Thursday, February 28, 2008

Women's Suffrage and American Education

Is women's suffrage a problem in our day? Do we still need to raise awareness of this issue?

There are a number of videos circulating wherein some naughty young men are asking women, and also some men in one video, to sign a petition to end women's suffrage. The point of this hilarious exercise is to show the appalling state of civic and historical education in our schools and universities.

My favorite is this one because the interviewers are especially impish, and they just keep me laughing. But the original is said to be the one featuring Will Albino, a Salesianum Catholic School student whom we see pictured above, soliciting names from the girls at Padua Academy.

Of course, this is all really old news--two years old at this point--but it's still funny and it's still sad because civics education is no better now than it was then. Even this private school has been blighted. I would trace the source of this problem to liberal domination of the school system, union domination of the teaching profession, and clueless parents. I haven't time to expand. I will only say that before we had our first child, Mrs Innes and I thought out our approach to the discipline and education of our children, all of whom we are resolved to keep as far away from conventional educators as possible.

There are efforts to remedy this situation, however. The most noteworthy recent effort is the National Civic Literacy Report issued by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Hope for the Health Care Mess

Yesterday, Regina Herzlinger spoke at The King's College in conjunction with an outfit Bret Schundler is developing here called The Policy Center. Dr. Herzlinger is a professor at the Harvard Business School and she is the reigning expert on consumer-driven health care. It seems that she has figured out what's wrong with health care system, with it's oppressive bureaucracy (for doctors and for consumers) and skyrocketing costs (for employers and for consumers). The way we pay for health care stifles innovation, drives up costs and de-couples consumser demand and quality of service.

Consider this:

1. Nearly 300,000 people are killed by hospital errors every three years. It is the 8th leading cause of death in the US.

2. Employer based coverage makes us less competitive. The cost of employee health insurance adds about $1300 to the price of a GM car vs the $300 it adds to a Toyota (all things considered).

We can fix the system largely by fixing the tax code. Employers should give the money they now spend on your health insurance to you as tax-sheltered cash income. You can then buy whatever package you think is right for you, and health insurance companies will and health care providers will start tailoring their services for your consumer demands instead of for your employer's HMO. You can choose the job you want, even the career you want instead of the one that gives the best medical coverage because everyone will have the same tax advantage. Employers will simply pay salaries.

This situation is approaching the tipping point. It threatens to kill the US economy. Herzlinger sees the Swiss system as a model. They spend 11% on health care as opposed to our 17%. But unlike the statist systems of Canada and Britain which also spend just 11%, the Switzerland leads the world in health care consumer satisfaction. In the US, studies show that people are as about as satisfied with our health care system as we are with the post office. Ouch!

Consider also that the plans offered by the Obama and Clinton campaigns speak endlessly about choice, but they would quickly move us toward a single payer, government run system which is simple but oppressive, bankrupting, unresponsive to patients needs and innovation killing. The McCain plan is consumer-driven and will set us on the path to recovery, prosperity, satisfaction I have the audacity to say it?...hope.

Herzlinger's 1999 book (Perseus Books) is Market-Driven Healthcare: Who Wins, Who Loses in the Transformation of America's Largest Service Industry. B&N says this: "In Market-Driven Health Care, Regina Herzlinger translates the most urgent lessons of American business for the health care industry today. She explains how consumer demand for information and convenience, along with technology and new organizational structures, are creating health care delivery systems that offer high quality and low costs; she shows us what the "focused factory" concept that helped renew our automobile industry can mean for health care. Along the way, she analyzes the successes and failures of a variety of health care ventures."

Her 2004 volume, Consumer-Driven Health Care: Implications for Providers, Payers, and Policy-Makers (Wiley, John & Sons), an anthology of essays by various experts, is a more expensive and more technical treatment of the subject.

Herzlinger's most recent and most popular book is Who Killed HealthCare?: America's $2 Trillion Medical Problem - and the Consumer-Driven Cure (McGraw-Hill, 2007). B&N says: "Consumers are in charge of every transaction in their lives-except for health care. Insurance companies have either partial or total control over which doctors, treatments, and medications they can use. Doctors, on the other hand, are often powerless to assign the tests and treatments their patients need. Regina Herzlinger...offers a potent solution: Through a consumer-driven system, insurance money would be put in the hands of the patient, remove the middle man in patients' relationships with their doctors, and give employers cost relief. Newt Gingrich says: “No one has done more than Regina Herzlinger to rethink health care and transform it from a bureaucratic mess into an entrepreneurial, market-oriented success. Her new book continues that historic mission.”

Some helpful articles I have on hand regarding the candidates' proposals are these:

"HillaryCare--The Preview" by Sally C. Pipes, President of the Pacific Research Institute (WSJ, Oct. 12, 2007). It's Hillary, not Obama, but the plans are the same in principle. They both bring us eventually to a single payer (government) system.

"The Truth About Mandatory Health Insurance" by Betsy McCaughey, adjunct senior fellow of Hudson Institute and former Lt. Governor of New York (WSJ, Jan. 4, 2008).

"McCain's Medicine," a Wall Street Journal editorial from October 12, 2007.

"The GOP's Prescription for Health Care" by Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute (WSJ, Jan. 29, 2008).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr 1925-2008

William F. Buckley Jr died this morning in his study in Stamford CT.

There is an awesome chill that comes over you when someone of his stature and accomplishment for humanity passes from this world into the next. We don't depend on men, but we thank God for good men nonetheless.

NRO announced it here.

Watch a marvelous Firing Line exchange between Buckley and Noam Chomsky in 1969 over whether or not the US actions abroad constitute terrorism. They speak to our times.

Night of the Living Democrats

Ala over at Blonde Sagacity has this hysterical video which romps up one side and down the other on the lefto-sphere:

Her main site is here, and though at times a little crude, is worth making regular stops.

Sad Hillary

I have had the strangest feeling recently. I have been feeling sorry for Hillary Clinton. Perhaps there is a natural human compassion even for those suffering most deservedly, and Rousseau had at least that much right.

So to work out these feelings, and in case you missed it (we're all so busy), let me point you to a fine article by Elizabeth Wurtzel a couple weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, "Hillary Agonistes" (February 15, 2008). She is skeptical of Obama and admiring of Rodham Clinton.
I've been told that I no longer need to do yoga, take up Pilates, or study Kaballah, and I can even stop listening to Bruce Springsteen. Apparently 45 minutes at a Barack Obama rally -- preceded by two hours and 45 minutes of waiting in the snow outside to get in -- will be all it takes to change my life. Forever. An open mind, a free spirit, a loving heart, a renewed appreciation for democracy -- and possibly even thin thighs -- will be mine for keeps, if I just take in the junior senator from Illinois at a high-school gymnasium in Waukesha or a Nascar track in Pocono or an arena in Dallas. In less time than it takes to get through a single session of psychotherapy, Mr. Obama can cure me.
While Barack Obama is enjoying a level of devotion that should be reserved only for one who raises the dead and has the words of eternal life, poor Hillary attracts "a special kind of hate," that comes especially from women.
This special anti-Rodham anger is especially troubling because it's impossible to separate from sex or sexism. Hillary Clinton reminds me that it's possible that all powerful women are, as my friend puts it, "grotesque." They are exaggerated humans, extreme cases, everything to everybody. Hillary is grotesque because she has gotten to where she is, indeed, by playing it every which way -- by being a career woman when that made sense, a wife when that was advantageous; working on her husband's behalf when that seemed the way to the top, then working for herself when the coast was clear; standing by her husband despite infidelities because she loved him, while belittling Tammy Wynette for offering the very advice she was ostensibly taking; pooh-poohing the prospect of having teas and baking cookies instead of having a profession, and then becoming first lady and having teas as a profession for a full eight years. Yes, Hillary Clinton will do anything, bless her heart: That is how you amass power as a woman. We hate her, because she exposes the sordid business of having it all for the grotesque thing that it actually is.
But despite a deep antipathy women feel toward Hillary Clinton, they can't help rallying to her. She is every wounded woman. Every unjustly impeded woman.
We see Hillary, we see Barack, and we see our own version of hell: Here is this amazing woman, top of her class, implausible marriage to impossible man, works as hard as the day is long, masters all the forms and spreadsheets of governing, even manages to raise a pretty darn good kid -- and then along comes this guy, this groovy Obamarama, with his pleasing mien, his high style, his absolute fabulousness, and he wants the top floor, corner office that she earned.
Wurtzel, a law student at Yale with a popular 1994 book, Prozac Nation, is talking to women about their plight in this twisted world of ours that is a mangled intersection of human nature--womanhood in particular--liberal sexual freedom and all the advantages that men are reaping from it, and of course the perennial nature of politics itself.

Wurtzel's warning is well taken that "pundits count her out at their own peril," though her defeat is looking more likely now than it was ten days ago as, despite her fiercest vollies, the bullets and shells keep bouncing off Obama's chest.
But my hard head reminds my soft heart toward her that if Obama loses to McCain (which he will if McCain runs an intelligent and disciplined campaign), she will be back with fury in 2012.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Face of Useful Idiocy

Meet Norman Finkelstein, one-time professor of political science at DePaul University, now unemployed Holocaust denier and proud defender of Hezbollah.

Lenin referred to his intellectual accomplices in the West as "useful idiots" behind their backs because they were too blinkered to realize the strategic and ideological value of their treason, and the fact that they would be the first to be killed if any Soviet-style regime were, per impossible, to ever be installed in the US. It must have been a sorely needed source of mirth for the busy architect of world-wide revolution.

But now we find Lenin is succeeded by other would-be architects of world wide revolution, the exuberant branch of the Religion of Peace. Similarly eager to grace the world with their own form of tyranny, the Islamic Caliphate has many features that would please Lenin, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. If you have scratched your head over why there seems to be such affinity between radical Islam and the hard Left, one major overlap is this: the goal of total control of society in all its aspects, regardless of the original ideological reasons for desiring such control, can only be put in place by force and fraud. The vast experience of the Communist Left all over the world points the way on both counts, but the fraud comes first.

The road to domination begins with subversion by elites. The hollowing out of political, social, and cultural institutions can most usefully be brought about by the very conservators of those institutions. Political Science professors, for instance. Subversion is occasioned by those within the regime that hate it, and are willing to undermine it. The slogan of the New Left of the 1960's was "Whatever it Takes," and they resolutely set out to establish the drug culture, free sex, and political violence among the pampered college age Boomers in order to delegitimize "the System" or "Establishment". Our constitution, our laws, our religion, our morals, our science, our way of economic organization, the family, marriage, sexuality, our whole way of life-- has been undermined to a dangerous extent. Our new enemies have half their work already done for them, as witness the pathetic responses to Muslim aggression in England and all of old Europe. Empty churches, demoralized citizens untutored in the reasons for their own existence as a culture; hollowed out individuals and hollowed out institutions: all thanks to the energetic subversion by the educated elites and the willing dupes of Europe. And of course America has its very own cadre beavering away, now in service to newest bullies to come around. Finkelstein specializes in undermining our support of Israel, which must be seen as the canary in the coal mine for the West.

Norman Finkelstein speaks for an alarmingly large 5th column of whacko antisemitic leftists in this country, but at least one university was able to cut out the disease. The question is, what took so long?

If you have the stomach, a link to an interview on Lebonese television is here:,2933,332360,00.html

Fighting McCain While The Beast Looms

You are familiar with the saying, "If he had brains, he'd be dangerous." Not only does Barack Obama have brains, he also has charm and great rhetorical skill. He is no John Kerry, Al Gore or Michael Dukakis. He's dangerous. This is true not just electorally, but substantively. Read the posts below concerning this big-government Svengali. And we all know how dangerous Hillary Clinton would be.

But waiting in the wings with a potential presidential bid is New York's own Mike Bloomberg. Let me be the first to sound the alarm. His views on abortion and the nature of marriage are bad enough, but that is nothing compared to his potential for ushering in a technologically enabled totalitarian state as hitherto seen only in the movies.

Bloomberg's business is data. The management of it is what made him a multi-billionaire. If he mounts a run for the White House, it will apparently be built upon his deep command of data concerning you and me at depths and in details previously unexplored by anyone who has been ambitious to command. Some of you think that the government is doing this already and tracks your every movement, and this is why you don't have driver's licenses or social security numbers, and why you live somewhere in Montana. You are kooks.

But Mike may be the real thing. In "If Mayor Runs, 'Empirically, He Can Win'" (New York Sun, Feb. 1, 2008) Grace Rauh writes,

A venture capitalist who founded a company expressly to support a presidential run by Mayor Bloomberg, and who is conducting nationwide voter analysis for the mayor, says his data show that Mr. Bloomberg can win the White House....Mr. Robinson's team, which he says includes people at the "top of the game" in search intelligence and database analysis, spent more than nine months building a technology systemthat attempts to gauge the thinking of Americans on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and even house-by-house, basis....Mr. Robinson said his company is mining databases and dozens of disparate data sources for the information.
It seems that the information is out there. A greater ability to "mine" it over your opponents is a great poolitical advantage. Once the successful candidate is in government, that same ability will turned against public safety and liberty.

But it seems that Mike is not satisfied with mining the existing databases. He would like to create new ones. Consider this story and this one.

Mayor Bloomberg--strictly for the sake of economy and efficiency you understand--wants to install biometric palm scanners to replace awkward and expensive punch cards and time sheets for keeping track of city employees. The folks at explain the device this way: "So apparently its not so difficult to hack a fingerprint scanner. You can either chop the finger off, or - if my memory serves me correctly - take a copy of the print, and apply it to the scanner. … The scientist dudes over at Fujitsu think they can do one better, and then some. They call it the “Contact Less Palm Vein Authentication Technology." The machines scans vein structure and layout, and even takes into account blood flow – thus resolving the chopped hand issue – you know the one you so often run into. The palm scanner works by emitting and infrared light ray of some sort, which then illuminates the vein patterns. The device then scans and captures the vein layout, and is represented by dark lines “as the deoxidized hemoglobin contained in the vein vessels absorbs the infrared ray." No blood flow, no dice.

One city engineer said, "It’s disrespectful. We’re professional people who do not hesitate to stay after hours or to bring work home. This is not about productivity but control, controlling every minute of every day."

An employee at the Department of Health said, “This growing net of surveillance technology can be used to track the workforce. There have been instances of people getting fired, based on records for the last six months tracking them wherever they are, whether it’s during work hours or on their lunchtimes.”

Yes, workers goof off and play games on their computers. It's a serious problem. But totalitarian surveillance and control is not the answer. And a man of this spirit should be kept far from the White House.

Despite these three serious dangers to our liberties--Obama, Clinton, and Bloomberg -- conservatives seem to be preoccupied with bringing down John McCain. Have we gone collectively insane?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Barack Is Beatable!

The Democrats are weak in November.

If the nominee is Hillary...well, the reason is obvious. It is seeming ever less likely that she will be, however. People are beginning to emerge from their holes and from behind rocks to announce that Hillary is dead. (E.g., Lawrence Kudlow, "Clinton is Over.")

If the nominee is Barack Obama, it is becoming daily more apparent where the party's vulnerabilities lie with that candidate. For the last week there has been a fast flow of analysis probing the mist surrounding Obamamania and finding nothing inside, or just the same liberal orthodoxy that the Democrats have been shovelling up for more than a generation. Obama hears this, but doesn't see the point.

His message is based on the premise that America is structurally unjust and that it resembles something like Gotham City in Batman Begins (Christian Bale, 2005). Grimy, corrupt and oppressive. Michelle Obama recently confirmed this impression, telling us that for the first time in her adult life she is proud of her country, and that the sole reason for that is that people are looking to her husband in hope. Imagine the pillowtalk that must have generated that and similar remarks. This is not the view of most Americans. Gallup reports that 84% are satisfied with their lives. Obama's dark complaints and his appeals to class divisions play great with the Democratic base who are always angry socialists stuck in 1936, who have nothing to lose but their chains, and who see everyone else the same way. He stands in the tradition of Michael Moore, John Edwards, and Harry Reid, all of whom are either unattractive or downright repulsive to most people.

In "Obama At The Top" (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2008), Daniel Henninger details the "unremitting bleakeness" of Obama's message, looking at his Potomac Primary victory speech. "At some point in the next 10 months, people will have to square Sen. Obama's Grapes of Wrath message with the reality of their lives. Unease about the economy is real, but Sen. Obama is selling more than that. He is selling deep grievance over the structure of American society." As the Messenger of Hope tells it, America is grimy, hopeless (without him), extremely polarized, an economic tyranny and a political shame. That sold in 1936. It hasn't sold since.

Lawrence Kudlow gave us "Obama's Big-Government Vision" (New York Sun, Feb. 15, 2008). Obama's platform is "old-fashioned-liberal tax and spend and regulate. It's plain ol' big government." He goes over the details.

Finally, the last word on the big-government hard-left liberal in centrist post-partisan clothing has to go to his boygeniusship, Karl Rove -- "Obama's New Vulnerability" (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21).

The Obamamania itself is another matter. In addition to my own posts, "Obama Offers Civil Religion on Steroids," "Adult Advice for Obamamaniacs," and "More Adult Advice for Obamamaniacs," and Harold Kildow's "The Obama Bubble," we have...

Charles Krauthammer, "Obama Casts His Spell" (February 15).

Mark Steyn, "Obama the Muzak-Messiah of the Pseudo-Revolution" (February 16). You know that's gotta be good.

Dean Barnett, "The Magical Democrat" (The Weekly Standard)

David Brooks, "When The Magic Fades" (New York Times, Feb. 19)

Robert Samuelson, "The Obama Delusion" (Newsweek, Feb. 20).

Take some time to read these. Indulge yourself. The whole situation is laughable. Of course, it's all fun and games until someone loses a country.

It may be too soon to be writing Hillary's political obituary, as some were doing last night after the Texas debate. Obama's candidacy may yet evaporate if serious scrutiny and widespread sobriety come sooner than expected.

Otherwise, McCain had better be ready with a plausible conservative domestic agenda for when moderate America sobers up, wises up and turns to the grown-up candidate for serious proposals.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Obama Bubble

Self-described Obama girl Margery Eagan over at the Boston Herald--a conservative paper--is worried:

"When Backing Obama Feels Like Joining a Cult"

Her compendium of distant early warning signals is both alarming and funny--in a sort of dark future, we're all doomed anyway kind of way. I especially like the eminent political scientist Susan Sarandan's take: she loves Obama and cant wait to find out what he stands for!

Reminds me of an anecdote in Charles Mackay's classic Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. In it he tells of the credulity that overtook ordinary people during the stock market frenzy in London surrounding the South Sea Bubble ( circa 1717), with this instance as the nadir:

"But the most absurd and preposterous [stock offering] of all, and which showed, more completely than any other, the utter madness of the people, was one started by an unknown adventurer, entitled, "A company for the carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is".

The purport of Mackays' book, with its perfectly descriptive title, is to show the almost unbelievable things people believe in when swept up in irrational, emotionally charged moments.

Moments like now.

The only difference I can see is that Barack Obama is not a totally unknown adventurer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hillary's Sock Hop Nation--The Coolest Thing Ever!

C'mon kids! Join in with the Hillary gang! Have fun and change the world!

This is what happens to a campaign when all the top-drawer people have left, or have been...dealt with.

No wonder Obama is cleaning her clock.

From the "Where are We Going and Why are We in This Handbasket? Department

"University of Oxford researchers will spend nearly $4 million to study why mankind embraces God. The grant to the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion will bring anthropologists, theologians, philosophers and other academics together for three years to study whether belief in a divine being is a basic part of mankind's makeup." Here is the link: Link

Let's see...any chance they'll come back with an answer like Augustine's--that there is a God-shaped hole in every human heart? No, that's so...Medieval; or St Paul, that since in the creation of the world God's attributes are clearly seen by all, that no excuse remains? Ha....resort to the Bible? you're kidding, right?

No, Science and its first principle, materialism, is the foreground and the background here; despite the postmodernist critique of science as a "totalizing discourse", i.e., an account that claims for itself exclusive access to truth--excuse me, "truth", in the discourse of the po-mos--science and materialism is the only frame that any study group like this is going to tolerate.

This is money spent to buttress the materialist world view and push theism to the margins, and if possible off the stage. It's hard to imagine a more than token presence in the study group of anyone even neutral on the question, let alone sympathetic to, the reality of immaterial reality.

Evolutionary psychology, the hottest intellectual ticket going these days, and not theology, nor anthropology, nor philosophy, will offer the only acceptable explanation for why so many people--in the twenty-first century!--still cling to such a puzzling, antiquated "meme" (Dawkins' idiotic word). The only explanation available to evolutionary psychology goes something like this: The idea of God had survival value--everything must have survival value!--for our primitive, benighted ancestors, whose use of it quelled their fear of death so well that they surpassed their atheist numskull neighbors and competitors-for survival in the ability to pass on their theistic genes.

Oh wait, that would make today's atheists kind of like the Cavemen in the Geico ads wouldn't it?..evolutionary deadends...the appendix of human 'isms. Maybe they should be studying why mankind persists in atheism instead...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Michelle Obama, Stating the Obvious

So, at age 44, Michelle Obama has finally seen something that makes her proud of her country. I'm sure the dust up this is causing is a complete surprise to her; she was relaxed, in her groove, among friends and admirers when she launched into what to her was surely an unexeptionable riff. To the left-leaning audiences she is used to, the notions that America should be spelled Amerika; that Americans are deservedly hated and looked down upon by the rest of the world; that America is the source of all conflict, poverty, and inequality; that our basic culture as a country is racist, sexist, phalleocentric, homophobic, colonialist, imperialist, and worst of all, Christian; that if all those gun-toting tobacco-chewing slack-jawed stump-toothed snake-handling fundamentalists out there in fly over country could just be, you know, silenced, we could move forward and not be so embarrassed in front of our European exemplars; these are among the tacitly held commonplaces that make her candid statement that after all, there is something that is able to redeem this disgrace, this Bushitler wasteland of backwardness and darkness, not seem out of place at all.

And what is it that can redeem such a pathetic wasteland, that allows her to admit, for the first time, she is proud of her country? Why, that people--at least the moth-like creatures drawn to the porchlight eminations of the Obamas--are hoping again! Hope has made a comeback, she says, in the form of the One Who Would Come--and the people are getting it! That is what makes her proud--all the little people out there have been able, with the help of the mesmerizing powers of the Second Coming of JFK (or is it MLK?), to rouse themselves and dare to place their hope in...Him!

The Obama campaign theme--The Audacity of Hope--has been given a new meaning I think.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Returning Sanity in Education

Some encouraging thoughts from the higher education front by Joe Malchow, a student at Dartmouth, on pushing the barbarians back outside the gates:

The Powerline guys, whose short post "Oasis", which occasioned Malchow's reflections, can be found here:

Both pieces are bright spots in an otherwise dreary landscape, and well worth reading.

Joe Malchow descries the long curve of the returning to sanity in education, i.e. a return to the tradition, broadly conceived. Concerning which, some thoughts of my own: The rapid growth of home schooling, private schools, great books colleges, religiously affiliated colleges, and respect for the classical tradition going back through the Medieval era to the Classics of Greece and Rome in all these venues has been rising from the grassroots for some time now. Any day now, "critical mass" will be reached, and the "trend against trendiness" will itself become the trend of things. I've long thought that sooner or later, the presence of well-prepared students from lesser known or unknown colleges and programs is going to make itself felt across the culture. I expect business to recognize this first, and indeed reports of the cash value of an MBA from the top tier business schools (Harvard ,Yale) is falling in relation to second tier schools that resist the pull of the purely, and mostly useless, theoretical approach to business. The same is going to happen in law schools, as this piece about the resolute move by the George Mason Law School to rigorously ground first year law students in the history and content of the Constitution. Oh, you thought all law programs start with the Founders and the Constitution? How do you think we end up the likes of a John Edwards?

One must resist wincing while reading de Tocqueville where he says part of the American genius for democracy is that the lawyers have such a great part in our political order, or Hamilton when he insists that the judiciary--comprised mainly of lawyers-- would be the least dangerous branch. But overall, Western civilization, and its particularly American expression, is built of sturdy stuff--the best efforts of the multicultural postmodern professoriate have certainly steered us away from the uplands and into the swamplands, but conservatives, i.e. those who believe there are things worth preserving in our inheritance, also known as normal, ordinary, commomn-sense people, are beginning again to insist on recovering that patrimony from the memory hole into which the Left has been busily tossing it lo these many decades.

College stundents, parents of college students, and parents of prospective college students, take note! Viva la revolucion!

Harold Kildow, a graduate of one of those unknown traditional schools ...

Democrats, Why Are You So Funny?

Friends in the Democratic Party,

In Seraphic Secret (Feb. 15, 2008), Robert Avrech anticipates the Democratic National Convention going something like this:

7:00 pm Opening flag burning.
7:15 pm Pledge of Allegiance to the U.N. in Spanish.
7:20 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
7:25 pm Nonreligious prayer and worship with Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton.
7:45 pm Ceremonial tree hugging.
7:55 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
8:40 pm Our Troops Are War Criminals — John Kerry and John Murtha.
9:00 pm Saddam Memorial Rally — Cindy Sheehan and Susan Sarandon.
11:00 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
11:05 pm Collection for the Osama Bin Laden kidney transplant fund — Barbra Streisand. ...

It goes on and gets very funny.

So why is this funny? It is only funny because there is a strong element of truth in it.

Next question: why is this still funny? After 35 years of experience with the American public rejecting the radical McGovernite wing of the Democratic party, why do they allow this sort of thing to go on? Jimmy Carter was elected solely on account of the Watergate scandal and its fallout, and Bill Clinton was elected as a New Democrat who promised to steer a moderate course. Yet the comic success of this parody of the Democratic National Convention in 2008 tells us that the Dems are still not ready to govern. They will either suffer yet another defeat or so embarrass themselves in a single term presidency that they will be out for another three terms.

It takes more than Oprah Winfrey, cool videos and a well delivered speech to make it in the national contest.

By the way, a possible scenario for this summer and fall would be a close race between Hillary and Obama, Hillary pulls some tricks and snags the nomination, Obamamaniacs are so enraged over her apparent theft of the nomination that they stay home in greater numbers than the Republicans do, independents go for McCain by very high margins, and the Old Dragon goes down to raging defeat. Of course, now that I have mapped that out, it won't happen.

Regardless of what happens, if Hillary wins the nomination, Obama would be a fool to accept the VP slot. He is still young. Remember, Reagan ran in 1968 and 1976 before finally getting it in 1980. Tying himself to Hillary Clinton will soil him in ways we cannot even imagine, and ruin his chances for a future bid. In the meantime, he should try actually accomplishing something in government, perhaps serving as Governor of Illinois, if that position becomes available.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Clintonian Self-Defeat

It is somewhat sickening to have to spend so much time discussing the Clintons, but, as they have done now for many years, they make it a necessity. Is it possible that either Barack Obama or John McCain will deliver us from this?

Let me turn to George Will and Maureen Dowd for help today in bearing this aweful burden.

In "Howlers, Whoops and Miracles" (Washington Post, Feb. 14, 2008), Will draws attentions to the Clintons' extraordinary capacity for self-inflation and audacious lies.

With metronomic regularity -- the rhythm may arise from some strangely shared metabolic urge, which may explain the mystery of their marriage -- the Clintons say things that remind voters of the aesthetic reason for recoiling from them. Aesthetic considerations even cause many hope, against three decades of evidence, that Democrats can be sufficiently sensible to nominate Barack Obama, even though Hillary Clinton would be more vulnerable to John McCain.

Though, as we all know and all too well, Bill Clinton is "an overflowing caldron of narcissism and solipsism," Hillary continually reiterates, if only by implication, that she is offering us "two for the price of one" if she is elected president. In Virginia this past Sunday, in an apparent attempt to neutralize Obama's rhetorical appeal and minimize the importance of her own notorious deficiency in this, Hillary told an audience that, as Will puts it, "she is constantly being urged to unleash her inner Pericles." Are you ready for this?

People say to me all the time, 'You're so specific. . . . Why don't you just come and, you know, really just give us one of those great rhetorical flourishes and then, you know, get everybody all whooped up?'

When she is not flattering herself in ways that persuade only the most willfully gullible, she is belching forth political poison intended to bare knuckle her way back into the White House, but which may in the end be the petard on which she hoists herself. Maureen Dowd, a delightfully unsympathetic sister, says "her pitch is the color of pitch."

In "Darkness and Light" (NYT, February 6, 2008), Dowd says that Hillary's argument against Obama is that only she is tough enough to stand against the Republican hate machine and overcome in the November election. “Obambi will fold at the first punch from the right.”

Better the devil you know than the diffident debutante you don’t. Better to go with the Clintons, with all their dysfunction and chaos — the same kind that fueled the Republican hate machine — than to risk the chance that Obama would be mauled like a chew toy in the general election. Better to blow off all the inspiration and the young voters, the independents and the Republicans that Obama is attracting than to take a chance on something as ephemeral as hope. Now that’s Cheney-level paranoia.

Obama is himself being toughened in the course of this campaign by the unmatched toughening agent herself. What doesn't kill him will make him stronger. Teh big question for Obama, she says, is, "Can he go from laconic to iconic to bionic? Will he have the muscle to take on the opposition, from Billary (which she later calls 'the Clinton attack machine...not invincible, but breathing fire') to the Republican hate machine to the terrorists overseas?"

American presidential campaigns are long and grueling, and this serves a useful public purpose. As Dowd intimates, Obama will need that battle honed toughness for dealing with the foreign enemies. Perhaps confronting the heavily bounded evil of his Clinton opponants will sensitize him to the far more unrestrained evil of national enemies lurking in Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela whose savage breasts are unmoved by his "hymn that will heal this nation and repair the world" and whose evil he does not seem to take quite qeriously.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

V-Day for Bill and Hill

Daniel Hay writes:

All across the world this week, men will be scrambling through outlet malls and jewelry stores trying to find that special something for that special someone. Even Bill Clinton.

Yes, it’s easy to forget that beneath all the scandals, affairs, and political prominence of the Clinton power pairing lies a marriage. You know, a normal marriage, one with a first date, a “Will you marry me?” and a pair of “I dos.” The two probably went on a honeymoon, teared up when they first saw little Chelsea, and perhaps even painted her room together.

The Clintons are a couple rarely described as a part-and-parcel product, but rather byproducts of one another—Hillary candidacy a byproduct of her husband’s legacy, Bill’s reemergence a byproduct of his wife’s campaign. But before there were state dinners in the East Room, there were candlelit dinners in the dining room. Before there were motorcades and standing ovations, there was a family station wagon going to the family reunion. Before they were the First Family, they were just a family.

We don’t normally think of the Clintons in such a Rockwellian manner given their collective Machiavellian persona, but they’re still husband and wife, are they not? And as husband and wife, will they not be celebrating the most romantic holiday of the year together? (Ex-presidents don’t get interns, right?)

While it may be hard to tell from his well-publicized debauchery, hubby Bill is allegedly quite the romantic. Recently, when Hillary went to the dentist for a quick oral surgery, Bill got the Senator a Chanel watch with a bracelet made of white cubes—“He said it reminded him of teeth.” He’s also been known to surprise his queen and potential heiress with gifts from his travels, such as a giant wooden giraffe from Africa.

But even Cyrano de Clinton must be stumped for V-Day gifts this year. After all, reports seem to suggest that the Clintons have spent less time together than ever before. President Clinton is too busy off campaigning for Senator Clinton, and on the rare occasion their paths cross—normally for the former to introduce the latter at a campaign rally—their interactions are limited to a handshake and a kiss on the cheek. Unless she’s dropping hints in her stump speech, Bill’s on his own this year.

The Clintons are far too atypical of a couple for Bill’s gift to be anything pedestrian or commonplace. It needs to be unique and extravagant, perhaps even priceless. You really think the former leader of the free world is going to give the self-appointed leader of the Democratic Party an iPod or a pair of earrings?

Many of these practical and conventional gifts won’t do anyways, since they are largely seen as part of a larger misogynistic, bourgeois stereotype. Home appliances, Sunday dresses, even fancy jewelry would contribute to the image of a weak weepy wife she has been trying (albeit, since New Hampshire, unsuccessfully) to outrun.

One also has to assume his gift needs to have an atonement factor for the You Know What Incident. The Clintons’ return to the spotlight has brought with it all of the ugliness of 1998. The rumors, the lies, the impeachment, the trial—all of the most embarrassing stains (pun intended) on the Clinton legacy brought up on a daily basis by the likes of Chris Matthews, Carl Cameron, and even Barack Obama. How does a guy possibly make up for that? A new mink, maybe?

But the mink won’t work because she can’t jeopardize losing the animal rights groups’ endorsement. (A perfect example of Clintonianism at its finest: even a Valentine’s Day gift has to be filtered through some political implications algorithm.

It was looking for a few months there that Bill had finally found the perfect gift for his not-so-perfect compliment. It was the one thing Hillary wanted this Valentine’s Day, and the one thing Bill was uniquely able to give her. It was in no ways patronizing or maternalistic, could only help her political career, and would be the ultimate mea culpa: the White House.

Everything was set: superdelegates were pledged, funds were raised, a strategy was mapped out, and an infrastructure was in place. This was supposed to be the weekend she locked up the nomination: a series of mid-February primaries to deliver the final body blow to her opponent, already crippled by a devastating Super Tuesday.

The democratic nomination: wrapped up and delivered to his other half by Valentine’s Day. The plan was perfect. Bill was about to give his wife the ultimate gift, cement his legacy, and finally live down Monicagate…until a floppy-eared community activist from the South Side of Chicago had to get in the way.

Now that Senator Clinton’s nomination is not only uncertain but unlikely, Bill is left, like so many men, within days of Valentine’s Day without a gift or a plan.

Governor of New York? Senate Majority Leader? Secretary of State? Maybe the mink wasn’t such a bad idea after all…

-- Daniel Hay studies Politics, Philosophy and Economics at The King's College in New York City and is a guest writer today at Principalities and Powers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More Adult Advice for Obamamaniacs

In my last post I mentioned the good advice for Obamamaniacs to found in David Brooks's recent column, "Questions for Dr. Retail" (New York Times, February 8, 2008).

Brooks's broader point in his column is that while Hillary is getting the uneducated, working class vote, Obama is winning the states that are more heavily populated with educated, higher income voters. This does not make him the intelligent choice. Nor does it disprove my point in "Adult Advice for Obamamaniacs" that he is appealing to adolescent emotions. The key to reconciling these two observations is that, especially among Democrats, being educated these days does not mean being able to think. It only means being able to express your emotions well. (My wife's insight.) These are the people who are voting for Barack Obama.

In the 1956 presidential campaign, a woman tried to encourage the Democratic candidate, Adlai Stevenson, by shouting out, "Governor Stevenson, every thinking person will be voting for you!" Stevenson called back, "Madam, that's not enough. I need a majority!"* There are no more thinking people now than there were then, indeed there are fewer. And Barack Obama is not making the mistake of appealing to our minds.

*This quote appears in various forms on the internet. I could not find it on an authoritative site, and I have not had time to research it in actual books.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Adult Advice for Obamamaniacs

If you are a Barack Obama supporter, do you find yourself expecting not only a new kind of politics after he is elected President, but a new form of democracy as we know it, even a new kind of humanity, not only here but around the world!?

If so, please take this in the non-partisan spirit in which it is intended. You need a bucket of cold water. You need to snap out of it. When you come back to reality, you may fall with such a crash that you end up irrecoverably bitter and cynical for the rest of your life, perhaps even Republican.

So heed these warnings from sober friends. David Brooks has written sympathetically about Sen. Obama, and he is always winsome and reasonable. Here is what he says in his column, "Questions for Dr. Retail" (New York Times, February 8, 2008).
Obama offers to defeat cynicism with hope. Apparently he’s going to turn politics into a form of sharing. Have you noticed that he’s actually carried into his rallies by a flock of cherubs while the heavens open up with the Hallelujah Chorus? I wonder how he does that. ...
Obama’s people are so taken with their messiah that soon they’ll be selling flowers at airports and arranging mass weddings. There’s a “Yes We Can” video floating around YouTube in which a bunch of celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and the guy from the Black Eyed Peas are singing the words to an Obama speech in escalating states of righteousness and ecstasy. If that video doesn’t creep out normal working-class voters, then nothing will.
Actually, I don't find the video creepy at all. But I do find both the candidate and his hip celebrity boosters extremely naive. O course, you can expect to find this quality in pop singers and their young fans, but it's inexcusable in a 46-year-old United States Senator who could be our next President.
He says, "Yes we can heal this nation," and "We are not as divided as our politics suggests." But does he have a record of efforts to "heal" the nation and close the "divide" in his time as Senator from Illinois? Has he even co-sponsored a bill with John McCain? Not at all. In fact, he has an extremely liberal voting record. That doesn't heal anything with me, and I'm temperamentally predisposed to like people if I can. During the campaign he has spoken very disparagingly of the sitting President and of Republicans in general. Where's the love? Where's the healing? Where's the change in that? I don't see a bi-partisan cross section of America singing in the video. I see lots of young lefties whom I don't want to see anywhere near the White House.
He goes as far as to say not only that we can "heal this nation," but that "Yes we can repair the world." What does that mean? Peace is going to blanket not only this nation but the whole world? Is the world in conflict only because the United States cannot be trusted, i.e. because American governments have been cynical, exploitative and imperialistic? Once they see a Man of Hope in the White House, a man of genuinely good intentions, we will be able to disband the C.I.A. and reduce the armed forces to search and rescue proportions?

He offers moving appeals for "hope" in the possibility of "change" if we would only believe that "we can." But when you look at his actual policy proposals for how we get from here to the change, they are little different from those of his comparably far left liberal opponent. He warns his audience against the "chorus of cynics" who call his intoxicated followers to a "reality check." But isn't that the sort of reasonable counsel that you expect from a sober adult?
What I see in this speech is high schooler idealism of the sort based solely on inexperience and adolescent passions. He should be better than that. So I conclude that he is either a fool or a charlatan. Which one is the more charitable judgment? Remember, he's a successful politician. Joe Klein, in "Inspiration vs. Substance" (TIME, February 7, 2008), also uses the word "creepy" as well as "disingenuous."
...there was something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism — "We are the ones we've been waiting for" — of the Super Tuesday speech and the recent turn of the Obama campaign. "This time can be different because this campaign for the presidency of the United States of America is different. It's different not because of me. It's different because of you." That is not just maddeningly vague but also disingenuous: the campaign is entirely about Obama and his ability to inspire.
The electorate seems strangely open to charlatans this elections season. See "Are We Doomed to an Idiot Election?"

Saturday, February 9, 2008

No Heaven...It's Better Than That

I rejoice at anything that demolishes sentimental Christianity, and replaces it with the real thing.

When I read in TIME magazine ("Christians Wrong About Heaven, says Bishop," by David Van Biema, Feb. 7, 2008) that N. T. Wright is shocking people by teaching that there is no heaven, I was expecting the worst because he is, after all, an Anglican bishop. But it was quickly evident that he is only disabusing people of that "floating around on clouds in everlasting boredom" notion. While he does not deny that when a Christian dies he will "depart and be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23), Wright directs people ultimately to the Biblical teaching of the new creation of which every born-again Christian is evidence, anticipating the new heavens and the new earth.

Never at any point do the Gospels or Paul say Jesus has been raised, therefore we are we are all going to heaven. They all say, Jesus is raised, therefore the new creation has begun, and we have a job to do....It's more exciting than hanging around listening to nice music. In Revelation and Paul's letters we are told that God's people will actually be running the new world on God's behalf. The idea of our participation in the new creation goes back to Genesis, when humans are supposed to be running the Garden and looking after the animals. If you transpose that all the way through, it's a picture like the one that you get at the end of Revelation.
...What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfil the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here....But the end of Revelation describes a marvelous human participation in God's plan. And in almost all cases, when I've explained this to people, there's a sense of excitement and a sense of, "Why haven't we been told this before?"

This is vitally important to one's understanding of the gospel and of the Christian life. If you are a Christian, this will transform how you see what God has done for you and how you live every day of your life.

When the Talking Heads sang, "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens," they thought they were mocking Christianity. But the joke was on them. If you are not a Christian, and if a cartoonish depiction of heaven is one of the reasons for your rejection of Christ, then you need to re-examine the Christian hope and reassess your view of the Christian gospel.

You must read Creation Regained by Albert Wolters, and either Greg Beale's The Temple and the Church's Mission, Stephen Dempster's Dominion and Dynasty, or anything from Graeme Goldsworthy.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Creation Law, Moral Law and Economic Liberty

The Evangelical political left is coming into a prominence it has never seen before. A surprising number of Evangelicals are open to supporting Barack Obama in the coming election, and Democrats are open to returning the embrace. Consider Nicholas Kristof's recent column, "Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love" (New York Times, Feb. 3, 2008).

So it is timely to consider the relationship between Biblical principles and the political principles of the American political left and right, as one of my students is doing currently in his senior thesis. One of my earlier posts, "The Evangelical Left's Rejection of Reality," grew out of comments that I offered that student. In response to that post, not here but over on WORLD on the Web/Academy, Alisa asked this:

Maybe I’m not getting it, but this seems circular to me. Are we supposed to figure out what works based on our understanding of creation law, or are we supposed to deduce creation law based on what works?
I responded with this explanation. (I also refer to "RDean," an atheist who for some reason is a regular reader over there, but who does not trouble himself to understand what he criticizes.)

Alisa, good question. Of course economics is unlike chemistry in that it pertains essentially to human relations which are always moral in character. That is, it is governed by God's moral law. At the same time there is a strictly technical aspect to it. (I am a political scientist, not an economist, but I have had a healthy exposure to it.) When people do business, what are they doing? They are creating wealth, seeking prosperity. With a view to that end, some economic systems work better than others. In that respect, you can discern God's "creation law" by what "works" (i.e. creates wealth). Of course, as in all human decisions, the moral laws governs how we use those economic principles. We are stressed because we ignore God's command to rest on the Sabbath. We are stressed because people treat one another as "human resources" comparable to "mineral resources," i.e. as means rather than ends. These attitudes are entirely separable from the system of economic liberty called "capitalism." We are stressed because there are increasingly more people among us with RDean's understanding of reality [atheist materialism] (nothing personal RDean; perhaps your behavior is better than what your worldview justifies) than with the love-your-neighbor and walk-humbly-with-your-God Christian understanding that is our ever dwindling social heritage.
Of course, there is much more that needs to be said. I recommend again that anyone who is interested in the question reads Albert Wolters' book, Creation Regained. This is a book every Christian should read who wants to think Biblically and coherently about serving Christ in this world.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney Finds His Voice Upon Exiting

At this afternoon's CPAC convention in D.C., Mitt Romney will be announcing that he is suspending his campaign, effectively pulling out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

FOX News reports that he will read from this prepared statement:

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator (Hillary) Clinton or (Barack) Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror. ...If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country,” Romney continued. “I will continue to stand for conservative principles; I will fight alongside you for all the things we believe in. And one of those things is that we cannot allow the next President of the United States to retreat in the face evil extremism.

These are stirring and inspiring words. I have never had this response to anything that I have heard Mitt Romney say. He has never been a candidate known for speaking fiercely and from the heart about our nation's enemies. If he had been speaking this way for the last six weeks or more, it might have been John McCain pulling out today, and not Mitt Romney.

By the way, Michael Barone ("Open-Field Politics," Wall Street Journal, Feb. 7, 2008) has an illuminating summary of the campaign strategies thus far, how they have failed, and why electorate is proving to be so unpredictable. "The fact that every campaign's experts came up with losing strategies suggests that, in this year's open-field politics, all the old rules may be broken. It's been a wild ride in the 35 days since the Iowa caucuses, and it may be even wilder in the 271 days until the polls open in November."

Money and Good Looks Don't Win the White House

It is offered as a truism that money buys office in America. Money is the determining factor in who gets elected, we are told.

Consider the counterfactuals that we have seen thus far in the primaries, especially on the Republican side. Mitt Romney had far more money than any of the other candidates. Yet he was trounced on Super Tuesday. Who trounced him? It was John McCain who at one point had almost no money left, and yet came back to bury Romney on February 5. Mike Huckabee is fond of saying that, having spent less than 10% of what Romney has spent, he has done comparably well at winning delegates. No one can dispute that money is handy, but at least in presidential campaigns it has to be matched by a marketable candidate, i.e. one who has the requisite substance and skill.

Speaking of the role of money, it is worth noting that the top Republican contenders have almost no money left. As of the end of the 2007 fourth quarter, CNN reports that Romney had just $2.5 million and McCain had almost $3 million on hand. (Ron Paul has almost $8 million, but his money is not matched by a credible candidacy so it is useless to him.) The Democrats, by striking contrast, are bathing in cash. CNN tells us that at the end of the fourth quarter of '07 Hillary had $38 million in the bank and Obama had $18.5 million. That could have consequences. In a curious development, it is reported that the Clintons recently infused $5 million of their personal fortune into their campaign. This apparent contradiction between bank statement and behavior is explained by a large sum of those reserves that is designated for the election campaign itself. But again, that points to a Republican funding problem in the fall.

Let me add this little addendum. People also flippantly remark that television favors the telegenic candidates. In the video age, everything has become style over substance, image over reality. Voters are presumably mesmerized by handsome features and charming ways. Ugly old Lincoln could never get elected in our post-Gutenberg world.

And yet, John Edwards, perhaps the most handsome man ever to run for the presidency, came a distant third among the Democrats and did not even make it to Super Tuesday. This poor showing was despite his indisputable substance and skill and $44 million. On the Republican side, the unsettlingly handsome Mitt Romney is running a seemingly hopeless second, having fallen from what was once a confident front-runner position before the Iowa caucuses.

Take that, you cynics!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Huck Wins South, Bested by 7-year-old

It seems clear now, if it wasn't before, that the Republican nominee will be John McCain, and that the Republican ticket will be McCain-Huckabee...alas. (Oh, stop that.)

Regent University's Charles Dunn at The Chuck Dunn Report explains why in "The Key That Unlocks The White House Door." Since Nixon, no one has won the White House without a strong appeal to the South. Of the nation's five regions, the South has by far the most electoral college votes (189, followed by the Midwest at 124). The winner must appeal to southern concerns and demonstrate at least a credible Christian religiosity. Of the seven southern states that have held primaries so far, Huckabee has won five (all five that were in contention yesterday on Super Tuesday: AL, AR, GA, TN, WV) and come second in one (SC). The other two states (FL, SC) McCain won on his own. Huckabee clearly also appeals to Evangelical Christians.

Nonetheless, this Evangelical remains unimpressed by the southern Evangelical candidate. I always have the impression from Mike Huckabee that he is talking down to me. Seven year old Aleya Deatsch from West Des Moines found the same thing, according to the New York Times.
“Who is your favorite author?” Aleya Deatsch, 7, of West Des Moines asked Mr. Huckabee in one of those posing-like-a-shopping-mall-Santa moments.

Mr. Huckabee paused, then said his favorite author was Dr. Seuss.

In an interview afterward with the news media, Aleya said she was somewhat surprised. She thought the candidate would be reading at a higher level.

“My favorite author is C. S. Lewis,” she said.

I happen to know this girl, and if Mr. Huckabee had known that he was dealing with a homeschooled Orthodox Presbyterian, he might have said at least John Bunyan, if not John Owen.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Creeping Sharia

Lee Harris (not to be confused with Sam Harris, of the unhinged “new atheist” movement) has a thoughtful piece in the Weekly Standard, “Speaking of Islam” in which he fingers a troubling conundrum facing the West: our civil order is being threatened by the re-emergence of the furor theologicus, last seen in the West in the 17th century.

"The English-speaking peoples are justifiably proud of their tradition of free speech. When Thomas Macaulay reviewed the achievements of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he observed that the victorious English Whigs had shown how "the authority of law and the security of property" could be reconciled with "a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known."

The sickening and astonishing actions of the Canadian government in the guise of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizen Commission in allowing lawsuits against Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant for publishing things that are offensive to Islam should awaken Americans to lawsuits coming to a jursidiction near you.

Mr Harris has done us a signal favor in reminding us of the fragility of the civic bond vis-a-vis strongly held religious views. The resurgence of people who once again are willing to threaten and commit deadly violence for their beliefs, and whose intentions are to gain ascendancy for those beliefs, certainly does threaten our hard-won balance of freedom of speech and thought with civil social relations. It is certain that radical Islam intends the reshaping of Western societies, and many effects are already being felt. Non-Muslims have been cowed into a new reticence, preferring to watch as their societies are changed rather than make a scene: no sense trying to argue with a crazy person—it only makes one look crazy as well. Yet there is an alternative to allowing the free expression part of the Anglo societal agreement to live and let live go by the boards; if we are to lose a cherished part of our liberal order, why not make the offending Muslims bear the brunt of it, since they are the ones threatening it? Their actions can as easily be categorized as hate speech, especially since their thought often turns to violent actions. Why not deport those who threaten the civil social order? The charge of hypocrisy they will raise is far less injurious than the slide into sharia law that is the obvious Islamic vision for our future. Mr Harris might have mentioned, as surely he knows, that dhimmitude does not include freedom of speech. Sadly, the liberalism of the far left is the senescence of doddering old fools, some of whom are not that old.

Read the whole thing here:

And what about our other Anglo friends, the ones who got the whole thing off the ground with their common law and organic constitution, our friends the Brits?

Where are the Brits against creeping sharia? These bits from The American Thinker give one pause:

In Turkey, more than 100,000 protestors were in the streets of Ankara to protest a government measure that would lift the ban on head scarfs at Universities:

Meanwhile, in England, Muslim medical students are refusing to obey hygiene rules brought in to stop the spread of deadly superbugs, because they say it is against their religion:

AND, Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review:

We should thank the Brits for demonstrating what happens to bedwetting, multi-culti pc weanies unable to just say no to Islam. We can't say we havent been warned.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Presidential Hair

The previous post by guest writer, Christine Randolph, takes a light-hearted view of what is actually a recurring theme in American politics: presidential hair.

First of all, he must have hair. Our last bald President was Eisenhower (1953-61).

Consider this history of concern over the pinnacle of presidential power.

John Edwards: his almost Benny Hinnish and always perfect hair, as well as the $400 that this man of the people pays for his clip, were a campaign issue. Just before Edwards withdrew from the race, David Letterman did what most of us want to do. He mussed it up on television. Who first called him "silky pony?" (Photo: Seth Wenig, Associated Press)

I recall that in the 2004 race, some were asking, "Who has the better hair, Bush or Kerry?" Kerry's hair was a liability. My wife never liked it. It seemed bigger than the rest of his head.

In 2000, Al Gore appeared at one televised debate with his hair moulded in a strangely Reaganesque style. He also cocked his head that night the way the Gipper used to do.

Bill Clinton began his presidency with a number of missteps, including holding up air traffic at LAX while he got an expensive haircut on Air Force One from Beverly Hills stylist Cristophe.

At the 1992 Republican Convention, incumbent President George Bush mocked his challenger Bill Clinton for his use of a hair dryer. Unbeknownst to poor George, the use of hairdryers was common among voting men at the time.

President Reagan's hair was black and molded to perfection, but he was an actor so we expected this and forgave it.

Jimmy Carter moved the part in his hair from one side to the other in mid-presidency. That did not save him.

There is a doctoral dissertation here begging to be written.

Is Mitt Too Pretty to Lead?

Christine Randolph writes:

One thing I will never get used to is seeing a man who has obviously spent more time getting ready in the morning than I have. Former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is just such a man. I imagine he has an opinion on terrorism and the war in Iraq, yet I have never actually been able to listen long enough to find out. Instead, I find myself picturing him trying to give a rousing speech to a company of troops in the Middle East. His Ken-like hair is completely unaffected by the heat and dry of the desert air. While the soldiers are practically melting in the sun, there he stands, as flawless as ever.

I have a fairly typical morning schedule: make some coffee, take a shower, fix my hair and make-up, get dressed, and go. All in all, it takes me about an hour to get ready in the morning. I make myself look nice, but I am not particularly concerned with looking flawless each and every day. But, when I see a guy who looks better than I do on a daily basis, I get a little worried.

Has anyone else noticed how flawless and evenly tanned Romney’s skin is? After spending the last few years of his life in Massachusetts and Utah, lovely yet characteristically chilly states, can that really be natural? After a whole summer in the sun and a vacation to the beach in Florida, even I am unable to acquire the kind of color he has. He also possesses a pattern of hair color rarely found in nature: silky black save for the light peppering of grey just around his ears. I can not say that it looks bad; it just does not look quite real.

What really bothers me about his appearance is the style of his hair. This cannot be blamed on really great DNA. There is no possible way it could be so perfectly coiffed without some considerable work and an unnatural amount of hair gel. This is not just a great hair day. This is a constant and purposeful effort to have perfect hair. This is a ploy to rise above the competition, not in the usual political ways, but through appealing to the eyes.

It is possible that he has been trying to take a page out of President Kennedy’s book. Many have suggested that Kennedy ultimately won the 1960 election because he was just easier to look at than Richard Nixon. But being shockingly well composed may not be the best tactic to secure the presidency. Personally, I find it hard to pay attention when Mitt Romney is talking about his policies. I am just too distracted by his unusual and unnatural good looks.

During the recent Republican debates, I should have been able to acquire some knowledge of his politics. There he was in his crisp, outrageously expensive suit and shiny new shoes telling me how he feels on the important issues facing this election. But for some reason I found myself being strangely fascinated by the incredible height of the poof atop his head. How does he, or rather his hair dressers, make it so puffy? I wish I could make my hair that voluminous. I wonder what kind of shampoo he uses.

Even unremarkable occasions like a walk through the White House gardens with the First Dog would be grounds for curiosity. His gravity-defying hair is not moving. That is nothing out of the ordinary. But look… the tree branches around him are tossing around like a hurricane has just struck land.

Do we really want such an extensively groomed man as our President? Sure, he would look great sitting in the Oval Office or on a postage stamp. Perhaps he would even be okay giving presidential speeches and inspirational messages. Honestly, he might not be that bad with the whole leading the country business. But before I even consider voting for him, I must ask myself one question: Do I want a President who is prettier than me? I am not so sure.

-- Christine Randolph studies Politics, Philosophy and Economics at The King's College in New York City and is a guest writer today at Principalities and Powers.

Friday, February 1, 2008

VP Huckabee

Lucas Croslow writes:

I like Mike. Really, I do. But somewhere between Arkansas, Iowa, and his national campaign, I realized this is not a man who can lead the free world. One need not have personally known John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, or even Bill Clinton to say confidently: You, Mike Huckabee, are none of these.

Huckabee has been variously praised and disparaged for his everyman perspective on national issues. As the Iowa Republican Caucuses approached, the two-time Arkansas governor opined that Americans would rather vote for the guy they work beside than the guy who laid them off (an unsubtle reference to Romney, his businessman opponent). But being a likable guy won't fix Iraq, pay for Social Security, or reduce the federal deficit – just three of the major tasks the next president needs to accomplish. America needs a man of action, the kind that makes tough decisions and risks being disliked for them, not a buddy president you want to have a beer with after work.

The genius of the American constitution will carry the country through even an abysmal presidency. But it is open to question whether the Republican Party can survive another Bush-like embarrassment before the watchful eyes of the world and the liberal elite. Having squandered an historic opportunity to bury the Democrats beneath the rubble of the 2002 mid-term elections, the Republicans need a president who will restore confidence in the party, or else it's unlikely that Americans will again entrust the House and Senate to the GOP anytime soon. Huckabee is poised to repeat Bush's mistakes, not undo them, for a number of reasons.

First, to put it diplomatically, Huckabee lacks foreign policy experience. To put it plainly, he is clueless. The southern accent and country-boy speaking style that endear him to voters in his native Arkansas don't play so well at the national level, much less in foreign affairs. On one memorable occasion, good ol' Mike offered his "apologies" to Pakistan for the assassination of Prime Minister hopeful Benazir Bhutto. Such a misstatement is forgivable – even forgettable – when one is addressing the people of Missouri (despite sometimes-tense relations between the Tigers and the Razorbacks). It is simply unacceptable in the fragile diplomatic environment of the Middle East.

Furthermore, despite his more than ten years as a governor, Huckabee's economic credentials are almost as non-existent as his foreign policy ones. The centerpiece of his tax plan is a whopping 30% federal sales tax to replace every tax the IRS is currently collecting (the Huckabee campaign, by the way, is advertising this as a 23% tax, a number they derive through arithmetic sleight of hand). Even if the bizarre program were to make it into law, it wouldn't solve any real fiscal problems, such as the looming unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security, without a corresponding cut in spending – which would require discipline Huckabee has never demonstrated. Well, not never. He did run the New York City Marathon.

Huckabee's flimsy promises not to raise taxes wouldn't hold any more water in the White House than they have in the Governor's Mansion. He has refused to come out in favor of making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and his record is one of raising, not lowering taxes (according to the Club for Growth, Arkansans enjoy 37% higher sales taxes than when Huckabee took office, among other hikes).

But in spite of his glaring flaws, for many Republicans, Huckabee represents the last best hope of a socially conservative nominee in 2008. He's pro-life and against gay marriage, and many conservative voters are unwilling to compromise on these issues, even if it means nominating a candidate with no reasonable chance of winning the general election. Thus Huckabee has won the social conservative vote by default; he's simply in the right place at the right time.

Similarly, evangelicals are faced with a choice between a devout Mormon (Romney), a twice-divorced Catholic (Giuliani), a barely Baptist divorcee (McCain), and a wholesome, ordained Southern Baptist minister. Guess which one they're picking, in droves. Never mind that a vote for Huckabee is, in all likelihood, a vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama come the second Tuesday in November.

It's not entirely bad, though, that Huckabee is in the running. Many of the things that would make him a terrible president would make him a great Vice President. As a running mate he might draw evangelical votes that would otherwise be lost to hopeless third-party candidates, by softening one of the other less-religious Republican hopefuls. As vice president he could put a soft face on the president's domestic policies, without having a chance to really mess anything up. And hopefully he'd be too busy presiding over the Senate to issue any doltish apologies.

-- Lucas Croslow studies politics, philosophy and economics at The King's College in New York City and is a guest writer today for Principalities and Powers.