Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Weighing my vote for John McCain

Being one of those free-market, laissez-faire libertarian-conservatives disgruntled about McCain's many rather egregious philosophical and legislative "flaws," I am taking my time (or maybe dragging my heels) in pondering for whom I will ultimately cast a vote in November's Presidential election.

Or maybe I should say that I know who I'm going to vote for, but I'm taking my sweet time accepting the necessity of the unpleasant task.

I have spent many years feeling an affinity for the libertarian thought if not feeling any consistent affinity for some of the often-nutty denizens of the Libertarian Party, but having watched some of their recent nominating convention, and seen the kind of candidates today's Libertarian Party has thrown up, it is clear to me now that the current Big-L Libertarians are living in a delusional, isolationist universe and are, in fact, the "Losertarians" Michael Medved calls them:

Because basic logic here, you do not influence a major political party by leaving it. You influence a major political party by staying in it and fighting for the ideas and the candidates you care about. This is so simple that my 11 year old son can understand it, but obviously there are a lot of "Losertarians" who don't get it.

The reason I enjoy talking to these guys on the air is because they are so utterly incapable of answering the question, "Ok, what have you accomplished with all of your activism?" The answer is absolutely nothing except electing a bunch of ultra-liberal Democrats and big government types like Maria Cantwell. Our Senator from Washington state, Maria Cantwell, would not be in office were it not for the "Losertarians". She beat Slade Gorton by less than 3000 votes and the "Losertarian" candidate got 66,000 votes. That kind of outcome is sad and appalling and it's unfair to decent people who work seriously in politics.

So, Bob Barr notwithstanding (he is perhaps the most mainstream candidate the Libertarian Party has ever offered for President, but is still not willing to say from the Libertarian platform that some overseas wars were and can be just wars of honor and of enlightened self-defense), this time around I will not be casting my vote for the Libertarian Party's candidate. I admire Bob Barr's former zeal in impeaching Bill Clinton, but that is not enough reason to give him my vote.

Meanwhile, Bookworm Room writes a very persuasive and dispassionate look at why a vote for John McCain in November is a necessary duty for people like me. It's called, aptly, "Why You Shouldn't Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face." Read the whole thing, but as she says,

It’s these last two points — the War and the judiciary — that make me feel very strongly that we have to accept John McCain as president, warts and all. While he is far from perfect, he is rock solid on the two issues that can’t just be massaged away in four years. He will continue to wage war, both on the field and in the realm of ideas, against the Jihadists, and he will appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.

Yes, Mother. It really is a choice against the much-worse Democrat opposition:

You see, from my point of view, this election isn’t really about John McCain at all. It’s about Barack Obama. Of course, it shouldn’t be about Barack Obama. During a time of war and economic insecurity, one of the two presidential candidates should not be a man who has no life history, beyond a remarkable ability at self-aggrandizement, and no legislative history, despite a few years paddling about in the Illinois State Legislature and three years (count ‘em, three) doing absolutely nothing in the United States Senate.

That Obama is a man of no accomplishments or experience, though, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t managed to acquire some bad friends and bad ideas. The friends are easy to identify: Comrade . . . I mean Rev. Wright; Michelle “the Termagant” Obama; the explosive Ayers and Dohrn duo; Samantha “Hillary is a Monster” Power; Robert “Hamas” Malley; Zbigniew “the Jews are out to get me” Brzezinski; etc. Over the years, he’s sought out, paid homage to, and been advised by a chilling collection of people who dislike America and are ready to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who talks the Marxist talk and walks the Marxist walk.

Anyway, for those of you wallowing in your feelings (as I sometimes do) about the nature of the candidates Americans will vote for, Bookworm's rational talking-to provides a good, cold, wakeup call of thoughtful reasoning to remind us what's at stake.

You can always go back to sleep after the election's over. But if Obama or Hillary are elected President, the "long national nightmare" will have only just begun.


Friday, May 30, 2008

"Obama's genius is insufficiently appreciated" by most American yokels

I've really enjoyed reading this reflective examination of the Obama phenomenon, by Victor Davis Hanson, who writes better than just about anybody living right now:

Why do the affluent, astute Obamas cling to such doctrinaire grievances, and then offer insulting clarifications when called on them? The obvious explanation is that Barack Obama had previously navigated only on the small lakes of the Ivy League and Chicago politics, where the drumbeat of grievance pays real dividends and easy anti-American throw-off lines are hardly gaffes. But now, for the first time in his life, he is buffeted by the gales of an ever-widening national campaign where his once-persuasive themes suddenly sound absurd.

Hanson, I think, will turn out to be one of the most honest and astute political observers of our age. Read the whole essay, for more such enjoyable paragraphs like this one:

Obama thinks mea culpas are not necessary, because his eloquence will always remedy what offends. That’s why someone who was named by the National Journal as the Senate’s most doctrinaire liberal can, with a straight face, persuade millions that he is running on a record of bipartisanship. Obama may advocate engaging Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, who has advocated the annihilation of Israel; but he can also condemn Jimmy Carter’s recent embrace of Hamas leaders with, “We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction.”

Concise bullseye.


Anyone who lived his first 18 years out of the continental United States, and then attended politically-correct Ivy League schools before jumping into Chicago politics might not have a broad view of American demography and indeed, U.S. history—much less the sociology of the United States.

Yeah, Duh! No kidding.


Those damn conservatives keep refusing to feel liberal guilt

Liberalism is never wrong, because liberalism is the organized pursuit of the politically virtuous. At least according to liberals.

--So says Jonah Goldberg in "The Uses and Abuses of Guilt." Interesting discussion of what liberals mean by "guilt" from Ace, who observes:

...liberals don't in fact feel any guilt about the numerous political tragedies liberals are directly responsible for. Their "guilt" is of a curious outwardly-directed sort.

Liberals want credit for ruthless self-criticism, but in fact almost all of their searing critiques of the "self' turn out to be risible attacks on others.
Sweet truth.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Today's koan


DOG BITES MAN: U.N. Peacekeepers and aid workers abusing children. Again. Think how much more attention this would get if these were American soldiers. Instead, we get this: "A UN spokesman, Nick Birnback, said that it was impossible to ensure 'zero incidents' within an organisation that has up to 200,000 personnel serving around the world."

From Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, the daily news and byte depot, the fastest way to get back up to speed when you've been out hunting bear for two or three weeks. Although much of the daily news makes you want to head right back into the woods, doesn't it.


Channeling the Founding Fathers

I can't tell you how encouraging it is to read the following words this morning, and how I am reminded that the vision that animated our incomparable Founding Fathers to conceive a nation dedicated to liberty and intentionally and strictly limited government still exists in the world:

The real debate is and should be about costs and benefits of alternative human actions, about how to rationally deal with the unknown future, about what kind and size of solidarity with much wealthier future generations is justified, about the size of externalities and their eventual appropriate internalization, about how much to trust the impersonal functioning of the markets in solving any human problem, including global warming, and how much to distrust the very visible hand of very human politicians and their bureaucrats.
Unfortunately for us, this is not a prominent natural-born, American-educated Yankee making this observation; these are the words Vaclav Klaus, former President of the Czech Republic, delivered to the National Press Club yesterday. As Power Line points out, "Klaus couldn't run for [U.S.] President, even if he wanted to, but is it too much to expect that a Republican presidential nominee might share his instinctive trust in freedom?" Bingo. And this:

Klaus defended freedom and indicted statism:

I know that you lived all your life in a world where you were used to discuss the market failure as a phenomenon. And there has been permanently attempts to correct some real or would-be market failures by government action, government intervention.

That was the spirit of the 20th century. I think that rational people and many American economists made a great contribution in this respect, started to study the opposite, started to study the government failure. And the issue is, is the market failure bigger and more dangerous than the government failure?

You may have your experience, but my experience with half-a-century in communism, I know that government failure is incomparably worse than any market failure. So, therefore, my position on any form, kind, motivation of government intervention is quite clear, to limit it as much as possible.

Is anybody listening besides me (and Powerline)? Do you have to have lived under Communism to understand these truths anymore?

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Obama the Apostate--would Muslims riot around the world, try to assassinate him?

Whoo hoo--Little Green Footballs raised the issue last February; I raised it last June!

Would President Obama be on a hit list?

Obama should and must address this subject during his Presidential campaign, as the ramifications would certainly affect all of us and his Presidency were he to be elected. I want to know how he thinks his ability to lead the country would be affected by his being a "marked man" in the eyes of millions of Muslims around the world (fundamentalists both here and abroad in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, etc.).

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

How liberals are made

I had this recent conversation with a 17-year-old (not my son):

Me: So, if you could vote in next November's Presidential election, who would you vote for?

Teen: Barack Obama.

Me: Oh? How come?

Teen: He seems like the right choice and the best qualified among all the candidates.

Me: How did you arrive at that decision?

Teen: Our U.S. History teacher made us analyze this article, and we put three columns up on the board of pros and cons for each of the candidates, Obama, Clinton, and McCain, and Obama had the most positives of the three.

Me: (shocked) But he's a socialist, and so is Hillary. Their far-left economic policies will be terrible for the U.S. economy.

Teen: (shocked) Socialist? What do you mean?

I was shocked that a high school history teacher would use one newspaper article (obviously slanted) to indoctrinate a classroom of ignorant teenagers into favoring Barack Obama, with their not even recognizing that's what she had done. Is this how our educational system pretends to produce critical thinkers?

The teenager was shocked because after "studying" an article, making columns of qualities, and going through the motions of learning an important lesson about U.S. politics from her teacher, she had been given only a very limited view--with a liberal slant--of the matter. So choosing a Presidential candidate to vote for wasn't that simple?

Where do such teachers come from, and how are they allowed to continue to "teach" our children? Are educational colleges "Training Cultural Soldiers, Not Teachers"? Is there a movement to deliberately exploit the fact that "...the absence of conflicting viewpoints...encourages students and staff to believe that liberalism represents the only reasonable vision of a just society"?

It's pretty clear to see that often, the term "diversity" means that of race, not of opinion.

It can get really bad for some high school students who disagree. But then, since the world began, there have always been some teachers who hate being shown up by students more well-informed and well-reasoned than they are. Woe betide the student who gets in their way.

Liberal/leftist indoctrination permeates the middle schools too. I confirmed this recently by looking through my daughter's sixth-grade social studies textbook. Liberal/leftist/progressive indoctrination, including in such current political fads as one-way multiculturalism and global warming, extend even into the elementary schools--and even into such subjects as math.

Higher Education either remains in denial or continues to help the indoctrination along by offering minimalizing, off-topic spin as a cover.

Instead, read all of David Horowitz's short essay, "The Political Assault on Our K-12 Schools" for the big, alalrming picture of what's going on:

Educators who advocate teaching for “social justice” share radical views of American society. That is their right as citizens; but they have also made these radical views the central focus of their educational programs for students in America’s public schools, which is not. Social justice teaching violates the professional obligations of teachers in a democracy to educate students not indoctrinate them. Political indoctrination in the classroom not only violates the professional obligations of educators, it undermines America’s democratic commitment to providing a solid academic education for all of the nation’s children.

In recent years teaching for social justice has become a powerful movement in American schools of education. Among its leaders are William Ayers, a former leader of the terrorist Weather Underground and self-proclaimed “street fighting communist,” who is Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ayers is the inspirer and editor of a twelve-volume Columbia Teachers College series “Teaching for Social Justice;” Peter McClaren, Professor of Education at UCLA, and influential theorist of the teaching for social justice movement is the author of a widely read book describing Che Guevara as the most important pedagogue of the 20th Century. And the outgoing and incoming presidents of the 25,000 member American Education Research Association, the major umbrella organization of the education school professorate, are both supporters of the doctrine of teaching for social justice in K-12 classrooms. In fact the AERA has just hired its first Director of Social Justice....

Since its inception, public education in America has been about creating the next generation of citizens of a democracy, meaning individuals who can think for themselves, not citizens who are force-fed orthodoxies or doctrines of a sectarian nature. The mission of America’s elementary and secondary schools has been to serve American pluralism: to educate a community of citizens who disagree with each other into a common culture of tolerance and respect. The goal of America’s public schools is encapsulated on the Seal of the United States: “E Pluribus Unum”: out of many one.

The leftist political agenda of “social justice educators” undermines the American public school system as we have known it. The historical ideal of public schooling as a means of assimilating all children (and particularly the children of new immigrants) into a common civic and democratic culture is now under assault by the education professors advocating teaching for social justice and deriding the common civic culture ideal as nothing more than capitalist hegemony.

A democracy cannot tolerate the corruption of its educational system by a political faction, whatever its persuasion. The “social justice” movement in American K-12 schools is a surrogate for the radical left, whose purpose is to indoctrinate public school children in sectarian political and social ideas. As such, it threatens the very foundations of this republic. A diverse community like ours cannot survive if its taxpayer supported educational system becomes the captive of a particular political faction....

(Yes, that same William Ayers.)

Incredible, you say? Overblown alarmism? If you check it out, you may realize you really must teach your own children well, especially to become critical thinkers and to recognize valid and invalid argumentation, logical and verbal fallacies and psychological persuasion techniques (such as appeals to emotion and how subliminal messages work). That way, they won't be shocked, unprepared, or vulnerable when they go off to live on their uber-liberal college campuses (the one educational setting where things may actually be getting a little better for conservative students, according to this 2005 Wall Street Journal article).

As a parent, you can't assume America's teachers are teaching your children to think and analyze ideas and viewpoints and opinions critically, fairly, or thoroughly. You can no longer assume that all of America's elementary and secondary teachers even want that to happen.

BONUS POINTS: In the interests of being fair and balanced while being educational, I offer--

The Communists' viewpoint of the "Right Wing Demand for 'Balance' in Education"

How liberal college teachers think when they want to 'get past the resistance' of "conservative freshmen" without "triggering their massive hostility." As one prof cautions another, "Conservative freshmen are not, I think, the appropriate audience for the full force of our agenda, all at once."

Heh. Not everybody in America is asleep to such aims.

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