Monday, May 28, 2007

Patriotic Paul

Thus speaks the last great hope, Ron Paul.

The war mentality and the pervasive fear of an unidentified enemy allows for a steady erosion of our liberties, and, with this, our respect for self-reliance and confidence is lost. Just think of the self-sacrifice and the humiliation we go through at the airport screening process on a routine basis. Though there is no scientific evidence of any likelihood of liquids and gels being mixed on an airplane to make a bomb, billions of dollars are wasted throwing away toothpaste and hair spray, and searching old women in wheelchairs.

Our enemies say boo, and we jump, we panic, and then we punish ourselves. We are worse than a child being afraid of the dark. But in a way, the fear of indefinable terrorism is based on our inability to admit the truth about why there is a desire by a small number of angry radical Islamists to kill Americans. It is certainly not because they are jealous of our wealth and freedoms...

Now, martial law can be declared not just for insurrection, but also for natural disasters, public health reasons, terrorist attacks or incidents, or for the vague reason called "other conditions.'' The President can call up the National Guard without congressional approval or the Governors' approval, and even send these State Guard troops into other States.

The American Republic is in remnant status. The stage is set for our country eventually devolving into a military dictatorship, and few seem to care. These precedent-setting changes in the law are extremely dangerous and will change American jurisprudence forever if not revised. The beneficial results of our revolt against the King's abuses are about to be eliminated, and few Members of Congress and few Americans are aware of the seriousness of the situation. Complacency and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our elected leaders. Sadly, though, those few who do object to this self-evident trend away from personal liberty and empire-building overseas are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.

There's much more in the essay, and the entire thing is very much worth reading. Vox Day remarks: "Ron Paul is not only the last chance for Republicans in 2008, he may well be the last hope of the Republic."

It certainly seems that way. The GOP ingloriously shoved Buchanan out of the way for one Bob Dole in '96. Predictably he lost. The party has a chance to do the right thing with Paul for '08. That they will not do so is almost certain, but the Republic has at least this last slim hope.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rush and Paul

I have to admit to feeling a bit hopeful about Ron Paul's chances. This is terribly irrational; but hope usually is. As anyone who actually watched the debate knows, Paul got the better half of Rudy Giuliani. This shouldn't be unexpected; Ron Paul is an intelligent and principled man while Rudy's only qualification for President is that he is so out of his league that, like Bush, he will be very easy to manipulate. As Ron Paul pointed out, Paul's supposedly controversial statements were backed by the 9/11 Commission Report. We can't blame Rudy for calling such statements "absurd" since the man is incapable of reading.

But if it wasn't a surprise to this Paul supporter that my boy would put the smackdown on Rudy, it must have been less than expected for those whose first impressions of the Congressman from Texas were formed during the recent debate. In fact, FoxNews viewers gave Paul the win in the debate with 30% of the vote. Impressive for a candidate who is supposedly unelectable.

Which brings me to El Rushbo. WND reports:

[A] caller urged Rush to throw his support behind Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, as the caller claimed Paul was the most conservative of the field of candidates.

"I don't think Congressman Paul has a snowball's chance," Limbaugh said.

"You have the power yourself to make him the Republican nominee," the caller responded.

"That is very true, and that is why I must exercise this power responsibly, not as a cheerleader," said Limbaugh, "which is why I'm not picking a name right now. I alone have the power to move the [Republican] base."

It's sad to me to see Rush fall so far. I'm not sure if he still has the power to move the Republican base. For all I know he might. But if he possesses the power and refuses to use it, shame on him. Rush knows that Rudy McRomney is unacceptable to conservatives. And he should also know that the big three are completely unelectable. I've listened to Rush enough to know that he believes in the power of conservatism--certainly he professes as much. Ron Paul is a conservative candidate. He's the most conservative candidate in the race. The obvious move, on Rush's part, is to point this out. If Rush can control the base, he can get Paul the nomination. Conservatives should ask themselves who they would rather run against Hillary, Ron Paul or one of the incarnations of Rudy McRomney. Watching Hillary squirm as Paul asks her to explain her position on the War in Iraq would be delightful.

Ron Paul doesn't have the money to stay in the race for much longer, unless he gets some serious backing, and soon. Rush could provide that backing. There's no harm in trying. If Ron Paul fades into obscurity we can still pretend to get fired up for the eventual nominee. But if Rush sits this one out we will have reached the low point in American conservatism.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Churchill Speaks

While reading an abridged version of The Last Lion's memoirs, I noticed this:

Their [the American's] national psychology is such that the bigger the Idea the more wholeheartedly and obstinately do they throw themselves into making it a success. It is an admirable characteristic, provided the Idea is good.

It is always fascinating to study foreigner's observations of one's native land. De Tocqueville is obviously the piece de resistance in regards to Americans, but Churchill makes a good point here. I'll allow the reader to furnish the specific Idea for himself.

When I finally finish these memoirs I'm thinking of taking up Paul Johnson's A History of the American People. Should I do so I will attempt to highlight some of the more luminous passages.
But now it's back to Burma.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Top 25

Vox directs me to OC's ranting room:

Which are the 25 books that someone should read by the age of 25 in order to be considered properly literate?

Here goes:

1. The Bible
2. The Iliad - Homer
3. The Odyssey - Homer
4. The Aeneid - Virgil
5. The Metamorphoses - Ovid

6. The Divine Comedy - Dante
7. Crime and Punishment - Dostoevsky
8. Orthodoxy - Chesterton
9. City of God - Augustine
10. Confessions - Augustine

11. The Compendium to Philosophy - Aquinas (This was the shorter summa that he was working on before he died; hence it is incomplete, but at least it's not six volumes)
12. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Gibbon (An abridgment is sufficient here, again to avoid six volumes)
13. The Once and Future King - White
14. 1984 - Orwell
15. Brave New World - Huxley

16. The Last Days of Socrates - Plato
17. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - Joyce
18. Theban Plays - Sophocles
19. Complete Works - Shakespeare (You probably don't need to read them all, but certainly more than the over-rated Romeo and Juliet)
20. Wise Blood - Flannery O'Connor

21. The Seven Storey Mountain - Merton
22. Brideshead Revisited - Waugh
23. The Ethics - Aristotle
24. Democracy in America - de Tocqueville
25. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

I don't like to post things on my own blog which rightfully belong elsewhere, but this is an exercise which should be revisited every so often. My list is lacking Dumas, Eliot, Faulkner, Aurelius, and probably some other authors who deserve to be on the list.

I'll add that I tried to include only books which I have actually read. Exceptions include Aristotle's Ethics--my copy disappeared when I recently moved--Shakespeare's Complete Works, which I own, but am sluggishly working my way through, and both The Aeneid and The Metamorphoses; I own both but have yet to open either.

What books should I take off my list? Which books did I completely miss?

UPDATE: Ugh! I missed The Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer of course. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


In which my boy, Ron Paul, makes New York's former mayor awfully angry.

Giuliani unloaded both barrels at Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a fringe Republican White House hopeful with little support, who said, "Have you ever read about the reason they attacked us? They attacked us because we've been over there."

Notice the condescension to the most intelligent candidate in the race. It may be true that he has little support; certainly the cretins who watch Fox News don't support him. But describing Paul as a fringe candidate is, I think, a bit unfair. While the media continues to look for Ronald Reagan 2.0, they will continue to overlook the only candidate with Reagan-esque credentials. Simply put, Ron Paul, like Ronald Reagan, is a principled conservative. The other candidates are not.

"We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years," Paul went on. "I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us."

Naturally this remark drew ire from Big Bad Rudy. After all, we're at war with Islamofascists (or Islamonazis, which is just as stupid a term; or Islamocommunists, which is at least my own stupid term) who use Terrorism because they hate our Freedom. Aside from allowing me to capitalize most of my words, this means we do not negotiate with the Terrorists because you cannot negotiate with Terrorists. Thus, when we confront a nation of Terrorists, we must Bomb The Hell Out Of Them--okay, enough with the capital letters. Just how this fits into winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people is unclear.

And naturally I agree, to a large extent, with Mr. Paul. Buchanan has made this point virtually from day one and I have yet to hear anyone adequately debunk his theory. Indeed, I heard Dinesh D'Souza defend Buchanan's thesis on the radio the other day, though Mr. D'Souza tends to emphasize the negative impact of the cultural left (Hollywood) in comparison to the imperialistic policies whereof Ron Paul speaks. Both undoubtedly played a role in generating 9/11. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, or so Newtonian physics tells me. If the reaction that was 9/11 was in opposition to our freedom, it is strange that it would have occurred in an era when our freedom was relatively slight, historically speaking. One wonders, for instance, where the Islamocommunists were during the era of laissez-faire capitalism and big business. Rejecting the conventional hypothesis begs that examine that of Mr. Paul. Of course Rudy doesn't do this.

"That was an extraordinary statement, as someone who has lived through the attacks of Sept. 11th, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq," an indignant Giuliani responded.

"I don't think I've ever heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11th.

Evidently Giuiliani has never read a Buchanan column. Now, disagreeing with Buchanan isn't automatic grounds for removing one from consideration for the GOP nomination, but knowledge of Buchanan's thoughts almost should be. In all honesty I can't think of a more reliable classical conservative than Mr. Buchanan, and the fact that Rudy has never heard, or pretended to be unaware, of some of Buchanan's reoccurring thoughts is utterly ridiculous. Evidently Rudy was too busy being America's mayor to bother with reading a simple column. I remind the reader that it was Carter, and not Reagan who was a workaholic.

"I'd ask the congressman to withdraw the statement and say he wasn't serious," Giuliani added to rousing applause - the loudest of the night - at the debate sponsored by Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party.

Some day I should write a column discussing the role of fear in politics, especially in regards to modern-day "conservatives". It has become increasingly clear that the War on Terror (sorry) is a more important issue to many of the GOP rank and file than I feel it ought to be. There are other issues, to be sure, such as illegal immigration, but even that can be boiled down, far too often, into a matter of fearing those who are different from oneself. It can also be opposed on more principled grounds, which is what I attempt to do, but the role of fear in regards to the war leads me to believe that it too is to blame for the anxiety about illegal immigration.

The Republicans who cheered Giuliani are not fit to untie the sandals of Ronald Reagan. Nor are they worthy of Ron Paul. I almost said that such pathetic people aren't fit for the ire of the terrorists either. But then, how do you negotiate with people who refuse to consider that bombing Iraq might make the Iraqi people mad?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Commercials as Superior Entertainment

I loathe, loathe, loathe television. It is the preferred medium of ignoramuses, and can seldom be delighted in save as spectacle. That said, there is certainly a discrepancy between television which is vacuous and immoral, and that which has a semblance of higher thought coupled with a subtle morality which is not detrimental to the well-being of the viewer save in excessive doses. ABC is set to release a sit-com which serves to ruin my casually constructed dualistic system causing me to develop another.

ABC on Tuesday announced plans for 12 new television shows next season, including a spinoff of its hit hospital drama "Grey's Anatomy" and a caveman comedy based on the popular Geico insurance commercials...

The network even picked up a comedy called "Cavemen," adapted from the Geico commercials as an offbeat commentary on ethnic prejudice from the perspective of three prehistoric guys trying to make their way in the modern world.

As much as I loathe, loathe loathe television, my disgust is easily doubled for commercials. Geico's ads are mildly amusing, especially in comparison to other advertisements, but they are still ads. For those of you who watch too much television, this means that Geico is messing with your mind to compel you to purchase their product. Rather than simply mention what the product is and what it does, they use humor and other nefariously employed devices to increase sales. Oh Blessed Corporatism. The Almighty Dollar be praised!

And now we, as a culture, must endure a television show who owes its existence to a thirty-second commercial. The truly sad thing is that this show may very well succeed, and that granting that humans will continue to allow their minds to rot in front of the lobotomy box, it may very well deserve to do so. I don't really know what passes for comedy these days, but I can't help but suspect that the Cavemen will be just as funny than their competition--if not more so.

I greatly look forward to next year when the Budweiser frogs will make their triumphant return in a situation comedy of their own. Just kidding. Maybe.

Writing... for God?

Mornings and I don't get along terribly well, so after hitting the snooze a couple of times I usually grab a book with the hope that if my brain wakes up, so too will my body. Occasionally it even works.

Having been greatly impressed with The Seven Storey Mountain, I was delighted to learn that Thomas Merton has written many other books. I'm currently reading his New Seeds of Contemplation. Therein he writes:

If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never write anything that can be read. If you want help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn. (p. 105)

If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them to joy.
If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world for a little while.
If you write only for yourself you can read what you have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you wish you were dead. (p. 111)

As to the first excerpt, I can only humbly assert that I have had no trouble making up my mind to write things which men will condemn. Merton does not say that one has done poorly if the only reaction is condemnation, so I count myself vindicated on this first point.

As to the second, I have long held that I write these things for myself, not in the sense that I alone draw satisfaction from them, but in the sense that having anyone read these musings of mine is a blessing over and above what I would expect, namely that no one would read them. In this sense, then, perhaps I am writing for God; insofar as I am a talented writer it is because of His grace, and insofar as my thoughts grasp at He Who is Truth I cannot in fairness credit myself.

Now, writing for God is a bit of a strange concept. I would never, I hope, be so vain as to expect that these poor words are worthy enough to be looked favorably upon by God. St. Thomas Aquinas famously intoned near the end of his life that after his vision of God, he could only conclude that everything he had written was as "straw" in comparison. And as anyone who has even casually visited the Summa can attest, if Aquinas wrote straw, I can only hope that some day I may write dust.

No matter what we write, no matter what we do, it will always be as straw compared with the glory of the Lord. But this does not give us permission to bury our talents in the ground. Instead, we must use what we have to further His kingdom with the understanding that though by all accounts God should count our works as nothing, He nonetheless looks favorably upon His children. It is a fact justifiable only by faith, but as Reese Roper once observed, just as a mother smiles upon her son's gifts of dandelions, God sees flowers in our offerings of weeds.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lessons From the Crusades

I still have one more week until I start my summer internship. Of course I've been using my brief vacation to shove as much information into my cranium as possible; I finally finished Sexual Personae, which took me literally months to read.

In its stead I have picked up, among other things, Paul Johnson's A History of Christianity. I am enjoying it immensely, and have found some of his insight into the crusades to be prescient given our attempts to bring Democracy to the Iraqi people. Let the reader judge if any of this sounds familiar:

There was never, at any stage, a mass-demand from the Christians under Moslem rule to be 'liberated'. (p. 243)

When Tripoli fell to them, in 1109, the Genoese sailors destroyed the Banu Ammar library, the finest in the Moslem world. In general, the effect of the crusades was to undermine the intellectual content of Islam, to destroy the chances of peaceful adjustment to Christianity, and to make Moslems far less tolerant: crusading fossilized Islam into a fanatic posture. (p. 246)

History tends to repeat itself. The Iraqis didn't clamor for liberation either. Nor will they be likely to get it. And if the crusades "fossilized Islam into a fanatic posture" which has lasted for almost one thousand years it is anyone's guess what the ramifications of the latest crusade will be. True, American troops have not, as yet, burned any libraries, but I think it unlikely that the bombing of Iraqi villages will serve to placate radical Muslims. It is worth noting, too, that the crusades ultimately failed. True, Jerusalem was held for most of a century, but it is no longer in Christian hands.

The crusades were undertaken, ostensibly, for the greater good of Christianity. That they provided a convenient way for the clerics to dismiss the ever-growing mobs of peasants is part of the story, but the impetus for the crusades was not identical to their actual goal. And again I note that if warring on infidels in the name of religion was, at the very least, of dubious moral value, it is far truer to hold little esteem for those who war, not in the name of Christ Jesus crucified, but in that of Democracy.

I do not think either the past crusades nor those of the present were morally defensible, but the recent ones are completely off in their object. A man might live and die for Christ--he may even kill, rightly or wrongly, for Him. The point being that belief in Christ is quite literally a life and death matter. But that such drastic measures would be taken on the account of a form of government which has proven itself to be less than magnanimous is a mite ridiculous and further evidence of the bizarre nature of modern man and his asinine adventures which he is wont to wage.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Smoking Gets an R for Repugnance

The MPAA demonstrates why they're better anti-smoking fascists than anyone else. So put out that butt or face their wrath.

Would "Casablanca" have been rated XXX?

Depictions of smoking in movies will now be a factor when deciding what a film's rating will be, possibly making a PG-13 movie R-rated, the Motion Picture Association of America said yesterday. The policy affects only new movies.

Along with violence, depictions of sex, adult language and other content considerations, ratings organizations will examine new releases to determine if they glamorize smoking or if it is pervasive through the films, even among adults. Underage smoking has always been considered when rating a film.

It's going to be nice explaining to children, decades hence, just what Humphrey Bogart is doing with his hands in some of his films. "Once upon a time, Americans could smoke small amounts of tobacco. Then we discovered that it was addicting and that excessive usage over long periods of time could lead to adverse health affects. Naturally we had to ban it, though as long as we're still fighting for Freedom around the world I don't mind."

The undercurrent of American puritanism is annoying. It is especially so when it is severed from the only part of it which could be called reasonably good, namely the slight connection it had with Jesus Christ. But it is usually the worst parts of heresies which linger--like secondhand smoke, which is not nearly as dangerous as misguided thought.

When the Inquisitors, whose reputation for evil is severely over-stated, attempted to stamp out heresy, they were at least doing so with the hope of saving souls. Whether or not they were doing so, and whether or not they proceeded in the best manner can be debated. But the new Inquisitors are seeking to save, not man's soul, but merely his lungs. Even supposing that they succeed, it does little good if his soul goes to pot. I seem to recall certain divine words: "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"

As soon as the MPAA recognizes the soul, I shall pay a bit of attention. Until then, I'll do my best to seek out old films, filled with the ignoble immorality of smoking. Pray, don't tell.

Cheney Rattles Saber

Emerging, briefly, from his secret bunker, the Vice President had strong words to say to one of the members in the Axis of Evil.

US Vice President Dick Cheney warned Friday from the hangar deck of a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf that the United States will not let Iran get nuclear weapons.

"We'll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region," he told thousands of sailors on the nuclear-powered USS John C. Stennis as it cruised roughly 240 kilometres (150 miles) from Iran.

There is a bit of advice which runs: never fight an ugly man; he has nothing to lose. And while the physical attributes of the Vice President and his lap-dog, our President, are not for me to comment on, the conventional wisdom can apply allegorically to the dynamic duo. The approval rating for Bush has never been lower; thus he is the ugly man who one should not fight.

Attacking Iran is immoral and stupid of course, but so was invading Iraq. And while adding a third country will no doubt spread our troops even thinner than before, I do not see the engagement taking the form of army invasion. More likely we will simply use the Air Force to bomb Iran, which, though it will be less than efficacious, will give all appearances of being so.

The only reasons for avoiding a confrontation with Iran are moral, which has already been dismissed, or practical: it may not be in the best interest of Bush and Cheney to involve ourselves more fully with Iran. In some sense the dreaded neo-cons are right: we are already fighting Iranians in Iraq, though this is not quite the same as declaring war on the country itself.

Perhaps I should say the best interest of the Republican party. But this presupposes that Bush and Cheney operate with that interest, and not their own in mind, a dubious prospect--at best. Following Buchanan, I have made predictions of possible involvement with Iran for some time now, but I shall not rest easy until Bush leaves office. Of course, then we'll have Hillary to deal with. Maybe it's time to start thinking about expatriating again.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bush: Too Dumb to Not Know

A strange assertion, to say the least:

Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure.

The Democrats continue to amaze me. Bush is either a nincompoop who has been surreptitiously controlled by various figures from behind the scenes; alternatively, he is an evil man who knows very well what he is doing and only pretends to be inept so as to hide his efficiency. But if the latter is true than Bush cannot be maligned for being an idiot. The hatred of Bush, something I have little understood, continues to manifest itself in ridiculous ways.

On the other hand, Camille Paglia is a liberal who nonetheless avoids falling into senseless contradiction at every step of the way.

Bush seems increasingly passive and hemmed in. We get sporadic declarations of stirring resolution, followed by long, vague periods of desultory indifference, as the dead and severely wounded are shipped undercover stateside. Bush's utter inability to project steady, consistent day-to-day leadership on Iraq certainly betrays his lack of control of this mission from the start.

I find baffling and off-putting the obsession of so many of my fellow Democrats with political strategist Karl Rove (a peripheral blob and dirty trickster), insofar as it takes focus off the real center of gravity in this administration -- Dick Cheney, who has cynically used the vice presidency to govern by proxy. For all its dislike of Cheney, the liberal press seems unable to lay a glove on him. He's like an enigma imploding into a black hole. But history will surely show that moral responsibility for the Iraq debacle belongs principally to Cheney.

It's a fascinating theory, and one I find myself agreeing with more and more as my cynicism continues to grow, almost unabated. I have long empathized with those who take a conspiratorial approach to their understanding of history. One need be careful to not tread too far into the conspiratorial abyss, but on semi-frequent occasions the acceptable explanation isn't accurate. It will be interesting, for instance, to see how historians, some decades hence, explain, without mentioning the conspiratorial, how we ended up with Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton in a republican nation of 300 million.

Bush may be stupid, but those who do not even see that the whole system in which they take part may be a scam are far less intelligent than even he.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Reason the Market Doesn't Work partially because we never even pretend to let it.

A service station that offered discounted gas to senior citizens and people supporting youth sports has been ordered by the state to raise its prices.

Center City BP owner Raj Bhandari has been offering senior citizens a 2 cent per gallon price break and discount cards that let sports boosters pay 3 cents less per gallon.

But the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says those deals violate Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act, which requires stations to sell gas for about 9.2 percent more than the wholesale price.

I'm no Ayn Rand, understand, so my faith in markets has more to do with a lack of a viable alternative given my tremendous distrust in government than a belief in the goodness of selfish humans. Still, it's idiotic to pretend that the United States is a capitalistic society when, in reality, we are only some awful Socialistic hybrid, something akin to what Hilaire Belloc called the Servile State.

Naturally we'll need the government to step in to reduce the price of gas because the market obviously can't solve the problem. This is a standard ploy, and one people will always fall for since most regulations are hidden. Try to keep this one firmly in mind next time a Congress-critter tries to introduce legislation to solve a problem which the market was prevented from addressing in the first place.


Does anyone still take the Magic Negro seriously?

Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died.

The death toll was 12.

"In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died—an entire town destroyed," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser.

Look, this isn't the end of the world. I've made similar gaffes, in written form no less. But I'm not running for President. I don't think Obama should be either.

Hillary is going to tear this boy to shreds.

Church Millitant?

Okay, not quite, but the Pope comes down hard on Catholic pro-choice politicians:

Pope Benedict on Wednesday warned Catholic politicians they risked excommunication from the Church and should not receive communion if they support abortion.

About time I say. Tertullian is finally easing up on the rolling in his grave.

I'd like to see the Pope come down on those politicians who supported an interventionist War in Iraq as well, but these things take time.

The Catholic Church in America is quite weak at the moment. Some seventy percent of Catholics between the ages of 20 and 44 don't believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and an appalling 86% of all Catholics have no moral qualms with Birth Control. Some fault lies with the people, no doubt, but the hierarchy has done a tremendously inadequate job of informing lay people about their faith. It's unfortunate that the Bishops in America are so cowardly that it takes the Bishop in Rome to set a fairly obvious example, but that's one reason why we have a Pope.

The Beautiful Big Three

Kathleen Parker confirms my suspicions...

There's a vacuum in the GOP, we keep hearing, and Republicans aren't quite satisfied with their presidential choices.

Then attempts to dismiss them:

The truth is, the Republican Party has one of its strongest lineups ever. Yet one would think from polls showing that a third of Republicans are dissatisfied with their choices that they were stuck with a roster of has-beens and also-rans. Spoiled and well fed, they're the party of Goldilocks in search of the perfect porridge.

The top three among those who have declared their candidacies -- Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney -- are nobody's leftovers. Or anyone's audience. They're all leading men who belong to the thinly populated genre of sui generis -- one of a kind.

She then goes on to describe just how amazing Rudy McRomney is. The only problem, and it's a big one, is that the rank and file of the Republican party don't buy it. And it's not because Rudy McRomney hasn't got his message out. Please. Those of us who actually follow politics fairly closely are suffocating from all the coverage. Most of us were sick of the big three from day one. We know that Giuiliani held New York together--whatever that means; we know that Romney is handsome--again, whatever--and a good businessman; we know that McCain was a prisoner of war--which is laudable I suppose, but really beside the point.

The problem is that none of this has anything to do with being a conservative. Simply put, we don't trust those boys. And words from a writer's pen, however fine, will not change this in the slightest.

The way democracy is suppose to work--properly speaking, it isn't, but if it were intended to--I think, is that the people have the power. In our bastardized republican form, that means that the people get to have some say in the candidates who will eventually make their decisions for us. The Republican people have spoken. We want new candidates. If the GOP even wants to contend for the crown in '08 they had better start listening to their constituents.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Speaking of Things Unelectable

Fred Thompson was a nice distraction, while he lasted.

He checked the box for: "Abortions should be legal in all circumstances as long as the procedure is completed within the first trimester of the pregnancy." He did, however, support a number of restrictions on abortion: requiring parental notification, allowing states to impose waiting periods, and eliminating all federal funding of abortion. Lastly, he said Congress should leave legislation on abortion to the states.

In fairness to Fred, he's not yet announced that he is running, which proves, if nothing else, that he's somewhat savvy politically speaking. I fully expect Fred to continue to postpone his announcement until he eventually drops the notion all together. Fred was never considered a serious candidate; he was a merely a distraction from Rudy McRomney, for whom the base holds so little esteem. Fred filled the conservative void, but only for a time. The vacuum has emerged again, and it must again be filled.

I lack the political savior faire to suggest a candidate, but he will emerge within the next several weeks. Having flouted unpopular pro-choicers, pardon the redundancy, I would be very surprised if the party can't find even one pro-life candidate. Remember, it's not important that the candidate do anything about abortion, even assuming he wins; it is, however, necessary that he is against abortion and that the pro-life base knows this and trusts him.

UPDATE: How about Tommy Thompson? Just a thought.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rudy Unelectable

This sounds awfully like a nail in a coffin:

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in his campaign appearances this year has stated that he personally abhors abortion, even though he supports keeping a legal right to choose. But records show that in the '90s he contributed money at least six times to Planned Parenthood, one of the country's leading abortion rights groups and its top provider of abortions.

Pro-lifers are generally nice folks, if somewhat naive. They will vote for the Republican stooge who says that he is pro-life and will foolishly believe him when he asserts that nothing can be done about abortion because of Roe vs. Wade. But even the most dim-witted and easily-fooled Evangelical won't be able to support a man who gave money to the new priests of Moloch.

I have never believed that Giuliani was an electable candidate, but it is becoming increasingly clear that he is not even approximately so. Keep this in mind the next time the media says that such-and-such, a weak-kneed moderate, will be able to beat Hillary, but a staunch conservative like Ron Paul hasn't a shot. The Lizard Queen could destroy Rudy with a single breath. I'm half hoping they nominate him, just for the spectacle of it all.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Damnable Career Women

Yet another reason to avoid marrying the beasts:

A third of women graduates will never have children, research has concluded.

The number of highly educated women who are starting families has plummeted in the past decade, according to findings that provide the most detailed insight yet into education and fertility.

So much for Darwinian selection bringing about the Superman. Of course, since education is not a sign of intelligence but may indeed be a substitute for a perception of its lack, this isn't entirely surprising, even as it is unsettling. One important part of any philosophical system is its longterm sustainability. Communism works so long as no whiff of freedom is let into the closed system; once began glasnost the Soviet Union was doomed. It is erroneous to say that perestroika caused the collapse as Communist regimes have always needed to allow some semblance of the free market to exist since Communist economic thought is bankrupt and the slavery which it introduces is the least efficient means of maintaining an economy.

But as backwards as Communism is, it lasted for about seventy years, and continues to linger in Vietnam and Cuba. Feminism may prove to have a shorter run. Unable to even replace those who adhere to its mangled creed, feminism is an idealogical dead end. Like any number of systems which have spurned reproduction, it must seek outsiders as converts. Such a system inevitably collapses.

While some women are making a conscious decision not to have children, others are simply leaving it too late after taking years to build their careers, buy a home and find the right partner.

Herein lies the real tragedy. I have no pity for a feminist who sees so little value in having children--what H. L. Mencken rightly calls the supreme act of her species--that she wishes to dwell in cubicle land where she is fulfilled. I do, however, feel sorry for those who, despite their education and women's studies classes, seem to understand their bodies so little. They have been told that they can have it all, which is almost always a lie. Children and careers are not wholly incompatible, but one must take preference over the other. It is profoundly unwise to wait until the last possible minute to have children given that the fertility of the female body peaks sometime in the mid-twenties and eventually ceases in the upper thirties or early forties.

We'll be turning into a society full of crotchety old maids who haven't had any kids and frustrated men who never even had a maid of their own. I don't reckon it bodes well for those who hearken for a return of American normalcy and beneficence. Those of us who hold a more sanguinary view concerning the prospect of decadence and spectacular collapse, on the other hand, will no doubt enjoy the sight.

Republican Rundown

Things still don't look so good for the Republicans:

It’s hard to say which is worse news for Republicans: that George W. Bush now has the worst approval rating of an American president in a generation, or that he seems to be dragging every ’08 Republican presidential candidate down with him.

Since the approval rating of a lame duck president is of little concern except insofar as his legacy is concerned--and it is obvious what Bush's legacy will be--I find this news to be hardly unsettling. I find the notion that Bush is dragging every '08 Republican presidential candidate down with him to be spurious. It is truer to say that the candidates are dragging themselves down by their own dead weight.

But According to the new NEWSWEEK Poll, the public’s approval of Bush has sunk to 28 percent, an all-time low for this president in our poll, and a point lower than Gallup recorded for his father at Bush Sr.’s nadir. The last president to be this unpopular was Jimmy Carter who also scored a 28 percent approval in 1979.

It bears noting, quickly, that Jimmy Carter has had no problem telling Bush how to better run his presidency. This is like Marty Schottenheimer informing other NFL coaches of how to win playoff football; or Pauly Shore teaching people how to be funny. Liberal presidents who cannot do, after all, must attempt to teach, as per Shaw's insight.

This remarkably low rating seems to be casting a dark shadow over the GOP’s chances for victory in ’08. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds each of the leading Democratic contenders beating the Republican frontrunners in head-to-head matchups.

Considering that the frontrunners are unelectable moderates who oppose the party position more often, and with more alacrity, than they support it, this is less than surprising. The conventional wisdom holds that a candidate should run to the middle to get elected, and certainly in the cases of Democrats this has proven itself to be true. But the most successful Republican candidates have faithfully clung to their conservative principles. Whether or not he governed like a conservative, Reagan won two elections by promising to do so. Unfortunately, the GOP seems set to Bob Dole their constituents in '08, because, you know, that worked the last time around.

Perhaps that explains why Republican candidates, participating in their first major debate this week, mentioned Bush’s name only once, but Ronald Reagan’s 19 times. (The debate was held at Reagan’s presidential library.)

There are two things that Americans, specifically conservative Americans, like about Reagan. First: his charm. In watching old tapes of the late president, I can't help but like him, at least a little bit. It was the same way with Clinton; even as I couldn't stand the weaselly man, I was somehow drawn to him. Something similar could be said of Obama.

But the second thing Americans liked about Reagan was his principles, and his adherence to them. We like to believe that the country is in good hands, and we'll believe that it is so as long as the owner of those hands is convinced of the fact himself. One reason for Bush's huge slide in the approval ratings is that Bush no longer believes the words he is saying. It is truly pitiful to watch an interview of him. He looks like a valedictorian from a small town thrown into a room full of first-rate intellectuals. He's in way over his head, he knows it, and he can't swim to the surface. Reagan never looked like Bush does.

Now the first attribute is somewhat innate; it either exists in a person or it doesn't. And the quality is quite rare. We see flashes of it in some of the more popular politicians; we see its manifestation in historical characters such as Lord Byron or Elvis Presley. Fortunately, it is not necessary to be irresistibly charming to become president. It helps, especially as Americans begin to care less and less about the idealogical differences, if any, between the candidates, but a win on principle alone is not an impossibility.

Which naturally brings me to the most important point. If the Republicans wish to win they need to get behind a conservative candidate. They do exist; take Ron Paul for instance. The three frontrunners don't have a thing in common with Reagan, and they will all suffer ignominious defeat at the webbed appendages of the Lizard Queen. Ron Paul too might lose, but the Republicans could rest easy knowing that they gave it a real shot.

The party will not nominate a real conservative, though Fred Thompson may get to play the sacrificial lamb in the place of the three ringleaders. Thompson is not, unfortunately, a Reagan conservative, though he is a bit further to the right than most of the field. Which makes one wonder, if the conservatives are clamoring for someone more like themselves, why won't the party give them what they ask for? I believe it was Thomas Paine who said that "moderation in principle is always a vice". Someone should kindly inform the GOP.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Killing All the Female Babies

I'm trying to understand why one would be up in arms over this:

CAMPAIGNERS last night warned couples “not to play God” with a revolutionary home test that reveals an unborn baby’s sex at six weeks.

They fear the £189 kit will create a massive leap in abortions if would-be parents are not having the gender they want.

Michaela Aston, spokeswoman for the charity LIFE, said: “This test is very dangerous. It could lead to babies being aborted simply for being the ‘wrong’ sex.”

And Julia Millington, of the Prolife Alliance, said: “There is a real risk that some people would choose to abort babies of a certain gender.”

Now hold on for just one fornicating minute. I thought that pro-choicers believed that one's right to choose was sacrosanct. I guess it isn't.

I have long loathed the monikers "pro-choice" and "pro-life". The former applies to social libertarians such as Camille Paglia, but most pro-choicers are not libertarians. Whether it be campus speech codes or smoking bans, the left has no qualms with doing away with liberty for unpleasant things. It's just that baby butchering is more pleasant than second hand smoke--the horror. Pro-life is also misleading, though substantially less so. Liberals are quick to point out that if conservatives were really pro-life they would support the welfare state. This is idiotic of course, but the point is that pro-lifers should protect all life, which would render imperialistic wars immoral. Capital punishment too is inconsistent with the pro-life position, though less so than the left typically believes. It's not as if a convicted serial murder is identical to a wholly innocent unborn child after all. Still, I prefer the ephitet "anti-abortion". No, it's not particularly sexy, but it's very accurate. If abortion truly is a monstrosity, and it is, why not simply admit that it should be done away with? Did opponents of the ancient sacrifices to Moloch, believing anti-child sacrifice to be too divisive, declare themselves pro-life? Perhaps. Humanity hasn't really changed in thousands of years.

But back to the article. If choice is all that matters, women should be able to kill their children, sorry, terminate their pregnancies, for whatever reason they wish to. If abortion is acceptable for any reason at all I can't see how it can be unacceptable because the child's sex isn't right. If abortion is acceptable when the child may prove to be mentally disabled, why is it unacceptable when the child is merely a female?

For that is the obvious fear of the pro-choicers. While I, for one, would question the longterm viability of China's one child policy, where females are held to be anathema, it makes a certain amount of sense from a limited vantage point. If I were a Marxist, judging everything from a materialist basis, it makes more economic sense to have a man child than a woman child. Thus female children are routinely dropped down wells over in China when little brother comes along. All the better if we can expedite the process and avoid the messiness of toddlers and wells.

Chesterton once quipped that we should let all the babies be born and then we could drown the ones we do not like. Someone ought to alert the Chinese that he was trying to crack a joke, not offer a practical program.

It will be increasingly amusing to watch women argue that while they are all for choice, women should not be allowed to choose to dispose of future women. The position is wholly inconsistent of course, but it fits in with feminist theory, which has never made much sense. Remember too that as technology progresses, this process will become more exact. We are really not that far off from the age of designer babies, first for the rich and then for all--so long as we don't sterilize the undesirables. Let the Superman come forth and usher in an age of Peace.

Of course, if the number of men increase while the number of women dwindle, there are going to be an awful lot of single men running around. This won't help our goal of global peace. The single fellows will need something to do. It is not far-fetched to expect that men will go to war to take women from other lands or the enslavement of poorer women who will fulfill the sexual desires of the restless male populace. The feminists have likely seen their high-water mark, and I can't help but pity them somewhat for what seems to be the next wave on the horizon.

Will All the Moderate Muslims Please Stand Up?

Looks like some of the Iraqis aren't down with a women's right to choose:

A 17-year-old girl has been stoned to death in Iraq because she loved a teenage boy of the wrong religion.

As a horrifying video of the stoning went out on the Internet, the British arm of Amnesty International condemned the death of Du’a Khalil Aswad as "an abhorrent murder" and demanded that her killers be brought to justice.

Reports from Iraq said a local security force witnessed the incident, but did nothing to try to stop it. Now her boyfriend is in hiding in fear for his life.

Miss Aswad, a member of a minority Kurdish religious group called Yezidi, was condemned to death as an "honour killing" by other men in her family and hardline religious leaders because of her relationship with the Sunni Muslim boy.

This is a fascinating story for several reasons.

First, if feminism was really about empowering women, all the feminist blogs would be up in arms about this one. For all I know, they may be. I tend to avoid feminists like the plague. And don't get me wrong, getting angry and posting about it doesn't do a darned thing, but they think it does. This is merely further proof of the singular position occupied by Western women. One can forgive feminists for not having learned any history while pursuing their degrees in women's studies, but when current events demonstrate that very little has changed concerning women's position, at least in certain parts of the world, they are without excuse.

Second, the piece, predictably, referred to the perpetrators as "hardline religious leaders". For all I know they may be. I've reiterated time and again that I know very little about Islam. But I do know enough to consider the possibility that these were not the actions of hardliners, but of mainstream Muslims. I have not, as yet, read the Koran, nor have I, unfortunately, studied that religion save as it has been a consistent thorn in the side of Christendom. Still, I have yet to see an explanation for why this action must have been the work of hardliners.

Actually, of course, it makes precious little difference. Excusing those actions which are malevolent as the work of hardliners, or, as is the preferred nomenclature, of radical or extremist Muslims, serves to assuage the conscience of Westerners who wisely do not wish to write off the entire Middle East. But ultimately, a tree ought to be judged by its fruits and not by the fruit which the book implies that the tree should grow. To draw from an example from my own religion, it would have been idiotic to suggest that ephebophile priests were not adhering to the tenants of the Catholic Faith. This was obvious. It made little difference to the abused whether or not the Priests were adhering to the Word of God. It was up to the Church to put an end to the abuses to prove, not only that the actions were works of renegade priests and that, more importantly, the priest who did not abuse were a large enough force to stop those who were wrecking havoc in the lives of young Catholics.

Thus reform is needed in the Islamic world. However, it remains to be seen whether this reform will be forthcoming. The article notes that "a local security force witnessed the incident, but did nothing to try to stop it". This is probably the most important line in the article and bears repeating.

I'm still not certain how democracy is going to do a lick of good when the population seems hesitant, at best, to even pretend to support Western values. And my befuddlement continues when I recall that our troops are dying so that we can give them a system of government where this sort of thing could, for all I know, become commonplace.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Politicians and Their Books

These are the sort of questions one ought to ask a politician:

When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist.

A spokesman said later it was one of Mr. Romney’s favorite novels.
“I’m not in favor of his religion by any means,” Mr. Romney, a Mormon, said. “But he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science-fiction book.” Asked about his favorite book, Mr. Romney cited the Bible.

I've not actually read the book, but Vox Day says it's "beyond bad", and since he knows far more about sci-fi than I do, I find no reason to disbelieve him.

As an aside, I can never seem to decide if I like science fiction. Those who like science fiction tend to adore it and read almost nothing else in the fictional realm whereas those who don't like it loathe it and avoid it at all costs. I guess I'm still somewhere in the middle. I liked Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, though I've yet to pick up any other books by Card save Empire, which was mediocre. I also loved Fahrenheit 451. On the other hand, I have yet to get all the way through H. G. Wells' fiction, despite owning a copy. Chalk that up as a tentative goal for the summer.

Anyway, I like the question for two reasons. First, it's simply more interesting than those of the type of which politicians are most often asked. There might be a reply to a mundane question which is not itself mundane but the prospect is doubtful. On the other hand, almost any answer to the question, "What is your favorite novel?" is bound to be, well, novel.

But the other reason is that with questions of this type, a politician can't help but answer honestly. There are no polls which seek to determine what kind of a book the commoners wish their leaders would read. After six plus years of Bush, most of are probably thankful that Romney has actually read something, even if we are less than happy about his choice.

In the grand scheme of things, this, of course, matters little. But it got me thinking. If I ever deigned to run for office and was asked a similar question, what would I answer? Several selections spring readily to mind: T.H. White's brilliant The Once and Future King; Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, which I plan on revisiting shortly; James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, though this might not sit well with the religious types; Stephen Hunter's Point of Impact, which is proof that I'm not entirely a literature snob; J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit which I thought was far more exciting than the trilogy itself; and, last but not least, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, but this would be just to scare the liberals stiff.

I liked Atlas Shrugged well enough, but thought the ending was disastrous, if predictable and consistent with the author's silly philosophy. I still think it worth reading, and indeed own a copy. I also think it a good recommendation for one's liberal friends. For if Ayn Rand's utopia is dis-topic, so too is the land which caused her protagonist to head for "better" hills. The glee with which the bureaucrats choke out Dagny's railroad empire is truly repulsive, and fairly accurate. There are liberals who would be foolish enough to kill the goose that laid the golden egg with the hope that there would be gold inside. To these such a book might do some good.

I'd almost have to go with Atlas Shrugged, purely for comedy's sake.