Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Throwing Some Leaves On A Tomb"

The quote belongs to David Corn, of The Nation, who truly ought to know better. Instead, he said this in defense of the Commander in Chief's decision to take his second vacation since the Gulf oil spill and not place a wreath here, at the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier. A "President" who cannot be bothered. Who governs against the will of the American people. Corn's full quote, such as it was, is this: [D]oes it matter if Obama throws some leaves on a tomb?"

Yes, yes it does very much. That an intelligent fool like David can't understand this?

Well, words fail.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Bravest Person On Earth Returns

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is back with her new book "Nomad," which follows her amazing previous book "Infidel." If you have not read the latter, do yourself the favor and buy it. Her brilliant new book is reviewed by Tunku Varadarajan, itself something brilliant. Click on the title of this post to read his review. MC found the following irrefutable:

"After all, she writes, male domination and female subjugation are Quranically prescribed, and who is Man to challenge the immutable Word of God—especially when God’s arrangements ensure perpetual male domination? This punitive patriarchy is not confined to Muslims in their own lands; it thrives, she points out, in the West, in the lands to which Muslims immigrate, but whose “degenerate” and “sinful” societies they abhor. In a blistering passage, written with the forthright elegance that characterizes the book, Hirsi Ali asserts that “the subjection of women within Islam is the biggest obstacle to the integration and progress of Muslim communities in the West. It is a subjection committed by the closest kin in the most intimate place, the home, and it is sanctioned by the greatest figure in the imagination of Muslims: Allah himself.” It is easy to see why Hirsi Ali has bodyguards, and round-the-clock protection. She would be dead if she did not."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fatal Purity: The Paulites' Unserious Politics

In May of 2010 the Republican endorsed candidate for senate in a Southern state was compelled through his own rigid ideology and incompetence to issue a press release declaring that under no circumstances would he vote to repeal the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 or 1965 should he win elected office. Welcome to the loony, paranoid and cultish world of Ron (pere) and Rand (fils) Paul. This is what one gets when one plays at politics; when one would rather lose being pure than win by compromising; when one's politics is simply not serious. MC has had all it can stand.

Let's remember that the infiltration of the Paulites into the Republican Party started long before the advent of the Tea Party movement. The forward guard of the Paulites were thus well positioned to exploit the genuine grievances that undergird the Tea Party movement. The two, however, are by no means congruent.

Do most Tea Partiers support legalized prostitution and drugs? Do most of them believe the Federal Reserve was involved in Watergate? Do most of them believe that all US military forces around the world should be withdrawn at once? Do most of them see Jewish cabals ("banksters" and the ever available term of opprobrium "neocons") at every turn?

To ask such questions is to have your answer. Try imagining asking those questions to any type of Republican. Again, one has their answer.

So who are these people and why are they making a hash of the Republican Party? Many of them in Minnesota came into the party over the Iraq war. They opposed it. Fine. Sorry that the surge worked and all that but, still, MC has always thought the GOP much more diverse, tolerant and inclusive than our fraudulent (but not Communist!) Democratic friends.

That said, and the Iraq issue largely moot due to its relatively good outcome, the Paulites are left with the fetid entrails of "libertarianism." This is politics for unserious people. Local candidates here could not get the endorsement of one group unless they supported legalized drugs, free trade with Iran (!) and legalized prostitution. These faux markers of freedom and individual autonomy are positions most people grew out of if, indeed, they ever held them. MC understands this but we are not 17 anymore, as Annie Lennox might put it. We are not oppressed when we can't buy heroin at Walgreens, when we stop at red lights or when we obey validly passed laws.

Lately, as everyone knows by now, Rand Paul could not help himself when asked to give a straight answer about legislation that made this country racially fairer. Instead, as purists do, he had to hem and haw to such a degree that he looked like a racist, which most assuredly he is not. His father, however, is most assuredly anti-semitic and don't try talking MC out this belief.

At any rate, the result of the "Randslide" has been a landslide of hideous, negative and unfounded accusations against the Tea Party movement and, more generally, the Republican Party. Thank you for that, Paulites. The adults will now have to clean up your mess while you sulk about being held accountable for your loonacy. And no, the media isn't fair but if you're just learning that now you're even less serious than we thought.

The Republican Party will survive this disfiguring infestation but only if we insist that our core principles are not amenable to cults and purists. We represent a genuine and desperately needed alternative to the horror show the Democratic party has become in office. The stakes are too high to let those who think getting high is the point of politics to prevail. It is time to put the Paulite children back into the playpen of the Libertarian Party from whence they originally came.

Let the purge begin.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Claire Berlinski: A Hidden History Of Evil

MC is a big fan of David Berlinski ("The Deniable Darwin" and other against the grain intellectual works) and have likewise become enamored of his daughter, the increasingly must-read Claire Berlinski (that she lives in one of MC's favorite cities in the world--Istanbul--only adds to her luster). Ms. Berlinski is out with a very smart piece in City Journal in which she wonders outloud why there is a lack of interest in translating what amounts to a large corpus of Soviet Union-era documents. Why, indeed?

You can read her full piece by clicking on the title of this blog post. MC found the following well said and irrefutable:

"Indeed, many still subscribe to the essential tenets of Communist ideology. Politicians, academics, students, even the occasional autodidact taxi driver still stand opposed to private property. Many remain enthralled by schemes for central economic planning. Stalin, according to polls, is one of Russia’s most popular historical figures. No small number of young people in Istanbul, where I live, proudly describe themselves as Communists; I have met such people around the world, from Seattle to Calcutta.

We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriate those who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. These documents should be translated. They should be housed in a reputable library, properly cataloged, and carefully assessed by scholars. Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about. If they contain what Stroilov and Bukovsky say—and all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they do—this is the obligation of anyone who gives a damn about history, foreign policy, and the scores of millions dead."

You can and should follow her on Twitter @ClaireBerlinski

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paul Berman On Our Current Conditions

Shortly after September 11 Paul Berman wrote a deservedly much noticed book "Terror & Liberalism." In it he asked honest questions and, as is so often the case, was excoriated for it by his alleged peers. Now he has written another book, "The Flight of the Intellectuals," and sat for a discussion about it with Michael Totten.

Please click on the title of this post to read the interview. We assure our readers it will be worth your time. MC could not help but think of President Obama when reading the following passage from the interview:

"Then there's another idea that appeals to many people, which is based not on our own feeling of superiority, but on our own inferiority. We look at ourselves in the Western countries and we say that, if we are rich, relatively speaking, as a society, it is because we have plundered our wealth from other people. Our wealth is a sign of our guilt. If we are powerful, compared with the rest of the world, it is because we treat people in other parts of the world in oppressive and morally objectionable ways. Our privileged position in the world is actually a sign of how racist we are and how imperialistic and exploitative we are. All the wonderful successes of our society are actually the signs of how morally inferior we are, and we have much to regret and feel guilty about. So when we look at the world, we should look at it in a spirit of humility and remorse, and we should recognize that other people have been unfairly treated."

Buy Berman's book HERE.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Monday, May 10, 2010

Invocation By Rabbi Feller At RPM Convention

By the Grace of G-d

APRIL 29, 2010

Almighty G-d, Master of the Universe, I am honored to invoke Your presence at this most vital convocation. I offer this opening prayer on behalf of a body of individuals who recognize Your presence in their private and public lives.

Oh, Father in Heaven, those assembled at this convention are here to fulfill one of the seven sacred universal commandments that You gave to Noah and his children after the great flood: The command that every society establish a government which will legislate and enforce just laws.

At the dawn of civilization as related in the Holy Biblical Book of Genesis and its sacred commentaries, You issued first to Adam and then to Noah the following seven laws which came to be known as the Seven Noahide Laws:
One: To worship You alone and not to worship idols.
Two: Never to blaspheme Your Holy Name.
Three: Not to murder (Your sacred law which forbids homicide, suicide, abortion and euthanasia.)
Four: Not to commit adultery, incest, homosexual union, or any other sexual aberration.
Five: Not to steal, lie, deceive or cheat.
Six: Not to be cruel to any living creature, and
Seven: That every society govern by just laws which are based in the recognition of You oh, G-d as the Sovereign Ruler of all men and all nations.

This recognition of You, oh G-d as the sovereign Ruler of all men and all nations, is the bedrock of the value system of the United States of America. We, the citizens of this blessed country, proclaim this recognition in our Pledge of Allegiance, “One nation, under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We proudly proclaim this recognition on our currency, “In G-d We Trust.” “In G-d We Trust” is proudly engraved on the walls of our houses of government.

Grant Al-mighty G-d that those assembled here to choose candidates to govern our great state of Minnesota, be dynamically cognizant of Your presence and conduct their deliberations accordingly. Bless them with good health, wisdom, compassion, good cheer, and good fellowship. May they constantly realize that in laboring to bring about proper government for our state and our country they are doing Your will.

Authored and presented by Rabbi Moshe Feller

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Response To Mark Lilla's "Tea Party Jacobins"

Mark Lilla, a respected intellectual, has penned an astonishingly arrogant piece for The New York Review of Books in its May 27, 2010 issue titled "The Tea Party Jacobins." Readers can click on the title of this post to read it for themselves. MC did and has a somewhat detailed critique.

Lilla cleverly underscores the recent changing nature of America and its citizens by noting that Democrats became day traders while Republicans were divorcing. Cute but the point is well taken. MC would add Rod Dreher's notion of a "crunchy conservative," one who shops at Whole Foods but votes Republican. We doubt Lilla has stretched that far outside of his liberal bunker to know of the term, however.

Lilla's article is purportedly a review of six books but in his piece only mentions two of them and then indirectly. The review of this clutch of books allows him to lament that the American citizen is not a European. The point cannot be stressed enough: Lilla repeatedly condemns the individual, dismisses the autonomy of people and is contemptuous of the virtue of self-reliance. Culturally, the man is not American and that observation would most likely be met with quiet, smug self-satisfaction. The Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago is not quite a Rotary meeting.

Lilla observes that current conditions constitute a revolt against elites; being one himself, he doesn't approve. The goal of that revolt he feels is neutralization of political power. This is always the worst case scenario for people of his ilk. At one point he actually complains about appeals to "petulant individuals" who are convinced they can fend for themselves. The condescension at times leaves one breathless but he carries on.

For example, he blithely ascribes all current political polarization to the "shrunken base" of the Republican party. At such points he risks not being taken seriously and it is clear, whatever else the shortcomings of his missive, he is trying to be so. But myopia subtracts and never adds to seriousness. By now, even ardent supporters of Obama admit to a lack of serious outreach to the other side of the aisle. What's the phrase? Oh yes: "We won."

The New Jacobins, as Lilla calls the tea partiers, have a blanket distrust of institutions and "an astonishing--and unwarranted--confidence of the self." Really, this is a mindset posited on the notion that only government can improve our lives; it is the anti-thesis of the American narrative. Lilla should just come out and say it's a pity we aren't as willing to be sheparded into the Nanny State by our betters as has happened post-WW II in most of Europe. But that would be giving the game away. Clarity for intellectual liberals like Lilla usually erodes rather than strengthens their positions.

Eventually--about two-thirds through the article--Lilla gets to Europe at which point the flowing of his juices becomes audible. For it is Europe and all that it implies, which is the real point of his article even though his prism and ostensible topic is the tea party movement. The failure of Europe on so many various levels seems to escape him even when he writes in a sort of blind fog of non-comprehension:

"It would occur to no one to lay siege to Brussels or build up barricades to defend it."

Why that might be Lilla never quite says. MC will: it is because false notions of trans-sovereignty bleed nations and people; in fact, such is its very purpose. The more people are detached from those to whom they gave consent to be governed, the less they feel effective or free in daily life. Rule making from Strasbourg is simply a post-modern death by a thousand cuts.

Lilla also quips that "Voters pretend to rebel and politicians pretend to listen; this is our political theater." Yet if that is so, where's the danger from the tea party movement? To use a current locution (and highly inexact, by the way), it's all kabuki. No harm, no foul. Carry on and all that. Nothing really changes.

Politically, however, a great deal is changing and the books under ersatz review are but the slightest sign of that. Lilla's belief that the dog barks and the caravan moves on is belied by a thoughtless throw-away comment earlier in his essay. Says Lilla: "In politics, thinking makes it so." Only an out of touch intellectual living a rarified life would hazard such stupidity. Or to dress it up in Lilla-speak, reification (verdinglichung) is passe.

Winding down, Lilla bemoans our living in similarly thinking communities (as if the Upper West Side was somehow new and grew out of the tea party movement!). What MC really thinks he regrets is the loss of the liberal media monopoly and, as night follows day, he moves on to attack FOX News.

But not, interestingly, before he attacks home schoolers! Yes, we don't usually lump home schoolers (they're studying, not protesting) with the tea party movement. So why does this very bright man? Because he realizes that escape from the educational monopoly is the surest way of maintaining autonomy from L'Etat. MC hesitates to claim this devotion of individual subordination to the state as something fascist but Lilla comes perilously close to being an enemy of individual freedom and autonomy. What on earth has happened to liberalism? MC is certain George McGovern and Justice William O. Douglas would never pen such a manifesto. Lilla can be amusing, however, as when he states that the home schooling movement is the only successful libertarian party in the United States.

Lilla is at his least persuasive--and intelligent--when he trots out the usual canards about FOX News and its demagogues. He reiterates his disgust at the self-confidence of its viewing audience. Why the desire for the supine individual? His aversion to citizens who need, want and demand less government by now becomes clinical.

Lilla opines that the tea party movement will dissolve after being successful. Can't he make up his captive mind? He claims its member are anti-intellectual without substantiation (Glenn Beck, whatever one thinks, has lots of information on those chalk boards and references a great many books). In a final sign of the exhaustion and poverty of his analysis, Lilla claims that tea party followers want to be people who live without rules. No, really. This about the people who gather in large numbers with no violence, no racism (sorry about that) and who clean up after themselves. People who want to live without rules are generally called anarchists. MC knows Lilla knows this, hence our frustration with his intellectual dishonesty.

Who cares, some readers may say, about this intellectual and his essay? MC suggests given his stature, Lilla's piece will set the standard template for the chattering classes and other media for some time to come. We ignore articles like these at our peril for Lilla's essay represents the suffocating intellectual environment, with its egregious contempt for average Americans, in which Obama has lived and continues to live. The stakes could not be higher.