"Do they hate us for what we think and how we live," Anonymous asks in Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror (buy it here), "or do they hate us because of what we do in the Muslim world?" The until-recently anonymous author believes it's the latter: "What we as a nation do, then, is the key causal factor in our confrontation with Islam."
Imperial Hubris is a thought-provoking book that challenges assumptions held by Americans about their nation's foreign policy. Even when its prescriptions are wrong, Imperial Hubris provides value in allowing the reader to see the global conflict pitting Islam against the West (or, perhaps more accurately, Islam against the rest) through our enemies' eyes rather than our own.
For instance, seeing al Qaeda's leader described as a "pious," "generous," and "courageous" man who could be played by Errol Flynn leaves the reader to briefly wonder if Anonymous might be Osama bin-Laden. He's not. He's former senior Central Intelligence Agency officer Michael Scheuer, and though his characterization of bin Laden chafes Westerners that characterization describes how many Muslims view the terrorist leader. The imperial hubris the book discusses involves a series of comforting delusions: foreigners universally desire to be like us, most Arab Muslims hate al Qaeda too, and what we do internally (free speech, elections, racy movies) primarily fuels our enemies' actions rather than what we do externally (billions in aid for Israel, establishing military outposts in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Uzbekistan, and points beyond in the Islamic world, and recent interventions in Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, and Afghanistan). In addition to altering aspects of our foreign policy, the author recommends a shift in the war on terrorism from "law-enforcement tactics" to military ones and abandoning the cowardly practice of "finding others to do hard and bloody things" in favor of a more do-it-yourself approach. Most significantly, Imperial Hubris calls for discarding the Wilsonian approach of democracy-building and the reembrace of the Washingtonian approach of a foreign policy based on the just interests of America.
"As a people, Americans have a heritage to be proud of and one that is worth defending with their children's lives," Imperial Hubris explains. "It is not, however, a heritage whose experiences, heroes, wars, scandals, sacrifices, victories, mistakes, and villains can be condensed, loaded on a CD-ROM, and given to non-Americans with an expectation that they will quickly, and at little expense, become just like us."
I'm a man of my word. I boycotted the Oscars because the Oscars boycotted The Passion of the Christ. My take on the film that should have won this year's best picture award is here, my take on last year's nominees is here, and my take on this year's program is nowhere since I didn't watch. Million Dollar Baby won best picture, Clint Eastwood won best director, Jamie Foxx won best actor, Hillary Swank won best actress, Morgan Freeman won best supporting actor, and Cate Blanchett won best supporting actress. If you did watch, feel free to use the comments section to fill the rest of us in.
"Even as the aged pope's body shuts down in the late stages of Parkinson's disease, his will to live—and to impose his will on the Roman Catholic faithful—remains as stubborn as ever," Newsweek's Christopher Dickey writes. In case you didn't get the message, Dickey adds a few lines later that the pope "continues to assert his will in the daily life of the church" and concludes that John Paul II has "spent a generation imposing his will on the church." Dickey's prose is about as subtle as Dolly Parton's chest.
So what is Pope John Paul II trying to "impose" on Roman Catholics? Roman Catholicism. The author reminds readers that the pope, gasp, opposes abortion and homosexual marriage--and does so in a "confrontational" manner. Is the pope trying to force these views--labeled not his faith's will, but "his will"--on Catholics, or is he just stating the Church's position on human life and sexual morality since the time of St. Peter? Isn't it more accurate to claim that liberal Catholics, political pressure-groups, and agenda-driven journalists like Dickey are trying to impose their views on the Church? After all, this pope is not saying anything different on the sanctity of human life or on homosexuality than any of his predecessors. It's as if Newsweek would have us believe that once upon a time a more enlightened pope led gay-pride marches through Rome or opened up Planned Parenthood clinics in Vatican City.
Karol Wojtyla survived under the rule of Nazism and Communism. He survived an assassination attempt. In recent years, he has survived Parkinson's and other maladies. His reputation will survive the spitballs and jeers of whining scribblers.
Next week is book week. In addition to regularly unscheduled posts, I will post a short book review each day. FlynnFiles readers recommended a few of these books to me. Is there a book that you recommend to the FlynnFiles readership? If so, give your two cents in the comments section below. I'll return on Monday with a book review, and posts on whatever is interesting.
An Associated Press story was adorned with the remarkable headline: "Military Gay Policy Causes Troop Loss." And? The "don't ask, don't tell" policy kicks out homosexuals publicizing their bedroom behavior. This is news?
The piece focused on a Government Accounting Office report detailing alleged costs of the military's exclusion of open homosexuals. "What the research has found and what the GAO confirmed is that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' harms military readiness," opined Aaron Belkin, of something called the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. That's one way to spin it: Blame the rule, not the rulebreaker. The military discriminates against adulterers, the hirsute community, and various other groups. They do this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is unit cohesion. When your business involves killing and dying, reluctance to partake in social experiments is natural, particularly when those experiments will come at the expense of unit cohesion.
Rarely has so much ink been spilled over something so minor as the military's policy on homosexuals, revised in 1993. Of the roughly 2.5 million active and reserve members of the armed forces, exactly 653 got kicked out last year for violating "don't ask, don't tell." Maybe this is the result of living in an age of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Steven Cojocaru, and other homosexual versions of Amos & Andy, but something tells me that gays wouldn't be lining up at the local military recruiter's office if the ban is ever lifted.
It's unclear when Ward Churchill watched Soul Man, but watch it he did. The '80s comedy starring C. Thomas Howell and Rae Dawn Chong changed Churchill's life. The politically incorrect movie features Howell transforming into an African American to gain a blacks-only scholarship for Harvard Law School. If C. Thomas Howell could get away with playing a black man in the movies, certainly Ward Churchill could pawn himself off as an Indian in real life. And he needn't fool crafty admissions officers at Harvard, just the burnouts on the hiring committee at the University of Colorado. Last night, Churchill admitted that he is no more Native American than Billy Jack. "Let's cut to the chase," he told an audience at the University of Hawaii regarding whether he was an Indian. "I am not."
In Soul Man, when C. Thomas Howell gets found out, he apologizes and Harvard declines to press charges. At the time, film critic Roger Ebert found this unbelievable. "That scene is absolutely impossible--he would have been thrown out of Harvard in a second, his reputation ruined," Ebert wrote. But of course, Churchill, just like his celluloid inspiration, won't be thrown out of the University of Colorado. Why? Throwing Churchill out is a tacit admission that his faux-Indian heritage had something to do with his hiring. If ethnic background is inconsequential, then lying about your ethnic background is inconsequential.
The worst-kept secret of every major university in America is that your ethnic background does matter. It matters in admissions, hiring, and scholarships. It matters in making required reading lists, invited lecturers, and even entire academic concentrations appear more diverse. It matters in imposing racial quotas on the democratic process in student governments and in allocating funds to student groups. Ward Churchill understood all this and used it to his advantage. How else, but by claiming to be an oppressed minority, could someone with a masters degree in communications from Sangamon State University get tenure and an appointment as a department chairman at a prestigious state institution of higher learning?
The University of Colorado hired Ward Churchill because they believed he was a Native American. But they can't fire him now that he has admitted that he is not a Native American. The official line is that the university hired Churchill because of his academic qualifications. Baloney. He has none. Radical views and a minority pedigree go a long way in academia. Just as the University of Colorado would admit it discriminates based on ethnicity if it came clean about the real reason the school hired Churchill, the Boulder school would admit discrimination if it fired him for lying about this seemingly trivial matter. They're stuck with him, and Ward Churchill knew this all along just from going to the movies.
Two days a week I am sans car. This compels me to take the train to work. I have a love/hate relationship with public transportation that recently has tilted on the hate side. When I came to Washington, DC more than a decade ago, my prospective employers expressed surprise that I didn't have a driver's license. Why should I? When not accumulating credits at the architecturally-challenged UMass-Amherst, I took classes at UMass-Boston, worked at Fenway Park, and spent weekend evenings in Harvard Square. And for this latter pursuit, I had somebody else's driver's license. What did I need a real driver's license for? And plus, I come from three generations--brother, father, grandfather--of employees of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, the operator of the oldest subway in North America. Train, bus, or foot can get you where you want to go around Boston better than a car.
But my love affair with public transportation has hit a few bumps in the road, so to speak. Instead of my frustrations exploding in subway rage (a close cousin of road rage), I've compiled this list of ten things that I hate about public transportation as an act of therapy.
10. Rubes and jerks who attempt to enter the train before passengers have exited the train doors.
9. Germs. Touching escalator railings, turnstyles, or the metal poles designed to stabilize standing passengers is about as sanitary as playing slip-and-slide on the floor of the bathroom under the Fenway Park bleachers. It's incumbent that you wash your hands after riding.
8. Lazy people who don't give up their seats for old folks, little kids, or pregnant ladies; and, alternatively, fat people who believe they should have preferential seating too.
7. A permanent stench suggesting that the train station is periodically cleaned with urine. Park Street on the MBTA and Downtown Berkeley on the BART fit this profile.
6. Loud cell-phone conversations that overpower the decibel level of the rap song blaring from a fellow passenger's headphones that I so want to hear.
5. Couples who go two-wide on escalators, oblivious to the people behind them rushing to make their train.
4. Train gropers. You know who they are. They live for packed trains, when they can "mistakenly" rub against you. These people are real and create a culture of paranoia. "Certainly that hand didn't brush my leg on purpose, or...did it belong to a train groper!"
3. The third rail. Seriously, it's 2005. Can't someone figure out a method to propel the train that doesn't scare me so?
2. Reminders of the many unnecessary costs. In DC, flashing lights and a board counting down the minutes to your train's arrival alert you that the train is coming (in case you don't hear or see it rumbling towards the platform?). Boston's MBTA has installed a robotic voice on buses informing riders of each stop. Nothing, however, tops the MBTA's decision to construct an $8,000 "third bathroom" for the benefit of a transgendered employee.
1. Creepy people who sit next to you even though the train or bus is empty.
New York Post editorial board member Ryan Sager complains that last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference was actually, gasp, conservative. I attended the conference and noticed that too. Perhaps it was the name of the actual event that initially clued me in. Sager noted that a pro-open-borders speaker got booed (I witnessed her absurd claim that since immigrants come here to work, the people who want to sponge off welfare and avoid work always stay in their native countries), and that a Log Cabin Republican faced hostile questions. Sager whines that "precious little libertarianism came from the stage, and what little did was seldom well received." Do libertarian conferences generally promote communitarianism? No. Do liberal conference generally promote conservatism? No. So why should a conservative conference promote libertarian aims that conflict with conservative ones?
Twenty-five years ago tonight, the U.S. Olympic Hockey team pulled off the greatest upset in the history of sports by beating the Soviet Union. A few days later, they defeated Finland and won the gold medal. After a decade of Vietnam, Watergate, stagflation, and the Iranian hostage crisis, the Miracle on Ice killed the 1970s and set the tone for the upbeat '80s.
If the game transcended sport, then one could just as easily say that it transcended politics too. It launched a table-top hockey game nearly as good as the real thing, the most memorable line from a sports broadcaster, and the ubiquitous chant, "USA! USA!" From Jim Craig searching for his dad to Soviet players looking on in disbelief, images from the game are still so powerful as to bring grown men to tears. Entirely comprised of amateurs (including ten college underclassmen), the U.S. club defeated, in essence, a professional hockey team in the Soviet Union. A few weeks prior to their unbelievable victory, the U.S. lost to the Soviet Union 10-3 in Madison Square Garden. The same college kids who had no chance would go on to lose not a single game at the Olympics.
Though the team featured numerous players who went on to careers in the National Hockey League, its most unforgettable member never played another competitive hockey game after winning the gold. The example of twentysomething Mike Eruzione could impart this bit of wisdom to many a fortysomething athlete: it's good to go out on top. Nothing before or since has topped the U.S. Olympic hockey team.
The Minutemen, a group of five-hundred volunteers concerned about illegal immigration, will spring into action along the Arizona/Mexico border. In April, the citizens will alert law enforcement about anyone they spot crossing into America illegally. Some people are angry about this.
"The Border Patrol does this every day, and they are qualified and very well-trained to handle the situation," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner explained to CNN. "Ordinary Americans are not." Is the Border Patrol well-trained to handle the situation? Under their watch, millions of immigrants have ignored U.S. law and poured into this country. They seem unable to enforce the law. Why not welcome the extra help? "We've been repeatedly accused of being people who are taking the law into our own hands," Minuteman Jim Gilchrist, a 56-year-old Vietnam vet of Aliso Viejo, California, told CNN. "That is an outright bogus statement. We are going down there to assist law enforcement."
Rather than citizens ensuring the enforcement of the laws instituted through the democratic process, aren't the ones guilty of taking the law into their own hands government officials who refuse to enforce immigration laws ?
Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 80, is not getting any younger. He's sick. And a Republican in the White House likely means his seat on the bench, if vacated, will be occupied by another Republican. For these reasons, speculation over the chief justice's possible successor--to fill the court's top spot, and if necessary, to additionally fill Rehnquist's spot on the court--grows louder.
Though Republicans control the White House and the Senate, don't pencil in a conservative to take Rehnquist's spot just yet. Why?
First, Republicans appointed seven of the nine justices on the court, yet liberals (Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens, Souter) still outnumber conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist). In fact, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and G.H.W. Bush together appointed more jurists to the left of the political mainstream than conservatives to the right of it. Second, President Bush has disappointed conservatives through his amnesty program for illegal immigrants, by flip-flopping on campaign-finance reform, and by his enthusiastic support for big government. What, other than delusion, inspires confidence that the president will suddenly find conservative convictions that he has never shown evidence of having? Finally, pro-abortion Republican Arlen Specter sits as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because Specter is joined in the Senate's Republican caucus by a half-dozen or so steadfast abortion-rights supporters, any jurist deemed a strict constructionist will face a bipartisan base of committed "no" votes from the start.
Despite nominating Justices Blackmun, Powell, Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, Republican presidents did place Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and William Rehnquist on the court. Is there a chance President Bush will nominate the next Scalia or Thomas? Certainly. Is there a better chance that he'll nominate the next Sandra Day O'Connor or Lewis Powell? Yes.
I've been invited to post on RedState.org. In addition to daily posts on FlynnFiles and weekly posts on TownHall.com, I will be posting every so often (weekly?) on RedState. I read it, so why not write on it? My inaugural RedState post explores the parties that will constitute the majority coalition in the Iraqi assembly. As I've written here and here, it's good that Iraqis voted but not good that they voted for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Hezbollah al-Iraq, and other Islamic extremist parties within the winning coalition.
When is a few square miles of rock and ash a valuable piece of real estate? When it lays between the Japanese mainland and American bases in the Pacific during World War II.
Every business day I'm twice reminded of the heroism on that seemingly insignificant island by driving past the Iwo Jima Memorial, immortalizing the raising of Old Glory atop Mt. Suribachi by five Marines and a Navy corpsman and serving as a remembrance to the sacrifices made by Americans on February 19, 1945 and for more than a month thereafter. The battle was like no other. Marines above terra firma fought an enemy sniping from beneath the earth. Because of this, Americans sustained a casualty rate of about 33 percent. Because of the tenacity and courage of the Marines, and the no-surrender mindset of the enemy, the Japanese survival rate sank below one percent. If you are ever confused on what drove Harry Truman to drop a giant bomb on Hiroshima, reread accounts of the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Belleau Wood. The Frozen Chosin. Hue City. They all pale, though not in Marine Corps lore but certainly in the public's imagination, beside Iwo Jima. Semper Fidelis to all of my fellow Marines--stateside, in Iraq, Afghanistan, or points beyond--on this important anniversary. You have a proud tradition to uphold.
Frontpagemag.com conducted a symposium on Noam Chomsky, one of the intellectual morons discussed in my book by the same title. They included me, another Chomsky critic, and two fans of the MIT professor. Sparks flew. Read the debate and find out why I was left wondering about one participant's sanity, and another's honesty.
C-SPAN conducted a brief interview with me on Intellectual Morons at the Conservative Political Action Conference. It runs about four minutes, and should air this weekend. Tonight, I appear on MSNBC's Hardball. I'll be debating left-wing bias and intolerance on college campuses. Hardball starts at 7 p.m. (Eastern), and my understanding is that my segment will air later during the program. On Saturday, I'll be signing copies of Intellectual Morons at CPAC.
If you buy into political scientist David Mayhew's theory that Congressmen are "single-minded seekers of reelection," what, other than a belief that criminals would vote for Democrats, explains Hillary Clinton's enthusiasm for a proposal forcing the states to allow convicted felons to vote?
Stan Evans famously quipped that conservatives often come to Washington denouncing it as a cesspool. But shortly after their arrival, they find it more like a hot tub. This witticism certainly applies to the "Contract with America" House Republicans elected in 1994 who remain in Congress. The New York Times has published a graph showing that the budget-cutting class of '94 Republicans have become, in all but two cases, the budget-busting congressional establishment.
Jose Canseco's strength came from taking massive amounts of steroids. Mike Greenwell's strength came from wrestling alligators. In 1988, the pair placed one and two in the American League MVP race. Greenwell batted .325, hit 22 home runs, and knocked in 119 base runners. Canseco batted .307, hit 42 home runs, and knocked in 124 base runners. Did steroids rob Mike Greenwell of an MVP award?
"I do have a problem with losing the MVP to an admitted steroids user," Greenwell told a Florida newspaper. "I was clean. If they're going to start putting asterisks by things, let's put one by the MVP," the former left-fielder suggests.
The 1988 Red Sox were a special team. After a dismal first-half performance, the Sox replaced John McNamara with Joe Morgan. The Sox proceeded to win 19 of 20, and 24 straight at home. I got to witness a great deal of this in my first year as a vendor inside Fenway Park. On this special team--my favorite until the 2004 Sox--Mike Greenwell was a special player. Greenwell may be Jose Canseco's antithesis. In 1988, Gator set the American League record for game-winning RBIs (it still stands). Years later, Greenwell retired rather than play for an MLB team other than the Red Sox. Whereas Canseco struck out every fifth at-bat in '88, Greenwell amazingly struck out just once out of every thirteenth at-bat. But in the end, Canseco's A's swept Greenwell's Sox for the American League pennant.
Nearly seventeen years later, Greenwell asks: "Where's my MVP?" When Jose's book money runs out, Gator, you'll probably be able to find it on Ebay.
Sam Francis has written his last column, dying yesterday from complications from heart surgery. Sam was a major player in the conservative movement when it was, well, actually a conservative movement. He served as a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, legislative assistant to Senator John East, and as an editor for the Washington Times until ousted in a row over political correctness. The stated aim of Sam's conservative tormenters, if I'm not mistaken, was "to run Sam Francis out of polite society."
Drawn less to his ideas than to his status as an outlaw for sanctimonious beltway types, I invited Sam to speak at several conferences I organized as executive director of Accuracy in Academia. In a panel on the diversity within the conservative movement, for instance, Sam represented paleoconservatism, Jonah Goldberg represented neoconservatism, Lori Waters represented religious conservatives, and James Bovard represented the libertarians. A good conversation, but to my disappointment the participants were too polite to draw blood. On other occassions, Sam defended secession. This spilled over into an ongoing discussion among Conservative University's students and faculty, which culminated in a famous debate between Joe Sobran and Dinesh D'Souza. I last saw Sam a year or so ago, and I was shocked at how much weight he had lost. He also seemed uncharacteristically cheerful. In the tradition of Whittaker Chambers and G.K. Chesterton, Sam had been a conservative of great girth. This probably stands as a reason why he left this world in his late fifties.
A partisan of the Old South, an old line Washingtonian on foreign policy, and a pioneer on the issue of controlling America's borders, perhaps Sam Francis was destined not to make the journey into the mainstream with the conservative movement. Sam Francis, rest in peace.
The history of the Democratic Party over the last forty years is predominately one of liberals purging fellow liberals for not being liberal enough. This cathartic ritual, occassionally puncuated by brief excursions into sanity, has resulted in a greater purity of ideology at the expense of political victories.
The Democrats have lost three consecutive national elections. Their prescription for their ballot-box woes has been to ingest more of the poison that got them sick in the first place. After New Democrat Al Gore headed a losing slate by becoming Old Democrat Al Gore, the most visible Democrats became Barbara Lee for casting the lone vote against a military response in Afghanistan, Cynthia McKinney for authoring a "Bush knew" 9/11 conspiracy theory, and David Bonior and Jim McDermott for taking a propagandistic trip to Baghdad. This approach didn't work out in 2002, so the Democrats subsequently embraced San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi as their House leader and Ted Kennedy's understudy as their presidential nominee. Now, in the wake of losing yet again, Democrats have turned to Green Mountain socialist Howard Dean to chair their party. An obstinate bunch, these Democrats.
The liberals chased loyal Democrats--traditional Catholics, Southerners, blue-collar workers--out of the party. When the LBJ-Hubert Humphrey version of the party didn't go far enough, the McGoverniks replaced them. Now the party has gone left again with the elevation of Howard Dean to party chairman. So who will remain to purge Dean, already being labeled a "moderate" by Paul Krugman, when he proves not far enough to the Left? The Ward Churchill wing of the Democratic Party?
FlynnFiles readers have spoken, and by a scant two votes, have chosen Willington World as their favorite reader blog. The final tally in the back-and-forth election is sixteen votes for Willington World and fourteen votes for the Last Angry Men. Humor, as is usually the case, proved more popular than anger. Both blogs have my congratulations, and deserve your patronage, for getting this far in the competition.
Did you know there is an entire website dedicated to fake Indians? The site depicts the painful efforts of white actors such as Paul Lynde and William Shatner to portray Native Americans on the silver screen. But these are actors. What about whites who pawn themselves off as Indians in real life?
Ward Churchill understands that ethnic victimhood is the price of admission into various academic departments. He has carefully cultivated an image as a Native American, without which he would never have been made chairman of the University of Colorado's ethnic studies department. But new evidence has emerged suggesting that he is not what he claims. The distant relative Churchill points to as a Native American--who would then only make the University of Colorado professor one-sixty-fourth Indian--was actually a white man. So why does Churchill continue to promote an American Indian self-image? "He's a white man who earns his living masquerading as an Indian," artist David Bradley maintains. "He's a pseudo-Indian profiteer. He takes opportunities intended for our people, our legitimate speakers, who can honestly speak about the American Indian experience."
Two years after invading Iraq to remove "an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder," one outlaw regime has acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons while a second feverishly attempts to produce such terrifying mechanisms. Could the unintended consequence of the Iraq war have been to further encourage rogue states to go nuclear?
Just a short time ago, hawks, grasping for ex post facto justifications for an invasion that they promoted on spurious grounds, seized on Libya's abandonment of its WMD program as affirmation for their war whooping. "Libya's announcement that it will close down its weapons-of-mass-destruction programs is an important vindication of American and British foreign policy," Andrew Apostolou wrote at National Review Online. "The announcement of Libyan disarmament could not have happened without the liberation of Iraq." "The danger posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is obvious to everyone," declared Powerline on the Libyan disarmament, "and if the administration's tough line can yield results like these, its wisdom should be beyond question."
Such are the dangers of viewing any positive geopolitical development through the prism of Iraq. Libya seems to have been intent on rejoining the community of civilized nations prior to the Iraq war, but who knows, perhaps that conflict was the straw that broke the camel's back. Libya's dismantling of its WMD program, although welcome, neither provides "vindication" to the Iraq campaign nor makes the intelligence of its course "beyond question." More than a year ago, hawks claimed that disarming Iraq would have beneficial effects on other gangster states. It hasn't. Instead, the remaining members of the axis of evil have grown more dangerous. Like Libya, Iran and North Korea charted their course on weapons of mass destruction prior to the Iraq war--with Kim Jong-Il likely having an atomic weapon before gameday in Iraq. But it's worth pondering whether the war accelerated attempts by the two nations to further realize their nuclear ambitions--just as it's worth pondering whether the war had a beneficial effect on Libya.
Obviously, the rulers of North Korea and Iran don't want their nations to be the next Iraq. Welcoming inspections and abandoning the pursuit of WMD is one way--the Libyan way--to avoid invasion. Another way--the Iranian and North Korean way--involves gaining nukes as quickly as possible. More reliable than the mantra that democracies don't wage full-scale wars upon other democracies is the time-tested reality that nuclear powers don't wage full-scale wars upon other nuclear powers. Rather than inspiring the abandonment of dreams of nuclear arsenals, couldn't it just as easily be said that the lesson Iraq imparted to Iran and North Korea is that nukes are the only surefire way to avoid the military wrath of the U.S.?
Angela Bassett, Jesse Jackson, and others have in recent years labeled the Oscars racist for its paucity of black nominees. Should whites be making the same complaints about Sunday's Grammy Awards or the NFL Pro Bowl? At the Grammys, three black entertainers dominated the night. Ray Charles, Alicia Keys, and Usher took home a combined twelve awards. At the Pro Bowl, whites comprised only two of the eighteen players named to the NFC defense and just two of the twenty-one named to the AFC defense. Not a single white running back or wide receiver made the AFC or NFC squad. So does this make the Pro Bowl or the Grammys racist? If the shoe were on the other foot, Jesse Jackson would certainly answer in the affirmative. But the shoe is not on the other foot, so no one says the Grammys or the Pro Bowl is racist. This is because they aren't. Statistical abnormalities aren't necessarily signs of discrimination--at the Pro Bowl, the Oscars, or the Grammys.
The come-hither gaze of the Cuban man-hunk seduced the husky farm-boy. Stealing away to a darkened bathroom stall, the duo shut the door lest their secret be revealed. Two-hundred-plus pounds of beefcake quickly unrobed, revealing his glistening posterior. The swarthy Adonis rushed to inject him. Soon, the tables would turn. The Cuban's fibrous abs, biceps, and quads quivered as his partner reciprocated. Their shameful encounter dare not speak its name--until now.
Jose Canseco comes out of the closet as a steroid user in Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big (buy it here), and outs several other baseball stars. It can found in your local bookstore under "sports," not "gay erotica." I can't say for sure that the above paragraph appears in Juiced because this generation's Ball Four doesn't hit store shelves until later today, but the prose seems entirely consistent with the words coming out of Canseco's mouth about Mark McGwire on 60 Minutes Sunday night. Sorry, but Canseco's description of poking McGwire in the butt with a steroid needle in a locker-room toilet-stall seemed really, really gay. In addition to Big Mac (586 HR), Canseco rats on Rafael Palmeiro (551 HR), Ivan Rodriguez (250 HR), Juan Gonzalez (434 HR), and Jason Giambi (281 HR). Did they juice? McGwire hit 49 home runs as a rookie with a promising frame bound to fill out, so at least his numbers and physical transformation don't indict him. But check out these before/after photos of Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Jason Giambi. Lots of people get big through weights and diet alone, so the pictures don't confirm Canseco's story--but they are consistent with it in all cases. Working against the credibility of Major League Baseball's first 40/40 man is his much publicized greed, e.g., charging fans $2,500 to visit him while under house arrest.
While the baseball media seems transfixed on the overblown home-run numbers of the last fifteen years, the numbers that we should remember from the asterisk era are those of Roger Clemens (1990: 1.93 ERA, 7 HR), Pedro Martinez (1997: 1.90 ERA; 2000: 1.74 ERA), Greg Maddux (1994: 1.56 ERA; 1995: 1.63 ERA), and Randy Johnson (an ERA almost two runs better than the league average at age 41). With three former MVPs admitting steroid use, and a federal investigation tainting the achievements of several other star players, it's reasonable to conclude that performance enhancers--along with smaller parks and expansion--has inflated the power statistics since the late 1980s. Sure, be skeptical of the gaudy home-run numbers put up by Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds. But don't forget to balance that skepticism with awe for the asterisk-era careers of Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux.
A recent article pointed out that politically-oriented blogs have taken a big hit in the months since the elections. Bucking this trend, FlynnFiles has more than doubled its readership in that span. Thank you for making this happen. The site benefits from external links, talk-radio plugs, and its address on the jacket of my book. But more than anything else, word of mouth brings in new readers. With this in mind, could you tell five friends about FlynnFiles? Spread the word through email or through more traditional methods. Your efforts enlarging our online community are greatly appreciated.
I blog from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the group I direct, the Campus Leadership Program, is hosting a retreat for conservative students. The weekend event follows seven lectures in four days in three states. My lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison highlighted the week. A few liberals in the overflow crowd looked upon me, mouths agape, the way I stare at zebras at the zoo (Could zebras be more common than conservatives in Madison?).
My week on the road ends today. I'm excited about introducing young people to one of my favorite pieces of writing, The Law, in a book discussion at the retreat. The basic point of the slim volume is made in a few short lines: "But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." Frederic Bastiat's ability to make a complicated point simple is perhaps the best explanation for The Law's enduring popularity a century-and-a-half after it was written. A majority of current government activity would fail Bastiat's litmus test.
The aforementioned passage is the most quoted from The Law for good reason. But since that's everyone's favorite, I thought I'd highlight a more overlooked line: "If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good?" That's the question that planners and do-gooders should have to answer before embarking upon any one of their numerous schemes.
I have a rule about never trusting chubby, syphilis-ridden midgets wearing Carol Channing's glasses and a hybrid Don King/The King haircut. North Korea has the bomb, and that's not da bomb. Kim Jong Il's government admitted Thursday that North Korea has nuclear weapons. The ingrates failed to thank Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in their declaration.
Do you know any parents that implant microchips in their children or assign them barcodes? Me neither. So if parents don't feel it necessary to track their children the way farmers track their cattle, why should a school? And how can a school get away with tracking grade-school children by radio frequency without getting the parents' permission first? These are just a couple of questions people in Sutter, California are currently wondering about.
A federal jury convicted Lynne Stewart of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, and making false statements. Those stood out among the formal charges, but essentially the jury convicted Stewart of being a messenger for terrorists. The Associated Press story on the verdict described Stewart as a "veteran civil rights lawyer." Intended to place Stewart in a positive light, the comment succeeds in slurring civil rights lawyers.
Ward Churchill is the new Lynne Stewart. In a year or so, some other lunatic will be the new Ward Churchill. Stewart reacted to 9/11 by labelling the attacks an "armed struggle." "I have a lot of trouble figuring out why that is wrong, expecially when people are placed in a position of having no other way." Stanford's law school reacted to Stewart's remarks by inviting her to mentor students and speak on campus. They agreed to pay her $1,000. What were they thinking? Stanford invited Stewart after the federal government indicted her for aiding and abetting terrorists.
A Georgia woman killed her five-week-old child. She should be going to jail for a very long time. She's not. Instead, a judge has ordered that she have her tubes tied. This is scary--partly because a killer won't spend years in jail, and partly because a judge has given himself the power to order the sexual mutilation of defendants.
For the better part of the first half of the twentieth century, most states in the union--including Georgia--retained the authority to forcibly sterilize people they deemed unfit for reproduction. Beginning with Indiana's sterilization laws of 1907, state governments took away the reproductive abilities of about 70,000 Americans. In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed these atrocities in Buck v. Bell, when Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes infamously remarked: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." Margaret Sanger, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and other progressives of the day seconded Holmes in their unflinching faith in the wisdom of science and the power of the state. This is inspected in great depth in the book, War Against the Weak (which I highly recommend), and touched upon in my book, Intellectual Morons (which I also highly recommend).
It's easy to cast stones upon the Germans for their adoption of eugenics as a national program not only because their experiment was so evil, but because they are foreigners. It's more difficult to come to grips with ugly aspects of our own national past. While the scope of our eugenics laws never approached the scope of Germany's laws, our eugenics policies predated Germany's--and every other modern nation's--eugenics policies. Santayana famously quipped, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." A judge in Georgia has learned nothing from his state's contemptible dalliance with eugenics.
President Bush likes to give away money--other people's money, not his own. This gives him the political benefit of generosity (the perception of good-heartedness), but not the personal cost (a smaller bank account). It's very easy for politicians to be generous with other people's money. What takes courage is frugality, stinginess, and a stewardship that recognizes that it's not yours to give. Rules, not emotions, govern the disbursement of public funds.
Last September, I recommended Congressman Davey Crockett's "Not Yours to Give" to the president. Evidently, he didn't take me up on my suggestion. In September, the president's successful push to distribute $12 billion in hurricane relief inspired my reading recommendation. Today, the reason for again suggesting this bedtime reading for W is the president's announcement that he will seek an additional $600 million from Congress in tsunami relief.
"I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity," Crockett reportedly said on the floor of Congress. "Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money."
The American people recognize that the tsunami victims deserve our help. That's why they've voluntarily given more in private donations than they've involuntarily given in public aid.
Ward Churchill is a confused man. He's gotten a lot of mileage out of milking an American Indian image, but the tribe he calls his own calls him an imposter. He told a Boulder, Colorado audience, "I do not work for the taxpayers of Colorado, and I don't work for Bill Owens." Then, without missing a beat, Churchill threatened to sue Owens if he stopped paying him with the taxpayers' money. Churchill has cultivated the mystique of a campus martyr, but just yesterday an overflowing crowd at the University of Colorado gave the tenured prof and former department chairman a standing ovation for his invective.
On at least one instance of apparrent hypocrisy, Churchill is actually, upon close inspection, being cleverly consistent. Of his controversial essay, "Some People Push Back," Churchill boasts: "I am not backing off an inch." Then he seems to back off from his statements, explaining: "Nowhere in there did I justify the killing of innocent people." Here, Churchill is not confused, just dishonest. He wrote that the people killed in the Twin Towers on 9/11 weren't innocent ("But innocent? Gimme a break."). Stop playing word games, Mr. Churchill. You did justify the killing of innocent people. You just don't concede that the people working in the World Trade Center were innocent.
CNN reports that a senior military official estimates that the Iraqi insurgency consists of 13,000 to 17,000 fighters and terrorists, with Baathists constituting the majority of troublemakers. The anonymous official put forward the estimate of just 500 foreigners fighting the U.S. and the Iraqi government, with another 1,000 terrorists working within al-Zarqawi's network. The bad news: the CNN report, if true, shows a larger network of insurgents than previously thought. The good news: the CNN piece contends that the U.S. military believes it has killed between 10,000-15,000 guerillas aiming to kill our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, as well as Iraqi civilians, police, and servicemen. CNN details neither the source of the estimates, nor the rank of the official advancing these numbers.
Doc McG is the winner of the final NFL pool of the season (I'm sorry, but the Pro Bowl is even more preposterous than the no-defense NHL All-Star Game. There will be no Pro-Bowl pool). Doc McG correctly pegged the Eagles to cover and the game to go under--the only participant to pick the winner and the over-under. McG even knew that the Patriots would win even though they wouldn't cover. Great way to end a great season, Doc McG. Wannabes: offer your praise. Victor: enlighten.
As the esteemed philosopher Flavor Flav once said, "Don't believe the hype." Despite rolling out Dick Cheney on Sunday to tout a return to fiscal discipline, and announcing the elimination of scores of programs, the administration's budget is bigger than ever. Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times points out: "Bush's $2.6-trillion budget for 2006, if approved by Congress, would be more than one-third bigger than the budget he inherited four years ago. It is a monument to how much Republicans' guiding fiscal philosophy has changed over the 10 years since the GOP 'Contract With America' called for a balanced budget and abolition of entire Cabinet agencies."
I heard a sports-radio host in Chicago remark yesterday morning that Bill Bilichick belongs next to Vince Lombardi on the NFL coaches' Mount Rushmore. That leaves two open spaces. Whose stately visages should be chisled beside Lombardi and Bilichick?
Cuba has banned smoking in public places. The state of affairs in the tropical Alcatraz is so sorry that this former trendsetter in oppression now takes its cues from Friendship Heights, Maryland and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 to become Super Bowl champs--again. The teams were pretty evenly matched, but a few things stand out explaining why the Pats came out on top. 1. The Patriots have a running game, the Eagles don't. 2. Tom Brady made few mistakes, while Donovan McNabb made many. 3. Both teams have great defenses, but the Patriots have a big-play defense that forces turnovers and plays with an unmatched intelligence. 4. Belichick outcoached Reid. On this last point, the Eagles' obliviousness to the concept of the hurry-up offense may not have cost them the game--it would have been hard to come back anyhow--but it certainly took them out of the game.
The Patriots join the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s, and the Cowboys of the '90s as dynasties in the modern NFL era. Let the comparisons begin. I say the Pats would beat any of the preceding dynasties. Most of the players from the Green Bay Packers championship teams, for instance, are in their late sixties. I just don't see them being able to withstand a hit from Rodney Harrison. Even the Cowboys championship teams have a mere handful of players left who can still play at an NFL level, so I see the Pats destroying them too.
There exist, however, a few serious reasons why New England compares favorably to the other dynasties. 1. From giving superstar Terry Glenn the boot to refusing to allow introductions of individual players in Super Bowl 36, the Pats are the consumate team. 2. The Patriots won their rings in the age of NFL parity, salary caps, and free agency. 3. The Patriots are throwbacks. Tedy Bruschi lowballed himself in negotiating his own deal just to play for the Pats. Troy Brown and Mike Vrabel line-up on both sides of the ball. In an age of crybaby athletes and unsportsmanlike sportsmen, the Patriots are refreshing. 4. With a few notable exceptions, the past dynasties gave us boring championship games. Each Patriots' win has been competitive and down-to-the-wire. 5. We can offer credible theories about when, precisely, the Patriots' dynasty started--Mo Lewis's near-deadly hit on Drew Bledsoe, in the blinding snow against Oakland, Adam Vinatieri splitting the uprights to end the Rams' "dynasty"--but unlike the Packers, Steelers, 49ers, or Cowboys, we don't know yet when it will end.
If the early returns hold up, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) will cruise to victory in Iraq's elections. What is the United Iraqi Alliance? It is a coalition of 22 parties, nearly all of which explicitly refer to Islam in their names. But the victors are going to form a secular government, really they are. I know it's true because they said so in the New York Times.
C'mon, folks. Do such UIA parties as Islamic Master of the Martyrs Movement, Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Hezbollah al-Iraq, or Islamic Virtue Party sound secular to you? Like many things comforting--daydreaming of lottery riches or imagining Marcia Brady's crush on you--the notion of a secular (in the way Westerners understand the term) postwar Iraq doesn't conform to present reality.
To be fair, many political parties in Western democracies refer to Christianity in their names (e.g., the Christian Democrats). But they don't insist on trading the secular code for Biblical law. Call me a cynic, but something tells me that UIA parties like, say, the Hezbollah Movement of Iraq, aren't into the whole tolerance and pluralism thing.
I have seven campus speeches in the next four days. If you live in Wisconsin, Indiana, or Michigan, please come out to one of the lectures and introduce yourself. The Campus Leadership Program, of which I am the director, organized the lectures through its growing network of student groups.
On Monday, I speak at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside at noon (Greenquist Hall, Room 103) and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at 7 p.m. (Memorial Union, Old Madison Room). On Tuesday, I speak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at noon (Union Room 191) and at Notre Dame at 8:30 p.m. (DeBartolo Hall, Room 141). On Wednesday, I speak at Ball State at 7 p.m. (Student Center, Room 301). On Thursday, I speak at the Thomas Cooley School of Law in Lansing, Michigan at 4 p.m. and at Michigan State in East Lansing at 7:30 p.m. (Wells Hall, B102). The last time I spoke at Michigan State, an overseer of a campus building threatened me with arrest if I spoke. I'm hoping the reception this time is more tolerant.
In the wake of San Francisco's ongoing attempt to ban handguns, a gun-rights group is calling for the city's supervisors to ban the Golden Gate Bridge. "Several city supervisors want to ban handguns in San Francisco on the mere presumption that such a law would prevent crimes, accidents and suicides," points out the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, Alan Gottlieb. "Well, it is an absolute certainty that closing the bridge would prevent suicides, and perhaps many accidents, as well. And just for the sake of argument, one seriously might question whether any of the more than 1,300 fatal falls from the bridge since 1937 were cleverly-concealed homicides." In other words, the Second Amendment Foundation is satirically explaining that just as a bridge's utility would mitigate against attempts to ban it based on its misuse as a platform for suicide jumps, banning guns overlooks the benefits of an armed citizenry--millions of crimes prevented, peace of mind, a check on the government, etc.
After a weekend of drunken jubilation, President Bush has awoken to an awful hangover and some Iranian named Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani lying in his bed.
Early returns from Iraq's elections suggest that Iraqis overwhelmingly voted for a slate of candidates supported by Shiite clerics and overwhelmingly shunned a slate of candidates led by the U.S.-backed moderate, Ayad Allawi. Sunday's historic elections offer several reasons for enthusiasm, but what matters more than people voting is for whom they vote. A vast majority of those ink-stained fingers marked their ballots the way the ayatollahs told them to.
Theorists imagine the success of a democratic Iraq becoming contagious in theocratic Iran. Reality offers a dramatically different possibility. Rather than democracy overwhelming theocracy, a more likely scenario involves the relatively secular Iraq becoming infected by the oppressively Islamic Iran. Should this happen, no doubt we'll never stop hearing about the noble intentions behind the big-government scheme to alchemize subjugated Muslim Iraqis into New England-style town-meeting members. This is the refrain of all world-savers and do-gooders: I meant well.
The Super Bowl, and the final football pool of the season, has arrived. It's an elimination pool, and here's how it's going to work. Pick the team to cover, select the correct over-under, and predict the score. Pick the wrong team to beat the spread, and you're eliminated. Pick the wrong over-under, and you don't advance to the final, score-prediction round. If more than one competitor beats the spread and picks correctly on the over-under, then the proximity of the final-score predictions to the actual outcome will serve as the tie-breaker and determine the winner. Here are my picks:
Round One: Patriots -7 over Eagles.
Round Two: Under on the 48 over-under total.
Round Three: The final score will be 27-17.
Make your picks in the comments section below.
Last night I watched an hour or so of clapping interspersed with a few words by the president. If the giant American flag behind George W. Bush didn't alert you that the speech was about the state of the union in the United States, then certainly the Old Glory lapel pins on the president, vice president, and speaker of the house gave you the hint. Like George W. Bush's presidency, the speech was a mixed bag. It offered a jumble of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the tacky.
The Good Straight talk on Social Security; aggressively pursuing the privatization of a modest-sized chunk of the government-mandated retirement program; support for the Iraqization of the war; pledging to end the reign of activist judges and replace them with honest readers of the Constitution; and, in a scene reminiscent of Dorothy dousing the Wicked Witch of the West with H2O, saying in Barbara Boxer's presence that "we must strive to build a culture of life."
The Bad The president calling for "restraining the spending appetite of the federal government" while demanding "a community health center in every poor county," "strong funding for...hydrogen-fueled cars...clean coal...renewable sources such as ethanol," reauthorization of the AIDS Favoritism Act, "special training for defense counsel in capital cases," and $350 million for Palestinians to build even more pipe bombs to explode in Israeli pizza parlors.
The Ugly Joe Biden clapping, only to have the camera catch him abruptly stop when he realized that none of his peers had joined him (follower!); having to watch Mr. Pale and Mr. Bloated eyeball me while the president spoke; tasking Laura Bush with transforming gang-bangers into model citizens (Wow! That's exacly who I thought of when I wondered just who could settle East Coast v. West Coast, Bloods v. Crips, Warriors v. Gramercy Riffs. If there's anyone hardcore gang members can relate to, it's Laura Bush. Laura Bush or Andy Dick. No wait--Laura Bush, Andy Dick, or Kurt Loder.).
The Tacky Democrats imitating the British opposition MPs by shouting "No!"; unspontaneous appearances of ink-stained fingers; obligatory clapping befitting of a Kim Jong Il rally; and exploiting real emotion to stage made-for-TV visuals.
All in all, a better speech than the airy second inaugural--even if it did end by violating that sacred conservative principle of not immanentizing the eschaton ("The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable—yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom."). But juxtaposing President Bush's upbeat manner with the sore-loser looks of Hillary, Kerry, and Sheila Jackson Lee was almost enough to make one become a GOP true-believer.
President Bush will reportedly spend a considerable portion of his State of the Union address tonight, and his political capital over the next year, promoting his plan to allow workers to shift their Social Security money from a general government pool to their own private accounts. Social security used to be called the third rail of American politics. That a politician who has devoted ten out of ten years in public office to increasing the size and power of government would leap upon the tracks to fix this third rail is a welcome surprise.
The Bush argument essentially is a mathematical one. Baby boomers represent a massive portion of the population, and when they retire, a relatively shrinking workforce will have to support a relatively growing group of retirees. In 1950, 16 workers supported one Social Security beneficiary. Now, the ratio is about three to one. Within a few decades, there will be just two workers for every beneficiary. Because people are living longer and baby boomers are getting older, the system will begin many years of paying out more than it takes in by 2018.
Bush's proposal is a worthy one, but not necessarily because it will save Social Security. It deserves support because it takes the government's greedy hands off money belonging to individuals. It gives us more freedom. By what right does the state plan the retirement of every American? Where in the Constitution does it allow the federal government to supervise the pension plans of 290 million Americans?
Social Security is a government scheme that replaced freedom with force. While President Bush's plan doesn't completely overhaul this relic of FDR's nanny-state, it does give workers more choice. It doesn't arrive at the destination, but at least it travels in the right direction.
The whole Ward Churchill affair disturbs me. Hamilton College should never have invited an absolute lunatic such as Churchill to address its students, just as a few months back it should never have invited a convicted terrorist to teach its students. In both cases, public outrage overturned Hamilton's indefensible initial decision.
I'm also disturbed that threats of violence have ostensibly forced the cancellation of Churchill's remarks. Everyone believes in free speech when it protects speech they agree with. But truly believing in free speech means protecting the speech of those we disagree with. I really can't think of anyone I disagree with more than Churchill, but as the overused Voltaire line goes: "I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it." Well, maybe not to the death, but you get the point.
Conservatives unpersuaded by the principled defense of free speech might find the utilitarian benefits of tolerating unsettling words more persuasive. Tonight, I speak at the University of Vermont, a left-wing university in America's most liberal state. In that cloistered environment, my views are likely to strike some of the local extremists as foreign as Ward Churchill's strike the rest of us. Will they, too, employ the heckler's veto to shut me up?
It's happened before. At Berkeley, a protestor attempted to rip my microphone's cord from its socket while a mob shouted me down. They even stole my writings and held a Nazi-style book-burning. Austin College wouldn't allow me on campus. A Michigan State hack threatened me with arrest if I dared take the podium. At Connecticut College, a horde of spoiled rich kids screamed over my talk, with one mohawked faux-radical standing in front of the lectern for close to an hour. You see, if outrage is allowed to become a respectable basis for silencing viewpoints, it's not the viewpoints of people like Ward Churchill who will suffer most on campus.
"There is no escape on earth for man from taxes, toothache, or the statesmanship of Disraeli," Lord Robert Cecil said in 1858 of his fellow Conservative and adversary Benjamin Disraeli. One-hundred and forty-seven years after Cecil announced these words as part of an attack on Disraeli as an enemy of conservatism, David Gelernter wrote these words in the Weekly Standard: "Benjamin Disraeli...inventor of modern conservatism--was a neocon in the plain sense of the word." Gelernter continues: "That modern conservatism should have been invented by a 19th-century neocon is thought provoking." It is thought provoking, if only it were true. Modern conservatism wasn't "invented" by anyone, let alone Disraeli. Disraeli wasn't a neocon, no matter how much some neoconservatives wish to make him one.
One learns more about the author than the subject reading the Weekly Standard piece. Gelernter cherry-picks from Disraeli's career, highlighting the real and imagined commonalities between the 19th-century Disraeli and the 21st-century neoconservatives. Disraeli did expand the franchise and he did obtain the Suez canal for Great Britain, but this hardly makes him the father of global democrats and worshippers of a Pax Americana. How does Disraeli's famous protectionist stand for the Corn Laws, for instance, mesh with neoconservatism?
Disraeli is an admirable figure, but he isn't the father of modern conservatism. Who is? Ironically, Disraeli himself provided a much more plausible answer than Gelernter's. When Queen Victoria elevated Disraeli to the House of Lords, the two-time prime minister not coincidentally appropriated the title: Earl of Beaconsfield.
Ward Churchill mocks the conventional wisdom regarding the 9/11 attacks as terrorism. But there are some acts, he admits, that are so vile, so iniquitous, so criminal as to earn the distinction of terrorism. Criticizing Churchill is apparently one of those acts. Speaking about the uproar over his now-cancelled Hamilton College panel remarks, Churchill declared on the Fox News Channel: "This, in a word, is terrorism."
A federal judge has ruled that enemy combatants captured in the war on terrorism can challenge their status in U.S. courts. Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that imprisoning foreign fighters without hearing "negate[s] the existence of the most basic and fundamental [rights] for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years." But can you cite anything like this happening in World War II? Or, for that matter, do you recall any nation in the history of warfare that opened up its court system to prisoners of war? Judge Green is simply inventing history. Despite the insistence of liberals that we arrest bin Laden and open our courts to the complaints of foreign combatants, the "war on terrorism" is not a police action. It is, as the first word in the descriptive phrase indicates, a war.
A two-handed man wearing a single glove. A good-looking black gent transforming himself into an ugly white woman. A non-baseball player compulsively grabbing his crotch in public. Could it be that these weren't cute eccentricities, but signs of something altogether more disturbing?
Jury selection for Michael Jackson's child-molestation trial began on Monday. Over the next six-months, we'll likely find out whether Jackson victimized children or was victimized himself by an elaborate extortion scheme. Whatever the truth, Mr. Jackson would have helped himself in the public relations department by refraining from hosting sleepovers with McCauley Culkin or escorting Emmanuel Lewis to the Grammys. A jury will issue a verdict on the charge of Jackson being a pedophile. I will issue a verdict on Jackson being a weirdo: guilty.
Anyhow, if you were prosecuting this case, and the judge allowed you to submit one Michael Jackson song as proof of the defendant being a sicko, which song would you play for the jury?
Did you read Ward Churchill's post-9/11 reaction, "Some People Push Back"? It's not the incessant comparisons of Americans to Nazis that got me, or even the depiction of the 9/11 terrorists acting with "patience and restraint," but the more mundane, throw-away lines that nonetheless dripped with anti-Americanism.
"There were, after all, far more pressing things than the unrelenting misery/death of a few hundred thousand Iraqi tikes to be concerned with," Churchill writes of contemporary Americans. "Getting 'Jeremy' and 'Ellington' to their weekly soccer game, for instance, or seeing to it that little 'Tiffany' and 'Ashley' had just the right roll-neck sweaters to go with their new cords." What else but compulsive hatred explains such prose?
Today, Churchill resigned as the chairman of the ethnic studies department at the University of Colorado. Hopefully the controversy will get people to question the whole idea of ethnic studies, rather than just one lunatic subsidized by such illegitimate departments. In two days, Hamilton College will host this man afflicted with a case of anti-American Tourette's. Hopefully the controversy will get alumni to question the whole idea of pouring their money into institutions that attack their values.