Archive for January 2009

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the 36th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion, I encourage everyone to read Princeton’s Robert P. George on the history of the decision, and  the impact of it on our political life.

Some celebrate this decision.  Others feel that abortion is sad, but that women still should be able to have a right to deal with pregnancy in whatever way they feel is right. Others approach it more academically and say that — constitutionally — there is no protection for the unborn.  Others say the best way to deal with this is not through law but through cultural zeitgeist. I’m actually sympathetic to that more libertarian strain of thought. I agree that you usually cannot legislate morality. That we need to give understanding and love to women facing unplanned pregnancies, not the fear of prison, but hope for a future.  But we still have laws against murder. And that is what abortion is. But this is an old argument.

Anyway, Obama is the most, err, “pro-choice” president we’ve ever had. His voting record shows that. His respect for the lives of terrorists trumps his respect for the lives of unborn Americans (many of them African-American).  Those of us who feel differently pray for his change of heart.  And consider this, from the Catholic Church.

The Closing of Gitmo

In one of his first acts as president, Obama has signed an executive order closing the prison at Guatanamo Bay within a year. And now the question everyone on the Right has been asking (for a while): Where will the prisoners go? Well — to their own countries probably. Or here, to await federal trial (sigh). Maybe they will all go to  live with John Murtha — to stimulate western Pennsylvania(??).  And how.

Liberals (such as, say, Andrew Sullivan) argue that closing Gitmo and the secret CIA prisons, and banning “harsh interrogation technigues”, is necessary because they symbolize torture. From the AP:

Obama said he was signaling that the U.S. would confront global violence without sacrificing “our values and our ideals.”

How long will we have values and ideals if we are not willing to make tough decisions to get information from terrorists to prevent the slaughter of innocents?

It’s hard to say this, because we are all human, and we do not want to have to interrogate ANYONE harshly, and the thought is more than distressing. But we did NOT choose this war. We did NOT. The thought of another 9/11 is more distressing than the idea that someone caught as an ILLEGAL combatant in Afghanistan or Iraq might think he’s drowning, or might not have habeas corpus, or might have to stand for 4 hours.


Jangle, wrangle, squabble, and quarrel

- Grenville Kleiser, from his list of “impressive phrases” in Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases

No noble or right style was ever yet founded but out of a sincere heart.

- John Ruskin


A note of caution from The Founding Father,

(The Spirit of Party), unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

- George Washington, The Farewell Address

A nice evaluation of the inauguration

By David Horowitz, seen on Powerline

First we have to recognize and then understand that whatever happens in the Obama presidency, this Inauguration Day is a watershed moment in the history of America and a remarkable event in the history of nations, and thus a cause for all of us who love this country, conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican, to celebrate.

It gets better, go read it all.

Israel and Gaza

The Gaza invasion is over and under any objective evaluation, Israel has been victorious. Luckily for Hamas, the international news media hasn’t been objective for a long time…

The BBC takes Hamas’ word for it:

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, declared a ceasefire after Israel called off its three-week offensive.

The group has claimed victory in the confrontation, saying it stopped Israel achieving its aims.

The very next sentence in this article should be, “such claims are ludicrous on their face with Gaza in ruins and Israeli farmers harvesting melons just across the border.” Alas, it is not. The BBC allows Hamas’ absentee leader to pontificate for the rest of the article in direct and indirect quotes before finally noting that Israel also “claims” victory.

Look at the simply ridiculous formulation they use in the first sentence quoted above; Hamas declared a cease-fire after Israel called off its invasion. The Carthaginians just announced a ceasefire in their conflict with Rome as well. Hamas got crushed, end of story.

The only place that the terrorists can really win is in the editorial board-rooms of the western media. And so their “leader” holds a press conference in Damascus and the BBC loyally reports their “claims” and simply founders when attempting to find an objective measure whereby to judge the respective claims of the Israelis and Hamas.

Here’s a hint. The guy cowering in Damascus while his country is in tatters is not the winner.

Meanwhile, Hamas has returned to its beneficent rule in Gaza:

Nineteen Palestinians were murdered in cold blood by Hamas, Habbash said, while more than 60 others were shot in the legs.

Ihab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza, confirmed that his men had arrested scores of “collaborators” with Israel during and after the war.

They are cutting the eyes out of Palestinians they accuse of being collaborators. No trials, no Geneva Conventions, and no condemnations by the UN or the ACLU.

So that’s the short side. The Western Media continues to work for the West’s enemies and that’s that. But what will be the long term effect of Operation Cast Lead on Israel’s security going forward?

Israel’s government says they have struck a huge blow against Hamas and re-established the deterrent value of Israeli arms. How large the blow against Hamas truly is will depend greatly upon what can be done to stop them from re-arming themselves. Right now Israel is negotiating with Egypt and the EU on what to do about the border, but the smuggling tunnels have reportedly re-opened.

As for deterrence, who or what is Israel trying to deter? The thugs in Damascus and Tehran don’t care about the people in Gaza. So no matter how many of them are killed and no matter how many buildings are destroyed, the terror-masters in far-away lands aren’t going to be deterred.

The commanders on the ground, in Gaza may be concerned. There were reports last week that although Damascus was talking tough, the Hamas leaders in Gaza were willing to discuss a ceasefire. If that wedge can be widened, if the people of Gaza can be convinced to drop this futile war with Israel, than something might be accomplished, some deterrence might be generated.

But those same men cutting out eyes and crippling fellow Palestinians right now are going to be shooting rockets back into Israel at their first opportunity. It doesn’t take a majority to start a war in that part of the world.

What Israel did get was time. Hamas will need a couple of years to rearm before they can threaten the south of Israel again. And in those two years, perhaps moderate voices will rise within the Palestinian community who really want to live in peace with Israel, who can see the futility of sending their kids to die in front of Israeli tanks. So maybe they didn’t get deterrence, but they did get time and maybe hope…

QOTD and More

Obama’s inaugural was forgettable (save for its regrettable partisan edge), let us revisit one far better. Lincoln touches on so many issues and feelings in his first inaugural that we must approach it in parts (and here only a few of the many parts of interest).

The Supreme Court

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be over-ruled and never become precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

A nice summation of that body’s proper role especially with the possibility that Obama will get to appoint two justices in his first term. The Left has used the court as a legislature of last resort to force certain positions down the throats of the people for too long. A return to Lincoln’s understanding of their proper place would be welcome.

Executive Power and The People

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people… His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.

Would that he also said unenhanced… (continuing)

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope, in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North or on yours of the South, that truth, and that justice, will surely prevail, by the judgement of this great tribunal, the American people.

We can simply substitute the Right and Left of our own time for North and South… (continuing)

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.

While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.

Of course, since Lincoln’s time, the politicians have increased their power for mischief significantly and the “Virtue and Vigilance” of the people appears to be in decline, but the sentiment is still valuable… (continuing)

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it… If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied, hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

This is all taken from Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, and we haven’t even quoted the oft quoted final paragraph…

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

I don’t think it’s petty to point out this is way better than anything Obama has ever said, even when he quoted it. You can read the whole thing here.

Lincoln never passed up an opportunity to recognize the humanity and goodness of those who opposed him. He understood that our differences do not arise out of the moral or intellectual failings of our opponents, but from the simple difficulty of the issues we are trying to address.

There is no simple answer to poverty. We emphatically do not know what to do about it or a range of other issues. There is no conspiracy keeping the era of prosperity and pollution free energy from raining down upon us. A Perfect Union is forever beyond our grasp.

Lincoln knew this and articulated it even as he struggled mightily to keep the Union together through its most difficult and bloody time.

Today, we are left to wonder when our opponents will even acknowledge our humanity, let alone our good will. Any disagreement over even trivial legislation is treated as tantamount to Nazism. Opposing the Global Warming farce is tantamount to holocaust denial and should be prosecuted! This is the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression you insensitive jerk!

Obama’s people made a big show of using Lincoln’s bible for the swearing in (strange that the church-going Obamas have no bible of their own). Would that he used some of Lincoln’s thoughtfulness and magnanimity.

Congratulations, Mr. President

Okay, yeah, we’re conservative. BUT even we can appreciate the historic moment (though we were forced to watch it on CBS — Katie Couric — ugh!).  I’m very very happy that America has achieved the colorblindness — at least in part– of whic MLK, Jr. dreamed. And I’m especially grateful to live in a nation that can have such peaceful transfers of power.

Obama’s speech was not terribly inspirational, and when he said we must get past the idea that it’s not about whether government is too small or too large, but about whether it works, well — we believe smaller government works better.

But all in all, I can quibble little with his serious approach or his outline of the dangers that we face.  Or even his call to responsibility.  He sometimes reminds me of a preacher — I think he would have made a very effective one.

So with all good will, may we say …  congratulations, and good luck, Mr. President.

The Inauguration of …. Somethin’

We hear there’s something going on tomorrow — oh yeah, the peaceful transfer of power that we in the USA are blessed to have every four or eight years.

Will there be protests, as there were in 2000 or 2004? No — we all (well most of us) on the right recognize that that would be politically stupid, and infelicitous — and unnecessary. Obama won …mostly fair and square. Will we be better off? Doubtful. Would there be as much excitement for a black person to be president if he or she were Republican — Michael Steele, say? Or Condi Rice? Very sadly, no. They would not be recognized as such, though both of their histories are much more in line with that of most African Americans than Obama’s is. But it matters not.

What will happen after tomorrow?

  • The Fairness Doctrine will probably be renewed, in an effort to squelch “right-wing” radio.  Dissent is, after all, dangerous. Very dangerous.
  • More federal monies will be given to embryonic stem cell research, even though recent research has made that rather unnecessary. But certain parties have a vested interest there.
  • The Defense of Marriage Act could be overturned, thus forcing a redefinition of “marriage” that most people don’t want.
  • Bush’s tax cuts will expire.
  • We will be less safe, as the reaction to crises will be to talk first –  a reversion to September 10th thinking. We will never hear the words “war on terror”.

All this, and more, starting tomorrow. No one said the US would last forever. And it seems rather clear to me that we are on the downward slope, letting the wind slap our face, enjoying how “fresh” it all feels. Until we slap right into the mountain.

But perhaps I am being a bit pessimistic.  And on the eve of a President Obama, I think it would do us all well to remember what Calvin Coolidge said in his inauguration in 1923 — very different times indeed, but these truths are, as they say, timeless:

It is necessary to keep the former experiences of our country both at home and abroad continually before us, if we are to have any science of government. If we wish to erect new structures, we must have a definite knowledge of the old foundations. We must realize that human nature is about the most constant thing in the universe and that the essentials of human relationship do not change. We must frequently take our bearings from these fixed stars of our political firmament if we expect to hold a true course. If we examine carefully what we have done, we can determine the more accurately what we can do.

QOTD For Sunday

Since we missed Friday, and apropos of Katy’s comments on the “Stimulus Package”…

It is useless for the few remaining followers of Herbert Spencer to discuss whether the English, in entering Socialism, will sell themselves into slavery.  They are already in the slavery: but they have not sold themselves into it.  For they have not got any money for it, nor even the promise of any.  It is vain for Individualist orators to adjure the people not to lose their birthright for a mess of pottage.  Their birthright is lost; it is the mess of pottage that cannot be found.  It is almost the only kind of mess that we have not managed to produce.

- G.K. Chesterton, The Intrusions of Officialdom