bodies to get this last talking point out (especially in front of other people), but give it a go. Forget your financiers from Moveon.org and the ACLU for a brief moment, embrace the foreign concept of “intellectual honesty” for a while, and let your loved ones know that it is indeed okay to proudly boast we are “One nation, under God.”
So that’s my list. I hope it helps. I also would really suggest rehearsing before the big day because your family (kids especially) can smell phony a mile away. Nothing could be more embarrassing than getting called out by your 10 year-old nephew for disingenuously pretending you care about the troops because you had to peek at the notes I’ve just given you, which were written on your palms. I personally don’t know what that would feel like from experience, but then again, I can’t imagine being a liberal either.
One request before I go: if you could please promise to maintain the status quo of accomplishing little-if-anything in Congress, I promise to keep dutifully sending my hard-earned tax money to you in D.C.
Good day to you both, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Robert J. Moeller
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
I can't pass up an opportunity to post a story which says something nice about a Democrat who actually votes the way a normal American politician should. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is on the "outs" with the far-Left groups (Dail Kos, Moveon.org) that so dominate Democratic politics these days because she voted to confirm a handful of Bush judicial appointees, as well as voting to confirm his nominee for Attorney General this month.
Historian Howard Russell Mead addresses the constant cry of "Zionism" from our enemies as the reason they hate Israel (obviously) and her primary supporter, America and Britain.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
But just this month, in the epicenter of American morality, an even more crippling labor strike has left “we the people” hopeless, forced to wander in a desert of our own imaginations.
Demanding an increase in wages, and a cut of the DVD action currently padding Hollywood producer’s and Studio executive’s bank accounts, back-room writers on the sets of everything from The View to Late Night with Conan O’Brien to Dancing with the Stars to LOST are currently withholding their talents from desperate housewives and obsessive fans everywhere.
Dancing with the Stars, even? Really? Come on, I thought Reality TV was all off-the-cuff? Please don’t tell me this means Bob Sagat wasn’t ad-libbing all those hilarious commentaries on America’s Funniest Home Videos, because I’d have to rethink my entire childhood.
I’d like to make a few observations regarding the situation that the picketing Writers’ Guild has left the rest of us in.
First off, it has become abundantly clear that the writers of your favorite show are a substantial (sometimes sole) source of its alleged genius. I think of Larry David writing for Seinfeld all of those years in relative anonymity before landing his own show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, on HBO. Since Curb began in 2000, it becomes more and more apparent each week that it was Larry more than Jerry that made Seinfeld the legend it turned out to be. Of course every successful show needs proper casting, acting, and directing, but the reality is, performance entertainers (like politicians) are typically one-dimensional (e.g. every person associated with Friends).
Which leads right into my second point: it is much more difficult to write a good script than it is to satisfactorily act one out. Extrapolated out into the world of politics and government, this reality is noteworthy when considering our criticisms for current leaders. The reason liberalism continues to fail isn’t simply the less-than-convincing leaders who espouse it (or, act it out), but that their script (ideology) is so full of holes and intellectually unsettling as to make one wonder if the writing team from Dude, Where’s My Car? had had their hands in its conception.
Third: even I forget sometimes that the thoughts and views expressed and disseminated by the talking heads on television and the Silver Screen are rarely their own. The “talent” and message behind our beloved films and programming emanates from a source deep in the bowels of Tinsel-town. Sometimes, as in the case of Conan O’Brien, a writer gets his chance to live every Wizard of Oz’s fantasy by being granted a spot in the limelight to show the world what well-rounded talent they really have. But, this is rare for a reason.
Like a great English teacher who can tactfully offer insight on War and Peace, yet is incapable of penning even a moderately interesting email, actors, performers and talk show hosts possess abilities that, if all writers on the planet were to crash and remain LOST on an island with Others and black smoke monsters, would be rendered as inconsequential as a life-insurance salesmen in Heaven. For every one Dostoevsky there are thousands of 9th grade-teaching “Mr. Curry’s”. (Do you have any idea what that “B-” on my To Kill a Mockingbird paper did to my GPA, Mr. C?)
Writing, and the power that ideas “put to paper” can have are largely lost on our visually stimulated culture. Reading the newspaper or a (gasp!) book is archaic in the land of Cable News and Wikipedia. However, a quick peak at history (that thing your public school teacher claims to be teaching you) offers a few important examples of just how powerful the written word can be compared to those spoken (or acted out).
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was the fuel needed for a patriotic fire that would consume the colonies for war with Britain. Karl Marx’s Manifesto spawned countless revolutions and prompted countless revolutionaries to (misguided) action. Uncle Tom’s Cabin brought slavery to the forefront of American’s consciousnesses, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle exposed the dark side of industrialization, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm satirically depicted the reasons why Marx and his communistic legions ultimately failed (and will continue to fail, despite what Hillary promises in her latest stump speech).
Which brings me to my fourth and final point: we’ve always been more influenced by the writer than the actor. We’ve just forgotten it. We keep telling each other how busy we are, so pre-packaged worldviews courtesy of people with a microphone or behind a camera or in front of an audience seem deceptively more appealing than actually getting our own hands dirty with details.
Al Gore wins every award on the globally-warmed planet (except the highly-coveted “Participation Prize” given at my elementary school to make the uncoordinated and untalented dopes in my grade feel better after yours truly trounced them in every competition on the docket at Field Day), and for what? Reading cue cards off a power point presentation someone else wrote. Why is it that Comrade Gore refuses to debate any other public figure regarding global warming if it is truly his message and he believes in it deeply enough to accept a Nobel Peace Prize for it?
The best example of what I’m getting at here can be seen nightly on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Because his team of more than 15 writers are on strike, the supposed expert on everything from foreign policy to social security reform is currently sitting at home twiddling his smug . Recent polls show a significant number of people under the age of 30 claim to get their news from Rolling Stone (wow!), The Colbert Report (funny), and John Stewart (bad).
I’m in no way insinuating that there is no place for political satire, or that the politicians and pundits I agree with are off-limits from criticism. Important to recognize is the fact that the likes of John Stewart (and yes, even my beloved Stephen Colbert), while funny and camera-friendly, are not the ones coming up with the decidedly Left message propagated on such shows each night.
The people I get my news from (i.e. Michael Medved, Charles Krauthammer, Hugh Hewitt, Rush Limbaugh, and Robert Novak, etc.) not only acknowledge their conservative “tendencies”, but also create their own commentaries, cite their work, and are willing to engage in public, open debates on a daily basis to defend their positions. The writers’ strike has exposed even my own assumption that Stewart and Colbert might actually know what they are talking about.
Similar to the awkward feeling you get when another walks in on you and a group of young kids arguing over who gets the last Popsicle, the strike has revealed the voices we take many of our political cues from to be frauds (or at least puppets). If we don’t feel silly for caring so much about what stand-up comics and people who pretend for a living think about the War in Iraq or Healthcare Reform, we should.
When conservatives, like yours truly, point out the danger a society can find itself in when its most respected voices are its also its most misinformed, we are arded with accusations of “taking too seriously” what “some dumb actors or comedians say.”
But what are we on the Right to think when the same anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Capitalism sentiments that get such raucous applause on Comedy Central and at the Oscars are being taught in public school classrooms, or can be found on the front pages of most major American newspapers, or are heard on Capitol Hill from the lips of Congressional leaders in the Democratic Party?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"Those who insist on slandering the United States seek ugly close-ups of twisted trees but won’t step back to consider the forest. They lack perspective, and ignore context. They refer to dwell on the harsh impact of specific American initiatives or policies, without acknowledging the Republic’s undeniably benevolent and beneficial impact on the world at large during every era in our history. "
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
This column in today's USA Today puts an end to the so-called controversy. Democrats have made the issue of waterboarding, a technique that even Hillary Clinton has vowed never to "take off the table", their own by always throwing the word "torture" in anytime it is discussed. They know it is not torture in the true sense of the word. They know it has already saved potentially thousands of American lives. They know it's not used frequently, and that they themselves would use it if a Democrats were to win in 2008.
The only option I see left (no pun intended) is that Democrats are more interested in playing politics and winning elections than intellectual honesty and the safety of our nation. What else could it be? Why else would they hold up the recent Attorney General confirmation hearings other than to grand-stand and appear more compassionate in their droning orations on the topic of waterboarding? They acknowledge the technique works. They admit that they'd use it themselves. Yet they hold up Bush's nomination for AG and liberal journalists and entertainers use the word waterboarding like a "Bash Bush and get-of-jail-free" card.
Where am I wrong here, guys?
Monday, November 12, 2007
Doesn't he just look smart?
Will says that the only thing our economy (we) have to fear is...Hillary, herself. She is talking a big Socialist game, and it sounds nice to be told that free stuff is on the way if she were elected, but would any of her protectionist, anti-growth policies actually work?
Even the Brits are optimistic for the United States' economy. Check out this column in today's London Telegraph.