Monthly Archives: January 2011
Congressman Mike Pence (R.Ind), has been a tireless advocate of driving Worse Than Murder, Inc, a\k\a Planned Parenthood away from the Federal trough. Last week on January 7, he reintroduced his bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Here is his statement:
“It is morally wrong to end an unborn human life by abortion. It is also morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to promote abortion at home or abroad.
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“Fr. Whelan, a Catholic priest from Savannah came in and spoke words of cheer to the condemned and prayed for the forgiveness of their crimes. This lone priest was the only minister of the Gospel that ever came into the prison to speak a kind word or set aright our misguided souls. He made regular visits to the prison, consoled the dying and anointed the dead of his faith. Too much praise cannot be accorded this reverend gentleman for trying to turn sinners to Christ; but in the Last Day, Heaven will cry out for vengeance on ministers of other denominations for their indifference toward their kindred confined in prison.”
Charles Fosdick, Company K, 5th Iowa Volunteers
Hattip to commenter Jim Schmidt. Faithful readers of this blog will recall my post Priest of Andersonville in which I related the story of Father Peter Whelan, a Roman Catholic priest and Confederate Army chaplain who, on his own initiative, ministered to the tens of thousands of Union prisoners of war at the infamous Andersonville prison in 1864. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
One More Thing: It is hard to imagine a website more overflowing with savage hatred of political enemies than the Daily Kos. Just a few days ago, an enraged blogger at that site posted a vitriolic rant aimed at Rep. Giffords that has since been taken down but can be viewed here. Even if the idiotic theory that this gunman was “influenced” by a “violent” statement or image from the media were true, it would make more sense to blame this much more recent outburst of left-wing rhetorical violence against a conservative-leaning Democrat than it would a nearly year-old ad posted by Sarah Palin on Facebook.
Even though it has been established that Jared Lee Loughner, the man who shot Congresswoman Giffords and murdered/wounded several others on Saturday, has no easily discernible political affiliations, left-wing commentators are still using the incident to blame Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others for creating a climate of political hate.
In their warped little universe, only the right-wing is motivated to political violence. Well, I want to remind everyone of a few examples of left-wing related or inspired political terrorism, violence and insanity that have taken place within recent memory.
Remember Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer? 32 killed, 25 wounded, April 16, 2007. Violent hatred of the rich and wealthy, could have easily been inspired by far-left class warfare rhetoric. Violent hatred of God and religion, could have easily been inspired by left-wing hatred of religion.
Remember Harlan Drake? He murdered pro-life activist Jim Pouillon on September 11, 2009, while he was protesting. Violence against pro-life political activists is routine, and violence against women by the disgraced butchers we call abortionists is also a common occurrence.
Who can forget the SEIU thugs who beat up a black conservative named Kenneth Gladney at a Townhall meeting in St. Louis back in August of 2009?
Or how about the Black Panther thugs who intimidated voters on election day and ranted in the streets about “killing crackers” and their babies?
Though it didn’t take place here in the U.S., I have to give special mention once again to the eco-fascist snuff film “No Pressure”, which was released and quickly canned in the UK. This is one of the most horrific and violent propaganda films I have ever seen, and far surpasses most American television shows and movies in terms of gore. Of course there is a long history of environmental and animal-rights terrorism from the left.
I refuse to engage in dialogue with anyone who thinks political speech on either side should be silenced because of any of these incidents or any that have occurred on our side of the spectrum. Your position is unacceptable, hypocritical, and morally contemptible.
Update: What will the shameless Democratic and left-wing hacks blaming Palin, Beck, and Limbaugh for today’s shooting say about images such as those covered here? One more thing: the shooter evidently had a problem with God, so I blame Christopher Hitchens. How’s that?
For those who haven’t heard yet, Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 11 other people, including a judge, were shot at public event in Tuscon, AZ. As far as I know, Giffords is alive and in critical condition. The judge, John Roll, did not survive.
Since this was apparently a politically motivated shooting – though details are still coming in on the shooter and his possible motivations – it has necessarily generated a great deal of political anger. Before I get to that, I think it is important to say first of all that each of us should say a prayer for Giffords, Roll, and the others who were gunned down today. Do it now, if you like.
Now to the business at hand.
All of us on the political right, and particularly those of us in the Tea Party, are going to have to bear the political consequences of this shooting, regardless of whether or not the shooter had anything to do with our movement. The left-wing mediasphere has wasted no time blaming the Tea Party and particularly Sarah Palin for Gifford’s shooting.
Yes, Sarah Palin is being singled out for blame because of the political ads she ran during the 2010 election season with the faces of various Democratic congressmen and women in crosshairs. But if she is to blame, so is the radical leftist and unbelievable hypocrite who runs the Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, who urged his readers to “target” and put a “bulls-eye” on Gifford’s district (she is, after all, a blue-dog Democrat). The truth of course is that neither of them are to blame.
It should be obvious to anyone who isn’t trying to use this tragedy to justify a wave of political repression that these images almost certainly had nothing to do with this shooting. No one who is mentally balanced would be driven to such a desperate act by merely seeing it, and someone who is already unbalanced could find a thousand different things to justify it.
We will also hear renewed calls for gun control, and undoubtedly AZ’s gun laws will be blamed for the shooting. Defenders of the 2nd amendment must stand firm in their resolve and not be intimidated. Our right to bear arms is constitutionally protected, and our right to self-defense is a natural right that does not come from governments but from God. Nothing can change that fact, though unfortunately there are many who will give into fear and panic and believe that restricting these rights will bring them all of the security they think they need.
Above all we cannot let this derail the movement for limited government and fiscal responsibility. We should consider moreover that as a blue-dog Democrat, Giffords is more and not less likely to cooperate with the Tea Party. She faced a very intense challenge from a Tea Party candidate in November, and I don’t think she would have been able to win the seat or keep it if she did not work with her opponents on key issues. That’s why she was on the Daily Kos’ “target” and “bulls-eye” list.
I have a feeling, though, that voices calling for political repression and censorship of “dangerous” political ideas will gain a great deal from this. I wonder, though, how many leftists blaming Sarah Palin for this have a problem with eco-fascist snuff films such as this, in which children are blown to bloody bits for failing to take simple measures to reduce their carbon footprints. I wonder if they would link such vile films to tragedies such as this one. Yes, we should “look into” the connection between global warming snuff films and global warming murder-suicides.
U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was one of over a dozen people shot today at an event in Arizona, and federal judge John Roll was one of those killed in the shooting. Early reports indicated that Rep. Giffords had died, but now it appears that she pulled through surgery, and her prognosis is positive.
The alleged shooter was Jared Lee Loughner, and Daniel Foster has some screenshots from the shooter’s YouTube page. Unsurprisingly a disturbed individual.
Pray for the victims and their families.
Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world.? But the Marines don’t have that problem.
Something for the weekend. The oldest of the official songs of a branch of the US military, the composer of the Marines’ Hymn is unknown, but is thought to have been a Marine serving in Mexico during the Mexican War, hence the “Halls of Montezuma”. The music is taken from the Gendarmes Duet from the Opera Genevieve de Brabant, written by Jacques Offenback in 1859.
Prior to 1929 the first verse used to end:
” Admiration of the nation,
we’re the finest ever seen;
And we glory in the title
Of United States Marines”
which the then Commandant of the Marine Corps changed to the current lines. On November 21, 1942, Commandant Thomas Holcomb approved a change in the words of the first verse’s fourth line from “On the land as on the sea” to “In the air, on land, and sea”.
My favorite rendition of the hymn is in the movie The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) This film earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor. (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.) Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Styker as initially written in the screen play. (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.)
Wayne was convinced to take the role because the film had the enthusiastic backing of the Marine Corps, which viewed it as a fitting tribute to the Marines who fought in the Pacific, and to help combat a move in Congress to abolish the Corps. Marine Commandant Clifton B. Cates went to see Wayne to request that he take the role and Wayne immediately agreed. (Thus began a long association of John Wayne with the Marine Corps, including Wayne narrating a tribute to Marine Lieutenant General Chesty Puller.)
Appearing in the film were several Marine veterans of the Pacific, including Colonel David Shoup, who earned a Medal of Honor for his heroism at Tarawa, and who would later serve as a Commandant of the Corps, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Crow who led a Marine battalion at Tarawa. The Marine Corp hymn is sung in the film after the death of Wayne’s character, one of ten films in which a Wayne character died, and as the raising of the flag is recreated.
Taking part in the flag raising were Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the six flag raisers who survived the battle. (The three men who raised the flag and subsequently died in the battle were Franklin Sousely, Harlon Block and Michael Strank.) (First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, who led the flag raising party that raised the first, smaller, flag on Mount Suribachi, and who was awarded a Navy Cross and a Silver Star for his heroism on Iwo Jima, also appeared in the film.) The flag on top of Mount Suribachi could be seen across the island, and was greeted with cheers by the Marines and blaring horns by the ships of the Navy. A mass was said on Mount Suribachi at the time of the flag raising and I have written about that here. Go here to see the ending of the Sands of Iwo Jima and listen to the Marines’ Hymn. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Joe Biden gives dating advice to the daughters of new members of the Senate. This video is a prime example of why Biden has always been a figure of fun to me rather than a figure that gets me angry. Joe Biden is none too bright, as he has demonstrated by his endless gaffes, and a few instances of plagiarism, and I regard his policy positions, notably his pro-abortion position, as appalling. However, the man does have a certain daffy charm, rather like a sweet old uncle who, at every family reunion, confuses the names of most of his nieces and nephews, specializes in non-sequiturs, and invariably will end up passed out on the pile of coats in the spare bedroom. Of course, the dazed and confused sweet old Uncle isn’t a heartbeat away from the presidency, Heaven help us all, as Joe is.
I have just finished a rather thorough book on the history of the ratification debates written by Pauline Maeir, titled Ratification: the People Debate the Constitution. The recurring theme throughout the debates from the Constitution’s opponents is concern that the Framers had created a centralized state that would, especially through its vast taxing powers, become corrupt and tyrannical. I have been over this to some extent in a previous post, and I once again highlight the words of the Anti-Federalist writer Brutus because it is one of the best expressions of anti-constitutional angst:
Exercised without limitation, it will introduce itself into every corner of the city and country. It [the national government] will wait upon the ladies at their toilett, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bed-chamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take the cognizance of the professional man in his office or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop and in his work, and will haunt him in his family and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour, it will be with him in the house and in the field, observe the toil of his hands and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States.
Fast forward 223 years later (or more than 100 years if you’re Ezra Klein), where we witness the Constitution being read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives. Republicans have promised that in every proposed piece of legislation they will cite the constitutional authority for each provision – and contra what the New York Times may think, Congress, and not just the Judiciary, has the authority and ability to interpret the Constitution for itself as a body (as does the President). The reason for all this as that conservatives feel that a more filial observance of the powers – and limits to said powers – of the Constitution will reign in the federal government. In other words, we need to more faithfully interpret the Constitution if we want the federal government to become less centralized and less tyrannical.
So were the Ant-Federalists right? Reading Maier’s book, as well as any selection of the Anti-Federalist papers, one is almost tempted to label the constitution’s original critics as prophets as indeed many of their worst dreams came true. Perhaps the most prescient prediction is that the federal government would, in essence, swallow up the states as state and local governments have diminished in power and authority over the years.
It’s also worth remembering that the Constitution was intentionally designed to increase the power of the federal government. I cringe a little when conservatives claim that the Constitution was designed to limit the powers of the federal government. Well, in point of fact the Constitution was meant to improve upon the Articles of Confederation and make it easier for the federal government to act. Under the Articles of Confederation legislation required unanimous consent among the states. Further complicating matters, some states refused to furnish needed funds to keep the national government solvent. So the purpose of the Constitution was in fact to enhance federal authority.
But the story doesn’t end there. The delegated powers were few and well-defined. One of the principal Anti-Federalist arguments was that the Constitution lacked a Bill of Rights, to which the Federalists responded that the Constitution itself was a bill of rights. The people need not fear that the federal government would engage in actions that were clearly outside of its delegated authority. Eventually the first Congress would adopt a bill of rights, partially as a means to placate reluctant ratifiers.
And so now proponents of limited government turn to the Constitution in order to justify a more limited state. Are we simply wrong? Perhaps the Constitution’s grant of authority is as broad as the Anti-Federalists feared, and we are clinging to a mistaken notion of what the Constitution does and does not prohibit. I’m sure several people reading this would tend to agree with that notion. Anybody remotely familiar with my writing would not be surprised when I say that part of the crisis we face is due to a neglect of the original intent of the Constitution. The problem lies principally with a judiciary that has mis-interpreted the Constitution so overwhelmingly that they have rendered large parts of it – especially the Tenth Amendment – practically null, while expanding and twisting other elements – notably the commerce clause and 14th Amendment – to fit their needs. Personally I think the case of Wickard v. Filburn did more damage to the Constitution than any other decision other than Roe. If you’re not familiar with the case, do read the opinion of the Court as handed down by Justice Jackson, and see how the Court – unanimously – decreed that eating food that you grew on your farm somehow affected interstate commerce. Once such a tenuous connection was made between private activity and interstate commerce, the floodgates were opened, tempered only slightly by narrow Supreme Court decisions in the late 90s that did not fully reverse the reasoning behind Wickard.
At any rate, I find it mildly amusing that proponents of limited government have transformed from the most virulent opponents of the Constitution to its most vocal supporters. I suspect that conservatives and leftists will have wildly varying opinions as to what that signifies.
Since this site has so many fans of the Texas A&M Aggies and the LSU Tigers on it, I figued it’d be fun to have a chat about their upcoming game. To get stuff started, MJ (Aggie fan & alum) and I (LSU fan & alum-not sure if anyone noticed I’m an LSU fan) exchanged 5 questions about the upcoming game. Go beyond the jump to see the discussion and be sure to comment & trash talk (in a Christian charitable way, of course) in the combox!
Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, but the Alamo had none.
Thomas Jefferson Green
The heroic last stand at Thermopylae of the 300 Spartans under King Leonidas, along with a few thousand other Greek hoplites in 490 BC, has long fascinated Americans. Fighting to the last for freedom has served to inspire Americans in times of war. The recent movie 300, although I greatly enjoyed portions of it, especially the final speech which may be viewed here, was more a comic book brought to the screen, Mark Miller’s graphic novel, rather than any attempt to be historically accurate. Perhaps the finest living expert on classical Greek warfare, Victor Davis Hanson, points out just a few of the inaccuracies in the film:
300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.
The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes. Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield. The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient.
However, Hanson was a fan of the film:
Again, purists must remember that 300 seeks to bring a comic book, not Herodotus, to the screen. Yet, despite the need to adhere to the conventions of Frank Miller’s graphics and plot — every bit as formalized as the protocols of classical Athenian drama or Japanese Kabuki theater — the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there: Leonidas, against domestic opposition, insists on sending an immediate advance party northward on a suicide mission to rouse the Greeks and allow them time to unite a defense. Once at Thermopylae, he adopts the defenses to the narrow pass between high cliffs and the sea far below. The Greeks fight both en masse in the phalanx and at times range beyond as solo warriors. They are finally betrayed by Ephialtes, forcing Leonidas to dismiss his allies — and leaving his own 300 to the fate of dying under a sea of arrows.
But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.
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The comments to Darwin’s recent post on Ross Douthat’s pro-life column reminded me of a question I’ve had for some time, and I’d like to hear from TAC contributors and commenters in its regard: is there a difference between conservative and libertarian perspectives on economic policy? Or is the distinction between conservatism and libertarianism found in other areas of public policy? I tend to think that there is in fact a difference; I think, for example, of the proposal advanced by Ramesh Ponnuru and other bona fide conservatives for a sizeable child tax credit ($5k, if memory serves), but such a policy proposal would seem to be antithetical to libertarian principles (and in fact numerous libertarians disagreed with Ponnuru on the grounds that tax policy ought not be used to further any specific agenda).
If there is in fact a difference between conservative and libertarian perspectives on economic policy, my follow-up question is this: what is the nature of the difference? (Even though I do see a difference, I don’t know the answer to this question.)
As noted in the title, this is a bleg, not an argument… I’m curious what others think.
As we enter a new year, I want to offer some thoughts on both recent events pertaining to the struggle to roll back abortion and the Culture of Death, as well as the historical significance of these ongoing efforts. In a sense, I will be delivering first the somewhat bad news, but then the encouragingly good news.
The disappointment lies in the political defeats of the 2010 election season, though to be quite honest, I and many others fully anticipated these defeats. In Nevada, Missouri, California, Florida and Montana, and there may be other instances I’m not aware of, propositions that would establish that life begins at conception (known as “personhood” or “human life” initiatives/amendments) failed to even appear on the ballot. Activists could not obtain the required number of signatures in these states.
The one personhood/human life amendment that did make it to the ballot, Colorado’s Proposition 62, was rejected by 70% of the voters in that state. One bright spot was to be found in Alaska, where a parental notification measure was passed with 55% of the vote. These defeats echo a similar wave of defeats suffered in 2008 across several states. Though this strategy has obviously failed, in almost every instance pro-life activists are preparing for another round of personhood propositions in 2012.
Please understand that I have nothing but admiration and respect for the pro-life activists who engage in these campaigns. They give up time and money to participate in the greatest moral cause of our generation, and for that alone they are to be commended.
But it is now time for the leaders and activists in the pro-life movement to reject the “personhood” ballot initiative movement. These efforts have failed more than once, they have diverted scarce financial, political and human capital away from more realistic pursuits, and the continued defeats could easily lead to a chain-reaction of demoralization within and desertion from the pro-life ranks.
As faithful readers of this blog know, I am an attorney, and I have written several posts which may be read here, here and here, warning about some of the pitfalls of the profession, especially the financial cost of attending law school. The facts of law school debt as opposed to the job market have become so grim that even the American Bar Association has now issued a warning on the subject that may be read here. This is significant since the ABA has studiously ignored this problem for over a decade, even denying that there was a problem, and has passed out accreditation to new law schools with a glad hand. Well, better late than never.
Far too many law students expect that earning a law degree will solve their financial problems for life. In reality, however, attending law school can become a financial burden for law students who fail to consider carefully the financial implications of their decision.
You can underline and put several stars by that! The general public has the illusion that the law is a quick path to riches. Few things are farther from the truth. Except for the top 10% of the top law schools most new attorneys, if they can find employment, will be starting out at around 40-45k a year. When I graduated from law school in 1982 I started out at 16k. Earning 40k a year and having 100k in law school debts is a very bad situation, and decades of dealing with a huge debt, which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy except under the most extreme circumstances, await.
Obtaining a degree from an ABA-accredited law school is not cheap. Over the last twenty-five years, law school tuition has consistently risen two times as fast as inflation. Consequently, the average tuition at private law schools in 2008 was $34,298, while the average in-state tuition for public law schools was $16,836. When one adds books and living expenses to tuition, the average public law student borrows $71,436 for law school, while the average private school student borrows $91,506. Many students borrow far more than $100,000, and these numbers do not even include debt that students may still carry from their undergraduate years.
The numbers speak for themselves. I would never have taken on this type of debt to become an attorney, and if I had, I can’t imagine how I would have serviced that debt in my first lean decade as an attorney. There is more good news for people about to begin law school: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Many have sought to question the Zionist narrative that Israelis are strictly the victims of Arab hate when it comes to Middle East conflict and their darkest fears are certainly confirmed by this story of Mossad perverting nature in order to spy on their neighbors:
Saudi Arabian security forces have captured a vulture that was carrying a global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitter and a ring etched with the words “Tel Aviv University.” They suspect the bird of spying for Israel, Maariv-NRG reported Tuesday. The GPS and ring were connected to the bird as part of an long-term project by Israeli scientists that follows vultures’ location and altitude for research purposes.
The arrest of the vulture – whose identification code is R65 – comes several weeks after an Egyptian official voiced the suspicion that a shark that attacked tourists off the Sinai shore was also acting on behalf of Mossad. The incidents may reflect a growing irrational hysteria among Arabs surrounding Israel’s military prowess and the efficacy of its intelligence services, possibly fueled by the Stuxnet virus’ success.
With the New Year’s Day bowls past us, it’s time to revisit the Bowl Pick’em. Look below the jump for the analysis… →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion. I have heard that a similar offer has been made to President Ahmadinejad of Iran in regard to the next Superman movie. Unfortunately he turned it down. Clark Kent looked too Jewish to him.
Ross Douthat, like many who find their way as the “house conservatives” of highly liberal organs such as the NY Times where he currently makes his home, is not necessarily beloved by hard-driving conservatives. He is far less likely than those who write as independant columnists or for conservative organs to thunder our denunciations with fighting words like “liberal fascists” or “femi-nazis”. And as a fiscal and cultural conservative, I at root disagree with the approach of his how-can-we-find-a-way-to-offer-more-government-benefits-to-the-middle-class wonkery in Grand New Party. However, I do seriously admire the extent to which, on hostile soil, he is able to compellingly lay out Catholic/conservative principles on essential moral issues in a way which is, though soft-spokely polite, nonetheless seriously compelling. A good example of this is yesterday’s column in which he writes aboout the contradiction in American culture of how the unborn are treated sometimes as a disposable “choice” and at other times as a precious commodity desperately sought after through fertility treatments and surrogate parents:
The American entertainment industry has never been comfortable with the act of abortion. Film or television characters might consider the procedure, but even on the most libertine programs (a “Mad Men,” a “Sex and the City”), they’re more likely to have a change of heart than actually go through with it. Reality TV thrives on shocking scenes and subjects — extreme pregnancies and surgeries, suburban polygamists and the gay housewives of New York — but abortion remains a little too controversial, and a little bit too real.
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