Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Top Gear

What passes for entertainment on British TV: Top Gear, a show about three guys messing about with cars.

Here's my favorite episode, and it explains why I don't really want to ever go caravaning (book me a motel reservation, please).

I also like this one, where three men mess with cars turned into boats. And then they use their boats to cross the English Channel.

Thanks to the Gaffer Tape Boys.

Labels: ,

Slaughter in Mumbai

Update:

Roger L. Simon looks at the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and additionally has this to say:

Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Obama. You wanted to be President? Well, now you are. Democratic Congress, your turn too. For the moment, I am happy about this. It has long been my contention that the War on Terror (War on Islamofascism) will only be won if the Democratic Party owns it as well as the Republicans. Now that can happen, for better or worse.


Power Line points out the terrorists in Mumbai were targeting Jews. Yes, Islamo-Nazis went Jew-hunting (via American Digest).


More updates at JihadWatch.org.


In other news: Global warming may have run its course as an urban myth, but Obama's still ready to fight (via Maggie's Farm). Ordinary people, not so much (via Instapundit).


And here's a little something to keep an eye on as it develops in 2009: The Global Museum on Communism. Q. Can Marxism ever die? (via Maggie's Farm). A. Don't bet on it. While free citizens take care of their responsibilities and pursue happiness and the American Dream, evil never sleeps.

Labels:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas spirit all year long

I'm so excited about my Christmas present which is coming to me a little early this year, by my own request: I get to adopt a soldier through Soldiers' Angels.

But that's not all. I have also this morning become a sponsor of a girl in India through Children International (as recommended by Dennis Prager). Our monthly donation will make sure she receives medical and dental care, as well as help with food, clothing, and educational expenses. My parents used to sponsor children through this secular aid organization many years ago when I was a teen. (Another equally worthy Christian organization now doing similar work is Compassion International. You can compare and check them both out at Charity Navigator. I had a hard time deciding between them until I saw the photo of the girl I decided to sponsor, who is about my daughter's age, and also likes drawing, as my daughter does. Some decisions are best finalized with the heart.)

I am not one to toot my own horn about my charitable efforts, but I am feeling so happy about these two gifts, most of all because my husband and children have supported me in wanting to undertake these two service projects. Four ordinary American individuals are stepping up to take a chance on helping some strangers halfway around the world. Just in time for Thanksgiving, that really drives home how we have a lot to be thankful for.

And I decided to share my feelings here, just in case any readers might catch the fever and want to make Christmas come early and last all year for themselves and some other deserving people, too. I haven't felt this excited about Christmas or looked forward as eagerly to a new year in a long time. If you want Christmas to feel like more than just another day on the calender following the traditional and expected long string of errands, chores, and shopping, jump in and try it!


UPDATE: Re: Thanksgiving:

Hugh Hewitt and Victor Davis Hanson offer lists of things to be thankful for. (Via Power Line)



Labels: , , ,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today's reads

Via Bookworm Room: Bill Whittle's response to being made to attend a legally-defensive mandatory sexual harassment seminar. His would be my response, too. In fact, that is the (secret) response of a lot of sentient and civilized adults forced to attend such stupid "reeducation sessions" who resent this offensive, condescending waste of time. I think it would be hard for me not to pipe up and point out on the spot how unselfconsciously offensive such indoctrination training actually is, in especially targeting white males--that is, if I really didn't care whether or not I kept my job. Bill Whittle, being almost 50, like me, escaped the widespread diversity indoctrination that most younger people receive at college these days. That's why most of his co-workers took the seminar without blinking--whether they accepted its validity or not. Honesty and openess? No way. Poker faces perfected by political correctness. And make no mistake about it, the chilling of honesty by political correctness imposes a heavy but mostly unseen tax on our economy (let alone on our souls).

A look at some interesting specimens of organic architecture via American Digest.

And for your 2008 Thanksgiving laugh, here's Mark Steyn's rejoinder about the Great Sarah Palin Turkey Slaughter. Come on, sensitive media folks and other anti-Palin liberals, my own ancestors wrung the necks of live fowl so they could eat them, and I'll bet so did yours. I'm just glad I don't have to wring the necks of the fowls I eat today: that's progress.

Zogby won't replicate the poll of Obama voters (see the "How Obama Got Elected" video) by polling McCain voters (via Neal Boortz).

Finally, something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: more terrorists sent to their Paradise and Victory in Iraq.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

That Certain Bayesian sent me links to a few things worth looking at:

Kitty Cat hitches a ride on a Roomba (robot vacuum cleaner)

The Infinity Bookcase for bookworms who need storage solutions (but I think this is a visual joke--how do you get to the books or the shelves inside the curves? Inelegantly, if at all). I far prefer and salivate over this ingenious Staircase Bookcase in a Victorian flat in London. What a superb idea, tastefully done, including the alternately elongated stair-treads. This one goes on my Master Christmas List.

Photos from the Japan Winter Light Show--it's beyond-Disneyland; makes the ordinary night sky that dazzled the Ancient Greeks look anemic.

Enslaving nature to capitalism (apples grown sporting corporate logos)--great breakthough, guys. I'll pass on that one, but it's perfect for Marketing Department types.

Speaking of wish lists, Instapundit points to 10 great treehouses...

and American Digest points to this fascinating photography site: check out the links for tilt-shift photography, high-dynamic range photography, and high-speed photography. Awesome.

Finally, the Corner at NRO gave us this Nerdtastic video that brought a lot of delight to our household of kindred spirits.

Okay, back to the real world.

Labels:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A silly moment, a silly meme

Oops, Bookworm tagged me in a blogger game that I can't resist joining in, either. Here are the rules:

Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!


So here goes, from my nearest book's page 56:

On a visit to Scotland several years ago, I made a point to visit the New Register House in Edinburgh, where vital statistics records are kept from 1855 to the present for all of Scotland. I had brought a notebook with me to record all the information I could possibly collect in the two hours or so I had allotted away from my scheduled tour. Records officials were most cooperative in helping me locate the records I needed, but they were most emphatic that notes be taken in pencil. For those researchers who arrived with only a pen, lead pencils were sold at the main desk. It is important to remember and to respect the age of the documents that you will be handling in your search.

Ho hum. This excerpt is from Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs by Karen Frisch-Ripley. I hope this book gets more interesting than this (even though I'd like to hear more about Edinburgh). Maybe this sample explains why I haven't picked up and read this book during the many past months it's been sitting on my desk near my laptop. All the more interesting books are on or beneath my bedside nightstand: Song of Solomon, Southern California, A History of Wales, Danzig Passage.

The truth is out: obviously I am a closet world traveler! And yes, a unrepentant bookworm.

I tag:

Maggie's Farm
American Digest
Mark Steyn
Roger L. Simon
Texas Rainmaker

Labels:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Anerican thinking in the Obama age

Can we speak in generalities? Depends on the situation, but Bookworm has a sobering post illustrating this conclusion:

“Liberal” is now an oxymoronic phrase stuck onto a totalitarian mindset that is filled with hatred of the other.

If you don't believe that, read the story of Catherine Vogt, an Illinois 8th-grade middle school student who conducted an experiment with wearing a McCain t-shirt to school, and was told to "go die." The only good part about this story is that after her experiment was revealed and shared with her class, some of the students realized what they had done.

Wonder if any of of the compassionate liberal commentors to this essay realize what kind of hatred of the other they're spewing out? Or how about these Obama supporters? We would've seen a lot more of these hateful nuts on a rampage if McCain had won the election.

Meanwhile, John McWhorter writes about "What Obama Means For Black Americans" -- including the new idea that now black kids can be studious and nerdy with impunity--just like Obama, the ultimate role-model smackdown. Ace sez, "Let me sharpen that up. There's no one left to blame." --

The worst aspect of racism -- in terms of actual impact -- in this country is not white racism, but hyperbolically overstated black claims of white racism, which in turn create a sense of futility, anger, and ultimately powerlessness and stagnancy in the black community.

The idea that learning or success is "white" is devastating to black advancement, and there's nothing whites or the government can do to change that. Blacks have to change that mindset themselves, and give up on a basically oppositional culture which seems to state that whatever whites might do is haram.


Hope for change? I'm hopin'.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Must-see music video

I've kind of been out of the modern music scene for a few years now that I'm an old person, but having teens in the house sort of gets you up to speed (at least as far as Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers go).

Today I discovered something that brings me happily up to speed--perhaps the most iconic music video of our post-modern age:


Also, it makes me laugh.

Hat tip to Clavdivs.

Labels:

"NO" on bailing out failing US automakers

Michelle Malkin posts an interesting email explaining that the three major U.S. automakers are in financial trouble because of their unions. No duh. Our Original U.S. Automaker, Henry Ford, could've told everybody that.

Any objective person could see for decades that this was where the trail would lead. The unionized autoworkers had a sweetheart deal milking the cash cow of the U.S. automakers for generations. They had their nice homes, their toys, their kids' college educations. Now the cash cow is finally ready to die off--but political friends of the unions and the company (mis-)managers in Washington, D.C. are ready to send them even more money, this time our money. Give me a break!

No U.S. taxpayer money should go to "bail out" or nationalize private corporations that should go bankrupt and be reorganized, sold off, or run out of business for good. Nobody but the employees of the poorly managed, non-competitive companies will really suffer, and they (like their suppliers and neighbors) should've been looking ahead.

Meanwhile, the rest of us know that the health of our national economy and that of our own households depends on supporting and purchasing the best things our money can buy, and looking ahead to maximize our opportunities while saving for rainy days. The union autoworkers should've known they were sitting on top of a good thing and bleeding it to death. Any who didn't see that or expect that should reap the consequences. Just like everybody else that dim does in the marketplace.

Personally, I voluntarily choose to buy Japanese cars with my money because I feel the Japanese automakers offer better quality and service, reflecting the fact that their companies are more carefully managed to maximize customer satisfaction and thereby earn profits. I am happy to both reward success and get a great car. But that's my free choice with my own dough. I don't begrudge anybody else buying whatever car he wants with his own dough--that's capitalism, baby--mutually satisfying, voluntary trade. But no way do I want my hard-earned savings taken from me at the point of the Democrats' governmental gun and turned over to union deadweights at companies I don't even patronize!

UPDATE: Further commentary at Maggie's Farm.


Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good news in politics

A report from Betsy that Michael Steele and Newt Gingrich are working together.

I wonder if I will ever be able to call myself a Republican. There has been so much so regrettable about that party ever since Reagan left. Although I consider myself more closely aligned to the traditional goals of the Republican party than of the Democrat, I just can't affiliate myself with it since the Contract With America fizzled out. I'd have to agree that the Republican party deserved to lose this last election.

UPDATE: Ha. Good start: Some Republicans filing suit to do away with McCain-Feingold. They should also work to oust legislators like these from the "sanctuary of crime."



Labels:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

A salute to all our veterans. Bookworm has put together a complete pictorial thank-you.

It is also my mother's 81st birthday, so I will be off early to visit her, after my regular volunteer stint at my local high school.

Counting blessings on this gorgeous autumn day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How to lose a republic

As luck would have it, I happened to be rereading, during the final days of last week's Presidential election, the autobiography of novelist Marcia Davenport, Too Strong for Fantasy. I have really enjoyed her novels (she seems to have been forgotten by most of the literati today), and her vivid portrait-biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Beyond that, she led an extremely interesting life during the turbulent times of the 20th century and knew some of its most unique and prominent people, making her well-written autobiography absorbing reading for me.

In Too Strong for Fantasy Davenport discusses at length her mysterious and obsessive love affair with the city of Prague and the people of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, engendered when she first visited there in the 1930's to begin her research on Mozart. She describes her later harrowing visit there just before the Nazis invaded, and her subsequent visits just after the war was over, when she bought a home in Prague and watched first-hand as the country tried to pull itself back together following its liberation from the Nazis by the Soviet Russians.

Her proximity, as well as her close association with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, son of the Czech Republic's first president, gives an intimate view of the tragedy of a democratic republic falling into the despotic control of the Communists. The Czech Republic, excepting the years of Nazi control, lasted from 1918 to 1948. In the post-WWII years the Communists, with direct control from Russia, and in collaboration with a collection of Czech socialist political parties (The National Front), sought to seize control of the country by exploiting all means, both overt and covert, both illegal and through the open democratic channels.

There were supposedly free elections and there was unfettered free political speech in the Czech republic following the war. But in the 1946 elections the Communists gained 38% of the votes and became the largest party in the Czechoslovak parliament. According to Wikipedia, "The Communists formed a coalition government with other parties of the National Front, and moved quickly to consolidate power."

According to Wikipedia, in 1945-1948:

The Front controlled all political activity, and its role was expanded to control of all organized activity of any kind, excluding only religion. Thus the Front was extended to include mass organizations that were not political parties. All large organizations of any kind were included, except churches. Among the organizations brought into the Front were:

  • Revolutionary Trade Union Movement (to which all unions belonged)
  • Socialist Union of Youth (1.5 million members)
  • Union for Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship
  • Czechoslovak Union of Women (1 million members)
  • Czechoslovak Red Cross
  • Union for Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship
  • Union of Agricultural Cooperatives
  • Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters
  • Svazarm (Union for Cooperation with the Army)
  • Peace Committee
  • Physical Culture Association
  • Union of Philatelists

All these groups were given the standard Communist organization, and Party members held all controlling posts. These groups permeated workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods. ...


Philatelists are stamp collectors. No group was immune from politicization, along with the usual suspects and tools--the unions, the military, the youth groups, the women's groups, the peaceniks, etc. This list is a brief illustration of the Communist way, which is to infiltrate and politicize every minute corner of human life by devious and/or thuggish means to subvert all power against any individual as an individual, and to focus ultimate power over life and death into the hands of the authorities of the collective. By any means possible.

A month after the 1948 Coup when the Communists took over the Czech government, Jan Masaryk was found dead, an apparent suicide, though evidence has since indicated he was assassinated on orders from the Kremlin. There were no more free elections or any free speech in Czechoslovakia after that, as we all know, until the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

Part of the reason why some of us are so glum in watching Senator Obama assume the Presidency of the United States stems from our knowledge of the despotic and bloody history of Communism (as illustrated in the mass murders, failed policies, and blighted lives and resources of the Soviet Union and its satellites, East Germany, China, Cambodia, North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, etc.). We have noted the oft-demonstrated failures of socialism--as demonstrated by the no-brainer welfare-state economic stagnation of the countries of Europe who have tried it and now seem to be backing away from it--and, sadly, as also demonstrated by our own experiments with a welfare state: LBJ's Great Society, Nixon's wage and price controls, FDR's New Deal and other policies that extended and deepened the Great Depression. Some of us have even studied history, philosophy, economics, or the literature of Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Thomas Sowell, Henry Hazlett, Friedrich Hayek, Ronald Reagan, William Buckley, Barry Goldwater, our nation's Founders, or the many other proponents of free minds, free markets, and limited government--and we have understood how what they said comports with reality.

We are glum because we see that much of what President-Elect Obama says does not comport with reality. Nor do we think that the policies he proposes will achieve their stated aims, nor do we think they will actually help the people he claims to want to help. In fact, we think the policies he proposes, if he can enact them, may bring grave harm to our country.

We are glum about the unsettling parallels between Communist means and methods and the means and methods of Senator Obama and his fellow now-unleashed Democrats, such as the nationalizing of heavy industry, the confiscation of private wealth, the abolition of the secret ballot, the strange disappearance of the Obama website's mention of his proposed youth volunteer draft), and using the tools of government to target individuals and crush dissent. We see unsettling and unprecedented parallels between his promised "fundamentally transforming" "changes" and the time-tested creep of subversive Marxism.

We are glum, in short, because we worry about Obama's ties to Communism and socialism. We see that his father was a breed of socialist and his mother was a "fellow traveler" and socialist sympathizer. The father-figure and mentor he calls "Frank" in his autobiography was Frank Marshall Davis, a Stalinist. We are glum because we know about Obama's many ties to socialists and anti-American radicals, and his Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing. We have seen the Obama supporters openly displaying Che flags and the Soviet hammer and sickle.

We are glum because we wonder if this is true--

"Obama's victory was more than a progressive move; it was a dialectical leap ushering in a qualitatively new era of struggle," Chapman wrote. "Marx once compared revolutionary struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface.

Kincaid and Romerstein wrote, "The clear implication of Chapman's letter is that Obama himself, or some of his Marxist supporters, are acting like moles in the political process. The suggestion is that something is being hidden from the public."


We wonder if Obama is a useful idiot or an actual mole. And man, we are glum because we hate the fact that we as Americans have to wonder that about our incoming President.

We are glum because we wonder: is this the way we, as Czechoslovakia once did, lose our republic?

Finally, our glumness is compounded to grief by the realization that a majority of Americans voted for this most "liberal," most radical, and most unknown Presidential candidate in our history for what amounted to the most shallow of reasons, aided and abetted by our nation's free press that deliberately refused to do its job to fully or honestly vet this candidate for the sake of our nation. It is a sad day to learn how ignorant some U.S. voters are, even those who consider themselves to be extremely well-informed.

Forty years after we started wondering (idly, as it turns out) why Johnny Can't Read, we now see how We Blew It, big-time.

As President Obama takes the oath of office next January, I will be experiencing hope and wishing for change. Hope he will prove to be a man equal to the Presidency who can learn some dire lessons on the job about his own country that he needs to learn (and evidently weren't ever covered at Harvard). I'll be wishing and hoping for a change in Barack Obama, that with the weight of the Presidency upon him he will move away from his earlier radical and ignorant positions to a better understanding of our country and of all the Americans he claims to represent and respect.


UPDATE: At least the rest of the world sees Obama for what he is. As the world goes, soon so shall Obama voters follow? (via Ace) And "It's almost like they don't understand economics or something." Or something.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one wondering at the parallels.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 07, 2008

Some silver linings following the election


1. I didn't have a hangover, at least, after the election (because I don't drink or do drugs anyway). Good for me for taking it all cold sober.

2. The interminable campaign is finally over. Gee, the birds are singing again.

3. Sarah and Todd Palin get to return home to Alaska and their families, where, I suspect, their hearts lie anyway. Thanks for your stalwart service, for braving the crap that was thrown at you, and now go enjoy your homefires and those kids! (Seriously, I found the Palins the one best spark of enjoyment in the election cycle.)

4. I don't have to be affiliated with or feel represented by Senator John McCain anymore. He is indisputably a true American hero, but not any kind of consistent conservative.

5. We have our first President from Hawaii (a great and interesting state), and our first mixed-race President. I sincerely hope this will prove to be as positively beneficial as so many seem to think. Personally, I don't vote by skin color or ethnic makeup (that's tribalism). And I don't expect what a candidate looks like to be sufficient or necessary to heal anything racial in our country. In fact, I expect the Obama Presidency will provide a lightning rod for more and new racial divisions originating in such racially exclusionary bodies as the Congressional Black Caucus, or anything affiliated with race-warlords like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Wright, etc., that might ironically be put forth in the name of improving or equalizing race relations while actually attempting to pit favored special interest groups against others. But I do sincerely congratulate and am happy for those Americans who have a positive emotional or personal reaction to this historic milestone. I hope with all my heart Senator Obama's win will really put an end to racist thinking in America. [UPDATE: Shelby Steele thinks not. (Via The Corner at NRO)]

6. We have a lot of new people joining the political process. Welcome to them! In my experience you learn more every time you vote and see how "your" candidate works out (in other words, you get older and wiser and more aware of cause and effect, of consequences and the cycles of history). The more you get involved, the more you learn, the more differences you can make, and the better you and America are for it.

7. Speaking of historical cycles, our beloved country has survived and thrived through a Revolution, a Civil War, the burning of the White House, an attack on New York City and the Pentagon, a Great Depression, two harrowing World Wars, the Korean and the Vietnam Wars, the Cold War, several Presidential assassinations, FDR, LBJ, the Great Society, Watergate, Nixon's resignation, two Presidential impeachments, slavery, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights reformations, the Carter years, and the Clinton years. I guess we can survive another resurgence of the tax-and-spend Democrats and a President Obama.

8. Thanks to our precious U.S. Constitution (the shortest and oldest written constitution of any major sovereign state), The United States of America has just shown the world how a republic continues to regularly, peacefully, and lawfully transfer power, as it has for over two hundred years. That's the real unspoken winner in the election.


Today's funny: Ha!!

Even funnier: Iowahawk's silver linings are gold. (Via Ace)

UPDATE: One more silver lining: at least for the next four years we get to listen to President Obama's mellow tones instead of President Hillary Clinton's screech. That's worth something.


Labels:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What to do now that the Democrats rule

Now that Senator Obama will be our next President, with an ever larger majority of Democrats in Congress, there is plenty of work for libertarians, conservatives, and independents to do.

How about building and growing a viable alternative news media industry (including and beyond broadcast and print) to fill the empty shoes of the one that so spectacularly failed and compromised itself this year?

How about organizing to ensure all elections and voter registrations are fair, accurate, and legal? Can we finally put to rest the shame of dead people voting in America this century? Can we start tackling the big problems of voter fraud, such as double voting in two or more states (via Instapundit)? Incidentally, that's what investigative journalism is supposed to look like. How about finding, supporting, and incentivizing more of that?

How about continuing the push (especially in light of Obama's proposed disastrous tax policies) toward finally adopting the Fair Tax? This is a non-partisan idea that will instantly remedy many of our country's economic ills and spur U.S. growth both domestically and in the global marketplace.

Or how about continuing to support the important "counterculture" organizations that have already made such an important mark in supplying ideas to our national conversation: The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, The Reason Foundation, F.I.R.E., Young Americans for Freedom, The Federalist Society, the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute?

How about advocating that our universities and colleges work toward real diversity of thought and speech? Why should we concede that our publically-funded universities should offer an undisputed haven to the kind of subversive radicals typified by Bill Ayers and Ward Churchill?

How about starting and funding more pro-free-market organizations, like Clemson University's Institute for the Study of Capitalism?

How about supporting young independent filmmakers and other artists who don't want to toe the politically correct "Hollywood" line?

How about including real education in economics, history, civics, and true debate and critical thinking in high schools? Much more can and should be done on the local and state levels to roll back apathy, inertia, and deliberate subversion by leftist teachers and administrators.

How about fighting for school vouchers and privatization wherever possible?

We've learned from all the twists and turns and revelations of this election year that our country needs us more than ever. Pick an area and pour your heart into it, starting November 5th.

Labels:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The libertarian option

Best overheard remark made by a libertarian yesterday:

Q. Who are you voting for?

Libertarian: The Democrat.

Q. What??? I thought you were a Libertarian!

Libertarian: I am. But when the only real choice that matters in our state is the Presidential choice between a Democrat and a Socialist, I'll vote for the Democrat.

Ba-doom.

It takes a moment to get that one, but I thought it was pretty clever. And apt. Get it? McCain = Democrat; Obama = Socialist? Libertarian in this case = a pragmatist. Sweet. Sweet to me, that is, a libertarian. A Libertarian, on the other hand, would be miffed about a vote for anyone but the Libertarian candidate.

Oh, those Libertarians. Big L or little l? It can get very confusing and amorphous as Libertarians and libertarians get into spats.

Personal history: I became aware of the new Big-L Libertarian Party when I was living on the South Side of Chicago (yes, that part of Chicago, the neighborhood of Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, and Louis Farrakhan) in the late 1970's. It was and is also the neighborhood of the University of Chicago, home of free-market economics, and many of my neighbors and intimates were grad students in the Econ Department and the B-School, the so-called "Chicago Boys." Anyway, such things were widely discussed, and I was quite excited to see the kind of Ayn Randian/Objectivist principles I had already embraced for several years emerging as the proposed foundation of the new Libertarian national party.

So, in 1980 I was very swept up in the Libertarian Party's petitioning battle for ballot access in all 50 states in that year's election. The Libertarian Party managed to gain ballot access in every state. No other third party had accomplished that since 1916 when the Socialist Party did it. The Libertarian ticket of Ed Clark and David H. Koch earned just over one percent of the popular vote (including mine), and was the most successful Libertarian presidential campaign up to then. I was as proud to vote on principles as anybody in their 20's can be, and cast my own South Side Chicago vote for Ed Clark that year. I remember surrounding myself with a prolific supply of green and white Ed Clark for President buttons and bumper stickers. But I do confess I also enjoyed watching Ronald Reagan as a Goldwater-esque conservative on the campaign trail. Knowing the Libertarians were a fledgling party that needed my symbolic vote, I was nevertheless very happy that Reagan bested the disastrous Carter and the irrelevant John Anderson that year. I was also glad when Reagan proposed free-market and/or libertarian policies, and, later, when Newt Gingrich or other Republicans adopted libertarian principles (small government, privitization, etc.).

In the years since then, I have learned to weigh the value of voting Libertarian against the danger of the Republican candidate losing, depending on where I was living, and voted accordingly. Since the 1980 election I have lived and voted in California (where I attended Libertarian Party meetings and knew some in the loose crowd that included Bob Poole, freedom and privatization proponent, former editor of Reason magazine and founder of the Reason Foundation), North Carolina (where I first encountered the colorful political terms "yellow dog Democrat" and Jesse Helms' name for the media, "egg-suck mule"), and the Commonwealth of Virginia (where one of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands was my senator).

I now live in a nameless flyover state where I improbably find a libertarian (with a small-l) radio talk show host, Neal Boortz, daily entertaining and educating the common man (like Joe the Plumber) about the issues and raising the general consciousness about economic and political verities. In the current election, Boortz agrees with other pragmatic small-l libertarians: in a tight race it is better to vote for a Democrat than a Socialist. I also agree with Boortz that the big-L Libertarian Party has not turned out to be what it once promised to be. I now tend to agree with Michael Medved that it has now become the Losertarian Party--at best, a spoiler in local and national elections, and at worst, a fantasy haven ("the political equivalent of a Star Trek convention") for social misfits unserious about the political process. Some of these people and their expressed views give the general conception of libertarian thought a bad name.

Maybe I just grew up--or old--or something. I still believe in libertarian principles. But perhaps, almost 30 years after the Ed Clark vote, and after all the votes that followed, and all the years of tempering, chastening, enlightening life that followed, I am perhaps more of a fusion libertarian-conservative in the Buckley mold. It remains to be seen whether my own experience is common, or telling, or worth anything, and if it is, what that means for our country's future, or the future (if any) of the Republican Party.


Labels:

Keep smilin' on voting day: we are blessed Americans

And today marks the last day of the longest Presidential election campaign "season" in history. Good riddance.

Great news on Sarah Palin: "Palin is cleared in 'Troopergate.'" I am not surprised, but I am relieved that justice was done.

Sad news: Barack Obama's grandmother has died in Hawaii. Condolences to the family.


And today's first election-day chuckle comes from Mark Steyn, who observes:

Re Dixville Notch [New Hampshire], several readers point out that the town has 19 registered voters.

Yet 15 voted for Obama and 6 for McCain. Which adds up to...

You gotta admit that Acorn operation's pretty thorough.


I saw CNN reporting this New Hampshire hamlet's landslide for Obama on the air earlier this morning (I thought it was against journalistic ethics to report voting results until a state's polls close?). I noted that CNN did not bother to report the number of total registered voters in Dixville Notch, though, probably because CNN assumed nobody would wonder about that, right? No, that's Mark Steyn's journalistic curiosity and initiative showing, in reporting that further factoid to those of us who did wonder. That's the way watching TV news is these days: see the pictures with a spin on TV, then go to the internet to find out the full story. Hey, we're lucky we can do that!

Thanks, Mark. We'll be needing much more of that kind of professional investigative persistence in the days to come. Especially on continuing stories like this and this and this and this that won't go away after the election, especially if Obama wins the Presidential hot seat. We'll need more info and analysis than ever on a President Obama's policies like this one. And of course, more facts will finally be made known as a President Obama's real biography is written.

Well, as Betsy says, and I share her longevity and her long view--

...I also am old enough to have lived through Richard Nixon's landslide victory in 1972, the Watergate election of 1974, Reagan's victories in the 1980s, Clinton's success in 1992, the 1994 euphoria, post 9/11 success in 2002, and the depressing results in 2006. I've studied enough history to realize that political results are cyclical. The Democrats are up now, but that will not be permanent and the wheel will turn again. Republicans have been on top and have made their share of bad mistakes. What we have to do is hope that the Democrats don't do too much permanent damage to the country in their time in the catbird seat.

Oddly, Betsy forgot to mention living through the Carter administration, with its talk of America's malaise, the long lines at gas stations (government imposed rationing), the astronomical inflation rates, the imposed thermostat settings and 55 mph speed limits, the Iran hostage crisis, and the erecting of the bureaucratic walls between U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies that contributed to the wild success of the jihadists' aims on 9/11. I remember all of that. I'm guessing it was an understandable Freudian blink on Betsy's part not to include Carter--because nobody really wants to remember all of the moral and political and economic depths reached and damage imposed by the Carter administration when we are staring in the face of an imminent Obama Presidency.

Well. It's not over yet.

Three things to keep uppermost in mind today:

Go vote. No matter how long it takes, be of good cheer. (And why not urge forward any venerable senior citizens and any veterans and military service members to move up ahead of you in line?)

Remain skeptical of the exit polls, all other polls, and all the early-evening media spin proven over the last election cycles to be much ado about nothing real. Be patient.

And as always, keep a sense of humor, look forward to more laffs, and keep your perspective on the important things in life beyond the political games. Remember, as our immigrant citizens tell us, our country is not broken.

And the only sure bet is always "This too shall pass."


Labels:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ain't the internet great?

May the best man win

This is serious: Senator Obama thinks it's fine to bankrupt the U.S. coal industry in the name of environmentalism. As Instapundit highlights, the coal industry provides for 40,000 direct jobs in West Virginia alone. Surely legitimate environmental goals for the nation can be achieved by consensus, not radical fiat. And can't and shouldn't such goals be instituted without having the government deliberately putting an entire industry vital to our economy out of business?

And "people say" Obama is the best choice for "change" out of our current economic doldrums? That "people" are going to vote for the most liberal Democrat to fix the economy?

Oh, he'll fix it all right.

And then we'll hear the Democrats, the liberals, the media elites, and the leftist college professors blaming the selfish, the evil rich and the evil corporations for our increased economic ills, with yet more government intrusion the only cure.

Gee, I'm sick of that song of childlike thinking.

It is worth noting that anybody who does not rely on the mainstream media or NPR for all their news and analysis, but who is willing to look around on the internet for serious investigation and news can truthfully say they do by now know a lot about Barack Obama, who he is, and what he stands for. Even though some, like Victor Davis Hanson, still say they don't know who he is or who he stands for, I think such a statement from scholars like him reflects more a growing horror of what this formerly "blank slate" has recently been revealed to be--it is almost too unbelievable that a radical, unaccomplished specimen like Barack Obama, very cleverly playing up his strengths and his skills as a stealth senator, has gotten this close to the Presidency of the United States.

Meanwhile, those citizens who have been too busy or too uninterested to pay attention to the details of the race, or those who have not been willing or able to seek out alternative media (including conservative talk radio) or dig into stories on their own, or who have only been reading the New York Times, watching TV (other than Fox News) or listening only to NPR are still living in a one-sidedly dishonest, media-induced dreamland.

Until proven wrong, I'm still betting that the majority of Americans have enough good old common sense to recognize what's at stake in this election. Senator Obama is too far left, and carrying way too much problematical baggage, to be an acceptable President for the majority of Americans.

In the meantime, the watchword is: Go Vote. Don't be discouraged or dissuaded by polls, media reports or predictions, long lines, inconvenience, or inertia. It's not over till it's over, and even in thoroughly blue states, every McCain vote counts.


Today's bonus:

Clever Hans the Wonder Horse (via Instapundit) and Junie B. Jones explain the 2008 election--! I love America, and the hurly-burly way she works, her creativity, her unpretentious non-intellectual intelligence, and the best of her popular culture, driven and fed by a million markets of individuals. We ain't gone down the drain yet. And no matter which way the election goes, there's still plenty to fight for starting on November 5th.

May the best man win. Who is obviously and indisputably John McCain.


UPDATE: Here is a fitting P.S. from Power Line. I know which candidate I'd want to have watching my back.


Labels:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Today's funnies - audio-visual department

Now for the lighter side of things--a few audio-visual bytes:

Cutest American Halloween costume of 2008

Best Welsh road sign (hat-tip to Annoying Pedant, who finds Gizmodo.com his favorite new timewaster)

Dog vs. Balloons at Totlol (Youtube for kids; h/t A.P.)

Chart of virginity rates by major at Wellesley College

Best Sunday comic



Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday round-up

The Halloween hoopla is over and done with. My kids (dressed as Heath Ledger's Joker and a manga-inspired Emo-Bo Peep) had fun spending the day at their respective schools in costume and then hauling home the candy with their friends last night. Today the final cobwebs come down and we realize--it's November already. Pilgrims and Santa will be on us in an instant.

Where did 2008 go?

So I took a breather this morning and looked around the net, and here are a few nuggets:

Thomas Sowell on a Conflict of Visions - a series of video interviews by Peter Robinson on "Uncommon Knowledge" from the Hoover Institution. After reading so many of his books, I have long believed Thomas Sowell richly deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for contributions to our country and to the world of ideas.

Another essay from Victor Davis Hanson: "The End of Journalism" (via Little Green Footballs). Lists all the important topics the media missed in covering the Obama campaign and explains in part why Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose still don't know who Barack Obama is.

"If Obama is elected I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage..." Au contraire, this is the kind of voter Obama is counting on.

Obama's best endorsement? Obama's illegal alien aunt, a refugee from deportation living on the public dole, made illegal contributions to the Obama campaign. If you read it in a novel, you wouldn't believe it. Obama says he didn't know. Yet he thinks government knows best how to enact charity. Maybe it's true in his case. (UPDATE: Obama's aunt is not an illegal alien, she's a "fugitive alien.")

FIRE's summary of its successful efforts to stand up for the freshman in the University of Delaware's thought reform case (via Instapundit). It is unbelievable that this kind of racism and coercion can actually be promoted by the administration at any institute of higher learning (coming soon to a college or university near you?).

Also note how "sustainability" is the new stealth leftist buzzword:

Most people would assume that when a university seeks to teach its students about sustainability, they are talking about environment-friendly practices, ecological concerns, and the like. In reality...schools use this codeword to attempt to coerce their students into accepting beliefs and ideas which go well beyond such matters...

Only recently have the goals and institutionalization of the movement become clear. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability [in] Higher Education (AASHE) says it "defines sustainability [in] an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations."...

Peter Wood, executive director of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) says, "It turns out that virtually the entire agenda of the progressive left can be fit inside the word ‘sustainability.'"

Dozens of universities now have sustainability programs. Arizona State is bulking up its curriculum and seems to be emerging as the strongest sustainability campus. UCLA has a housing floor devoted to sustainability. The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) has a sustainability task force and has joined eight other education associations to form a sustainability consortium....

At a conference, Kerr explained "the social justice aspects of sustainability education," referring to "environmental racism," "domestic partnerships" and "gender equity."...

[M]ost people have no idea what they are buying when they support sustainability.... It is not an educational program at all. The social and economic nostrums are pre-packaged, with nothing in the literature about reaching out for discussion and analysis of nostrums the movement doesn't already hold. Like many schools of social work and education, the movement has lost sight of the distinction between instruction and indoctrination. The leaders don't want to discuss. They have doctrines they want to impose.


An open letter to Obama from Cory the Well-Driller--one of the evil, selfish rich. Who will speak for people like Cory (and the people Cory employs) if Obama is elected President?

Something to while away the time this weekend: Making calls for McCain-Palin.