The 15-8 vote in the Senate Finance Committee against a giant government run health insurance company, euphemistically titled the public option by those who would give the public no option on whether they would fund it or not, is by no means the death of this bad idea. Like a spoiled fraternity brother, liberal Democrats don't take "no" for an answer. No means yes. Whether the salesman for this bad idea is Harry Truman, Ted Kennedy, or Hillary Clinton, liberals refuse to abandon it after the public rejects it. It is an article of faith impervious to the political winds. Like Jason or Freddy, it's only dead for now.
Can a leftist write a history of the conservative movement? Historian Ron Radosh answers yes in a thought-provoking post at his PajamasMedia-affiliated site.
The springboard of Radosh's piece is Kim Phillips-Fein's "Right On" article in a recent number of The Nation. Therein, Phillips-Fein outlines the liberal scribe's penchant for writing the premature obituary for conservatism, admits that liberal scholars have "sought to understand the conservative movement partly to forge the tools to undermine it," and explains that such histories rarely view conservatives on their own terms. Instead, theories about why conservatives have made gains generally center around how evil they are (racism, e.g., "the Southern Strategy") or how ignorant the masses are of their own interests (false consciousness). Such convenient explanations never laid the onus for liberalism's decline on any inherent weakness of liberalism.
It is perhaps this honest assessment of liberal historiography that prompts Radosh to write, "At a moment when most liberal/left commentary is purely a set of venomous screeds, this essay by Prof. Phllips-Fein stands alone." This rings true. As for Dr. Radosh's affirmative answer to the question of whether liberals can write a fair history of conservatism, his answer may be affirmed but Phillips-Fein's article is not the affirmation of it. The Nation article reads less as a history of conservatism than it does a critical history of leftist histories of conservatism. There is Richard Hofstadter, but no Russell Kirk; Thomas Frank, but no F.A. Hayek; and Alan Brinkley, but no William F. Buckley. That ideological narcissism, in a nutshell, explains why leftists have done such a poor job understanding their political adversaries.
It is tough to understand that which doesn't interest.
Roman Polanksi says justice has been served. But the famed director never served his sentence for the rape of a thirteen-year-old girl, whom he had fed qualudes and champagne to before he had sex with her. Defendants don't get to determine whether justice has been served or not. If they did, most would probably skip out on their sentences like Mr. Polanksi. The filmmaker's defenders continue to invoke "32 years," as if the key number in the case revolved around the amount of time Polanski has evaded justice. The only relevant number here is "13."
It says something about our culture that dropping an "F" bomb on national television is now seen as a good career move rather than career suicide. Saturday Night Live newcomer Jenny Slate spoke the obscenity on the program's season premiere. Call me cynical but the expletive seems by design--whether by Slate's design or Lorne Michaels' design, I don't know. I do know that everybody is talking about Saturday Night Live, something that has rarely happened in the last five years. As the word's derivation instructs, obscenities belong off scene. Inserting them in the scene, at least on broadcast network television, seems an admission that what is normally on screen isn't quite catching the viewer's attention.
"For the first time in 47 years, Massachusetts is not represented by a senator named Kennedy," Jim Antle writes at the American Spectator. "But the trend of being represented by Kennedys and Kennedy consiglieres is still going more than a half-century strong." This is because Ted Kennedy's replacement, like John F. Kennedy's replacement, was hand-picked by the Kennedy family. Then, President-elect Jack Kennedy threatened to resign from the senate after the incoming Republican governor was sworn in unless the outgoing Democratic governor selected Kennedy's college roommate as senator. Now, Paul Kirk, Ted Kennedy's longtime aide who serves as chairman of the board of the John F. Kennedy Library and, until last week, served on the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, fills the seat once held by Jack Kennedy, his Harvard buddy Ben Smith, and then Kennedy's brother Ted. For fifty-seven years, Kennedys, or honorary Kennedys, have held this senate seat--that three members of the Lodge family have also held--to the exclusion of everyone else. There is something about dynastic politics that smells foul to anyone truly American.
Jeff Jacoby highlights the parental paradox of bicycle helmets and constant monitoring, on the one hand, and allowing television to baby sit, on the other. The average American household watches more than eight hours of television a day, which is about double the nearest competitor (It's a competition to the bottom.). "TV isn't called the idiot box for nothing," Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe. "Even at its best it replaces engaged and active thought with passive and sedentary spectating, while at its worst it destroys children's innocence, inuring them to violence, mockery, and crude sexualization. Television is by definition a visual medium; it appeals not to the brain but to the eye."
In contrast to picking up a book, which activates the mind, turning on the television switches off the imagination. Making it your child's minder is a form of child abuse, more mild than hiring Roman Polanski as a sitter; more severe than a spanking. After several years without one, I resent its presence (except on Sunday afternoons, or when The First 48 is on, or, come to think of it, when they play the UFC, Tool Acadamy, or Survivorman) in my living room.
As I noted in my Pixelated Technicolor Zombie post, "Television is like a Dawn of the Dead zombie: wherever you go, there's no escape. Try to collect your ideas in an airport, and CNN Headline News blaring in the foreground will shout down your thoughts. Go to fill up an empty gas tank, and the tube atop the pump will fill your head with images of various consumables found inside the service station. At the check-out line, in that restaurant, on the train--television, television, televison. If you don't watch it, people will start to watch you (as if you belonged in a zoo)."
Incestophobes are having a field day with Mackenzie Phillips's brave decision to come out of the closet as an incestual. In her new book, High on Arrival, the former "One Day at a Time" star details a ten-year consensual sexual relationship with her father, Papa John Phillips, the leader of the sixties vocal group The Mamas and the Papas. "I have to say that I loved my father, and I still do," Phillips told a stunned Oprah Winfrey. "Someone needs to put a face on not only nonconsensual incest, but consensual incest, and I know that I can't be the only one who's lived through this."
Michelle Phillips, Papa John's second wife and a member of the Mamas and the Papas, maintains, "The whole story is disgusting." "Everything about this is gross," contends Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini. "If the story that Mackenzie Phillips tells is true--that her father first abused her and then she became a willing participant in incest is true--that's gross.... The fact that a story like this fascinates us (and, come on, it does) is gross." Other web commentators advertised their intolerance through such primitive expressions as "ewwww," "yuck," and "sick."
Hate is not a family value. Who is anybody to judge Mackenzie Phillips and Papa John? They were consenting adults. Celebrate diversity. Love makes a family, yet the family that makes love is the family that is stigmatized, persecuted, and forced into the closet. Stop pushing your morality into other people's bedrooms.
Incestuals are born that way. Given all of society's hang-ups and hatreds, who would choose this lifestyle? It's genetic, a fact buttressed by the reality that so many incestuals are related. From Lot to Cleopatra to Caligula to Papa John, inbreeding runs in the family. Incestuality is nature, not nurture. That's science.
But too many reject science for the outmoded prejudices of the past. The American Psychological Association treats incest as if it were a mental illness. The Uniform Code of Military Justice makes incest grounds for discharge, forcing incestuals in the armed forces to deny their identity and undermining general readiness by kicking out qualified soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. The laws of every state ban incestuous marriages, imposing humiliating blood tests and strict licensing requirements upon connubial kinfolk. The criminal justice system jails incestuals and breaks up their relationships. It's no wonder that Papa John dreamed of emigrating from the supposed "land of the free" to the land of Fiji. "We could just run away to a country where no one would look down on us," Papa John suggested to his daughter-lover. "There are countries where this is an accepted practice. Maybe Fiji."
Maybe they would have been accepted in Fiji, but never in puritanical America. It's 2009, and no elected official dares come out as an incestual for fear of losing office. In a move reminiscent of its early refusal to play black recording artists, MTV stubbornly blocks "I Kissed My Dad and I Liked It" from its airwaves and won't cast incestuals on any of its reality shows. Schools resist Incest-Outcest Alliance groups and balk at assigning such inclusive texts as Heather Has a Daddy-Husband and My Sister Is My Aunt.
This occurs despite the fact that incestuals endure lifetimes of hardships--drug addiction, suicide, depression, failed relationships--because of society's rejection of them. They are hated for loving. Between Papa John and Mackenzie Phillips, there is nearly a century of drug abuse to demonstrate the destructive power of the incest taboo.
The modest proposal of the mother-father-sister-brother-loving community is to make the incest taboo taboo. Mackenzie Phillips's decision to come out of the closet will certainly induce others to do the same. The Oedipal love that dare not speak its name will shut up no longer.
And with awareness will come acceptance. Supportive bumperstickers, marriage equality, an end to outbreeder sex-police targeting inbreeders, campus "safe spaces," incest pride marches, and corporate sensitivity training will be the signs that the campaign from out of the closets and into the streets has made headway. When all this is accomplished, our world will be transformed from one in which the incestophobes who now hatefully condemn incest without fear of repercussion will be reduced through social pressure to criticism of the most oblique and satirical sort.
Society is sick.
The FBI arrested a 19-year-old Jordanian man yesterday after he placed a car full of dummy explosives that he mistakenly believed would blow up the sixty-story Fountain Place in Dallas. In Illinois, a 29-year-old convert to Islam (courtesy of the prison system!) was arrested after activating a cell phone that he thought would trigger a van full of explosives to destroy a federal building in Springfield. The two arrests follow the appearance in a Denver court by Najibullah Zazi, allegedly an al Qaeda operative, for lying about a bomb plot. In addition to purchasing large quantities of bomb-making materials, Zazi is alleged to have received al Qaeda training, have bombmaking instructions on his computer, and have cooked up explosive material in a Colorado hotel. One is reminded that at the same point into George W. Bush's term terrorists struck America. Could they be similarly testing President Obama? The government doesn't seem as keen on issuing its color-coded warning as it did in the aftermath of 9/11, but if they did this activity would seem the stuff of orange alerts.
They didn't have YouTube in 1930s Germany, but if they did I would imagine that a Hitler Youth meeting might look something like this.
Do we live in bizarro world? ACORN, after getting caught suggesting various illegalities to two twentysomething undercover journalists, is suing the courageous muckrakers. Where is the ACLU to defend the First Amendment rights of the documentarians?
The Democrats rejected an amendment allowing the American people the ability to read the health-care reform legislation prior to Congress voting on it. Of the amendment calling for a cost-estimate and 72-hours to read the text before a vote, Senator John Kerry opined: "This is fundamentally a delay tactic."
I hate getting a song stuck in my head. This is especially true when the song is "I Saw Her Again Last Night" and the reason it's stuck there is because I just heard the news that Papa John Phillips raped his drugged-out daughter Mackenzie, who responded by partaking in a consensual relationship with him. At least that is the One Day at a Time star's twisted story. As much as one might want to believe that Mackenzie's drug abuse discredits her story, one is reminded how much Papa John's drug abuse credits it. If ever a man's demeanor vindicated Nancy Reagan's Just Say No admonition, Papa John's did. When he was sober, he was still stoned. The daughter of the Mamas and the Papas leader remembered, "One night dad said, 'We could just run away to a country where no one would look down on us. There are countries where this is an accepted practice. Maybe Fiji.'" Maybe not.
Scott Harshbarger made a name for himself prosecuting an innocent family for child molestation in the 1980s. It happened a few towns from where I grew up, and I am sad to say that, because of Harshbarger's propaganda campaign, the main defendant's name--"Tookie"--became synonymous with "molester" among my preteen crew. The innocents accused went to prison; Harshbarger went from Middlesex County D.A. to Massachusetts A.G. The hysteria Harshbarger drummed up for his latter day witichhunt would have made Cotton Mather proud. Now, ACORN has hired the man who put innocent people in jail to exonerate people who belong there. An "independent inquiry" my foot!
A choked-up Nancy Pelosi suggested that Joe Wilson's interruption of the president is the type of rhetoric that may lead to violence because she saw such rhetoric lead to violence in San Francisco in the 1970s. But it wasn't conservative rhetoric fueling the violence of Jim Jones, the Black Panthers, Sara Jane Moore, and the multitude of political thugs who unleashed chaos upon the Bay Area in the 1970s. Read my piece @ the American Spectator to get the history that Nancy Pelosi leaves out.
U2 finished two shows at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts last night. I caught Sunday night's performance. It was my fifth, and most underwhelming, U2 concert. Hearing The Unforgettable Fire, Walk On, and Ultraviolet was worth the price of admission, but I could have done without the predictable "greatest hits" set list interspliced with new songs that will be forgotten as soon as this tour concludes.
That's the price of thirty years of fame: everyone knows your songs, has favorites, and is letdown when you don't play them. So bands feel compelled to play the hits. It's safe. But there is a downside to this. When you play the songs that a focus group identifies as the must-hear U2 songs, the setlist becomes predictable and stale. I read the other day that U2's three-concert streak of not playing "Pride" was its longest since the song's release in 1985. Unlike, say, Bruce Springsteen, who can offer a different concert every night, U2 performs the same songs night after night with a change here and there. It's telling that, up until Monday night, the opening four numbers have been the same throughout the tour. Like so much of what sucks in our society, there is little to differentiate Chicago from Foxboro, and Foxboro from East Rutherford. It's a cookie-cutter concert, one size fits all cities.
Though not a hater of supersized stadium shows, this particular stadium show fit into the stereotype of lacking intimacy--with a twist. Whereas this complaint typically centers around the lack of intimacy between artist and audience, here it concerns the lack of intimacy between the players themselves. The in-the-round stage (get it: the U2 360 Tour), which featured roving catwalks to an outer ring, penetrates so deep into the audience that the players at times seemed as far away as Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. They needn't be artificially crammed as though the venue were a garage. But it strikes the audience as unnatural if the bass player is on the twenty-five-yard left hash mark and the singer is by the right endzone pylon.
I went to a concert rather than church on Sunday, but I still got preached to. Bishop Desmond Tutu presided over the ceremonies, sermonizing about AIDS drugs and foreign aid. A procession of volunteers wearing Aung San Suu Kyi's masks invaded the stage to highlight her imprisonment in Burma. Bono lectured about an injustice that, even had the sound system reached the upperdeck with clarity, still would have sounded incoherent. To what end? Is a drunken football stadium going to depart from the pews and change the world or will they just find the posturing mildly annoying?
The stage set, a massive claw grasping the enormous stage below, doesn't make any sense. Bono calls it a spaceship, but what does a spaceship have to do with U2 music? They're not spacey like Pink Floyd and they don't actually sing about alien abductions like The Pixies. The two other tours in which I caught U2 concerts featured sets that thematically meshed with the music. The multitude of televisions flashing subliminal messages during the Zoo TV Tour and the faux-McDonalds arch that greeted concert goers to the PopMart Tour jibed with the overall concepts of mass communications and commercialism, respectively. But what's with the claw? It is utilitarian in that it holds up speakers and a wraparound videoscreen, but it doesn't seem to have an artistic purpose.
And that lack of an artistic purpose is my overarching complaint with U2's 360 Tour. Playing the same, focus-group friendly songs night after night is more befitting of muzak than a rock band.
Eighty years ago, Will Durant started writing The Story of Civilization. About 65 years later, I started reading it. This seemed right. If a man could devote 45 years of his life to writing the history of the world, I could devote two years of my life to reading it. More than a decade after finishing the eleven-volume Story of Civilization, I have finally gotten around to writing about it. The October 5, 2009 issue of National Review, available now to those with a digital subscription, features my lengthy article on Will and Ariel Durant, the apostate historians. Read it here @ National Review if you have a digital subscription. Get with the program, or just buy it at your local newstand, if you aren't digitally subscribed.
Joe Wilson lacked civility when he shouted, "You lie!" But was Wilson right? Will ObamaCare cover illegal aliens? It depends on your definition of "illegal." "Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken," Obama said Wednesday explained to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. "That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else." He went on to say, "If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all." Leave aside the fact that illegal aliens already benefit from Medicaid and the fact that Democrats have killed various amendments explicitly denying coverage to illegal aliens. The president's nod-and-wink linkage of amnesty with socialized medicine belies his earlier promise to keep illegals out of his health care plan.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to defund ACORN. Despite the 345 to 75 tally, Massachusetts's delegation voted 8 to 1 (with Barney Frank, a vocal antagonist of those seeking to defund ACORN, not voting) against the defunding legislation. After seeing videos of numerous ACORN employees seeming to display a willingness to aid and abet a child prostitution scheme, the debate should be about whether the government should shut down ACORN, not about whether it should fund it. Not to fret, Massachusetts Democrats. There will be no repercussions for votes in defense of subsidizing illegality--at least for the Massachusetts Democrats. Elsewhere, Democrats, as always, will pay a price for the irresponsibility of representatives safely ensconsed in districts that far from represent America.
How do you know a liberal has lost an argument? He starts crying "racism," reports an old joke. It's too bad Jimmy Carter couldn't use such a word as kryptonite to his critics during his four years of failure. The Man from Plains maintains that Rep. Joe Wilson's rebuke of the president for lying to Congress was "based on racism." He explained to a town-hall meeting in Atlanta, "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president." But Jimmy Carter isn't one to talk. A transitional figure who linked Old South with New South, Carter first won election as governor of Georgia in part by relying on racism of the overt rather than subtle variety. Reporter David Freddoso notes that Carter's campaign distributed a picture of his opponent celebrating with two African Americans and scoffed that his opponent had honored Martin Luther King. Carter then bragged, "I can win this election without a single black vote."
Rocky Balboa punched frozen meat. Juan Manuel Marquez drinks his own urine. In preparation for his superfight against Floyd Mayweather this Saturday night, Marquez's training routine has included gulping down his pee. Not since Aaron Pryor drank from Panama Lewis's black bottle has a fighter's liquid intake sparked such curiosity.
When George W. Bush addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2008, I criticized the conservatives gathered for deluding themselves into believing that George W. Bush was one of them. George W. Bush, we now definitively discover, shared my view. "What is this movement you keep talking about in the speech?" he asked speechwriter Matt Latimer, who had been tasked with devising the president's CPAC address. "[T]ake out all this movement stuff. There is no movement." Indeed, there wasn't. The "conservative movement" Bush sought to delete from his speech had in fact been deleted from existence shortly after he had taken the oath of office. There was something masochistic in the CPAC audience chanting "Four more years!" at a president who had trampled over their favored polices. Big government at home and abroad, amnesty for foreigners breaking into the country, the "veto" power missing in action for more than five years, bailouts for Wall Street, Detroit, and Baghdad, and a new department to add to the federal bureaucracy are the painful legacies of the Bush years. "Abuse me more!" was how I interpreted that mindless mantra. George W. Bush seemed to have interpreted that way too. "Look, I know this probably sounds arrogant to say," the president remarked to his speechwriter, "but I redefined the Republican Party."
I thought James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles's undercover videos exposing the willingness of ACORN employees to aid and abet a scheme to smuggle underage girls into the country for prostitution were outrageous. But they have been upstaged in the outrage department by their latest expose on ACORN's San Bernadino office, where an employee of the disgraced organization talks about killing her husband and threatening others who would unveil her discussions with the investigative journalists posing as pimp and prostitute. On its surface, their work is an expose of ACORN; probe more deeply, and one realizes it is an expose of the mainstream media. Why on earth does it take a 25-year old and a 20-year old to do the work that 60 Minutes and the New York Times should be doing? The federal government gave ACORN more than $25 million last year and the president of the United States once served as their counsel in a lawsuit and headed up the organization's Project Vote. Beam me up, Scotty!
Tune in to Boston's Talk Evolution 96.9 WTKK tonight to listen to me as I fill-in for Michele McPhee. If for some strange reason you live outside of the Hub of the Universe, click the "listen live" button on WTKK's website to listen live from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight. What should I be talking about on the air?
"Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?" Pink Floyd asked on side three of The Wall. "Vera! Vera! What has become of you?" The lyric intended to conjure up a long, gone figure from the distant past of World War II. But what's become of Vera Lynn is that, at 92 years young, she is the oldest recording artist to score a number one album in the United Kingdom. Thirty years after Roger Waters wondered if anybody remembered Vera Lynn, his fellow Brits have issued a delayed response in the affirmative.
The California state assembly has passed legislation establishing a "Harvey Milk Day." Milk, an obscure city supervisor who served less than a year in elective office, sullied his reputation by unwittingly aiding and abetting Jim Jones in his mass murders. But his supporters, fueled by the recent biopic featuring Sean Penn in the leading role, whitewash all that to transform Milk into a Martin Luther King for homosexuals. The bill awaits Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto or signature. My work has made its way into the debate, with many of the proposed holiday's detractors citing my "Drinking Harvey Milk's Kool-Aid" article. The group Save California, Christian conservatives leading the fight against a state holiday honoring Milk, conducted an interview with me on the idea of a Harvey Milk Day that, a month-and-a-half after it originally aired, is listed on its site as its #1 downloaded podcast. Hear here. I don't write with the expectation that my articles will influence public policy. But it's gratifying when they do.
"All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true," Kurt Cobain's suicide note reads. "I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guity beyond words about these things." The Nirvana frontman hoped to escape in death the commercialism that he abhorred at the end of his life. The vulgar appropriation of Cobain's image in the Guitar Hero 5 videogame gives credence to the argument that suicide doesn't solve your problems. There's something very wrong about the animated Cobain singing Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, initially seemed to blame Cobain's former bandmates, singling out Dave Grohl by saying he would burn in hell if such a place existed, for the crass exploitation of her husband's image. But they had nothing to do with it. "Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like," Activision's Tim Riley told Rolling Stone. "She picked the wardrobe and hair style, which turned out to be the 'Teen Spirit' look, then we went back and forth over changes--some subtle, some not so subtle... She was actually great to work with. She got back with comments pretty quickly." File under: Don't marry a groupie.
Are you ready for some football? After seven month of suffering, football fans can once again enjoy America's present pastime tonight as the Tennessee Titans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Super Bowl champion Steelers tonight. With this in mind, I welcome the readers to make their Super Bowl predictions in the comments section below. My prediction/wish is...
New England Patriots over Philadelphia Eagles
It's impolite to interrupt. But lying, though hardly recognized as such in our passive-agressive society, is a far worse transgression. The U.S. Congress resembled a raucous British House of Commons last night, as South Carolinian Joe Wilson responded to Obama's health-care assurances with a curt, "You lie!" I don't believe Barack Obama either when he says nationalized health care won't fund abortions or illegal aliens. The federal government already subsidizes abortion and illegal aliens already benefit from Medicaid. If abortionists and illegal aliens would go unsubsidized, why are La Raza and Planned Parenthood so agressive in supporting Obama's "reform" efforts?
Liberals don't take the hint very well. After pushing for a government-run medical insurance company, Barack Obama has seen his poll numbers drop and his foot-soldiers in Congress get treated in their town hall meetings like the guy with a Red Sox hat at Yankee stadium. Still, he pushes for the wildly unpopular "public option," even if he dresses it up in another name or tweaks minor aspects of it. This shouldn't surprise. From Harry Truman to Lyndon Johnson to Bill Clinton, Democratic presidents have raised the idea of widespread nationalized healthcare only to have it rejected out of hand. But every generation, along comes a guy like Barack Obama, who interprets America's past rejection of socialized medicine as an inarticulate demand for it. Misread America's pulse at your own peril, Dr. Obama.
I'm not sure if the producers of this extremely racy advertisement want to convey the idea Adolf Hitler was really good in bed or that AIDS is like the Holocaust. Either way, their hypothesis is really controversial.
Byron York remembers. In a piece in the Washington Examiner, York recounts how liberals flipped out when George H.W. Bush addressed schoolchildren in 1991. The Washington Post complained, "The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props." Rep. William Ford, Harold Ford's dad who then served as the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered an investigation and conducted a hearing in which top Bush administration officials, such as the secretary of education, were called to testify. The National Education Association even blasted Bush for what it aided Obama in doing.
Barack Obama's message to schoolchildren is one that they need to hear. Don't waste all your time playing videogames or delude yourself into believing a career in the National Basketball Association awaits. "[T]he circumstances of your life--what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home--that's no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude," the president declares. It's the right message, but there are better messengers. If children aren't reached by their parents or teachers with the same lesson, why do people think a complete stranger will somehow successfully impart it? The totality of politics for Barack Obama is displayed by his injection into nearly every school in the country. The event, which, in fairness to the president, is hardly unprecedented, represents the belief that federalism is an anachronism. Responsibilities properly undertaken at a more local level are usurped by one man in Washington. Why not have the president give an address on street sweepers, trash collection, snow plowing, or some other function of local government best kept far from the control of the federal government? It's not that the text of the president's speech is wrongheaded; it's just, coming from the chief executive of the federal government, a massive non sequitur.
When Massachusetts public opinion drifted left, Ted Kennedy followed--on the Vietnam War, taxes, abortion, and a whole host of issues. Where Ted Kennedy walked, Democrats followed. What ensured Ted Kennedy's political longevity in Massachusetts undermined the Democrats' ambitions as a national party. Read my piece @ City Journal the Democratic Party's long, strange trip tagging along with Ted Kennedy.
I will be filling in for Michele McPhee on Labor Day from 7-10 p.m. on Boston's Talk Evolution, 96.9 WTKK. If you are beyond WTKK's powerful FM signal, click the "listen live" button at WTKK's website to, well, listen live. Readers: What should I be discussing with the listeners?
Obama's spin doctors misread his sinking poll numbers. They believe the solution to their slump is more Obama. Obama in every school. Obama art for NEA-funded projects. And another, prime-time Obama address next Wednesday. This is more of the medicine that made their patient sick in the first place. Does it occur to them that America may be suffering from Obama fatigue? Calvin Coolidge, he is not.
Speaking of inflation, Theodore Dalrymple examines @ City Journal the moral, rather than the mere economic, ramifications of currency deflation. We live in a "borrow" culture instead of a "save" culture because of inflation by design. "But asset inflation--ultimately, the debasement of the currency--as the principal source of wealth corrodes the character of people," he writes. "It not only undermines the traditional bourgeois virtues but makes them ridiculous and even reverses them. Prudence becomes imprudence, thrift becomes improvidence, sobriety becomes mean-spiritedness, modesty becomes lack of ambition, self-control becomes betrayal of the inner self, patience becomes lack of foresight, steadiness becomes inflexibility: all that was wisdom becomes foolishness. And circumstances force almost everyone to join in the dance."
Last month I griped, and stocked up, in response to my state's raising sales taxes and imposing them for the first time upon booze, which already has hidden taxes. I haven't practiced civil disobedience yet by crossing the border into sales-tax free New Hampshire. But a state representative, dumb enough to be making the trip with his look-at-me-I'm-important license plate, has. While my civil disobedience stems from my opposition to the tax hike, this gentleman actually voted for it. The Boston Herald noted that he blamed the incident on "Republican demagoguery." He told a newspaper in New Bedford, "Unfortunately, I think that's why the Republican Party is in such bad shape in Massachusetts. The electorate here is smart enough to figure out what they're up to." An electorate that chose this man as representative of it can't be all that smart.
There is something fundamentally different, attitudinally, between liberals and conservatives. When the CEO of Whole Foods criticized ObamaCare, liberals protested the supermarket chain and organized a boycott. Ben & Jerry's has released Hubby Hubby ice cream, a parody of its Chubby Hubby ice cream that celebrates Vermont instituting gay marriage. The packaging features two grooms atop a wedding cake with a rainbow backdrop. I doubt I'll be eating any Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but it has nothing to do with Hubby Hubby. It's too expensive! Basic, relevant concerns like that guide my behavior as a consumer--does it taste good, is it priced right, is it good for me--not whether the guys behind the product share my politics. There is a politicization of inherently nonpolitical aspects of life--grocery shopping, ice cream--on the Left that, aside from the occasional boycot of Disney, doesn't really exist on the Right. This Tourette's-like impulse to announce one's politics loudly, and, in non sequitur fashion, inject it into areas where it doesn't belong, is what, more than anything else, alienates me from leftists.
I have written sporadically on the depreciation of the dollar since the advent of the Federal Reserve, a group of unaccountable managers appointed to tinker with what generally shouldn't be tinkered with. We don't alter the weight of a pound or the length of a foot. Why should unelected bureaucrats have the power to transform a dollar into a dime? Of particular interest has been the instructive website MeasuringWorth.com, which calculates the relative worth of today's dollar versus the dollar at any time in American history. Now, the Ludwig von Mises Institute has published this extraordinarily helpful graph illustrating the Federal Reserve's assault on a stable currency. The result is that 1789's dollar isn't even worth a dime today. One of the graph's captions asks the reader to "try to imagine what your life would be like if every dollar you had bought you 20 times as much stuff... This is the cost of inflation."
Only 46 percent of the American people approve of Barack Obama's performance as president, claims a new poll by Rasmussen. Forty-one percent strongly disapprove, with only thirty percent saying they strongly approve. Eighty-three percent of Republicans disapprove of the post-partisan president's job performance.