Happy birthday to FlynnFiles! FlynnFiles celebrates its first birthday this week. Although I called Blogspot home for a few months prior to the launch of this site, the blogiversary marks the time--one year--since I began posting here. And in that year there have been 842 posts and more than 7,000 comments. In the beginning, a few dozen unique visitors checked in daily. Now, it's a few thousand. The most widely read posts are still the four-parts of my marathon interview with the Ultimate Warrior. The most commented upon post is this one, detailing the strange curricular pursuits of a college instructor. This short one follows as a close second. Thanks go to Mike Krempasky for constructing the site, fellow bloggers who have driven traffic this way, and to you, the readers, for supporting FlynnFiles. Use the comments section to tell everyone how long you've been coming to FlynnFiles, how you heard about it, most memorable FlynnFiles moment, etc. Spread the word: FlynnFiles is having a birthday party all week! Spammers and trolls aren't invited.
If some weak dude with a faint voice and shifty eyes creeped up to your six-year-old in the mall and attempted to discuss sex, he'd likely get arrested. If that dude got a job in the schools and attempted to discuss sex with a bunch of six-year-olds, the police would balk at arresting him. In fact, if you complained loud enough they might arrest you. That's what happened to David Parker, a parent in Lexington, Massachusetts who requested that teachers exclude his son from classroom discussions of homosexuality. As Michelle Malkin points out, some kids that age can't even tie their own shoes. Are they really ready for a classroom discussion of homosexuality? Upset over his son bringing home the book, Who's in a Family?, which features gay parents, Parker complained to the superintendent of schools, who balked at his request to excuse his son from first-grade discussions of homosexuality. Parker apparently refused to take no for an answer--it's his kid and his taxdollars, after all--and the superintendent called the police, who took the parent away in handcuffs.
August '04 is officially closed for comments. Last call for September. The post Ayn Rand: Intellectual Moron sparked an Objectivist invasion of FlynnFiles, followed by a hasty retreat. My second book came out in September, generating praise from some lofty figures. Posts on the nadir of conservatism corresponding with the apex of Republicanism, the Rathergate scandal, and the Sharon Statement are still worth reading. And did I mention that I predicted the Red Sox would finally overtake the Yankees?
Back, by popular demand, it's...open-thread Friday. State your case on anything in the comments section.
President Bush launched a preemptive strike at Surivor last night, knocking the king of reality television back an hour. Oh yeah, and he also held a press conference. The president focused on rising petroleum prices and his proposal to allow Americans to partially opt out of the government-run retirement program.
His solution to rising energy costs relied on four points: 1. Conserve. 2. Come up with "innovative and environmentally sensitive ways" to use energy resources. 3. Develop new energy sources (How about getting a hold of the stuff that powers the Tardis or the Millenium Falcon?). 4. Help energy consumers overseas. All of this was lame in a real Clintonian sense. In other words, it was a bunch of empty rhetoric designed to solve poll problems rather than real problems. There are two concrete proposals the president could have made that would have helped alleviate the gasoline-cost crisis. First, he could have proposed a federal gas-tax cut. State and federal taxes constitute about one-fourth of what you pay at the pump. A cut would have a major impact on gas costs, and by implication, inflation. Second, he could have more aggressively pushed for opening up the Alaskan tundra, and other domestic sites, to oil drilling. He failed to do this in his prepared remarks. If we continue to rely so heavily on Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and other hostile regimes for oil, they will continue to exploit our dependence by gouging us. Better to diversify our supply by increasing our self-supply.
His proposal on Social Security, on the other hand, is worth pursuing--even if the polls say otherwise. America is the land of the free, not the land of the forced. Why should the government be allowed to compel me to participate in a retirement program I, and no other responsible person, would ever choose to participate in minus their coercion? This proposal should have preceded the president's many big-government schemes enacted in the first term. But better late than never. He deserves the support of conservatives on this one. It doesn't get us there, but it gets us closer.
Big Brother is listening, increasingly. Government-authorized wiretaps jumped 19 percent in 2004. Federal judges approved 730 monitoring devices, while state judges approved 980 of them. The 1,710 wiretaps don't even include wiretap warrants issued for terror-related investigations, which slightly outnumber the wiretap warrants issued for traditional criminal cases. Most of the government's eavesdropping focused on wireless items, such as cell phones, pagers, and Blackberries. This surely is a hint for some enterprising person to invent a new word to replace wiretap.
In Northampton, Massachusetts last week, I caught a high-pitched voice and some weird instrumentation at the extreme left-end of the dial. The song was like nothing you'd hear on mainstream radio, and caused me to lament how much great music I probably miss because the narrowing choices highlighted by MTV, corporate radio, and an increasingly consolidated recording industry. I listened and thought: Who is this guy? As the song concluded, I thought that it would be cool if Bruce Springsteen covered this performer, the way he did Tom Waits, and brought him some mainsteam attention. The radio host then intoned, "And that was Bruce Springsteen, with 'All I'm Thinkin' About,' off of his new album, Devils and Dust." I had absolutely no idea, even to the point of daydreaming that this guy's music was so awesome that somebody mainstream but cool like Bruce Springsteen should cover him to give him more exposure.
This freaked me out. My collection boasts nine Springsteen CDs and I've seen him live five times, yet I couldn't spot his voice disguised behind the falsetto tone he adopted. My second, more depressing thought, was that the wonderful eclectic music Springsteen played would not be on the radio, even the high-80s/low-90s on the FM band, had it not had the name Bruce Springsteen attached to it. That's a shame.
Anyhow, there's a pop Bruce Springsteen that you'll find on albums like Born To Run, Born in the USA, and The Rising. There's another Bruce Springsteen on Nebraska (His best?), The Ghost of Tom Joad, and his latest, Devils and Dust. I urge you to check out this more inaccessible Springsteen by purchasing his new release, Devils and Dust. I'm buying it through FlynnFiles. Who else is with me?
Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer officially wrapped up his investigation into Iraqi weapons of mass destruction by again conceding that no stockpiles have been found after an extensive search, calling speculation that Hussein transferred WMD to his Syrian neighbors "unlikely." "As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible," Duelfer explained in a supplement (released Monday night) to his main report (released last Fall). "After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted." Meanwhile, Duelfer's former boss, departed Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, conceded last night that his characterization of Iraqi WMD as a "slam dunk" were "the two dumbest words I ever said." Yet, right now, in the furthest recess of the Internet, some Republican hack types away about the immanent discovery of Iraqi WMD stockpiles in a manner reminiscent of the jilted Miss Havisham obsessing about her wedding day.
Kweisi Mfume is Ghanaian for "Conquering Son of Kings." Kweisi Mfume is American for "Conquering King of Sons." The prolific Baltimoran has spawned five sons by four different mothers. Now charges have surfaced that during his nine-year tenure as NAACP chairman, Mfume's love for the fairer sex got him into a bind again. The Washington Post reports that a number of sexual harrassment allegations levied at Mfume played a role in his departure from the NAACP last year. The claims, several of which a lawyer hired by the organization labeled "very difficult to defend persuasively," included inappropriate touching, relationships with multiple female employees that sparked office cat fights, and promotions for women who partook in relationships with Mfume. So how does the current Maryland Senate candidate respond to the allegations? Mfume told the Post: "I don't engage in inappropriate behavior."
It has been the tradition of the Senate not to filibuster judicial appointments. Save for a 1968 filibuster of chief justice nominee Abe Fortas, which the Washington Post called "precedent-shattering," the Senate has allowed up-or-down votes on judicial nominees who made it out of committee. The Democrats abandoned that practice during George W. Bush's first term, filibustering ten of the president's appeal's court nominees thus far.
The filibuster has also been a Senate tradition. The upper chamber has allowed unlimited debate since its inception, instituting checks upon the practice less than a century ago through the introduction of cloture. The Republicans threaten to break with tradition, changing Senate rules to prevent filibusters blocking judicial nominees.
Couldn't the ominous tag, "The Nuclear Option," be more readily applied to the Democrats filibustering judicial nominees than to the Republicans stopping the filibustering of judicial nominees? After all, if we must label the proposed Republican procedural tactic anything, shouldn't we just call it, "The Nuculer Option," which more accurately represents the pronunciation for most members of the Grand Old Party?
Recognize this reality: removing the option to filibuster judicial nominees is a rare senatorial action only because filibustering judicial nominees has so seldom been attempted. Conceding that both actions violate the traditions of that sometimes august body, honest people also admit that the innovative Republican measure comes in response to the even more innovative Democratic obstruction. In other words, the former reaction is born of the latter action. Killing the chicken is the best way to ensure we don't get the bad egg.
American judges aren't the only ones who've lost their minds. A French court ruled that DVDs and CDs that have copy-protection technology can't be sold in France. In other words, the law ruled in favor of the lawless. Looters won. The decision banning the anti-bootlegging safeguard will likely have ramifications in other European Union member states, enabling crooks to more easily siphon profits from recording artists and filmmakers. Ironically, the case stemmed from a man who sought to dub his copy of Mullholland Drive, perhaps the worst movie ever made and certainly one that nobody in a right mind would attempt to duplicate.
Michael Bolton sings "How Can We Be Lovers If We Can't Be Friends," winning the adulation of boring fortysomething women everywhere. John Bolton kills globalist treaties, winning such accolades as "human scum" and "bloodsucker" from the North Koreans. Other than their last names, the Bolton brothers have nothing in common: nothing except their funky follicle stylings. John Bolton sports a mustache reminiscent of Rip Taylor in his Sigmund and the Seamonster days. Michael Bolton's hairdo is a cross between Randy Johnson mullet and Rudy Giuliani combover. So whose hair is better? John Bolton's mustache or Michael Bolton's mane?
Michelle Malkin details the strange case of an African American college student who has been arrested for allegedly making racist threats against other African Americans at her college. The Trinity International University student's threats caused the school to evacuate about one-hundred minority students to an off-campus hotel. The motive? The unidentified woman wanted an excuse (an unsafe campus environment) to go home.
Last year, a Claremont McKenna professor staged a hate-crime upon herself. Following 9/11, a Muslim student generated headlines when he was pelted with eggs and beaten by rednecks. He generated more headlines when his story turned out to be a hoax. Around the same time, a gay College of New Jersey student made death threats against himself and other gay students that caused the cancellation of classes, thousands of dollars in university expenditures on pro-gay t-shirts, and a needless police investigation. Despite the havoc the hoaxer caused, a College of New Jersey women's studies professor contended, "we gained so much." Ann Marie Nicolosi opined, "It was a wonderfully teachable time to talk about what we face, and I hope the student body's attitude is a bit more enlightened than it was before."
John Bolton's enemies provide the most persuasive case I've heard for the Senate to confirm him as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "If it is now U.S. policy not to reform the U.N but to destroy it," former U.S. ambassador to Morocco Frederick Vreeland quipped, "Bolton is our man."
The University of Texas-Austin has agreed to buy author Norman Mailer's papers for $2.5 million. Years ago, Stanford University balked at hosting Ronald Reagan's presidential papers. The asking price? Free. Perhaps had a drunken Reagan stabbed his wife with a penknife, universities would not have been so resistant to the idea of housing his papers.
Long before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger worked as a professor of theology. In the 1960s, Ratzinger, like other academics, experienced the invasion of his lecture hall by screaming radicals. ''That experience made it clear to me that the abuse of the faith had to be resisted,'' Ratzinger would later write of the experience. Reverend Hans Küng, one of Ratzinger's academic peers who experienced a similar classroom invasion, told the Boston Globe: "Our reaction was very different. He walked away. He just was not prepared or not willing to talk to those who spoke from emotion.... This is the negative side of the man, the intolerant side." Isn't this blaming the victim? Radicals shouted Ratzinger down, yet Küng calls Ratzinger rather than the radicals "intolerant."
Thumbnail biographies of Ratzinger point to the campus upheavals of 1968 as a philosophical turning point for the future pope, transforming a reformer into an orthodox defender of the faith. Radicals perhaps experience some therapeutic benefit from such shout-fests, but for the shoutee the trauma can induce an epiphany. And the reorientation of thinking ususally goes in a direction opposite of where the shouters had hoped it to go.
I blog from Boston, where I watched the Celtics defeat the Indiana Pacers last night. I sat in the second to last row of the arena. In the old days of the Boston Garden, the worst seat in the house meant sitting behind a pole or beaneath an overhang that obscured three-fourths of the court (or ice). In the Banknorth Garden (formerly known as the Fleet Center, and before that, briefly known as the Shawmut Center), there is no bad seat--including the cheap seats that I called home last night. Despite the history of the old Boston Garden, I didn't mourn its passing. It lacked the architectural charm of Fenway Park. It emitted the scent of Captain Lou Albano after a time-expired match. Its acoustics for concerts were akin to an echo-chamber. I would have gladly traded for another Celtics or Bruins banner hanging from the rafters if it meant having to watch from a tiny seat behind a beam in a sweltering, rat-infested arena. But I'm not sure that it requires such dungeonlike conditions for the Celtics or Bruins to win championships, despite the lack of success of Boston's indoor teams since changing buildings.
Does the Church exist to worship man or to worship God? If it is the former, then the Church should conform to the whims of those on the near side of the altar. If it is the latter, then the Church should conform to the commands of the Main Attraction on the far side of the altar. God answers this question in the First Commandment, obliging humanity to worship Him. To this, the "progressive" Catholic cries, "Worship me!"
Narcissistic Catholics want a Church that affirms rather than corrects their sins. This is why the elevation of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy has been met with such vitriol by "progressive" Catholics. Pope Benedict XVI sees himself as a steward of an old Church, not the inventor of a new one. To make the alterations demanded of him by reformist Catholics, the pope would reveal himself not only as a usurper, but a usurper of a power belonging to no man.
Times have changed. God hasn't. Has God "evolved" in his views on morality? Are the Ten Commandments passe? Did He recognize the error of his teachings on adultery, homosexuality, and abortion when confronted with the example of modernity? To answer in the affirmative is to deny God as God. If God no longer calls the shots, then man does. An earthly puppeteer pulling God's strings leads to an unjust God, forever negotiating right and wrong to fit the fashions of the times. Instead of bringing humanity nearer to God, the reformist vision seeks for God to slump toward humanity.
"Upon this rock," Jesus said of St. Peter, "I shall build my Church." Many liberal Catholics hoped that Peter's 264th successor would resemble less a rock than an amoeba: soft, spineless, and malleable. And that is a sound foundation to build no church, which is perhaps their point.
Last week Gary Kasparov got a chessboard slammed over his head. This week Jane Fonda got a brownish goo of tobacco juice orally discharged upon her face. "I consider it a debt of honor," explained veteran Michael Smith. "She spit in our faces for 37 years. It was absolutely worth it. There are a lot of veterans who would love to do what I did." Smith, who was arrested, notes that he doesn't even chew tobacco, indulging, apparently, for special occassions such as Jane Fonda book-signings.
Jane Fonda is a pretty detestable character. She gave pep-talks to the enemy on their airwaves and staged a propagandistic photo-op sitting on an anti-aircraft gun used to kill American pilots. But even Jane Fonda doesn't deserve the contents of some dude's mouth sprayed across her face.
Joseph Ratzinger is a better source on what Pope Benedict XVI believes than the media. His writings aren't hidden. The 265th pope received his doctorate in theology, taught university, and authored more than a dozen books. Though evidently not as popular as Harry Potter, Ratzinger currently occupies eight slots on Amazon.com's twenty-five top-selling books. Stay ahead of the pack and pick up one of the new pope's books listed below.
The man who called on the College of Cardinals to rebel against the "dictatorship of relativism," examines Western thought and global faiths in Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religion. Milestones is the memoirs of his first fifty years. The four-decade old Introduction to Christianity charts highest among his books on Amazon. Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today is a short collection of essays. Salt of the Earth is more than 200-pages of transcribed and translated interviews, and appears to be most relevant to current debates surrounding the Church. If you've read Joseph Ratzinger's work, in book form or otherwise, share your take with the readership.
Pope Benedict XVI's honeymoon is over before it began. Preying upon the one ethnic stereotype safe from political correctness, critics labeled the former Cardinal Ratzinger the Panzer Pope and God's Rottweiler. The new pope wasn't just a conservative, but an "arch-conservative" (Reuters), a "staunch conservative" (Agence France-Presse), and the "Church's leading hard-liner" (Associated Press). Worst of all, Joseph Ratzinger is a Catholic who believes in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. For this, Andrew Sullivan labels his election "insular and regressive." Perhaps when a pope approves of HIV+ men seeking anonymous bareback sex, Andrew Sullivan will approve of the pope. Other leftists--churchgoers all, I'm sure--were more coarse in their condemnations.
Pope Benedict XVI is Catholic, conservative, and German. For a leftist, what's not to hate?
I encourage FlynnFiles readers in the Bay State to attend one of my two lectures in the next week. On Thursday, April 21, the College Republicans of Smith College in Northampton sponsor my talk on Why the Left Hates America. The event will take place in McConnell 103 at 8 p.m. On Monday, April 25, the College Republicans of Emmanuel College in Boston host my lecture on the same topic. The event will be held on campus in the AMR meeting room on the second floor of the administration building. It begins at 7:30 p.m. Both events are sponsored by Young America's Foundation and will be followed by a book signing. Stay tuned to FlynnFiles for details on upcoming lectures at UMass-Amherst and Carleton College.
The College of Cardinals, the oldest continuing democratic body in the world, have elected a new pope. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI today. Leftists, who generally respond to the inside of a church in the same way that Count Dracula reacts to garlic, are already throwing a brat-fit. Apparently they were expecting Pope Susan Sarandon.
A federal judge sentenced William Cottrell, a Cal Tech graduate student, to eight years in a federal penitentiary on Monday. Cottrell is affiliated with the domestic terrorist organization Earth Liberation Front, whose initials he spraypainted on sport utility vehicles in auto dealerships and driveways in California. The physicist/grafitti artist also painted "Fat Lazy Americans," "Is Your Penis Really That Small," "SUV = Terrorism," and other obnoxious slogans on the trashed and firebombed automobiles. The crime-spree of the physicist Cottrell and his nerd accomplices incurred several million dollars in damages, of which a judge ordered him to pay restitution of $3.5 million. "The defendant engaged in conduct to send a political message," prosecutor Beverly Reid O’Connell explained. "He’s a scheming, arrogant person who is disdainful of the law and the justice system." The defense counsel disagrees. "He is one of the great minds of this century,” contends Cottrell's lawyer Michael Mayock. "I mean, it is clear." Not to me it isn't.
"Surely the People of Boston are not Mad enough to think of opposing us," Hugh, Earl Percy wrote one year and two days before the people of Boston (and points beyond) answered in the affirmative. The tenacity of the Minutemen sent the earl in retreat, scurrying from Lexington through my hometown of Arlington (then known as Menotomy), through Cambridge, and finally to the safety of Charlestown. The Americans won the day, but would not win the war for another eight, grueling years.
If there is a persistent misconception about April 19, 1775, it is the same misconception that surrounds the war that Lexington launched. Both the battle for Lexington Green and the Revolutionary War were defensive rather than offensive operations. The British ordered the governor (Yeah, that's right, we won the war and we spell it governor and not governour!) of Massachusetts to use force against the rebellious colonists. And that he did by sending troops to destroy a weapons cache in Concord. The message wasn't "The Americans are coming!" but rather "The British are coming!"
Similarly, the war was fought not to establish new rights, but to preserve, to defend the rights of Englishmen that the colonists had inherited. As the New Jersey legislature informed the mother country more than a decade prior to Lexington: "we look upon all Taxes laid upon us without our Consent as a fundamental infringement of the Rights and priveleges Secured to us as English Subjects by the Charter." From the perspective of Americans, the British were the revolutionaries altering custom. Virginian Richard Land spoke for many when he wrote: "every Act of Parliament that imposes internal Taxes upon the Colonies is an Act of Power, and not of Right." The internecine conflict stands rare among insurrections: the patriots fought the revolution to conserve what was theirs, not to destroy what wasn't.
A North Carolina law professor is trying to get the National Park Service to pull Michelle Malkin's book, In Defense of Internment (buy it here), from the bookshop at the site of a relocation center for Japanese-Americans and Japanese during World War II. Malkin, who boasts a much larger blog than the Savoranola of the University of North Carolina School of Law, urges her readers to contact the National Park Service to keep her book on the shelves.
And why not? Malkin's book points out America's internment of more than ten-thousand Europeans during World War II, the enlistment of thousands of American citizens in the Japanese war effort, and the fact that most of those spending the war years in the relocation centers were not interned. Do you suppose this information is highlighted in politically-correct U.S. government museums? The Smithsonian's Museum of American History, when I examined their exibit on internment ("A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the United States Constitution") for Why the Left Hates America (buy it here), got two of those three points wrong (see pages 98-101). It shouldn't matter whether one defends internment, believes it defensible, or believes it indefensible: removing Malkin's book, which defends the position on internment and relocation held by all three branches of the U.S. government during World War II, is unbecoming of a place of learning--particularly one sponsored by that very government.
Frustrated in their attempt to solve the murder-rape of socialite Christa Worthington, police in sleepy Truro, Massachusetts conducted a DNA-dragnet, targeting roughly 800 adult males living in the Cape Cod town. The ACLU cried foul. "The mass collection of DNA samples by police is a serious intrusion on personal privacy that has proven to be both ineffective and wasteful," John Reinstein, legal director of the Massachusetts ACLU, explained in January. Though the DNA round-up was voluntary, the ACLU claims the public pressure to comply amounted to coercion.
Several years after first gathering DNA, and several months after expanding the collection to hundreds of citizens, Truro police say they have their man. Thursday night they arrested Christopher McCowen, a garbageman with a criminal past. In the wake of the Truro police's Worthington-case victory, the ACLU is blaming the DNA sweep for hindering law-enforcement efforts and bizarrely claiming that since McCowen's DNA wasn't collected in January's mass-collection (the police obtained it last year) they were right all along about the futility of DNA sweeps. However distasteful one finds their methods, the Truro police's methods closed this case. No amount of ACLU dissembling changes this fact. The ACLU was dead-wrong when it claimed that DNA sweeps are "ineffective." A DNA sweep, albeit a more targeted one than January's, led to the arrest of Christopher McCowen.
The ACLU, which has applauded uses of DNA when it has exonerated the accused, jeered its use when it stood to identify the guilty. Forgive the rest of us if we infer from this that the ACLU cares about perpetrators more than victims. The round-up in Truro was voluntary, after all.
Nevertheless, the case raises interesting questions. Doesn't the Fourth Amendment prohibit compulsory DNA dragnets? Does an objection to submit DNA to the police automatically make one a suspect? Isn't there a legitimate concern that DNA collected in such round-ups might be stored much like fingerprints? Is there a prudent line--somewhere between mandated DNA samples at birth and voluntary collections when situations dictate--that can be drawn to both limit state power and aid law enforcement? Shouldn't the success story in Truro make citizens more apt to cooperate with police employing such measures?
The battle against spam continues. July's comments are closed, and August's comments will be closing one week from today. It's last call for comments, and thus worth looking back at some of the noteworthy posts from last August (when you have a spare minute away from clicking on our sponsor's ads). A war twenty-nine-years done loomed large over the campaign. FlynnFiles discussed the irony of the Vietnam issue hurting the combat veteran rather than the fortunate son, as well as liberal double-standards on Clinton and Bush's avoidance of service in America's longest war. Time magazine looked at campus conservatives and featured me prominently in the article. I was all over the stranger-than-fiction Jim McGreevey story. My two-part post on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Manson murders shouldn't be read with the lights off. And my piece on the band that time forgot, The Kinks, deserves a read, as does my search for Iron Mike Tyson.
Jane Fonda is fond of Jane Fonda. The actress/activist explained to Chris Matthews Friday night: "Jane is a smart, brave, resilient seeker." But when it came time to defend her disgraceful behavior as a thirtysomething anti-war activist, Fonda wasn't so brave. Defensively, she maintained: "I didn't take sides" on the Vietnam War. Grainy video of Fonda clapping, smiling, and singing with Communist soldiers suggests otherwise. So too do her "Tokyo Rose" radio broadcasts condemning American "war criminals."
Following more than a quarter-century of Communist domination of Vietnam, Fonda still isn't willing to admit that America's enemy in Vietnam were Communists. "Maybe they were communists" is the most Fonda could bring herself to say, adding: "Ho Chi Minh was essentially a nationalist." "I went there to stop the bombing of the dykes," Fonda recalls of her controversial two-week trip to North Vietnam. "It stopped a month after I got back." While the fawning Matthews would have been more honest had he temporarily retitled his program Softball, his guest's self-importance seemed to inspire a skeptical line of inquiry on Vietnam. If veterans were so grateful for her anti-war activities, "Why don't they thank you? They thanked Nixon." Fonda sounded a bit like Porky Pig in her non-answer. She later explained: "I know that's true" that anti-war activists shortened the war.
When Matthews asked why she believed the North Vietnamese were on the side of the angels, Fonda didn't question the premise of his question. "But from an historical point of view, they were defending their country.... we should never have been there." Maybe not, but that doesn't mean we were the bad guys in the fight. Matthews took her evasive answer as saying that Ho Chi Minh and company were the good guys. This viewer did too.
The conversation drifted, and Fonda rejected the Red State-Blue State dichotomy. Matthews asked, "What part of you is conservative?" After an uncomfortably long pause, Fonda responded: "I don't...I don't know how to ans..." Ultimately, Fonda explained that pornography, media immorality, and corruption bothered her. "I am a feminist Christian," she maintained. "It's hard for me to say that because these days that word is so loaded with politics." Which word, "Feminist"? Matthews wondered. No, "Christian," Fonda responded, "I think that Jesus was a feminist." "I think that back in the fourth century, the bishops made a decision" to omit various progressive texts from the Bible, she claimed. "Boy there was some wonderful things that were left out," the actress/activist/Biblical scholar held. The late pope joined the Bible as a point of religious complaint. "There was much about him that caused tremendous suffering for women," Fonda opined regarding John Paul II. The former Vassar student explained of the pontiff who visited more than 100 nations, "I wish that I could have taken him to Third-World countries" to see suffering women.
Want to see what a spoiled, liberal, rich kid looks like when she grows up? Check out Jane Fonda on her book tour.
Today is tax day, but Tax Freedom Day is not until Sunday. What is Tax Freedom Day? Prior to that day, the average American works to pay for government. For the remainder of the year, the American worker gets to keep what he earns. The Internal Revenue Service reports that the richest one percent pays about a third of all income taxes it receives. The richest five percent pays more than half. The poorest half pays about four percent. A quarter century ago, the highest marginal rate stood at 70 percent. Forty-five years ago, it was 91 percent. Sixty years ago, top earners paid 94 percent. Thirty-five percent is the highest rate you could pay today, which is lower than under Bill Clinton but higher than under George H.W. Bush.
My post on the 35th anniversary of The Beatles break up, and the therapeutic reader comments it inspired about Yoko Ono, revived my interest in The Beatles. I made several trips to the record store this week, picking up A Hard Day's Night, Help!, and Magical Mystery Tour (buy them here before they run out of Beatles albums). Reader (and writer) enthusiasm makes a repost on The Beatles in order. A top-ten list of Beatles songs would be futile, as it would endure angry criticism from readers for its thoughtless omissions. And the list would change with my mood anyhow. So instead I've put together a much more idiotic list: the ten most underrated Beatles songs. What's underrated? Well, a song that's not a single or known immediately by casual Beatles fans. I've also excluded covers and Abbey Road's medley, as grouping a whole bunch of short songs together would be unfair to more traditional songs. With these rules in mind, here's my list of the most underrated Beatles songs:
10. Long, Long, Long (A pseudo-George sings this in the classic TV movie, Helter Skelter.)
9. All Together Now (A favorite of pre-schoolers and UK soccer fans.)
8. Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Lyrics by John. Title by NRA.)
7. Anytime at All (John's rock voice, well, it rocks!)
6. Doctor Robert (Pssst. He's singing about--gulp!--drugs.)
5. Tomorrow Never Knows (These are the same guys we saw on Ed Sullivan?)
4. Rain (The best Beatles B-side.).
3. I've Just Seen a Face (Faster than a speeding bullet.)
2. I'm So Tired (One of many Lennon compositions on sleep.)
1. I've Got a Feeling (Truly a Lennon-McCartney collaboration.)
Got your own list? Don't like mine? Like REO Speedwagon better than The Beatles? That's what the comments function is for.
In solidarity with the toddler Prince Moulay Hassan, thousands of Morrocans underwent circumcisions Thursday. Indian police arrested eighty Hindus involved in a bizarre child-burial ritual in which parents drug and bury their first-born children for a minute or so before unearthing them. Attorneys for a German man who was convicted of manslaughter for killing and eating a man he met on the Internet are appealing his eight-and-a-half year sentence. How do you translate "quit while you're ahead" into German? As the state of Wisconsin debates cat hunting, an Australian lawmaker urges his fellow citizens to bludgeon poisonous toads as he did when he was a child: "We hit them with cricket bats and golf clubs and the like back then." Antarctica, which has survived without an official currency, flag, or even time zones, has its own marathon. As President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva apologized in Senegal for Brazil's role in the African slave trade, the nation he leads continues to play host to vestiges of slavery.
When Antonin Scalia spoke at New York University this week, a student asked: "Do you sodomize your wife?" Should the Supreme Court justice be thankful that insults were the only thing hurled his way? This academic year, leftists have thrown pies at campus speakers David Horowitz, William Kristol, and Ann Coulter (and missed in this last instance), hurled a shoe at Richard Perle, and dumped salad dressing on Pat Buchanan.
The post-election liberal brat-fit reached new lows at Harvard University on Tuesday. The school hosted a career panel on counterterrorism featuring representatives of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security that the Harvard-Square Left predictably disrupted. Student Elise Stefanik explains: "The propagandists’ techniques of disruption varied: their base tactics ranged from coughing incessantly to the point where none of the panelists could be heard, interrupting presentations to ask ludicrous questions such as 'Isn’t it true you train your employees to torture,' staging a mock deportation of an ethnic minority protestor midway through the discussion, clapping obnoxiously to halt the dialogue, and ridiculing students who posed legitimate questions to the panelists. A protestor sitting three rows behind me physically made himself vomit." If throwing food or throwing up is your manner of counterargument, isn't this an admission that you've lost the debate?
Stefanik notes the irony of rich kids protesting for, among other causes, "workers' rights" by throwing up on the floor of a lecture hall: "who do you think will clean up the remnants of your protest?"
I had a Ted Kaczynski moment reading Eric Rudolph's jailhouse manifesto today. Upon consuming the Unabomber's screed nearly a decade ago, I was struck by its author's intelligence and articulateness. Again, today: How could someone so bright commit acts so dark?
But then I'm reminded that intelligence and goodness aren't synonyms. The Left fails to understand this, fetishizing Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and other radical murderers because they can turn a phrase (and they support all the "correct" causes). For liberals, the brain has supplanted the soul as man's essence.
It's fairly common and hardly brave to dismiss the words of extremist murderers as incoherent scribblings. But the uncomfortable truth is smarts aren't kryptonite to evil. Olympic-bomber Eric Rudolph and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski prove this.
There is a self-serving impulse among conservatives to attach every negative attribute to the author of such evil. One word is sufficient: evil. Humanists don't like the term evil, prefering words that exonerate mankind--crazy, insane, imbalanced. For Marxists, it's need or greed that drives man to crime. Mainstream liberals, faithful to the dogma of the rehabilatative power of education, prescribe years of schooling to cure the criminal. The common denominator is a denial of man's free will. Eric Rudolph, Theodore Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, Karl Armstrong, and other domestic terrorists chose to murder people. External factors didn't force them into the choice. The cult of intellectualism frequently elevates such figures because their crimes served a cause and were inspired by reflection. When the crime doesn't mesh with the egghead's ideological predispositions, the criminal's intellect vanishes.
Eric Rudolph and Theodore Kaczyncki are murderers who deserve to spend the remainder of their lives in prison. They are also murderers who thought long and hard about their crimes before committing them. We shouldn't be afraid to admit this. Years of premeditation hardly makes their acts more admirable than spur-of-the-moment slayings done to satisfy less lofty aims.
The women's studies instructor at the center of controversy at Western Michigan University denies assaulting the chairman of the school's College Republicans. "Let me be perfectly clear--no one got physical with [Matt] Hall in my classroom; I never pushed him from behind, from the side, or from the front--THERE WAS NO ASSAULT. Mr. Hall's claims are totally false," Edith Fisher told me via email. Fisher also condemned the lecture-hall assault on Patrick Buchanan that occured a few hours later at WMU, stating: "It violates the spirit of peaceful protest and the principle of free speech."
"There was a trash bag full of confiscated fliers sitting on the chair next to the one holding the flag and the confiscated poster," Fisher remembers of the confrontation with Matt Hall. "I positioned myself in front of the trash bag of confiscated fliers on the chair as Mr. Hall grabbed my flag and the confiscated poster. I grabbed both items back away from him without touching him and put both items behind my back."
Witness Jeffrey Tirrell disputes this, stating that "as [Hall] went to get his poster back the professor grabed him," adding that the "poster was crumpled up and had a [M]exican flag stuck through it." Hall notes that he is "shocked that [Fisher] is denying the contact occured."
While Fisher denies getting physical with a student, she admits tearing the Buchanan fliers down and admits suggesting to students in her class that they could do the same. Dr. Fisher justifies her actions by charging that the College Republicans posted fliers in forbidden locations and without authorization from WMU. "Many people were tired of these abuses of regulations," Fisher maintains, "so I collected this evidence to deliver to the administration, which I have done."
"Prior to the beginning of my class session on March 31st, a few of my students wanted to collect evidence too," explained Fisher. "They saw this as activism, something I strongly suggest all my students do--to find everyday ways to get involved in things they believe in. I suggested they could add to the collection in the trash bag if they wanted to remove illegally posted fliers off painted surfaces. This was not a class assignment. It was a couple of students and I assisting the administration in an investigation of the illegal posting practices of the College Republicans at WMU."
The disputed assault is just one of the unsettled questions related to this campus controversy: What gives a state institution the power to grant or deny authorization to any political flier? What educational purpose did it serve for Edith Fisher to encourage her students to rip down fliers bearing a message she disagreed with? Is this a proper use of class time? Was it necessary to fill a trash bag with Buchanan fliers or impale an expensive Buchanan poster with the pole of a Mexican flag? Why did the class project of "assisting the administration" stamp out illegally posted signs focus on Buchanan fliers? If tearing down fliers counts as "activism," couldn't Buchanan's assailant argue that dumping a cup of salad dressing on a speaker qualifies too?
While a leftist doused Pat Buchanan with salad dressing and a women's studies instructor led students in tearing down fliers promoting the event, it is the organizer of the Buchanan lecture, Matt Hall, who now faces numerous charges at Western Michigan University.
This weekend marked the 35th anniversary of Paul McCartney's announcement of the break up of The Beatles, and nary a word of remembrance from FlynnFiles. My apologies to the readership. Perhaps I subconsciously remembered the date, for on Sunday George Harrison's brilliant solo farewell, Brainwashed, played in heavy rotation on my stereo.
The lifespan of The Beatles was incredibly short. From when the first chords of All My Loving rang out on the February 9, 1964 Ed Sullivan Show to the quartet's final studio recording together in the summer of 1969, The Fab Four ruled the world for about six years. And in the few years before their abdication, they released 186 songs. When reflecting on the band's musical changes and physical transformations, it's difficult to grasp that it all lasted just six years--but it did. Rock n Roll, being the official music of youth, it's appropriate that no Beatle ever reached the age of thirty.
The Beatles were four talented musicians, rather than one guy and a bunch of backing lackeys. If John shined in the middle period and Paul toward the end, there was always the sense that the product coming through your speakers was that of four musicians. Think of the overlooked Ringo, who not only penned and sang lead on Don't Pass Me By, but played some of the best drums you've ever heard. Listen to the drumming on Ticket to Ride or Tomorrow Never Knows. It's awesome. The group's collaborative effort is most apparant on Abbey Road's medley, in which Ringo offers his only drum solo on a Beatles record, followed by battling guitar solos from John, then Paul, then George. Paul then draws the curtain down on The Beatles and delivers the closing line of the 1960s.
The Beatles stopped making music in 1969, but we never stopped listening. Consider that the bestselling album of 2001 was The Beatles 1. To put this in perspective, imagine music from the 1920s or '30s owning the charts during The Beatles' heyday. A key to their success is the universality of Beatles music. What other band could appeal to third-graders (Yellow Submarine, Birthday), longhairs (Revolution, Why Don't We Do It in the Road?), and the inhabitants of the old-folks home down the street (Something, The Long and Winding Road). There is a transgenerational appeal to In My Life, All Together Now, and much of The Beatles' catalogue that you simply don't get from any other popular music act.
Despite the technological advances of the intervening years, the production value of their albums sounds better than anything today. The Beatles set the bar high. No successive act has reached it. If anything refutes the belief in perpetual progress, it's the post-Beatles sonic landscape. Here we are thirty-five years after John, Paul, George, and Ringo called it quits, and popular music slumps, its arms extending further to the ground.
Republican bloggers have egg on their faces.
Weeks ago, mainstream media outlets reported on a memo distributed on Capitol Hill that labeled the Schiavo case "a great political issue" for Republicans. Aghast that the media would accuse Republicans of attempting to politicize the Schiavo issue, bloggers cried foul and charged that the memo was a hoax constructed by the Democrats to smear Republicans. Alas, the memo was all too true, penned by a staffer for Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida (Full disclosure: I'm an acquaintance of the controversial memo's author Brian Darling, running into him every few years).
"It looks more and more like the memo was part of a dirty tricks campaign as opposed to a concerned activist trying to be helpful," read a featured post on Red State. Conjuring up images of Rathergate, Fishkite humorously asked: "Any chance these talking points came via a fax machine from somebody named 'B.B.' at a Kinkos in Texas?" Rathergate's Kevin Craver referred to "the fishy GOP 'talking points memo' that has, for all purposes and intents, been laughed off as a fake." In case anyone didn't get the hint, Craver wrote: "I don’t believe the memo is real." Joshua Clayborn at In the Agora reported that Democratic operatives created the memo to discredit the GOP, later admitting that in attempting to disprove a hoax he got hoaxed himself. Powerline, which did a phenomenal job unraveling the Rathergate mess, fell for (and perpetrated) this falsehood. Powerline's John Hinderaker claimed, "there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the memo originated with the Republicans." He added, "it seems extremely likely that it was produced by Democrats as a political dirty trick."
Bloggers were right to take issue with the inflated importance the media ascribed to this one anonymous memo, but they erred when they suggested that it was not only a fraud, but that it was a fraud concocted by the Democrats to smear Republicans. In our imaginations, our enemies are always capable of the most diabolical trickery and deceit.
The memo's real author did what political operatives always do: he wondered how a political issue might be turned to his party's advantage. The bloggers did what good writers never do: let partisanship rather than facts guide them. The latter is more troublesome than the former.
The conservative blogosphere is at its best when it acts as watchdog to the mainstream media. It's at its worst when it imitates them. The same partisan zeal that drove CBS to Rathergate drove bloggers to overreach on this story.
A Loudon County, Virginia judge sentenced a North Carolina spammer to nine years in prison Friday. His defense attorney complains about the severity of the sentence. I object to its leniency. I have some qualms regarding the death penalty, but my reservations seem to dissipate when the discussion turns to spammers. I spent several hours Saturday deleting an onslaught of hundreds of spam comments. My sense is if you added up the hours devoted to deleting spam, and the money and energy spent by tech geeks attempting to counteract spam, the dollar amount would exceed the gross national product of Ecuador. Spam certainly depletes the Dan National Product, wasting several hours of my time every week. I'm not going to get those hours back.
With all of this in mind, I'm continuing my efforts to close out old comments to undermine the spam robots. This week is your last chance to comment on July's articles. Worth revisiting and commenting upon (while there's still time!) include posts on how the French love of mediocrity breeds hatred of Lance Armstrong, a glance at great moments in American liberalism, a delicious look back upon the Donner Party, VH1's telling of the Guns n' Roses story, my review of Fahrenheit 9/11, and a discussion of vintage video games. Happy reading!
Prince Charles marries Camilla Parker Bowles today. Jealous?
Charles's former wife Diana died eight years ago, and some people are appalled that he's decided to remarry (and a divorcee at that!). I'm not scandalized by any of this. I recognize the royals are human beings, which is why my view of them is not automatically high in the first place. The sex lives of Richard III, Henry VIII, George I, and if you can believe the rumors, James I, reveal Prince Charles's failings to be rather, well, common. I object to his adultery, as I object to Diana's. Even more so, I object to their marriage--they didn't love each other. It was arranged. Diana was the woman Charles was supposed to marry, not the woman he loved. Today, he marries the woman he loves--and it doesn't matter if you don't love her because you're not marrying her. Charles is.
Prince Charles is subject to the same sins and failings that all of us are subject to--and I'm not sure that marrying his longtime sweetheart eight years after his first wife's death is sin or failing. In the eyes of many base people, Charles's current failing is marrying someone who doesn't meet the superficial standard set by Lady Di (whose substantive contributions are similarly overlooked by these "fans"). If Camilla looked like Grace Kelly or Jackie Kennedy--the way princesses are supposed to look--instead of a gracefully aging 58-year-old woman, would there be such a fuss?
On April 18, the College of Cardinals meets to elect a new pope. They've been voting on the Church's leader since 1059. Like other institutions that have come to employ the vote in the intervening years, they didn't always make the wisest of choices. In fact, they didn't always select an ordained priest as pope. On March 11, 1513, the College of Cardinals selected Giovanni de' Medici. "He was not yet a priest," historian Will Durant informs, "but this defect was remedied on March 15." Known as Martin Luther's excommunicator, Henry VIII's bestower of the title Defender of the Faith, and Raphael's patron, Leo X presided over a turbulent and eventful time in Church history. Upon his death, a popular verdict held: "Leo has eaten up three pontificates: the treasury of Julius II, the revenues of Leo, and those of his successor."
While Catholics view the faith of the Church as infallible, the same judgment can't be extended to the democratic decisions of the College of Cardinals, which has selected as pope a Borgia with numerous illegitimate children, among others unworthy of the responsibility as Christ's vicar on Earth. With all this in mind, especially the historical precedent of selecting a non-priest as pope, what living person would be the absolute worst person the College of Cardinals could select as the next pope when they convene on April 18?
On Dennis Miller's CNBC's program Thursday night, Christopher Hitchens blamed Pope John Paul II for AIDS and accused the late pontiff of being an apologist for Saddam Hussein--at least that's the impression I got. The revisionists have arrived early for work. While the positive coverage outweighs the negative coverage in the week leading to today's papal funeral, don't bet on this trend to continue. Until 1963, Pope Pius XII was thought of as a saintly figure inside and outside the flock. That year, playwright Rolf Hochhuth transformed the pope into an accomplice of the Third Reich in The Deputy. As the following 42 years attest, death was a bad public relations move for Pius XII. My suspicion is that it will be for Pope John Paul II as well. While John Paul II sought to canonize Pius XII, others have anathematized him as Hitler's Pope. The calumny doesn't stand.
According to a Western Michigan University senior, Pat Buchanan wasn't the only conservative assaulted on campus last Thursday. Matt Hall, who organized the Buchanan speech, alleges that a woman's studies professor pushed him from behind and boxed him out after he attempted to retrieve a torn-down poster from the professor's classroom hours before the lecture.
The dousing of Pat Buchanan with salad dressing one week ago today was prefaced with WMU's advisor to student organizations denouncing the event in his newspaper column, professors using class time to label Buchanan a "racist," a faculty-directed effort that resulted in the removal of more than 2,500 fliers promoting the event, and a professor allegedly assaulting the student organizer of the lecture. While a non-WMU student attacked Buchanan, the College Republicans who hosted the commentator believe WMU faculty and administrators created a climate that encouraged the assault.
The professor-student conflict took place in the early afternoon last Thursday. "I saw three girls going around tearing down the Pat Buchanan signs," explained WMU student Jeff Tirrell. "As I went to wait outside my class I saw that they were taking the torn-down fliers into a classroom and handing them to a professor." Tirrell alerted College Republican Chairman Matt Hall that a professor was assigning her students to rip down posters promoting the Buchanan event. Hall then confronted the professor, Edith Fisher, in a classroom in Dunbar Hall.
Seeing his $30 glossy poster promoting the Buchanan speech impaled on the pole holding a Mexican flag, Hall attempted to retrieve his club's property. According to Hall, Fisher shoved him from behind and then elbowed him aside when he tried to take his sign. "No, this is official university property and it's been confiscated," Dr. Fisher allegedly told him. Fisher hasn't responded to emails sent Monday requesting her side of the story.
Several witnesses note that Fisher then crumpled up the large promotional poster and threw it in the trash. At this point, Hall noticed scores of his fliers in the garbage bag. Fisher, several witnesses claim, started screaming at Hall. "I was kind of shocked," Hall explained to me. The incident occured during Fisher's class, Introduction to Women's Studies, with the professor informing Hall: "You're intruding on my class, please leave."
That night, twenty-four-year old community college student Samuel Mesick rushed the podium and dumped a large cup of ranch dressing on Pat Buchanan as he spoke. "The campus police were unable to stop the assault on Buchanan," witness Jason Miller told me, "but responded very rapidly to protect the assailant." In fact, the mohawked assailant screamed for the police when a burly College Republican apprehended him. As for Buchanan, "He was pissed," according to Miller, who wondered if the sixty-six-year old pundit was going to take a swing at the man who disrupted the event. Remarking that he didn't even like ranch dressing, Buchanan stopped the question and answer period and returned to his hotel. The event ended prematurely and Mesick was released on $100 bond.
"This was institutionally acceptable," WMU student Matt Hall believes. "Professors telling their students to tear down fliers. Professors telling students that Pat Buchanan is a racist and a bigot. A professor physically attacking me, a student. An administrator, the advisor to registered student organizations, denouncing the Buchanan speech in his newspaper column. This sort of thing adds up and creates an institutional atmosphere where it becomes acceptable to treat people like scum."
A leftist student's assault on Patrick Buchanan at Western Michigan University generated nationwide attention. Allegations of a leftist professor's assault on a conservative student didn't make headlines. It should have.
Border Patrol spokesmen, if not all Border Patrol agents, oppose the citizens project to patrol the Arizona-Mexico border. "The possibility for something going drastically wrong is very high," opined Border Patrol spokesman Jose Maheda. There is a possibility that something might go "drastically wrong" with the Minuteman project. But something already has gone drastically wrong with the protection of America's borders: they were left open and lawbreakers crossed them with impunity. At least for the month of April, when Minutemen will be stationed every hundred yards or so for twenty-three miles, something drastically right will happen: few migrants will enter the country illegally through that corridor. Ironically, had the Border Patrol hierarchy, which decries the Minutemen, and the president, who labels them "vigilantes," done their jobs, there would be no Minutemen.
Kansas voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment to their state constitution banning gay "marriage" and civil unions. "The marriage amendment is an unfortunate, necessary reaction to activist courts," reacted Kansas's attorney general Phill Kline. My sentiments exactly. You see, Kansas already had a law banning same-sex unions. That should be enough, but isn't. Kansas voters, recognizing the lawlessness of the courts, made their ban impenetrable to activist judges by making it part of their constitution. In essence, Kansans told the courts: we're on to you.
In his book What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Thomas Frank ponders why Middle America votes its values instead of its pocketbook. One could turn his thesis on its head: Why do Democrats discard economics in favor of social issues? Leftists such as Frank wondering what's the matter with Kansas would be better off blaming the likes of Gavin Newsom and Margaret Marshall for the loss of traditional Democratic constituents than those constituents themselves. Nothing's the matter with Kansas.
Pope John Paul II not only held an advanced degree in theology, but obtained a doctorate in philosophy. This shows in reading his encyclicals, especially Evangelium Vitae published ten years ago.
"[W]e are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the 'culture of death' and the 'culture of life,'" proclaimed the Pope. "We find ourselves not only 'faced with' but necessarily 'in the midst of' this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life." Does pro-life refer just to the unborn? No. In addition to abortion, one finds Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) condemning ghoulish medical experimentation, unnecessary war, infanticide, the death penalty, and euthanasia.
Abortion: "Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable. Even certain sectors of the medical profession, which by its calling is directed to the defence and care of human life, are increasingly willing to carry out these acts against the person. In this way the very nature of the medical profession is distorted and contradicted, and the dignity of those who practise it is degraded."
"No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby's cries and tears."
Capital Punishment: "Modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform."
Medical Experimentation on Human Life: "[T]he use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person.... The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act."
Euthanasia: "Here we are faced with one of the more alarming symptoms of the 'culture of death,' which is advancing above all in prosperous societies, marked by an attitude of excessive preoccupation with efficiency and which sees the growing number of elderly and disabled people as intolerable and too burdensome. These people are very often isolated by their families and by society, which are organized almost exclusively on the basis of criteria of productive efficiency, according to which a hopelessly impaired life no longer has any value.... True 'compassion' leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear.... The choice of euthanasia becomes more serious when it takes the form of a murder committed by others on a person who has in no way requested it and who has never consented to it. The height of arbitrariness and injustice is reached when certain people, such as physicians or legislators, arrogate to themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die."
Pope John Paul II wrote, "when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life."
God needed only four words to say that murder is wrong. It is the shame of our age that the Pope needed nearly 50,000 to explain why.
President Bush presented the Congressional Medal of Honor to the 11-year-old son of Sergeant First Class Paul Smith. Smith rebuffed an assualt on Baghdad's airport by manning a .50 caliber machine-gun and laying down more than 300 rounds on the enemy until laying down his life in defense of his comrades. Smith's posthumous award is the first since 1993.
Four of the top five performing airlines are discount carriers, according to the fifteenth annual Airline Quality Rating survey compiled by Witchita State University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Criteria used for the survey include on-time arrivals and lost baggage. For the second year in a row, Jet Blue topped the list. The low-fare airline was followed by AirTran, Southwest, United, and Alaska Airlines.
The Minutemen, the citizens group in the Southwest that hopes to curb illegal immigration, helped the government apprehend eighteen people suspected of entering the United States illegally this weekend. "You observe them, report them and get out of the way," Minuteman spokesman Mike McGarry told the Associated Press. That's vigilantism?
One of the last towering figures of the twentieth century has died. Pope John Paul II will be remembered for forcefully standing up to both Communism and to politicized efforts to force the Church to abandon its teaching on hot-button issues. Succeeding one of the shortest serving popes, John Paul II served longer than all but two of his predecessors. We are used to seeing this pope as an old man, but when the college of cardinals elected Karol Józef Wojtyla the Holy Father in 1978 he was then the youngest pope since 1846. He was the first non-Italian pope since the 16th century. The Communists tried to kill him in 1981. He survived, but Communism didn't--at least on the continent he called home. The next pope has some large shoes to fill, but then again so do all popes.
Michelle Malkin addressed the Campus Leadership Program's inaugural National Activism Conference Friday evening. (Full disclosure: I am the director of the Campus Leadership Program). Malkin contrasted emotion-based arguments employed by liberals with fact-based arguments relied upon by conservatives. Malkin countered the liberal impulse to invoke heart-tugging stories of immigrants with the immigration stories that evoke her own sympathy: the first World Trade Center bombing, the DC sniper killings, 9/11, and the murders at the El-Al ticket counter at LAX. In other words, Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" shouldn't be absorbed without remembering Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, Mohammed Atta, and Bruno Hauptman.
Malkin addressed many points, but here are a few that stood out:
On President Bush's amnesty proposal: "Amnesty would be an abomination" to conservative principles. "It behooves conservatives," Malkin warned, to remind Americans of "the history and reality of the failures of open borders."
On her political transformation: "I considered myself a small 'L' libertarian until September 11."
On bilingual education: "Clearly, English is the ticket to success."
On the Minutemen: "The mother of all neighborhood watch programs." "I don't consider them vigilantes," Malkin explained. "I consider them patriots."
On eroding conservative support for Bush: "Morale is very low. These are people who have supported Bush wholeheartedly, and they feel that he has betrayed them."
Late Thursday afternoon, I received reports of a professor at Western Michigan University physically attacking a conservative student who had attempted to photograph evidence of the destruction of posters promoting a lecture by Pat Buchanan. Early Friday morning, news reports, including this video, detailed an attack on Pat Buchanan as he spoke at the school. The two WMU assaults come on the heels of a student attacking Bill Kristol at Earlham College and a mob heckling Ann Coulter at Kansas University. For those confused about why "team tolerance" would act so intolerantly, let me break it down for you: Tolerance means free speech for Ward Churchill but no speech for Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, and Bill Kristol.
The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction presented its report to George W. Bush on Thursday, noting that the administration was "dead wrong" in its assessment of WMD stockpiles in Iraq. (The Commission on Commission Names countered that the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction's name is entirely too long. But that commission's findings didn't make the news, so I shall mention them just this once and only parenthetically.) "This was a major intelligence failure," the presidential commission wrote. Ya think? Sure, other nations, and the preceding administration, had the same intelligence failure. But their intelligence failures didn't result in hundreds of billions of dollars looted from the treasury, 1,533 dead Americans, and the loss of American credibility in much of the world. The report asserts that we know "disturbingly little" about the weaponry programs of various rogue states. But even if we knew of destructive capability and evil intent right now, wouldn't the Iraq blunders make it all the more difficult to generate support for military action to remove such a threat?
Sandy Berger is expected to plead guilty to taking classified documents today. Berger's punishment will include a $10,000 fine and the relinquishing of his security clearance for three years (like he would even need it until, at the earliest, 2009 anyhow). Last summer, the Clinton-era national security advisor claimed that the documents and notes, which he stuffed in his pants, were removed from the National Archives "inadvertently." It was all an "honest mistake," according to Berger. Recognizing the diverse life experiences of the readership, I ask: what items have you "inadvertently" shoved in your pants, only to have, like Sandy Berger, some heartless security guard disbelieve your innocence?