Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Although Pres. Bush has made his share of mistakes, liberals have gone to great lengths to smear and calumniate him. Here is a great story from yesterday's WSJ. While we'll have to wait for the verdict, I think history will ultimately vindicate him.
The President Comforts a Marine Mom
By WILLIAM MCGURN
This Thursday morn, Julie McPhillips will awake to the great hope that is Christmas Day. And amid her joy for the Savior born of woman in a Bethlehem stable, she will offer two prayers.
The first will be for her son, Lt. Brian McPhillips, killed in action in April 2003 as the First Marine Division fought its way into Baghdad . The other will be for the man on whose orders Lt. McPhillips was sent to Iraq : George W. Bush.
You see, Julie McPhillips knows a side of the president that never seems to make it into the newspapers. Since a meeting in the Oval Office a few years back, the two have exchanged letters, many written in the president’s hand. Through the sadness that binds them together, they look eye to eye and let their hearts do the talking.
In my years in the West Wing, I read many horrible things about this president. Some were by former military officers who ought to know better, especially the one who accused him in print of not caring about our war dead. More frequently, legitimate differences over the war led some to indulge in hateful accusations about the man who led it. Few came from people like Julie, who spoke directly with the president about a subject painful for both: the brave young lieutenant who was born to one and laid down his life under the command of the other.
When Mrs. McPhillips came to the White House, she was joined by her husband, David -- a Marine combat vet of Vietnam -- as well as Brian’s younger sister, Carolyn. They sat on one of the sofas in the Oval Office. When the president entered the room, he said, “I have two daughters, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to meet with the man who was responsible for their death.”
“It’s comforting,” Mrs. McPhillips replied softly. And thence commenced a 45-minute exchange about Brian, about Iraq , about what the president hoped to accomplish in the Middle East , and so on. When the president learned that Carolyn was a teacher, he wrote a note to her kindergarten students, asking them to excuse her for missing class that day. At various points, their conversation was punctuated with observations on the challenges and consolations of faith.
These days our public discourse finds it difficult to handle such talk, and any presidential mention of God is cheapened into a caricature of a man who launches wars on direct orders of the Almighty. In a particularly moving moment, the president spoke of what he did pray for, including the hope that through this “opaque piece of glass,” as he put it, people might catch a glimpse of what Christ wants us to be.
That too can be ridiculed, but in fact and in context it was a statement of humility -- a completely orthodox acknowledgment of the responsibility each Christian has to live a life that bears witness to the redemptive love we trace back to that Bethlehem manger.
Lt. McPhillips would have understood that. Often his mother would ask him to remember to pray for the Marines who stood before him in formation. Always he would respond, “I will, Mom.”
I was never lucky enough to know Brian McPhillips in life. I know enough, however, to recognize in this Providence College graduate the kind of man you hope would be leading your son if your son were going into battle. The kind of man you pray will be waiting at the altar the day you walk your daughter up the aisle.
These men are not born; they are formed -- by families like the McPhillips, by institutions such as the Marine Corps, and by the convictions that extort sacrifices from any who dare to live by them.
Even so, the holidays can be difficult for these families. These are the days when their thoughts turn to the son whose absence fills the room, the faithful Marine whose little niece will never know the strong and decent man who would have loved and spoiled her in the way only an uncle can.
Yet on a day that celebrates the arrival of hope into our world, the McPhillips refuse to concede the last word to grief. This Christmas, Mr. Bush’s last as commander in chief, Mrs. McPhillips would like him to know how grateful they are that Brian served a president who was determined, at great cost to his own popularity, to ensure that their son’s sacrifice would not be in vain.
“Mr. President,” she says, “Brian was proud to be a Marine. And he carried within him the same light that you do -- a faith in God, in America, and in the dignity and worth of every man, woman, and child on this earth.”
“A blessed Christmas for you and your family, Mr. President.”
And to yours, Julie McPhillips.
Write to MainStreet@wsj.com
Friday, September 19, 2008
Rush Spanks the Obamunists
Sometimes liberals, especially elitists like Obama, pick on someone who is ready, willing, and more than able to fight back. The Obama smear squad got more than they bargained for this week when they tried to set up Rush Limbaugh.
Rush, who has years of experience dealing with shameful liberal slanders, promptly called out his "rapid response" squad to respond, which culminated in this op-ed in today's WSJ.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2008
Obama Is Stoking
I understand the rough and tumble of politics. But Barack Obama -- the supposedly postpartisan, postracial candidate of hope and change -- has gone where few modern candidates have gone before.
Mr. Obama's campaign is now trafficking in prejudice of its own making. And in doing so, it is playing with political dynamite. What kind of potential president would let his campaign knowingly extract two incomplete, out-of-context lines from two radio parodies and build a framework of hate around them in order to exploit racial tensions? The segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s were famous for such vile fear-mongering.
Here's the relevant part of the Spanish-language television commercial Mr. Obama is running in Hispanic communities:
"They want us to forget the insults we've put up with . . . the intolerance . . . they made us feel marginalized in this country we love so much."
Then the commercial flashes two quotes from me: ". . . stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and "You shut your mouth or you get out!"
And then a voice says, "John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote . . . and another, even worse, that continues the policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families. John McCain . . . more of the same old Republican tricks."
Much of the media that is uninterested in Mr. Obama's connections to unrepentant 1970s Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright have so far gone along with the attempt to tie me to Mr. McCain. But Mr. McCain and I have not agreed on how to address illegal immigration. While I am heartened by his willingness to start by securing the borders, it is no secret that we have fundamental differences on illegal immigration.
And more to the point, these sound bites are a deception, and Mr. Obama knows it. The first sound bite was extracted from a 1993 humorous monologue poking fun at the arguments against the North American Free Trade Agreement. Here's the context:
"If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine 'cause those are the kinds of jobs Nafta is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do -- let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."
My point, which is obvious, was that the people who were criticizing Nafta were demeaning workers, particularly low-skilled workers. I was criticizing the mind-set of the protectionists who opposed the treaty. There was no racial connotation to it and no one thought there was at the time. I was demeaning the arguments of the opponents.
As for the second sound bite, I was mocking the Mexican government's double standard -- i.e., urging open borders in this country while imposing draconian immigration requirements within its own borders. Thus, I took the restrictions Mexico imposes on immigrants and appropriated them as my own suggestions for a new immigration law.
Here's the context for that sound bite: "And another thing: You don't have the right to protest. You're allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. You're a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you're going to jail."
At the time, I made abundantly clear that this was a parody on the Mexican government's hypocrisy and nobody took it otherwise.
The malignant aspect of this is that Mr. Obama and his advisers know exactly what they are doing. They had to listen to both monologues or read the transcripts. They then had to pick the particular excerpts they used in order to create a commercial of distortions. Their hoped-for result is to inflame racial tensions. In doing this, Mr. Obama and his advisers have demonstrated a pernicious contempt for American society.
We've made much racial progress in this country. Any candidate who employs the tactics of the old segregationists is unworthy of the presidency.
Mr. Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host.
Garry Kasparov, former chess champion and now leader of Russia's political opposition, has a simply excellent op-ed in today's WSJ. He just nails the gangster Putin -- in fact, he calls him out on his mafia-style thuggishness.
Keep in mind that such honesty from Kasparov calls for real bravery. More than one journalist in Russia has been the victim of a "random" crime or had an unfortunate accident after criticizing the criminal oligarchy in the Kremlin.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2008
Putin Is Ruining Russia's Economy
This week's global market catastrophe kicked the Russian economy when it was already down. On Wednesday trading was suspended for a day and a half. An unprecedented 1.126 trillion rubles (around $44 billion) has been allocated to rescue three major Russian banks. One, Gazprombank, is controlled by Yuri Kovalchuk, Vladimir Putin's closest partner.
The market's collapse, down 57% since May, is linked to the dysfunctional nature of the Russian state and economy. Nearly every aspect of commerce in Russia is deeply entangled with state power, if not with Mr. Putin personally. This, for obvious reasons, does not comfort most investors.
One famous investor in particular was worried about the security of doing business in Mr. Putin's Russia. Rupert Murdoch, speaking on News Corp.'s earnings call on Aug. 5, had this to say: "The more I read about investments in Russia, the less I like the feel of it. The more successful we'd be, the more vulnerable we'd be to have it stolen from us, so there we sell now."
The hoped-for liberalization under new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has turned out to be another case of wishful thinking both in Russia and the West. There's no doubt in the business community about who's really in charge. After his cronies' takeover attempt of steel and coal giant Mechel was rebuffed, Mr. Putin's public outburst of criticism in late July was enough to destroy the company's market value.
Mechel is a tempting new target now that the price of coal is rising rapidly. As Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his company Yukos found out, in Russia success can be a very dangerous thing. Mechel may yet be another casualty of the mafia-like extortion tactics that have become a standard Kremlin maneuver.
In 2000, BP attempted to rebrand itself with the slogan "beyond petroleum." These days the company is scrambling to get "beyond Putin." Robert Dudley, the CEO of BP's Russian joint venture, fled Russia due to what he called "sustained harassment." Even the recent truce between BP and its Russian partners in BP-TNK represents a major defeat for the British company. Mr. Dudley attempted to hold a press conference in Moscow in July, but his venue was abruptly cancelled by the National Hotel, a property of the American giant Starwoods. This was not a unique occurrence.
The National Assembly, an opposition parliament with representatives from across Russia and across every ideological line, scheduled a public hearing on the Russia-Georgia conflict for Sept. 11. It was to take place at the new Hilton hotel in Moscow, and I personally signed the contract for the conference room. On Sept. 10, the Hilton cancelled the arrangement, claiming problems in the hall. Maybe all contracts in Russia should now include a third line for the signature of the local KGB official.
Two days after Mr. Murdoch expressed his concerns, Georgia and Russia opened hostilities. Europe and the U.S. waved their hands helplessly as Russian tanks and ships went far beyond defensive or peacekeeping action. It remains to be seen whether the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which have issued contradictory statements, can act meaningfully in the face of Mr. Putin's belligerence.
Just hours after Nicolas Sarkozy completed his second trip to the region, signed agreements in hand, several of his claims of peacemaking were contradicted by the Kremlin, leaving the energetic French president looking the fool. Mr. Sarkozy has just one more trip to go before he completes his imitation of Neville Chamberlain's infamous trio of visits to Germany in September 1938. Perhaps Georgia should not be as nervous today as Czechoslovakia was then. But one parallel is real: If there is anything an authoritarian leader cannot abide, it's a power vacuum on his borders.
Dictatorial power demands to expand into every available space. Establishing effective penalties will require great political will, especially in Europe. There Mr. Putin has defenders like Silvio Berlusconi, who boasted last week about how he prevented the EU from levying sanctions against Russia over its actions in Georgia. The Kremlin also has many influential employees, including former EU leaders Gerhardt Schroeder of Germany and Paavo Lipponen of Finland, who both took plum positions with the Russian energy giant Gazprom immediately after leaving office.
With their reliable business partners in the West, the Kremlin has opened up a lucrative market for what could be called democracy offsets. In exchange for oil and gas from Russia, they provide democratic credentials and pretend Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev are elected officials rather than mafia bosses.
Until Russia has a government that is accountable to its citizens, no company or individual will be safe here. The silver lining of the meltdown will be the weeding out of so many of the foreign and domestic profiteers who greedily abetted Mr. Putin's drive to turn Russia into a dictatorship. But there are still many who hope that all will be back to business as usual once the dust settles. Apparently they think the show must go on, even though many of the lead actors have left the stage -- and the theater itself is ablaze.
Mr. Kasparov, leader of The Other Russia coalition, is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
What a week. It was hard to make sense of the rush of events: Lehman Bros., Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, etc. Is the sky falling? Are we heading into a new Great Depression? Who's responsible? Who's going to fix this mess?
Answering the last question first does not take much imagination. The government is already promising: 1. to make things right, and 2. to make sure it does not happen again.
What does that mean? More taxes. More government regulation. Gee, thanks.
As for some of the other questions. I saw no better explanation than this op-ed in Investor's Business Daily. Despite what politicians -- both Democrat and Republican -- will tell you, the answer is as follows:
Congress Tries To Fix What It Broke
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Regulation: As the financial crisis spreads, denials on Capitol Hill grow more shrill. Blame an aloof President Bush, greedy Wall Street, risky capitalism — anybody but those in Congress who wrote the banking rules.
Such denials won't hold against the angry facts banging on their doors. The only question is whether the guilty party can keep up the barricade until Election Day.
A visibly annoyed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected suggestions that Democrats share blame for the meltdown. "No," she snapped at reporters who dared ask.
Stick to our narrative, she scolded: The bursting of the housing bubble was another story of market failure and deregulation.
"The American people are not protected from the risk-taking and the greed of these financial institutions," she said, while calling for investigations of the industry.
Only, the risk-taking was her idea — and the idea of all the other Democrats, along with a handful of Republicans, who over the past 30 years have demonized lenders as racist and passed regulation after regulation pressuring them to make more loans to unqualified borrowers in the name of diversity.
They were the ones who screamed — "REDLINING!" — and sent banks scurrying for cover in low-income neighborhoods, where they have been forced to lower long-held industry standards for judging creditworthiness to make the subprime loans.
If they don't comply, they are threatened with stiff penalties under the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA, a law that forces banks to make home loans to people with poor credit risks.
No fewer than four federal banking regulatory agencies are responsible for enforcing the law. They subject lenders to racial litmus tests and issue regular report cards, the industry's dreaded "CRA rating."
The more branches that lenders put in poor neighborhoods, and the more loans they make there, the better their rating. Those lenders with low ratings can not only be fined, but also blocked from mergers and other business transactions needed to expand.
The regulation grew to monstrous proportions during the Clinton administration, obsessed as it was with multiculturalism. Amendments to the CRA in the mid-1990s dramatically raised the amount of home loans to otherwise unqualified low-income borrowers.
The revisions also allowed for the first time the securitization of CRA-regulated loans containing subprime mortgages. The changes came as radical "housing rights" groups led by ACORN lobbied for such loans. ACORN at the time was represented by a young public-interest lawyer in Chicago by the name of Barack Obama.
HUD, in turn, pressured Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase more subprime mortgages, and Fannie and Freddie, in turn, donated to the campaigns of leading Democrats like Barney Frank and Pelosi who throttled investigations into fraud at the agencies.
Soon, investment banks such as Bear Stearns were aggressively hawking the securities as "guaranteed." Wall Street's pitch was that MBSs were as safe as Treasuries, but with a higher yield.
But they weren't safe. Everyone in the subprime business — from brokers to lenders to banks to investment houses — absolved themselves of responsibility for ensuring the high-risk loans were good.
The mortgage lenders didn't care, because they were going to sell the loans to other banks. The banks didn't care, because they were going to repackage the loans as MBSs. The investors and traders didn't care, because the MBSs were backed by Fannie and Freddie and their implicit government guarantees.
In other words, nobody up and down the line — from the branch office on main street to the high-rise on Wall Street — analyzed the risk of such ill-advised loans. But why should they? Everybody was just doing what the regulators in Washington wanted them to do.
So everybody won until everybody lost, including the minorities the government originally mandated the banks to serve.
The original culprits in all this were the social engineers who compelled banks to make the bad loans. The private sector has no business conducting social experiments on behalf of government. Its business is making profit. Period. So it did what it naturally does and turned the subprime social mandate into a lucrative industry.
Of course, it was a Ponzi scheme, because they weren't allowed to play by their rules. The government changed the rules for risk.
In order to put low-income minorities into home loans, they were ordered to suspend lending standards that had served the banking industry well for centuries. No one wants to talk about it, so they just scapegoat Wall Street. Even John McCain has joined the Democrat chorus on this.
The FBI is now investigating 24 large mortgage lenders for alleged abuses. But who will investigate the pols and the lobbyists and the community agitators who made the bad decisions that ultimately forced businesses to make their bad decisions?
Thu Sep 18, 12:28 PM ET
A Berlin radio station will broadcast its morning show entirely in Latin on September 26 to mark the European day of languages, the station said Thursday.
Trailers, news and weather will be translated into Latin for the Kiss FM show, listened to by around 4.2 million people daily, to raise awareness of the tragedy of dead languages.
"We are particularly looking forward to a member of staff who has written a Latin rap song," station spokesman Michael Weiland said.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
If there was ever any doubt that Obama was a cheap, empty suit without an original thought, this confirms it. Only by picking John Kerry could Obama have found a VP candidate equally up to the task to the role of self-important, sleep-inducing blowhard.
Joe Biden. Joe Biden!? What was he thinking? I think this is a great move -- for McCain.
Monday, August 11, 2008
People rely on government for too many things. One thing, however, that they rightly rely on government for is security against criminals.
What to do then when the criminals are the government?
That's the dilemma Russians face as their country has progressively fallen under the control of the gangster Vladimir Putin and his criminal associates.
Now these gangsters are becoming more emboldened. Georgia and the Ukraine have long been "thorns" in their side because of these countries pro-Western policies. So, when the gangsters have their own army, a great way to deal with your adversaries is to fabricate an excuse to launch an invasion.
Russia's pretext for invading Georgia was that they were protecting pro-Russian separtist groups in two Georgian provinces. Of course, that was just a sham pretext for an invasion. As you can see from this graphic, Russian attacks are now spreading into Georgian areas beyond the two provinces.
One other thing: look who's running the show for the Russians. Putin. His role in this aggression should put the lie to the notion that he ever intended to give up power even though the Russian constitution required him to step down. Hopefully, our leaders were never so naive or foolish as to ever have believed that particular lie.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Boy, this theme is ripe for picking. Uber hypocrite John Edwards has now admitted he is a lying philanderer. I doubt I'll be the first one to say this, and others will likely say it more artfully, but: I guess there really are two Americas for John Edwards. The one in which you parade your cancer-stricken wife around the country to gin up sympathy which you hope you can translate into votes. The other is where you sneak off to the left coast to fool around with another woman, leaving your cancer-stricken wife, who's served her photo op purpose for you, back home.
Of course Edwards' belatedly coming clean now is just more evidence of his phoniness and hypocrisy. It's honorable to come forward and confess if you haven't been caught. It's not quite the same when the confession comes after you've been caught in a hotel room with your mistress by a tabloid newspaper. Moreover, I can't believe that anyone in the world would be dumb enough to fall for the line that, even though your illicit affair was over, you met your mistress at a hotel in the middle of the night "just to talk".
Edwards Admits Sexual Affair; Lied as Presidential Candidate
In an ABC NEWS NIGHTLINE Interview, Edwards Reveals He Cheated, But Didn't Father Child
By RHONDA SCHWARTZ, BRIAN ROSS, and CHRIS FRANCESCANI
August 8, 2008 —
John Edwards admitted to ABC News in an interview with Bob Woodruff Friday that he repeatedly lied about an extramarital affair with a 42-year old campaign employee, but strenuously denied being involved in paying the woman hush money or fathering her newborn child. The former Democratic U.S. senator from North Carolina said he would be willing to take a paternity test and divulge the results publicly.
"Two years ago I made a very serious mistake, a mistake that I am responsible for and no one else. In 2006, I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, asked God for his forgiveness. And we have kept this within our family since that time."
Edwards, 55, said he told his entire family about the affair after it ended in 2006, and that his wife Elizabeth, who has incurable breast cancer, was "furious" but that their marriage would survive. The couple have three children, Cate, 25, Emma, 9, and Jack, 7. When he confessed his affair to his wife, "she was mad," Edwards said.
"She was angry," he said. "I think 'furious' would be a good way to describe it. She didn't understand. We both went through a process of trying to figure out how it happened, why it happened." Late Friday evening, Elizabeth Edwards posted a message on her blog, saying that she and her children will stand by Edwards.
"Our family has been through a lot. Some caused by nature, some caused by human weakness, and some most recently caused by the desire for sensationalism and profit without any regard for the human consequences," she wrote on http://elizabethedwards.dailykos.com/. "None of these has been easy. But we have stood with one another through them all. Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him."
She too, denied in the blog post that Hunter's child was fathered by her husband.
Edwards told ABC News that he met secretly with former lover Rielle Hunter as recently as last month in a California hotel room at her request because "she was having some trouble, she just wanted to talk."
"I wanted her not to tell the public what had happened," he said at another point. "Very simple. That's the reason I went."
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
"God doesn't promise us tomorrow,
He does promise us eternity"
Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings
When you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change.
Tony Snow | posted 7/20/2007 02:30PM
Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23 Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced that the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen—leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, but resigned August 31. CT asked Snow what spiritual lessons he has been learning through the ordeal.
Blessings arrive in unexpected packages—in my case, cancer.
Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in
today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God’s will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations. America
The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can’t someone else get sick? We can’t answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life—and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts—an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live—fully, richly, exuberantly—no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don’t. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
‘You Have Been Called’
Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. “It’s cancer,” the healer announces.
The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. “Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler.” But another voice whispers: “You have been called.” Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter—and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our “normal time.”
There’s another kind of response, although usually short-lived—an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (
), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment. Spain
There’s nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue—for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.
Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for
before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf. Jerusalem
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us—that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God’s love for others. Sickness gets us partway there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two people’s worries and fears.
Learning How to Live
Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God’s arms not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.
I sat by my best friend’s bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was a humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. “I’m going to try to beat [this cancer],” he told me several months before he died. “But if I don’t, I’ll see you on the other side.”
His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn’t promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity—filled with life and love we cannot comprehend—and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it.
It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up—to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don’t know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place—in the hollow of God’s hand.
Copyright © 2007 Christianity Today.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
-- How About the Next John F. Kennedy?
I've heard a couple of folks express concern that Obama could be the next Jimmy Carter. That would be bad, but I think he could be the next JFK, which could be even worse.
Check out this excerpt from this article by Tony Blankley from Real Clear Politics:
Now, it is doubtlessly true that our invasion of Iraq (and Afghanistan) helped al-Qaida's recruitment. I have been told that by U.S. government experts I trust. But that is an old fact. What Osama bin Laden famously said about recruitment is also true: People follow the strong horse. And the new fact is that as we are winning in Iraq, as we are killing al-Qaida fighters and other Islamist terrorists there by the truckload (along with other insurgent opponents of the Iraqi government we support with our blood and wealth), we are proving to be the strong horse after all and can expect to see a reduced attraction for young men to join the Islamist terrorist ranks.
Fighting and winning always impress. Even merely fighting and persisting impress. Shortly after the fall of Soviet Communism, I had dinner with a then-recently former senior Red army general. He told me that the Soviets were astounded and impressed by the fact that we were prepared to fight and lose 50,000 men in Vietnam, when the Soviets never thought we even had a strategic interest there. They thus calculated that they'd better be careful with the United States. What might we do, they thought, if our interests really were threatened?
What kind of message is our next president going to send to our friends, adversaries and enemies? With regard to Obama, in the world of Realpolitik, our adversaries and enemies aren't going to give a rat's a** about "hope" and "change". And, if they sense or suspect our president is a gullible naif in the world of power politics, they will exploit that weakness to their advantage.We saw this happen with Jimmy Carter when the Soviets took advantage of him by invading Afghanistan. But, we also saw this, and paid a much larger price, when the Soviets perceived John Kennedy as a lightweight. This emboldened them to try and install nuclear missiles in Cuba and, as a result, we almost had World War III.
And, despite liberal historians depiction of Kennedy as some sort of master diplomat staring down the Russians, the truth is his handling of that crisis demonstrated strategic stupidity of the highest order. In Diplomacy 101, everyone learns that "saving face" is the key to relations between nations. When you win an international dispute, you always -- always -- give your adversary a face saving "out".
Kennedy did not do this in the Cuban Missile Crisis. To the contrary, by very publicly confronting the Russians, he put them in the position of either fighting or backing down. They knew they could not win a war against us in our hemisphere, so they had to back down; they were humiliated in front of the world and, consequently, were determined to not let it happen again. Since Kennedy embarrassed them and did not give them a face saving way out, we got into a huge arms race that cost our nations billions upon billions of dollars over the next 20 years.
If it's a choice between Obama-as-Carter or Obama-as-Kennedy -- give me an inept Obama-as-Carter instead of another dangerously stupid Obama-as-Kennedy.
Listen to Uber-liberal Justice Stevens as he whined about the Supreme Court's Heller decision today:
Gosh, I wonder if he would have been as equally dismissive of the Court's decision when it "discovered" a "right" to abortion and and whether he would have argued that such decisions should be left to the state legislatures. What a blatant hypocrite.
Justice John Paul Stevens spoke from the bench to denounce the decision, which he said violated the court's precedent that the Second Amendment refers to a right to bear arms only for military purposes.
He spoke dismissively of the court's "newly discovered right" and said decisions about gun control should be made by legislatures.
Monday, June 23, 2008
or nearer at least.
Here's a great post from the Journal's Best-of-the-Web blog.
Mary Ann Lindley is an editor at the Tallahassee Democrat, the main newspaper in Florida's capital. In a blog entry on the paper's Web site, she writes that a friend recently gave her a copy of the Democrat dated Jan. 21, 1981--the day after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated and the mad mullahs who ran Iran released the American diplomats they had taken prisoner, a crime that has gone unpunished in the 27 subsequent years.
"But the thing that caught my attention in that 27 year old newspaper," Lindley writes, "was a letter to the editor from a Darrell E. Levi":
In 1981, Mr. Levi's concern was the "accelerating devastation of the world's tropical forests and with that the possibility of major changes in the world's climate."
He went on to write that "over the past 20 years, it has become clearer that the main, most inexorable threat humans face is not political or ideological conflict, social disintegration or economic chaos--as real and important as these things are--but destruction of the very biolgoical [sic] basis of life."
That was long ago, and yet the warnings he issued are almost precisely the ones we hear today: that we run great risk if we ignore our interdependency with soil, air, water, plants and animals and that a global ecological crisis is upon us and will destroy us without an informed citizenry prepared to respond and help steer a new course for "Spaceship Earth."
Now, we're not exactly sure what kind of "changes in the world's climate" Levi meant to warn about. Back in the 1970s, people worried about a new Ice Age, but at some point between then and 1988, the concern shifted to global warming. It's possible that in the interim, an informed citizenry did steer a new course for Spaceship Earth, one that took the craft dangerously close to the sun.
Possible, but--let's be honest--not probable. We like to think we're pretty informed, and we don't remember anything like this happening. Anyway, the Earth isn't really a spaceship. Its course is fixed by nature, God or some combination thereof.
The lesson of Darrell E. Levi would seem to be that doomsayers will always be with us. They were with us in 1981, they are with us in 2008, and we feel confident predicting that they will be with us in 2035.
Incredibly, though, Lindley draws the opposite conclusion--that Levi's predictions were prescient not because they came true but because people are making similar predictions now:
It's easy to dismiss today's "alarmists" who speak of the dire consequences of our various policy choices and personal decisions. But Mr. Levi's letter is riveting. He was--and is--right on the money. Everything he said then still applies, squared.
The good news is that some of today's citizenry is more informed and some leaders, such as Governor Crist, are aiming their sites [sic] on solutions, however incremental, to save the ship known as Spaceship Earth.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
... in order to make money in any business you need to sell your products, not sit around your trailer consuming them. :-)
|Meth lab busted in Larimer trailer home|
|By Kieran Nicholson|
The Denver Post
The Denver Post
|Article Last Updated:06/18/2008 04:04:22 PM MDT|
A tip about a fugitive led Larimer County deputies to a methamphetamine lab in a trailer home where three people, including the fugitive, were arrested, the sheriff's office said.
Early Tuesday morning, the sheriff's office received a tip that William Curtis Miller, 36, wanted in Mississippi for theft and in Larimer County for a parole violation, was at a trailer home at 2025 N. College Ave. No. 46, the sheriff's office said in a news release.
When deputies went to the trailer, the occupants refused to open the door, the sheriff's office said.
Deputies got a search warrant, entered the trailer, and found Miller and evidence of a meth lab, the sheriff's office said.
They obtained another search warrant, based on the meth discovery, and arrested Miller and two others inside the trailer.
Todd Ted Rowell, 50, and Lynn Ann Baker, 40, were arrested on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine.
All three were being held at the Larimer County Jail.
The frustrated entreprenuers
Can you believe this?
Guy kidnaps ex-girlfriend to get ironing done
Mon Jun 16, 2:16 PM ET
An Italian man was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend from a pub, taking her home and forcing her to iron his clothes and wash the dishes, police said Monday.
The 43-year-old man dragged the woman out of a pub in the port city of Genoa, shoved her into a car and took her to his home where he made her iron and wash
dishes after threatening her, they said.
Police arrived at his house after being tipped off by a friend of the woman who watched the scene at the pub.
The man, who was apparently furious at his ex-girlfriend for leaving him, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, police said.
Monday, June 09, 2008
This article could have been written about me and Ellen. I know that if beautiful Ellen passed away, I, too, would soon be gone.
After 65 years, couple inseparable - even in death
'They couldn't be parted': After long life together, husband and wife die of natural causes within 23 hours of each other.
By DOUG IRVING
The Orange County Register
-- Jerry Aten didn't last a day without his wife Marilyn. Santa Ana
She died on a Monday evening last month. He tried to give her one last kiss, but he was too unsteady to get out of his wheelchair. He held her hand, laid his head on her bed, and cried.
Their friends always use the same word to describe Jerry and Marilyn: inseparable. And so, 23 hours later, when his caretaker heard his breath go heavy and deep, and then stop, it seemed to them more a gift than a surprise.
Doctors who work with the elderly say it's not unusual for the death of one spouse to make the other feel more at peace with dying as well. Some researchers even believe that the loss of a loved one can stun the heart and cause symptoms similar to a heart attack, a phenomenon often called "broken heart syndrome."
But what happened with Jerry, 89, and Marilyn, 85, left even their pastor searching for words. "It's almost like they planned their departure perfectly," said Rev. Wilfredo Benitez of St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal Church in
. Garden Grove
"I don't have any explanation for that. I can't say whether God planned it," he added. "It just seemed to me that the bond between the two of them was so strong that, even in death, they couldn't be parted."
They met on a blind date. He was a
Michiganfarm boy stationed with the Army in Northern California. She was a small-town girl who always called him "Honey." California
They were married 65 years ago in April.
She died at home, in her bed. Jerry tried to lift himself out of his wheelchair to kiss her good-bye, then fell back and laid his head on her bed, next to her arm. He didn't say anything, just cried softly.
It was 11:40 p.m. on May 5.
Jerry woke up the next morning, talked to his son, greeted a neighbor. But he began crying again in the afternoon, and he was still crying when his caretaker, Theresa Palepale, helped him into bed that night.
She heard his breathing change and then stop about an hour later. She felt for a pulse, but didn't find one.
It was 10:40 p.m. on May 6.
Physicians would later determine that Marilyn had died of gastric cancer, and Jerry had died 23 hours later, to the minute, of cardiopulmonary arrest. They were buried in
. Riverside National Cemetery
Their obituary ran in the newspaper on the day of the funeral. "Aten, Marilyn and Jerry," it read. "Together for eternity."
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Well, nothing is really new in politics. The only "change" Obama will bring is how much he'll look like a former president. Unfortunately, so far, it seems that the only president he resembles is one we'd rather forget!
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Great editorial in today's Investor's Business Daily. The quote I used to title this post very neatly sums up who we'll get when/if Obama is elected. And, as the editorial also points out, if any criticism or tough questions are condemned as being racist, it's likely he will be elected. :-(
Historic First Or Carter Redux?
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, June 04, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Decision '08: Barack Obama is the first African-American presidential candidate of a major political party. It is a historic accomplishment. Unfortunately for us, it's his only accomplishment.
As Martin Luther King might put it, we have been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land. But having taken another giant step towards true equality and a genuinely color-blind society, we hope Sen. Obama and John McCain will be treated equally in the press.
Politics ain't beanbag, as someone once said, and we hope that attacks on Obama's leftist and quasi-Marxist positions and associations will not be deflected as racist criticisms. The heat he will face in this campaign is nothing compared with what he would face on the world stage.
After the last balloon is popped, what we have is a 46-year-old freshman senator who has spent three years in the U.S. Senate, two of them running for president. As we have noted, his policy is basically to raise taxes at home and to surrender to our enemies abroad.
His choice of friends, associates, pastors and churches bespeaks a lack of judgment that gives us pause as to who will fill important positions in the government and his cabinet. We'd prefer that the next secretaries of defense, energy and state, as well as the next Supreme Court justices be appointed by a President McCain.
Some will say the nation has finally accepted the idea of a black American running for president. So far, the only thing certain is that it's OK for a black Democrat to run for president. We wonder, for example, if the press would swoon if it were a Condoleezza Rice running as a Republican.
There's much to criticize about Obama. He promised a post-racial candidacy, but he brought race to the fore with his associations with a church that embraces black liberation theology and one preacher who said the
government invented AIDS to kill black people and another who said Obama's opponent, Hillary Clinton, was the embodiment of white entitlement. U.S.
It was out of political expediency, not principle, that he renounced them and the church that gave them standing ovations. His other associations — from influence peddler Tony Rezko to terrorist bombers William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn — cannot be dismissed as people from the neighborhood.
Obama will warn the nation that McCain represents a third Bush term. We'll do our best to point out that even if true, it's a better prospect than the second coming of Jimmy Carter. His naivete on foreign policy and his willingness to make nice with the world's loons have won the endorsement of Hamas leaders.
On the domestic front, Obama proposes to replace the American dream with a mandate of service and servitude to an ever-larger federal behemoth. He will repeal the Bush tax cuts and add new burdens.
He says: "You can take your diploma, walk off this stage and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should. But I hope you don't."
Well, we hope you do — and so does John McCain.
needs more people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, people who needn't apologize for making money while making our lives better and our country stronger. America
We wonder how many will vote for Obama just to have the opportunity to make more history. The nation cannot afford eight or even four years of him. His policies would lead us to an economic and strategic disaster of historical proportions.
We've made enough history for now.
CSO Continues its Reign
Even though Maestro Muti won't be at Ravinia, it's always a great time to sit on the lawn on a beautiful summer evening listening to one of the world's best symphony orchestras. Muti's coming to Chicago to lead the CSO demonstrates that this symphony continues to attract the best talent.
Ricardo Muti, CSO a potent combination New conductor brings energy, experience
By John von Rhein Tribune critic
May 11, 2008
I wouldn't blame the orchestra players for gloating up a storm right now.
With last week's announcement that Riccardo Muti will become the next music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra finds itself the envy of the symphonic world.
To make the coup even bigger, the CSO stole the brilliant and charismatic Italian maestro right out from under the New York Philharmonic, which has been unable to secure formal commitments from him, despite offering him the music directorship at least once. Muti's current guest conducting arrangement with that orchestra will cease when he begins his five-year tenure here in 2010-11.
Muti is too diplomatic to say so, of course, but the reasons he chose
Chicagoover New Yorkseem implicitly clear: Chicagohas the better orchestra; management promised him conditions he couldn't find in ; and he faces nothing here like the podium competition he would encounter on the East Coast. New York
What A-list senior conductor in the Indian summer of a distinguished career—Muti is a vibrant 66—would not wish to set down roots here? It's the Chicago Symphony, after all.
It has not taken long for the bloggers to weigh in. There are worries that Muti's repertoire may be too conservative. The New Yorker's Alex Ross questions the "jet-set celebrity conductor" mind-set that supposedly brought Muti here, while the San Francisco Chronicle's Joshua Kosman worries that the CSO may be trading long-term security for a "short-term payoff."
If you look at Muti's programming with the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he was music director from 1980 to 1992, you'll see he conducted a fair amount of new music in many styles—including Chicago's Ralph Shapey and Shulamit Ran, Gyorgy Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Bernard Rands, William Bolcom, Christopher Rouse, Richard Wernick and Vincent Persichetti. There is no reason to assume Muti will be any less adventuresome with the CSO. He already has commissions in mind.
The CSO did not hire just a marquee name, but a marquee name who is also a superb musician and strong orchestra builder and who seems to be fully committed to the institution, the city and the community.
I don't recall anyone raising the slightest objection when the CSO hired Georg Solti—another "jet-set celebrity conductor," if you will—to take over the CSO in 1969.
In these perilous economic times, an orchestra that only recently extricated itself from years of serious deficits and is slowly reversing the audience erosion that occurred after 2001 has to ask: Which world-class conductor has the best shot at ensuring long-term solvency and artistic pre-eminence? In both respects Muti was the best, perhaps only, choice for the Chicago Symphony.
Both the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic recently hitched their fortunes to talented but relatively untested young music directors, Alan Gilbert and Gustavo Dudamel respectively. It's a high-risk gamble. Each podium dervish could carry his orchestra to new heights and stir new excitement among the public; or each could crash and burn, taking his orchestra with him.
The Chicago Symphony is not a gambling orchestra. It chose age and experience over youth and flash. The modus operandi has proved spectacularly successful for the orchestra over the years. Why change now?
Beyond Solti's historic achievements in
, look at all the good things Bernard Haitink, 79, and Pierre Boulez, 83, are doing in their capacity as the CSO's interim leadership team. The challenges Muti will face at the CSO will be made easier by the strong impression he has made with the musicians, public and press after only a month of concerts last September at Orchestra Hall and on the orchestra's European tour. Chicago
Already he has developed a productive working relationship with CSO association president Deborah R. Card and the rest of the staff.
"Right now I am full of enthusiasm," the music director-designate said last week, viewing his appointment in the context of his long career. "I feel like a marathon runner does when he nears the finish line. You run with even more energy because you are happy about the victory."
Clearly the management and board are looking to Muti to do for the Chicago Symphony what Michael Jordan did for the Bulls during the 1990s—pull in more people who would not ordinarily be interested in the "sport" and make them a permanent part of the crowd that cheers the home team to glory.
That's a tall order, but Muti says he is willing to proselytize for classical music within the community and engage with potential donors and new audience members. This immediately sets him apart from his elitist predecessor, Daniel Barenboim, who shunned responsibilities that did not relate specifically to the music.
"I believe an orchestra exists for everybody in the community, not just for the people who can afford to give money and buy tickets," said Muti.
"A music director also has to work with the sponsors to convince them the money they give to support the arts, music in particular, is something that serves the community," he added. "I am prepared to go everywhere to make people aware of the importance of music, to prepare for the next generation."
Muti's contract with the orchestra association calls for him to spend a minimum of 10 weeks a season with the CSO, at home and on tour. That is par for the course for today's jet-propelled international conductors. Those who believe it's too short a residency should remember it is about the same number of weeks Barenboim gave
for most of his 15-year tenure. Whether we like it or not, the days of the live-in music director are over. (Muti says he and his wife, Christina, will be living out of Chicago hotels, at least for the time being, because, as he jokes, he can't even boil an egg for himself.) Chicago
An extremely focused musician who's known for the energy and concentration he brings to each musical project, Muti may be counted on to make maximum use of his weeks here. "For me," he said, "to be a music director means to be involved deeply in the life of an institution, not just to be the sort of conductor that conducts more weeks than others."
His 19 seasons as music director of Milan's famed Teatro alla Scala found him taking charge of many aspects of the operation of that historic opera house, just as his 12-year tenure as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra saw him stumping for funds and campaigning for the creation of the new concert facility that eventually became Verizon Hall.
Muti gained the reputation for being arrogant following his departure from La Scala in 2005, in a testy imbroglio involving members of the orchestra and other workers in the theater. Even so, I have yet to hear any
musician voice the complaint that Muti is arrogant. To adhere to high standards and to expect those around you to adhere to them too is not the same as being arrogant or dictatorial, CSO members point out. Chicago
"The orchestra has adapted to Muti's musicmaking style with complete ease, and each concert [registers] a greater mutual understanding between us," said CSO assistant principal oboist Michael Henoch, a member of the search committee that enthusiastically recommended the board engage Muti.
Along with his experience as one of the world's great operatic conductors, Muti will bring a wide symphonic repertoire to
, as his voluminous discography proves. Chicago
He has recorded complete cycles of the Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky symphonies, with notable success. He conducts a great deal of Haydn, Mozart, Bruckner and other German and Austrian works central to the CSO's repertoire, even if Mahler has claimed his attention only selectively. No living conductor has done more to bring the broad range of Italian music to audiences, from Giovanni Pergolesi to Berio. He should fit fine into the orchestra's musical tradition.
We can expect him to bring concert opera back to Orchestra Hall, just as he did in
. His 20th Century repertoire is wider than commonly believed. He has championed the music of Hindemith, Dallapiccola, Petrassi, Ligeti, Britten and Shostakovich to wide acclaim. His taste in contemporary music is a good deal more inclusive than Barenboim's. Also, as one blogger who had been disgruntled with Barenboim's programming observes, Muti doesn't do Elliott Carter. Philadelphia
Muti is famed as a strict-constructionist conductor who gives you the score and nothing but the score. As with all such generalities, that is far from the whole story. While he is well known for preventing the singers with whom he works from inserting unwritten notes into certain arias, the maestro is by no means pedantic about doing everything come scritto (as written). Flexibility is key to his approach.
Man of culture
So exacting is his ear for orchestral sonority that you are unlikely to mistake his Debussy for his Wagner. The jury is still out about his Mozart. The Muti performances I have heard have tended to overly prettify Mozart in a romantic style Orchestra Hall heard rather too much of under Daniel Barenboim.
A man of wide culture, Muti advises musicians and audience members wishing to better understand the meaning of a given piece of music to consider it in the context of contemporaneous art works—a mass by the Italian composer Luigi Cherubini alongside the sculptures of neoclassical Italian sculptor Antonio Canova, for example.
Given his ear for clean-lined objectivity in performance, he has sometimes been likened to Arturo Toscanini, a great predecessor at La Scala. That may be true for certain performances of certain pieces, but Muti, in the last analysis, is his own man.
And he is a masterful architect of orchestral sound and structure.
It was clear from his CSO performances of Scriabin, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky last September that he can pull from this orchestra nuances of sonority, line, phrasing and articulation that it did not know it possessed while making something viscerally exciting of the whole.
Based on everything I know about how Muti and the CSO function together, I predict some spectacular concerts are in the offing. I believe the maestro and his musicians are going to be very, very good for each other over the long haul. And together they will be very, very good for the city and its standing in the cultural world.
Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Killing Her Softly
Hillary Clinton and the contradictions of the West.
By Mark Steyn
‘Someone wins, someone doesn’t win, that’s life,” Nancy Kopp, Maryland’s treasurer, told the Washington Post. “But women don’t want to be totally dissed.” She was talking about her political candidate, Hillary Clinton. Democratic women are feeling metaphorically battered by the Obama campaign. “Healing The Wounds Of Democrats’ Sexism,” as the Boston Globe
headline put it, will not be easy. Geraldine Ferraro is among many prominent Democrat ladies putting up their own money for a study from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard to determine whether Senator Clinton’s presidential hopes fell victim to party and media sexism. How else to explain why their gal got clobbered by a pretty boy with a resume you could print on the back of his driver’s license, a Rolodex apparently limited to neo-segregationist racebaiters, campus Marxist terrorists and indicted fraudsters, and a rhetorical surefootedness that makes Dan Quayle look like Socrates. “On this Memorial Day,” said Barack Obama last Monday, “as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today…”
Hey, why not? In Obama’s Cook County, Illinois, many fallen heroes from the Spanish-American War still show up in the voting booths come November. It’s not unreasonable for some of them to turn up at an Obama campaign rally, too.
But what of the fallen heroine? If it’s any consolation to Senator Clinton, she’s not the only female to find that social progress is strangely accommodating of old-time sexism. There was a front-page story in London last week about a British Indian couple in Birmingham — she’s 59, he’s 72 — who’d had twins through in vitro fertilization and then abandoned the babies at the hospital when they turned out to be daughters, announcing their plans to fly back to India for another round of IVF in hopes of getting a boy. In the wake of the media uproar, the parents now claim something got “lost in translation” and have been back to the hospital to visit the wee bairns. But think of mom and dad as the Democratic party and the abandoned daughters as Hillary, and it all makes sense.
There’s a lot of that about. Sex-selective abortion is a fact of life in India, where the gender ratio has declined to 1,000 boys to 900 girls nationally, and as low as 1,000 boys to 300 girls in some Punjabi cities. In China, the state-enforced “one child” policy has brought about the most gender-distorted demographic cohort in global history, the so-called guang gun — “bare branches.” If you can only have one kid, parents choose to abort girls and wait for a boy, to the point where in the first generation to grow to adulthood under this policy there are 119 boys for every 100 girls. In practice, a “woman’s right to choose” turns out to mean the right to choose not to have any women.
And what of the Western world? Between 2000 and 2005, Indian women in England and Wales gave birth to 114 boys for every 100 girls. A similar pattern seems to be emerging among Chinese, Korean, and Indian communities in America. “The sex of a firstborn child in these families conformed to the natural pattern of 1.05 boys to every girl, a pattern that continued for other children when the firstborn was a boy,” wrote Colleen Carroll Campbell in the St Louis Post-Dispatch the other day. “But if the firstborn child was a girl, the likelihood of a boy coming next was considerably higher than normal at 1.17-to-1. After two girls, the probability of a boy's birth rose to a decidedly unnatural 1.51-to-1.”
By midcentury, when today’s millions of surplus boys will be entering middle age, India and China are expected to account for a combined 50 percent of global GDP. On present trends, they will be the most male-heavy societies that have ever existed. As I wrote in my book America Alone, unless China’s planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, what’s going to happen to all those excess men? As a general rule, large numbers of excitable lads who can’t get any action are not a recipe for societal stability. Unless the Japanese have invented amazingly lifelike sex robots by then (think Austin Powers’s “fembots”), we’re likely to be in a planet-wide rape epidemic and a world of globalized industrial-scale sex slavery. And what of the Western world? Canada and Europe are in steep demographic decline and dependent on immigration to sustain their populations. And — as those Anglo-Welsh statistics suggest — many of the available immigrants are already from male-dominated cultures and will eventually be male-dominated numbers-wise, too: circa 2020, the personal ads in the Shanghai classifieds seeking SWF with good sense of humor will be defining “must live locally” as any zipcode this side of Mars.
Smaller families may mean just a boy or a girl for liberal Democrats, but in other societies it means just a boy. The Indian writer Gita Aravamudan calls this the “female feticide.” Colleen Carroll Campbell writes that abortion, “touted as the key to liberating future generations of women,” has become instead “the preferred means of eradicating them”. And, while it won’t eradicate all of them, Philip Longman, a demographer of impeccably liberal credentials, put the future in a nutshell in the title of his essay: “The Return Of Patriarchy.”
Enlightened progressives take it for granted that social progress is like technological progress — that women’s rights are like the internal combustion engine or the jet aeroplane: once invented they can’t be uninvented. But that’s a careless assumption. There was a small, nothing story out of Toronto this week — the York University Federation of Students wants a campus-wide ban on any pro-life student clubs. Henceforth, students would be permitted to debate abortion only “within a pro-choice realm”, as the vice-president Gilary Massa put it. Nothing unusual there. A distressing number of student groups are inimical to free speech these days. But then I saw a picture of the gung-ho abortion absolutist: Gilary Massa is a young Muslim woman covered in a hijab.
On such internal contradictions is the future being built. By “The Return Of Patriarchy,” Philip Longman doesn’t mean 1950s sitcom dads. No doubt Western feminists will be relieved to hear that.
© 2008 Mark Steyn
What is it about liberals that they find it so abhorrent that they should have to defend their views in the marketplace of ideas?
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