Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Monument at Brandeis

[The Death Throes of Western Civilization, Part 98]

By now, most of you (unless you get your news from PBS or CBS, who seem to have missed it) will have heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the courageous battler for women’s rights who was “disinvited” by ultra-liberal Brandeis University as its 2014 commencement speaker.

Her story is an amazing story of courage in the face of oppression, brutality, murder, cowardice and hypocrisy.  Brandeis’ shunning of her in deference to Islamist pressure is the most shameful chapter in the history of this Jewish institution founded as a place of post-Holocaust tolerance.

After fleeing her Somali homeland for refuge in Holland, she became a feminist leader and was elected to the Dutch parliament. She wrote the script for a movie critical of Islamic repression of women (Submission); the filmmaker (Theo Van Gogh) was brutally murdered by an Islamist assassin, and a note threatening Ali was pinned to the dead man’s chest – with a knife. You can read the note here. (Scroll down for the English translation, which begins “Open letter to Hirshi Ali: In the name of Allah – the Beneficent – the Merciful…”.  I guess it really IS a religion of peace!)

The Dutch government – of which she was a member –  encouraged her to resign from parliament and to flee to the US. The late Christopher Hitchens wrote about her here.

She is a black woman, a battling feminist, and an atheist. You would think she would be the toast of Brandeis.  But Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence explained that some of her statements about Islamic treatment of women were “inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” (Past honorees and speakers include retired terrorist Bill Ayers and Israel-hater Tony Kushner.)

So know we know what Brandeis’ “core values” consist of: “Speak no evil of Islam.” Is this from pro-Islamism, or from sheer cowardice in the face of Islamist violence?  Does it really matter which?

Here, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, is the speech that she would have delivered to the Brandeis commencement, if she had not been silenced by the Islamist/PC thought police.  You ought to read it. School children ought to be reciting it (if such things were still done in schools).

In fact…

A Proposal: On a location as close as possible to the Brandeis campus (perhaps within sight of the Brandeis/Roberts MBTA station on South Street in Waltham, Mass.), a monument should be erected to this great, brave lady.  On the base, her speech should be inscribed in full.  Along with that statement about Brandeis’ “core values”.

If somebody is already working on it, I will contribute my retiree’s mite.  And I’ll serve on the fund-raising committee.


“Blind, pitiless indifference”

[My friend Ben Finiti's latest bit of soul-searching. Read more of this sort of thing at]

As I have written below, I have spent many years trying to find God.  I have found much Judeo-Christian theology coherent, consistent with reality, and therefore highly plausible.

But I still cannot convince myself that the other coherent, consistent worldview, atheistic materialism, is not also plausible.

Many authors have helped me along; I will list and discuss them sometime.  But nothing so far has been quite so compelling as this quote from atheist guru Richard Dawkins:

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

This chilling statement, offered in support of Dawkins’ atheism, is from his book Rivers of Eden, which I found quoted in Francis Collins’ The Language of God.  (I recommend Collins’ book highly.  He was the director of the Human Genome Project as well as a Christian.)

I expect to be contemplating this for a long time.

Abe Foxman: See no Jihad…

Mark Steyn, perhaps the most potent combination of searing intellect and savage wit writing today, has posted an excellent  piece on the distorted worldview of the Anti-Defamation League’s longtime leader and public face, Abe Foxman. He skewers Foxman for his “bold stand” against the rising tide of worldwide antisemitism, which Abe ascribes entirely to…right-wingers and anti-government types!   Foxman, like many American liberal Jews, cannot see the massive (and rising) wave of Muslim Jew-hatred because he is still busy scouring the land for leftover American Nazis just waiting for the call from George Lincoln Rockwell.

I recommend Steyn’s post (here), as well as one from an interesting blogger ( named Molly Rosen, who also pulls no punches. 

“Shame on you, Abraham Foxman. Shame on you…It’s so cozy to be a professional Jew, fighting the ghosts of WW2 over and over and never facing the real threats to the Jewish people.  How fortunate for them, how convenient for their denial that there is an Israel now and an IDF to fight the real battles on behalf of the Jews.”

“See no jihad, hear no jihad, speak no jihad!    This disgraceful denial is, not coincidentally, coupled with abject sucking-up to, and fawning over President Obama, who is inarguably the worst and most hostile President in American history toward the Jews and Israel.”

Give ‘em hell, Molly!

Really, you should read both of these. After you do, leave a comment with your opinion.

Iran’s View of the Agreement

[My friend David Smith has written a letter to his local newspaper, succinctly (under 200 words) summarizing the Iranian view of the new Agreement, in contrast to our own president's.  He rightly calls for support of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, already sponsored by 59 senators!  (When legislation is sponsored by a bipartisan majority like that, the objecters ought to be called upon to explain their reasons for dissent.)

Here is his letter.]


President Obama has crafted what he considers a breakthrough agreement with Iran, to stop Iran’s illegal program of uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons.

Here is the United Nations position (Resolution no. 1696):

“The UN demands that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA.”

Here is what Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s chief negotiator, said about Obama’s Geneva Agreement:

“No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded. All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”

Here is Iranian President Rouhani’s victory tweet:

“In the Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation’s will.”

And here is what President Obama says:

What we want to do is …give peace a chance.

We may each draw our own conclusions about the likelihood of Iran actually complying. But the Senate should immediately shore up our position in the very likely event that Iran violates the agreement. For that reason, Senators Tester and Baucus should support the bipartisan “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.” Currently co-sponsored by 59 senators, this act would strengthen sanctions unless the president verifies that Iran is verifiably complying with agreements.

–David Smith

Ben’s At It Again

My friend Ben Finiti is at work again, over at his site  He has some thoughtful essays about his search for faith and hope, as well as some shocking stuff about the new Pope’s apparent predilection towards toleration (at least) of Marxist “Liberation Theology” and anti-Semitism.

I’d recommend a visit, if you are interested in such topics.  While there, you might enjoy his piece on the joys of reading Dante.

Bring Back the “Clinton Parameters”!

Well, it seems to be the season for empty rhetoric and repetition of accusations posing as “negotiations”.  That’s right…another round of Mideast Peace Talks.  Israelis and Palestinians must sit in detention hall for a suitable period, proctored by the US State Department.  It will of course lead nowhere, as such things always do.

Throughout my years as a union representative, I spent countless days sitting at bargaining tables engaged in negotiations for contracts and the resolution of conflicts.  But my experience of negotiations had two essential differences with these periodic Mideast exercises in futility. Continue reading ‘Bring Back the “Clinton Parameters”!’

More from Mr. Finiti

My friend Ben Finiti has posted some more of his theo-philosophical maunderings on his website  They are worth a look, as always.

Visiting the Valley

[Another philosophical gem by my pal Mr. Finiti.  His full oeuvre can be found at]

Recently I have spent some time volunteering at our hospital’s cancer treatment center, where folks come as out-patients  to receive their regular chemo-therapy.  The patients and nurses are grateful, and we seem to make things a little easier. We help with ordering and serving lunch, fetching drinks, blankets, pillows, and things like that; what would be orderly work in the wards.

Most of the volunteers are themselves cancer survivors.  I am not.  And I got to thinking about the significance of that reality.

My wife is a cancer survivor – a very successful one.  Twenty-eight years since her cancer, with no recurrence!  But I know the fear of it never entirely leaves her.  Her annual screening is always a time of some anxiety, for me as well as for her (though she hides hers well).

While working at the center, I had a thought: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” The 23rd Psalm. And I understood it, in a way I never had before.  Continue reading ‘Visiting the Valley’

When the Bubble Bursts

Around Easter, I wrote about the 30 Rock episode showing what life is like inside the bubble surrounding beautiful people…like our president.

Now, with his polling numbers falling and his pet press snarling, we are starting to see the bubble burst.  What will it be like?

Tune in next week.

Montana’s Senators Defend Their Isolationism

I mentioned below that 24 US Senators, including both Montana Democrats, refused to join their 76 colleagues in urging greater pressure on Iran.

Our ever-vigilant friend David Smith wrote to both of these gentlemen, asking why.

He has received their answers.  In the interest of fairness, I reprint them in full below.

[from Senator Max Baucus]

It is good to hear from you about American-Iranian relations.  I appreciate you sharing your views on this important topic.

On June 15, 2013, the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani, a centrist candidate as their new President.  Continue reading ‘Montana’s Senators Defend Their Isolationism’

Anti-Israel Lies Effectively Refuted…Again!

The Helena (Montana) Independent Record published a viciously anti-Israel op-ed on Monday, August 19, by a “writer” from San Diego named Steve Kowit.  Entitled “Israel no beacon of democracy diversity,” it retailed the usual lies and libels:  Israel treats the poor harmless Palestinians so cruelly, they are just like the Nazis.  If you need to read more of this stuff, here it is.

Fortunately, our friend David Smith responded immediately, and the IR (that’s the local’s name for the paper) printed it at once, this Wednesday.  His rebuttal, “More lies published about Israel,” can be read here.

I wish every two-bit purveyor of the New Protocols of the Elders of Zion received such quick and forceful refutation.


Theodore Dalrymple and the Real Threat

Yesterday I mentioned Victor Davis Hanson as a historian whose commentary on the collapse of the West is worth following.

Today I direct your attention to another Cassandra, Theodore Dalrymple.  He is a doctor (real name Anthony Daniels) of long practice among the lowest classes in England.  Unlike leftist  intellectuals  whose experience of the downtrodden tends to be academic and therefore comfortably remote, Dalrymple has spent his life in close contact with them.  His books are filled with disturbing (if humorous) stories of his patients and the dying society in which they live and move and have their being.  His books Life At The Bottom; The Worldview That Makes The Underclass  and Our Culture, What’s Left Of It; The Mandarins And The Masses:  are excellent (if often frustrating and infuriating and saddening) reads.

He is a regular columnist for the City Journal, a magazine worth checking online from time to time.  Today’s essay is entitled “Thoughts on Woolwich” (the town where two young Muslim-convert Britons from Nigeria brutally murdered and decapitated a British soldier, then pontificated about it to the witnesses recording it all on their cellphones.

Dalrymple concludes with the following:
“What these cases show is that it is not Islam that makes young converts violent; it is the violence within them that causes them to convert to Islam. The religion, in its most bloodthirsty form, supplies all their psychological needs and channels their anger into a supposedly higher purpose. It gives them moral license to act upon their rage; for, like many in our society, they do not realize that anger is not self-justifying, that one is not necessarily right because one is angry, and that in any case even justified anger does not entail a license to act violently. The hacking to death of Lee Rigby on a street in Woolwich tells us as much about the society that we have created, or allowed to develop, as it does about radical Islam preached by fat, middle-aged clerics.”
True, and a reality worth facing.  Militant Islamic Jihad is not a threat because it is so persuasive; it threatens us because it so conveniently justifies and ennobles our worst inclinations.

Victor Davis Hanson and Western Cultural Suicide

Victor Davis Hanson is a remarkable writer and analyst of our present predicament.   From his reality-based vantage point as a California farmer, and his clear-eyed understanding of history (he is a college professor but you’d never know it), he offers an unflinching view of our collapse. A regular contributor to National Review, his books on the Peloponnesian War (A War Like No Other) and other military history (I especially recommend Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power) are well written and insightful. So is his modern commentary, though it is disturbing stuff.

His latest post at National Review Online is entitled “Western Cultural Suicide”, and it is worth a look.

It is an extended soliloquy on the “Why’s” of multicultural America’s appeal to America-haters, both foreign and domestic.  In the wake of the Boson bombing and so many other atrocities, the “Why’s need to be faced.

The thought that such a wonderful culture is destroying itself so self-indulgently is saddening beyond comprehension.  My friend Ben Finiti writes that history offers no realistic basis for hope, that only faith can dispel the apparent certainty of our doom.  Without faith, courage alone (or endless distraction) can keep us going. Some choice we have: face reality or watch reality TV.

At any rate, Hanson is one of the writers you should follow if…you can.

“Mother’s” Day Must Go

[Here comes “Parent # 1 Day”!]

It is time to put an end to this outrage.  “Mother’s” Day is an abhorrent, anachronistic vestige of heterosexist oppression.  In barely concealed homophobic code, it implies that children need and/or benefit from having mothers, and that motherhood is something other than an outdated social construct.

Sure, motherhood may have been revered in the Dark Ages.  But as Enlightenment has spread across the land in recent years, social scientists and learned judges have patiently explained to us that “mothers” are now quite redundant.

Wise judges such as Vaughn Walker, ruling that the voters of California have no right to decide so important a question, wrote:

“The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s adjustment… The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology…Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted, and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.”

See?  It is “accepted beyond serious debate”.  As Al Gore likes to say, the debate is over, we know all we need to know.

The judge did admit that things were different in the Dark Ages: “When California became a state in 1850, marriage was understood to require a husband and a wife.”  But, as they say in California, that was then and this is now.

The Iowa Supreme Court was equally patient in dismissing the folly of mother-fixation.

“The research appears to strongly support the conclusion that same-sex couples foster the same wholesome environment as opposite-sex couples and suggests that the traditional notion that children need a mother and father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else.

There you have it.  This whole motherhood thing is just a stereotype.

(On retiring soon after this ruling on Prop 8, Judge Walker said ““I have done my part.”  Indeed he has.)

And think of the emotional pain inflicted.  Every “M-word” Day is a gross offense to the self-esteem of gay male couples who are thinking about raising children.

It reminds one of a heart-breaking episode from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.  Stan, a young rebel with gender issues, announces that he wants to have a baby:

Stan (also known as Loretta): It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.

Reg:  But you can’t have babies.

Stan:  Don’t you oppress me.

Reg: Where’s the fetus going to gestate? You going to keep it in a box?

Well, Reg, modern science has finally come up with effective gestation boxes, so Stan’s dream (actually Loretta’s dream) can now come true. And the courts have said that gay adoption is OK, because all that a child needs is “parents”.

So we can leave this motherhood fetish back in ancient Judea where it belongs.

The obvious thing to do is to rename the holiday.  Federal and state governments are quickly replacing the anachronistic “Mother” and “Father” lines on government forms and birth certificates with the more sensitive “Parent #1” and “Parent #2”.

The calendar can and should do the same thing.  May 12 is Parent #1 Day, with Parent #2 to be celebrated later.  (Don’t get me started on the whole “Fatherhood” outrage.  That can wait until P2 Day.)

Reminder: Did you call your Parent #1 today?

Bubbles: 30 Rock and Obama

I have just watched the entire 7 seasons of 30 Rock on Netflix.  It has confirmed my opinion that 30 Rock was the best TV comedy in a generation (or two).

One of the most surprising thing about the show, given its genealogy, was its general absence of ideological humor.  The once-funny Saturday Night Live year after year found Republicans humorously evil and/or stupid, while Democrats where consistently smart and sexy.  But 30 Rock was pretty fair and balanced in skewering its characters’ political foibles.  Jack Donaghy’s stereotypical capitalist, starve-the-poor conservative faced off with Liz Lemon’s artsy, compassionate but uncontributing liberal.

In one episode, when a liberal Vermont Congresswoman is on a tryst with Jack, Congress legalizes whale torture for sport.  Great stuff. That there’s funny, I don’t care who you are. (Larry the Cable Guy)

In Season 3 episode 15, Liz Lemon (show creator Tina Fey) has a new boyfriend Drew (played by Jon Hamm, Mad Men’s handsome Don Draper). She discovers that people give him preferential treatment because he is so attractive.

Liz’ boss and mentor Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) explains it to her.  “Beautiful people are treated differently from…(looking at her)…moderately pleasant-looking people.  They live in a Bubble.”

Liz marvels, “He’s a doctor who doesn’t know the Heimlich maneuver. He can’t play tennis.  He can’t cook.  He’s as bad at sex as I am. But he has no idea.”

Jack: “That’s the danger of being super-handsome.  When you’re in the Bubble, no one tells you the truth.  For years I thought I spoke excellent French…”

The portrayal is delightful.  Drew is a clumsy klutz on the tennis court, but ladies ask him if he gives lessons. At crowded restaurants he never waits for a table and normally surly waitresses fall over themselves to please him.  Police tear up parking tickets after one look at him.

Finally, Liz confronts Drew. “You live in a Bubble, where people do what you want and tell you what you want to hear.”  She tries reality-shock therapy on him, and he doesn’t like it.  Liz beats him at tennis, and he complains that “You made me feel like a loser.”

“That’s because you lost.”

As the show ends, Drew decides reality is no fun. “I didn’t like it outside the Bubble, Liz.  It was very ironic.”

“No,” she corrects, “it wasn’t.  That’s not how you use that word.”

“Stop it.  I want to use ironic however I want.  I want to stay in the Bubble.”

Well, who wouldn’t?


At the White House Easter Egg Roll, President Obama was able to sink only 2 out of 22 shots on a basketball court.  (No stories mentioned why basketball was featured as an Easter activity.)

The media reported with great bemusement and surprise at discovering something “The One” was not good at.

If you review the career of Barack Obama, you will find…Drew.  He was ushered into political seats ahead of others who had been waiting a long time, and he took it as his due.  His legislative service was undistinguished, but he was unsurprised when people kept asking him to accept higher office.

He has lived in a media Bubble, where people report what he wants and tell him what he wants to hear.

I wonder if he thinks he speaks French.  He probably thought he was good at basketball.  He probably still does.

And I wonder if anyone working on that episode realized how accurately they were describing the Obama Bubble.  I’d like to think they did.

What Can History Teach About War?

An outstanding essay by Victor Davis Hanson is currently up on PJ Media here and here.  It is a two-part (so far) study of the history of wars, and the interplay of Greek tragedy – victory leading to hubris and overreaching and failure.  Part 1 analyzes WWII and Korea, while the second looks at the Peloponnesian War, and draws conclusions to describe our present situation.

It is outstanding, and you ought to read the whole thing.  But here is the conclusion. Continue reading ‘What Can History Teach About War?’

More on CHILDREN as Props

Mr. Finiti’s recent thoughts on the use of children as political props got me thinking…and remembering.

Over the years as a union activist I often found myself working with a group planning an informational picket line, protest, or demonstration.   Often these involved education employees, but not always.

Whatever the group or issue, someone was sure to suggest that we ask parents to bring along their children.  They would also suggest that we invite the students from our classes to attend.  The idea was that prominently displayed children would humanize our position, and by implication demonize our opponents as anti-child.  Most of all, it would attract the newspaper photographers and TV cameramen looking for an interesting shots. (The  media people were almost always friendly to our causes, and worked with us to get the most sympathetic images possible.)

That would always (if I were in the room, anyway) trigger a mini-debate on the legitimacy or cynicism of such tactics.  Many would defend the children-front-and-center approach, arguing that it the children would certainly agree with us if they could understand the issues.  Others would claim it as a parental right.  But most would argue that the children were the whole point, since we as an education employee organization were naturally motivated by the interests of the children. 

Others would counter that our role as trustees of other people’s children should forbid us to enlist them into what were in fact adult conflicts.  Others would cite the dust-covered “Code of Teacher Ethics”.

Where I could veto the idea, I would.  But where majority voted, I was sometimes overruled.  Elsewhere it might never have been questioned.

And so the photo-op demonstrations flourished.  Cute 2-year olds in strollers would hold up signs reading “Don’t Cut My Mommy’s Pay”, while 5-year olds waved posters reading “Don’t Close My School” or “Vote NO on Proposition X.”  The kids usually smiled because it was an exciting spectacle, and people would smile at them.  But it is an ugly thing to do, if you think about it.

When I see a demonstration with children, especially if they are holding signs or expressing opinions they cannot understand, I know I am watching the work of cynical, self-serving adults who treat children as pawns on their private chessboards. 

I realize that enlistment of child protesters is not as bad as drafting child soldiers, as happens in some benighted corners of the globe.  But it is a lot worse than adults being willing to stand up on their own and hold their own signs and fight their own fights.

I know it wouldn’t pass, but I’d like to see some legislature somewhere consider an act criminalizing the use of children as political props.

Or maybe some Fair Labor Standards Board could declare it to be child labor and require that they ought to be paid minimum wage.


Unions vs. Jobs?

A new study of US manufacturing jobs offers some challenging statistics.  They support the long-standing argument that union contracts are a (the?) driving force behind loss of manufacturing jobs.

According to the very liberal Washington Post, America lost 6 million net manufacturing jobs between 1977 and 2012.  We fell from 7.5 million unionized factory jobs (1977) to 1.5 million such jobs today.  That is an 80% loss; 4 out of 5 such jobs disappeared.

But even more amazing, our 12.5 million non-union factory jobs (1977) went all the way to…12.5 million.  No net loss!  Non-union manufacturing jobs in the US remained steady for over thirty years!   So on balance it is only unionized manufacturing jobs that are disappearing.

Many explanations, no doubt.  But unions can hardly escape notice.

Everybody knows or suspects that union contracts (through higher wages, costlier benefits, and inefficient work rules) can make manufacturing more expensive and therefore less competitive.  Overseas competition (at least after the 1970’s) kept US firms from raising prices to cover costs.  Creative accounting (pushing retirement costs off the books) only helped cosmetically for a while.  So where else could US firms scrimp?

A Heritage Foundation Study (by a researcher cited by the WaPo) suggests strongly that it was in research and development.   Innovation and quality both failed to keep up with the international competition, and much of the unionized sector either failed or fled.  Obviously, this was in part a failure of management to do its job properly, even if it meant ugly confrontations with labor.

We have certainly seen direct action by unions to kill off employers, but these are rare if dramatic.  Hostess Twinkies was a recent one, but anyone my age may remember the macho union bosses who helped kill Eastern Airlines.  But for the most part, unions were playing an endless game of chicken with the companies, trying to wring every inch in concessions while keeping the patient (company) at least on life support. (Yes, I know that is a badly mixed metaphor.  Sorry.)

So, manufacturing continues in the US, but factory workers have stopped joining unions or voting for them.  Unions must ask themselves why.  And I mean really ask, not just prepare a case for their own defense.

It’s easy to blame Right-To-Work laws, of course.  But RTW states have unions, too.  And non-RTW states have the same problem.  RTW Iowa may have only 7.1% of its private sector employees in unionized jobs; but non-RTW Massachusetts has only 7.0%.  RTW may explain something, but not much.

Anti-union management fights dirty in union elections, labor argues.  That’s why we need automatic card check certification, so workers can’t be intimidated by anti-union campaigns.  The general reaction to these complaints is a collective Boo-Hoo.  Were the auto companies so union-friendly when Henry Ford’s goons were busting heads in Detroit in the 30’s? (See here for more on this.)  Poor little unions. Mean old bosses.

Or could it have something to do with the fact that so many manufacturing jobs were killed or exported, in plain view, as a result of unionization?  And nobody wants that to happen to their own job?

I’ll tell you one thing for sure.  If unions don’t figure out what to do about it, no one else will.  No one else regards it as a problem.

A few years back, businesses were taught by management consultants to ask themselves the insightful question: What business are we really in?

It is time (maybe already too late) for unions to ask themselves the same question.  Are they political recruiting organizations?  Are they private interest groups, committed to getting and protecting privileges for a dwindling number of members?

Or are they committed to improving the lives of American working men and women, as they say?  Because if they are, they need to recognize that killing jobs or chasing them overseas is complete and total failure.

Boehner to Obama: Just Send Us What You Want!

John Boehner is doing his best to accomplish the impossible in negotiating with President Obama over a budget fix to save us all from the Fiscal Cliff.  He is also doing the world’s most thankless task.

There is no deal that will be truly acceptable to his House Republican colleagues.  He may, by twisting arms for all he’s worth, eke out enough votes; or he may not.

If he does, Democrats will be silently grateful to have Republican fingerprints on the economic disaster that will likely result.  Republicans will spit when they speak his name. Continue reading ‘Boehner to Obama: Just Send Us What You Want!’

The New Politics: “Mention; Don’t Insist.”

The new political position of the Republican Party is indeed challenging.  On the Fiscal Cliff, they want to obstruct without appearing obstructionist.  They want to fight for principle, but they are hamstrung (to say the least) by just having lost the election battle over just that issue.

As I wrote recently, “The people have spoken.  They want the rich to be taxed.  Some sections of the electorate would like to see them killed, cooked, and fed to the poor as well.  The GOP may be right that increasing taxes in the upper brackets will kill investment and growth.  But this battle is, for the moment, lost.  The GOP should stop fighting it.”

In that context, I referred to the Godfather: After the Great Council meeting at which the Don has lost the political battle, the Don and his consigliere discuss the new arrangements, and the Don says on one point “mention, don’t insist.”  Later, his son Michael asks the Don “Won’t they see that as a sign of weakness?”  The Don responds “It is a sign of weakness.” Continue reading ‘The New Politics: “Mention; Don’t Insist.”’

The Man in White Fails the Ladies in White

By David Smith

Any non-Catholic who presumes to judge the Catholic Church stands a considerable risk of sticking his nose where it does not belong.  I am not a Catholic, so I have no standing to criticize the Church’s internal decisions, or beliefs, or anything else internally Catholic.  (Of course this does not really apply to bloggers, or any other media opinionators, but I like to try to follow it anyway.)

However, the actions of the Church in the world, and especially of its pope, reach far beyond the Church’s Magisterium.   And the past few popes have cast giant shadows on us all.

John Paul II was a great voice, one may even say fighter, for human freedom and dignity.   He had positive impacts in many areas, but nowhere more than in the struggle against totalitarian dictatorship.  With his personal experience of both Nazism and Communism, he seemed immune to the modern disease of moral equivalency.  Nor was he inclined to speak in the soothing voice of a diplomat from a neutral state trying to coax the great powers to play nice.  He was a moral leader, and he knew that the fight against totalitarianism was first and foremost a moral fight. Continue reading ‘The Man in White Fails the Ladies in White’

Condi Rice for Vice President!

I don’t know what Mitt Romney’s political calculations will tell him about who he should select as his running mate.  But I know the ticket I’d like to see.

Condoleezza Rice is one of the most accomplished non-politician people in America today.  Former Secretary of State, former National Security Adviser, author, concert pianist, professor and Provost of Stanford, etc., etc.

Politically, the election will likely come down to a referendum on an incumbent, as these things usually do.  And the true partisans among us always want the other party to field the weakest, lamest candidates possible.  That is what separates partisans from plain, non-political citizens, who want to see the best possible candidates square off.  Partisans don’t worry about how bad things will be for the country and world if the US elects a fool; the only risk is that it might not be their fool.  If the other party wins, it means the end of the world anyway.

But for us non-political types, I can’t imagine a better Republican team than Romney-Rice.   Of course I don’t know if she would accept.  She flatly rejected an attempted draft in 2008.

Is the West Still Judeo-Christian?

[It's not that I'm getting lazy or anything.  It's just that my friend Ben Finiti keeps putting up good stuff that I feel the need to share with you (his audience being much smaller than mine.)  Anyway, here it is.]

Good Show, Cameron!

British Prime Minister David Cameron has made a most important speech.  Unsurprisingly, our media didn’t notice.

On Dec. 16, he spoke at a Christ Church, Oxford celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.  He proclaimed the Bible as still relevant, and admitted (confessed?) that Britain is in a very real sense a “Judeo-Christian Nation”  He further articulated the Biblical origins of modern values such as equality, human rights, and morality.

The Judeo-Christian roots of the Bible also provide the foundations for protest and for the evolution of our freedom and democracy.  The Torah placed the first limits on Royal Power.   And the knowledge that God created man in his own image was, if you like, a game changer for the cause of human dignity and equality.

He also offered a sharp critique of modern “diversity” doctrines which have changed moderate tolerance into a disastrous abdication of responsibility.

I am grateful to George J. Marlin at The Catholic Thing ( for shining a light on this speech.  Marlin’s analysis is excellent, as is the rest of TCT.

Cameron’s full text is online at

The Forgotten Books of Witness

[Note:  My philosophical friend Mr. Finiti just put this up on his website, and as usual it is pretty good.  And since it seems more political than most of his stuff, I post it here in full.  If you want to leave a comment, do it on his page:]

by Ben Finiti 

Over the recent years, I have developed an interesting new hobby. (Well, I find it interesting.)  I prowl through thrift stores in search of forgotten books by forgotten authors.  And then I liberate them (usually for a dollar) and read them.

I pass quickly over certain types of books.  For instance, I have never bought a 20th or 21st century work of fiction. In my humble opinion as an accomplished literary snob, the last great writer of fiction was Anthony Trollope.  (I do not classify Orwell, Huxley, Waugh, or Koestler’s works as quite fiction.)

I do pick up curious books on subjects in which I have neither interest nor background.  For instance, I just finished a book called Let’s Talk About Port, by J.C. Valente-Perfeito, published in Portugal in 1948.  The author explains the varieties of port, sings (gushes, actually) its praises, and complains of how little his fellow citizens drink of it.   He offers eloquent warnings about the modern scourge of cocktail-drinking, and effectively rebuts those medical cranks who claim that alcoholism is a bad thing.  I had great fun reading it, and I may even try some of the stuff one of these days.

But the real goal of my pursuit is a category of books which was invented and flourished in the dreadful 20th century:  the survivor’s tale of witness to the inhuman atrocities that reached such a peak (so far) in the recent past. Continue reading ‘The Forgotten Books of Witness’

Can You Love Freedom and Hate Israel?

I was discussing philosophy recently with my friend Ben Finiti.  The queston arose of whether it is repressive “political correctness” to consider a person’s extreme prejudices (in this case, anti-semitism) when evaluating their position on a philosophical question.

Our initial reaction was that, if at all possible, the philosophical question should be considered separately.

This got me thinking about a question I often ask myself:  how can someone who does A also do B?  Specifically on the question of Israel and Zionism.

How can one preach democracy and hate the most democratic state ever to exist in the region?

How can one value freedom and yet hate the freest, arguably the only free state in the region?

How can one espouse peace and yet hate the only state in the region willing to establish peace with all its neighbors?

And finally, the most perplexing of all: How can one love God and hate Israel?

I know, I know.  Anti-Zionism and opposition to Israel is not the same as anti-semitism.  Supposedly, not every anti-Zionist advocate of return to the indefensible pre-1967 borders hates Jews.  Not every pious critic who screams “Apartheid” and “Imperialism” at Israel’s every measure of self-defense is an anti-Semite.  Not every college professor demanding disinvestment from all Israeli companies would be happy to see Hamas achieve its bloodthirsty dreams.  Not every anti-Zionist wants to see Israel swept off the map, or even the more moderate proposal of allowing Hamas missiles to be positioned 11 miles from Tel Aviv.

But still…

When I hear someone say “I am not anti-Semitic; I am just anti-Israel” I wonder.  Continue reading ‘Can You Love Freedom and Hate Israel?’

Gulliver on Fiscal Stimulus

I don’t write much about the economy and various remedies for its present ills.  That is for two reasons:  First, I believe economics, especially on the macro side, is so far from being science that it is closer to being a conventicle of witches, with multiple schools promoting various spells and potions.  And second, because I don’t really understand it all (despite having taken my Masters degree in economics.)

Anyway, I stumbled across the following passage in Gulliver’s Travels, which I think sums it up.

When Gulliver visited Laputa, the land of the philosophers, he complained of “cholick”.  He was introduced to “a great physician who was famous for curing that disease by contrary operations of the same instrument, a pair of bellows with a slender muzzle of ivory; this he conveyed 8 inches up the anus, and drawing in the wind, he affirmed he could make the guts as lank as a dried bladder.  But when the disease was more stubborn and violent, he let in the muzzle while the bellows was full of wind, which he discharged into the body of the patient…

“I saw him try both experiments upon a dog; but could not discern any effect from the former.  After the latter, the animal was ready to burst, and made so violent a discharge as was very offensive to me and my companions.  The dog died on the spot, and we left the doctor trying to recover him by the same operation.”

Thus Dean Swift’s eighteenth century view of stimulus and other remedies for financial cholick.

Ben Finiti Among the PABGoos

by Ben Finiti

I have traveled a long road from my Methodist childhood, into my atheist, Marxist radical youth, and into the world.  There I battled through a lifetime of real-world practicality decreasingly comforted and cushioned by the shreds of an ideology that no longer worked or made real sense of anything.  And I end up here.

I now find myself on the doorstep of a return to the truths of my childhood belief, still unable to cross the threshold.  (Of course, I wonder just how fully I ever really believed back then.  Tolstoy wrote somewhere about his religious beliefs evaporating in an instant when his older brother, seeing him kneeling by his bed, asked “You don’t still pray, do you?”)

Anyway, here I am.  Like Chesterton, I wanted always to be in the vanguard of new thought, always ahead of my time, only to discover that I was 20 centuries behind the truth.

I now find that there are only two consistent philosophical standpoints that are not in serious conflict with the facts of human nature.  Two tenable views.

Either God made us with souls, with a purpose.  Or we exist as accidental results of random materialistic evolution.

If we have souls and a purpose, then morality is a possibility, a choice that our souls can make to be in conformity with our purpose.  If we are evolutionary accidents, then we have no souls, no real purpose, and morality is whatever works.  So real morality, with legitimate authority, becomes impossible.  Moral anarchy is the only possible outcome.

There is of course another, much cheerier world view, one which believes that People Are Basically Good (hence “PABGoo”).  Continue reading ‘Ben Finiti Among the PABGoos’

US to Israel: “You’re on Your Own”

It is reported by Eric Trager on Contentions that Defense Secretary Gates, obviously speaking at the president’s direction, has announced that the US has no military ability to destroy the fast-developing Iranian nuclear program.  All we would do would be “send it further underground.” Continue reading ‘US to Israel: “You’re on Your Own”’

Pirates given stern lecture, then released

OK, here is a priceless news story from the West’s War On Piracy. Continue reading ‘Pirates given stern lecture, then released’

Gaza Is Not San Marino!

On a late drive home the other night I found myself listening to the “BBC World Report” on an NPR station. (Don’t look at me like that – it was a remote area and that was the only station I could get.)

There was a story about a delegation of British MP’s visiting Gaza to inspect the humanitarian crisis. The MPs were already on record as condemning Israel for the crisis and the war, so their comments were unsurprising. They called on Israel to relieve the suffering it had caused by closing off the Israeli-Gaza border crossings.

Continue reading ‘Gaza Is Not San Marino!’

W, Hail and Farewell

George W. Bush is about to become officially only a memory. (Though in all likelihood he will become the kind of obsessing memory that Nixon immediately became for liberals.) 

His tale is of course complicated. Many knocks against him are legitimate.  So what can you say to his credit?

Simply this.  George W. Bush fought hard against the enemies of his country, and never let popularity or politics distract him from doing so.

That accomplishment will be put in perspective by the subsequest performance of his successors.  Let us pray that it comes to be seen as a matter of course.

Dear Wikipedia: About those Democrats…

The Democratic Party is… the oldest political party in continuous operation in the United States and it is one of the oldest parties in the world.

“The Democratic Party traces its origins to the Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other influential opponents of the Federalists in 1792.”




Dear Wikipedia:


The above-quoted information is incorrect.  You have apparently confused the currently-existing Democratic Party with its predecessor, the Democratic Party of Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and LBJ.  That party was driven out of existence by the new Democratic Party founded by George McGovern in 1972.

  Continue reading ‘Dear Wikipedia: About those Democrats…’

Democrats win another domestic election

I know the election is over and it is time to, as they say, “Move On”.  But not quite yet.


Presidential elections can fit many patterns, and this one was no exception.  In retrospect it has a certain (and false) sense of inevitability.  Unpopular president, bad economy; these things don’t bode well for an incumbent party.   Yet nations, like individuals, possess a kind of free will, and formulaic determinism will always fall short.


But one pattern jumps out.  This was an election in which the domestic economy was the “top topic” on voters’ minds.  When that has happened recently, Democrats usually win. Continue reading ‘Democrats win another domestic election’

“Employee Free Choice Act” Bad For Unions


I am a lifelong union man: an organizer, negotiator, staffer and leader.  I believe in unions and their importance for our society.  That’s why I think HR 800, the Orwellian-titled “Employee Free Choice Act” is an abomination.  And more than that, it is not good for unions.

  Continue reading ‘“Employee Free Choice Act” Bad For Unions’

President Pandora

It appears that the answer to Melanie Phillips’ question (see below, “Is America Really Going To Do This?” is “Yes we are, because Yes we can” (or something).

Electing Obama is like electing Pandora, in the hope (there’s that word again) that when the box is opened good things will fly out.  That’s a heck of a hope, given the glimpses we have seen (through the media blackout) of Obama’s background and past associations.

And, once opened, the box will keep on giving.  Court appointees will determine our laws for decades to come (you thought congress did that?) The foreign policy results may take years, and fortunes in blood and treasure, to undo – if they can ever be undone.

One Sermon, One Sunday; Sen. Obama in Church


As I ponder Barack Obama sitting in church listening to his pastor’s hate-filled sermons, I cannot help but think of my mother.  I imagine her sitting in the next pew.  I know what she would have done.   Continue reading ‘One Sermon, One Sunday; Sen. Obama in Church’

I’m Afraid Obama Isn’t Scary Enough

Halloween looms and I am scared.  Not of the trick-or-treaters, but of the very real monsters lurking in the world.


And of Obama.  I am afraid that he isn’t scary enough.  To the right people.


It’s all about America’s place in the world.  Paradoxically, many consider this Obama’s strong suit.  The rock-star reaction to his world tour suggests that the world loves him.  And we like that.  We want our country and our leaders to be loved. Continue reading ‘I’m Afraid Obama Isn’t Scary Enough’

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