Friday, January 30, 2009
HOW'S MY DRIVING?
Well, let's see -- we've got a tax-cheat running Treasury, one Chicago croney refused entry into Canada for his criminal record, another cog in the Chicago machine kicked out of the Governor's mansion for trying sell the former senator's seat, a couple of other croneys set to be called as witnesses in the guberatorial criminal prosecution, an FALN-terrorist-booster heading for Attorney General, a defense contractor lobbyist hired in a supposedly lobbyist-free zone, a woman who called Hillary Clinton a "monster" now working under her at State, a headlong rush into Islamofascist hobnobbing via Al-Arabiya TV and overtures to Madmood (The-only-good-Jew-is-a-dead-Jew) Ahmadinnerjacket, and a colossal Ugly Betty glob o' pork fat laughably referred to as a Stimulus Package that lumbered through the House without even being able to get all the Democrats behind it.
Having gotten 'the new era of bipartisanship' off to a good start by failing to see that Republicans had any input whatsoever on the economic recovery legislation, and then 'splaining it to them by spurting out 'I won!' in a meeting, the new Communicator-in-Chief thought it would be a good move to attack by name yet another private citizen employed in the media, exchanging his fixation on Fox's Sean Hannity for the chance to take public pot-shots at the far more intelligent, clever, and influential Rush Limbaugh -- thereby setting himself up for a much more difficult job of sleazing the Fairness Doctrine (by any other name) past the American people without a huge ugly fight.
And then there's the I'm-too-COOL-to-wear-a-suit-to-work portrait of the president at work in an Oval Office heated up like a sauna, when he's been preaching to the rest of us to turn the thermostat down, even as he has teased Washingtonians for being wimps in the face of a little ice -- trying simultaneously to be imaged as a rugged Chicagoan and a Hawaiian hot-house flower all within about 48 hours.
Not to mention the 9/11 widows & families who are offended by his intention (it doesn't deserve to be called a 'plan') to close Gitmo, the military families who are cheesed that he's the first president in the history of the Medal of Honor Inaugural Ball to blow it off in favor of ten other more important events, and all of us who wanted to smack him for the ungenerous and falacious characterizations of what's been going on the past eight years, as recounted in his mooshy mess of an inaugural address.
ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?
Honest to God, in my worst imaginings of the unpreparedness of Barack Obambi for the position of Chief Executive, I never dreamed he could prove himself such a rank amateur in less than two weeks. I wish I could even enjoy it a little, but anyone with a half-decent survival instinct wouldn't be so foolish as to do that.
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT...DA-DEE-DAH
If there's one thing Mr. Obama proved about himself during the Long March to the White House, it was that, despite his prep school and high-falutin' college eddication, he is, um, as 'history challenged' as just about any kid stumbling out of an American high school these days.
So is it any surprise that the guy who thought that the Kennedy/Khruschev summit debacle of 1961 was a model of international relations outreach, and who didn't seem to know who the enemy was at Yalta or Potsdam, now thinks it a good idea to return to that 'respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago' ?
Now let's get more specific, Mr. President -- was that 30 years ago when we were cozy with the Shah of Iran (until we stepped aside to let him get overthrown), or was that 20 years ago, when some of us remember this:
YEAH, 'BAMA'S GONNA PARTY
LIKE IT'S 1989!!!!
The formidable Max Boot puts the boot to this clap-trap and gives the cliff-notes to those decades of history, vis-a-vis our partnership with those who were torturing Marine Col. William Higgins to death, issuing fatwas against the life of Salman Rushdie, hanging Ali Bhutto, and nurturing the seed of the Taliban. Ah, yes....
THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND
WE THOUGHT THEY'D NEVER END
(441, 442, 443.......).
[Who was the unmasked man?]
AND WE ALL KNOW HOW WELL IT ALL TURNED OUT:
President Jimmah Carter -- wasn't he just
(442, 443, 444-------------and, POW!)
To think I actually felt kinda sorry for that schmuck, Carter, when the split-screen tv showed his final limo ride on Reagan's inauguration day on one side, and the hostages coming home on the other. The bad guys didn't score quite that big again until September 11.
Well, we can't look for a knight on a white horse to come riding out of the west to save us this time -- but at least there are signs of hope (in the genuine, non-bumper-sticker sense):
Recently retrieved from the Lost and Found Dept.: 177 pairs of Republican GONADS, returned to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
WHITE FLAG ALERT
NEW PRESIDENT THREATENS
THE WORLD'S TYRANTS WITH....
THE COMFY CHAIR!!!
(Oh no, not the comfy chair!!!!)
America's new President Barack DID I MENTION THAT MY MIDDLE NAME IS 'HUSSEIN'? Obama wasted no time during the first week of his pontificate in:
(a) selling out the Poles and surrendering to Russia (despite claimed pledges to the contrary prior to the election); and
(b) going all kissy-face with the Muslim world, specifically Iran, during his first big TV interview on... wait for it.... Al Arabiya Television. (I guess if he had singled out one American network for the privilege of that interview, his other lovers would have been so jealous they might have lost that tingle in their legs.)
[h/t Gateway Pundit]
CHANGE YOU CAN RELIEVE IN
This just in:
Religion of Peace makes new overtures in
LOCAL MUSLIMS LAY CLAIM TO
4th-CENTURY MONASTERY --
Well, hey -- there was a mosque on the site two hundred years before Mohammed was born, wasn't there?
Mor Gabriel, on the Iraq/Turkey border, inhabited by Syriac Orthodox monks, was established in the year 397 and is said to be the world's oldest continuously operating monastery. It is part of a now much-dispersed religious community, something of an island within nominally secular territory, humming along without bugging anybody. Now some 'neighbours' in three local Muslim villages want the monastery broken up and parcelled out to them on the deranged pretext that the monastery's existence was preceded by a mosque on the same property.
Monastery == 1611 years old
Islam == 1400 years old
Ow, my brain hurts.
Anyway, it looks like a terrible place, and it's really got to go.
That would be the best thing for everybody. Right?
[Thanks again, Gateway Pundit
-- also for this "get out the vote" reminder: Kurdish women line up to cast ballots in 2005, carrying visual statements in support of their liberator -- I believe his name was George.]
Friday, January 23, 2009
Jay Nordlinger --
Stream-of-consciousness reflections on the address which was a heap of blanc-mange with a soupçon of cheap shots
Dick Morris -- WE'RE DOOMED
Here Comes Socialism
Michael Coren -- YANKS VOTE FOR DOOM
Barack Fools Us
[This article was written on November 8 but seems to have sprung to national attention just yesterday, mis-attributed to the some unknown person at the London Daily Mail, where you will NOT find it.]
Michelle Malkin --
JOHN MURTHA IS STILL A PIG
Pennsylvania Jihad Correctional Facility
Michelle Malkin --
WHITE EUROPEAN MALES ARE SO-O-O DEAD
Robert Reich: Keep stimulus money away from skilled workers and “white male contractors”
Iowahawk -- EPIC TIMES DESERVE EPIC POETRY
(Too bad about that Inaugural)
You-tube -- DUDE, WHERE'S MY TELEPROMPTER?
The President signs Executive Orders, if that's okay with Greg Craig
[Suffer through the bibble-babble to hear the Commander-in-Chief, uh, um, er, ask his lawyer if he's got it right -- minute 0:43 and 5:17 .]
National Catholic Reporter --
WOMEN'S HEALTH MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PRESIDENT'S
Mr. Obama will Executively Order more abortions, batch #1 (further batches to come)
Redhunter -- NATIONAL MALL FILLS WITH PEOPLE WHO COULDN'T GET INTO THE INAUGURATION
No, wait, they're people who want to defend the unborn child at the annual March for Life [new President invited, politely declines]
Winefred -- MICHELLE NEEDS A STYLIST
Apparently the cats have been out, at least among those with eyes to see, so I won't add any particular negative comments on the First Lady's wardrobe choices for the Big Day.
Oh damn -- yes I will.
I don't mean to be mean, because Michelle Obama is capable of looking smashing (see the teal blue dress at the Democratic Convention -- but then again, that was the night that her speech revealed she had been taken over by an alien being and experienced a complete personality transformation.) Her election night frock was freaky on her.
But oh my -- things went horribly wrong on the 20th. The gold brocade thing was a bad colour for her, and seemed to suggest, in an underperforming way, the kind of stuff worn by foreign monarchs (royal frumpery a la Queen Elizabeth), with a non-precious tiara at her neck because she didn't dare wear it on her head. (Piper Palin has no such qualms...) The green shoes and gloves were just plain strange.
And the white ball gown was, well, intended for someone else -- 20 years younger, a head shorter, shoulders 4 inches narrower.
And, I'm sorry, but I had just one vision when I saw it ===>
MEOW, MEOW, MEOW.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Throughout the political "season" (since when does a season last two years?) we have watched Juan Williams walk the tightrope between careful political analysis as the voice of rational liberalism on FoxNews, and the perspective of his own life as a black American, feeling the emotional tug of history at the prospect of the first black president.
A supporter of Hillary Clinton, he was nevertheless choked with emotion at the close of the Democratic convention at which Obama was nominated. On Inauguration Day his composure broke, just for a moment, as he tried to put into words what the day signified for people like him. (To his credit, he was ultimately at a loss for words, unlike so many others who treated their pedestrian observations as if the were profound.)
In the cold light of day (though he wrote it in the heady hours of the previous night), Juan Williams looks ahead to the comoing scrutiny of the new chief executive, and the perils associated with chronicling this historic figure -- and he
It is sufficient reading unto the day. Leave it for tomorrow to parse the vapidity and petty meanness of Mr. Obama's Forget-its-burg Address.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
MAD HATTER'S TEA PARTY (updated)
In 24 hours from just about now, we will have a new President
LET THE OBAMINAUGURAMA BEGIN
On November 5th I declared myself to be speechless, and I find this is the case once again, as we grow closer and closer to the moment where the rise of the oceans will be completely unaffected, and the planet will be in no danger of healing any too soon -- the moment when Barack Hussein Obama will assume the mantle of American leadership and ascend to the pantheon of American history.
Meanwhile, according to the Onion, ziss is ze time on Schprockets ven vee danz!
Congress Debates Adding Elaborate Dance To Obama's Inauguration Ceremony
On the subject of pantheons, of course, only gods belong there. If you're wondering whether that would be the appropriate place for the newbie, well, just ask him -- he hasn't even taken the oath of office yet and already he thinks he's Abraham Lincoln. When he starts to stumble -- and he will -- my God, he's given himself an extra long way to fall.
But apparently the occasion calls for some serious
GUSHING: See this article by Lorne Gunter at the National Post.
SLOBBERING: See this book by Bernie Goldberg, late of CBS
At Sunday's Lincoln Memorial rock concert, some very, very important people lent their voices to the celebrations, to tell us just how momentous was this day and how happy we should be -- better, smarter folks than you and I, to be sure: Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Jamie Foxx, Steve Carrell.
Steve F***ing Carrell, I'm telling you!!!!!
That Great American, Paul Hewson (otherwise known as Irish U2 vocalist Bono) recalled how Martin Luther King had spoken of his dream on these steps 43 (er, he stands corrected: 46) years ago. "Let freedom ring," said he. "On Tuesday, that dream comes to pass."
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall Dr. King's dream went something like this:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Is that what just happened here, over the past two years of eternal campaigning? Is that what happened on November 4? A man rose to the apex of American political power on the "content of his character" rather than the colour of his skin? [Dare I say it?] No -- I think not.
In fact the evidence suggests that Mr. Obama rose largely because his character was unknown (or suppressed) -- and because the same could be said of the content of his policies. He remains a cipher. Our most pressing question now: is this an accident born of his inexperience and unpreparedness? or is it the result of a deliberate strategy on his part to conceal, and to hoodwink a nation?
[Before the concert, Hewson/Bono told NBC's Brian Williams that when Obama swears his oath on Lincoln's bible, it will prove that "America exists." Begging your pardon, sir, we're here, we're queer (in the dictionary sense), we're not going away -- we have never gone away. Tell Saddam Hussein that America's existence has been in doubt these past eight years. Sheesh. What arrogant B.S.]
There are other pressing questions. Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard boils them down rather well, to four Fears -- here:
He doesn't know what he's talking about. (numbers, numbers, everywhere)
He's a pushover. (Pelosi will eat him for lunch)
He's another Jimmy Carter on foreign and national security policy. (diplomacy as panacea)
He has nerves of jello. (how deep is the 'calm'?)
Over at Commentary Magazine, Abe Greenwald has a less charitable, and much less optimistic take on the nature of the new administration. He claims that we are about to see implemented "The Doctrine of Fakism" at every level. I am inclined to agree with him. It hit me between the brows when I heard the Secretary of State Designate (looking tired and de-botoxed) declare that United States foreign policy must henceforth be an exercise in "smart power" -- I nearly lost my lunch. Are we really going to have to listen to this kind vacuous jargon for the next four years, our eyes trained in horrified fascination on the spectacle of overpaid elected officials treating this nonsense as if it has meaning, not to mention utility? Sweet Jesu -- take me now.
OH CANADA -- WHO KNEW YOU HAD A QUOTA
ON LEFT-WING EXTREMISTS AND WASHED-UP TERRORISTS?
How did I miss this? How did I not sniff it in the air, a crisp, fresh northern wind that said, "BILL AYERS HAS BEEN BARRED FROM ENTERING THE COUNTRY."
I don't know what possessed the folks at the border, but they stymied America's attempt to get revenge for all that garbage we're shipping to Michigan.
Obama buddy (and never doubt it -- he WAS -- is?) William Ayers, 1960's Weather Underground terrorist-honcho, was scheduled to spew his disingenuous nonsense at the University of Toronto, but was sent back to Chicago with his tail between his legs. (There has been no mention of what he did with his horns....)
Wolfe the Dauntless would be proud.
Sunday was also Sanctity of Human Life Day, as declared by the outgoing President. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted. That point of light will likely go out all over America in pretty short order. In the meantime, remind yourself what's at stake, courtesy of Deacon Greg and Catholic Media House here.
WHITHER HISTORY? TRUTH OR RAPE?
PBS Talking head Tavis Smiley wasted no time (we haven't even sworn the guy in yet!) in declaring that the election of Barack Obama demonstrates nothing about a "post-racial" era -- far from it, my friends, in that it merely shows that America is "less racist" than it used to be -- that this election is merely a "down payment" on reparation for slavery. Here's the tape, and one informed black dude's puzzled response at BlackInformant.com
Here's some more history that I ran across while feeling speechless and numb. It's the Leader of the Free World, striding into a situation where he is more vulnerable, in myriad ways, than any President has ever been. And he, and tens of thousands of Americans, show the world what we're made of. Watch and remember.
Mini-update: Forgot to mention -- when I watched the baseball game footage, I burst into tears for my country and said "What have we done? My God, what have we done?
THIS JUST IN:
SENTENCES OF RAMOS AND COMPEAN
Friday, January 16, 2009
Graduated first in his class at the United States Air Force Academy, B.S., class of '73; seven years as an F-4 Phantom fighter jet pilot; M.S. and M.A. degrees; 28 years with U.S. Airways; and, at the time of his heroic float-landing, he is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley!) Center for Catastrophic Risk Management.
[Wiki bio here]
Also the last man off the sinking airbus of flight 1549.
Just another one of those dumb losers who join the United States military for want of something more useful and productive to do.
Sorry to disappoint you, Senator Charlie ("no bright young individual wants to fight...") Rangel, and Senator John Frickin ("study hard... or you get stuck in Iraq...") Kerry -- he's a better man than you are, Gunga Dingbat.
He's also the founder of Safety Reliability Methods, Inc. I suspect the customers will soon be lining up around the block.
Their motto: "Proven Performance, Dedicated Professional Service, Uniquely Qualified Experts."
155 sets of happy feet walk on their way today, thanks to Sully. So nice to meet a guy named Sully who makes the world a better place. (Not like some other Sully's we could mention, but won't.)
FUN WITH PIE-CHARTS
Well, not pies exactly. Just some things that make you kinda go "Hm-m-m." [hat-tip: the ever reliable Gateway Pundit]
Just how dangerous is it to be in the U.S. armed forces under the evil George W. Bush (as opposed to....)?
Just how demanding and essential is the position of Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospital (relative to the increasing influence and earmark dollars of said Veep's nearest relative)?
(hint: Up until recently, this position was held by First Lady in Waiting Michelle Obama. The hospital has announced it has no plans to replace her.)
Now here's the real pie chart.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
AND THE PENALTY FOR ASSAULTING A POLICE OFFICER WITH A TRAFFIC-CONE IS...?
-- OR --
HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST A MAN ARMED WITH A POINTED STICK
Apparently England still swings like a pendulum do, and if the bobbies had bicycles they'd be fleeing two by two. Make your trips to Europe while you still can, culture fans, because at some point you're going to land there and find a smoking rubble with less of it left intact than if the Vikings had raided again.
MEANWHILE BACK IN DISNEYLAND, D.C.:
They're gonna party like it's 1861 -- except for the slavery part, of course.
Jammie-Wearing Fool brings us up-to-date on plans for the Most Fabulous Inaugural Bash of the Entire 21st Century so far -- and you can quote me on that.
Let the Abe-apalooza for Obamaham begin!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
PRESIDENT BUSH HOLDS FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE
BUSH GROVELS IN FRONT OF WASHINGTON PRESS CORPS SCUM,
LIKE THAT'S GOING TO MAKE THEM THINK BETTER OF HIM
I have nothing against the outgoing President beginning to engage in some deep reflection about the full picture of his record in office, and even to share it in televised interviews (although it is far too soon to be of maximum value). But to engage in confessional examinations before a roomful of hostile bloodsuckers who have, for the most part, consistently savaged him, lied about him, and betrayed the interests of the American people in the name of an inside scoop (with the added bonus of making Bush look incompetent and perhaps criminal), was a needless and inappropriate act of public penance, and served as an example of one the personal flaws which has plagued his ability to govern effectively.
I wish he hadn't done it, or at least had made his personal assessment brief, cool, and perfunctory, with the clear implication that he would reserve his deeper reflections for people who (a) read books, and (b) are open to learning from them -- qualities not evident in most of the members of the Washington press corpse.
That having been said, more thoughtful people are now pressed into hasty revision of the president's prematurely confessional swan song, among them Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, who crams quite a bit of wisdom into his Top Ten List here. Additionally, David Warren reflects on the fundamentals of the Bush years with considerable warmth -- available online tomorrow here, though I will take the liberty of sneak-previewing his typically bon mot, where he anticipates a week hence by raising "a quick toast to old Bush, and good luck to the new Obama (there seems to be a new one every day)." Heh.
Mr. Bush is who he is, and who he was, and that is often not a good thing for the rest of us, insofar as he is irrationally loyal to the undeserving or underqualified who are close at his side, and strangely myopic to the larger loyalty owed to the 350 million of his countrymen who stand at a distance and whose fate rides disproportionately on his solitary judgement; as he is loyal to principles arrived at instinctively and expressed simplistically, where events have called for lengthier exercise of more cool intelligence than heart, to arrive at complex principles far less founded (unfortunately) in faith in one's fellow man. (What better example could there be of misplaced faith than for Mr. Bush to bare his soul to a roomful of Washington reporters -- I almost said 'journalists! Ha! -- in hopes that they might gain a higher opinion of his legacy.)
Nevertheless, some salient facts keep hanging around: Islamist terrorism has been rocked back on its heels (though BY NO MEANS eradicated) around the world, its infrastructure hobbled and its image bruised, as it is increasingly responsible for more savagery against Muslims than against infidels of every stripe.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch,
2678 DAYS WITHOUT A TERRORIST ATTACK ON UNITED STATES SOIL.
That will be 2685 by inauguration day, assuming our luck holds out for another week (not that "luck" has much to do with it -- some of it, at least, is owed to warrantless wiretaps and waterboarding, but mostly to the strength projected by the American military, which kicks ass with its left foot while building brotherhood with its right hand).
ON JANUARY 20th, WILL PRESIDENT OBAMA INAUGURATE AN END TO HIS CAMPAIGN'S CONSTANT SOLICITATION FOR MONEY???
Yes, friends, those of us who, out of curiosity or for whatever other reason, signed up for emails from the campaign of the new techno-savvy candidate on the block, are still receiving a stream of solicitations signed by David Plouffe, Michelle Obama, and the President-elect himself, advertising inaugural tee-shirts, mugs, and a lottery of sorts for seats at the inaugural table, all couched in pleas for additional money in the customary easy-fraud amount of $5. Only in the fine print at the bottom of the page does one discover that the "be our guest" contest does not, in fact, depend upon coughing up some moolah, but merely requires a small essay on "What the inauguration means to me."
So I did it, my friends (as somebody recently famous used to say every couple of minutes) -- I made my second $5 contribution to the Obama campaign, once again using my Canadian-based credit card with my Canadian address, and then entering into the online form a completely different set of completely bogus personal information -- fake name, address, phone number, email, employment info -- and hit the "contribute" button. And -- VOILA!-- to no one's great surprise, it is still possible to make a fraudulent online donation to Obama Corp. I'll check back after St. Agnes' Eve and let you know whether this practice perseveres into the Dawn of the New Administration, "when the rise of the oceans begins to slow and our planet begins to heal". (At least I thought I saw the oceans moving -- maybe I was just so wasted, man.....)
I had an Irish grandfather (he died in 1945) who had a few favourite sayings, one of which was "If a man asks to borrow $10, always give it to him: if he returns it, you've made a friend; if he doesn't, you've bought $10 worth of information." In the public interest, I have expended $10, and gotten $10 worth of juicy information. What with inflation in the past 60 years, I'm willing to shell out a few more five-dollarses to see just how long this Obama fraud farce goes on. Will keep you posted. And when they come to take me away, presumably one of you will post more than $5 for my bail.
SPEAKING OF GARY SINISE
(and I often am)
He is the happy and well-deserving recipient of one of this year's Presidential Citizen's Medals, as well as an AARP Inspire Award for his work onm Operation Iraqi Children, which he co-founded in 2004 to put much-needed school supplies and other basics (shoes, blankets) into the hands of American troops (an important part of the process) to distribute to children in the war-zone.
Good for Gary. Similar kudos should have long since been heaped upon Jim Hake of Spirit of America, who has spent the last five years doing the same thing on a much wider scale, giving everything you can possibly think of to people of all ages in Iraq and Aghanistan, with the support of thousands of donors, via the hands of American troops. Perhaps if he were a movie star and USO rock band regular, instead of a mere businessman, his efforts would have come to greater notice in the Oval Office.
This is not to take anything away from Sinise, who is definitely the Bob Hope of his generation (though much quieter and humbler, and therefore a lot less funny!). But the work of Spirit of America has been simply staggering, and, although Hake has once been introduced to Bush, his work has not received the attention it should have, both from the president and from the national media.
If I were writing Rich Lowry's column, I would have put this omission at the top of the Top Ten Failures list for Mr. Bush -- he could not have prevented September 11th [no, troofers, he could NOT], but he could have rallied the nation together to do something other than "go shopping", and Spirit of America is exactly what the nation needed.
Had this kind of charitable work received timely attention from the president -- had he gotten behind the effort publicly and persistently -- I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Bush's position in the nation's eyes might be higher today, and that his road might have been a bit less lonely and bumpy. Even regarding Gary Sinise, it is telling that his medal has been awarded in Mr. Bush's final month, when Gary has been the public face of OIC, and probably the biggest draw for the USO, for almost five years. Better late than never, but LATE it is.
A gentle snow has stopped here in the Great White North, where a couple of inches of Global Warming lie on the ground around us. We begin a new era, sailing into the wind without Bill Buckley at the helm and Fr. Neuhaus as chaplain, and much of the world seemingly gone mad (or "Koo Koo for Cocoa-Puff"). Fortunately, both Bill and the good Father are now in a better place, where they are assuredly trying to convince the Boss that there are enough Righteous Men down here on the big blue marble to keep it safe for another generation. Let's hope so.
'Cause there's gators out there.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
First Monday of the New Year I wake up suddenly from a long deep sleep, smack in the middle of a dream in which I am moving into a holiday rental apartment in some sunny European country, with my family, friends, people I've never met, and Christopher Hitchens. [finger warning]
I swear it's true. I referred to him by name, and it was all so real. I think he was even red-faced and smoking. I don't think this augurs well.
There's all sorts of stuff, political and cultural, going on that's worth keeping an eye on, but such trivial matters must give way to real earth-shaking news, or, more appropriately, First Things first.
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus has died.
Fr. Neuhaus is best known these days as the editor of what is arguably the finest English-language journal of thought now in print First Things, published by the Institute for Religion and Public Life. Among other things, Fr. Neuhaus coined the term "the Naked Public Square" in reference to the wave of protests and bannings of Nativity scenes on public property at Christmastime. This became the consummate expression of modern ignorance and confusion at the intersection of Church and State.
There will be many words spilled over the coming weeks to memorialize Fr. Neuhaus, most of them more eloquent and knowledgeable than mine. But here's my 2-cents' worth.
Fr. Richard Neuhaus, was once Pastor Neuhaus, a Lutheran minister as his father was before him. This was one of his many conversions. Born in Ontario, he became an American citizen. Active in the anti-war and civil rights movements (you can see him at Dr. King's elbow in various snaps of the Selma march), he retained those principles and watched the movements abandon him as they morphed into Free Love and Black Power.
His most powerful epiphany came when, as pastor to a largely minority Lutheran church in Brooklyn, he looked out onto his faithful congregation and realized that the "quality of life" arguments being made in favour of abortion and euthanasia would have excluded in some measure almost everyone sitting in his church -- all of them endured some hardships which the Culture of Death would declare to constitute a life not worth living. This, for him, remained the civil rights issue of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Not long after this, Fr. Neuhaus found his home in the Catholic Church, but never lost his attachment to the spirit of Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue based on these universal principles. I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Neuhaus a couple of times, and hearing him speak. His talk for the Toronto St. Thomas More Lawyers Guild dinner was typically sharp and intelligent and substantive and inspiring.
But most memorable for me was his speech to an annual pro-life conference. Many of those in attendance were under-impressed. They said it didn't tell them anything new, or particularly deep. They had been looking for the intellectual Fr. Neuhaus. What they got was the pentecostal Lutheran preacher. For my part, I LOVED IT.
[*update: listen to the closing minutes here]
I would never have imagined that this often drily humorous, brainy, and pithy man had an "I have a dream" streak a mile wide rumbling inside of him. It was sheer delight to hear it. And when I finally saw the film of him dodging Bull Connor's dogs and thugs, the portrait was complete, and coherent. Without having known him well or read everything he wrote (not even close), I feel I have had a glimpse of who he really was.
As for the future, the United States has just elected as president a politician probably unmatched, over so short a career, in his dedication to the legislative furthering of the Culture of Death. Barack Obama is, beyond any possible question, the Abortion President, capital A. Never in the history of the country has a voice like Fr. Neuhaus's been needed more, and yet we are to move forward into this battle without him. How will we manage?
I suspect that our prayers for this good man will now be largely superfluous. Better to ask that he will pray for us.
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus 1936-2009
Requiescat in Pace
AT LEAST SOME THINGS ARE STILL SAME-OLD SAME-OLD:
Harry Reid is still nuts.
I agree on that last point, Harry.
But it's not just his military effectiveness that makes General David Petraeus my PERSON OF THE YEAR for 2008 -- it's how he changed the equation, and changed history, for all of us (and I mean ALL).
Months before the battle had really begun in earnest, Harry declared the war itself to be "lost". He was in abundant, if not good, company. But he and his company were wrong then, and remained wrong right up until a few minutes ago when the attempt to re-write history, and to credit the win to The Obamessiah, surged (as 'twere) into full swing.
Chronology: the "surge" strategy was adopted and began to play out in January of 2007 -- that is, the scheduled troop build-up of an additional 30,000 began at a trickle, [to continue until completed in June]. AQI reacted with the predicted mini-surge of their own, and on February 7 they flailed out desperately in the direction of a CH-46 piloted by Marine Lt. Jared Landaker, my son's Quantico room-mate, and ended his life along with all others aboard -- an act they turned into a sick ullulating-Allahu-akbar music video.
As events played out, following that particular flail AQI began to head down the straight road to being last-gasping dead-enders. Still, it was a road lined with land-mines of defeatism detonated almost daily by increasingly desperate congressional Democrats and their willing accomplices in the mainstream press and the Hollywood film machine.
During the period of the surge build-up, General Petraeus, along with Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, reported to Congress in July of 2007 and again in September of that year. The July report was preceeded by a panicked Democratic congress denying the surge's success, and trying to pass withdrawal date legislation to counter the threat of a positive report splitting the party. Ah yes -- could there be anything worse for the Democrats than that the American military might be winning?
The September report was preceeded by by the heinous slanders of Moveon.org's "General Betray-us" ad, and the spectacle of then-President-presumptive Hillary Rod'em Cowboy essentially calling the general a liar to his face. The entire period of January to September (as I waited for my son to deploy to Iraq in October) was a pageant of Democratic strategies to denigrate the American military and the Iraqi people at every turn, and to collapse the Iraq war effort before it could be turned into victory.
Most of the poseurs in this pageant made impossible proposals that would have left our military ridiculously vulnerable to slaughter-in-retreat. But the more they spluttered and fumed, the more they were frustrated by the word leaking out that the corner had been turned in Iraq and that peace was in danger of breaking out all over.
Petraeus and Crocker arrived in Washington in September, to sit in the hot-seat with every Democrat gun-site trained on them. They stood their ground. They spoke the truth, unadorned with excessive optimism but unapologetic about the prospects for success. They maintained more dignity in one fingernail than the entire Democratic caucus could muster in its collective flesh on a good day. Together they punched a giganticus hole in the defeatist balloon, and went back to walking the dusty path to victory.
That was 2007. Why is Petraeus the Man of 2008? Because, for better or for worse, his successful strategy shaped the politics of this election year. At first he gave John McCain his most winning issue (support for the surge) and weakened the effect of Barack Obama's important anti-war credentials. This left Hillary somewhere in the serious, moderately hawkish middle.
But in the end the success of the surge robbed all three candidates of what everyone had assumed would be THE issue for 2008 -- it fell off the front pages for lack of death and destruction to report, and McCain's prescience lost its punch. Suppression of battlefield realities also permitted Obama to charm his way centerward with candyfloss pronouncements on much less strident and divisive issues than war. By the time the conventions rolled around, it was all about the cult of personality. A week or so later it was all about the pocketbook and the stock market.
Petraeus kept his steady hand on the tiller and engineered a brilliant counterinsurgency, and the now almost secret victory in Iraq transformed the 2008 political landscape for both parties, with all that this implies for the immediate global future as approached by the new leader of the free world (Inshallah?!).
That's Part One of my Man of the Year argument. Part Two is much shorter: think how DRAMATICALLY the political landscape, both national and global, would have been transformed had Petraeus been permitted to implement his counterinsurgency strategy when he first recommended it. I BELIEVE THAT WAS SOMEWHERE AROUND 2004. I suspect we might now have a Republican president, and it wouldn't be John McCain.
SPEAKING OF THE HOLLYWOOD FILM MACHINE
Between September of 2007 and May of 2008, the following feature films (fiction, and I mean it) were put into commercial release for the delectation of the public:
In the Valley of ElahIn the "documentary" category, between March 2005 and January 2008, we had:
Lions for Lambs
Grace is Gone
The Battle for Haditha
Iraq in Fragments
Home of the Brave
No End in Sight
Taxi to the Dark Side
[confession time: of these, the only one of the twelve I've seen is Gunner Palace, which was well-done but achieved its goal of being disturbing by profiling only metal-head army privates]
This list of Iraq-war-related films is not definitive, but includes most of the high-profile ones-- to the extent that their box-office returns can be said to reflect any profile at all. The statistics are telling:
Total domestic box office for all twelve films combined -- $45.6 million
That's 54% of the domestic box office for The Passion of the Christ on its opening weekend alone.
That's 64% of the domestic box office for Finding Nemo on its opening weekend alone.
That's less than each of the opening weekends of the three parts of Lord of the Rings.
I'm just sayin'.
I left out of this calculation the film Jarhead, which was released in November 2005, but was ostensibly about the first Gulf War in 1990-91 (yeah, right). That film grossed a respectable $62.6 million -- $10 million less than it cost to make. Fortunately it made another $34 million and change in foreign distribution, and so was saved from ending in the red.
By recycling the previous war, Jarhead was able to get the jump on other productions, and catch its audience in a foul mood about a present war going badly. But it also gave the first taste of how far Hollywood would go to dump on the American fighting man. By the time the anti-war film machine got primed with fresher material, the American public had no appetite for what Hollywood was selling.
Speaking of "in the red" (and in Hollywood we're always at least in the pinko), the only films among the listed dozen to have supplied their budget figures to Box Office Mojo were Stop-Loss and Lions for Lambs. The former made less than half its cost back, and the latter made a profit only because its foreign box office was more than three times its domestic gross.
That, of course, is one of the great scandals of this film-wing of the leftist propaganda machine -- it sells better to our tepid "allies" and enemies than it does to the home front, sometimes substantially -- foreign distribution of Redacted, for example, out-grossed the domestic box office by 11 to 1!
[Bringing total revenue to a whopping great $780,000!!!!! Boy, was that a stinker!]
IN THE PIPELINE -- I hope?
In 2006 Warner Brothers/Valhalla Motion Pictures/Legendary Pictures snagged the rights to do a flick of Col. Matthew Bogdanos' book Thieves of Baghdad. Haven't been heard from on this subject since, as far as I can tell.
We're ready now -- the public has demonstrated (1) zero appetite for trash-the-troops movies; (2) big appetite for support-the-troops, support-the-Iraqis, support-the-mission fare.
So let's get on the project, people!!! I nominate Gary Sinise to star.
SPEAKING OF GARY SINISE:
GARY IN IRAQ/LT. DAN BAND ROCKS THE TROOPS
special program this Saturday on FoxNews at 9:00 p.m. eastern. Be there.