Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Need Better Friends

In the last 24 hours, wonder has been expressed over my wife's willingness to marry me, the Halloween party has been cancelled, and I've been described as "the annoying little brother I never wanted".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sarah Palin, Brainiac

Ha! Now it's token conservative versus token feminist!

Seriously folks, come up with a new line of attack. Republicans have been derided as dunces since Eisenhower's time. When they're eloquent, like the Gipper, they're just a trained actor being fed lines. When they slip up like Sarah Palin, they're just a Caribou Barbie. And yet, Ike still managed to win in WWII, Reagan laughed all the way to two terms as Governor of America's largest state (oh, and that president thing...), and Sarah Palin is in the middle of building another impressive record of conservative governance. Don't worry, when Rhodes Scholar Bobby Jindal is ready for national office, he'll suddenly become just another voodoo-chanting Louisiana hick too. Fortunately, by clinging to our guns and sky fairies, conservatives manage to get over being told just how dumb we really are.

No, YOU Release YOUR Transcripts

Has anyone been following the duel cries by supporters of McCain and Obama to release Obama and Palin's (respectively) college transcripts? Let me first stipulate that I don't care whose grades were better. Let me secondly stipulate that I would guess Obama probably had the superior GPA (he got into freakin' Harvard people, what do you think you're going to find?). Let me thirdly stipulate that there is no doubt in my mind that both candidates have higher GPA's than I do.

The reason I find this interesting, given all of the above, is not because I think that their grades will reveal anything new, or change the minds of any voters out there. Rather it's because I have yet to find a source asking for BOTH sets of transcripts. The Obama people want to see Palin's, the McCain people want to see Obama's. Both groups seem convinced that this will prove something about the other side, and yet both groups also see no reason to advocate that their guy release all college info in order to prove something about their side.

Anyway, make of it what you will. And if you find anyone asking both sides to release their records, pass 'em on. Maybe it will restore my faith in humanity. Eh, probably not.


Just keep reminding yourself. McCain voters are racists and bigots, but Obama voters are voting due to their purity of heart and his well-thought out and clear views on the issues.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obama Isn't Kenyan

For those who haven't heard, there are at least two separate lawsuits claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya, which would apparently make him ineligible for natural citizenship. The way the law worked at the time, if you were born outside the US, to one citizen and one non-citizen parent, the citizen parent has to be at least 19 for you to be a natural citizen. His mom was only 18 at the time. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Obama may have lost his citizenship when he moved with his family to Indonesia. I don't know quite how that works, because I stopped reading out of annoyance before they explained.

My only response is, seriously? Number one, I don't believe it's true. (Please also note that I am not including links, so as not to help anyone with their traffic.) His whole family and all their close friends would have to be in on it. And what would have been the purpose of lying about the citizenship of a baby? Did his mother seriously say to herself, "I'd better make it look like this kid is a naturalized citizen just in case he runs for president someday..."

Number two, and more importantly, EVEN IF IT WERE, is that really the way you want to win? Is invoking a second constitutional crisis in 8 years, at a time of great economic turmoil, when the country is already enveloped in partisan rancor, really better than losing an election? I stand second to no one (sane) in my fear of the damage an Obama administration will do, but REALLY? So many people have so much invested in this man that there would be riots in the streets. Heck, I'd probably join them.

My only solace is that the driving force behind this effort is a Hillary supporter. I'd like to believe that conservatives have more class than to act like this. Prove me right guys!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apparently We Have Yet Another Code Word

First we learned that "community organizer" is a euphemism for black. Here I thought it was a euphemism for pinko rabblerouser... Anyway, now apparently "socialist" is off limits. The reason, "J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, used the term liberally to describe African Americans who spent their lives fighting for equality." The African Americans in question? W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. King, Paul Robeson, and A. Phillip Randolph.

Do you think it would ruin their fun if someone pointed out the fact that W.E.B. DuBois HIMSELF STATED, "In 1911, I joined the Socialist Party." (From McKinley To Wallace: My 50 Years As An Independent) Or for example, that he ran for Senate on the American Labor Party ticket (it was a radical party initially formed by socialists), received the Lenin Peace Prize, and towards the end of his life joined the Communist party? Calling him a socialist was only inappropriate in that it was such a vast understatement.

What about the fact that A. Phillip Randolph openly joined the Socialist party at age 21? Or that Paul Robeson allegedly told a reporter for the Daily Worker when asked about Stalin's purges, “from what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet Government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!” He was also a secret member of the Communist Party and wrote a eulogy entitled, "To You Beloved Comrade" for Stalin after his death.

So here's my question. What is it code for when one accurately describes Lenin, Stalin, Malenkov, Krushchev, and Brezhnev as socialists?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Word To The Optimists

You're probably wrong. It's looking more and more like this election will be a colossal whipping for Republicans. The presidency, multiple senate seats, and a few dozen house seats may swing to the other side. On election night, I plan to huddle close with loved ones and have a couple of beers to dilute the taste of the tears that will be running down my cheeks.

Ok, so that was a little hyperbolic. Seriously though, when the best signs you have for optimism are a 3 point lead for Obama and the hope that Elizabeth Dole MIGHT be able to keep her Senate seat, things aren't going your way. The national polls are just the tip of the iceberg. Obama is poised for an electoral college landslide if his current leads hold up in the swing states.

There is some room for hope. All of these polls are predicated on the assumption that for once, voter patterns will really change drastically from previous cycles. That hasn't happened in a long time. If all the hoopla about Obama's registration and GOTV efforts is merely sound and fury, signifying nothing, then we might just pull out a win in this sucker. It's not something I'd want to bet money on, though.

So get ready. Stock your emergency kits, stockpile Russell Kirk, and kiss a loved one. We may be in for a bumpy ride.

One More Thing...

...about the Palin wars among pundits. Can pundits PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, stop over dramatizing and claiming the mantle of martyrdom for themselves every time they get criticized by other pundits over their columns? Christopher Buckley, a man whose only accomplishment seems to be adopting the 1/2 of his father's views that get him access to conservative circles while allowing him to swim among the trendy in New York, offered his resignation to National Review from the TEMPORARY position they gave him while one of their good columnists, Mark Steyn, was on a sabbatical. He did this because he wrote a profoundly silly column that essentially argued that someone as smart as Obama can't possibly be as leftwing as we think he'll be once he gets into office. For accepting this offer, NR is criticized, despite the fact they they publish at least two serious critics of Palin (Parker and Frum), and that Buckley still sits on their board. Buckley went on to write a self-serving blog post praising his own courage and criticizing the right-wing monsters who wouldn't allow him to publish "a reasoned argument". I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not his original piece can be called such with anything but an attitude of great charity.

Meanwhile Kathleen Parker seems to have forgotten the fact that NR is still publishing her column, as she eulogises her fellow victim of the hard-hearted uniformity on the right. This is, of course, after she spent a column lamenting how mean everyone has been to her. Listen, I'm sorry that Parker received so much angry mail over her column on Sarah Palin. Anyone who sends the vitriolic attacks she claims to have received needs a good lesson in civility and the appropriate means for addressing women taught under the gentle tutelage of a big man with a baseball bat. Seriously. If you tell someone their mother should have aborted them, I have little concern over what happens to you afterwards. You have foregone your right to civility at that point.

However, part of me also wants to point out one simple fact to Kathleen Parker, Chris Buckley, and all the other pundits who have gotten their feathers ruffled over the years. You are well-paid and highly prominent for one very simple reason. Because you publicly argue through controversial political issues. While it may seem fairly basic, apparently you've forgotten that if you express controversial opinions on current events, some people will get upset with those opinions. That's why not everyone who writes well does so for a living, and why those of you who do, get paid. Sarah Palin's skin seems to be thick enough to take your sometimes fair, and sometimes unfair, criticisms of her. "The McCain campaign knows that Obama isn’t a Muslim or a terrorist, but they’re willing to help a certain kind of voter think he is. Just the way certain South Carolinians in 2000 were allowed to think that McCain’s adopted daughter from Bangladesh was his illegitimate black child." So if this inexperienced rookie from Alaska who isn't qualified for the big chair can take her medicine with grace, why should you be exempt?

What Of Sarah Palin?

The right-wing pundit Armageddon surrounding Sarah Palin continues. On the one hand, we have the Kathleen Parkers, Peggy Noonans, David Frums, David Brooks', and Christopher Buckleys (He's William F. Buckleys son. Yes, that's right, Bill Buckley had a son. No, I hadn't heard of him either before this, but then again how many people cared about Ron Reagan before he became useful for beating up Republicans?). These people generally disapprove. Some of their disapproval is thoughtful and well-reasoned. Some of it is apparently based on the delightful bon mots one is able to use to describe Barack Obama, that rara avis. On the other hand we have Jonah Goldberg, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, Dennis Prager, Jay Nordlinger, and the majority of conservative punditry, who run the gamut from tentative approval to full-on crushes. So what are we to make of these two warring camps and their views on the Alaska governor? Who is right? Has Governor Palin been a net gain or loss for the ticket?

I'd like to offer my services as a semi-neutral observer. While nobody is completely neutral on the issue, I think that I can come as close as any. Before her selection, I liked the Alaska governor, but felt that she needed a little more seasoning in Juneau, a state which still needs her to clean up it's Republican oligarchy. I was VERY happy when she was picked, both out of relief that McCain had forgone the Lieberman option, and because she is undoubtedly an impressive person. I've defended her on this blog, but I was disappointed in her opening interviews, less than impressed by her debate performance, and I am convinced that she's been mishandled by the campaign. So, while I have an attitude towards her that is positive overall, I am not blind to her flaws. If that isn't enough balance, I respect and admire columnists on both sides of the issue. When Peggy Noonan and Jonah Goldberg don't agree, a little piece of me dies inside. With that, let's dive in.

The arguments against her seem to come as one of two general types. The first is that she is not bright or experienced enough for the job. This is usually juxtaposed with Barack Obama's exceptional and super-duper extra brilliance, as seen in the work of David Brooks and Buckley Junior. The second is that she may turn off more independents and disaffected Hillary voters than she gains. We'll take them one at a time.

The dunce versus Harvard Law review editor argument is one that seems silly to me on it's face. Though there are more thoughtful versions expressed by people like Ross Douthut, the basic fact is that the intellectual heavy lifting in a movement is never done by it's leaders, but instead by it's pundits and thinkers. That's just the nature of the political beast. Were it not so, we'd be arguing over whether Alan Keyes or Ramesh Ponnuru would make a better successor to President Phil Gramm. As long as a leader is willing to listen to those thinkers, there is little reason to worry that he is not one himself. Governor Palin has not so far shown a reason to believe that she would refuse good advice. As for her intellectual merits, some might argue that successful careers in journalism, as mayor of a small town, on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and as governor of a state all indicate that her brainpower is more than sufficient for the rigors of high office. In previous posts, I've compared some of the presidency's great thinkers to men who were considered to be of modest intellect, but were great presidents. I don't think I need to review that list here to reiterate the point, but I'll leave you with two words, just in case. Woodrow Wilson. 'Nuff said.

The experience side of the argument holds a little more water. As I've said before, I think that her experience (like that of Barack Obama) leaves room for doubt. I personally think she'd do fine based on her past performance, but I can't necessarily condemn someone who doesn't. Frankly, I think McCain did himself some genuine damage by ceding the high ground on experience, one of the few areas where he had unquestionable supremacy. However, given a choice between placing someone who had 18 months in statewide office before announcing his candidacy, and someone who had 20 months in statewide office before announcing hers, isn't it pretty much a wash? Besides, if John McCain drops dead, it won't be on day 1. It might be on day 85, or day 120, or day 498. Will she still be inexperienced after serving at his side for two or three years? I doubt it. It comes down to a choice between inexperience from day one versus potential inexperience sometime in the future.

Now for the other argument, the idea that she might be turning off independents and PUMAS. I'll grant you that she may. In fact, I'd go further and say she probably is. However, consider this. She is probably in part a victim of unrealistically high expectations. McCain is, at best, in a state of uneasy truce with the base of his party. One immigration fiasco, one unkind word for conservatives is all that stands between him and a complete party walkout. This is exacerbated by his need for volunteers in order to try to keep his GOTV efforts at all competitive with Barack Obama's vastly better-funded operation. So who then could appeal to all of those precious independents and swing voters while shoring up the base? Mitt Romney? Have we so soon forgotten the unease many people felt regarding his relatively recent conversion to conservatism? Mike Huckabee? He's simply a less attractive, more articulate Sarah Palin, with fewer conservative viewpoints. Tim Pawlenty? The world would have uttered a collective "WHO?!?!" had McCain picked him. And yet this is precisely the task many assigned to Sarah Palin. The bottom line is that Sarah Palin was, and remains INCREDIBLY popular among McCain's base, something that probably wouldn't have happened had she also been able to appeal to independents.

There is both anecdotal and statistical evidence to this effect. I know plenty of conservative people who don't pay particularly close attention to electoral politics, but tend to turn out consistently on election day. Many of them were seriously considering sitting this one out, until Palin came along. Now they're donating money and time. Let's not forget that her VP debate set a new TV viewing record. Do you think it was Biden pulling people in? She's drawing larger crowds than McCain wherever she goes, despite her missteps in recent interviews. And yet McCain has lost ground among independents since placing her on the ticket, and voters are split along party lines on her qualifications for office. But again, how much of this could she have remedied while keeping the base satisfied? Yes, her rollout was botched, and she'd have been a heck of a lot harder to spoof on SNL if her initial interviews went better, but would that really have turned many people around? After all, she's still solidly to McCain's right on every major issue. The bottom line is that if the original Maverick can't draw independents against a left-wing senator who votes for infanticide, blurbs books for terrorists, and channels money to Marxist radicals, no VP on earth can do the job either. Let Sarah keep the base happy. While she's definitely been a mixed bag, and failed to live up to everyone's high hopes, she may be the only thing saving McCain from a route on election day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

He's A Freak

That's all you can really say. Usually the term is meant as an insult. In this case, it's simply a statement of fact. Bernard Hopkins is a freak of nature in the best possible sense of the word. Tonight he beat Kelly Pavlik, the reigning middleweight champion. If you had told me that he would do so a week ago, I wouldn't have expected it, but I also wouldn't have been shocked. If you had told me he'd pitch a virtual shutout, I'd be surprised, but again not shocked. However, tonight Hopkins didn't just win. He didn't just pitch a near-shutout. He beat a young man (Hopkins is 43, Pavlik is 26) by physically outperforming him. He was stronger, faster, and sustained a higher workrate throughout the night.

Hopkins has long made an art form out of beating physically superior men by shutting them down and making the fight tactical and boring. Even his signature win over Tito Trinidad was an exercises in clinical precision, not aggression. He admitted in the post-fight interview that he usually fights with more of an eye toward his own physical well-being than anything else. Not on this night though. Tonight, he went into the ring with a young puncher in his physical prime and made it clear that he has not lost a step. The Bernard Hopkins who entered the ring tonight would have crushed Taylor and sent Joe Calzaghe running back to Wales. Love him or hate him, no one can deny that Hopkins is one of the 7 wonders of the boxing world.

On a slightly different note, I was relieved to hear how clear he sounded in the post-fight interview. Nothing is more saddening then hearing the thickened speech of a fighter who has been in one too many bouts. Apparently Freddie Roach, who worked with him for one fight, said that Hopkins was getting confused, going to the wrong corner between rounds, etc. He called for him to retire. Well, if Hopkins is slipping at all, there was no sign of it tonight. He was tactically smart in the ring, and clear-voiced afterwards.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson Says It Better Than I

From a post over at National Review, he makes the point about the value of intellect that I was trying to make in an earlier post...except, you know...better:

Third, there is apparently a philosophical difference about what constitutes wisdom in the political sense: while one is impressed that Niebuhr and other thinkers may well be instantly referenced by Obama, that familiarity does not necessarily translate into common sense or ethical judgment (cf. everything from the apparent prior admiration for Wright and Ayers to the wisdom of expanding taxation in times of financial uncertainty), nor does it suggest that Palin's own story as a working mom, without connections or capital, who pulled herself up through the rough world of Alaskan politics, is not reflective of an equally valuable practical knowledge that is too often ignored.

It's fine to be impressed with Obama's intellectual prowess. It's also fine to be frustrated with 8 years of George W. Bush's inability to effectively communicate conservative ideas to a broader audience (I know I sure am). But these things alone do not guarantee a great leader. To go to the well of history once again, with the possible exception of Churchill, Mussolini was the most intellectually gifted leader of the WWII era. He was well-read, intelligent, an effective writer and speaker, and loved by European and American intellectuals alike. In short, he was everything Obama is intellectually and more. And yet, not only was he not a good leader in the ideological sense, he was just objectively not a good wartime leader in any sense. Though he came to office earlier and was the founder of the fascist movement, he quickly became Hitler's junior partner, and Italy's military efforts were nothing short of embarrassing under his watch.

A leader may look good on paper, but a far better indicator of future ability is their past performance in a related arena. Governor Palin's time in office may be short, but it is indisputably more impressive than Obama's legislative career in many areas. She has made a career of taking on incumbents. He has made a career of looking for easy electoral fights. She has challenged her party time and time again. He has been a reliable rubber stamp for his caucus. She can point to an impressive list of achievements accrued, he can point to an impressive list of future goals. Shouldn't this be at least as important a factor in picking an executive team as Obama's extensive knowledge of socialist theologians?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Hubris Of Frank J.

It saddens me when another human being suffers, even when that human is Frank J of IMAO. But when one soars on the wings of selfish pride and flies too high, we must also look squarely at the object lesson provided and ask the honest question, "what should this teach me about my own life?" Look on, and learn from his error.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An American Carol Review

Full disclosure: If it isn't obvious to anyone reading this blog for more than a day, I really wanted this movie to be good and successful going in. I agree with most of the sentiments it expresses, and wish there were at least one or two conservatives steadily cranking out movies in Hollywood (Remember the good old days of John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart?). I really don't mind that Hollywood is leftist, I just wish they could spare us one or two movies every so often.

Having said all of that, I was only partially satisfied with the results of David Zucker's first attempt at a polemic comedy. It had many funny scenes, and a couple that were even pretty positive and uplifting. The opening, an attempted terrorist attack on an Afghan voting station was great. So was the introduction to Michael Malone, beating off the Cubans trying to escape their country in his boat, so that he could get back and tell the world about Castro's Caribbean paradise.

Some of the best jokes were the more understated ones. For example, Kevin Sorbo's thinly veiled George Clooney accepting an award and celebrating his own courage in attacking a Senator who had been dead for 50 years. There were plenty of similar laughs throughout. Don't expect any of the jokes to be subtle though. Zucker has always wielded his comedy like a sledgehammer, and this movie is no exception. And don't worry about missing any jokes if you aren't part of the conservative in-crowd, Zucker will beat you senseless with them.

And herein lies the first problem with the movie. Satire can come in two forms. It can be subtle and clever, or bash-you-over-the-head absurd. Unfortunately, when trying to make an argument, the first type is the more effective one, and Zucker doesn't do subtle. EVER. If you were unaware, for example, that Michael Moore has what Tommy Callahan once called, "A bit of a weight problem", you won't be by the end of the night. Nor will you be unaware of his horrible odor, inability to score, or obnoxiousness. Ok, we get it, Michael Moore is a tool. I'm as big a fan of the occasional fat joke as the next guy, but when you include them in every other scene, you run the risk of looking like you had no other material.

Another problem for me was the direction of the plot. The movie seemed unable to decide how wide it's own scope would be. The main thrust of the plot was a defense of patriotism and just wars, while skewering the anti-American left. However, there were several other issues thrown in, seemingly at random, such as a defense of the Patriot Act and America's treatment of terrorist detainees. The problem is that, besides obscuring the overall purpose of the movie, some of these things are controversial even among the non-loony left. Plenty of American conservatives and libertarians are uncomfortable with provisions of the Patriot Act or how detainees have been handled. While you are free to say what you want about these people or their arguments, they are hardly deserving of being lumped in with Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell.

The last criticism may be more of a personal issue than something that matters to the average moviegoer, but I'll mention it anyway. Profanity from the mouths of children is jarring and sad, not funny. Several of the young characters in the movie expressed their opinion in language that would make a sailor think twice. Especially in an ostensibly conservative movie, shouldn't we show more respect for the innocence of children?

All that aside, as I said above, the movie had plenty of funny and even uplifting moments. If you really enjoy Zucker's style of comedy, or really want to see a conservative movie do well at the box office, go see it in the theaters. If not, wait for it to come out on video.

Something To Ponder

As I picked up a tall, non-fat, no whip, pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks for the wife yesterday, it occurred to me that buying sissy, complicated coffee beverages may be the 21st century equivalent of holding your wife's purse outside the dressing rooms at Macys. I always have her write her beverages down, since my brain isn't capable of holding any drink order longer than "large coffee" (and yes, I refuse to use their silly size names), so I always make certain that I'm very obvious about reading the drink order off of the paper, hoping desperately that no one will assume I would ever order such a thing as a pumpkin spice latte. When I escape out to the car, I crank Brad Paisley and draw comfort from the fact that she's really hot.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Everyone Should Watch This

It's a debate between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian Dr. Frank Turek. Warning though, it takes 2 hours, so get comfy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Post-Racial Candidate

Attacking Obama for his association with the white William Ayers is racist.

Associating him with a corrupt black CEO is racist.

Placing him in an ad with attractive white women is racist.

Calling a Columbia and Harvard-educated law professor who talks down to people in small towns elitist? Yup, racist.

A video with sleeping children that doesn't even portray Obama? Clever racism.

Talking about how skinny Obama is? Also racist.

And if you aren't openly racist? Well it just means you're unconsciously racist.

Pointing out that his pastor said, "God damn America" and thinks the government invented AIDS? Extra-super-double racist!

Remember the good old days when Obama wanted to be the post-racial candidate? I guess that only lasted until it made more sense for he and his surrogates to badger people into supporting him by exploiting racial guilt...

Adding Some Balance

After that last post.

Sometimes, I like to pretend that America went straight from the 50's to the 80's...

Sometimes David Brooks Makes No Sense

These two comments come from the same interview:

"Brooks praised Palin's natural political talent, but said she is 'absolutely not' ready to be president or vice president. He explained, 'The more I follow politicians, the more I think experience matters, the ability to have a template of things in your mind that you can refer to on the spot, because believe me, once in office there's no time to think or make decisions.'"

However, Brooks also described John McCain and Barack Obama as "the two best candidates we've had in a long time." He later said of Obama, "he was such a mediocre senator..."

Now, if you believe that Barack Obama's 4 years as a senator (half of which have been spent on the campaign trail) and 7 years as a "mediocre" state senator are vastly more impressive than Sarah Palin's 2 years as a governor, 1 year on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 6 years as a mayor, and 4 years on the city council member, fine. We can argue the point, but for the moment, let's concede that his experience tops hers. It doesn't exactly make him highly qualified based on resume alone, now does it?

If instead you believe, as Brooks seems to, that Obama's tremendous intellect trumps his lack of experience, fine and good. I think the point is arguable, but will put it on hold for a few paragraphs. What I don't see is how, in the same interview, you can argue that Palin's limited experience makes her unprepared to be VP, while Obama's limited experience is a complete non-issue in his readiness to take the top job due to his intellect, especially when your whole reason for valuing experience is the argument that presidents don't always get the luxury of time to stop and THINK.

It looks to me like Brooks is so impressed with Barack's intellectual gifts that he's willing to forgive any other shortcomings. Brooks, a history major, should know better. Some of the brightest presidents America has produced this century include Nixon, Clinton, Wilson, and Taft. Yet, I'm fairly sure that if Brooks were putting together a list of his top presidents, this particular group wouldn't be the first ones to jump to his mind. FDR, whose brains earned him the nickname "Feather Duster" (for being a lightweight) among his school chums and was described as a "second rate intellect" by one of his own justices, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan as a collective group probably share far fewer total IQ points (although none of them are by any means dumb men), but I don't think there's a person on the planet who wouldn't argue that they are a far more illustrious group of leaders.

I am by no means anti-intellectual. I enjoy reading well written works of history, philosophy, and science. In fact, I'll wager that I was reading far more complex books at a young age than Brooks himself (I was pretty much the only 10 year-old that I recall reading Hemmingway at recess). But the idea that exposure to, or understanding of, the great ideas of history, is sufficient, or even one of the major prerequisites for political greatness, is simply not borne out by history. John Quincy Adams was acting as a translator for America's ambassador to Russia while in his early teens and using his spare time to translate Cicero, but no one considers him to have been equal to George Washington, a man whose formal schooling can be measured in months.

Alright, one more annoyance to discuss, and then I'll shut up. Why does Brooks, or anyone else for that matter, assume that George Bush or Sarah Palin are anti-intellectual? What have they ever said to indicate that this is the case? When have either been dismissive of history's great thinkers? Is it simply because they are not great speakers? I roomed with engineers in college, so I can assure you that the ability to communicate effectively is not an accurate measure of intellect or intellectual curiosity. Is it because of poor grades? Also a pretty poor indicator, since that probably has more to do with the fact that the president apparently spent his college years in a drunken haze. He is, by all reports, an avid reader. But of course, when you mention this fact, people simply laugh and dismiss it. After all, the man mispronounces "nuclear", so he must be dumb, right? Sarah Palin has a track record of being a dynamic and forceful politician, with many political successes, and plenty of excellent debate performances and interviews under her belt. But the fact that she was thrust into national politics at the last minute, and chocked up in a couple of interviews, is somehow supposed to be positive proof that she is anti-intellectual? Sorry, I just don't buy it, and I won't until someone shows me a REAL reason to do so.

We're Number 1!!!

Well, actually, we're dead last. Some info on the presidential debate, courtesy of NRO's Corner.

The Nashville market, where the debate was held, had the largest TV audience, with a household rating of 59.2, while the Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, California market had the lowest household rating: 31.8.

I Think The Dog Is A Republican...

One house on the street with an Obama yard sign. Guess which lawn the big man decided to use for a toilet. I swear I didn't put him up to it. Although, now that I think about it, given exactly what he was doing in a public place, maybe he's actually libertarian...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Aqua And Pirates

Does it get any better?

Long Hiatus

I'm sure that there were hundreds of people waiting with baited breath for my return to blogging. Well, wait no longer! As I said in my last post, we went to Disney World. It was surprisingly magical. I say "surprisingly" because if there are three things I hate, they are humidity, crowds, and the Disney Corporation (it's a long story, but suffice it to say I didn't take the cancellation of the Main Street Electrical Parade well, and Michael Eisner has now learned to lock his doors at night). But, despite all of that, it was a wonderful trip, and I have the birthday, anniversary, and 1st time visitor buttons to prove it. (Along with a mild crush on Cinderella!)

We also saw the Kennedy Space Center. I wanted to give all the poor astronauts a hug. They really try hard to be exciting, they really do. Unfortunately, true space travel is an impossibly nerdy and complex combination of physics, engineering, patience, and precision. It's fascinating if you're nerdy enough, but not exciting. That doesn't stop them from trying to make it so, though. At one point, we were on an observation platform, and I heard music playing. It sounded familiar, and then it dawned on me. They were playing the STAR TREK TMP theme. It made me so sad for them that I wanted to cry. We really do love you guys, even if we are a generation raised on images of effortless space travel and phaser-fights with cool aliens!

On the trip, I made it a point to ignore all current events. On top of that, the only really big events since I've been back are the debates and the bailout. While I understand the bailout and have some definite opinions on it, I don't feel confident enough in my knowledge to opine on them. (I can hear someone out there now, saying, "What? You mean the stuff you've been commenting on thus far is what you think you KNOW about?") As for the debates, Sarah Palin lost, but she's still far more likable than Joe Biden, and likable gets you a lot of mileage in politics.

That's all for now. I'm glad to be back home, even if the country is falling apart.

P.S. Oh yeah. The dog is clingier than ever now that we're home. Apparently he got so depressed he wasn't even chasing cats.