Wednesday, June 30, 2004

 

The War On Reverence



John Kerry attacked President Bush last week with regard to Bush’s stance on stem cell research. Kerry accused the President of putting ideology before science, and the subtext was clear. See, John Kerry is a Catholic… he’s just not too Catholic. Oh, he’s Catholic enough to court the Catholic vote, but not Catholic enough to offend his progressive, forward-thinking, 21st century friends on the left. John Kerry’s Catholicism is of the dashing, romantic John Kennedy variety… not the old fashioned, strict John Paul variety. For George W. Bush, faith is a matter of reverence. For Kerry, it’s a matter of convenience.

Kerry’s comment is just the latest in the left’s ceaseless attacks on reverence. Hidden in a speech about science, camouflaged as campaign rhetoric, Kerry’s missive called Bush by name, but it was targeted at anyone who shares the President’s reverent ideas about God. The left wing in this country outgrew that type of reverence long ago. They’ve replaced the antiquated, spiritual idea of reverence with modern, human ideas. The left is all for peace, love, and tolerance, if those goals are acheived through humanist, athiestic means. Reverence, a concept that encompasses and eclipses all these ideas, is rejected outright by today’s liberals.

I supposed I should offer a definition of what I mean by reverence. Reverence, as I see it, is really a combination of two things. First, it is the belief that man was created, knowingly and intentionally, by an active, present, loving and omnipotent God. Secondly, reverence is the behavior inherent in holding that belief. I’m talking about behavior born of the humility, compassion, and respect felt by those who are reverent. If you see yourself and everyone around you as an equal creation of God, it tempers your behavior. It makes you unwilling to harm other people because you see them as the property of your creator, just as you are yourself. It makes you patient and forgiving. It makes you thirst for justice. Reverence makes you look for the good around you rather than the bad. It doesn’t make you perfect, it neither discounts nor eternally prevents your trespasses… but reverence promotes far more positive behavior than does the belief that man is his own ultimate authority.



C.S. Lewis
Any moral code worth following and strong enough to last is built on a belief in right and wrong as defined by the Creator of the Universe. A code like that is inherent, it doesn’t have to be taught, and it is assumed as the norm by everyone who follows it. It’s what C.S. Lewis called “natural law.” That kind of code is far more effective and constructive than any law based entirely on the values of man. For one thing, man’s values change. What is considered intolerable today might be acceptable tomorrow. Beyond that, man’s values are subjective. You and I might agree, for instance, that stealing is wrong, but we might disagree about whether or not an MP3 downloader is stealing. Ultimately, though, man’s laws are fallible because man is corruptible. Men can be persuaded to make and support laws for selfish reasons or based on temporary situations. God’s laws, natural laws, are not corruptible. Sure, a man can persuade himself that it is in his best interest that he behave in a way he knows to be wrong. He might even persuade himself that it is good that he does so… but the mere fact that such an act of self persuasion is necessary proves the rule. Man’s values change. God’s do not.

We are becoming less and less reverent and we are suffering for it. Because we don’t see each other as interactive parts of a system controlled by God, we hold ourselves to lower standards. We are increasingly cruel and disrespectful to each other and even to ourselves. We don’t see ourselves as creations endowed with a life we owe to our Creator, so we take our own lives for granted and treat them irreverently. It is acceptable in an irreverent society to abuse oneself with all mater of toxins, practices, and overindulgences. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pointing a finger at everyone else from a pious soapbox. I’m as guilty as anyone I know. “Indulgence” might as well be my middle name.

So what is the solution? I bet you’re expecting me to steer this little tirade toward an endorsement of one organized religion or another, aren’t you? Well, surprise. I have no intentions of doing so. Religion is not the same thing as reverence. In fact, it’s often the exact opposite of reverence. It is possible to keep the letter of God’s law and break the heart of it. And because religions are man-made systems, they’re completely corruptible. It’s possible to obsess on the law and to pervert it; to turn God's natural laws into your own subjective ones.

Here’s an example from my own observations: I am constantly amazed and bewildered by the people who believe that all you have to do to keep the second commandment, the one about not taking the Lord’s name in vain, is to avoid using the curse word that is commonly abbreviated G.D. That’s laughable. Of all the actions and ideas mankind is capable of, God only felt that ten of them were worth His divine commentary and direction. Ten! Do you for one second believe that one of only ten commandments amounts to “Don’t use this curse word, I don’t like it.” We’re talking about GOD, not prim and proper aunt Martha. Surely God cares more about context and meaning than syllables. Could it be that using God’s name in vain amounts to more than your choice of expletive when you drop something heavy on your toe? Certain Moslems behead hostages in God’s name. Certain Christians bomb clinics in God’s name. Certain others merely rail against Harry Potter and rock music in God’s name. All of them are acting in vain. And all of them are very religious. They just aren’t very reverent.

For what it’s worth, I agree with John Kerry that George W. Bush puts ideology ahead of science. Unlike Kerry, though, I think that’s a good thing. I think that Bush would rather be reverent than President; that he'd rather lose the election because of who he is than win it because of who he pretended to be. Kerry, on the other hand, would rather be President than be anything else. That’s a terrible example to lead by in this day and age.

Consider Columbine. Consider Enron. Consider Abu Ghraib. Stay the course, Mr. President. We need all the ideology, all the reverence, we can get.


Monday, June 28, 2004

 

The Superfluous Daily Post

There's just no reason for me to post to this blog daily. None at all. If I did, my posts would amount to little more than items cribbed from the blogs I read daily. For instance:

Andrew Sullivan drew my attention to William Kristol's wonderful piece about the Iraqi/al Qaeda link in the Weekly Standard.

Sullivan also mentioned that James Lileks had taken a look at Rex Reed's critique of Fahrenheit 9/11. James Lileks is by far my favorite columnist, and his comments about Reed's review had me alternatingly in stitches and seeing red. Speaking of red, if you're pressed for time, scroll down Lileks page to the red text to read the comments about Rex Reed.

Arthur Chrenkoff is, as usual, indispensable. At this point, if I don't read him daily, I feel conspicuously uninformed. Among other things, today he mentioned Nicolas Rothwell's fascinating report from Iraq in The Australian.

At Instapundit.com, I found out about a Robert Tagorda item that makes Bill Clinton look good in the only way possible: by comparing him to Al Gore.

Honestly, if you're reading my blog and you've not read Sullivan, Chrenkoff, or Instapundit first, you're wasting time. Think of my blog as an amateur’s op-ed column. Think of Sullivan, Chrenkoff, and Instapundit (and a host of other blogs) as essential.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

 

Mike's Big Weekend



Michael Moore
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 opened in theaters on Friday. In my area it's showing on one of about 40 available screens. The small, locally owned, "indie" theater opted to show the film, and according to a newspaper article, has been getting harassing e-mail and phone calls over it. I disapprove of that kind of harassment even more than I disapprove of Michael Moore. My opinion is that Moore will likely damage his career with this film, maybe even destroy it, and we should let him. These days, half or maybe most of the success of a movie is judged by it's DVD shelf life. Who will be interested in Fahrenheit 9/11 after the election? No one. That's bound to shape the way the studios view Michael Moore with regard to financial viability.

You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a positive review of the film. Who didn't see that coming? Movie reviewers, the bastard children of the liberal media and the far-left in Hollywood, seem to start frantically salivating at the mere mention of Michael Moore. There are, however, a few negative reviews out there, and it's my pleasure to bring you some highlights:

  • James Berardinelli for ReelViews
    "There are a series of interviews with Lila Lipscomb, whose son (Michael) died in Iraq. Moore first films her when Michael is still alive, and she's a staunch patriot. Later, he returns so she can recount how her son died. She reads the final letter he sent to her, and makes a cathartic trek to Washington D.C. to see the White House and curse the man living inside. It's poignant material, but Moore's reputation robs this portion of his film of its potential power. Because we don't know how much of this is real."

  • David Poland of The Hot Button
    "Moore, The Liberal Most Likely to make the argument with wit and insight and facts that may border on falsehood but which compel nonetheless, has come up with little more than a recruiting film for people who are still bitter about the election of 2000."

  • Todd McCarthy for Variety (Registration Required)
    "The sporadically effective docu trades far more in emotional appeals than in systematically building an evidence-filled case against the president and his circle."

  • Michael Sragow for the Baltimore Sun
    "This movie doesn't sustain a single tone or argument. All that unifies Fahrenheit 9/11 is contempt for the Bush administration...(The movie contains)one of Moore's abrasive man-in-the-street stunts: accosting congressmen and trying to persuade them to get their kids to volunteer for the Iraq war. (Only one congressman has a child fighting in Iraq.) Moore confronts (among others) Mark Kennedy, a Minnesota Republican, who in reality declared that he'd be happy to cajole his colleagues, 'especially those who voted for the war,' then noted, 'I have a nephew on his way to Afghanistan.' In the movie, all we see is Kennedy reacting to Moore's offer with a bizarre look of disbelief."

  • Lou Lumenick in the New York Post
    "Michael Moore's much-hyped and very heavy-handed polemic against George W. Bush, is basically a two-hour argument for regime change that isn't half as incendiary or persuasive as its maker would have you believe."

  • Fred Topel at About.com
    "Moore has resorted to showing us stuff that The Daily Show covers all the time...Then it degenerates into shameless pathos...Regardless of politics, this is not effective filmmaking. Talking heads and existing video footage aren't all that compelling... Sadly, what is most evident from Fahrenheit 9/11 is that Michael Moore now believes his own hype. He thinks he can just say shocking things, show people suffering and he'll make his point. Maybe he will get his message out to more people than ever, thanks to the controversy he's generated since Bowling for Columbine and his Oscar speech. Right now it seems like he's only preaching to the choir. Most of Hollywood is politically liberal, and so far it's only been Hollywood who's embraced the film. "

  • Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal (Registration Required)
    "(Fahrenheit 9/11 is) a postmodern, postliterary piece of agitprop, coming at a time when truth is often the first victim in supermarket tabloids, radio talk shows, campaign commercials on network TV and gabble-fests on cable."



  • And, finally, if you're curious about why the movie received the R rating, be sure and check out the ScreenIt.com account of the blood, gore, and violence in the movie. And all of it is real, not special effects, remember that. And remember that Moore fought to have the film re-rated PG-13. Obviously, Michael Moore is dealing with a lot of emotional issues and personal demons... but why on earth would he want children to see such a movie? The man must be driven by an awful cruelty.


    Wednesday, June 23, 2004

     

    The Lizard President



    Bill Clinton kicked off his book tour to promote My Life (a tome that, by all accounts, reads like a phonebook in Sanskrit) by talking about his Presidential nicknames on 60 Minutes with Dan Rather. In the 90’s, Clinton’s nicknames piled up almost as fast as his indiscretions. There was “The Comeback Kid,” and “Bubba” and “Elvis,” and, my favorite, “Slick Willie.” Clinton says that “Slick Willie” is the only one that still makes him bristle. Apparently he’s fine with the others.


    The Lizard PresidentI thought that “Slick Willie” fit him just fine. “Bubba” was assigned to him because he was ostensibly a southerner, but I know a few Bubbas who would bristle if they heard their appellation applied to Bill Clinton. I never understood why anyone would call Clinton “Elvis,” though. I always thought him more similar to another long-dead rock star… Jim Morrison. Like the lead singer of The Doors, Clinton made a career out of style without substance. He was a master at using words that sound good but really mean nothing, and he sure could strike a pose. Like Morrison, Clinton lived hedonistically and insisted that those who had a problem with his lifestyle were, in fact, the ones with the problem. Just like Jim Morrison, Clinton BS’d his way to his position in life and then didn’t know what to do with it once he got it. He preened and pouted and smiled for the cameras and ultimately accomplished little of substance. Like Morrison, Bill Clinton’s legacy has more to do with star power than with talent, guts, or value. If Jim Morrison was, as he named himself, “The Lizard King,” then Bill Clinton must be “The Lizard President.”

    It’s hard to be objective about Clinton when his choice of words and his presentation and his body language make it so obvious how impressed he is with himself. Regardless of the disasters he left behind in Washington, Clinton genuinely thinks of himself as a revolutionary, a visionary, and a smashing success. Even his self-acknowledged failures smack of hubris. Clinton confessed to Dan Rather that his failure to bring peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis was his biggest failure, “an error of historic proportions,” as he called it. Am I the only person left aghast at such a simplified, meaningless confession? Honestly, does Clinton think that it would have been possible in eight years to have brought a real and lasting peace to the Middle East? What might he have done during his two term presidency that would have been so different from everyone before him who has worked to stabilize that hottest of world hot spots? Could he, in his monumental wisdom and progressive world view, actually have accomplished in two terms what’s seemed impossible for thousands of years? He seems to think he could have, and names his failure to do so as his biggest mistake. He may as well chastise himself for not controlling the weather. To point to the continued unrest between Arabs and Jews as his biggest failure is to name no real failure at all. This is shocking, considering the list of failures he had to pick from:

    Osama bin Laden
    Clinton claims to have been “obsessed” with Osama bin Laden during his Presidency. Well, there’s obsession, and then there’s Bill Clinton’s obsession. I’ll give Slick the benefit of the doubt and assume that bin Laden did cross his mind from time to time… but not because he was concerned in any meaningful way about the threat of terrorism. If he had been, maybe Clinton would have used the military to capture bin Laden instead of relying on overwhelmed police agencies. Maybe he’d have recognized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as an act of war and not as an isolated crime. If Clinton had possessed even half the resolve and determination of George W. Bush, perhaps he’d have been obsessed with actually capturing the Saudi terrorist. Instead, Clinton’s “obsession,” such as it was, had more to do with his fear of whatever stain bin Laden might leave on Clinton’s dreamt of legacy.

    Iraq
    Another Clinton failure, another mess left for his successor to clean up, was Saddam Hussein. For eight years, Bill Clinton did nothing real to stop the Iraqi dictator’s return to threatening power. The sanctions imposed on Saddam’s regime after the first Gulf War were largely ignored in the 90’s, as Clinton gradually caved in to Russian, Chinese, and French pressure. Gradually, Iraq returned unhindered to the world marketplace as Clinton resulted to doomed policies of appeasment. Saddam repeatedly threw out weapons inspectors in the name of national sovereignty. He also used his starving people as pawns to pressure the world to allow him, practically unchecked, to resume his oil trade. Money began to flow through Saddam’s regime again and he began to rearm, becoming an increasingly bold and dangerous law-breaker. Faced with this threat, Clinton made a few speeches and dropped a few bombs as punishment. Saddam weathered that punishment, having called Clinton’s bluff and knowing full well that the American President wouldn’t lift a finger to actually stop him from rearming. By the beginning of George W. Bush’s Presidency, Saddam was bolder and more threatening than ever, having spent eight years enjoying the freedom of Bill Clinton’s failure.

    North Korea
    What of Clinton’s failures in North Korea? Clinton now says he was “determined” not to let North Korea become a nuclear power. So, why did he let them, then? In 1994, the U.S. inked a deal with North Korea wherein we’d provide them with food and fuel and they’d start living up to the Non-Proliferation Treaty they’d previously signed. During Clinton’s second four years in office, North Korea developed the nuclear capabilities they’d promised not to. We continued to live up to our end of the deal, anyway. And what’s worse, believable sources indicated that Clinton knew that the North Koreans were cheating and never moved to call them on it. By then, the rock star President was already dreaming about the way he’d be remembered, content to leave North Korea to his successor as well.

    The Fund Raising Scandal
    What about Clinton’s shady relationships with questionable foreign campaign donors? Might that be his biggest failure? Could he have left a black mark on the Presidency with his actions? Nope. Clinton didn’t even address that issue during his 60 Minutes interview. I suppose he considered that issue to be moot... after all, he'd already condemned foreign campaign contributions. Of course, he condemned it after the fact, and it was his buddy John Huang who got stuck twisting in the wind... but, hey, who's counting?

    Impeachment
    Maybe his impeachment represented his biggest failure? Not a chance. While some of us remember that period as a dark, embarrassing time for our country, Clinton calls it a “badge of honor”. He’s actually proud of it. The whole scandal proved him to be a liar, a cheater, and a perverse abuser of the public trust. And yet he sees it as his victorious battle against political forces that aimed to bring him down unjustly. I suppose Jim Morrison felt the same way about the cops who arrested him for exposing himself during a Doors concert in Miami. Fight the power, man. Right on.

    Monica-gate
    Even the way Clinton seduced and clumsily bought off Monica Lewinski failed to elicit any real shame from the former President. If there’s any element of Clinton’s presidency that welcomes comparisons to Jim Morrison, it has to be Monica-gate. It’s hard not to draw parallels between the White House intern and a star-struck groupie, dazed and amazed to have a private audience with the Big Star as he sings “Come on, come on, come on, TOUCH me babe…” Dan Rather gave Clinton several opportunities to call the scandal his biggest failure in office. Instead, Clinton told of his sleepless night before confessing his affair to his wife. What are we to make of that? Are we to take in this striking image of a man tortured by his own misdeeds? Oh, my. How brave. How remarkable. How totally irrelevant. Clinton lost a night of sleep over the affair. Big deal. Show me a man who cheats on his wife and doesn’t lose sleep over it. Frankly, I’m not remotely impressed by Clinton’s candor that the affair was a “moral error.” Instead, let me draw your attention to his explanation that he had the affair “for the worst possible reason, because I could.” Only Bill Clinton… and perhaps, Jim Morrison… could make a statement that comes off simultaneously as self-effacing in structure and self-congratulatory in tone.

    Clinton success in office, as I see it, is limited to one single item: his work on the federal deficit. Other than that, he was an abysmal failure. Those who credit him for the fairly robust economy the country enjoyed in the ‘90’s fail to consider the internet stock boom. And that had little, if anything, to do with Clinton. (By the way, when those stocks fizzled, the recession they created had nothing to do with George W. Bush.) Clinton’s foreign policies were inept and tragically flawed. Through inaction he strengthened global terrorism and emboldened rogue nations. And his shady back-room fundraising and last minute pardons for criminal friends rubbed the last bit of salt in the wounds. Clinton’s moral ambiguity and legal smarminess define his character, and his character defines his presidency. For all his grand posturing as a visionary and a leader, Clinton was little more than a handsome face with a lot of style and nothing to say. Like Jim Morrison before him, Clinton managed to trick a nation into believing that his indulgences and ramblings were meaningful. He was the lizard President, and he could do anything.


    Tuesday, June 15, 2004

     

    Liberals: The real Stupid White Men



    Am I correct in my belief, based on what I see and hear, that many minorities in this country define themselves culturally by their reactions to and relationships with white males?

    Or is it simply that the modern defenders of minorities protect their positions of influence by constantly railing against white racism? Do these self-appointed saints justify themselves by trying to convince minorities that they are all that stands between non-whites and a return to oppression?

    I’m not asking rhetorically. Not entirely, anyway. The truth is, I simply don’t know for sure. But I have some ideas. As a white male (a white southern male at that) I often wonder how I’m perceived by the black people who know me. Do they judge me based on my character or do they prejudge me based on the color of my skin and my sex? Are their interactions with me genuine or do they handle me with kid-gloves? The non-whites I know probably wonder the same things about me. In this day and age, that’s probably natural. Race relations in this country simply aren't where they ought to be.

    White racism certainly isn’t dead, but it’s no longer a politically viable threat to minorities. White racism is a dirty little secret, kept alive by a smaller and smaller percentage of whites who are small-minded, xenophobic, and lack self confidence. If you’re white, you know the people I’m talking about. You may work with them, live with them, or be related to them. These are the people who can’t wait to make a racist remark as soon as a black person leaves the room. These are the people who expect complicity out of all of us who happen to be white like them. Put simply, they’re morons. Their racism reveals their stupidity, and so does most of what they say and do. They’re pitiful, but it’s hard to pity them because they’re so damned repellant. They’re small, they’re usually old, and they’re weak. They are the dying remnants of bad habits. They are all that remains of white racism today.

    So it bothers me that white racism is still seen as this ever-present, powerful, universally destructive force. It bothers me because, for the most part, the myth of all-powerful white racism is kept alive by white liberals.

    White liberals are probably the biggest betrayer of the civil rights movement today. It hasn’t always been that way, of course. Liberals were the first whites to recognize the importance and the value of the civil rights movement in it’s infancy. Liberals embraced and welcomed the changes asked for and demanded by men like Martin Luther King, and gradually those changes were won by the minority members who fought hard for them. Along the way, white liberals won the friendship of blacks by proving to them that they weren’t like the powerful, racist whites who wanted to keep America divided. As those powerful, racist whites fell from power and died off, the country changed. White liberals didn’t change at all, though. Today we live in a society where black people have all the rights and privileges of white people. A society where white racism is seen for what it is; weak and stupid. Today’s America is an even playing field and white racism is under the watchful eye of the government, the culture, and the media. It’s a dying snake in it’s death throes, it’s head chopped off long ago. Nonetheless, white liberals, in their typical short sightedness, haven’t changed their position one bit. In a world full of black executives, black congressmen and senators, black celebrities and councilors and doctors and writers, white liberals still preach that white racism is the world’s biggest threat and that they are the only true friend that the black man has.


    Bill Cosby
    Bill Cosby’s remarks at the 50th anniversary celebration marking Brown v. the Board of Education delighted me to no end. I’ll admit that right out front. I believe, and have believed for some time now, that personal accountability is a dead issue in today’s society. So for Bill Cosby to hold each poor black person accountable for his or her own actions seemed like a rare moment of common sense in a society dominated by white liberals and their claims that the white male is responsible for all the evil in the world.

    Of course, the crap hit the fan following Cosby’s remarks, and it was thrown from all directions. Writing for the Washington Post, the NAACP’s Theodore M. Shaw agreed with Cosby that people are accountable for their actions, but pointed to two different brutal murders of blacks as evidence that white racism is still a major oppressor. Of course, those arguments could be balanced with evidence of black-on-black crime, but in the end, neither side of that argument accomplishes anything. In a piece for Knight Ridder, Alvin Williams of Black America’s Political Action Committee expressed hope that Cosby’s skills at selling Coke and Jello Pudding would help sell the notion of responsible behavior to poor blacks. I hope so, too. God knows that there are plenty of people trying to sell horrible ideas to poor blacks. Consider John McWhorter’s indictment of gangsta rap as more than just culturally vacuous, but also terribly destructive.

    Of course Cosby didn’t say that white racism no longer exists. I believe that a form of it still does, and that it is a bigger threat to blacks than ever, because it has camouflaged itself in liberalism. White liberals teach poor blacks that they aren’t capable of making their own way in life, that they need to rely on social programs for as long as possible, and that those programs simply don’t do enough for the poor blacks who depend on them. White liberals also teach poor blacks that they can’t find their own place in the business world or in colleges based on their own merit, and that they can only succeed if whites make an exception and allow them in simply because they are black. White liberals call this affirmative action. Conservatives call it quotas. No matter what you call it, it boils down to racism. By offering blacks a hand up, white liberals are asking blacks to acknowledge that they are below them.

    Maybe whites should rally around Cosby. Not to defend his remarks, they don't need defending. Rather, to use him as a catalyst to call our own subversive elements to task. Let's start with the same scum balls that Cosby pointed out. Petty thieves, killers, and low-lifes must be held accountable for their actions, and that goes for low-lifes with white skin, black skin, Latinos, what have you. Let's not stop there, though. Let's hold white liberals accountable for their actions, too. For too long now, they've stood with arms outstretched between minorities and the rest of the white population. For too long they've kept us apart. We shouldn't stand for it any longer. America is too great a nation to be split in half by the paranoia and self-aggrandizing of a few whites with an axe to grind.

    Brown v. the Board of Education was 50 years ago, and that isn’t that long a period of time. We are still blessed today with the presence of black people who are old enough to remember real segregation, real racism, real oppression. It is incumbent upon all of us that we learn from their experiences, and that we make their work and sacrifices worth while. The way to do that is by working together, not separately. By being inclusive, not divisive. By having open and frank dialogue, not by encouraging a one-sided exchange wherein people of a certain race are encouraged to speak their minds and people of another are discouraged from speaking at all. America can become colorblind. We can get there by judging each other by the content of our characters and not by the color of our skin. Thanks to white liberals, Martin Luther King’s dream is as far out of reach today as it ever was.


    Friday, June 11, 2004

     

    Confessions of a Pearl Jam Fan



    I suppose I should come clean and say that I was once a … well… there’s no polite way to say this. I was once… a liberal.

    Or, I once thought myself to be a liberal.

    And there’s really nothing wrong with that, because some of the smartest people I know once thought themselves to be liberal. There are a ton of clichés to describe the phenomenon: A man who isn’t a liberal at 20 has no heart, but a man who’s still a liberal at 60 has no brain. My favorite is the one about how a conservative is just a liberal who’s been mugged by reality. I like the flavor of that one; I like what it implies about reality and what it implies about the survival ability of a conservative.

    I think that considering yourself a liberal in your teens and twenties is pretty much inevitable in America. And, really, that’s fine. Irresponsibility of all kids is typically tolerated by people who aren’t really adults yet, and political irresponsibility is a lot more innocuous than drunk driving or the mismanagement of pregnancy and/or children. Liberalism on the part of young people should especially be tolerated when you consider that young people today are hit over the head repeatedly with liberal dogma.


    My Pearl Jam Tattoo

    Liberalism seeps out of modern society in America like infection from a neglected wound. Alright, I’m sorry, I know that’s disgusting, but I can’t think of another phrase that better sums up my position on the topic. Our culture, our media, our academic institutions… they’re all havens for liberal elitism. It was just as bad during my childhood in the 80’s as it is today. I remember the Animal Rights posters in the police station in the early Lethal Weapon movies. (Yep, cops who had time to remind us all that fur, too, is murder.) I remember the liberal spin on TV, where Alex P. Keaton was presented as the weirdo on Family Ties because he was conservative. And rock music? Forget about it. Remember the degrading Ronald Reagan puppet in that Genesis video? Remember REM, and how liberal they were even before they sucked? Bring it forward into the 90’s and it seemed that a liberal agenda was a pre-req to get a recording contract. And, boy, did those angry liberal lyrics really hit the spot for those of us with some leftover teen angst to burn. Trust me on this one, this is coming from a guy with a Pearl Jam tattoo on his left shoulder.

    The thing that made liberalism so appealing was the “us against them” mindset. Every teenage kid goes through that phase and the ones with half a brain are going to eventually start thinking about political and social issues. The liberals have always done a good job of painting all conservatives as elderly, wealthy, bitter, asexual white men with big cigars and chauffeurs who drive them from the country club to the bank. That’s an easy caricature to dislike, and it is hammered again and again into the heads of young people. Liberals rely on that stereotype as an effective recruiting technique, and as far as they’re concerned, all conservatives fit it. That’s why so many conservatives who don’t fit that stereotype, such as Bruce at Gay Patriot, J.C. Watts, and Tammy Bruce, make liberals so uncomfortable. They prove the stereotype wrong, they indicate the real diversity that exists under the conservative umbrella. Liberals don’t like that because they believe that they own the concept of diversity. In fact, liberals approve of and champion diversity of every kind except one: diversity of ideas.

    As I got older and started to notice differences between my own ideas and the stated ideas of the people I’d been surrounding myself with, I became acquainted with two wonderful concepts which, in a way, saved me. Those concepts were doubt and introspection.

    My awakening to my own conservative nature began when I started to doubt that my friends and peers were totally serious about some of the issues they were championing. How serious could they be about hating their own race? How could they be so anti-anything-corporate with a Coke in one hand and a CD released by Warner Brothers in the other? And how much of the self-righteous liberal indignation I was feeling was real and how much of it was just a combination of laziness, immaturity, and my own sheep-like mentality? This doubt and introspection hit me right about the same time we elected Bill Clinton and I saw what a liberal really would do in the White House. I began realizing that I agreed with the conservatives around me a hell of a lot more than I did with the liberals around me. I began realizing that… well, whatta ya know… my own ideas were less like Eddie Vedder’s and more like Ronald Reagan’s.

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that, in order to cling to liberal beliefs into substantial adulthood, a person would have to be a master at denial. He or she’d have to avoid introspection at all costs and see any doubt about his or her ideas as the encroachment of the right wing’s continuous efforts to brainwash the masses. In order to continue to see yourself as liberal, you have to tell yourself that liberalism always equals correctness and conservatism always equals closed-mindedness.

    If you doubt it, try this little test: Ask any real conservative you know what the best thing about Bill Clinton’s Presidency was. He or she will probably think for a moment and then comment on how Clinton lowered the deficit or how he drifted from the left back to the mainstream and helped pass welfare reform. The conservative will probably qualify that observation by noting that the good Clinton did was far outweighed by the bad, true enough… but he or she will most likely have something good to say about Clinton. Then, ask any real liberal you know what the best thing is about George W. Bush’s Presidency. Don’t be surprised when you are assured that there’s nothing good about George W. Bush, that he’s evil and stupid, and that he must be stopped before he destroys the world. That's the official, approved liberal stance on Bush, and any liberal is going to do his duty and parrot it mindlessly.

    That’s the difference between a conservative and a liberal. A conservative puts a lot of thought into his ideas and a liberal puts a lot of other people’s ideas into his thought.

    So there’s my confession. It’s probably not as scandalous as it could have been, so I hope it isn’t a disappointment. Maybe it’ll help if I admit that I still enjoy those Pearl Jam albums. Hell, I even still sing along.


    Tuesday, June 08, 2004

     

    Scottie Pippen Had A Farm, E-I-E-I-O

    What's the first thing that comes into your mind when I say the following:

    "American Farmer."


    Portrait of an American Farmer
    If you're like most people, you probably conjure up a mental image of the sun setting over a corn field. Back over that field, in the distance, you might see an old but solid looking two-story farm house. There, on the porch of that house, resting in the porch swing after sixteen hours of hard, back-breaking farm labor, you might imagine an old fella in bibbed overalls and a straw hat. It's not hard to picture him using his work-callused hands to strum a guitar and sing a classic country song (maybe "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain") as he watches the sun go down behind all those acres of corn, thanking God for another healthy, productive day, and praying for just a little more rain before month's end.

    It's not hard to like a guy like that. Hell, I just now made him up out of thin air and I like him just fine. I'd even join Willie Nelson and John Mellancamp in a little fund-raising hootinanny for a guy like that.

    I'm sure those kinds of farmers exist. Somewhere. And I'm sure they're every bit as honorable and hard-working as we imagine they are. But the truth is that the farmers that the federal government subsidizes... the ones that the feds give our tax money to, are often something else all together. Sometimes they're millionaire basketball players, media barons, and even Enron executives.

    Check out these figures that the Heritage Foundation unearthed, with a ca-ching ca-ching here and a ca-ching ca-ching there.


    Monday, June 07, 2004

     

    Bowling For Complicity: Liberals and Michael Moore



    I'm going to give the liberals credit and assume that they don't mean to be cozying up to Michael Moore the way they are. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they're all drunk on their Bush-hatred and suffering from Clinton-withdraw and just aren't thinking clearly. I can't help but imagine them all waking up on the first Wednesday in November, rolling over and seeing Michael Moore in bed with them -- really seeing him for the first time -- and finally understanding why they were asked to leave early. "Did we really spend the last six months dancing with THAT?" they'll ask themselves while crawling to the toilet.

    Michael Moore is a documentary film maker -- in the same sense that Hannibal Lecter is a gourmet chef: he's got the skills, but his concoctions are quite appalling once you realize what's actually in them. Moore's Bowling for Columbine won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2003, despite the fact that it contained enough propaganda, distortions, and outright fiction to qualify more as a fantasy film than an actual documentary. Moore's latest heaping helping is Fahrenheit 9/11, in which he attacks President Bush for having been asleep at the wheel prior to 9/11, having handled the crisis badly, and having lead the US into an unnecessary Iraqi war, all the while covering up his shady ties to a Saudi Arabian criminal element. Disney, the film's potential distributor (as a parent company to Miramax, which funded the feature) backed away from the film upon arrival, and Moore's pals at Miramax made some hasty deals to get it distributed quickly, with hopes that Fahrenheit 9/11 will undo the Bush presidency in November.

    Coming out of the Cannes Film Festival with the Golden Palm award, Fahrenheit 9/11 received an immediate golden shower of kisses from America's film critics and left-leaning cultural icons. Roger Ebert gave the film a big thumbs up on his television show, saying that Moore "represents my political views." Ebert's partner, Richard Roeper, fawned all over the film as well. The Rotten Tomatoes website shows that 81 percent of the film critics polled love the movie, which will be released on the 25th of this month. Ebert predicts another Oscar.

    There's only one problem: All advance reports indicate that Fahrenheit 9/11 contains some of Moore's most elaborate fantasies yet.

    Moore accuses the Bush administration of being soft on Saudi terrorists. In fact, it was the Bush administration that named thirteen Saudis and a Lebanese for the bombing of Khobar Towers, home to hundreds of U.S. airmen in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. That bombing killed 19 and wounded hundreds. That bombing, by the way, happened on June 25th, 1996… during Bill Clinton's watch. How did Clinton respond to the bombing? By letting Saudi Arabia handle it, by never once pressuring to allow American investigators to interview the bombers once they were apprehended, and by smoothing over the whole incident for fear of angering his political supporters in Saudi Arabia. Bush, the man Michael Moore aligns with Saudi terrorists, had the backbone to go after the specific Saudis involved on June 21, 2001 – five years after the bombing, and almost three months before 9/11.


    Michael Moore
    And what of Bush's unnecessary war on Iraq? Another liberty taken with international law by the commander in chief? Hardly. Anyone paying attention in the 1990s knows that Bush inherited the Iraqi problem from Clinton. When the first President Bush left office, he left the world a Saddam Hussein with his hands tied as tightly as possible. Forbidden to sell his oil and surrounded by U.N. Weapons Inspectors, Saddam had little opportunity to rebuild his arsenals and restate his threat. However, over eight years of lax enforcement and a blind eye from the Clinton administration, Saddam grew stronger, more threatening, and cockier. For eight years Saddam wiggled out of sanctions and limitations. For eight years Saddam kicked out one Weapons Inspector after another, defying the world to do anything about it. And how did Clinton respond? With speeches and with the occasional bombing whenever he needed to distract us from his own missteps. Never once did Clinton respond in a meaningful way. Never once did he demand U.N. intervention, nor did he ever mobilize the American military to deal with the problem on the ground. By 9/11, any reasonable person saw Saddam Hussein for what he was: more of a threat than ever.

    In a nutshell, President Bush the senior made a mighty effort to reign in the Iraqi madman… President Clinton played the sax while the middle east burned… and President Bush the junior got stuck cleaning up the mess. And yet, somehow, Michael Moore has found a way to blame Dubya for the mess he inherited.

    Only two Presidents have ever had the guts to use the military to contain Saddam Hussein, and both of them were named Bush. Only two Presidents have had the guts to use the military to strike back at terrorists; one was the late, great Ronald Reagan, and the other one was Dubya. I'd say that if the current President continues to conduct himself in ways befitting of these kinds of comparisons, he has little to worry about from a crackpot like Michael Moore.

    As the summer wears on, Moore's statements get nuttier and nuttier. He has said that he'd get Fahrenheit 9/11 released even if he had to break the law to do it. He's claimed that he has footage of an interview he conducted with Nick Berg, the American beheaded by terrorists in Iraq last month, but that he will keep it out of his film out of respect for the Berg family. Maybe if he respected the Berg family all that much, he'd never have mentioned the footage of Nick in the first place… but then again, a headline addict has to get his regular fix. Not that any of this should be any surprise. There is no limit to the depths to which Michael Moore will sink. Check out what he posted on his website in April of this year:

    "I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle. I'm sorry, but the majority of Americans supported this war once it began and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe -- just maybe -- God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end."

    As James Lileks points out, that's essentially the same reason those terrorists gave for beheading Nick Berg in the first place.

    Sober up, liberals. You've got your arm around the ugliest dog at the party.

    Sunday, June 06, 2004

     

    The Ego Has Landed



    (This is the first post I wrote for this blog in June, 2004. It's an attempt to put my political and social beliefs in a nutshell. Since I started the blog, I've moved on to topics besides politics, and often use the blog simply to relate humorous personal stories. Nonetheless, this post remains my "mission statement.")

    From June, 2004:

    Considering that I basically spend my days as an oral blog, forcing myself on an unwilling and uninterested audience, it seems to be high time that I finally began the innocuous process of actually blogging my thoughts on the internet. Out here, in cyberspace, my ideas can't hurt anyone, right? I mean, you don't have to read any of this, do you? Of course you don't... but if you insist on continuing, I think it's only fair to tell you where I stand on all the fun issues. This first post will lay the groundwork... I promise not to be this verbose in the future.

    Politics In General:
    The Democratic Party has failed. It is, to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, disappearing up it's own rear end. There was a time when the Democratic Party had legitimate claim to a role as the party of the common man; a party that represented America's labor forces, minorities, and disenfranchised people everywhere. That time has passed. Over the past fifty years, the nation has changed, and largely for the better. Working conditions have improved to the point of relative ease compared to the sweat shops of old. Opportunities for minorities and women are plentiful... in fact, no real resource or public position is available to one American that isn't available to all Americans. Put simply, with few exceptions, America has reached the state of balance and fairness that may have seemed elusive 50 years ago. In the absence of it's old focus, the Democratic Party has become motivated entirely by extremist political ideals and guided by principles that are more academic than practical. A party once focused on racial equality is now a proponent of destructive quotas. A party once concerned with the fair treatment of America's labor forces is now aligned conspicuously with the leadership of the nation's major labor unions. Furthermore, that very leadership is now largely as corrupt and at odds with it's membership as the worst corporate bosses. Where there was once (ostensibly) a party guided by principle and morality, there is now a new Democratic Party. A Democratic Party guided by political correctness, moral relativism, criminal justification, and outright ambivalence toward the real ideas and goals of the modern common man. There is still a disenfranchised element in this country, but that element has been disenfranchised by the very Democratic Party that once championed it.

    In contrast, the Republican Party typically offers viable, worthwhile candidates on the national, state, and even local levels. Republican candidates aren't generally perfect, of course... but the best and most reasonable leaders this country has produced in my lifetime have almost exclusively been Republicans. I could write more about the Republicans, but my political leanings are probably evident, and further praise would be superfluous. I'm not a member of the GOP, or any political party, but I vote Republican more often than not and most of my personal heroes have been Republicans.

    The Media:
    I believe that this decade will come to be referred to as the "post Network News" age. This is largely because of the alternative news sources available on cable and satellite TV and over the internet. The big-three network news outfits (and their stepchild, CNN) have become so liberally biased that it's difficult to take them seriously anymore. Over the past couple of years, they seem to have abandoned any pretense of objectivity. I'm reminded of professional wrestling, which seemingly overnight went from denying that it's events were fraudulent to celebrating the pageantry of what they now call "sports entertainment." Likewise, the big-three news networks seem to be basking in their own outward liberalism as of late. Substituting editorial commentary for straight news reporting and calling it "news analysis" may be acceptable to people who turn to television purely for entertainment, but it isn't for those of us who would like to use the medium to stay informed. Unfortunately, we've now reached a state where we have to catch various spins on any given news story from various sources and decide for ourselves which version we agree with. Straight news coverage is a thing of the past.

    The Culture:
    I'll try to stay away from definitive phrases like "all time low" and "utterly bankrupt," but I can't help but believe that, culturally, America is worse now than it's been in my lifetime. The popularity of reality TV (which has nothing to do with reality and should rightly be called "unscripted smut TV") is one indication of how low our standards have sunk. Another is the popularity of rap music, with its lyrical boasts of rape and murder. The worst thing about our current cultural state, however, has got to be our obsession with the cult of celebrity. It's bad enough that we look to actors and singers for our cues on what trendy clothes to wear. Must we now also look to them so we'll know which trendy diet to follow, which trendy religion to practice, and which trendy stance to take on any given political issue? Why should we? Why should the culture that gives us garbage like Fear Factor, MTV's Jackass, and that idiot that calls himself "50 Cent" presume to influence us on the things that really matter? Ultimately, celebrities are nothing more than flashes of color and pulses of sound from our TV's and stereos. If Sean Penn, Sheryl Crow, and Woody Harrelson are fit to guide us, spiritually, culturally, or politically... then so is Bugs Bunny.

    Social Issues:
    As our country cast aside some of the old, flawed, impractical ideas of the past, we've also cast aside ideas and practices that always served us well. We've thrown out the baby with the bath water. We've replaced racial discrimination in the business world with racial quotas, an equally destructive form of bigotry. Quotas (and that's all Affirmative Action really is) still fail to examine the quality of a person's character before judging his place by the color of his skin. In addition, minority members are almost forced into a position of dependence on government programs by a governmental machine that justifies it's own existence by insisting that minorities are incapable of self reliance. The irony would make George Orwell proud: The link between affirmative action, race, poverty and government programs is obvious, but anyone who dares suggest that government programs are part of the problem and not the solution is often labeled racist or worse.

    Sexism has become an opposite but equally destructive version of it's old self as well. Whereas once women were limited to roles as home makers and mothers, we now live in a society that tells women who chose to dedicate themselves to the rearing of their children and the maintenance of their family that they've somehow betrayed themselves and their sex with their choices. Women once weren't allowed to leave the home; now they are seemingly required to, whether they want to, or have to, or not.

    The Solution:
    The solution, as I see it, is at once complex and basic. Americans need a return to simplicity, reverence, and moderation in our personal lives and in our public institutions. We've come to a place in this country where we justify anything that we want to do by proclaiming ourselves as warriors against oppression. And we're more than happy to imagine that oppression exists where it doesn't. In fact, freeing oneself from some phantom oppression seems to be the hottest trend.

    We don't know our wants from our needs anymore, and we reject any and all forms of self discipline as outdated and antiquated. We congratulate ourselves on how "enlightened" we've become, on how we've thrown off the cultural limitations and closed mindedness of the 1950's... not realizing that we've also cast aside national security, individual accountability, personal standards, and the concepts of right and wrong. A nation once guided by a reverent and humble belief in God now rejects reverence and humility as concepts that keep us from reaching our personal potential and prevent us from truly enjoying ourselves. In order to justify our hedonism, we tell ourselves that God is an outdated concept. We sacrifice spirituality in order to pick at the imperfections of organized religion. As we drift further and further from spiritual relationships (both with God and with one and other) we find ourselves increasingly dissatisfied with the hollow amenities of secular life. In our denial, in our suffocating lack of God in our day to day lives, we've turned into a nation of spoiled brats... covering our ears, shutting our eyes, holding our breath, and telling ourselves that since we can't see it, it must not be there.


    We must unlearn much of the garbage we've learned over the past twenty or thirty years and we must re-embrace the standards of our grandfathers. No, we mustn't re-embrace their faults. We must not become, as we believe ourselves to have once been, a nation of segregation, limited women's rights, or intolerance. But we must reject the modern degradation of personal standards and individual accountability. If your right eye offends you, pluck it out. I'm not suggesting literal self mutilation, but I am suggesting, adamantly, that watching no TV at all is better than watching Fear Factor. Listening to no radio at all is better than listening to Howard Stern. They have the right to broadcast garbage, but we aren't required to participate. And we aren't required to accept whatever the networks tell us about the news. Remember that they are pushing an interpretation of events, not offering an objective report. Each of us must investigate for himself or herself in order to have some idea what is really going on in the world around us. We must hold ourselves accountable... not just for our actions but for our futures.

    Don't believe the hype.

    Don't buy the lies.

    And for God's sake, don't let Madonna tell you what to think about God, Iraq, cheeseburgers, or anything else.

     

    Darrell's Bookshelf

    Just a selection of some of my favorite books. The links below are to the Amazon page where you can buy the book in question, obviously. That's also a good place to read reviews, sample some of the book, etc.


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    Thursday, June 03, 2004

     

    Homespun Bloggers










    This blog is a member of Homespun Bloggers, a fairly informal collective of bloggers who write for fun, not for profit. There are quite a few good blogs among them, and I recommend that you check all of them out.

    The Complete Homespun Bloggers Blogroll is as follows:



     

    Resources



    Webpages I visit frequently for information and opinions:




    Catholic Resources:



     

    Darrell's Blogroll



    Believe it or not, I read most of these blogs daily.

    I am not saying that I agree with every blog here when it comes to any given issue... but I'm a big boy, I can handle reading opinions that are different from my own. In fact, I actually enjoy doing that.

    Having said that, most of the bloggers linked below are, in fact, conservatives much like myself.

    If you're looking for some good blogs to puruse, you could do a lot worse than to check out the ones below:


    Virginia Blogs:


    Bacon's Rebellion

    Commonwealth Common Sense

    Commonwealth Conservative

    Dubyanell Feds

    Fedora Pundit

    From On High

    Insane Hippie

    Just Another Day In Roanoke

    One Man's Trash

    Roanoke Fire Fighters

    Roanoke Journal

    The Roanoke Slant

    The Salt Lick

    Southwest Virginia Blogs

    Spark It Up

    Thornblog

    WikiRoanoke




    Elsewhere:


    The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler

    The Boiled Egg of Infinity

    Blogs for Bush

    Burr in the Burgh

    Chronicles of Narnia Blog

    The Chronicles of Rhodester

    Coalition For Darfur

    ConservaThink

    Cox and Forkum

    Cube47: The Blog

    Dad of Twins

    DDot's Rants

    Dymphna's Well

    Evan Maloney's Brain Terminal

    From The Mind Of Dave

    Gay Patriot

    Gun-Toting Liberal

    Homocon

    Hud's Blog-O-Rama

    Hugh Hewitt

    InstaPundit

    Jamie Dawn's Mindless Blather

    Jaws Was A Lady

    Kea Blog

    Kill Righty

    Little Green Footballs

    Lorna In Wonderland

    MCF's Nexus of Improbability

    Michael Hodges

    Michelle Malkin

    Musings of a Catholic Convert

    MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

    My Wife Works In A Video Store

    Nehring The Edge

    Outside The Beltway

    Paradoxes and Problems

    Political Teen

    Right On!

    The Right Side Up

    Right Wing News

    Sajak Says

    Say Anything

    Scrapple Face

    Southern Catholic Convert

    SteelerDirtFreak

    Stop The ACLU

    Team-Swap Blog

    Till We Have Faces

    Truth Laid Bear

    The Unseen Blogger

    Weapons of Mass Distraction

    The Wet Noodle

    Where Have You Gone, Ronald Reagan?

    Willow Crossing

    Wizbang!

    The Write Jerry


     

    Darrell's Heavy Rotation



    I'm a huge music fan, and I like music from all genres. This is a constantly updated selection of some of my favorite CDs, and they're in no order whatsoever.

    Each, obviously, is a link to the Amazon page where you can buy the CD. That's also a good place to read reviews, sample tracks, etc.

    When Amazon doesn't have any of a given album in stock, they'll replace the ad below with an all-purpose Amazon ad.


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    Tuesday, June 01, 2004

     

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