September 29, 2010

Dancing with the Stars...

A conservative friend suggested the other night that Sarah couldn't be elected President, because she carries too much baggage. He mentioned Tina Fey's SNL skit. But he's stuck in 2008. If a person is silly enough to judge a candidate on vague impressions from TV, then it will now be Dancing with the Stars that sticks in their mind.

The Palins have leap-frogged their critics again. And it's another bit of "American Dream" stuff. First we had "PTA mom can become governor," and maybe president. Now "plump kid from the sticks is a glamourous hit on TV." And both of them pull it off so well, yet remain, well, ordinary.

Rush Goes "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren:

...GRETA: One last question. Which politician currently do you admire most or impresses you the most?

RUSH: Which politician do I currently admire the most?


RUSH: Is that the question?


RUSH: You know, you asking me a question; if I answer this, I'm gonna make a lot of enemies. It's really hard to say. I really look at Sarah Palin, however, and I look at everything they've thrown at her, I look at the attempts they have made to destroy her: a decent, good, patriotic woman, not done anything to anybody. And, in fact, she has lived the life that the feminists told us women should do. She has had it all. She's a family woman, she started out in the PTA, got involved in her kids' lives and took it further, wanted to go into politics at a higher level, try to fix things. She's done it all, and she has not withered under the efforts to literally destroy her. You have to admire that. You have to admire people that don't quit and don't give up, especially doing it with a smile on the face. She's defied them all along. Even Republicans said when she retired with the governorship, "Well, that's it, she's never gonna amount to anything."

Look at her. Her daughter is on Dancing with the Stars, crossed over into the so-called mainstream. Entertainment Tonight's up in Wasilla. Entertainment Tonight? I mean that's the Hollywood left. They're up there being entertained with exclusives of Sarah Palin. It's gotta just be rubbing the Democrats raw. This is not what was supposed to happen. This woman was supposed to be a standing joke, and they can't make a joke out of her because she's a very serious woman who loves being an American, loves life. And you have to admire how she's stood up under this withering attack. And there are a lot of people on the Republican side I could say that about. I don't mean to leave others out by simply mentioning her. But a lot of these Tea Party people. Sharron Angle. They're going after her. What's she done to anybody? She hasn't done anything to anybody...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:46 AM

September 25, 2010

"Everything else turns out somehow boring anyway"

...Anyone who thinks he already has it all, so he can take what he wants and center everything on himself, is depriving himself of giving what he otherwise could. Man is not there to make himself, but to respond to demands made upon him. We all stand in a great arena of history, and are dependent on each other. A man ought not, therefore, just to figure out what he would like, but to ask what he can do and how he can help.

Then he will see that fulfillment does not lie in comfort, ease, and following ones inclinations, but precisely in allowing demands to be made upon you, in taking the harder path. Everything else turns out somehow boring anyway. Only the man who "risks the fire", who recognizes a calling within himself, a vocation, an ideal he must satisfy, who takes on real responsibility, will find fulfillment. As we have said, it is not in taking, not on the path of comfort, that we become rich, but only in giving.
      -- Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World, page 258

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 PM

When men are making commonwealths...

...A man's soul is as full of voices as a forest; there are ten thousand tongues there like all the tongues of the trees: fancies, follies, memories, madnesses, mysterious fears, and more mysterious hopes. All the settlement and sane government of life consists in coming to the conclusion that some of those voices have authority and others not. You may have an impulse to fight your enemy or an impulse to run away from him; a reason to serve your country or a reason to betray it; a good idea for making sweets or a better idea for poisoning them.

The only test I know by which to judge one argument or inspiration from another is ultimately this: that all the noble sentiments of man talk the language of eternity. When man is doing the three or four things that he was sent on this earth to do, then he speaks like one who shall live for ever. A man dying for his country does not talk as if local preferences could change. Leonidas does not say, "In my present mood, I prefer Sparta to Persia." William Tell does not remark, "The Swiss civilization, so far as I can see, is superior to the Austrian." When men are making commonwealths, they talk in terms of the absolute, and so they do when they are making (however unconsciously) those smaller commonwealths which are called families. There are in life certain immortal moments, moments that have authority. Lovers are right to tattoo each other's skins and cut each other's names about the world; they do belong to each other in a more awful sense than they know.
        – GK Chesterton, The Illustrated London News, 2 July 1910.

(Many thanks to The Hebdomadal Chesterton)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:37 AM

September 22, 2010

amazin' idiocy...

Dahlia Lithwick:

I have been fascinated by Christine O'Donnell's constitutional worldview since her debate with her opponent Chris Coons last week. O'Donnell explained that "when I go to Washington, D.C., the litmus test by which I cast my vote for every piece of legislation that comes across my desk will be whether or not it is constitutional." How weird is that, I thought. Isn't it a court's job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional? And isn't that sort of provided for in, well, the Constitution? ...

Actually, the Constitution has always belonged to all of us. The idea that deciding whether something is "constitutional" belongs only to the Supreme Court is a recent innovation. In many ways it is part of the toxic fallout of the civil rights movement. Power-drunk liberals have relentlessly pushed the line that the court is an assembly of demigods, blessed with superior wisdom and the power to legislate beyond the sordid failings of democracy. and have held up decisions like Brown as oracular.

I spit upon the idea with the utmost contempt. There is nothing about this in the Constitution itself or the words of the founders. I fear the other branches have been lazy and cowardly, and allowed their natural powers to be eroded.

Of course even with a more conventional view of Constitutional Law, Lithwick's remark is still silly. It is political amorality, similar to saying that I can steal anything I want, and it's the police's job to stop me...

* Update: John at Power Line, referring to the same quote...

...This is a useful reminder that a dumb conservative is smarter than a smart liberal....
Posted by John Weidner at 9:31 PM

September 21, 2010

Witch of the West...

Quoted by Rand Simberg...

Glenn Beck:

"In Delaware, we have an avowed Marxist against a witch. The only question: is she a good witch or a bad witch, because there's no such thing as a good Marxist."

(Just because I occasionally have readers from faraway places, I hasten to add that Ms. O'Donnell is not a witch; she merely fooled around with the idea in high school. Now people are using the issue to distract from the real issues.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:48 AM

September 20, 2010

Real people do stupid things in high school...

I like this post by Lexington Green, Witchcraft as a Class Signifier:

...The smug people who run the mainstream media have lived their lives in a cocoon. I imagine them all spending their squeaky clean, college-focused, uptight, upper-middle-class teenage lives worrying about their SAT scores and living in terror of hurting their chances of getting into an Ivy.

Millions of other people spend those same years working after school changing the oil in the deep-fryer, getting demerits and doing detention, taking drugs, dealing drugs, smoking cigarettes, getting drunk in the woods, getting in fights, listening to loud music, getting pulled over for driving Dad's car too fast, driving on the back of their boyfriends' motorcycles without a helmet, throwing up in the bushes, getting arrested at a loud party for lipping off to the cops, getting screamed at by their (single) Mom when they showed up home at 2:00 a.m., and so on. Some of them end up in prison. But most of them turn out OK, anyway....

I've known some little high school over-achievers who are going off to a "good" college to study journalism. That's just too too crazy to me. Maybe because I still have an interior picture of the journalist reporter as a hard-drinking chain-smoking working-class guy burning up shoe leather to get stories about murders and sports and political scandals.

The thought of a prissy journalist is just too stupid for words.

And as for prissy politicians, Lex writes...

...I suppose we will have to always have Senators who are clenched, careerist, smooth, zero defect people with their memorized talking points and brittle hair and a phony laugh, who are comfortable with wealthy lobbyists and the protocols of places where the people with big money spend their time. That whole insider schtick makes them "electable." It is also boring and pathetic. And it is not what most of America is all about. For now, these guys own the place. And they are supposed to be wicked smart. Just ask them. But they are doing a piss poor job. They may not be dumb, but they have botched things anyway. They have dug a multi-trillion dollar hole they expect the rest of us to dig out of.

You could not do much worse even if you were praying to Satan the whole time...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:21 AM

September 19, 2010

A political heresy?

I thought this piece, It's not about the Tea: Catholic Christine O'Donnell Rejects Political Heresy — Catholic Online, was very interesting for the way it mingles politics and religion (Which I think is just common sense. Ones core philosophy is reflected in both.):

...As a Catholic I contend Christine's win was not only about the tea party. Do not get me wrong, I truly admire the movement. However, Christine O'Donnell is simply trying to be a faithful Catholic Christian. She may not remember me, but I met her many years ago. I was involved in one of several efforts I have undertaken in my life (none of which have "succeeded".. yet) of attempting to organize Catholics to inform their political participation in fidelity to the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church and a hierarchy of values - NOT based upon Partisan political labels. She espoused then what she espouses today....

...However, there is a "political dualism" emerging in Republican circles which MUST be exposed and rejected. The argument is that there are "social" and "economic" issues and they must be kept "separate". Proponents claim we can "only win if we stay focused on the economic issues". Mitch Daniel and Haley Barbour are the most recent examples. WE MUST SAY NO!

For example, the reason we care about expanding economic opportunity is because we respect the dignity of every human person. The reason we want to ensure the application of the principle of subsidiarity and keep government at the lowest level is because we respect the primacy of the first government, the family. Social and political issue cannot be separated, just as the soul and the body cannot be separated.

Catholics must reject the efforts to divide the "economic" and "social" spheres. Like the earliest heresies in the Church which separated body and soul, the separation of economic and social issues is a political heresy. I encourage Christine O'Donnell to run based upon this important truth. I will be watching her race with great interest....

Actually I'd add that the separation of economic, social, and national defense issues is political sickness. The health of the body politic flows from the health of all our souls. and part of the sickness of our time is the spreading belief that nothing is worth fighting for.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:01 AM

September 18, 2010

"Nothing more solid than social consensus"

Charlene picked this quote out of the Pope's address at Westminster Hall to civil authorities....

If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
This is true quite apart from any religious issues. It is true like gravity is true. Like the Second Law of Thermodynamics is true. This is the same problem I covered, much less eloquently, as the problem of inertial navigation.

It's the same problem that occurs if , say, you try to guide your life according to what makes you happy. How do you define happiness? How do you differentiate between short-term happiness, and long-term happiness (which might require doing things that make you very miserable in the short-term)?

To guide your life by any standard where you define yourself, from inside yourself, is like being the lab rat in an experimental maze, and at the same time, being the one who runs the experiment. It's a trap.

When a society guides itself by "social consensus," that's exactly the same trap.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:50 AM

September 16, 2010

Changes within my lifetime...

Charles Murray, On Energetic Government and Unlimited Government:

... But where does David get the idea that the "energetic government" he lauds in the administrations of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln was more or less the same thing conceptually as "energetic government" now, on a somewhat smaller scale? A difference in kind has occurred, and it is reflected in difference in size.

Forget about the 19th-century budgets, which would make the comparison ludicrous. Instead, consider the federal budget in 1963, on the eve of President Lyndon Johnson's ascension to power. In 2008, dollars, as are all the numbers that follow, the federal government spent $782 billion that year, almost half of which went to defense. The entire federal government spent just $259 billion on domestic non-defense items (I exclude interest payments on the national debt). In 2008, while we were still under the compassionately conservative eye of President George W. Bush instead of the spendthrift liberals, the same domestic non-defense items amounted to $1.7 trillion. Shall we remove Social Security from that calculation? Then the numbers go from $150 billion in 1963 to $1.1 trillion in 2007—a sevenfold increase.

You don't increase spending by those amounts without changing the role of government in ways that go to the heart of the American project. That truth is reflected in the qualitative record. In 1963, 30 years after the New Deal started, the federal government still played little role in vast swathes of American life, from K-12 education to the way people went about providing goods and services to their fellow citizens. We can argue about which of the subsequent interventions were warranted and which were not, but not about this: The way that presidents and Congresses see their power to intervene in American life in 2010 is profoundly different from the way they saw it in 1963. In 1963, among mainstream Democrats as well as Republicans, it was accepted that an overarching purpose of the American Constitution was to limit the arenas in which government could act. Now, the recognition of that purpose has all but disappeared—in the executive branch, in the Supreme Court, and in Congresses controlled by Republicans as well as by Democrats. There has been big change, reflected in big government....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:35 AM

September 15, 2010

"Power, like nature, abhors a vacuum."

A few thoughts on the Christine O'Donnell nomination... Governor Palin: It's Time to Unite:

...It's pretty simple: when the shoe is on the other foot and the more moderate candidate defeats the more conservative candidate in the primary, what always happens is that the more conservative candidate gets behind the more moderate candidate. It's time for moderates to act in defeat the same way conservatives act in defeat and that is to support the winner....

Ain't that the truth. Those who keep telling us to support moderate Republicans should include in their calculus what the "moderates" do when they lose. Specter, Crist, Murkowski. Anybody think Castle will lift a finger for his fellow Republican?

A Long-Overdue Overhaul for Delaware Republicans? - The Campaign Spot - National Review Online:

...Both parties in Delaware have been led by blue-blood patrician types for eons. That probably isn't unusual in most states, but in a small state it plays out in a very interesting way. The big donors and loyalists of both parties are members of the same bar association, members of the same country clubs, do business together and send their kids to the same private schools. They live in the same neighborhoods, too. This co-mingling created a genteel centrist quality in Delaware politics that has not been challenged in any significant way, until now. All these folks live in Wilmington's old money neighborhood and its upscale suburbs. The rural southern counties (long the base for conservative Democrats) never counted for much politically — except for producing a few powerful codgers in the legislature. Now, the only voters the state GOP has left in any concentration are the rural conservatives, yet the party blue-bloods have ignored them (the 2006 Senate nominee was so pathetically liberal, he was to the left of the Dem — Tom Carper).

Remember Dede?

Upset over the Upset in Delaware - The Corner - National Review Online:

...What this really should communicate, I think, is that the Right needs a lot more Club for Growth–style candidate-recruiting efforts. If conservatives do not like O'Donnell, then they should be out identifying better candidates to run against vulnerable RINOs — because somebody is going to run. These incumbent takedowns are going to inspire a lot of new people to get into electoral politics, many of them without the sort of experience or backgrounds that Establishment types are comfortable with. Power, like nature, abhors a vacuum....

* Update: And this:

Response to Jonah - The Corner - National Review Online:

...What I think is a little rich is for folks who declare war on the party establishment to expect that same establishment to bankroll them.

That would be a good point, except that Republican establishment groups all ask the little folk for donations. When they come asking me to contribute, you would never guess that they are up in the elite stratosphere, nor do they mention their preference for moderates.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:02 AM

September 12, 2010


This post is not important; it's just a piece on Sarah Palin that seemed very silly to me, so I'm fisking a bit...

Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune, Sarah Palin would face a losing battle running for president:

...What is overlooked is that she would have big handicaps in a Republican presidential contest as well. Palin has made her name railing against Obama, congressional Democrats, mosque-builders, the news media and other conservative targets. In a GOP primary, those positions would make her stand out about like one Cheerio stands out from the others. So other considerations — competence, experience, temperament, electability — would dominate. [Actually, the other possible candidates have been conspicuously flabby in attacking those targets. Can you name one thing they've done comparable to "death panels," Mr Chapman? Have you noticed the White House reacting to any of them the way they do with Sarah?]

[And perhaps you haven't been paying attention, but lately she's been making a name supporting or attacking REPUBLICANS. You might want to look into that, if the busy life of a "journalist" lets you find time.]

Instead of making the case that she would be an improvement on Obama, she'd have to explain why she would be preferable to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, among other possible contenders. [Oh yeah, those guys are perfect. How could anyone POSSIBLY make a case against them??]

It's one thing to tweet your thoughts about Obama and Nancy Pelosi or endorse candidates on Facebook while hiding from skeptical reporters. It's another to match wits on issues with smart, well-informed, politically savvy conservative opponents who are determined to expose your shortcomings. [If they are so savvy, why is everyone obsessing over Sarah? Why are you so eager to demolish her, Chapman? Why do you care?]
If Palin couldn't handle an interview with Katie Couric, how would she handle debates? [People keep going back to the Couric interview, like it's some sort of security blanket. But Sarah is interviewed on TV frequently now, and can you show one time she's flubbed up? If that interview was such a "defining moment," how come we haven't seen the un-edited tapes? How come people like Mr Chapman aren't pressing to see them?] Those come fast and furious in the primaries — and both Romney and Huckabee can draw on their 2008 experience. [So can you remember one single debate moment by those guys? I can't.]

In that kind of setting, winks and one-liners won't take you far. Her opponents will ask her questions she would rather not answer, such as "Why were you for the Bridge to Nowhere until you were against it?" [That's easy to answer. She learned more, and realized it wan't a routine highway project. Lots of things look good before investigation.] and "If you walked away from the governorship, how can we count on you not to quit the presidency?" [Also easy to answer. She continued to be the effective and engaged conservative leader she has been since 1992.] They will also display a grasp of substance that Palin doesn't have and shows no interest in acquiring. [Anyone who's actually READ some of her substantive speeches knows what desperate nonsense that is. Here's a link. If any of your boring white-bread guys gave this speech, you would be hailing them as "smart, well-informed, politically savvy conservative opponents."]

[Oh, and Chapman, do you think Sarah's the only one who will get hard Q's? How's your boy Mitt going to answer questions about RomneyCare? How's Huckabee going to explain raising taxes and releasing cop-killers?]

This last reality is a clue that those who want her to run will be disappointed. If she were serious about a White House bid, she would have spent the past two years making herself plausible as president. [With a blandness implant?] All Palin has done is make herself a major media phenomenon, as well as a wealthy woman.

Right now, she's a hot commodity that has soared in value and seems destined to get even hotter. But the same was once true of housing. Palin is another bubble, which a race for president would soon burst. [Did you not write similar stuff when she was running for VICE-President? And when she resigned as governor? I'll bet you said, "Whew. The bubble has burst, and I'm safe in my comfortable nihilism."]
Posted by John Weidner at 10:42 AM

September 11, 2010

And did the Countenance Divine, Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

Scott Hahn, From A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God's Covenant Love in Scripture

...We aren't accustomed to contemplating the symbolic meaning and divine mystery present within the world. Since the Enlightenment, many people have viewed God as a clockmaker, winding up the universe and letting it run its course. (One might almost say that our scientific worldview is closer to ancient Baal worship, which held impersonal forces of nature as supreme powers in this world.)

Rather, the world was created to be a sacrament. In other words, everything on earth was made to point to heavenly realities. Science has stripped reality down to a barren rationalism. In so doing it has blurred reality; faith corrects our vision so that we can see the splendor and mystery—and romance—that is reality

Throughout the world God has placed signs that symbolize invisible realities, signs that point to him. Tragically, his people are not familiar with those signs. So we end up missing the richness of the liturgy, which is meant to reflect the worship of the heavenly Jerusalem...

Albion, from Blake's Jerusalem
        William Blake, The Giant Albion, from Jerusalem, 1804

Posted by John Weidner at 8:23 PM

September 10, 2010

Things don't ALWAYS go from bad to worse...

By Rebecca Walker, How my mother's fanatical feminist views tore us apart, by the daughter of The Color Purple author:

...I love the way his head nestles in the crook of my neck. I love the way his face falls into a mask of eager concentration when I help him learn the alphabet. But most of all, I simply love hearing his little voice calling: 'Mummy, Mummy.'

It reminds me of just how blessed I am. The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother – thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman.

You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale.

In fact, having a child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Far from 'enslaving' me, three-and-a-half-year-old Tenzin has opened my world. My only regret is that I discovered the joys of motherhood so late - I have been trying for a second child for two years, but so far with no luck.

I was raised to believe that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. But I strongly feel children need two parents and the thought of raising Tenzin without my partner, Glen, 52, would be terrifying.

As the child of divorced parents, I know only too well the painful consequences of being brought up in those circumstances. Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:47 PM

September 8, 2010

Moving into into unexplored terrain...

Walter Russell Mead, Buck Up, America:

...And there's something else.

The problems we face today are urgent and complex, but they are not the problems of failure. We are suffering the consequences of success.

We are not like Pakistan, Egypt, Russia, or dozens of other countries who are struggling with the consequences of decades and even centuries of failures to keep up with a changing world. America's failures are the failures of a country on the cutting edge.

Countries like China and India are doing some amazing things, but they are playing catch-up. They are trying to get where we are, while the United States is moving forward into unexplored terrain. They are building industrial societies; we are seeing what comes next. They have a clear idea of the target in mind: a country where people are as rich as Americans. Our quest is different — harder, but perhaps also more rewarding.

We aren't trying to recreate somebody else's achievement or to replicate an already existing model. We are trying to do something new and different — we are making up a new kind of society as we go along. The challenges of America's today are the challenges of everyone else's tomorrow. We were the first "Fordist" society, where mass affluence was built on mass production in the factories of the twentieth century. We are now trying to be the first successful post-Fordist society, trying to work out a way to have a prosperous country that depends on something other than mass employment in manufacturing....

We are mostly suffering the consequences of moving from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. Especially the problem that government and quasi-governmental institutions have not made the transition, and have become cancerous, growing at a rate that will certainly kill the body. (I wrote more here.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:21 PM

September 7, 2010

Your past is what you are...

This is kind of a silly article,. About political "scientists" gathering in conclave to reveal portentious revelations I could have told them two years ago... Early on, Obama was more polarizing than we knew:

One of the puzzling questions about Barack Obama's presidency is how the post-partisan candidate of 2008 became the polarizing chief executive of 2010. The answer may be surprising. He was far more polarizing from the start than many recognized. His choices in office and his opponents' responses have only hardened that divide....

There's nothing puzzling about it. Little old Random Jottings pointed out way back when that Obama in his political career had never done anything that could be labeled "bi-partisan" or "post-partisan." Therefore it was a near-certainty that he would not act that way as President. Anyone with a lick of sense could have seen it. That's how people are. You don't act one way all your life and then in your 40's act in a different way.

I remember my dad saying that his dad liked to say that: "If a man doesn't save at $20 a week, he won't save when he's earning $200 a week." (Adjust for inflation, of course) And it's true.

...During the campaign, Candidate Obama talked about the need to put the partisan divisions of the past behind. His victory fostered discussion about whether the country had turned a corner after years of bitter partisanship. In the glow of his inauguration, some people heralded a new era in American politics.

Such notions appear badly off the mark at this point in his presidency. A closer look at the time would have rendered such conclusions questionable at best. Equally questionable was the expectation that he could break the grip of partisan polarization in the country. [He never even tried.]

That, at least, is the conclusion of a number of scholars who have undertaken an early examination of the Obama presidency and whose work was presented at this weekend's meeting of the American Political Science Association...
Posted by John Weidner at 5:29 PM

September 6, 2010

Separation of church and state is not the same as separation of church and politics...

This piece, The Palin Puzzle, is interesting, but I want to quibble with something...

...Moreover, he continues, Palin's mixing of state and religion goes against the grains of American institutions, such as the American Jewish Committee or the Anti-Defamation League, while her anti-intellectualism has "never been good for Jews, who are over-represented in holders of advanced degrees." ...

Sarah Palin is mixing religion and politics, not religion and the state. And Americans have always mixed religion and politics. Thomas Jefferson on the campaign trail was blatantly Christian.

The idea that Palin or Glenn Beck or the "religious right" are imposing some sort of shocking innovation by invoking God in a political context is silly. This is as American as apple pie. What IS a shocking innovation is that the Democrat Party has become the natural home of atheism. Leftists are scrambling for cover by promoting the myth that religion has not been part of normal American politics in the past...

and the charge that Sarah is "anti-intellectual" is silly. What she, and most people who fit the label of "common sense conservative" are opposed to is the giving of inappropriate weight to intellectuals, or to intellectual knowledge.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:16 PM

Cultural Elite...

I'd missed this piece by Victor Davis Hanson from July. (Thanks to Stephen Browne.) It's full of truths... Pity the Postmodern Cultural Elite:

...In short, money, privilege, and status create in the cultural elite both a fear of mixing it up with others that might jeopardize position and placement, and yet guilt for that very sense of entitlement and exemption. All that, in turn, only heightens the shrill and sanctimonious rhetorical demands on less blessed others to prove their morality.

Barack Obama was a genius in recognizing all this, and at a very early age no less. The subtext of Dreams from My Father, and indeed Obama's life from 18 to 45, was to allay elite fears, guilt, and suspicions. And by proving to be a calm, charismatic, minority wannabe fellow elite — who could ipso facto offer instant penance for rather isolated and shamed cultural elites — Obama in return grasped that the rules simply would not apply to him (elites having few real unchanging principles and values): graduate admission without commensurate grades and test scores (their release to the public could in theory prove my hypothesis wrong), law review without a paper trail, teaching and offers of tenure at law schools without normal publication, community organizing without worry of tangible results, running for office without repercussions from tawdry attacks ranging from suing to invalidate petitions to leaking divorce records....
...Today's male's voice is often far more feminine than that of 50 years ago. Sort of whiney, sort of nasally, sort of fussy. Being overexact, sighing, artificially pausing, all that seems part of the new elite parlance. In terms of vocabulary, the absolute ("he's no damn good," "she's a coward," "he ran the business to hell") is avoided. Pejoratives and swearing resemble adolescent temper tantrums rather than threats that might well presage violence.

In other words, sexuality, sex roles, and gender differences sound as if they are less distinct among the elite. The old notion has long passed that a no-nonsense mom of 50 or so, in sizing up a daughter's suitor or potential son-in-law, would mark the sound of his voice, its modulation, tone, and expression. And who any more would take a look at the boy's shoulders in comparison to his behind, the texture of his hands, whether he looked Mom in the eye or not, whether he opened doors or charged in first, whether he jumped up to fix a running toilet in the back bathroom, or tried to deal with a leaky faucet? My grandfather in 1974 told me that he liked my dad better than a few Stanford fellow grads that my mom — his daughter — had brought home to visit, because he climbed up to the second story on his first appearance out here to put in new pads in the swamp cooler...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 AM

September 4, 2010

Interchangeable parts...

Joyce A. Little, from The Church and the Culture War: Secular Anarchy or Sacred Order
...One of the most important, and at the time unintended consequences of the civil rights movement was that it inspired two other political movements, the feminist movement and the gay rights movement. Each of these movements bears at least a superficial resemblance to the civil rights movement, in that each speaks for people whose rights to equality before the law are thought by them to have been ignored or violated and each claims that the basis upon which such equality has been denied (gender in the case of feminists, sexual orientation in the case of the gays) is as inconsequential or insignificant as skin color.

Precisely at this point at which gender and sexual orientation were declared to be insignificant as skin color, equality turned into egalitarianism. For this was the point at which the belief that all human beings are equal turned into the belief that all differences between human beings are also equal—and equally trivial. This was the point at which the equality of all human beings started to be defended specifically on grounds that all people are fundamentally identical and interchangeable...


...Egalitarianism is a necessity for people intent on believing they are sufficient unto themselves, capable of actualizing, fulfilling and beatifying themselves. They cannot accept moral differentiations between a superior good and an inferior evil or ontological differentiations between order and disorder, since that would force them to acknowledge the existance of an objective reality larger than themselves which they cannot control

Ontological differentiations, as between male and female, in which both are recognized to be good and equal but different are also unnaceptable, since the obvious implication of such differentiation is that while each is good in itself and equal to the other, each is also incomplete in itself, requiring the other for its own completion. This also the imperial self cannot acknowledge, since the autonomous self holds itself to be already complete or at least capable of becoming complete within itself and by itself...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:11 PM

September 3, 2010

Ideological man...

Mike Plaiss send me a Bloomberg book review, Starved by Mao, Cannibal China Ate Earth, Robbed Graves. (Gee Mike, you really know how to cheer a guy up!) But the histories of the destruction caused by socialism should be told over and over again. People don't want to know, but Mao was a far greater murderer than Hitler...

After "Mao's Great Famine," Frank Dikotter's chronicle of how that regime killed at least 45 million people in what he calls the greatest man-made famine the world has seen, no one will have any excuses for modish Maoism.

Dikotter, a professor at the University of Hong Kong on leave from the University of London, has broken through the lies and obfuscation surrounding Mao's crazed attempt to vault over Soviet Russia and snatch the leadership of the socialist camp by achieving communism at one bound in the Great Leap Forward of 1958 to 1962. His sources -- central and local Communist Party records he nosed out -- are solid, and the result is a shattering book.

Mao's aim was to "walk on two legs" -- to boost farm production and modernize industry simultaneously. In the countryside, the means were ending private property in favor of forced farm collectives that left peasants gobbling up whatever they had -- animals, grain, seeds -- rather than handing them over. In towns, the result was massive imports of machines that rusted or were broken by famished, comatose workers putting in impossible hours.

Such was the efficiency of Maoist terror that no photos of the famine are known to exist, Dikotter says. Yet the facts are enough, and nothing you read will be so harrowing. The inhumanity of man, ideological man especially, scorches every page...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:09 AM

September 1, 2010

Mrs Random Jottings suggests reading...

Charlene trecommends this post by Lexington Green, I Think I See What Glenn Beck is Doing:

The Glenn Beck rally is confusing people.


He is aiming far beyond what most people consider to be the goalposts.

Using Boyd's continuum for war: Material, Intellectual, Moral.

Analogously for political change: Elections, Institutions, Culture.

Beck sees correctly that the Conservative movement had only limited success because it was good at level 1, for a while, weak on level 2, and barely touched level 3. Talk Radio and the Tea Party are level 3 phenomena, popular outbreaks, which are blowing back into politics.

Someone who asks what the rally has to do with the 2010 election is missing the point.

Beck is building solidarity and cultural confidence in America, its Constitution, its military heritage, its freedom. This is a vision that is despised by the people who have long held the commanding heights of the culture. But is obviously alive and kicking...

She listens to Beck now and then (I've almost never heard hm) and says he's always like this, a cultural-moral-historical guy. And, "He's a bit of a rabble-rouser, but he's our rabble rouser."

And this I liked:

...Ronald Reagan said we would not defeat Communism, we would transcend it.

Beck is aiming to have America do the same thing to its decaying class of Overlords, transcend them.

Beck is prepping the battlefield for a generation-long battle.

He is that very American thing: A practical visionary..
Posted by John Weidner at 7:21 AM