For high school football players, Thanksgiving means the rivalry game. Last week, I attended the ultimate rivalry game, one that has witnessed 125 meetings between the combatants.
For the first time since 1984, when I caught a preliminary soccer match for that year's Olympic Games, I returned to Harvard Stadium this past Saturday. The occasion was The Game, but the game was merely the occasion. The Harvard-Yale football game provides sober WASPs the opportunity to act like drunken white trash--even if just for just one day. For a sober Bostonian (a noon kickoff is no time to kickoff inebriation) of the Paddy rather than Brahmin variety, the sight of students bedecked in Mexican wrestling masks, alumni donning gaudy racoon coats allowing old money to play nouveau rich, and revelers announcing their Ivy-League quirkiness by wrapping themselves in smoking jackets provided for interesting anthopological observation. A role reversal, no? The spectacle was something between Halloween and New Year's Eve, which, given The Game's calendrical position, seems about right.
Harvard Stadium, a century-old relic that resembles the Roman coliseum with an end missing, bans alcohol sales but not, seemingly, alcohol. No $12-an-hour, neon-jacketed security guard groped me upon entry. That's just not the Ivy League way. I don't mean paying a guy low wages--that's certainly the Ivy League way--but allowing the great unwashed to bodily frisk you. Do you know who I am! Do you know who I am! I would write that one Harvard man sitting in my section smuggled a twelve-pack of Budweiser into the game, but I don't think there was any pretense or subterfuge about it. I didn't know that Ivy Leaguers knew about Budweiser, let alone cans. But they do. And a few drank Jack Daniels, too. This is their idea of slumming, I suppose.
The game, 125th playing of this ancient rivalry, was sold out. Yet, seats--I use the term loosely since fans really sit on concrete stairs--did not disappear behind fans until the end of the first quarter. And by halftime, many had returned to the parking lot whence they had come. Heated tents with fully-stocked bars, it seemed, were the more attractive than the actual game. I couldn't blame them. With the mercury never escaping the twenties, and a harsh Arctic wind eroding my youthful face, I had lost feeling in my toes. Yet, I soldiered on, watching the entire game, which was won 10-0 by Harvard.
In a half-time skit, Harvard noted one of the benefits of erasing Yale from history would be no George W. Bush presidency. That, and the presence of a healthy-looking Senator Ted Kennedy '54 at the coin toss, elicited the loudest cheers. I digress, but how inconvenient it must be for Kennedy that Harvard, instead of listing the year one graduates, assigns students a class year based on four years whence they matriculated. Knowing that Kennedy '54 caught a touchdown pass in the 1955 Harvard-Yale contest leads to all sorts of embarrassing conversations speculating on how the senator could have played after his class graduated. Damn Spanish tests!
It''s not USC-UCLA, Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan, or even Army-Navy. Harvard and Yale squads are far more likely to produce U.S. senators than All-Pro quarterbacks. You'll be hearing from these players down the road, just not in the National Football League. Yale leads the series 65-52-8, and Harvard boasts the most famous victory, which inspired the memorable headline "Harvard beats Yale 29-29." But in this rivalry, who remembers such trivialities as who won?
When the Crimson clash with the Elis, pranks rather thanfistfights rule the day. Yes, this is the natural consequence of institutions that value brains over brawn. But it's also the result of pride in school not translating into contempt for the opposition. One gets the impression that Ivy Leaguers view themselves as part of the same team, with athletic contests between them being of the intramural variety. After the game, they all merrily go about their business ruling the world. I walked across the bridge from Allston into Harvard Square wishing I had been a Harvard Man. Alas, instead of ruling the world I was destined to rule a barstool--until I regained feeling in my toes.
On Friday, November 28 from 9 a.m. to noon I will be substituting for Michael Graham on Boston's Talk Evolution 96.9 WTKK. The following day, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., I will be guest hosting for Michelle McPhee. If you're in New England and receive WTKK's powerful FM signal, tune in. If you are outside the reach of WTKK's radio waves, click the "listen live" button here to, well, listen live. Any suggestions for subjects to discuss on the air are welcome in the comments section.
From setting a Book of Mormon alight to sending envelopes of white powder to Mormon Temples, proponents of gay rights show no respect for the real rights of others in pursuit of imaginary rights for themselves. Why, in the wake of California voters rejecting homosexual marriage, target Mormons? Because they are a more marginalized religious minority than Catholics or evangelicals, and going after blacks--who rejected same-sex marriage in California by a 7-3 ratio--just wouldn't be helpful to people quick to invoke Selma and Memphis as antecedents to their narrative. Freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of speech are under attack. National Review Online details that after the Mormons, the gay activists may come after your religion: "In New Mexico, a state civil-rights commission fined an evangelical wedding photographer $6,637 for politely declining to photograph a gay commitment ceremony. In California, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously against two San Diego fertility doctors who refused to give in-vitro fertilization to a lesbian owing to their religious beliefs, even though they had referred her to another doctor. And just this week, evangelical dating site eHarmony, which hadn't previously provided same-sex matchmaking services, announced it had been browbeaten into doing so by New Jersey's Division on Civil Rights and the threat of litigation. The first 10,000 same-sex eHarmony registrants will receive a free six-month subscription. 'That's one of the things I asked for,' crowed Eric McKinley, who brought the charges against eHarmony." As the NRO editorial's title points out, this amounts to "Legislating Immorality." Compounding the evil is that those legislating are judges, bureaucrats, and the media attitudinal police and not actual legislators.
Imagine the outcry if George W. Bush had named the leader of a prominent pro-life organization as a mouthpiece for his administration. Witness the muted response to President-elect Barack Obama selecting Ellen Moran, executive director of Emily's List, an organization dedicated to the election of pro-choice politicians, to serve as his communications director. Obama is in the tank for the abortion zealots, and the media is in the tank for him
Are you a single male bored by a dating scene that doesn't compare to World of Warcraft, Club International, or an episode of MANswers? Are you a single female put off by losers whose apartments could never be on MTV'S Cribs and whose six-packs are buried beneath too many twelve-packs? In a follow-up piece to her Child-Man in the Promised Land, Kay Hymowitz brings gender balance to her anthropological account of the American dating scene with Love in the Time of Darwinism. These are must-reads, particularly for those immersed in the dating scene. Do you have any dating horror stories along these lines? Is the opposite sex as bad as she makes it seem in these articles? Do any of my readers ever get dates?
Tomorrow I attend the only game that matters, you know, the one in which Ted Kennedy caught a touchdown pass in 1955. Fifty years ago, the only game that mattered for the University of Buffalo Bulls was the one that they didn't play. In 1958, the Bulls received the only bowl bid in the history of its football program. In declining the offer, the Bulls truly demonstrated what it means to be a team. Read why on ESPN.com.
FlynnFiles is generating much buzz this week, particularly regarding my piece on the Jonestown cultists whose devotion to fantasy and contept for reality was so great that they killed themselves rather than their socialist ideas. Later today, in the third hour I am told, I will appear on The Savage Nation to discuss intellectual morons and other assorted poseurs. Tune in if you don't already. The Corner, MichaelSavage.com, and TakiMag linked to the Jonestown piece, Glenn Beck seized on it for a monologue, and the article appeared in full at FrontPageMag.com (read it here).
DirtBagJack and DocMcG shared the championship in week eleven by posting 11-5 records. All hail! Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Do try to get picks in before tonight's THURSDAY game or forfeit that one game and play the rest. Here are my selections: STEELERS -10.5 over Bengals, BROWNS -3 over Texans, CHIEFS +3 over Bills, TITANS -5.5 over Jets, Patriots -1 over DOLPHINS, COWBOYS -10 over Niners, LIONS +8.5 over Bucs, Eagles +1 over RAVENS, RAMS +8.5 over Bears, Vikins +2 over JAGUARS, FALCONS -1 over Panthers, Raiders +9.5 over BRONCOS, Redskins -3.5 over SEAHAWKS, CARDS +3 over Giants, Colts +2.5 over CHARGERS, and, on Monday Night Football, Packers +2.5 over SAINTS. Make your selections in the comments section.
Barack Obama's "Change We Can Believe In" proves the axiom that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state? Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff? Eric Holder as attorney general? The retread nature of Obama's early picks to staff his administration makes me wonder when Craig Livingstone will be named secretary of homeland security. Hail, hail, the gang's all here!
"Unity and self-sacrifice, of themselves, even when fostered by the most noble means, produce a facility for hating. Even when men league themselves mightily together to promote tolerance and peace on earth, they are likely to be violently intolerant toward those not of a like mind."
--Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, 1951
If a 74-year-old blind woman owed a penny to the mafia, what mob boss would threaten 4800% interest and property confiscation should the debt go unpaid? No Al Capone, John Gotti, or Carlo Gambino would be so cruel. But the state would, which tells you something about the moral level upon which bureaucrats operate. "It would be fiscally irresponsible for me to have staff weed through the bills and pull out any below a certain amount," remarked Debora Marcoccio, an evidently small-minded bureaucrat, of the one-cent water bill and accompanying threatening note sent to Eileen Wilbur, the aforementioned 74-year-old blind woman from Attleboro, Massachusetts. "And what would that amount be?" Well, it would certainly be anything below the cost of a stamp, an envelope, and the contents within. She continued, foot deep in mouth: "My question is, how come it wasn't paid when the bills went out?" Insistent, perhaps gagging on her shoe, the town's collector lectured, "If there's a bill, it must be paid." And if it's not? Well, the state's goon squad that arrives to take your house for their penny will make a Don Corleone mob crew look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sure, thinking heads will prevail before that happens. But that it hasn't happened yet makes you wonder.
Thirty years ago today more than 900 followers of Jim Jones committed "revolutionary suicide" by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid.
"I just want to say something to everyone that I see that is standing around and are crying. This is nothing to cry about. This is something we should all rejoice about. We can be happy about this. They always told us that we should cry when you're coming into this world, but when we're leaving and we're leaving it peaceful ... I tell you, you should be happy about this. I was just thinking about Jim Jones. He just has suffered and suffered and suffered. He is the only god and he don't even have a chance to enjoy his death here. (clapping and voices in background)... I wanted to say one more thing. This is one thing I want to say. That you that've gone and there's many more here. He's still--the way, that's not all of us, that's not all yet. There's just a few that have died. A chance to get ... to the one that they could tell ... their lies to. So and I say I'm looking at so many people crying, I wish you would not cry, and just thank Father, just thank him. I tell you about ... (clapping and shouting) ... I've been here, uh, one year and nine months and I never felt better in my life. Not in San Francisco, but until I came to Jonestown. I enjoy this life. I had a beautiful life. I don't see nothing that I should be crying about. We should be happy. At least I am. Let's all be the same."
This comes from an unidentified woman on the FBI death recording from Jonestown, Guyana. Within minutes, she would be dead. For anyone familiar with the National Socialists' "night of the long knives" or the Soviet Socialists' show trials, replete as they were with a socialist dictator's victims professing their love and allegiance for that dictator in the moment of death, the pathetic hosannas to Jim Jones by the people of Peoples Temple plays as a disturbing socialist deja vu.
On November 17, 1978, Jim Jones was a hero to American leftists. On November 18, 1978, Jones orchestrated the killings of 918 people and strangely morphed in the eyes of American leftists into an evangelical Christian fanatic. An unfortunately well-worn narrative, playing out contemporaneously in Pol Pot's Cambodia, of socialist dreams ending in ghoulish nightmares, then, conveniently shifted to one about the dangers of organized religion. But as The Nation magazine reported at the time, "The temple was as much a left-wing political crusade as a church. In the course of the 1970s, its social program grew steadily more disaffiliated from what Jim Jones came to regard as 'Fascist America' and drifted rapidly toward outspoken Communist sympathies." So much so that the last will and testament of the Peoples Temple, and its individual members who left notes, bequeathed millions of dollars in assets to the Soviet Union. As Jones expressed to a Soviet diplomat upon upon his visit to Jonestown the month before the smiling suicides took place, "For many years, we have let our sympathies be quite publicly known, that the United States government was not our mother, but that the Soviet Union was our spiritual motherland."
Jim Jones was an evangelical communist who became a minister to infiltrate the church with the gospel according to Marx and Lenin. He was an atheist missionary bringing his message of socialist redemption to the Christian heathen. "I decided, how can I demonstrate my Marxism?," remembered Jones of his days in 1950s Indiana. "The thought was, infiltrate the church." So in the forms of Pentecostal ritual, Jones smuggled socialism into the minds of true believers--who gradually became true believers of a different sort. Unless one counts his drug-induced bouts with self-messianism, Jones didn't believe in God. Get it--a Peoples Temple. He shocked his parishioners, many of whom certainly did believe in God, by dramatically tossing the Bible onto the ground during a sermon. "Nobody's going to come out of the sky!," an excited Jones had once informed his flock. "There's no heaven up there! We'll have to have heaven down here!" Like so many efforts to usher in the millenium before it, Jones's Guyanese road to heaven on earth detoured to a hotter afterlife destination.
The horrific scene in a Guyanese jungle clearing could have been avoided. Thousands of miles north, for years leading up to Jonestown, San Francisco officials and journalists had looked the other way while Jones acted as a law unto himself. So what if he abused children, sodomized a follower, tortured and held temple members at gun point, and defrauded the government and people of welfare and social security checks? He believes in socialism and so do we. That was the ends-justifies-the-means attitude that enabled Jim Jones to commit criminal acts in San Francisco with impunity. The people who should have stopped him instead encouraged him.
Mayor George Moscone, who would be assassinated days after the Jonestown tragedy, appointed Jones to the city's Housing Authority in 1975. Jones quickly became chairman, which proved beneficial to the enlargement of the pastor's flock--and his coffers, as Jones seized welfare checks from new members. One of the Peoples Temple's top officials becoming an assistant district attorney, a man so thoroughly indoctrinated in the cult that he falsely signed an affidavit (ultimately his child's death warrant) disavowing paternity to his own son and ascribed paternity to Jones, similarly enhanced the cult's power base within the city. How, one wonders, did victimized Peoples Temple members feel about going to the law in a city where Jones's henchman was the law?
Going to the Fourth Estate was also a fruitless endeavor, as San Francisco media institutions, such as columnist Herb Caen, were boosters of Jones and his Peoples Temple. When veteran journalist Les Kinsolving penned an eight-part investigative report on Peoples Temple for the San Francisco Examiner in 1972, his editors buckled under pressure from Jones and killed the report halfway through. Kinsolving quipped that the Peoples Temple was the "the best-armed house of God in the land," detailed the kidnapping and possible murder of disgruntled members, exposed Jones's phony faith healing, highlighted Jones's vile school-sanctioned sex talk with children, and directed attention toward the Peoples Temple's massive welfare fraud that funded its operations. "But in the Mendocino County Welfare Dept. there is the key to Prophet Jones' plans to expand the already massive influx of his followers--and have it supported by tax money," Kinsolving wrote more than six years before the tragedy in the Guyanese jungle. "The Examiner has learned that at least five of the disciples of The Ukiah Messiah are employees of this Welfare Department, and are therefore of invaluable assistance in implementing his primary manner of influx: the adoption of large numbers of children of minority races." Unfortunately, four of the series' eight articles were jettisoned after Jones unleashed hundreds of protestors to the San Francisco Examiner, a programmed letter-writing campaign, and a threatened lawsuit against the paper. The Examiner promptly issued a laudatory article on Jones. A few years later, after Jones had moved operations from Ukiah to San Francisco, California, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle penned an expose on the Peoples Temple. A Chronicle editor sympathetic to Jones spiked that piece, which ultimately made its way to New West magazine and so alarmed Jones that he hastily departed San Francisco for his agricultural experiment in Guyana.
By virtue of producing rent-free rent-a-rallies for liberal politicians and causes, Jim Jones engendered enormous amounts of good will from Democratic politicians and activists. They allowed their political ambitions to derail their governing responsibilities. Frisco pols like Harvey Milk never seemed to care how Jones could, at the snap of his fingers, direct hundreds of people to stack a public meeting or volunteer for a campaign. City Councilman Milk just knew that he benefitted from that control, and therefore never bothered to do anything to inhibit the dangerous cult operating in his city. Instead, he actively aided and abetted a homicidal maniac. It wasn't just local hacks Jones commanded respect from. He held court with future First Lady Rosalyn Carter, vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale, and California Governor Jerry Brown.
A man who killed more African Americans than the Ku Klux Klan was awarded a local Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award and won the plaudits of California lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally, state assemblyman Willie Brown, radical academic Angela Davis, preacher/politician Jesse Jackson, Black Panther leader Huey Newton, and other African American activists. From Newton, whom Jones had visited in Cuban exhile in 1977, Jones got his lawyer and received support, such as a phone-to-megaphone address to Jonestown during a "white night" dry run of mass suicide. This was appropriate, as it was from Newton whom Jones appropriated the phrase "revolutionary suicide"--the title of a 1973 Newton book--that he used as a moniker for the murder-suicides of more than 900 people on November 18, 1978. "We didn't commit suicide," Jones announced during the administering of cyanide-laced Flavoraid to his flock, "we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world." Newton's comically idiotic slogan boomeranged on him, as several of his relatives perished in the Kool-Aid carnage.
It's worth remembering that before the people of Peoples Temple drank Jim Jones's Kool-Aid, the leftist political establishment of San Francisco gulped it down. And without the latter, the former would have never happened.
I did my part to save U.S. auto companies. I bought a Ford Focus nearly five years ago. Full confession: I didn't do it out of any altruistic concern for Ford's bottomline. I did it for the same reason everybody buys a car: I wanted to get from point A to point B. That I wanted to do so in an economically efficient manner--through the sticker price and at the pump--inspired my particular choice, the Focus. The same notion--efficiency--that inspired my bailout plan (I still make monthly installments on it) is the only rescue package that will save GM, Chrysler, and Ford.
Citing the catastrophes their demise would unleash on the U.S. economy, the automakers wish to forgo efficiency in favor of a massive subsidy of their inefficiency. Tough economic times force companies to make wise economic decisions. They streamline or get steamrolled. The Big Three could slash lavish pay for executives. They could trim exhorbitant worker benefits and pay. They could concentrate on producing fewer, more profitable cars. But they refuse to do any of this. Instead, their plan is to siphon hundreds of dollars from each American taxpayer--many of whom don't benefit in any way from their product--to save themselves from such tough choices. That's a shame, because making those tough choices will be the only way the market bails out the Big Three. A cheaper, superior product is better for longterm health then a cash transfusion from Washington to Detroit. Give them billions of taxdollars and in a few years they'll just need another transfusion--just ask the Motor City's welfare queen Lee Iacocca. Make a cheaper, superior product, and watch millions of Americans give you voluntarily the billions of dollars you currently seek through the force of the federal government.
Ford, Chrysler, and GM aren't charities. There is no ethical reason for Americans to tithe for their benefit. There is no sound economic reasoning to do so, either. As the bank bailout proves, this hasn't stopped Washington in the past. Now that the horrible precedent of the federal government as the insurer of first resort has been established through the banker boondoggle, it probably won't stop them in the near future from bailing out auto manufacturers.
I know it's hard to imagine, but Rod Stewart was cool once. He was actually one of the best rock singers in the world when he fronted perhaps the most underrated band in classic rock history, The Faces. When visitors from other planets ask me, "Dan, what is rock n roll?," I play The Faces. Their music screams "party" and their lyrics have a sense of humor.
On Monday, The Faces, sans bassist Ronnie Lane--the band's heart and soul who died in 1997 after a twenty-year fight with multiple sclerosis--will reunite "just to check if they can remember the songs," with a concert tour presumably to follow. With the exception of Lane, The Faces all became more famous and more wealthy after the demise of their group. Rod Stewart topped charts as a musical chameleon succumbing to disco, synth-pop, soft rock, and crooner trends, among others. Ronnie Wood, whose ax-work in The Faces out-Stonesed the Stones, appropriately joined The Rolling Stones. Kenney Jones replaced Keith Moon in The Who. Ian McLagan replaced Keith Moon in his ex-wife's bed. Breaking up is hard to do, but not, evidently for The Faces. They went on to greener pastures, even if they didn't make better music.
Because their fame and legend have grown, a 1973 concert-hall band transforms into a 2009 arena act. If you haven't heard The Faces, check out my links to the five Faces songs I hope to hear on the reunion tour:
Has there ever been a more hollow taunt than homosexual activists accusing anyone who opposes any aspect of their political agenda with the "hater" tag? In Palm Springs, malevolent homosexual activists assaulted an old woman and stomped on her cross (watch the disturbing video). Tolerance? Diversity? Understanding? Baloney. This act of barbarism was not just an assault on a person, but on free-speech rights and democracy as well. Fellas, Californians voted (twice) and you lost. You can't have your hate and eat it too.
Ben and myself won last week's AYRFSF pool with 8-6 records. All picks are against the spread. Home teams are in caps. Here are my selections: THURSDAY GAME, PATRIOTS -3 over Jets; SUNDAY GAMES, FALCONS -6 over Broncos, DOLPHINS -10.5 over Raiders, GIANTS -6.5 over Ravens, COLTS -8.5 over Texans, JAGUARS +3 over Titans, PACKERS -4 over Bears, Eagles -9 over BENGALS, Saints -5.5 over CHIEFS, PANTHERS -14 over Lions, Vikings +3.5 over BUCS, Rams +6 over NINERS, Cards -3 over SEAHAWKS, STEELERS -5 over Chargers, and REDSKINS +1.5 over Cowboys; and, on MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, Browns +5 over BILLS. Make your picks in the comments section.
Thomas Sowell has an outstanding column on intellectuals and their preoccupation with intelligence among political leaders, or perhaps more accurately about political leaders masquerading as intellectuals. Sowell cites a Nicholas Kristoff piece lamenting that they don't make politicians like Adlai Stevenson anymore. Sowell notes, "It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry." Stevenson's claim to the "intellectual" label stems from his bald egg head and his ability to monkey an academese cadence. "Adlai Stevenson was certainly regarded as an intellectual by intellectuals in the 1950s," Sowell writes. "But, half a century later, facts paint a very different picture." The truth is that Stevenson had an aversion to reading, the manifestation of intellectual curiosity that most marks an intellectual as an intellectual. "Historian Michael Beschloss, among others, has noted that Stevenson 'could go quite happily for months or years without picking up a book.' But Stevenson had the airs of an intellectual--the form, rather than the substance."
And that's really what matters to intellectuals, the form, the mannerisms, the act, isn't it? Perhaps a better example of this phenomenon than Adlai Stevenson is President Woodrow Wilson, who explained in the final year of his first term, "I haven't read a serious book through in fourteen years." The Kristoff piece, to its credit, duly separates the pendant from the intellectual. Kristoff even playfully suggests that he is pendant rather than intellectual, so the piece is probably not as deserving of censure as you might think from reading the Sowell counterpiece. The New York Times scribe concedes that intellectuals often make horrible leaders and non-intellectuals often make extraordinary leaders. He cites Nero and Washington as contrasting examples. Nevertheless, he celebrates the election of an intellectual to the Oval Office in Barack Obama.
Should I grant either premise? That Obama is an intellectual, and that elevating an intellectual to the highest office in the land is a good thing? I vote no on both. Barack Obama is a politician, not an intellectual. This is no slam on him. I don't regard Sarah Palin, or Joe Biden, or John McCain as intellectuals either. When a politician reflects an intellectual's political ideals, the intellectual returns the favor by projecting his intellectual status upon the politician. As a law professor, Obama never published a single note or article. Dreams from My Father was a fine book, and the man can deliver a speech. But what evidence suggests that he wrote his books and speeches? His campaign was not predicated on appealing to thought, but on drumming up emotions through catchy slogans, stadium rallies, and charismatic speeches that resembed revival meetings. People typically don't faint, manically chant, or cry hysterically during cerebral endeavors.
Evidence of intellectualism for intellectuals has little to do with the intellect. This is a shame because the world desperately needs more smart people and fewer poseurs. Do you wear a turtleneck underneath a tweed jacket with patched elbows? Do you subscribe to the New York Times, or better yet, the New Yorker? Do you sport German-style eyeglasses? Are you passive aggressive? Does your car have a "War Is Not the Answer" bumper sticker? Do you speak douche-bag? (A few entries under "p" in its dictionary include "paridigmatic," "pedagogy," "problematize," "progressive," and "proactive.") Is your world devoid of black-and-white and full of endless shades of gray? Do you prefer European football to American football? Yes? Congratulations, you are now a member of the cognoscenti.
On Kristoff's second contention, that the election of an intellectual to the presidency dawns a new, nice day for America, I think this is based more on hope than past performance. Smart people imagine brains as the only relevant quality because if cognitive abilities trumped everything else it would be an easier world for them. When I read The Bell Curve amidst the firestorm surrounding it, what primarily offended me was not its conclusion that different ethnic groups have varied IQs but rather the exaggerated emphasis the book placed on intelligence. Pat Buchanan later wrote a memorable column critical of the book that asked who the better American was: the uneducated but courageous Sgt. York or the gifted but traitorous Alger Hiss. I know people who are more intelligent than I am who struggle mightily in life because they are moral degenerates, lazy, socially awkward, imprudent, indecisive, or all of the above. Intelligence is certainly a desired quality, but it's not the only quality. This is especially true among leaders. Would you follow an MIT chemistry professor into battle? Should artists run Fortune 500 companies? Would you elect a snarky MENSA member to govern you? The Simpsons answered these questions in the episode in which Lisa and her brainiac friends take over Springfield--with disastrous results.
One day removed from the 91st Armistice Day, and two days removed from the 233rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps, it's worth remembering that elite military organization's fourteen leadership traits: Justice, Judgement, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Enthusiam, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, and Endurance. Notice something? The word intelligence isn't there. But what would Marines know of leadership?
On the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day--an appropriate name for the intermission after the world war's first act, given the Merriam-Webster definition of armistice: "temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement between the opponents"--I came across this in my reading about my home state: "Then came the return of the troops to Massachusetts. Each organization was met far down Boston Harbor by a fleet of boats representing the governor, the mayor, and civilian organizations, and was welcomed home with bands playing, whistles blowing, and flags flying, but above all with a deep and sincere appreciation and affection from all the people. This culminated in a great reception to the Twenty-sixth Division on its return in early April, 1919, and its final parade through the streets of Boston on April 25."
This is from John H. Sherburne's "Massachusetts in the World War" chapter in volume five of Commonwealth History of Massachusetts. How might a "parade through the streets of Boston" of Iraqi war veterans go over with the current denizens of the Hub? Do the current governor and mayor welcome back the troops with any fanfare? Where are the "bands playing, whistles blowing, and flags flying" for Iraqi veterans?
In contrast to 90 years ago, when its yard hosted drill and its classrooms offered officer training, Harvard bans ROTC. A Bay State bureaucrat last year banned "welcome home" signs for returning vets on highway overpasses as a "safety hazard." And when the U.S. Army dared to celebrate the 230th anniversary of its Cambridge founding, the locals came out to jeer.
Armistice Day is now Veterans Day, which is now generally celebrated by trading it in for that non-holiday known as the day after Thanksgiving. Ninety years after the initial Armistice Day, they don't do a whole lot to remember or celebrate veterans--at least where I live.
The deadline for Young America's Foundation's essay contest on A Conservative History of the American Left is fast approaching. If you are an undergraduate, or a high school senior, you are eligible for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. I urge you to enter the competition by submitting an essay of 1,200 words or less by December 1. Here are the rules and relevant information. Here is the essay question: "Can there be an American Left? Since Robert Owen made his July 4, 1826, Declaration of Mental Independence from the trinity of the most monstrous evils--private property, traditional religion, and marriage--the Left has crusaded against numerous American cultural markers. Freedom, faith, family, and flag seem essential to the American experience but are often under attack by the Left. Using examples from Daniel J. Flynn's A Conservative History of the American Left, craft a 1,200 word essay outlining ways that American leftists have at times sought to conform to the surrounding culture and at other times rebel against it, ultimately answering the question: Can there be an American Left, or must radicals--by virtue of an alien ideology--be forever consigned to operating outside of the American mainstream?" First prize includes a $5,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, DC. If you're a student, you'd be a sucker not to submit an entry. Good luck.
Remember when Joe Biden told America, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed." Forgeting that Herbert Hoover, not Roosevelt, was president when the market crashed in 1929, and weirdly suggesting Roosevelt's use of the television--an invention not used commercially in any significant sense until after Roosevelt had died--Biden had amazingly crammed several examples of his own ignorance into a single sentence. And who could forget when he implored a disabled Missouri state senator to stand up and be recognized at a rally? Or when he not only plagiarized a speech by Neil Kinnock, but also strangely incorporated elements of the British Labour Party leader's biography into his own story?
Why are we discussing the stupidity of the losing vice presidential candidate? Does Joe Biden not offer an overflowing cornucopia of idiocy? Joe Biden gets a pass because Democrats can't be stupid. They share a party affiliation with the vast majority of the media, so this makes them smart, you see. Really it does. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is a Republican. Not only that, she comes from Alaska. Case closed. What further proof do you need that she dwells on the left end of the bell curve?
Whereas the media ignore Biden's doltish utterances, and certainly don't jump to the conclusion that taken together they make him dim, any gaffe by Sarah Palin, even ones made behind closed doors and alleged by anonymous sources uncorroborated by anyone, get endless play on the cable networks. They are proof that she is a bumpkin unfit to serve. Why the double standard? The assumption by journalists is that all Republicans are stupid. And if they can't be so easily dismissed as stupid, then they're evil. This thesis was famously aired by Ann Coulter in her bestselling book, Slander. It gets tedious. Ike, Ford, Reagan, Quayle, W, Palin--stupid! Goldwater, Nixon, Gingrich--evil!
"If liberals were prevented from ever again calling Republicans dumb, they would be robbed of half their arguments," Coulter pointed out. "To be sure, they would still have 'racist,' 'fascist,' 'homophobe,' 'ugly,' and a few other highly nuanced arguments in the quiver. But the loss of 'dumb' would nearly cripple them. Like clockwork, every consequential Republican to come down the pike is instantly, invariably, always, without exception called 'dumb.'"
I caught Sarah Palin, not Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, but the genuine article last night on Greta van Susteren's Fox News Channel program. Palin came across as affable and folksy. "Dummy" is not an adjective I would use to describe the woman I saw on television stuffing--What the Fairbanks were those inedible edibles?--what looked like cheese into what looked like oversized hotdogs. If she were merely a dullard, do you think the media would be trashing her so viciously? No, she would be getting the Lloyd Bentsen, the Jack Kemp, the Sargent Shriver treatment. She would be exhiled into Irrelevanceville, the anti-Naval Observatory where failed VP candidates are relegated. She is deemed a dummy because she is understood as a threat in 2012. The truly sick attacks on her family and the lies, such as the canard that as mayor she banned books and issued a politicized firing of a librarian, didn't derail her. So now liberals are reverting to their default attack plan: You're stupid!
When the coach is stuck on the same page of playbook, the play tends not to work as well as it did the first time. This is especially true when the play is as crudely constructed as the "you're stupid" line of reasoning. People are not as stupid as this "you're stupid" argument. Recycled against Republicans in every election cycle, it's tired and stale. As Coulter rightly notes, "This is how six-year-olds argue: They call everything 'stupid.'"
When Al Gore exhuberantly asked, "Who are these guys?," when confronted with busts of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, he's not stupid. When Ted Kennedy could barely complete a single coherent sentence speaking to Roger Mudd, don't dare call him stupid. When Barack Obama refers to America's "57" states, he is so not stupid. But what if it were Sarah Palin, or better yet, any Republican, getting similarly tripped up? Would they be so not stupid, too?
Who knows? Perhaps Palin is a dummy. But can you understand why I am not taking the media's word for it?
At about 8:55 Saturday night, I forked over $49.95 for Calzaghe-Jones. Call it an impulse buy. I find neither the volume patty-cake puncher Joe Calzaghe nor the over-the-hill Roy Jones the type of excitement worth $50. They are great boxers, but great boxers generally don't make great fights. Alone among the hundreds of thousands of pay per viewiers, I bought the undercard, or more specifically, I paid to see the Drunken Master.
An Emanuel Augustus fight is a highlight reel--no edit is needed. He is the only boxer that I have ever seen throw and land a double punch. When the spirit moves him, he places both hands behind his back for extended periods of time and dares his opponents to tag him. A bolo punch for Augustus is as pedestrian as a jab is for other boxers. Whereas showboat fighters distastefully engage in such antics as a final-round taunt to their beaten adversaries, Augustus partakes in theatrics throughout the fight.
Rather than take a sabatical from the sport to go on "Dancing with the Stars," as his one-time opponent Floyd Mayweather did, Augustus puts on a dancing lesson in the ring. His graceful but unorthodox moves make him appear here as a fluid puppet manipulated by invisible strings, there as a herky-jerky robot on the blink. The only thing that I have ever seen approximating Augustus's peculiar in-ring movements is the character "the Drunken Master," who appears in the video game Tekken (and also in a Jackie Chan karate movie). After making the connection, I found out that Augustus actually modelled his most memorable dance on Tekken's Drunken Master. His bizarre moves are better seen than described, and I urge everyone to watch this clip to get an idea why I paid $50 to watch the televised card's "walk in" fight featuring--I use that word loosely since Augustus was hardly the "featured" fighter but rather the "opponent" (and a last-minute replacement opponent at that)--a guy who fights on ESPN as frequently as any boxer. For Augustus, boxing isn't the sweet science but an art. I paid to admire his beautiful art.
Befitting his mercurial ring presence, Augustus is a man of many looks and two names. Midway through his career, he abruptly changed his name from Emanuel Burton to Emanuel Augustus--a point of confusion for many fight fans. His look changes dramatically from fight-to-fight, so much so that until he kicks the Drunken Master into full gear his hardcore fans might not even know who they are watching. He styles his hair in cornrows, in a straightened Johnny Mathis look, in dreds, in a baldy--this weekend he fought with a bushy Grizzly Adams beard.
You name the time, you name the weight, you name the place--you name the weight and place two days before the fight--and Emanuel Augustus will be there. He fights at lightweight, junior welterweight, and welterweight. He has fougnt in Australia, Denmark, Russia, and points beyond. He's a traveling man, or, more precisely, a journeyman--albeit an oxymoronic superstar journeyman whose cult status has grown to such levels that a documentary titled "The Journeyman" is currently being filmed about him.
As I watched him Saturday night, I concurred with the broadcasters that Emanuel Augustus is the greatest 29-loss fighter in the history of boxing. Alas, watching the judges' split decision, the perils of continually taking fights in the hometowns of opponents hit me brutally. Augustus took the miscarriage of judging justice more stoically. He is now the greatest 30-loss fighter in the history of boxing, and no one can take that title away from him--until the next time he accedes to a paycheck's demand that he work on three days notice as an "opponent" for an up-and-coming fighter in that prospect's hometown.
The predictable postmortem from liberals from last week's election is that social conservatism is dead. This speaks more about liberalism's obsessions than with the actual election. It's wish, not analysis. Gay marriage, which, along with unlimited abortion, serves as the political raison d'etre for so many liberals, went down to defeat in ballot questions in Arizona, Florida, and California--states comprising almost twenty percent of the American population. California isn't exactly a red state, and Arizona is about as close to the Bible Belt as my socks are to my belt. It makes me chuckle whenever I hear commentators describe gay marriage as "divisive." Rather than divide Americans, gay marriage unites voters in opposition to it whenever it has been placed on the ballot--Michigan, Oregon, Missouri, etc. This is why Massachusetts leftists blocked the people from voting on the matter and why California judges made the people vote a second time on gay marriage. It would be nice to hear an election postmortem that declares gay marriage dead. It should be after losing in every state where it has appeared on the ballot. But such a eulogy ignorantly presumes the people, and not the people in black robes, rule.
Success has many fathers, but failure is a mother of five from Wasilla, Alaska--at least if you believe anonymous Republican operatives looking to kneecap the principle rival to whichever anonymous presidential hopeful that they are loyal to. The media, looking out for their own "made" man, is only too happy to comply with their designs. As Matt Lewis articulated on MSNBC, the implausible assualt on Sarah Palin, the woman who injected life into John McCain's moribund campaign, as the cause of his defeat is more about 2012 than 2008. Savvy but sinister political hatchetmen for other unannounced GOP presidential candidates know that the media will run with anything, no matter how outlandish, that trashes the woman viewed as Obama's most likely opponent four years from now. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed. I don't know who insisted that the campaign buy her clothes, but I do know that most of the people carping about this non-story have their wardrobes bankrolled by the television networks that they work for. The gossipy stories about her answering the hotel door in a towel are befitting of the supermarket checkout line, not reputable news organizations. It's a symptom of the sclerosis in the party that once new blood is pumped in, the old, diseased, clogged arteries attempt to block it.
All picks are agains the spread. Everyone gets a win for picking the Broncos (wink, wink) last night. Home teams are in caps. Here are my selections: Jaguars -6.5 over LIONS, Titans -3 over BEARS, PATRIOTS -3.5 over Bills, FALCONS -1 over Sains, JETS -8.5 over Rams, DOLPHINS -8.5 over Seahawks, VIKINGS -2.5 over Packers, RAIDERS +9 over Panthers, Chiefs +15 over CHARGERS, Colts +3 over STEELERS, EAGLES -3 over Giants, TEXANS +1 over Ravens, and, on Monday Night Football, CARDS -9.5 over Niners, Make your selections in the comments section.
America voted for Barack Obama. And then Wall Street voted against him. In the two days since Obama's election to the presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its largest two-day point drop (929) in history and its largest percentage (10%) drop since the stock market crash of 1987. Ideas, like a capital-gains tax hike, have consequences.
I'm not on the verge of suicide. I don't feel depressed. I'm not mad at my fellow Americans, let alone embarrassed of my country. I won't stay in my bed all day. I'm not going to cry. I don't need a therapist. I'm not taking the day off, wearing all black, or planning emigration to Canada.
I suspect that a lot of other conservatives feel as I do. This is because we have lives. Politics doesn't rule my emotions or my life. That would make me a liberal. Liberals partake in politics as a schoolmarmish way to order other people's lives--don't smoke, give more of your income to the poor, pay your workers at least this much, and so on. Conservatives partake in politics largely as a reaction to all that. We just want to live our lives, which is a hard enough task to do rightly. I will continue to live my life under an Obama presidency, with my involvement in the marketplace of political ideas continuing as a way of hopefully limiting my interaction with the government. I am involved with politics so that politics is not involved with me. That may sound selfish, but it's also patriotic and rational. I, rather than distant managers, am best equipped to run my life. When Americans are allowed to run (and even ruin) their own lives, America is better.
The biggest event in my life on November 4, 2008 was finishing the 615-page "Commonwealth History of Massachusetts: Volume 4." I watched a political speech on television reminiscent of a Nuremberg Rally--replete with grown men and women crying and acting in a frenzy--but completing the book was certainly the most satisfying moment of the day. Sure, I witnessed history through the wonders of modern technology; but I experienced history through a far superior medium. "President Barack Obama" doesn't mean I can't enjoy the weather, books, cigars, my son, or the hundred other things that I took pleasure in today.
My life hasn't changed in any real way. This weekend I will drink champagne and smoke cigars--two activities associated with victory and celebration--not in spite of Obama's triumph, but because that's what I do every weekend--I celebrate life. Sure, Obama could potentially harm me. He might raise my taxes. He might force me into a state-run health-care collective. But he'll probably just be an annoyance, like his predecessor, and his predecessor before him, and his predecessor before him. For conservatives, politicians generally aren't seen as redeemers but nuisances. For liberals, every politicians except the ones who die young are disappointments because of the otherworldly expectations put on politicians (who are the furthest thing from saviors).
Liberals confused at my cheery state of affairs don't understand me and they certainly don't understand conservatives. They project their own pathologies upon conservatives. Chief among those pathologies is the politicization of everyday life. Music, movies, television, books--everything--for the hardcore liberal is judged based on political content. This extends to life itself, which is a depressing affair when someone not sympatico with your liberal views holds important political office. This makes sense. People who have aspirations of stamping the state's vision on everything--health care, talk radio, campaign donations--naturally get despondent when the state's vision isn't their vision. They imagine their enemies intruding into such previously private spheres with matching enthusiasm, but lucky for them that's just not how conservatives roll.
As a previous post indicates, I don't plan on making Barack Obama's life hell for the next four (eight?) years as payback for his enthusiasts doing this to George W. Bush. If Obama does something well, I will applaud. And if he governs as a socialist, I will bark, or, more likely, will probably just politely explain why ideas that have failed in the past will do so in the present. Sure, there's not a whole lot of catharsis there, but for conservatives politics isn't therapy. For any truly depressed conservative, the only advice I have to cure your ailment is: Get a life.
What happens the day after the revolution? The revolutionaries become disenchanted. That's just the nature of revolutionaries. Using all my secret powers--invisibility, prophecy, and time travel--I journeyed into the future to catch a glimpse of Barack Obama's January 20, 2009 inauguration speech. Now I share, with you dear reader, this scoop-of-the-century video, which of course contains actors and a predramatization, but I assure you the rest is real.
As a form of gallows humor, Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is unparalleled. If you are feeling glum, look on the bright side of the Obama presidency....
5. President Obama and the Democrat controlled Congress are united, at least they say they are, in getting American troops out of Iraq. However good the surge has been for the mission, the mission hasn't been good for America. Come home soon.
4. Liberal principles--big government at home and abroad--which are proven failures, will now be rightly associated with liberals rather than with the people Americans incorrectly assume are conservatives. Republicans, by their embrace of big government, have disqualified themselves from leading the nation. Time in the wilderness should help conservatives, and perhaps the GOP as well, to "get back to where you once belonged."
3. A black man, a son of an immigrant becoming president makes real the American Dream to those who have viewed it as more dream than reality. The alienated become integrated. America is better when all Americans feel a part of America. The mere fact that Barack Obama has been elected president, no matter how he performs in office, has this beneficial effect.
2. That Virginia, the heart of the old Confederacy, helped put the first black man in the White House, is an extraordinarry event for our nation. It puts an exclamation point on more than a century of racial reconcilation.
1. America needs a change. Perhaps not "change we can believe in," but it needs some kind of redirection to breathe new life into a deflated nation. It's been a bad decade--a presidential impeachment, the 9/11 bombings of the functioning symbols of our military and economic might, the Iraq debacle, and economic stagnation. My motto is "it can always get worse." But when you're up the creek, it's probably a good idea to change the horse who brought you there.
They'll be much time over the course of the next few years to explore the downsides of a Barack Obama presidency. Enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts.
John McCain ran for president twice, and both times he was beaten by George W. Bush. Should the Arizona senator look inward--and he doesn't strike me as the type--he should second guess his idiotic pledge to take federal campaign subsidies (and the strings limiting his campaign spending) and his "me too" approach to the banker bailout that further tethered him to Bush, disallowed separation between him and Obama, and put him on the side of power against the people. Barack Obama proves the truth of the old axiom: ninety percent of life is just showing up. That's all a Democrat needed to do this year.
I waited in line for a half hour to vote. The warnings about increased turnout seem, anecdotally at least, to be accurate. Perhaps the weather--good for voting, better for cigar smoking while porch blogging--has something to do with it. The young and African Americans who, supposedly, would turn out in droves stayed away from my polling place. Graybeards supported by canes and walkers, voters who had cast their first ballots for Charles Evans Hughes, peopled the line in which I stood. As the line neared the voting booths, I noticed an unwelcome site: flyers urging citizens to vote "No" on Question 1 seeking to eliminate the state income tax. "Wasn't this illegal?," I asked the poll worker. She seemed disinterested. I was tempted to ask if I could put my "Yes" on Question 1 sign next to the "No" literature, but instead voted and hoped she would take care of the matter. I perused my paper ballot and was disturbed to find only Democrats running for U.S. representative, state senate, state representative, and a host of lesser offices. That's Massachusetts, and so is liberal campaign signs in a polling place. The poll worker ignored my appeal, so I did my civic duty by informing the "warden"--interesting title for an election supervisor--about the illegality of the political signs. Sure enough, she conceded the signs were illegal and removed them. That's what you get, I guess, for holding an election in a Unitarian church.
Barack Obama holds his victory celebration in Grant Park tonight. Two of his earliest political supporters held a celebration of violence and nihilism in Grant Park thirty-nine-years ago. Read my special Election Day article in City Journal on the long, strange trip of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who have gone from children of privilege in the 1950s, to Weatherman rioters in Grant Park in 1969, to Grant Park celebrants of their friend's winning of the highest office in the land in 2008. Even in victory Obama can't escape his loser friends who have dogged him the whole campaign.
Four years ago, I went on SkyNews with Sidney Blumenthal. Despite being the token conservative talking head, I refused to put on a brave face and tell the world that John Kerry would lose. I didn't believe it. I had encountered the same exit polls as my debating partner. They indicated a Kerry triumph. Blumenthal was absolutely giddy and I was, though not glum, a bit angry inside that a Bush presidency had not only resulted in bigger, less Constitutional government and a needless war, but in a John Kerry presidency to boot. It didn't look good for George W. Bush, I said to my overseas audience.
Later that night, as I attended a huge Election Night party with free booze and massive multi-screen televisions, several Bush partisans basically taunted me that their guy had won--as if I had been rooting for Kerry. I hadn't been, but in politics when one takes a realist position that concludes that the other candidate will win, partisans interpret that as treason and assume that a prediction of a sour outcome somehow reflects a hope of that outcome. The Super Republicans, then, weirded me out, but ultimately, as the returns showed Bush capturing states, like Colorado, that the polls indicated that he had no business winning, I came to the realization that even the most partisan Republican hacks generally have a better feel for electoral politics than seasoned liberal pros like Blumenthal (I would have paid to have seen a time-lapsed image of his smirk morphing into a frown that evening). When you see Dan Rather declare Dick Swett the next senator from the state of New Hampshire, then see Bob Smith give a raucous victory speech a few hours later, this has the tendancy to make you trust your gut more than your television. This is why so many Republicans go into this election with the feeling that, yes, John McCain has a fighting chance.
Should Barack Obama lose, Democrats will cite the much-hyped Bradley Effect--the notion that white voters talk one way but vote another way when it comes to black candidates. I don't think this phenomenon exists, at least to an extent that it effects the outcome of elections. What does exist, let's call it the Kerry Effect, is a pattern of Democratic candidates performing better in opinion polls--exit, phone, and otherwise--than they do in the actual polls. This seems especially true of Obama, whose fanatical supporters seemed to find a way to share their opinions with exit pollsters far disproportionate to their number of actual votes. Always and everywhere in the Democratic primaries, Senator Obama's exit polls outperformed his votes. Add to this the strange decision of many pollsters to discard traditional sampling models in favor of a model that anticipates massive turnout among young people and African Americans. This seems more wish than science. Tonight's results, because of these factors, will be much tighter than these blowout-predicting models suggest.
That said, I do not believe John McCain will win. My prediction of a Democrat victory four years ago, then, wasn't wrong but merely premature. The Real Clear Politics poll of polls shows Obama commanding a seven-point lead. That's just too great a chasm for John McCain to bridge, even with the flawed polling methodology that assumes African Americans and young people--two groups that traditionally don't vote in huge numbers--will buck all past voting trends and the fanatacism of Obama supporters who sit in the dark waiting for that call from a pollster, any pollster. Tim Carney's exhaustive election analysis predicting a 291-247 victory for Obama strikes me as trustworthy.
Can John McCain win? Sure, it's possible. Remember, when pundits mock him for playing "defense" in states like Ohio and Virginia they ignore the fact that all McCain needs to do is defend the states the Republicans won the last time around and he'll be the next president. It's Obama that needs to recolor the map, not McCain. Heck, McCain can even lose a few states that Bush won--say, Colorado and New Mexico--and still become president. I highly doubt this scenario, but, as the opening paragraph indicates, I've drunk the pollsters's Kool Aid on past election days to my regret. I won't be drinking the Kool Aid this year, at least until that fat, smiley-faced red guy jumps through my wall or McCain concedes--whichever comes first.
"I think that the only reason Clarence Thomas is on the Court is because he is black. I don't believe he could have won had he been white. And the reason is, I think it was a cynical ploy by President Bush." That's what Joe Biden said about Clarence Thomas in 1992, nearly a year after the latter's Senate confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
When Democrats elevate African Americans to positions of power, idealism motivates. When Republicans do the same, cynicism drives the action. This liberal narrative leaves little room for the actual achievements of office-holding African Americans to explain their rise. The causal agents are either benevolent Democrats or manipulative Republicans, but rarely the actual people to whom the accomplishment rightfully belongs.
It's not that Biden opposes affirmative action. "Senator Biden has been a strong supporter of affirmative action," his website notes. "He opposed attempts to ban affirmative action in federal contracts and to bar funds to administer affirmative action programs." Indeed, the NAACP awarded Biden a 100 percent rating, reflecting his fidelity to racial preferences and quotas. It's just that Biden opposes affirmative action when he senses that his political opponents are engaged in it.
If Biden thought Thomas, a sitting federal judge with more than ten years experience as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an affirmative action justice, does he believe his running mate will be the first affirmative action president?
When Geraldine Ferraro, the first affirmative action vice presidential nominee, issued such heretical utterances during the primary season, she was deemed a racist by Obama's fervent supporters. "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," the former Queens congresswoman noted. "And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
When Biden was Barack Obama's opponent rather than his running mate, he made a similar, though more diplomatic, observation on the qualifications of the Illinois senator. As John McCain's effective advertisement reminded us, Biden said of Obama: "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." Without invoking race, the 35-year veteran of the Senate called into question his "clean" and "articulate" colleague's qualifications. Listeners were left to fill in the blank regarding why someone with such flimsy credentials was receiving such strong support among Democrats.
Certainly there have been men with less impressive resumes than Barack Obama nominated for president. But one has to go back to 1940, when the Republicans nominated corporate leader Wendell Willkie, to find a major party nominee with less relevant experience for the job of president than Obama. For a Democratic candidate less experienced, one has to go back more than a century to 36-year-old, two-term Nebraska congressman William Jennings Bryan's first of three presidential runs in 1896.
Obama has sat in the U.S. Senate for less than four years. Before that, he served in the Illinois state legislature for eight years. Other than those twelve years in public life, his resume, well, could use some padding. Obama never ran a business. He never served in the military. Instead, he worked as an organizer for groups angling for the longest feed at the government trough. How, precisely, does that prepare one to be commander in chief?
For his liberal patrons, Obama represents the affirmative action success story. With their helping hand, they elevated a fatherless black man to the precipice of the presidency. And on November 4, they will receive voting-booth absolution for the sins of their fathers, whereby pulling back the curtain and doing the penance of marking "Barack Obama" will wash away all that white liberal guilt. The quasi-religious nature of casting this ballot explains much of the venom, self-righteousness, and certainty that characterize affluent, suburban, Obama voters. Will it be their victory on November 4, or his? It is an indecent question neither Obama nor his patrons want asked.
This is, from one perspective, insulting to Obama. Did not his underdog campaign stop a gender-politics juggernaut in Hillary Clinton? Isn't he electrifying Democratic voters in a manner his two immediate 9-volt predecessors failed to do? And what of the current occupant of the Oval Office? Did not he, a president's son and senator's grandson, benefit from the "legacy admission" version of affirmative action?
From a competing perspective, the notion of the affirmative-action candidate helps explain the underqualified political phenom's meteoric rise.
How did a law student with no published articles get elected president of the Harvard Law Review? How does a thirtysomething, nondescript community activist get a fat book contract to pen his memoirs? How does an obscure Illinois state senator running for U.S. Senate become the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention? Michelle Obama, a diversity overseer who pulled in nearly $300,000 from the University of Chicago's hospitals, knows the answer to these questions better than most. Joe Biden, who mused over the qualifications of Obama during the primary-season debates, knows it too.
Is it a stretch to think that the political party most enthusiastic about racial preferences for college applicants, private contractors seeking state jobs, and delegates to their national convention would also heartily support affirmative action when it comes to selecting a president? No, it's not a stretch to think it. Just don't dare say it.
If I was damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o' mine, O mother o'mine.
I was deeply moved by a tragic Bay State story about a mother's love and how much the lives of people with special needs are worth to those who know them best. A midnight blaze engulfed a Lawrence, Massachusetts home last night. Linda Cahalane escaped the fire. Then she rushed back into the flames. Her frightened son, a mentally slow 20-year-old manager for a local high school football team named Sean, refused pleas to jump from his second-story bedroom window. Neither Linda nor Sean made it out.
Barack Obama's aunt is a walking advertisement against illegal immigration. Not only is she in this country illegally, but she lives in public housing in South Boston. "It's that fundamental belief--I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper--that makes this country work," Barack Obama told the Democratic National Convention four years ago. That idea makes families work, not countries. Obama's misconception of "I am my brother's keeper" burdens you with being his brother's keeper and relieves him--a millionaire--of any such obligation. It's hard enough to be your own "brother's keeper," as Obama's hut-dwelling half-brother shows. Think of how difficult it is to be a "brother's keeper" to people who aren't even in your family. What does this "brother's keeper" ideology make President Obama? Big Brother.
Massachusetts is one of the few states east of the Mississippi that has citizen initiatives and referendum. With Plague and Cholera at the top of the tickets, the ballot questions are what motivate me to go to the polls this year. I'm voting "yes," "yes," 'no." Question 1 abolishes the state income tax by 2010. This gives Bay Staters the chance to reject Taxachusetts and embrace their Tea Party heritage. Question 2 decriminalizes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The propaganda campaign dubbing an ounce a "small amount" of pot is incredibly deceptive. I googled it, and discovered an ounce makes about thirty joints. Do any dealers even carry that much pot? Nevertheless, I'm voting yes because of my "WWTCD?" rule. Before doing anything in life, I always ask myself, What "Would Tommy Chong Do"? Question 3 bans dog racing. I haven't gone to the dogs, no pun intended, for fifteen years, but why would I deny mild degenerates their one pleasure in life? In all likelihood cabal internet pornographers are secretly behind this measure, as I am told their traffic drops precipitously whenever dog racing takes place. If you cast your ballot in Texas, New York, or Pennsylvania, you are a mere voter. Because I vote in Massachusetts, I am a citizen legislator!