Monday, April 28, 2008
On this day:

McCain: Pay for your own damned statues

In an interview with NPR last Wednesday (as reported by the B'ham News here), Sen. John McCain reiterated what he said to his fellow Senators back in 2001 about Birmingham's Vulcan statue:

While the federal surplus is rapidly dwindling, why should federal dollars pay for a face-lift of a statue of a Roman god in Alabama? Not one more federal dollar should be spent on this kind of foolishness.

I ask my colleagues to extinguish this Roman god of fire and strike a victory for taxpayers ... and Metis, the goddess of prudence ... by throttling down our insatiable appetite for pork-barrel spending starting today.

As the News reminds us, McCain's effort to stop "this kind of foolishness" back then was rebuffed by his Senate colleagues, including Alabama's own Sen. Richard Shelby:
Led by Alabama's Sen. Richard Shelby, among others, the Senate easily voted to fund the Vulcan project.
Now, while the citizens of Birmingham may take some delight in seeing to it that Vulcan's naked posterior continues to moon the city of Homewood, I - like John McCain - don't see how that's any of the federal government's business. Unless, of course, they had intended to turn him around and point his ass towards Washington, in which case raising the necessary funds would not have been a problem to begin with.

UA vs. Daniel Moore

The saga continues.

Something just doesn't sit right with me when a state-owned, taxpayer-funded institution like the University of Alabama harangues a private citizen for depicting public events (i.e. UA football games) in his artwork. If there was ever a case where the "fair use" doctrine should apply, it seems to me that this should be it, since the University is essentially an agent of the State of Alabama and is therefore directly limited by the free speech provisions of the federal and state constitutions. The University's lawsuit against Daniel Moore has already been a great public relations disaster. Here's hoping it turns out to be a legal disaster, as well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
On this day:

Headin' down to New Orleans

I'm heading down to New Orleans tomorrow for Jazz Fest this weekend. I've never been to Jazz Fest before, so it should be a good time. Anyway, I'll catch up with y'all on Sunday or Monday. Take care all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008
On this day:

The politics of "anything goes"

Yeah, it's a shame, isn't it Barack?

Saturday, April 19, 2008
On this day:

Reagan's change of heart

This (Ronald Reagan's endorsement of Harry Truman for President and Hubert Humphrey for U.S. Senate in 1948):

...reminds me of this (President Reagan's response to a question by ABC's Sam Donaldson at a 1982 press conference):

Karl Rove goes on offense

Responding to a recent interview that MSNBC's Dan Abrams conducted with former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, Karl Rove asks the questions that both Abrams and CBS's 60 Minutes should have asked about Rove's alleged involvement in Siegelman's prosecution.

I don't know whether Rove is telling the truth or not, but if he's lying, it seems to me that taking on the conspiracy-mongers so directly would be a very risky strategy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008
On this day:

What is a conservative?

While I'm on the subject, that's the title of this article by NRO's Jonah Goldberg, which he wrote back in 2005. And here's another one in which Jonah describes some of the various strands, offshoots, and relatives of conservatism.

Yes, I'm a proud liberal...kinda

Don't spew your coffee just yet...

Following is my (slightly-edited) response to a comment on the previous post:

I would be happy to call myself a liberal if that perfectly good word hadn't been co-opted by the Left. American conservatism is actually quite liberal - in the classical sense of the word. Most modern American conservatives adhere to a brand of liberalism that is premised on man's inherent and inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, and which is tempered by deference to the importance of morality, tradition, and prescription to the life of a good and just society.

Russell Kirk - who many acknowledge to be the father of American conservatism - put forth ten general principles of conservative thought, which you can read firsthand here.

While each of Kirk's principles is essential to a free and just society, the last four are worth noting here because they suggest a classically liberal approach to government. (It's important to point out that Kirk was often critical of classical liberalism for what he believed to be its overemphasis on individualism and unbridled capitalism to the detriment of moderating forces like custom and continuity):
7. Conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.

8. Conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.

9. The conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.

10. The thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.
Left liberalism is fundamentally at odds with each of these four principles (and with the other six, for that matter).

Leftists do not believe that individual freedom and private property are closely linked. In fact, they have very little regard for either freedom or property for their own sakes. To the extent that Leftists value them at all, it is only because they serve as useful means to achieving collectivist objectives.

As collectivists, Left liberals generally believe that human freedom - if such a thing can be said to exist at all - must be channeled through the various mechanisms of the State in order to bring about a radically egalitarian society in which the old Marxist slogan "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs" can be fully realized. Liberty and rights are not viewed as inherent to our nature; rather, they are "goodies" that are selectively doled out by the State, since it is in the State - not God and not nature - that all liberty and all rights can be said to have their source. Due to the ever-changing wants and needs of the State and the society it governs, the reconciliation of permanence and change is not a Leftist objective; permanent change in accordance with fashion and convenience is.

Although both Left and Right in America can be said to be "liberal" in a certain sense, they can't be measured on the same "liberal scale," if by "liberal," you mean the classical liberalism of the Revolution. There's very little about the political philosophy of the Left that can rightly be called "liberal" under that definition, and it's unfortunate that such an admirable term is now associated with such foul-minded folks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
On this day:


To follow up on my last post in response to a comment, here are my main objections to Obama's San Francisco snobbery:
  • I cling to the right to keep and bear arms because I believe it to be an essential guarantor of American liberty.
  • I cling to the Christian religion because I believe it to be true, and that it is only through the love of truth that man's true nature is fulfilled.
  • I cling to the idea - which was made into a reality by the U.S. Constitution - that America is a sovereign nation, and that as such it has both a right and a duty to establish and enforce reasonable limits on immigration.
To suggest that those who worship their Creator or believe in gun rights or support reasonable restrictions on immigration do so out of bitterness - and to assume that this bitterness is due to material deprivation - is condescending, snobbish, and flat-out wrong.

As Rich Lowry said today on NRO:
At bottom, this is a profoundly insulting point of view. Consider Obama’s formulation. He makes it sound like no one would be a hunter or a Christian absent economic distress, that economic circumstances drive people into such atavistic habits. Has he considered that some people simply enjoy hunting? And view the right to bear arms as a guarantor of American liberty? As they used to say, "God made men, but Sam Colt made them equal."

The assumption is that only liberal attitudes are normal and well-adjusted: If only these small-town people could earn more income, get an advanced degree, and move to a major metropolitan area, then they could shed their chrysalis of social conservatism.
Thomas Sowell was even more blunt in assessing what Obama said:
Speaking privately to supporters in heavily left-liberal San Francisco, Obama let down his hair and described working class people in Pennsylvania as so "bitter" that they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them."

Like so much that Obama has said and done over the years, this is standard stuff on the far Left, where guns and religion are regarded as signs of psychological dysfunction — and where opinions different from those of the Left are ascribed to emotions ("bitter" in this case), rather than to arguments that need to be answered.

Like so many others on the Left, Obama rejects "stereotypes" when they are stereotypes he doesn’t like but blithely throws around his own stereotypes about "a typical white person" or "bitter" gun-toting, religious, and racist working-class people. ...

Obama is also part of a long tradition on the Left of being for the working class in the abstract, or as people potentially useful for the purposes of the Left, but having disdain or contempt for them as human beings.

Karl Marx said, "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing." In other words, they mattered only in so far as they were willing to carry out the Marxist agenda.

Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw included the working class among the "detestable" people who "have no right to live." He added: "I should despair if I did not know that they will all die presently, and that there is no need on earth why they should be replaced by people like themselves."

Similar statements on the Left go back as far as Rousseau in the 18th century and come forward into our own times.

It is understandable that young people are so strongly attracted to Obama. Youth is another name for inexperience — and experience is what is most needed when dealing with skillful and charismatic demagogues.

Those of us old enough to have seen the type again and again over the years can no longer find them exciting. Instead, they are as tedious as they are dangerous.
Now, I think Sowell stretches it a bit when he compares Obama's feelings toward the working class to those of Marx and Shaw. In Obama's case, it's more an attitude of condescension (and maybe even pity) than contempt. And in today's America - which with all its problems is still the best place in the world for the underprivileged to make their way in life - that sort of unjustified stare-down-your-nose condescension is the source of far more middle and working class bitterness than economic deprivation or class envy.

Monday, April 14, 2008
On this day:

The Bitterness of Barack

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
- Barack Obama, April 6, at a fundraiser in San Francisco
Some of these bitter folks are also known to take out their frustrations by creating clever Photoshops like this one (H/T Michelle Malkin):

Jimmy Carter meets with Hamas leader in Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former President Carter said he feels "quite at ease" about meeting Hamas militants over the objections of Washington because the Palestinian group is essential to a future peace with Israel. ...

"President Carter is a private citizen. We respect his views," Stephen Hadley, President Bush's national security adviser, said Sunday on ABC.

"The position of the government is that Hamas is a terrorist organization and we don't negotiate with terrorists. We think that's a very important principle to maintain," Hadley said. "The State Department made clear we think it's not useful for people to be running to Hamas at this point and having meetings."

Carter demurred.

"I feel quite at ease in doing this," he said. "I think there's no doubt in anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process."

Sounds like the former President could be auditioning to be Barack Obama's Secretary of State.

Sunday, April 13, 2008
On this day:

The American Pope

Pope Benedict XVI will make his first visit to the United States as Pope later this week.

Time magazine has this article on Benedict's fascination with America.

The New York Times has a blog devoted to the Pope's visit here.

And as always with matters Papist, check in with EWTN for the very latest.

Don't miss Peggy Noonan, either. She says that with this Pope, "Something Beautiful has Begun."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
On this day:

Me on Rove on Simpson

For the record, I find Karl Rove's characterization of Jill Simpson as a "loon" and a "complete lunatic" to be a bit over the top. Maybe it's accurate, but that sort of unrestrained outburst serves to cast doubt on Mr. Rove's own credibility when the focus should be on Ms. Simpson's.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008
On this day:

Karl Rove on Siegelman and Simpson

From GQ's outstanding interview with Mr. Rove:

Let's talk about the last couple of scandals you've been involved in. Don Siegelman in Alabama [the Democratic governor whom Rove was recently accused of trying to sabotage by forcing U.S. attorneys to bring corruption charges against him prior to an election]. What happened?
[rolls his eyes] Will you do me a favor and go on Power Line and Google "Dana Jill Simpson" [the Republican lawyer who told 60 Minutes that Rove asked her to take a picture of Governor Siegelman cheating on his wife]? She's a complete lunatic. I've never met this woman. This woman was not involved in any campaign in which I was involved. I have yet to find anybody who knows her. And what the media has done on this… No one has read the 143-page deposition that she gave congressional investigators—143 pages. When she shows up to give her explanation of all this, do you know how many times my name appears? Zero times. Nobody checked!

Then how did this happen?
Because CBS is a shoddy operation. They said, "Hey, if we can say 'Karl Rove,' 'Siegelman,' that'll be good for ratings. Let's hype it. We'll put out a news release on Thursday and then promo the hell out of it on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday." And Scott Pelley—the question is, Did [60 Minutes correspondent] Scott Pelley say to this woman, "You say you met with him. Where? And you say that he gave you other assignments earlier. When did he begin giving you assignments, and what campaigns did you work with him in? What evidence? I mean, this woman, she said she met with him: Okay, you met with him—where? Did you fly to Washington?" Now she says that she talked to me on the phone and she's got phone records. Of calls to Washington and Virginia. But what's Virginia? I don't live in Virginia. And it's 2001. What is in Virginia? It's not the Bush headquarters; that was in Austin, Texas. What is in Virginia? So—but look, she's a loon.

Siegelman: Rove should testify, but not me

Don Siegelman wants Karl Rove to testify before Congress about his role (or non-role, as the case may be) in Siegelman's prosecution. That's interesting, given that at least one Siegelman supporter in Congress - Rep. Artur Davis (D.-B'ham) - is doing all he can to prevent Siegelman himself from having to testify.

WASHINGTON - Rep. Artur Davis said Monday that Don Siegelman should not testify before Congress because it could endanger the former governor's criminal defense and distract the committee from its broader investigation of political influence in the U.S. Justice Department.

Davis, a Birmingham Democrat and leading Siegelman ally, announced his reservations about the testimony in a detailed letter to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

Davis said he feared Republicans would use the opportunity to discredit Siegelman; that his statements could be used against him; and that the committee would be overstepping its mission of oversight. (B'ham News, April 1)

Awwww...poor Don. Still afraid of a few Wascally Wepublicans. I can't say that I blame him. He'd likely face lots of uncomfortable questions about his many misdeeds. It's just funny that Siegelman expects Rove to talk to Congress about the case - which Rove was only marginally involved in, if at all - but defendant Don Siegelman apparently lacks the guts to do it himself.

Thursday, April 03, 2008
On this day:

A world without nuclear weapons: Is it possible?

President Reagan thought that it was, and today, George P. Shultz, who served as Reagan's Secretary of State for six and a half years, is helping to keep the dream of a nuclear-free world alive. In a five-part interview with Peter Robinson on NRO's Uncommon Knowledge, Shultz discusses how we might get there from here.

Watch the Shultz interview here:
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Like Reagan, Shultz is no naive idealist when it comes to the issue of nukes. He dismisses the possibility of unilateral disarmament and he takes the threat posed by nuclear-armed rogue states like North Korea and (potentially) Iran very seriously. Still, he believes that our ultimate objective should be to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether, while acknowledging - at least implicitly - that the realization of that goal may lie generations in the future.

As for me, I'm skeptical that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons will ever be possible, and even if it is, it almost certainly won't be accomplished in our lifetimes. But, it's OK to dream. Idealism isn't a vice; to the contrary, it can be a virtue, as long as it's tempered by a realistic understanding of human nature. It was just this sort of keen ability to maintain a proper balance between idealism and realism that made the Reagan-Shultz foreign policy so successful.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008
On this day:

Alice Walker on Barack Obama

This came just in time for April Fool's day:
I have come home from a long stay in Mexico to find - because of the presidential campaign, and especially because of the Obama-Clinton race for the Democratic nomination - a new country existing alongside the old. On any given day we, collectively, become the goddess of the three directions and can look back into the past, look at ourselves just where we are, and take a glance, as well, into the future. It is a space with which I am familiar. ...

I am a supporter of Barack Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the United States at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him, cannot hear the fresh choices toward movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

When I have supported white people, it was because I thought them the best to do the job. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change it must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves.

True to my inner goddess of the three directions, however, this does not mean I agree with everything Obama stands for. We differ on important points, probably because I am older; I am a woman and person of three colours (African, Native American, European); I was raised in the south; and, when I look at the world after 64 years of life, there is not one person I wish to see suffer.

I want a grown-up attitude to Cuba, for instance, a country and people I love. I want an end to the war immediately, and I want the soldiers to be encouraged to destroy their weapons and drive themselves out of Iraq. I want the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behaviour to the Palestinians, and I want the people of the US to cease acting as if they don't understand what is going on. But most of all I want someone with the confidence to talk to anyone, "enemy" or "friend", and this Obama has shown he can do.

The folks over at NRO have had some good fun with this. Jonah Goldberg says that Ms. Walker's piece merges "the goddesses of vapidity with the goddesses of arrogance and mumbo-jumbo." Stanley Kurtz weighs in here and here.