Friday, December 26, 2008
Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.
Professor of History and columnist extraordinaire Victor Davis Hanson re-caps some of the bigger stories in 2008, and explains why many predictions this time last year have proven to be a tad askew.
On politics and corruption:
The Democrats promised an end to the "culture of corruption" of congressional Republicans. Then human nature in 2008 proved more reliable than promises of reform politics.
So we ended the year with a surge of Democratic malfeasance that easily matched the former Republican Congress. Crusading New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace after disclosure of his junkets with a prostitute. "Hot Rod" Blagojevich, governor of Illinois, was caught on a wire discussing how to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Then there's Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The sheer range of his alleged transgressions is shocking: occupying four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem (while also claiming a tax exemption on a D.C. residence), giving multimillion-dollar tax breaks to an energy company in exchange for donations, failing to report rental income to the IRS, and abusing congressional perks.
And Democratic Reps. Tim Mahoney, of Florida, and William Jefferson, of Louisiana, proved every bit as repugnant as the Republican cheats Sen. Ted Stevens, of Alaska, and Rep. Duke Cunningham, of California.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Everyone knows the economy has taken it on the chin these past few months, but what should be our first few steps on the road to recovery? Are the policy ideas coming from president-elect Obama meant to help us recover, or force us to reform (and in ways we don't want/need to)?
John Stossel of ABC News and 20/20 has a pithy column today on the problems with intervention from the federal government in the recovery of an economy.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Barack Obama is under fire from his Left flank for having the audacity to hope that his fellow liberals would not lose their minds about his selection of Pastor Rick Warren as "official pray-er" on Inauguration Day. Bloomberg News today is reporting that openly-gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), a man whose former gay lover was found to be running a and prostitution ring out of the couple's Boston condo a few years back, is upset with the selection and calls it "offensive."
Two quick things, Barn-dog....1) I am offended that you are a member of the United States Congress, and 2) You and the gay community are mad at Obama for picking Rick Warren because he is against gay marriage, but OBAMA IS ALSO AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE!!!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Oceans Eleven) has made a 4-hour long bioepic of the late Communist revolutionary Che Guevara entitled The Argentine and starring Benicio Del Torro. There is an obsession in this country among many in Hollywood and academia with Guevara, and the man couldn't deserve that adulation less.
Che was above all else a totalitarian Communist and ruthless thug. He murdered tens of thousands of his own people in the name of his Marxist ideals. The Left gets angry when conservatives point out that the logical conclusion of their liberal ideology and policies is the same type of State-controlled, suppressive regime we see in places like Guevara/Castro's Cuba...yet then celebrate such despotic leaders every chance they get.
Mark Goldblatt of National Review has a penetrating piece here on why, "Commies aren't cool":
The truth of the matter is that Nazism, Islamism, and Communism are all totalitarian movements. All three stand in direct opposition to Enlightenment values of religious tolerance and rational inquiry. All three seek to exterminate whoever stands in their way. Nazism justifies its genocide in the name of racial purity. Islamism, in the name of spiritual purity. Communism, in the name of socio-economic purity.
One way or another, the shallow graves get filled.
Friday, December 19, 2008
His voting record and public campaign promises wouldn't agree, but Barack Obama insists he will run his administration with a restrained pragmatism that only a condescending academic can claim. This insightful piece from National Review calls to task those who fool themselves (and sadly others) into thinking that ideology and worldview are unnecessary in a modern, iPhone world.
An excerpt: "The trouble with the new wave of pragmatists is that they do not recognize, or else they refuse to acknowledge, their own ideological underpinnings. This is not entirely their fault. Try as they might to escape the old ideological categories they decry, they face an insurmountable obstacle: It’s impossible to eschew ideology in order to “just do what works,” because any understanding of “what works” depends on the antecedent questions of what our policy goals should be and which instrumental policies are most likely to succeed in the world — both of which are heavily ideological questions."
The problem with electing a Commander-in-Chief based on identity politics and rock star-status (rather than outdated things like qualifications and experience) is that every loser with a trust-fund and famous relative will now be considered "ready to lead" if they follow the platitude-laden playbook of Barack. Case in point: Caroline Kennedy. We've heard about how sick of the Bush family America is, but apparently the Kennedy's and Clinton's can never stop scratching us right where we itch.
At least pathetic candidates like The Terminator in CA, Jesse Ventura in MN, and Barack Obama were elected by the public. Caroline Kennedy likely will be handed a seat in the world's greatest deliberating body purely based on who her dad was and uncle is. It appears that Democrats are caught up in some bizarre game of one-downsmanship, seeing who can put the least qualified candidate in the most prestigious position.
Your more, Blagojevich.
The woman hasn't even organized communities and now the governor of New York is seriously considering her as an option to replace Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate. The one in Washington DC, folks. That makes critically important decisions about complicated issues. Wow.
Shockingly, the media in upstate NY saw through the charade and called Princess Caroline out.
"What makes you think you can represent upstate?" she was asked.
"Well as I...first of all this was a great visit and I've already learned a lot and I want to come back," Kennedy said.
The question came again: What have you learned?
"It's a process so I just hope everybody understands this is not a campaign, but I have lived a life committed to public service, wrote a book on the constitution, the importance of independent participation, raised my family committed to education in New York City," Kennedy said.
Not convinced? Well then stop thinking with your head.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I agree with literally every word in this column by Mark Steyn. In it, Steyn advises Americans (and their president-elect) to more seriously consider the very real dangers that will not cease to threaten our way of life simply because Bush goes back to Crawford, TX.
"If September 11th 2001 was “the day everything changed”, November 4th 2008 was the day everything changed back – at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned. The “global war on terror” was a Bush concept and will expire with his presidency, long past its sell-by date, as far as the “international community” is concerned: Weary Europeans find it unhelpful to the cause of mollifying their own restive Muslim populations, and wealthy Arabs want to get on with buying up the western world’s banks and soccer teams with a somewhat lighter level of scrutiny than they’ve been subject to these last seven years."
McCain wasn't satisfied in screwing up the election for conservatives and Republicans...now he's gotta get back to his role as "maverick", which simply means "bashing your own party more than the opposing one who just made a fool of you for 12 months."
We're all very impressed, I'm sure. There's a thin line between being honorable and being a sucker.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
by: R.J. Moeller
“It is almost impossible to make the facts vivid, because the facts are familiar; and for fallen men it is so often true that familiarity is fatigue.”
-GK Chesterton (The Everlasting Man)
On a Wednesday morning in the fall of 2003 I found myself driving from Indiana to Georgia in a maroon-colored Chevy Astro minivan full of friends in order to watch my beloved Chicago Cubs play the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the playoffs. I was a sophomore in college at the time and having grown up in the city with the greatest fans in the world (Chi-city), the idea that there might be tickets available for such an important game had been laughable 24 hours earlier. We therefore assumed a miracle had taken place when my friends and I found 7 seats together on Ticketmaster in the Upper Deck at Turner Field, and made our hurried plans for a mid-week road trip to “Hotlanta.”
I’ll never forget that trip, for various reasons, but as we entered the stadium that evening the only thing more surprising than the smells that had been emanating from our vehicle since Louisville was the vast array of empty seats around the ballpark. In fact, there was roughly the same amount of Cubs fans in the stands that night as Braves fans. When the series moved back to Chicago that next weekend, Cubs fans were willing to stand in crowds that pushed out from Wrigley Field for blocks just to say they had been near a playoff game.
The difference in fan enthusiasm between cities may have had many factors, but foremost among them was this: the Atlanta Braves had won their division and made the playoffs for more than a decade straight. Atlanta fans had seen it all before. Conversely, Cubs fans know little of success and are willing to squeeze out every last drop of excitement possible whenever their team happens to make the post-season. We appreciate it more.
Braves fans, you could say, were biased against their own team because they had become fatigued from “having” to watch winning baseball for so long. (Insert sarcastic violin music here.) We, the Lovable Losers who hadn’t had the luxury of baseball complacency, were invigorated.
This example of apathetic Braves fans is emblematic of the “heavy bias of fatigue” our nation suffers from today. I hate to say it, but it’s true. What makes this entirely avoidable situation of national self-loathing all the worse is that it is only possible because of our successes. People in poorer countries, enslaved countries, don’t have the time or luxury necessary to be able to sit around and resent unprecedented freedoms, or express the “pains” of growing up in affluent suburbs via the lyrics of their favorite punk-rock band. Most of the world is more worried about procuring food, water, and shelter than they are coping with the fabricated horrors of distasteful Facebook messages from your ex-BFF, carbon footprints, and long lines at Panera.
The things that worked, the liberty and prosperity that can only exist in a free market democracy, apparently worked so well that a vacuum was created in our collective consciousness that instead of being filled with thankfulness, personal responsibility, and civic duty became flooded with still-unchecked ingratitude, self-importance, and indifference.
The facts of our success are so numerous and prevalent that, when we let them become anything but daily miracles, they can cloud our better judgment and lead us down the path to societal self-defeat.
Many learned people in this country want to be more like Sweden. That sounds nice in theory, what with government-run everything, delicious meatballs, and Scandinavian blondes frolicking in the fjord and all. But what do the facts tell us? Sweden’s entire population is smaller than that of Illinois. Their non-existent military is as unenviable as their taste in music. (I’m talking to you, Ace of Base.) Only 20% of their citizens get married to the opposite gender, and subsequently their birthrates are currently at such unsustainably low levels that by 2050, at this pace, there will be more Muslim immigrants than native-born Swedes frolicking (in burkhas) in those fjords.
Still want to be like Sven and Ingrid?
Many people in this country did not see a problem with the Communist governments in the USSR and Cuba during the Cold War, and many still hold a soft spot for tyrannical regime leaders if they are collectivists like Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro. But what do the facts tell us? Well, for starters, has anyone ever heard of laid-off factory workers from Detroit swimming the shark-infested waters from Miami to Cuba for a shot at some of that Michael Moore-endorsed free health care? Communism and collectivism only work for the people who will be rich either way. Power and corruption don't diminish; they're just now centralized in one infinitely more powerful and dangerous locale.
Under the communist regimes in China and Russia in the 20th century more than 100 million of their own people were murdered, primarily via forced starvation. Despicable “revolutionaries” like Che Guevera, now a hero to counter-culture wannabe’s driving their parents’ Lexus, slaughtered tens of thousands of their own citizens after ostensibly taking power on those same citizens’ behalf.
Everywhere it has been tried, planned collectivist economies and societies have failed, or at the very least, pale in such drastic comparison with the United States as to render the very thought of their implementation here preposterous. (Note: For those of you about to leave an Anonymous comment about modern-day China being an exemption to my claims, first consider if you would ever want to live there yourself.)
Still think communism “might work” if only given another chance?
Our country thankfully (and undeniably) found better ways of doing things than any other civilization in history, and now we’re earnestly (and foolishly) trying to be like all the losers. We ditched Europe 233 years ago for religious and economic reasons, and now that they're even dumber on both matters, we think it wise to repatriate our culture and policies to a place and worldview that undermines everything we claim to stand for. We’ve seen what success can bring for so long that it has numbed us to how rare what we have is.
The lone exceptions to these periods of national malaise are when we’re reminded of what it actually means to fail (see: 9/11 and recent market collapse). Then, and usually only then, everyone suddenly becomes an expert in counter-terrorism or systems of economy and government their lack of understanding helped to bring problems to in the first place.
The concept that one could get sick of their team (or country) enjoying unprecedented success is all together foreign to the mind of a Chicago sports fan, even for those of us lucky enough to witness the prolific run of Michael Jordan’s Bulls teams during the 90’s. During those years of success in Chicago, no one every complained that Coach Phil Jackson and the team relied too heavily on the same, tried and trusted principles of hard work, swarming defense, and MJ’s uncanny ability to score at will. No one said, "Ho-hum, I'm so sick of beating the baggy mesh shorts off of Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing so let's finish in the middle-of-the-pack next year to show how morally enlightened we are."
The point of playing basketball is to win, and to win is so difficult that few ever sit and contemplate how they will deal with continued success should they ever obtain it. You plan for excellence and do whatever you can to maintain it once you've achieved it. The fact that what I just wrote probably sounded too definitive to many of you is precisely the problem.
My generation is fatigued with success we had a minimal part in creating, and is somehow biased against the ideas and principles that enabled us to grow up in comfort and luxury that 99% of the world never knows their entire lives. We say we want to help other countries in need, but our moral relativism and obsession with multiculturalism has us so turned around and confused that our solution for others' problems is always anything but what worked for us.
We have inherited the "I'm entitled to everything but don't want to learn or do anything" mentality from our parents, the Baby Boomers. We desperately need to break the vicious cycle of ingratitude, which leads to indifference, which leads to ignorance, which only serves to fuel the emotions-based thinking that for 40 years has dominated liberal political and cultural positions and policies.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free...it expects what never was and never will be."
Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Theological Seminary talks about the inevitable toll secularization in society has on its religions, specifically in this case, the Church. An impressive column from an impressive thinker.
Writing in today's Washington Post, economist and historian Amity Shlaes reminds us that the Obama plan to create 2.5 million new jobs by spending more on infrastructure is similar to the one that failed Japan in the 90's.
Should we be surprised any more at the arrogance of the Left to think that the only difference between perpetually failing ideas everywhere else and here is that we have more "hope" that it will work than other countries?
The spending yielded painfully little for the rest of the economy. The Nikkei stayed down. The country's standard of living failed to keep pace with the rest of the world's. The average Japanese's purchasing power had been moving closer to that of the average American, Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation has noted. But in the 1990s the Japanese saw few advances. The gap between America and Japan widened again.
"The construction state is in some respects akin to the military-industrial complex in cold-war America (or the Soviet Union), sucking in the country's wealth, consuming it inefficiently, growing like a cancer and bequeathing both fiscal crisis and environmental devastation," commented Gavan McCormack, a professor at the Australian National University. The stimulus plans had the opposite effect of what was expected. Appalled at the country's new deficits, Japanese consumers closed their wallets.
Worst, though, was the failure on jobs. Unemployment fell in many nations in the 1990s. In Japan, the '90s were a lost decade: The unemployment rate more than doubled and surpassed the U.S. rate -- an unthinkable occurrence just a few years earlier.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Mark Steyn's column this week discusses the broader implications of the murder of a Jewish couple during the Muslim terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.
The (NY) Times was being silly in suggesting this was just an "accidental" hostage opportunity – and not just because, when Muslim terrorists capture Jews, it's not a hostage situation, it's a mass murder-in-waiting. The sole surviving "militant" revealed that the Jewish center had been targeted a year in advance. The 28-year-old rabbi was Gavriel Holtzberg. His pregnant wife was Rivka Holtzberg. Their orphaned son is Moshe Holtzberg, and his brave nanny is Sandra Samuels. Remember their names, not because they're any more important than the Indians, Britons and Americans targeted in the attack, but because they are an especially revealing glimpse into the pathologies of the perpetrators.In a well-planned attack on iconic Mumbai landmarks symbolizing great power and wealth, the "militants" nevertheless found time to divert 20 percent of their manpower to torturing and killing a handful of obscure Jews helping the city's poor in a nondescript building. If they were just "teenage gunmen" or "militants" in the cause of Kashmir, engaged in a more or less conventional territorial dispute with India, why kill the only rabbi in Mumbai?
Friday, December 05, 2008
Jonah Goldberg of the LA Times thinks the worry over China's unavoidable dominance in this century might be over-stated.
"There’s an honest debate about how much blame institutions like Fannie Mae and laws like the Community Reinvestment Act deserve for the financial crisis, but few honest observers dispute that they played some kind of deleterious role. Well, China’s entire economy is one big Fannie Mae, its laws one big Community Reinvestment Act."
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Planned Parenthood, the nation's leader in abortions performed per year, is offering gift cards you can purchase for that special woman in your life that might not be able to pay for the abortion richer girls from the suburbs can afford.
Let this story really sink in. People are giving, as part of a religious holiday season (including the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ), gift cards that can be redeemed when someone no longer wants the life growing inside of them. I guess I'm just glad Mary didn't live in 2008 America where morality is now measured by how much you recycle, not the value you put on the dignity of human life. I CHOOSE to be disgusted by this.
The onus is on you, pro-abortion advocates, to convince me why the right of an innocent baby to live does not supersede the "choice" of a mother who in 99% of abortions willingly engaged in the act of procreation. If it's about rape and incest, then let's have that debate after we acknowledge the collective, tragic mistake we've all made by allowing this heinous practice to continue for so long.
The question in this: When does life begin? Is that a life in the womb? That is the dialogue we should be having, not a quarrel over who it is that "cares more" about the women who find themselves in tough situations. We all care and have sympathy for unplanned pregnancies, but why should the lives of the unborn subsidize risky behavior and irresponsibility? Science alone cannot resolve this issue. Judges cannot be allowed to be the sole arbiters of this issue. We the people must confront this issue, drawing upon our intellectual, moral and yes even religious faculties.
Things like a strong military and free market capitalism have worked exceedingly well for more than 230 years but are constantly challenged and questioned and ridiculed by the Left. Abortion has been legal for 40 years, and liberals act like to be able to kill your baby is a sacred right from the dawn of time.